“PRAYER IS A LIFESTYLE, NOT A LIFELINE”

“Always Keep On Praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 TLB)

I absolutely love kids! Probably because I’m on a life mission to never grow up! But children just have a way of making what seems so complicated, quite simple. Now, Tatiana is only four years old, but she’s already teaching her parents quite a bit! She often announces, “Let’s pray!” And as wonderful as that sounds, truth is, she doesn’t always pick the best or most convenient times to pray. Dad might be studying since he’s finishing school or Mom might be involved with her students since she’s an at-home tutor. But like it or not, that doesn’t stop Tatiana from screaming, “Let’s pray!” Whether you’re ironing, watching television, walking the dog, or answering the telephone, when Tatiana yells, “Let’s pray”, it is by no means a request, or suggestion, but a command! She grabs your hand, closes her eyes, and she certainly expects you to do the same. No matter what’s going on at the moment, she’s fully expecting Mom or Dad to drop whatever they’re doing to pray. Her mom told me, “I don’t dare tell her, ‘Oh, later honey, I’m too busy right now. Because she will simply say once again, ‘I said, let’s pray!’” You see, Tatiana is only four, but you know what? I think she’s already got the right idea concerning the importance and priority of prayer.

But can we be honest? Truth is, many of us, myself included, have a bad habit of waiting until we “need God” to pray. As long as everything is going well, there’s no doctors reports to make us cry out to the Great Physician, no marital woes that have us running to the altar, no appliance break-downs that threaten the safety of our savings account, no children robbing banks or stealing cars, no bills that are making us nervous about what we’re going to do etc…we’re good. We can talk to God not so often, and even then, quite briefly. Which is why I’m fully persuaded God allows a lot of the stuff we endure to come our way on purpose, because it sends us running right back to the prayer phone to dial up heaven again! At least in trouble He gets to hear our voice!

Psalm 18:6, “In my distress [when I seemed surrounded] I called upon the Lord And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry for help came before Him, into His very ears.” (AMP) It’s a wonderful comfort to know that when we’re in distress we can cry out to God and He hears us, and even answers us, but should that be the only time He hears us? I think not. Can you imagine being in a relationship with someone, but the only time you hear from them is when they need something from you? How special would you feel? How appreciated would you feel? How taken for granted and abused would you feel? More importantly, how much longer would you really stay in such a relationship? Thank God He doesn’t treat us the way we have a tendency to treat Him!

At the end of a passage on spiritual warfare and defeating our enemy, the Bible says in Ephesians 6:18 “…pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (NIV). Did you catch all those instructions? “…pray in the Spirit ON ALL OCCASIONS…” Not just when you’re in trouble, but ON ALL OCCASIONS! It’s prayer all day, every day, at any time of the day, anywhere and around anybody! That reminds me a lot of the admonishment in our opening text of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” It’s staying in contact with the Lord at; “All occasions, with all kinds of prayers, and all kinds of requests.” That’s praying whether you get the job or lose the job; whether you get married or get divorced; whether you get the house or lose the apartment; whether you purchase the car or ride the bus; whether your heart fails or your hair flops! We need to develop an ‘IN OR OUT OF SEASON” type of prayer life! Pray when everything works IN our favor; and pray just the same when nothing works OUT in our favor! We are to pray on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers, and all kinds of requests, because prayer is our LIFESTYLE, not our LIFELINE!

The word ‘lifestyle’ is defined as, ‘the way in which one lives.’

But ‘lifeline’ is defined as, ‘a rope or line thrown to rescue someone in difficulties; a means of escape for someone stuck or in trouble.’

You see, as believers, prayer is our lifestyle, it’s just the way we live from day-to-day. Prayer is our lifestyle, it’s our oxygen, it’s our breath! We treat it as something of which if we should be deprived of it, we may as well stop breathing altogether. When it’s your lifestyle it’s a part of your entire life. It’s the core of who you are. It’s not something you do for Sunday morning invocation; it’s not what you do over your food before you eat; and it’s certainly not what you do when you’re stuck and in trouble; it’s what you do ALL the time; on ALL occasions! Prayer is not our lifeline, only to be used when we need to cry out to God for Him to throw us a line of His strength in our weakness to draw us out of the difficulty that nine times out of ten we put ourselves in, in the first place. Prayer is not our means of escape from trouble. As believers, we have to go back to the heart of our relationship with God, and it’s in our communication with Him through prayer, ALL the time, about ALL things, because that’s our LIFESTYLE!

Now, let’s take a look at those 2 Scriptures in varying translations:

Ephesians 6:18:

“With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.” (AMP)

“Pray all the time. Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit’s wishes. Plead with him, reminding him of your needs, and keep praying earnestly for all Christians everywhere.” (TLB)

“You must pray at all times as the Holy Spirit leads you to pray. Pray for the things that are needed. You must watch and keep on praying. Remember to pray for all Christians.” (NLV)

“In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (MSG)

1 Thessalonians 5:17:

“be unceasing and persistent in prayer” (AMP)

“Always keep on praying” (TLB)

“Never stop praying.” (NLV)

“…pray all the time…” (MSG)

Notice, we’re charged and challenged to pray all the time, for everyone, because prayer is essential! And the word ‘essential’ is defined as, ‘absolutely necessary.’  We’re to always pray, never stop praying and pray all the time, because it’s absolutely necessary! That sounds a lot like prayer being more than just “I’m in trouble Lord, HELP!” Or praying because we have a few moment’s to spare. Or praying simply for show, it’s prayer night, and I want to be seen for either praying the best, the loudest or the longest; or at least have my attendance accounted for that I made it out to prayer. Yet, the Bible commands us to Pray At All Times, Everywhere, for Everyone, Without Ceasing!

The sad thing however, about us as believers, is that we tend to have a prayer compartment in our life. We pray in the morning, or maybe in the evening, or over meals. We have prayer meetings. But I think God wants us to take prayer out of that compartment and learn prayer as a lifestyle, not just as an occasional appointment, or for the moment 911 lifeline. Even little Tatiana understands that. She’s all day long going around saying, “Let’s pray. Let’s talk to God.” And if a child can do this, what is the excuse for adults who don’t?

The Spirit may be trying to prompt you in that way many times. It’s not a little child. It’s the Holy Spirit that’s saying, “Let’s pray. Let’s pray.” He’s trying to initiate it. Pray in the Spirit. But we’re so busy! We’re running on our list, our schedule, our program, our agenda. We can’t hear His promptings. And we need to be real careful about being so busy that we ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit to pray and even to intercede for others!

Can you imagine how differently Peter’s story may have turned out, if people ignored the prompting to pray? Listen: James had just been executed and Herod was planning to kill Peter in the morning. Now, you’d think Peter would have been up all night praying, but he wasn’t. The Bible says he was SLEEPING! (Acts 12:6, “Then the time came for Herod to bring him out for the kill. That night, even though shackled to two soldiers, one on either side, PETER SLEPT LIKE A BABY” MSG). Now, I’ve heard of confidence in God, but I honestly thought Peter was stone-crazy! I know for a fact I would’ve flipped out! So where did Peter get such faith? The Bible says, right before Peter’s peaceful, sleep-like-a-baby nap: “Peter therefore was kept in prison: BUT PRAYER WAS MADE WITHOUT CEASING OF THE CHURCH UNTO GOD FOR HIM” (Acts 12:5).

But you have to see in the various translations how these intercessors REALLY PRAYED for Peter: The Amplified Bible says, “…FERVENT PRAYER for him was PERSISTENTLY  made…”; The Message Bible says, “All the time …Peter was under heavy guard…the church prayed for him MOST STRENUOUSLY”; The New Living Translation says, “…the church prayed VERY EARNESTLY…”; And the Contemporary English Version says, “While Peter was being kept in jail, the church NEVER STOPPED PRAYING to God for him.”

Now I understand why Peter could sleep like a baby! If I had intercessors going before God on my behalf doing warfare in prayer “FERVENTLY”, “PERSISTENTLY”, “STRENUOUSLY”, “VERY EARNESTLY” and above all to “NEVER STOP PRAYING”, I COULD SLEEP LIKE A BABY TOO!  In the midst of fierce enemy attacks and bondage, I too would be catching some serious Z’s…

People of God, certainly we must MAKE time to pray to God on our own behalf, but never forget your brothers and sisters, and even those who are unsaved! They all need your prayers of intercession at all times! Your Unceasing Prayers Are Vital to You and Others! So Never Stop Praying! Who knows who will be saved, delivered, healed, made whole, just because of your prayers? Who knows who may be encouraged, inspired and empowered because of your prayers? Who knows who may finally get right because of your prayers? Who knows who will be saved behind prison walls; healed in the emergency room, before ever going to the triage nurse; delivered before they walk past the next liquor store; marriage rekindled; wayward children returned home; or diagnosis reversed, ALL BECAUSE YOU OBEYED THE PROMPTING TO PRAY WHICH IS YOUR LIFESTYLE, NOT YOUR LIFELINE!

Your Prayers Are Powerful! Therefore, Make Them Your Lifestyle, Not Just a Lifeline For When You’re in Trouble!

Let’s go just a tad bit further: In the Old Testament, Nehemiah, one of the great spiritual leaders accomplished so much for the Lord. He was sort of a grownup Tatiana because of his consistent prayer life. It talks about it in chapter 2, verse 4 when he was in a very important meeting. He says, “…I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king…” (NIV). Right there he’s in that meeting with the King! He’s under heavy pressure, yet he says, “…I prayed to the God of heaven…”(NIV).

In chapter 4, verse 9, he says, “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard…” (NIV). Nehemiah prays, he has people in his company who prays, and he’s even strategic while in prayer, wise enough to know to post a guard!

Chapter 5, verse 19, Nehemiah’s thinking about his income and what he ought to be getting. He says, “Remember me with favor, my God…” (NIV). He prays again!

Even when he gets discouraging news in chapter 6, verse 9 he says, “I prayed. Now strengthen my hands.” (NIV).

Whether Nehemiah was facing enemies, in a meeting with a king, making strategic plans, concerned about his finances or receiving discouraging news, he prayed at all times, everywhere, in front of anybody! Prayer was not an “I’m in trouble, get me out” lifeline, it was a, “I need God’s guidance for absolutely everything” consistent lifestyle! Can the same be said of you?

I’ll be the first one to be honest about it, truth is, God doesn’t hear from me nearly enough, and just maybe that’s your confession too. Well, today is our turn-around day! We’re going to determine to be more consistent in our prayer lives! And it doesn’t mean you have to stop everything, bow your head, close your eyes, drop to your knees, start speaking in unknown tongues etc… No, truth be told, it could be prayer on the run! But it’s time we go consciously into the throne room of God to say, “I love you.” Or “Nice work, Lord. I love what You just did there.” Or possibly just a one word prayer “Help!” Or a daily guidance prayer “What should I say right now Lord?” Or a prayer of renewal “Give me strength, Lord.” See that’s what the Bible calls “abiding in Christ.” And “abide” simply means, “to dwell”. And it won’t always be spending 2 hours on bended knee or standing before the people in the sanctuary. But all throughout the day we should be in direct communication with the Lord. I don’t know about you, but there are many places I would never have gone to if I prayed first; people I would’ve never entertained, if I prayed first; mistakes I would’ve never made, if I prayed first; losses I wouldn’t have had to endure, if I prayed first; things I would never have said that I can’t take back now, if I simply would’ve prayed first.

Now, I haven’t got this whole praying without ceasing thing mastered yet, but I’m certainly getting it more and more! I’m learning the benefit of “Praying in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

And truth is, with all that’s going on in the world, do we really need anyone to encourage us to pray more? The loss of life; COVID-19; Corona-virus; hundreds of thousands of deaths in just months time; attacks; cruelty; an election nightmare; ineffective and unconcerned leaders; vicious racism; and the like. Do we really need someone to say never stop praying? Our children are dying more frequently, younger and more violently, do we really need someone to call us and remind us to pray? The elderly are being mistreated, abused and even raped, robbed and murdered, do we really need someone to tell us to pray? Christian marriages are falling apart faster than the unsaved, do we really need someone to tell us to pray? Men are marrying men; women are marrying women; and children are shuffled in the middle of the confusion and now have identity crisis every other day; do we really need someone to tell us to pray? With our current government, do we really need someone to tell us to pray?!

If the church doesn’t get her focus back on prayer, she’ll become a circus with lively clowns, entertaining goats and assassinating sheep!

We are indeed living in some of the scariest of times, YET, we have the advantage of constant communication with our Creator who is in control of all things. Who wouldn’t talk to Him more often?!

People of God, let’s determine today to make Prayer Our Lifestyle, Not Just Our Lifeline when we’re in trouble! God Desires to Hear From You, So Today, Make Sure He Hears From You! Jeremiah 33:3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’” (MSG)

Devotional Scriptures:

Psalm 55:17, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.”

Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Psalm 106:30, “But Phinehas prayed to the Lord, and the disease stopped.” (NCV)

Matthew 18:18-20, “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of Me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” (MSG)

Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (MSG)

James 5:16-18, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.” (MSG)

Colossians 1:9, “Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you,” (MSG)

Proverbs 15:29, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayers of the righteous.” (TLB)

Romans 12:12, “Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.” (TLB)

“Prayer is not a ‘spare wheel’ that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a ‘steering wheel’ that directs the right path throughout.” (Author Unknown)

“When you feel like worrying, try praying instead. Worrying only creates more stress, but prayer creates more peace. God is bigger than whatever is stressing you out.” (Dave Willis)

“Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.” (George Herbert)

“Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God.” (Mother Teresa)

“Worry can do a lot of things TO you; prayer can do a lot of things FOR you.” (Author Unknown)

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” (Martin Luther)

“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Prayer is man’s greatest power.” (W. Clement Stone)

“Pray hardest when it’s hardest to pray.” (Author Unknown)

“Prayer: The world’s greatest wireless connection.” (Author Unknown)

“It’s not the body’s posture but the heart’s attitude that counts when we pray.” (Billy Graham)

“When the devil sees a man or woman who really believes in prayer he trembles as much as he ever did.” (R.A. Torrey)

“Do not face the day until you have faced God in prayer.” (Author Unknown)

“Prayer can change the impossible.” (Author Unknown)

“Prayer is the Passport to Peace.” (Thomas S. Monson)

“Prayer is the voice of faith directed Godward.” (Billy Graham)

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“WHEN LEADER-SHIP SINKS!”

What can businesses, and dot coms in particular, learn from the sinking of the Titanic? Well, you don’t have to visit the ocean floor to appreciate the truths this disaster brought to light. Just take a listen: “We have struck iceberg. . .sinking fast. . .come to our assistance.” Burning the airwaves came those words late in the cold evening of 1912. Before they even tapped the last bit of Morse code, those words became the epitaph over the lives of the 1200 people lost on the Titanic. The ship was doomed as it slowly sank into its watery grave. Why did the largest, most advanced ship of the century sink? Well, those of us who study history or remember the movie may know why. It wasn’t the iceberg that caused the disaster. It was something else. Clear in my mind was the real cause—LEADERSHIP HAD FAILED!  

The Titanic still rests on the bottom of the ocean, but we can still resurrect the truth about its sinking. The lessons we learn can help us become better leaders as well.

Now, I’ll start this off with some devotional tips on leadership, from a business perspective, from a leader I respect highly, Greg Smith. Then I’ll move into my personal insight for the church, from his same business tips. Let’s see what we can learn:

1…LEADERSHIP IS ALWAYS RESPONSIBLE – Leadership is responsible for everything the organization does or fails to do. Leadership is not a position, a job title or in this case, merely the Captain of the ship. Leadership is not just power, ego, and pride. Leadership is ever present, touching, motivating, talking, and checking, barrier removing, training, preparing, breathing, and moving about. All of this should’ve been the responsibility of Captain E. J. Smith’s retirement trip on the Titanic. He was headed for the easy life. All he had to do was get to New York. God only knows why he ignored the facts, why he ignored seven iceberg warnings from his crew or the warnings from the other ships. In the end, like it or not, but leadership is responsible for everything the organization does or fails to do.

2…BIGGEST IS NOT THE BEST  It took over 30 seconds before the Titanic turned away from the iceberg . . .but it was still too late. Know this, the larger an organization becomes, the greater its inflexibility. The more difficult and cumbersome to steer, to direct and to change. It soon becomes a bureaucracy where rules, regulations, policies, procedures and “I need permission to make a decision” becomes the norm. Today’s businesses must change this course quickly.

3…RANK HAS ITS PRIVILEGES – Ranking is good for command and control, however, it’s not good for change and innovation. Ranking people limits potential. Today, businesses rank and classify people-sometimes unintentionally. However, the results are the same. Whether it is simply reserved parking spaces, blue collar, white collar, temporary, part-time, those with cubicles, those with desks etc. Ask yourself, when the ship sinks, who gets in the lifeboats first? Who gets severance pay, bonus, stock options or nice hotels. Clear the lines between the classes and make everyone feel they are rowing in the same direction for the same purpose. In a disaster, everyone is an equal.

4…THE TRUTH CHANGES  The Titanic was unsinkable. . .so they thoughtSo confident were they in fact, that they only had enough life boats for half the passengers! The thinking that made us successful yesterday is the very same thinking that will cause us to fail tomorrow. Our unlearning curve must be greater than our learning curve.

5…TECHNOLOGY IS NEVER A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEADERSHIP  When technology fails, leadership must prevail. Captain Smith said years before the Titanic’s voyage, “I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder . . .Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.” Many businesses today have placed the wrong people in charge. They are not leaders, but managers. So–when disaster strikes who is going to lead and will your technology pull you under?

6…LEADERSHIP IS ALWAYS TRAINING  As the stern of the Titanic lifted out of the water; the crew and passengers struggled with the lifeboats. There were no drills, no rehearsals and the crews stood unfamiliar with their responsibilities. The boats were improperly loaded and only one boat went back to try to recover survivors. Help people improve their skills so they can become more productive.

7…LEADERSHIP LOOKS BELOW THE SURFACE  The greatest danger as well as the greatest opportunities lie below. The ocean in 1912 was like glass, deceptively dangerous. The biggest part of an iceberg lies below. . .unseen. Like steel fangs, it tore at the rivets along 300 feet of the Titanic’s hull. Those below, the “crew and steerage,” felt and saw the damage first. Like a gasping breath, the steam billowed above as chaos reigned below. Just like then and now, those who know what’s wrong with your “ship” are those below. Furthermore, those below usually have the best ideas and solutions to your problems. Start looking toward those on the front-line for the ideas, problems and solutions. Do it before you hit the icebergs.

8…LEADERSHIP LOOKS BEYOND THE HORIZONS  Success causes problems. A good “Captain” is on the lookout for changing trends, changing needs, storms and icebergs. Sam Walton identified the need and Sears didn’t. Apple computer saw the need before IBM. The vision of the Sony Walkman existed in Akio Morita’s mind before RCA. Many dot coms were prepared, many were not. Get the picture? Be out there scanning the horizon for the next change.

Greg Smith’s cutting-edge keynotes, consulting and training programs have helped businesses accelerate organizational performance, reduce turnover, increase sales, hire better people and deliver better customer service.  As President and Lead Navigator of Chart Your Course International he has implemented professional development programs for thousands of organizations globally. He has authored nine informative books including his latest book Fired Up! Leading Your Organization to Achieve Exceptional Results.  He lives in Conyers, Georgia.  Sign up for his free Navigator Newsletter by visiting http://www.ChartCourse.com.

I chose the above devotional by Greg Smith to repost because it impacted me and my leadership greatly. And as People of God, it is my prayer that it will impact you, your life, family, churches, ministries, and businesses just the same.

So now, I’ll recap Greg’s devotional above, for business, in my own words, for the church below:

1…LEADERSHIP IS ALWAYS RESPONSIBLE: Which means, No Excuses, No Blame Games, No Pointing Fingers, No Passing the Buck! There is a HIGH PRICE to PAY to Be in Leadership and Whether Things Go Right or Go Wrong, You Will Be CHARGED! In leadership you don’t look for scapegoats, you shepherd the sheep! And when one strays, you go after them, you don’t say “well they should’ve…or if they hadn’t…” No, you are responsible to redirect them back on the road to reconciliation and restoration. Look at it like this: Eve messed up, but God came looking for Adam. Leadership is ALWAYS responsible, whether you like it or not, whether it seems fair or unfair. All of it is irrelevant. Leaders, God Will Always Come Looking For You, and Hiding Doesn’t Work, Just ask Adam! As leaders, with the bulk of the responsibility weighing on our shoulders, we don’t get to save face by throwing others under the bus. We have to make sure that we realize how vital we are in steering this leader-ship properly and responsibly, because just like the Titanic, when those in charge messed up, it sank the ship and likewise, we can sink everybody on board with us too! That means we have to be responsible in leading our families, our churches, our ministries, our jobs, our businesses, our communities, our neighborhoods etc…because everyone with us will go down with us! Leaders, We Are Charged to be Responsible! 1 Timothy 3:1-7, “If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he’s talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a new believer, lest the position go to his head and the Devil trip him up. Outsiders must think well of him, or else the Devil will figure out a way to lure him into his trap.” (MSG)

2…BIGGEST IS NOT THE BEST: The Bigger the Organization, the Harder it is to Steer it, Because it Becomes More Inflexible. That word “inflexible” is defined as “not able to be altered or adapted; unwilling to change or compromise; not able to be bent; stiff”. And anyone in leadership knows that this is the absolute worse kind of people to work with! Because truth is, and like it or not, change is inevitable! Our churches change from day-to-day, and we need to learn how to do the same. Life does not remain the same and neither does leadership or the people who follow. To become better you have to learn to adapt, change and compromise. No, that does not include your character, integrity, values, principles and the like. But you have to learn how to make compromises so that the Whole works best. That’s when the best interest of Everyone is taken into account. I know you’ve always sung that song, taught that lesson, preached on that Sunday, sat in that particular chair etc…but change needs to take place to make the Whole better. You have to learn to adapt. Everything cannot go your way every-time, all the time, always. Don’t be like stiff-necked Israel, they paid a hefty price for remaining the same, and so will you. Therefore, become more flexible, adapt, alter, change, compromise, so that we move towards our goals and accomplish them without having to drag you kicking and screaming! Remember, the bigger we grow, the harder we are to steer in new directions of change. But this will not be the case if we simply remain flexible! Be prepared, because that means you will HAVE to move out of your comfort zone; you’ll have to obtain an open mind; you’ll have to break with some norm’s and usual’s and traditions; you’ll have to do things that make you uncomfortable because they are unfamiliar; you’ll have to do things differently then the same way they’ve been done for generations! But that’s how we get growth and diversity! After all, would you want to need groceries for your home but when you go to the supermarket, every single aisle ONLY has cabbage?! Dairy aisle (cabbage); juice aisle (cabbage); meat aisle (cabbage); bread aisle (cabbage)! Are you getting this? Yes, you can eat cabbage and be full, but how healthy can eating nothing but cabbage for the rest of your life be?! Do not be afraid to diversify as a leader! Which means on your leadership team you may need to have some people who are addressed as ‘brother and sister’ instead of ONLY having those addressed as ‘pastor, elder, bishop, minister’! You need every member in the church working to keep the body of Christ properly functioning and growing! And you need to do this PRIOR to the church expanding! Remember, the bigger the ship the harder to turn in a different direction, so start now! Diversify now! 1 Corinthians 12:14-18, “I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. IT’S ALL THE DIFFERENT-BUT-SIMILAR PARTS ARRANGED AND FUNCTIONING TOGETHER. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? AS IT IS, WE CAN SEE THAT GOD HAS CAREFULLY PLACED EACH PART OF THE BODY RIGHT WHERE HE WANTED IT.” (MSG)

3…RANK HAS ITS PRIVILEGES: Now, I’m big on order, structure, and protocol, however, everything has its place. When we need to come together as a team to build, that is not the time to figure out who gets the prettiest hard hat on the site because they’ve been working in construction the longest! Respect offices, titles, positions and gifts, for if they were not to be respected, God would not have allowed them and given clear and concise instructions on how to respond to them. HOWEVER, this does not mean a Bishop can’t pick up a mop, a Pastor can’t serve food, an Elder can’t teach the children, a Minister can’t clean the pews, a Deacon can’t empty out the garbage cans. Are you getting this? Humility and Servitude are the Heartbeat of Effective, Efficient Leadership. So, yes, rank has its place and privilege, but when its time for the Crew to get to work, the title before your name and the initials after it, hold no importance in kingdom building! Don’t forget the purpose and privilege of rank and order, but also don’t let that purpose and privilege cause you to miss out on the big picture! Ephesians 4:11-13, “And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity].” (AMP)

4…THE TRUTH CHANGES: You cannot move effectively Today in leadership while being stuck in Yesterday! One of the phrases that I hate to hear most is “but that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Well, ma’am, sir, what we did in 2013 is not relevant in 2023! Change needs to take place or we’ll forever be stuck decades behind the growth curve! I have no problems with how we used to do it, the problem I have is that you think that’s the only way to do it. Truth is, that may have worked for us then, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to work for us now! You have to, and again I reiterate, adapt, change, be flexible, and compromise. Yes, that worked then, but we’re more advanced in many ways now, including technology (and not all of it is bad, it’s the way you choose to use it that makes it either bad or good). Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Google, Periscope, LinkedIn, and the like are all effective for ministry depending on how they are appropriately used. So don’t fear doing something different, fear doing everything the same! That worked then, but let’s go back to the drawing board and see if our creative juices can redesign our vision so that it is seen clearer and becomes more evident, visible and tangible…not just a new blueprint left on an old table. Isaiah 43:16-21, “…“FORGET ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENED; DON’T KEEP GOING OVER OLD HISTORY. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something BRAND-NEW. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!…” (MSG); Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, BUT I ACTIVELY PRESS ON so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: FORGETTING WHAT LIES BEHIND AND REACHING FORWARD TO WHAT LIES AHEAD, I PRESS ON TOWARD the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (AMP)

5…TECHNOLOGY IS NEVER A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEADERSHIP: Now, I just said using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Google, Periscope and LinkedIn, are great tools for leadership to use in building ministry (when they are used appropriately). HOWEVER, Technology Does Not Take the Place of Leadership! The church has in some ways become so technically advanced that many no longer even feel the need to go to church. Since, TECHNICALLY, they can have church in the comfort of their own home, in their living-room, in their pajamas if they want to! We have websites, live streaming, online giving, prayer conference calls and the like. And again, nothing is wrong with that. However, you need to make sure that none of that takes the place of Scripture. Hebrews 10:25, “not forsaking our MEETING TOGETHER [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.” (AMP) Leaders, I know we send out emails, texts, and Facebook inbox messages, but leadership should never lose its TOUCH! John 1:14, “And the Word (Christ) became FLESH (HUMAN, INCARNATE) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, LIVED AWHILE) AMONG US; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.” (AMPC) The Word, Jesus, Became Flesh, Human, Lived Among Us, We Saw Him and His Glory, Because He Dwelled in the Midst of Us. There’s so much that I love about our Savior, but one thing that stands out the highest for me is that He was and is always Touchable! He wasn’t distant, unreachable, unapproachable, restricted to the privileged and out of touch with the people. He walked among the people, He talked to them, touched them, made His presence known in the midst of them. And as leaders we need to do the same. So, when it comes to communication, make sure you Talk more than you Text! Make sure that you encourage the people to come out to the House of God for Prayer more so than sitting at home distracted on a conference call or live streaming. Don’t just send an email, hold a face-to-face meeting. Technology is great, but it should never take the place of Touchable Leadership. Matthew 8:3, “Jesus reached out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (AMP); Matthew 8:15, “He touched her hand and the fever left her; and she got up and served Him.” (AMP); Matthew 9:20, “Then a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the [tassel] fringe of His outer robe;” (AMP); Matthew 9:29, “Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith [your trust and confidence in My power and My ability to heal] it will be done to you.” (AMP); Matthew 14:36, “and they begged Him to let them merely touch the fringe of His robe; and all who touched it were perfectly restored.” (AMP); Matthew 17:7, “But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” (AMP); Matthew 20:34, “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him [as His disciples].” (AMP)

6…LEADERSHIP IS ALWAYS TRAINING: When disaster hit the Titanic, the hindrance of recovery was due to the lack of training. There were no drills, no rehearsals, no ‘just in case’ practice runs. So when an emergency arose, panic set in immediately, because no one was prepared because everyone thought they were secure because of what they were in. As a leader, some of the excuses that drives me nuts is “that’s not my job…I wasn’t asked to do that…so and so usually handles that…” In other words, the high cost we pay in failure is due to expensive finger pointing! Everyone on the Team is responsible for the Team! So there should always be someone in place to take the place of someone who steps out of place! I often teach that training needs to be more global than local. Meaning, I don’t believe the Elders should just know how to teach and preach. They should know something about the Ushers, about the Deacons, about the Missionaries, why? Because these are roles that if you needed to step into them, you could. Now, if you’re not a singer, don’t attempt to learn a thing about that area of ministry! You laugh, but cross-training is effective! But you need to cross-train where it will be effective. And having a tone-deaf, non-singer learn the alto section of a song will be a guaranteed disaster! But all those required to teach the Word, should know the areas of ministry where the same responsibility is in place. Because at any given time if a Sunday School teacher isn’t present, it gives you a broader range of substitutes who are ready, willing, able, equipped and prepared to step in and fill the void. Leaders, Always Remain Teachable and Trainable! 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.” (AMPC)

7…LEADERSHIP LOOKS BELOW THE SURFACE: Be real careful about the people you under-estimate and over-look. You see, it was the people at the bottom of the ship that were the First to know something was wrong! Don’t get so caught up in putting people on pedestals. Don’t get so distracted by the rings, robes, crosses, titles, positions, and the like. It’s often a little usher sitting on the back row that sees everything wrong and has a vision on how to make it right, that goes dangerously unnoticed. The Whole business, organization, team, church, ministry and even family, is a part of the Whole! Don’t fragment them based on who you think is more qualified, more entitled, or more intelligent. If you want more guaranteed success for the Team, than stop strategizing from in Individual Perspective. Those you over-look are often the very ones who have the best perception. Look at it like this: We talk a lot about the anointing oil, but what you need to do is study the one who prepared it. It’s done in the dark, underground, with no audience, no prestige, no glamor, out of sight. And yet, he handles the anointing oil that consecrates people, places and things for God’s work. Selah…Be Careful That You Don’t Overlook Those Who are Working Down Below! Philippians 2:1-4, “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” (MSG)

8…LEADERSHIP LOOKS BEYOND THE HORIZON: No one was on the look-out for unexpected icebergs. No one was looking out for the just in case, the surprises, the “that wasn’t on the program”. But those who discover great things are those who were looking to discover great things. You can’t become so comfortable and secure in what you’ve been in for so long, no matter its success, that you don’t challenge and stretch yourself beyond where you’ve been or where you are. Captains are to be on the look-out. Leaders are to be likewise. Don’t just look at the people you already have in place, look around you at those who we still call “brother and sister” so and so. They come every Sunday, they’re at Sunday school, bible study, prayer and services. Yet no one uses them because they’re not popular or, they’re not licensed, credentialed, degreed and initialed. You have no idea of the greatness you’re overlooking by staring only at those of “prominence, prestige and position.” Leaders, if your desire is to see your Vision come to pass, Look Below the Surface and Beyond the Horizon. Can you imagine if Mary remained overlooked; if David remained overlooked; if Esther remained overlooked; if Rahab remained overlooked; if Jesus remained overlooked?! Habakkuk 2:2-3, “And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.” (MSG) Look Beyond Where You Are to Where You’re About to Be! Help the TEAM See the LEADERS Vision So Clearly That We’re All In High Anticipation of What’s Now and Next! Prepare for the Unexpected (Good and Bad), that’s what Leaders Do! Preparation is Half the Solution to Any Problem!

People of God, I pray you enjoyed today’s teachings. I’m looking for you to use them to arrive Safely where God is directing you. Remember, you are responsible to make sure that as the Captain of the “Leader-SHIP”, you and ALL aboard reach your Destination in God!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

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“THE DANGER OF LEADING WHILE SLEEPING!”

“Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to CATCH YOU NAPPING. Keep your guard up…” (1 Peter 5:8 MSG).

In the newspaper, the following story was shared: “The power was out this morning when some of our neighbors woke up. In fact, several hundred customers were without electricity. Now, it wasn’t the power company’s fault. It was the fault of a driver who ran his car into an electricity pole. Oh, not on purpose, of course. See it was a grandfather returning from an all-night hunting expedition with his grandson. Unfortunately, his body didn’t want to wait until it got home to fall asleep. So, the driver fell asleep at the wheel. And what were the results of this dangerous nap? He was injured, his grandson was hurt, the car was totaled, and lots of folks had no power.”

It’s never good for the person who’s driving, to fall asleep at the wheel, whether it’s someone driving a car, a family, a business, an organization, a ministry or church. When you’re supposed to be driving and you’re sleeping instead, people can get hurt, damage can be done, and lives can be disrupted and destroyed! We often talk about the definition of a Great Leader, well today we’ll look at the definition of a Poor Leader. The word “Leader” in its simplest form means “a person that leads.” The word “Poor” in its simplest form means “deficient of desirable ingredients and qualities, such as lack of skill, ability, or training.” If you combine the two you get something like this: “A Poor Leader is a person in a leadership role that lacks the essential ingredients and qualities of skill, ability, and training which are vital to producing overall greatness in both themselves as leaders and their following.” In a nutshell, a poor leader is the equivalent to a pastor driving the church van, fully loaded with his congregation, while fast asleep! The only greatness he’ll produce is great hurt, great damage and lives greatly destroyed!

Whether you realize it or not, you may very well be in the driver’s seat. You certainly are responsible for the wheel if you have children, a spouse, employees, or people looking to you in a church leadership position, or if you’re in a place of responsibility or influence in business. Therefore, you can’t afford to fall asleep at the wheel!

When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” (Matthew 26:40 MSG). Apparently, Jesus didn’t care much for sleepy leadership either! You see one of the dangers of sleeping leadership is that they’re not alert to the need for prayer, especially in times of crisis.

Leaders, you can’t sleep when your intercession is needed in the hospital; with the sick and shut in; in the homeless shelter; at the soup kitchen; in the nursing home; in hospice; on the operating table; in the emergency room; behind prison walls; during chemo, radiation and dialysis treatments; in rehab; in the crack house; in the bar; with that person who’s ready to commit suicide any minute now; or with that man sleeping under the bridge or that woman riding the train with her children because she has nowhere else to go.

Leaders, you can’t sleep when your congregation is depending on you to make petitions to God on their behalf. Someone’s children are at stake; someone’s marriage is at stake; someone’s job is at stake; someone’s health is at stake; someone’s mortgage is at stake.

Leaders, you can’t sleep when your family is expecting you to make supplications that will send cancer into remission; dry up cysts and tumors; that will destroy generational curses; that will change diagnosis; regulate blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

Leaders, you can’t lead while sleeping and expect all those following you to make it safely to their destination in God! And what’s worse is that Peter and the crew couldn’t even sit up in prayer for one single hour. Sounds a lot like today’s prayer night in church! It’s hard to get just a handful of folks in prayer for one single hour, yet on Sunday morning when it’s time for their titles, positions, pulpit performance and glowing white robes to shine, they are ever present! The text says they were “…sound asleep…” meaning they were knocked out! Even in a time of crisis, their spiritual radar detected nothing! And Jesus even lets them know that the whole purpose is so they don’t encounter temptation with its dangers. Prayer is designed to protect us, but how can you receive a protection you don’t even have sense enough to pray for?!

Leaders, I cannot stress this enough, you need to be alert to the necessity of prayer! It will save your life and those attached to you! But you can’t pray while you’re simultaneously sound asleep!

In Ezekiel 34beginning in verse 2God reveals how He feels about those who have leadership, but who are neglecting the people they should be caring for. The “driver” in this case is described as a “shepherd” – those who should have been leading God’s people. What God says about them all too often applies to some of us who should be shepherding the lives that He’s entrusted to us.

Here’s what God says, “God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, ‘God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed sheep? You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep. You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after the strays, don’t look for the lost. You bully and badger them. And now they’re scattered every which way because there was no shepherd—scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes. Scattered—My Sheep! – exposed and vulnerable across mountains and hills. My Sheep scattered all over the world, and no one out looking for them!” (Ezekiel 34:1-6 MSG).

I think it’s pretty fair for us to assume from this that God is watching how you’re caring for the people that He’s entrusted to you likewise! His great love for His Sheep THEN, is the same for His sheep NOW! “…the Father…does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17 NIV). If the shepherd-leaders were rebuked then by the Great Shepherd for how they damaged the sheep, the same will transpire today because: “…He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 CEV).

Therefore, you should lead in a manner that will cause you to hear “well done”, not “woe”!

These shepherd-leaders were rebuked because they were Leading While Sleeping! Their followers were hungry, naked, weak, sick, injured, straying, lost, bullied, badgered, scattered and made into dinner for their enemies! If a survey was done of your congregation, how many of these traits would be found amongst your sheep?

In addition, too many shepherd-leaders are far too busy! It’s easy to be off conquering the world somewhere, totally oblivious to the tragedy of everything falling apart back at home baseI am indeed an advocate for evangelism and outreach, but anyone who invites people over to their home should first make sure that the house is clean and in order, positioned to be found acceptable to receive guests! I mean there’s simply no point to catching new fish, when the ones you’ve already caught are at home, unclean, unprepared and stinking up the house! You can be so immersed in the pursuit of your agenda and your goals (maybe even noble ones) that you can entirely miss or entirely ignore what’s happening to the people that you’re supposed to be giving direction to! Until one day there’s an explosion, a disaster, a breakdown, or it just runs into an electricity pole! The car hits a wall, you’re injured, there’s damage, or the lights are going out for some people who really need you! One of the most difficult tasks to any overseer is to govern others homes while still guarding your own! Yes, you’re keeping wolves out of the congregation of other churches, but you’re so exhausted, your eyes can no longer see the wolves in sheep clothing in your own flock!

Whether you are leading your family, company, ministry or church, you need to follow the leadership advice of the Word of God: “Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 MSG); “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up…” (1 Peter 5:8 MSG).

The book of Proverbs says that “a king must give constant attention to those who are under him for the crown is not forever“, it goes on to say, “do not forget to give attention to your herds.” That could be a family; that can be people you minister to. It is people over whom you have influence or leadership and it’s so important that you stay alert to their needs on the way to that goal that you’re headed for. It’s time to wake up to the needs that you’ve been neglecting, to the silent or maybe not-so-silent cries of the people who need you. You’ve got to wake up before there’s a crash!  Why? In the opening story, the driver fell asleep and hit a pole, and power was lost to many! Shepherd-Leaders, when you fall asleep behind the wheel and crash, people with you are damaged, some beyond repair, and others who were simply around you, lose power (and often it takes a long time to restore the power)! Maybe healing and deliverance has not been seen in your house because you’ve fallen asleep, crashed and the people have lost power; maybe children are straying and marriages are failing in your house because you’ve fallen asleep, crashed and the people have lost power; maybe hope is fading and faith is wavering in your house because you’ve fallen asleep, crashed and the people have lost power; maybe the prayers have lost their fervency and the praise has been put on pause in your house because you’ve fallen asleep, crashed and the people have lost power; maybe the preaching has become performing and the teaching tedious in your house because you’ve fallen asleep, crashed and the people have lost power! 

When you Lead While Sleeping, it’s the equivalent to cutting the claws off an animal! You take away their ability to defend themselves against enemy attack! Wake Up! Those you’re leading are losing power! And in this day and time, the last thing the church needs to lose is power!

Luke 10:19, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.” (AMP)

The Church is Powerful, But NOT When …The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you NAPPING…” (1 Peter 5:8 MSG).

Think about it, the term ‘power down’ is defined as, ‘to shut down (ex: a computer system) in a methodical way, concluding by switching the power off. A term that describes the act of closing all of the applications that are running, and then cutting power along with all other devices connected to it.’ As leaders, when we’re caught sleeping while leading, we have powered-down, we’ve switched off our power, ceased all that keeps running and we’ve not only cut our own power but that of all those connected to us! We cannot afford to lose power when lives, souls and eternity is at stake! We have to be fully alert; awake; sharp; and engaged in warfare if we’re to win! Wake up church, the devil is playing for keeps, so keep your eyes open!

Ephesians 6:13-18, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (MSG)

Church, we can’t sleep now, especially since we know not the hour in which our Savior will return!

Matthew 24:30-36, “Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies—no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. At that same moment, he’ll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God’s chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole. “Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you’ll know he’s at the door. Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out. “But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.” (MSG)

No More Leading While Sleeping, Souls Depending On Us Church to Be Fully Alert and Engaged in the Preparation for the Return of Our King! If We’re Sleeping, Many Will Open Their Eyes in Hell and it Will Be Our Fault for Sleeping On the Job! These are the End Times; These are the Last Days; Therefore, Let’s Watch As Well As Pray!

Luke 21:34-36, “But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. SO, WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T GO TO SLEEP AT THE SWITCH. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.” (MSG)

SAINTS, DON’T GO TO SLEEP AT THE SWITCH!

Matthew 24:39-44, “The Son of Man’s Arrival will be like that: Two men will be working in the field—one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill—one will be taken, one left behind. SO STAY AWAKE, ALERT. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up.” (MSG)

It’s vital that we as leaders are awake, alert, engaged and empowered, but don’t forget, every believer is a leader! You lead in your home, your church, your business, your school, your community etc…so ALL of US are admonished to KEEP OUR EYES OPEN AND OUR POWER ON!

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. WAKE UP FROM YOUR SLEEP, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!” (Ephesians 5:11 MSG).

Church, it’s time we realized that we’re living in desperate times! There are those who have heard the gospel, received it and fallen back to their old lives. They are depending on us to help them make it back in time back to the side of righteousness and holiness. We can’t fall asleep now. Many are depending on us to hold our ground so we can help them to get back on their feet. There are those who have never heard the gospel and therefore, they need us awake and alert to share the good news about the gospel of our Living Lord Jesus Christ, before He returns!  There are those who have heard but they’re struggling with straddling the fence between unbelief and faith, they’re depending on us for clarity, character and consistency. Their souls are at stake, we can’t sleep now!

Remember, Satan is waiting for the church to take a nap, so as a hungry lion ready to pounce and devour, he can destroy us. Church, we have too much power to allow that to happen. Remember Jesus told His disciples that we’ve all been given power and authority over all the power and authority of Satan, now, let’s act like we know what we possess!

But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. SO LET’S NOT SLEEPWALK THROUGH LIFE LIKE THOSE OTHERS. LET’S KEEP OUR EYES OPEN AND BE SMART. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. BUT NOT US! Since we’re creatures of Day, LET’S ACT LIKE IT. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4 MSG).

Church, this is our wake-up call! No more leading while sleeping, crashing and causing the church to lose power! Remember, power is the gift the Holy Spirit granted to each of us! Acts 1:8, “But you will receive POWER AND ABILITY when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.” (AMP)

We have received power and ability and it’s to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as we can from the four corners of this earth! But that’s impossible to do while sleeping! So, I charge and challenge you today, as a leader and as a laity, as long as you’re a believer, WAKE UP AND STAY ALERT, His return is sure and soon…don’t sleep and miss it! And don’t let the devil catch you napping, it will give him his desired foot-hole to devour you and all attached to you!

In these perilous times, we the church, cannot afford to be without power!

2 Timothy 3:1-5, “But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, HOLDING TO A FORM OF [OUTWARD] GODLINESS (RELIGION), ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE DENIED ITS POWER [FOR THEIR CONDUCT NULLIFIES THEIR CLAIM OF FAITH]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.” (AMP)

CHURCH, THIS IS DESCRIPTIVE OF THE TIMES, BUT LET IT NOT BE DESCRIPTIVE OF THE CHURCH! LET US NOT DENY THE POWER OF GOD BY OUR CONDUCT! LET’S BE EXAMPLES OF THE POWER OF GOD BY OUR CONDUCT!

“The church should be setting the pace. The church should be taking its proper place of leadership in the nation. God help the church to wake up!” (Billy Graham)

“If John the Baptist came back today, he would not be a voice crying in the Wilderness, but a voice crying in the Church!” (Ravenhill)

“Wake up Church! Toleration is Compromise; Ignorance is Complicity; and Inaction is Approval!” (Author Unknown)

“A lukewarm message may draw many people to your entertainment driven church, but never to the uncompromised Christ.” (Author Unknown)

“We live in a time where Satan doesn’t even hide anymore, and the Church still doesn’t see him” (Author Unknown)

“The modern Church is asleep in sin and nothing but a loud voice of persecution will awaken her.” (Author Unknown)

“It is the devil’s desire that the Lord’s priesthood stay asleep.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

“The Church of Jesus Christ is largely sleeping, like a great bedroom and you have all the Christians in bed and they’re all sleeping and they’re saying ‘please, don’t wake me up.’” (Ian Paisley)

“Another thing I liked about my dad at church; he did his sleeping at home. He never used the church as an adult nursery.” (Vance Havner)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

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“PRAYING IN THE RIGHT POSTURE”

Luke 18:9-14, “He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

This short parable contains a diminutive (‘extremely or unusually small’) prayer that produced a dynamic answer. But before we can fully appreciate the prayer, we need to understand the context.

1…THE AUDIENCE: Jesus, in the presence of His disciples, was specifically addressing: “…some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people…” These were probably the Pharisees, since one of the two characters in the story was a Pharisee. The Pharisees, a Jewish sect, were strict observers of the Mosaic law of the Old Testament. They loved the external, detailed aspects of the law and, when it was not specific enough, they added their own traditions – hundreds of them, in fact. Unfortunately, these overzealous rule-keepers valued the outward keeping of their rules above all else. As a group, because they had become exceedingly self-righteous, they looked down on anyone who was not in their sect.

2…THE SETTING: The two men Jesus told about in the little story had one similarity and many differences. Their similarity was that both: “…went up to the Temple to pray…” For a Jew living during the time of Jesus, the temple was the prime place of prayer. When Solomon dedicated the first temple, his prayer was that God’s eyes would be open to the temple day and night. It was to be the place where God would hear prayers and forgive: (2 Chronicles 6:20-21, “That Your eyes may be open upon this house day and night, toward the place in which You have said You would put Your Name [and the symbol of Your presence], to listen to and heed the prayer which Your servant prays facing this place. So listen to and heed the requests of Your servant and Your people Israel which they shall make facing this place. Hear from Your dwelling place, heaven; and when You hear, forgive.” (AMP). Jews still view the temple in Jerusalem as the supreme location for prayer. Today in modern Jerusalem you can see Jews gathered at the Western Wall of the remains of Solomon’s temple. This sacred place is often called the Wailing Wall and was believed to be the back wall of the Holy of Holies on the temple mount. Three times a day, for thousands of years, Jewish prayers from around the world have been directed toward the Western Wall. Jewish mystical tradition teaches that all prayers from around the world ascend to the Western Wall, and from there, to heaven. The Talmud says, “If someone is praying outside the Land of Israel, he should direct his heart in the direction of Israel. If the person is praying in Israel, he should direct his heart toward Jerusalem. Those in Jerusalem should direct their hearts to the Temple.

3…THE MAIN CHARACTERS: In Jesus’ story, one man was a Pharisee and the other, a tax collector. Jesus, no doubt, used these two types of men because they represented the extremes of the culture. The Pharisees represented the superficially upright, externally moral, legalistic, self-righteous, ultra-right wing of Judaism. The tax collectors signified the bad boys. Because Israel was under Roman occupation, the Jews were saddled with a heavy tax burden. Tax collectors were Jews who collected taxes from their Jewish brothers and sisters for the Romans. This made them traitors in the eyes of their people. To make matters worse, often they were found to be guilty of extortion as well as associating with prostitutes and other “dregs (‘most worthless parts’) of society.” You have to love it!

4…THE INEFFECTIVE PRAYER OF THE PHARISEE: Luke 18:11-12, “The proud religious law-keeper stood and prayed to himself like this, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men. I am not like those who steal. I am not like those who do things that are wrong. I am not like those who do sex sins. I am not even like this tax-gatherer. I go without food two times a week so I can pray better. I give one-tenth part of the money I earn.’” (NLV).

Skillfully, Jesus shows us five reasons why God refused to respond to the Pharisee’s prayer.

1…HE PRAYED FROM A POSITION OF SELF-PROMOTION: When he prayed, he “…STOOD UP…” It was customary for men to stand when they prayed at the temple. But this Pharisee was standing with an attitude. An amplified study of the language reveals that he took his stand ostentatiously“The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray…” (Luke 18:11 AMP). The word “ostentation” is defined as “a flamboyant display which is intended to impress.” It’s Latin Origin “ostendere” literally means “to stretch out to view.” The posture of the prayer may say much about the nature of the prayer and the one praying. Proud men stand in order to be noticed, especially when they pray. The Pharisee’s prayer was pretentious and showy – and God was not impressed! I love the definition of the word “pretentious”, it means “attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.” In other words, acting in “character” while possessing no character. Matthew 6:5-15, “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best—as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” (MSG) NEVER BE SELF-PROMOTING IN PRAYER!

2…THE PHARISEE WAS SELF-CENTERED: He “…PRAYED ABOUT HIMSELF…”. The King James Version says that he “…PRAYED WITH HIMSELF…” The New American Standard Version states he “…PRAYED TO HIMSELF…”. His prayer was self-absorbed. It was to himself, with himself, and about himself. Self-centered people focus their conversations and prayers on themselvesHowever, God’s heart is all about selflessness. Philippians 2:1-4, “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” (MSG) NEVER BE SELF-CENTERED IN PRAYER!

3…THE PHARISEE WAS SELF-RIGHTEOUS: He prayed, “…God, I thank you that I AM NOT LIKE OTHER MEN – robbers, evil-doers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.” He is telling God all the bad things he is too good to do. This Pharisee views himself as too righteous to rob, do evil, or commit adultery. He saw himself as above such lowly behavior. Self-righteous persons love to point out and criticize the shortcomings of others. However, God does not need our help in seeing others’ shortcomings. In fact, the Bible puts it like this, “…If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, SAVING YOUR CRITICAL COMMENTS FOR YOURSELF. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, YOU ARE BADLY DECEIVED.” (Galatians 6:1-3 MSG). NEVER BE SELF-RIGHTEOUS IN PRAYER!

4…THE PHARISEE WAS SELF-ABSORBED: He prayed, “…I FAST TWICE A WEEK AND GIVE A TENTH OF ALL I GET…” He not only told God what he wouldn’t do, but also what he did do that set him apart from ordinary sinful men. This man fit the description of Jesus’ hearers – those “…who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.” (Luke 18:9). Self-absorbed men like to speak of the good they do. However, our awesome God is not awed by our deeds of righteousness. In fact the Bible states, “For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God’s favor, hurrying us toward destruction].” (Isaiah 64:6 AMP). The Common English Bible says it like this: “We have all become like the unclean; all our righteous deeds are like a menstrual rag…” (CEB) Doesn’t sound to me like God cares two cents about our supposed “righteous deeds”, especially when His Word compares them to a used menstrual rag! NEVER BE SELF-ABSORBED IN PRAYER!

5…PRAYER IS OFTEN A WONDERFUL REVEALER OF THE HEART: The Pharisee had a proud, self-promoting, self-centered, self-righteous, self-absorbed heart. But the main cause of his inefficiency in prayer was his self-sufficiency! He did not feel the need to ask God for anything. He had it all together and under control. The biggest problem with legalistic religion is that it quickly digresses to the point where God is no longer needed. For the Pharisee, prayer had become little more than a chance to brag. 2 Corinthians 12:9, “but He has said to me, “MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU [MY LOVINGKINDNESS AND MY MERCY ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH – always available – regardless of the situation]; for [MY] POWER is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly BOAST IN MY WEAKNESSES, SO THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST [MAY COMPLETELY ENFOLD ME AND] MAY DWELL IN ME.” (AMP). You see, you only get to brag about your weakness; it is God who gets to brag about His strength! Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things [which He has called me to do] THROUGH HIM WHO STRENGTHENS AND EMPOWERS ME [TO FULFILL HIS PURPOSE – I AM SELF-SUFFICIENT IN CHRIST’S SUFFICIENCY; I am ready for anything and equal to anything THROUGH HIM WHO INFUSES ME WITH INNER STRENGTH AND CONFIDENT PEACE].” (AMP) Again, it’s not about YOU, it’s about HIM! Philippians 4:19, “And my GOD WILL LIBERALLY SUPPLY (FILL UNTIL FULL) YOUR EVERY NEED ACCORDING TO HIS RICHES IN GLORY IN CHRIST JESUS.” (AMP) No matter how self-sufficient you think you are, it is GOD ALONE, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, where your needs are supplied! NEVER BE SELF-SUFFICIENT IN PRAYER!

And NOW to THE EFFECTIVE PRAYER OF THE TAX COLLECTOR: Luke 18:13, “BUT the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am!” (AMP). Jesus began with the word “But,” signifying that in every way the tax collector was a contrast to the Pharisee. As a result, the tax collector’s prayer was highly effective.

There are several reasons why his prayer succeeded:

FIRST, THE TAX COLLECTOR WAS WITHOUT PRETENSE! “He stood at a distance….” He did not consider himself worthy of a front and center place at the temple. Instead of standing where he could be easily seen, he was entirely UNASSUMING (‘not pretentious or arrogant’). The tax collector was also HUMBLE (‘having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.’ Latin in origin, ‘humilis’ literally means ‘lowly’, from ‘humus’ meaning ‘ground’). Instead of staring confidently into heaven, he prayed with a bowed head and heart, humble enough to be lowly enough, that the image would be that of prostrating on the ground. Modest people bow their heads in deference to those they consider above them. Proverbs 18:12, “Before disaster the heart of a man is haughty and filled with self-importance, BUT HUMILITY COMES BEFORE HONOR.” (AMP); Psalm 147:6, “THE LORD LIFTS UP THE HUMBLE; He casts the wicked down to the ground.” (AMP); James 4:10, “HUMBLE YOURSELVES [WITH AN ATTITUDE OF REPENTANCE AND INSIGNIFICANCE] IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, AND HE WILL EXALT YOU [HE WILL LIFT YOU UP, HE WILL GIVE YOU PURPOSE]” (AMP). Further, HE DID NOT JUDGE OR CONDEMN. He did not tell God how much better he was than someone else. Instead of picking at the splinter in the eye of another, his vision was overwhelmed with the beam in HIS OWN EYE. Matthew 7:5, “You hypocrite (play-actor, pretender), FIRST GET THE LOG OUT OF YOUR OWN EYE, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (AMP). Rather than tout his own righteousness, he simply called himself a SINNER. The tax collector knew better than to try and bluff God or deny the obvious. He knew what he was – A SINNER. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A NUMBER OF YOU KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT, FOR NOT SO LONG AGO YOU WERE ON THAT LIST. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.” (MSG) Unlike the independent Pharisee, the tax collector was DEPENDENT. He did not think he had it all together or could handle it. He knew he was INSUFFICIENT. He knew his need and Who could meet it. So he asked GOD to supply! When someone approaches God with the humble, dependent, unpretentious attitude of the tax collector, his heart is attuned to real needs and right directions. 1 Samuel 16:7, “But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God JUDGES PERSONS DIFFERENTLY THAN HUMANS DO. Men and women look at the face; God LOOKS INTO THE HEART.” (MSG). The tax collector’s prayer was right on target. He not only asked for something, he asked for the right thing, the right way. James 4:2-3, “You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your lust goes unfulfilled; so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God]. You ask [God for something] and do not receive it, BECAUSE YOU ASK WITH WRONG MOTIVES [OUT OF SELFISHNESS OR WITH AN UNRIGHTEOUS AGENDA], so that [when you get what you want] you may spend it on your [hedonistic] desires.” (AMP) Always make sure you motives, intentions and Heart are in right standing with God as you enter prayer!

God wants to answer our prayers, but so often we ask for the wrong things. We pray about non-essentials and miss the real needs of our hearts. This tax collector nailed the request, just as Solomon did when he asked for wisdom, and the disciples when they wanted to be taught to pray. The tax collector asked God for mercy. He offered one of the most effective prayers found in the Bible. “Have mercy on me a sinner.” Our relationship with God is founded upon God’s Mercy. As Isaiah witnessed, God is absolutely holy, without sin in any way, shape, or form. His level of holiness is so intense that the seraphim literally called out the brilliance of His holiness. Isaiah 6:3, “And one called out to another, saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is filled with His glory.” (AMP) On the other hand, we are not holy in any way, shape, or form. We are sinners by nature, deed, attitude and act. The wages of sin is death, and we deserve severe punishment for our continued sin. The best our righteousness merits is total and eternal banishment from God’s presence and from blessing of any type.

YET, GOD IS MERCIFUL! Lamentations 3:22-25, “It is because of the Lord’s MERCY and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness. The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him. The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s Word]” (AMPC)

He can rightfully withhold our punishment because His Mercy drove Jesus to the cross in our place. The Father can spare us because He refused to spare Jesus. Jesus took our penalty. He died in our place. We can be saved. Living in this consumer-centered, commercial-filled world, we are constantly being told that we have a RIGHT for more and better. Such a message may make for an effective advertisement, but it spells poor theology. The tax collector knew what he deserved, and it was not more or better. It was eternal separation from God in outer darkness. So instead of telling God that He must give him the great riches that were his right, he asked God for mercy so he would not receive the judgment he truly did deserve.

The word used here for Mercy is “Hilaskomai”, which is actually the word for an atoning sacrifice. In the fullest sense, the tax collector is saying, “God, be merciful to me through Your atoning sacrifice for sins, because I am a sinner.” The tax collector understood what too many miss. He knew that he could not merit a relationship with God through his own righteousness or good works. Paul summarized this reality with the following words: “Now God has us where He wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 MSG).

NOW FOR MAKING IT PERSONAL: If you never have before, now is the time to say to God the words uttered by the tax collector, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” If you mean it, this can be a soul-saving, life-changing prayer. It was for the tax collector and it has been for untold others. Praying this is our part in being justified or made right with God. “I tell you, this man went down to his home JUSTIFIED (FORGIVEN AND MADE UPRIGHT AND IN RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14 AMP).

Learn to pray as the tax collector, NOT the Pharisee. Lose any trace of arrogance, pretense, self-righteousness, self-centeredness, and self-sufficiency as you approach life in general and prayer in particular. Live and pray with humility, honesty, and modesty. Come dependently to God in prayer. Learn to tell Him what you really need. And oftentimes it’s not Materials, but Mercy!

Tax Collectors Didn’t Have the Best of Reputations, But With Humility, At Least This One Knew How to Get the Right Response From God!

People of God, Remember This: Arrogant Prayers Go Unanswered! It’s Not About the Asking, But the Attitude That Accompanies It!

Lastly, the word ‘posture’ is defined as, ‘a particular position of the body.’ However, an additional definition reads, ‘an approach or attitude towards something.’

Saints, make sure you approach God in prayer with the right motives and intentions in your heart and attitude. Yes, He still answers prayer, but He also exams the posture of that prayer First!

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men angels.” (Saint Augustine)

“Always possess enough confidence to hold your head high, but enough humility to never look down on others.” (Author Unknown)

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” (Rick Warren)

“Humility is the ability to give up your pride and still retain your dignity.” (Vanna Bonta)

“Humility is not denying your strengths, humility is being honest about your weaknesses.” (Rick Warren)

“Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.” (Gordon B. Hinckley)

“Pride is concerned with WHO is right, humility is concerned with WHAT is right.” (Ezra T. Benson)

“Humility is the gateway into the grace and the favor of God.” (Harold Warner)

“True humility is being able to accept criticisms as graciously as we accept compliments.” (Sabrina Newby)

“Humility will open more doors than arrogance ever will.” (Zig Ziglar)

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” (Camille Pissarro)

“Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.” (Andrew Murray)

“In a rice field, you would notice which heads are bent, which heads are standing up straight. The empty heads are standing tall and high, but the heads that are filled up with grains are bending low. Indeed, the true great and strong people are humble and gentle and they won’t mind bowing low.” (Mar Razalan)

“The X-Factor of great leadership is not personality, it’s humility.” (Jim Collins)

“Humility enables us to have broken hearts when we sin or make mistakes and makes it possible for us to repent.” (Steven E. Snow)

“The higher we are placed, the more humbly we should walk.” (Author Unknown)

“Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue. And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil.” (Andrew Murray)

“We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean…and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.” (First Lady Michelle Obama)

“Pride will encourage you to scream, ‘that’s just the way I am’ in hopes that you won’t hear the soft whisper of humility saying, ‘yes, but is that the way you should be?’” (Author Unknown)

“Pride feeds the flesh but humility feeds the soul.” (Author Unknown)

“Pride in the end is put on mute, but humility speaks volumes.” (I. Daniel)

“Humility is the first rule of martial arts. Either you learn humility quickly, or you leave because your ego can’t handle losing repeatedly.” (George St. Pierre)

“Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excels pride and ignorance in costly attire.” (William Penn)

“Humility comes from discovering who you truly are, and then realizing how desperately you need God.” (Mark Brown)

“Don’t be impressed by money, followers, degrees and titles. Do be impressed by generosity, integrity, humility and kindness.” (Author Unknown)

“Humility is not weakness; it is the epitome of strength. Humility moves a person away from human, personal weakness and limitation into divine expression, strength, and expansion.” (Donald Curtis)

1 Peter 5:6-7, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” (AMP)

Numbers 12:3, “(Now the man Moses was very humble (gentle, kind, devoid of self-righteousness), more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)” (AMP)

Ephesians 4:2, “with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love.” (AMP)

Psalm 149:4, “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.” (AMP)

Colossians 3:12, “So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper];” (AMP)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

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“when life knocks you down, kneel at the throne of grace!”

Hebrews 4:13, And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.”  (AMP)

Pastor Craig shared the following: “The barber shop I used to go to was definitely a man’s world, and you got far more than just a haircut when you went there; you also got an ear full. See, something happens when men sit down in a barber’s chair. It’s as if they were administered truth serum, and they start to suddenly talk openly about their relationships, marriage, kids, health issues, and job frustrations, whether you want to hear it or not. The same happens in bars, too, or so I’ve been told. The barber, the bartender, and even the beautician, they all seem to be like “Safe” people that you can sort of unload on. Unfortunately, however, they can listen, but they usually can’t help very much. Understanding this, makes it clear to me that there’s something in all of us that’s looking for somewhere we can really let out what we’re always holding in. You need it; I need it too. It’s Called A Safe Place

Well, Hebrews 4:13-16 declares, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we possess. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way just as we are yet was without sin. Let us then approach the Throne of Grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Now, that’s what you call a Great Passage of Scripture!

All of us carry a heart full of emotions that we sometimes don’t feel “Safe” to share. But, we need to. If we don’t, they just boil up inside, and often they boil over out of us and Unintentionally Hurt People! Especially Those Whom We Love Dearly!

You see, instead of “Safely” exposing them, we cover them, we mask them, we redirect them. Why? Well, we’re afraid that the person’s attitude, the one we’ll tell, might change if they know what we Really feel, what we Really did, what we Really said, what we Really thought, or who we Really are!

Truth is, there’s this little boy or girl inside all of us that’s sometimes insecure and scared, AND Well Covered up! And unfortunately, the older we get, the more Skillful we become at knowing how to Better cover it up with our mask! We get a fresh haircut or a fresh hairdo, put a smile on our face and simply say “Nothing’s wrong, don’t worry about me, I’ve got it all together. I’m fine“. And yet there’s this deep anger or hurt inside that we don’t want anyone else to see, and it hurts. There’s fear, there’s doubt, there’s an agonizing struggle with some sin, or secret longing or long ago unhealed physical, spiritual, mental or emotional wound, that has Never been attended to or treated. Well, if that’s you, here’s some good news just for you: GOD ALREADY KNOWS!

That’s what this passage says. In one translation it actually reads, “Everything is naked and open before Him.” In other words, we can’t under any circumstance surprise Him! You don’t go to Him and tell Him your struggles only to hear Him say, “Oh, you’re kidding! Really? I didn’t know that.” Because, HE ALREADY KNOWS! And since He already knows the deepest secrets of your soul, HE’S THE BEST SAFE PLACE TO UNLOAD!

So stop suffering in silence, and go ahead and tell Him!

Tell Him about the affair, tell Him what you stole or what was stolen from you, tell Him about your insecurity or deep hurt. Tell Him how you Really feel about what she said or what he did. Tell Him about your loneliness, emptiness and feelings of low self-worth.

You can’t shock Him! He Already Knows! You’re not telling Him to INFORM Him, you’re telling Him to FREE YOURSELF!

And you don’t have to worry about having it all together before you go to tell Him either! He Already Knows this thing has torn you to pieces! So you can be scared there, you can be wounded with Him, you can be weak, you can be wiped out. You can be vulnerable and unsure of yourself. In His presence, FOR ONCE you don’t have to have it all together!

You don’t have to look good. You don’t have to be in control. You don’t have to have your tie straight, and your dress pressed. You don’t have to have a smile on your face and eloquent words on your lips. You don’t have to walk confident! You don’t have to wonder if He’s going to turn His back on you.

Because no matter what you say to Him, HE ALREADY KNOWS!

Telling Him about your sin doesn’t sever you from being a Son of God, nor does telling Him about your dirt disinherit you as a Daughter of the King!

Believe it or not, even the Most Elaborate of Palaces Collect Dust and Dirt! So your rubbish doesn’t remove your Royal Status in the Kingdom! SO TAKE A LOAD OFF AND TELL HIM! HE’S YOUR SAFE PLACE!

The tragedy is we often don’t take advantage of this opportunity for openness with God. Instead we come to Him all wrapped up in some kind of religious prayer talk with all of our ‘thus, ye, thou and saith’! We dress up our hurt and skirt the real issues!

Matthew 6:2-5, “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. [ Pray with Simplicity ] “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?” (MSG)

Matthew 6:9-13, “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.” (MSG)

Do not come before God in prayer play-acting! This is the time not for a character-role, but for your real life self to come before your God to talk…naked and unashamed! This is the time to give God all of your honesty, with no fluff wording!

We refuse to put the right name on what we’re feeling, because it might scare us to call it what it Really is. But you can’t get delivered until you can define your hurt!

As Leaders, we often times do great damage to our churches when we push people to keep on pressing through instead of sitting down and re-evaluating themselves and their issues!

We want them to constantly scream Victory, Praise, Warrior, Restored, when in actuality, we need them to be honest that when they go home (after the music has stopped, the sermon is over and the anointed atmosphere has lifted) the truthful words they speak are Defeated, Exhausted, Depressed, Scared, Insecure, Confused, Worried and Suicidal.

Church, we can’t keep slapping Scriptures and Spiritual Words on Everything!

People need a “Safe” place to unload their stuff! And sometimes their stuff is not going to sound all that pretty or powerful! Only the TRUTH will set them free, so if we keep teaching them how to Masquerade behind church lingo or church activity, they will forever be BELIEVERS IN BONDAGE!

It’s high time we stop coming to God all dressed up! After all, we’ll Always be “…naked and open before Him!…” says the Scripture! No matter what Steve Harvey original or Rhinestone (suit, shoes, hat and pocketbook to match) that we come dressed or MASKED in, He Already Knows what we really look like! So let’s start our praying where we Really are; not where we should be, or where we think, others think, we should be. When you come Real, open, honest and naked, something supernatural always happens! You go to the Throne of Grace and you get mercy and grace to help you in your time and hour of need!

I’m one of those teachers who love to use analogies, so let’s try this: Stacy needs $100, I have $100 to give her, I just need to know WHERE SHE’S AT so I can bring it to her. I ask Stacy where she is, she says 200 Clinton Street, but she’s actually at 100 Clinton Street! Does Stacy get what she needs? NO! Was what she needed available to her? YES! What was the one and only problem? STACY WASN’T HONEST ABOUT WHERE SHE REALLY WAS! Likewise, you’ll NEVER be able to get the healing, deliverance, and peace you need until you can talk to God and tell Him EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE! And sometimes exactly where you are will sound like this:

‘I’m terrified about this diagnosis’; ‘I’m frustrated about taking all of these pills’; ‘I’m in so much pain, why can’t the doctors figure out what’s wrong with me?’; ‘I’m confused about whether to stay in this marriage or finally file for divorce’; ‘I don’t know what else to do about my children, my daughter is flunking out of school, and I have no idea what I’ll do if my son comes home talking about another baby mama’; ‘They’ve laid off almost everyone in my department, what will I do if I’m next?’; ‘I’m about to default on my mortgage’; “I don’t know how to recover from this loss or heal from this grief”; ‘Tuition just went up again’; ‘The car won’t start’; ‘My parents are getting older and their health is failing, and there’s only me’; ‘I’m tired, weary, lonely, ashamed, angry, bitter, resentful, exhausted’; ‘I can’t cry another tear’; ‘Will I pass this exam’; ‘What will I put on the table for dinner with no food in the fridge?’

And beyond the physical, some of your bigger struggles behind where you Really are, are spiritual, and sound like this:

‘What’s the point of praying since God isn’t listening?’; ‘What’s the point of asking when I always get a ‘no’, what’s the point of seeking when I remain lost, what’s the point in knocking when the door Never opens for me?’; ‘My faith is on empty’; ‘My hope has become helpless’; ‘My strength has weakened’; ‘My praise has been on pause for a little while now’; ‘My worship can’t get one hallelujah out anymore’; ‘The more I try to walk by faith, my feet keep stumbling in fear over all I see’; ‘The sermons are always about blessings, breakthrough, healing, deliverance, promises, promotion, joy and peace, so what’s the point of me listening, since that’s a Word that’s never for me and my household?’; ‘I can’t remember the last time I had the slightest desire to read the Bible’; ‘All of my songs have turned to sighs’.

Truth is, telling God the truth about where you Really are, can be the most painful conversation you’ll ever have in your life. But if you are to be set free, you have to be honest, even when honesty cuts like a knife! In a nutshell: Stop saying I’m Fine when you’re actually Falling Apart! Only the TRUTH will set you Free! So tell God the Truth! ALL OF IT! It will open up that diseased area in your life to God’s healing power. Then you can finally start to become what you ought to be, because you finally started admitting what you’re not! In other words, don’t act like you’re whole when you’re not, be honest and finally be whole, FOR REAL!

So who needs the barber, or the beautician, or the bartender to confess to? We’ve got a Savior, and He knows you, and He feels with you, and He’s walked your trail. He alone is the “Safe” place to unload the deepest secrets of your soul. You need not carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, not when He’s given you this command and promise: Casting the WHOLE of your care [ALL your anxieties, ALL your worries, ALL your concerns, once and for ALL] on HIM, for HE cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” (1 Peter 5:7 AMP). Did you get all of that? God doesn’t just want you to give Him what happened yesterday, but you are to cast the WHOLE of your care, ALL of it on HIM! God is waiting for you to tell Him everything! He wants to be your personal confidant! ‘Confidant’ is defined as, ‘a person in whom one confides.’ And ‘confide’ is defined as, ‘to tell someone about a secret or private matter in confidence.’ Its Latin origin ‘confidere’ literally means, ‘to have full trust.’ And what does the Bible admonish us about Trust? Proverbs 3:5-12, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart;don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life…” (MSG) And how do you get all of that? By TRUSTING GOD! God desires to be the confidant that you confide in. He desires to be the one you tell all of your secrets to (even the dirty ones that no one but the ones you did dirt with know about). He desires to be the person you trust with your private matters in complete confidence. He places no conditions or stipulations on what you can tell Him! He wants the WHOLE of it, He wants ALL of it, so why are you holding it all to yourself?!

God isn’t telling you to only tell Him the good stuff either! He’s telling you to tell Him about all the anxieties, the worries, and the concerns! In fact, He doesn’t just want you to tell Him, but He wants you to CAST them ALL on Him! That word ‘cast’, is defined as, ‘to throw forcefully; to discard; to shed’ Listen, God isn’t looking for you to approach Him with eloquent words, and hands lifted up in adoration. NO! He’s saying, ‘I won’t take it personal, just throw it all at Me, even if you have to do so forcefully, I can take it, I can handle it!’ Your job is to ‘discard’ (‘to get rid of what is no longer useful or desirable; to reject’); and to ‘shed’ (‘allow to fall off; discard; get rid of; take off; cast or give off; separate; divide; scatter’) So, why is all of that stuff still in your possession?! When God Himself said, to cast it, discard it, and shed it! 

People of God, you are carrying weight God never gave you. You are carrying burdens that God is waiting for you to hand over to Him. You are trying to figure out stuff with your finite mind, when you have an infinite God shaking His head wondering how much longer is My child going to suffer and struggle needlessly as if I were absent, and not present?!

In Case You Forgot: You are NEVER Alone!

Hebrews 13:5, “Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I WILL NOT IN ANY WAY FAIL YOU NOR GIVE YOU UP NOR LEAVE YOU WITHOUT SUPPORT. [I WILL] NOT, [I WILL] NOT, [I WILL] NOT IN ANY DEGREE LEAVE YOU HELPLESS NOR FORSAKE NOR LET [YOU] DOWN (RELAX MY HOLD ON YOU)! [ASSUREDLY NOT!]” (AMP)

Did You Read That? “…for HE [GOD] HIMSELF HAS SAID…” He Didn’t Send a Prophet, He Didn’t Send a Prayer Team, He Didn’t Have Anyone to Preach It or Teach It and Hope You Get It! NO!  “…for HE [GOD] HIMSELF HAS SAID…” HE LOVES YOU SO MUCH THAT HE’S SPEAKING DIRECTLY TO YOU HIMSELF! AND WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO SAY THAT’S SO SUPER IMPORTANT THAT HE WON’T LET ANYONE SPEAK ON HIS BEHALF? HE SAYS TO YOU…TODAY:

“…I WILL NOT IN ANY WAY FAIL YOU NOR GIVE YOU UP NOR LEAVE YOU WITHOUT SUPPORT. [I WILL] NOT, [I WILL] NOT, [I WILL] NOT IN ANY DEGREE LEAVE YOU HELPLESS NOR FORSAKE NOR LET [YOU] DOWN (RELAX MY HOLD ON YOU)! [ASSUREDLY NOT!]”

That’s a Whole Lot More Than Just: “I’m your boy, I got your back or I’m here for you girl”! GOD HIMSELF SAYS, REPETITIVELY MIGHT I ADD, I WILL NOT IN ANY WAY FAIL YOU, NOR GIVE YOU UP, NOR LEAVE YOU WITHOUT SUPPORT, NOT IN ANY DEGREE, I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU HELPLESS, I’LL NEVER FORSAKE YOU, I’LL NEVER LET YOU DOWN, I’LL NEVER RELAX MY HOLD ON YOU!

The Common English Bible says it like this: “…GOD HAS SAID, I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR ABANDON YOU” (Hebrews 13:5 CEV) I Don’t Know About You, But I Love to Hear God Say NEVER! “Never” is defined as “At No Time In the Past, Present or Future; Not On Any Occasion; Not Ever; Not At All; Absolutely Not; Not to Any Degree or Extent; Certainly Not; Surely Not; In No Case; By No Means”

In other words, No Matter What You Have to Go to God and Tell Him, He Will NEVER: “At No Time In the Past, Present or Future; Not On Any Occasion; Not Ever; Not At All; Absolutely Not; Not to Any Degree or Extent; Certainly Not; Surely Not; In No Case; By No Means” FORSAKE, ABANDON OR LEAVE YOU!!! IF THAT’S NOT LOVE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS! WITH A PROMISE, GUARANTEE, DECLARATION, DECREE LIKE THIS, WHAT’S KEEPING YOU FROM GOING TO GOD HONEST AND OPEN FEELING COMPLETELY SAFE TO TELL HIM EVERYTHING?! YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO GO TO ANYONE ELSE NAKED AND NOT ASHAMED, BUT WHEN YOU COME TO GOD, NO COVER-UP IS NEEDED! YOUR FIG LEAVES CAN STAY ON THE TREE!

Listen: He cares for you, He’s concerned about you, ALL OF YOU, even your secret sins and struggles don’t diminish His devotion! So, Unload on Him Today, He’s Strong Enough to Carry It and You! He Is Your Safe Place!

You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “GOD, YOU’RE MY REFUGE. I TRUST IN YOU AND I’M SAFE!” (Psalm 91:1-2 MSG).

“Get on your knees and ask for the blessings of the Lord; then stand on your feet and do what you are asked to do.” (Gordon B. Hinckley)

“Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.” (D.L. Moody)

“If weak in prayer, we are weak everywhere.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

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“YOUR HIGHEST ACHIEVEMENT IS BECOMING A LOWLY SERVANT”

Matthew 20:24-28, “When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. WHOEVER WANTS TO BE GREAT MUST BECOME A SERVANT. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. THAT IS WHAT THE SON OF MAN HAS DONE: HE CAME TO SERVE, NOT BE SERVED—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.” (MSG)

So, there have been a number of movies and television shows about angels taking human form. But “Touched by an Angel” I must say, is one of my absolute favorites. It was a television series that ran for nine seasons (however, you can still find it in “re-run” land). But I remember this particular episode (for some reason, it really stuck with me) where a young angel was kneeling at the feet of a homeless man. He had been in prison for a long time, and when he came out, he was pretty unkempt. In other words, he didn’t look like the type of person you would think an angel would host company with. Especially since when we think of or hear of angels, they’re often dressed in white, with gold, and smiling, and beautiful, and glowing and spotless and perfect. Not necessarily the type to be found among someone who is dirty, stinking, and is a homeless criminal! But this angel had a basin of water, and the man was telling her not to do what she was about to do. After all, can you imagine someone glowing in pearly white, kneeling down to touch someone so disgustingly filthy? Well, even if you can’t imagine it, that’s just what this angel was about to do, kneel down and wash this guy’s disgustingly filthy feet! She looked at him with tears in her eyes and she gave an answer that came from deep in her heart. She said, “I have to do this so I remember who I am. God’s servant.” I guess that’s why it stuck with me!

In Matthew 20:25, the disciples are having some problems because they all want to be the top dog on Jesus’ team. The Bible says, “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you’” – [now imagine them holding their breath, “Yeah, yeah, what is it?“] – “MUST BE YOUR SERVANT.” You can imagine their heads suddenly at half-mast. “Whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.

Jesus totally inverts our human idea of which position is really important. He told His disciples – and all of us His followers – to go for the highest title on earth; the one He chose, the one He lived: “SERVANT”!

Though the “Touched by an Angel” episode is obviously fiction, the angel in it was thinking like Jesus. Although she had all the powers of an angel and had messages directly from God, she didn’t want to forget who she really was – a servant, a foot-washer, someone who is here to pour out her life in the service of others, not herself. Well, that’s my calling and it’s your calling too. And that is Gospel fact, not fiction!

Yet, we need to re-exam what it really means to be a Servant:

Exodus 14:31, “…they believed in the Lord, AND IN HIS SERVANT MOSES.” (AMP);

Exodus 32:13, “Remember ABRAHAM, ISAAC, AND ISRAEL (JACOB), YOUR SERVANTS…” (AMP);

Numbers 14:24, “But My SERVANT CALEB…” (AMP);

Psalm 89:20, “I have found DAVID MY SERVANT…” (AMP);

2 Chronicles 32:16, “And his servants said even more against the Lord God and against HIS SERVANT HEZEKIAH.” (AMP);

1 Kings 18:36, “At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, ELIJAH the prophet approached [the altar] and said, “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Jacob), let it be known today that You are God in Israel AND THAT I AM YOUR SERVANT…” (AMP);

Isaiah 20:3, “And the Lord said, “Even as MY SERVANT ISAIAH…” (AMP);

Titus 1:1, “PAUL, A BOND-SERVANT OF GOD…” (AMP);

James 1:1, “JAMES, A BOND-SERVANT OF GOD AND OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST…” (AMP);

Jude 1:1, “JUDE, A BOND-SERVANT OF JESUS CHRIST…” (AMP);

However, my favorite is: Joshua 24:29, “It happened after these things that JOSHUA THE SON OF NUN, THE SERVANT OF THE LORD, died, at the age of a hundred and ten years.” (AMP)

God’s Servants in just these few Scriptures are: Moses; Caleb; Abraham; Isaac; Jacob; David; Hezekiah; Elijah; Isaiah; Paul; James; and Jude. Yet, my favorite is Joshua. Why? Because at the end of Joshua’s 110 years of life, descriptive of his life of leadership, is not all the exploits, and victories, but it is simply, “…the SERVANT of the Lord…”

Now, to be honest, these are men that anyone and everyone (even saved and unsaved alike) would know their names! Who doesn’t know Moses and the Red Sea? Who doesn’t know Caleb as a Confident Spy? Who doesn’t know the extraordinary Faith of Abraham? Who doesn’t know about the Promised Isaac? Who doesn’t know about the Changed Jacob (Israel)? Who doesn’t know about the most powerful king and anointed psalmist on earth, David? Who doesn’t know about the Prayer of king Hezekiah that added years to his life? Who doesn’t know about the powerful Prophetic Displays of Elijah? Who doesn’t know about the bible in a bible, Isaiah? Who doesn’t know about the Apostle of all Apostles, Paul? Who doesn’t know about the Wise James? Who doesn’t know about the awesome Benediction Promises of Jude? Who doesn’t know about these men?

YET, all of them are known most, biblically, and simply as GOD’S SERVANTS! Not their anointing, gifts, wonders, positions, titles, triumphs and the like. But that they were GOD’S SERVANTS!

And most of all Joshua, the one who lets us know that Success is Ultimately Attained Through the Keeping of the Word of God! And yet, even in his powerful testament, he is also known, for being GOD’S SERVANT! Even after 110 years of service and great accomplishments, he’s known most for being THE SERVANT OF THE LORD!

I know that in today’s church, we have a very different view of leadership from the ones listed above. Today, it’s on where you sit, what you wear, what you’re called, who you’re around, where you’re invited, your social status etc…but there was a time when leadership and servitude went hand in hand. Whether you were in the pulpit or in the pew, leadership and servitude still held hands. You used to see the “towels of leadership in its servitude.” What happened? David didn’t insist on being called King, he just knew he was a King and therefore served as King. So did Paul the Apostle, and Elijah the Prophet. None demanding being called by a leadership title, but allowing their calling to leadership to be announced via serving.

Who knew that the HIGHEST position was the LOWEST?

You don’t find Greatness in HIGH places, you find it amongst the LOWEST.

You see, when we sacrifice our own comfort, our own needs, and our own pride for others, we are remembering who we are…GOD’S SERVANTS!

Sadly, today, it’s so easy to forget that. Especially when your life is so full and so you become really self-focused just to get it all done, or to get your needs met. Maybe you’ve developed a case of creeping self-importance recently. Strangely enough, when God starts using us, we tend to forget we are SERVANTS still. We begin to think we’re stars or heroes or someone who’s above the dirty work, the little jobs, the needs of one person who has nothing really to contribute to us. Somehow we’ve developed the misconception that the more God uses us, the more important we are. Wrong! We are not to become Important, just Impactful! Not Amazing, just Available! Not being Served, but Serving!

I think many of us have started to almost feel like a privileged character; entitled to be recognized, acknowledged and celebrated. But at that point, we have left the blueprint of Jesus, and started building our own faulty throne and kingdom. For even though He was the mighty Son of God, His agenda was not to have others serve Him but to totally serve others to the point of dying for us. Which makes me think we need to start asking ourselves, “what’s my real agenda in ‘serving’ God? Is it just about me? Or is it about them? Is it for His glory or mine? For His name or mine? For His recognition or mine? For His reputation or mine? Why am I serving God? What am I getting out of it? What are they getting out of it? And most important, what is HE getting out of it?

Listen: No matter what positions you hold, no matter what recognition you receive, no matter who you are or what you do, it never changes your real title. SERVANT! No matter how many degrees you earn or pay for, you are a Servant. No matter how many pats on the back you receive, you are still a Servant. No matter how much your civics/vestments cost, you are still a Servant. No matter where you sit in the church, at the conference or convocation, what you wear, or what title they call you by, you are still a Servant. No matter where you live, what you drive, where you work, what you earn, what you own, who you oversee, or how many, you are still but a Servant.

So before you go lifting and holding your head high, remember to look low, there are still some feet to be washed. And as His Servant, it’s time you get a Towel, not another Title!

There’s some dirty work to do. There are unnoticed acts of kindness to be done and there’s a lot of unlovable people to love. Look for those assignments, because they’ll help you remember who you really are…God’s Servant!

In the “Touched by an Angel” episode, she said, “she had to wash his feet, because it reminded her of who she is. God’s Servant.” What do you need to do starting today to remind yourself that you too are God’s Servant? Do you need to feed someone, clothe someone, visit someone, dress someone, help someone go through school, help someone revise their resume so they can finally get a job and get on their feet? Do you need to finance someone, shelter someone, pick up and drive someone? Do you need to visit the emergency room, the jail house, the nursing home, the sick and shut in, the hospice, the cancer center, the dialysis center, the chemo center? After all, servants serve, no matter where, no matter who. Servants don’t dress up and sit in prestigious seats, and wait for someone to walk up to them with a towel to wipe their sweat and hand them a cup of juice. No, servants serve.

Remember God’s Servant Examples: Moses; Caleb; Abraham; Isaac; Jacob; David; Hezekiah; Elijah; Isaiah; Paul; James; and Jude. They all served God greatly! Yet, my favorite is Joshua. Why? Because, and I reiterate, at the end of Joshua’s 110 years of life, descriptive of his life of leadership, is not all the exploits, and victories, but it is simply, “…the SERVANT of the Lord…”

People of God, don’t get so caught up in recognition, awards, name dropping, title calling and the like. That’s not our purpose and should never be our aim and goal. Instead, remember the Kingdom Leadership Trait of Jesus: John 13:1-17, “Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal. Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, SET ASIDE HIS ROBE, AND PUT ON AN APRON. THEN HE POURED WATER INTO A BASIN AND BEGAN TO WASH THE FEET OF THE DISCIPLES, DRYING THEM WITH HIS APRON. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.” Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!” Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.” “Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!” Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table. Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. SO IF I, THE MASTER AND TEACHER, WASHED YOUR FEET, YOU MUST NOW WASH EACH OTHER’S FEET. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A SERVANT is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.” {MSG}

The Godly Leader Is One Who Stoops to Help Another, Who Counts Others Better Than Himself (Philippians 2:3-4“Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.” AMP);

The Godly Leader Is One Who Seeks to Serve Rather Than to be Served (Luke 22:27, “For who is the greater, the one who reclines at table (the master), or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am in your midst as One Who Serves” AMP).

Jesus Himself Served! And in His own words, He’s given us the example and pattern for how we are to conduct ourselves as leaders…WE ARE TO SERVE! So the next time you’re remembering who you are, don’t forget to include: I am a servant; I am God’s helper; I am my brother and sisters keeper; I am assigned to lift up those who have fallen down; I am here to exalt His name, not mine; I am called to be humble; I am called to help those in need; I am called to support those who need assistance; I am to be His unassuming witness; I am to focus the attention on Him, not me.

Today, be a good witness of what a good servant looks and lives like. Others may just see your example and follow suit. Let your light for God shine, just make sure it’s not a spotlight! Remember: Your Highest Achievement is to Simply Become a Lowly Servant. Let no one lift you up on a pedestal that will cause God to come and knock you down from it! Be Ye Holy For the Lord Your God is Holy. In addition, Be Ye HUMBLE for the Lord Your God is HUMBLE!

“Good leaders must first become good servants.”  {Robert Greenleaf}

“True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not to enrich the leader.”  {John C. Maxwell}

“Servant-leadership is more than a concept, it is a fact. Any great leader, by which I also mean an ethical leader of any group, will see herself or himself as a servant of that group and will act accordingly.”  {M. Scott Peck}

“Whatever our career may be, true leadership means to receive power from God and to use it under Gods rule to serve people in Gods way.”  {Leighton Ford}

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”  {Max De Pree}

“A Godly Leader finds strength by realizing his weakness, finds authority by being under authority, finds direction by laying down his own plans, finds vision by seeing the needs of others, finds credibility by being an example, finds loyalty by expressing compassion, finds honor by being faithful, finds greatness by being a servant.”  {Roy Lessin}

“We must be silent before we can listen. We must listen before we can learn. We must learn before we can prepare. We must prepare before we can serve. We must serve before we can lead.”  {William Arthur Ward}

“Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.”  {Marian Anderson}

“There is no more noble occupation in the world than to assist another human being to help someone succeed.”  {Alan Loy McGinnis}

“My research debunks the myth that many people seem to have . . . that you become a leader by fighting your way to the top. Rather, you become a leader by helping others to the top. Helping your employees is as important, and many times more so, than trying to get the most work out of them.”
{William Cohen}

“People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  {John C. Maxwell}

“The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.”  {J. Carla Nortcutt}

“Being a leader who serves is very different from being a servant leader.”  {Isabel O. Lopez}

“A person who is worthy of being a leader wants power not for himself, but in order to be of service.” {US Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr.}

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”  {Jim Rohn}

“Use power to help people. For we are given power not to advance our own purposes nor to make a great show in the world, not a name. There is but one just use of power and it is to serve people.” {US President George Bush}

“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”  {Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.}

“Life is a place of service. Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.” {Leo Tolstoy}

“Leaders don’t inflict pain – they share pain.”  {Max Depree}

“Servant-leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don’t work for you, you work for them.” {Ken Blanchard}

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

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“god hears and sees…even me”

Genesis 16:7-13, “The angel of the Lord met Hagar at a spring in the desert on the road to Shur and said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She answered, “I am running away from my mistress.” He said, “Go back to her and be her slave.” Then he said, “I will give you so many descendants that no one will be able to count them. You are going to have a son, and you will name him Ishmael, because THE LORD HAS HEARD YOUR CRY OF DISTRESS. But your son will live like a wild donkey; he will be against everyone, and everyone will be against him. He will live apart from all his relatives.” Hagar asked herself, “Have I really seen God and lived to tell about it?” So she called the Lord, who had spoken to her, “A GOD WHO SEES” (GNT)

There are times in life when you simply get dealt a bad hand and no longer want to play. There are times in life when you’ve been hit so hard, from every direction, that you have no idea where else to turn. There are times in life when you’re surrounded by so many that have hurt you that all you want to do is flee to the nearest place where you can just be alone. However, alone time is not always as bad as many make it out to be. Because often it’s not until you are alone that you truly value the presence of God.

Let’s be honest, from day-to-day, we have to deal with people (voluntarily and involuntarily), and sometimes they can push buttons that you have no reset button for!

Well Hagar had someone like that in Mrs. Sarai. And truth is, some of what Hagar got, she deserved…listen: Genesis 16:4-6, He went in to [the bed of] Hagar, and she conceived; AND WHEN SHE REALIZED THAT SHE HAD CONCEIVED, SHE LOOKED WITH CONTEMPT ON HER MISTRESS [REGARDING SARAI AS INSIGNIFICANT BECAUSE OF HER INFERTILITY]. Then Sarai said to Abram, “May [the responsibility for] the wrong done to me [BY THE ARROGANT BEHAVIOR OF HAGAR] be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, and when she realized that she had conceived, I WAS DESPISED AND LOOKED ON WITH DISRESPECT. May the Lord judge [who has done right] between you and me.”But Abram said to Sarai, “Look, your maid is entirely in your hands and subject to your authority; do as you please with her.” SO SARAI TREATED HER HARSHLY AND HUMILIATED HER, AND HAGAR FLED FROM HER.” (AMP)

Hagar became haughty and Sarai became harsh!

Isn’t it absolutely amazing what happens when you travel outside the will and direction of God?

So, Hagar did what was descriptive of her name, and she fled! You see, “Hagar” means “Flight”, and therefore she ‘took off’!

Genesis 16:7-14, “But the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, on the road to [Egypt by way of] Shur. And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where did you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress, and submit humbly to her authority.” Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.” The Angel of the Lord continued, “Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall name him Ishmael (GOD HEARS), Because the Lord has heard and paid attention to your persecution (suffering). “He (Ishmael) will be a wild donkey of a man; His hand will be against every man [continually fighting] And every man’s hand against him; And he will dwell in defiance of all his brothers.” Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “YOU ARE GOD WHO SEES”; for she said, “Have I not even here [in the wilderness] remained alive after seeing Him [who sees me with understanding and compassion]?” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi (Well of the Living One Who Sees Me); it is between Kadesh and Bered.” (AMP).

Listen to verse 7 again, “But the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, on the road to [Egypt by way of] Shur.” (AMP) Hagar, fled from Sarai (abuse, hurt, harsh treatment etc…) and she went to the desert, the wilderness of “Shur” which means “enclosure and wall”. Isn’t that just like many of us? When we’re dealing with something painful we run and ultimately end up hitting a brick wall, enclosed and alone with our hurt and pain. We become isolated, not wanting to go out and not wanting anyone to come in. We shut down, shut others out and we shut ourselves in.

However, this is one time when an ugly situation, still holds some beauty.

Listen to this: Nantucket—is a romantic island off the coast of MassachusettsWaterbrook—is a humble cabin in the woods in the mountains north of New York CityLong Beach Island—is a little house by the Jersey shore. See, those are places where Tom says his wife Nancy has been her most beautiful. And that’s not because she had new makeup on, or was all dressed up, or did her hair differently. No, those are just some places where they’ve gone to be alone, and where Tom finally slowed down and noticed her again. Tom will be the first to tell you that his wife Nancy is beautiful all the timebut he doesn’t notice it all the time, because he sees her best when they’re alone. And if you just happen to be alone right now, somewhat like Hagar, then let’s talk for a moment.

Genesis 16:7 tells the story of a young woman named Hagar. Maybe you remember that Abram and Sarai got impatient for God to send the son that He had promised, and Sarai was getting older and older. The baby didn’t come, so Sarai, going along with the customs of that day, suggested that Abram sleep with Hagar, her maidservant, and then Hagar would be the surrogate mother through whom a child would come. In a nutshell, they couldn’t wait for God to do it His way, so they had to figure out a way they were going to do it themselves. It’s not how God wanted it done however, but they proceeded with their own plan and as a result, Hagar gets pregnant, but Sarai gets a little jealous. And Hagar gets a little caustic herself.

Now we find her out in the desert all alone because guess what? She’s been driven there by her mistress, Sarai (not that Hagar didn’t have something to do with the treatment she received as well). However, here she is used, rejected, deserted, pregnant, and alone in the desert. At this point, she’s the picture of abandonment; all alone, or so she thinks.

Genesis 16:7, “The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert. The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has HEARD of your misery.’” He goes on to describe some of what to expect from this son, and then she gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her. “‘You are the God who SEES me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who SEES me.’ That’s why the well is called Beer Lahai Roi.” Which, by the way, means “the well of the Living One who SEES me.”

It’s interesting the name of God here, “I have seen the One who sees me.” Maybe right now you’re in the desert; it’s a very lonely desert. The marriage has fallen apart, the relationship is over, the job let you go, you don’t have enough money to finish school, you’re losing the house, apartment, car, even your sanity. But believe it or not, God sees you in your loneliness, and He has heard your tears. The broken relationship, the lost loved one, the years of living alone, the collapse of your family; God sees you. He knows just how to locate you. Genesis 16:7, “An angel of God FOUND HER…” (MSG)As bad as it seems, or as bad as it actually is, neither can shield you from the eyesight of God! He sees you, and that’s the most comforting news a lonely, broken heart can receive.

Psalm 139:7-12, “Is there anyplace I can go to avoid Your Spirit? To be out of Your sight? If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute – You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, ‘Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!’ It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You.” (MSG)

It is utterly IMPOSSIBLE for you to go Unseen and Unheard of by God! He Will Always See AND Hear You!

Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is God’s Message, the God Who made earth, made it liveable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘CALL TO ME AND I WILL ANSWER YOU. I’LL TELL YOU MARVELOUS AND WONDROUS THINGS THAT YOU COULD NEVER FIGURE OUT ON YOUR OWN.’ (MSG);

Isaiah 65:24, “I WILL ANSWER THEM BEFORE THEY EVEN CALL TO ME. WHILE THEY ARE STILL TALKING TO ME ABOUT THEIR NEEDS, I WILL GO AHEAD AND ANSWER THEIR PRAYERS!” (MSG)

GOD SEES YOU, GOD HEARS YOU, THEREFORE BE ENCOURAGED!

Now that we know that no matter where we are, what we’ve done, how bad it hurts, God Sees Us, and God Hears Us. However, the question that remains to be answered is, “Do You See Him?” Hagar said, “I have now SEEN the One who has been seeing me.” When no one sees, when no one knows, when no one understands you, Hagar (and why you’ve fled the scene), nor do they understand your Ishmael (who is still heard of God), remember GOD SEES AND GOD HEARS YOU…EVEN YOU! But you also need to take a moment to see and hear God!

And guess where we tend to see and hear God best? You guessed it, in the deserts of our lives. The truth is, it’s not until we are stripped of all the other supports in our life, that like Hagar, we finally see the God who had been seeing us all along. The desert, where we feel most deserted, is the time and place in which we see God clearest. That’s when we dig deep into His resources; we see what He can do, when we’re out of options and back-up plans. We feel His love, and finally learn that His love is more than enough.

Listen to Paul in 2 Timothy 4:17, in varying translations:

“…no one stood by me. They all ran like scared rabbits. But it doesn’t matter—the Master stood by me and helped me…I was snatched from the jaws of the lion! God’s looking after me, keeping me safe in the kingdom of heaven. All praise to him, praise forever! Oh, yes!” (MSG);

“… no one supported me [as an advocate] or stood with me, but they all deserted me. May it not be counted against them [by God]. But the Lord stood by me and strengthened and empowered me…I was rescued from the mouth of the lion. The Lord will rescue me from every evil assault, and He will bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (AMP);

“…no one helped me. Everyone left me. I hope this will not be held against them. But the Lord was with me. He gave me power…I was taken from the mouth of the lion. The Lord will look after me and will keep me from every sinful plan they have. He will bring me safe into His holy nation of heaven. May He have all the shining-greatness forever. Let it be so.” (NLV).

Paul had complete confidence in God that even though no one stood by him, no one supported him, no one helped him, HE STILL HAD GOD! And God would look after him, keep him safe, rescue him and protect him from every plot and plan of the enemy. In other words, when Paul could see no one else, HE COULD AT LEAST SEE GOD! And the only way for that to happen is to “…walk by faith, and not by sight”. In fact, walking by sight is what causes many of us to go astray in the first place. We focus so much attention on who left, what they said, what they took, how much they hurt us, that we can’t see the bigger picture. We can’t see beyond the hurt and pain inflicted. But in your worst of circumstances, God is still a very present help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16, says it like this: “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (MSG)

God sees you, but do you see Him and all His Available Help?

I told you when Tom noticed his wife Nancy’s beauty and wisdom the most-was when there was no one else around. Then and there, he had no distractions, no one else’s voice to listen to, no one else in sight to cloud his vision, no agenda, no plan, no protocol, no position, no programs, no to-do-list, just Nancy. Well, it’s the same in a relationship with the Lord Jesus. When it’s just the two of you, maybe like it is right now, you can see Him as you’ve never seen Him before, and hear Him as you’ve never heard Him before.

I know feeling lonely and deserted is not at all the best feeling in the world. But sometimes we need that moment alone and away to get clarity. To see and hear what we otherwise wouldn’t, due to all the clutter and noise of everyday life.

Once Hagar was away and alone with her pain, the Bible says, “…While she was there, the angel of the Lord came to her…” (CEV). God saw her, but what was just as important is Hagar saw Him… “Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are God Who Sees”; for she said, “Have I not even here [in the wilderness] remained alive after SEEING HIM [who sees me with understanding and compassion]?” (vs. 13 AMP). Other translations say it like this:

“The Lord talked to Hagar. She began to use a new name for God. She said to him, “You are ‘God Who Sees Me,” She said this because she thought, “I see that even in this place God sees me and cares for me!” (ERV);

“…Truly here I have seen him who looks after me” (ESV);

“…You are the God Who Watches Over Me.” She said, “This is the place where I watched the one who watches over me.” (GWT);

“Hagar asked herself, “Have I seen God and lived to tell about it?” So she called the Lord, who had spoken to her, “A God Who Sees” (GNT)

Hagar had come to realize that God sees her, talks to her, watches over her and she’s lived to tell about it! You see that’s what we need to learn how to do. When we’ve gone off running into hiding because of the pressures and pains of life, and we find God in our desert and wilderness experience, and we See Him, and Hear Him, then we need to go and tell others About Him! Someone right now is waiting for fractured you to become whole so you can help them find their peace to piece their lives back together again, and that can only happen when you’ve come into contact with the Prince of Peace Himself. And believe it or not, but He still shows up in the desert and wilderness. He sees, He hears, now it’s time for you to See, Hear and Tell!

Lastly, the Bible says, “The Lord talked to Hagar. She began to use a new name for God. She said to him, “You are ‘God Who Sees Me,” She said this because she thought, “I SEE THAT EVEN IN THIS PLACE GOD SEES ME AND CARES FOR ME!” (ERV)

Wherever your “…EVEN IN THIS PLACE…” is, know that God sees you, hears you and cares for you. Even if your ‘this place’, is a place of sorrow; grief; anger; bitterness; loneliness; brokenness; abandonment; lack; pain…God sees you, hears you and cares for you “…EVEN IN THIS PLACE…”

Even if your ‘this place’ is heading to divorce court; the psychiatrist; another specialist; the unemployment line; in the midnight hour of tears…God sees you, hears you and cares for you “…EVEN IN THIS PLACE…”

Even if your ‘this place’ just left the abortion clinic; the maternity ward with no baby; a place of stagnation; confusion; fear of tomorrow; low-self-esteem; rejection; suicidal thoughts; high; drunk; going to jail or just getting out…God sees you, hears you and cares for you “…EVEN IN THIS PLACE…”

At dialysis; receiving chemo and radiation; struggling in rehab; in the wheelchair; on the cane; with the walker; dressed up; dressed down; and too weak to even get from under the covers…God sees you, hears you and cares for you “…EVEN IN THIS PLACE…”

Are you getting this?

You are God’s Beloved, no matter where your “…EVEN IN THIS PLACE…” currently has you. You cannot ever go unnoticed by God. He loves you too much to lose track of you, even when it’s you who laced up your sneakers and went running right outside the Will of God for your life. He’s still there. Don’t you see Him? Don’t you hear Him? Well, He sees and hears and cares about you, no matter what you’ve done; how many times you’ve done it; who you did it with; why you did it in the first place; where you did it; when you did it; He doesn’t even care if it was deliberate, and all your fault, your Father loves His children! And like the prodigal son’s father, your Father sees you as far away from Him as you are, and still He’s heading in your direction with arms open wide and a whole new garment of clothing to shed your past and mistakes. He’s ready to restore you, why are you delaying your own recovery? Today, take IT, and all of IT to Him, and let Him take all your staleness and grant you a fresh start. Today is a great day to begin again. Last time, you ran off with your own plans and mission. This time, stick with God, the road ahead will be so much easier!

Remember, God sees you, hears you and cares for you… “…EVEN IN THIS PLACE…”

“God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season – He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

“God sees in you  a masterpiece about to happen.” (Max Lucado)

“You can only see part of the big picture, but God sees the whole picture, and He knows how to complete it.” (Author Unknown)

“God sees everything at once and knows what you are called to do. Our part is not to play God, but to trust God. To believe that our single, solitary life can make a difference.” (Zig Ziglar)

“Never forget that God isn’t bound by time the way we are. We see only the present moment; God sees everything. We see only part of what He is doing; He sees it all.” (Billy Graham)

“God didn’t make a mistake when He made you. You need to see yourself as God sees you.” (Joel Osteen)

“God hears and He sees, and you are not alone in your struggles. Remain firm and stable, for God has your deliverance planned.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Are you ready for a change? Take a look into the mirror of God’s Word and see yourself the way God sees you: as a conqueror, an overcomer, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and His very own possession! Stop second-guessing what He says about you and learn how to embrace the Holy Spirit, Who is always available to help you.” (Jesse Duplantis)

“The world may see you as an ugly duckling, but God sees you as a magnificent swan.” (Matshona Dhliwayo)

“God sees us as we are, loves us as we are, and accepts us as we are. But by His grace, He does not leave us as we are.” (Timothy Keller)

“God can hear you in your chaos and He hears your whispers too…but it’s in those quiet times, when He calms your spirit, that you can hear Him best of all.” (Karen Kostyla)

“Pray. Not until God hears you. Pray until you hear God.” (Author Unknown)

“God is the best listener. You don’t need to shout, nor cry out loud. Because He hears even the very silent prayer of a sincere heart.” (Author Unknown)

“Don’t worry. God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers, and never silent to your pain. He sees, He hears, and He will deliver.” (Author Unknown)

“God hears you, even if no one else does.” (Author Unknown)

“God hears us when we call. No matter where you are in life, no matter what you need, you are never too far from God’s loving hands.” (Victoria Osteen)

“God can hear your call for help even if you can’t put your feelings into words.” (Author Unknown)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “TOP CONCENTRATION KILLERS

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“LET JESUS FIX WHAT’S BROKEN”

So, in honesty, I know absolutely nothing about cars! More than likely, I couldn’t change a headlight if it would spare my own life! And that’s okay, if nothing else, at least I can admit it! However, my dad was a different story altogether! My dad was the epitome of what you’d call a “grease monkey”! He left the house in the morning covered in grease, and he returned home in the evening the very same way! You see, my dad was a mechanic, and he worked on every type of vehicle known to man. And even when he wasn’t working, he was still working! Meaning, even when he’d get home from work, nine times out of ten, someone was driving up to see my dad about a problem with their car. They would drive up, park the car, then explain to “JJ Miles Joe” what they thought the problem was. Now, could you imagine if someone drove up, parked their car, told dad what they thought was wrong with the car and then said, “thanks Joe for listening, I’m sure the car is all better now.” Well of course not, because even though they’ve TOLD him what was wrong with the car, the bottom line is, he is the expert, not them. Which means they need to TRUST their car to him and leave it with him to work on and solve the car problem in the best way he knows how, since this is after all his field of expertise!

Well, I’ve come to find out, that as Children of God, we unfortunately function just like that!

We bring our problem to our Father, explain to Him what we think is wrong, and then we pick up the problem we’ve laid at the altar and carry it right back home! And sadly enough, we’ll sit up all night long worried about this same problem and wondering why God hasn’t fixed it yet! I guess somewhat like my dad the mechanic, with the car that drove away, if you don’t leave what’s broken with him/Him, how does it get fixed?

That parable made me think of Luke 7 beginning at verse 2: “A certain Centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The Centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with Him.

Now at this point they’re TELLING Jesus about the problem just like people would tell my dad the mechanic about their car’s problem. And just like some of my dad’s clients drove some pretty expensive cars, this parable speaks of a servant that was found to be just as valuable.

Jesus responds and the Centurion sends a message back and says, “‘I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him He said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’ Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

Look at those words, “such great faith.” Now, why does Jesus say that? Well, see, this Centurion didn’t just TELL Jesus about the problem. He didn’t just bring it to His attention. He TRUSTED Jesus with it totally. That’s why he got the miracle he needed.

In essence, it wouldn’t do any good if people came to my dad the mechanic and told him about their car problems. The point is, they had to leave their car in his hands; they’ve got to turn it over to him. And the reason they could leave their car with him (no matter how valuable it was) was because they TRUSTED the one they took it to. He’s proven he knows exactly how to fix what’s broken! And by the way, so has Jesus!

Truth is, maybe you’re looking at a problem or a need that really needs the touch of God right now. Well, might I say for lack of a better term, “He’s the Master Mechanic” who can fix what’s broken! He’s the ultimate fixer! You say, “Well, you don’t know how hard, long and often I’ve prayed about it!” And to be honest, that may just be your problem! “You’ve prayed so much about it.” But have you left it with Him? You TOLD Him, but have you TRUSTED Him?

Notice the Centurion said, “Just say the word and it will be done.” See, great faith recognizes the total authority of Jesus over this impossible situation and acts as if it’s totally in Jesus’ hands. He’s the Lord of the outcome. He’ll decide the outcome. That’s great faith. And that’s how you are to exercise your faith when you pray about someone or something. Approach God in prayer like this: “Lord, if you say ‘come’ it will come. If you say ‘go’ it will go. If you say ‘do this’ it will be done.” I trust You completely!

But unfortunately, that’s not how a lot of us handle prayer! No, we’d rather keep crying and complaining, “Lord, my husband, my wife, my children, my job, my business, my career, my school, my church, my ministry, my finances, my health, my home, my car, my bills…” Well, when do you plan to stop TALKING to Him about it, and finally TRUST Him with it?! By the way, that means you have to trust Him fully! In other words, can you imagine if someone had a problem with their car, they bring it to my dad the mechanic to fix, they explain to him what’s wrong, and this time, they don’t drive off with the car, but they stay there with it! And every 2 minutes they lean over his shoulder and ask, “Is it fixed yet? Are you done yet? Can I drive it yet? Is it better yet?” No, my friend, that’s not trust either! When you know that you’re leaving it (whatever your ‘it’ is) with the one who can fix it, then why are you doubting, questioning, worrying, fretting, fearing, and pacing the floor for hours on end? He knows what He’s doing, why not rest yourself, and trust Him to fix what’s broken in His time and in His way?

Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

You need to learn how to rest in God, and let Him repair things in your life! God is inviting you to walk, work and even rest with Him, and yet you’re still stressed, tired, worn out, burned out and frustrated! And God is saying spend some time with Me and you’ll learn how to live free and light! I don’t know about you, but if God wants all my stress, so I can recover some joy and peace, I’m giving it to Him! In fact, I will wrap it up like a Christmas present, with a bow on top! Why? Because I can trust Him with all that’s troubling me!

So a good question to ask yourself is, have I moved from TALKING to God about it to really TRUSTING Him with it?

Proverbs 3:5-12, “TRUST God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!” (MSG)

And all you have to do to enjoy a vibrant, healthy and full life is TRUST GOD…so what are you waiting for? What’s so hard? Because you do know that He is able to handle even the hard thing…right?

Jeremiah 32:27, “I am the Lord, the God of all living things! Is anything too hard for me?” (CEB)

Now, if God is the Lord of all living things, what do we have to worry about? There is nothing and no one that operates outside of His control, so why are our emotions so out of control every time we go through a storm, struggle or trial? There is NOTHING too hard for God’s hands to handle! So take your hands off!

Genesis 18:14, “Is anything too hard for God? Next year, just as I told you, I will certainly see to it that Sarah has a son.” (TLB) There are 2 wonderful points to take note of here: First, “…JUST AS I TOLD YOU…” Isn’t it wonderful to know that God can’t lie and can’t fail? What was to be done in Sarah’s life was to be done just as the Lord said! Therefore, take heart beloved and take courage, the Lord has not forgotten about you! What He SAID you will SEE! And secondly, “…I WILL CERTAINLY SEE TO IT…” That’s Personal! God Himself said, you don’t have to worry about what I said, I will see that it comes to pass, and I need absolutely no assistance from you at all in making that happen! You just wait, watch and see! If that doesn’t encourage you, it certainly encouraged me! Me and my future are so important to God, that He’s personally seeing that His Word and Promise comes true in my life…and yours! Now, that’s worth celebrating, rejoicing and praising!

Listen to Jeremiah 1:12 in these varying translations:

“…I’ll make every word I give you come true.” (MSG);

“…for I am [actively] watching over My word to fulfill it.” (AMP);

“…I’m watching over my word until it is fulfilled.” (CEB);

“…I always rise early to keep a promise.” (CEV);

“…I am watching to make sure that my message to you comes true.” (ERV);

“…I am watching over my word to perform it.” (ESV);

“…I am watching to see that my words come true.” (GNT);

“…I am ready to perform My word.” (NKJV);

“…I am watching to see that My Word is completed.” (NLV);

“…I am watching and I will certainly carry out all my plans.” (NLT)

Does that sound like Someone you can’t trust?! He’s not even asking you to participate in this! He not once said, “WE”! No, God said I will do this! I will make this come true; I will fulfill it; I’ll make sure; I’m watching; I’ll perform; I’ll complete it! So why are YOU stressed out?!

When Jesus has the problem, you don’t have it any more! When you tell Jesus about it, you walk in all bent over carrying this big load, but you walk out of that Throne Room… still bent over? NO! When you’ve really trusted Him with it, you walk in bent over, but you walk out standing tall because you left your load in Jesus’ capable hands! Relax in His total authority over your situation. Exercise that faith that brings down the supernatural; such great faith it is indeed!

It’s like the old song says, “I must TELL Jesus all of my troubles.” But today, let’s upgrade that to, “I must TRUST Jesus with all of my troubles.

1 Peter 5:7, “casting ALL your cares [ALL your anxieties, ALL your worries, and ALL your concerns, once and for ALL] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” (AMP)

In case you didn’t catch it, the key word is “ALL!” So, stop giving God what you think He can handle, and give Him everything, because there is nothing too hard for the hands of God to handle! There is absolutely nothing so broken that He cannot fix, mend, heal, revive, restore, rescue, redeem or resuscitate!

Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the heartbroken and He saves those who are crushed in spirit (contrite in heart, truly sorry for their sin).” (AMP)

Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the rock and strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (AMP)

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]” (AMP)

Psalm 18:2, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and the One who rescues me; My God, my rock and strength in whom I trust and take refuge; My shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower—my stronghold.” (AMP)

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]” (AMP)

Philippians 4:19, “And my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (AMP)

And my absolute favorite: Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (MSG)

And that my friend, is the God you serve! So today, make the deliberate decision to stop TALKING to Him only, and start TRUSTING Him too! He has your very best interest at heart, at all times. Saints, don’t be an “indian giver”, tell Him your problems, then take them back, tell Him your problems, then take them back! NO! That’s why they’re still broken! Leave them with Him!

Psalm 147:3, “He heals their broken hearts and bandages their wounds.” (ERV)

People of God, let God fix what’s broken! Stop trying to do it yourself, stop trusting in the arm of flesh that will fail you every time. Trust God. He has more than proven Himself to have great plans for your life! And even when you allow those plans to become marred in His hands, just stay in His hands, and watch Him make something beautiful still!

Jeremiah 29:10-11, “This is God’s Word on the subject…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (MSG)

Jeremiah 18:4, “Whenever a clay pot he was working on was ruined, he would rework it into a new clay pot the way he wanted to make it.” (GWT); Another translation reads, “He was making a pot from clay. But there was something wrong with the pot. So the potter used that clay to make another pot. With his hands he shaped the pot the way he wanted it to be.” (ERV).

My favorite translation is: “So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, THE POTTER WOULD SIMPLY START OVER AND USE THE SAME CLAY TO MAKE ANOTHER POT.” (MSG) How awesome that as bad as our situation can get, God can still use THE SAME SITUATION and make it good!

Genesis 50:19-21, “Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me BUT GOD USED THOSE SAME PLANS FOR MY GOOD, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.” He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart.” (MSG) Here’s some more good news: Even if what you’re struggling with wasn’t your fault, it still doesn’t matter! God can still use even the same plans of enemies, haters, and Satan, and make what was bad turn out for your Good! There’s not one problem you will ever face that God doesn’t already have a plan in place to take care of it!

Romans 8:28, “…That’s why we can be so sure that EVERY DETAIL in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (MSG). Did you catch that? EVERY DETAIL GOD WORKS FOR OUR GOOD! There is absolutely nothing going on in your life that God’s Hands can’t Handle! He’s involved in EVERY DETAIL of our lives! Whether it’s a bruise; a scratch; a hair-line fracture or a complete break; GOD CAN FIX EVERY DETAIL OF IT!

So, how about we make today the day that we drive it to Jesus and then leave it there for Him to fix?!

After all, He’s already promised, IT’S GOING TO BE GOOD!

“Sometimes God lets you be in a situation that only He can fix, so you will discover that He is the one who can fix it.” (Tony Evans)

“Men and women will never find a significant other who completes them. A fling, a fantasy, a boyfriend or girlfriend – even a spouse – is not going to satisfy what has gone wrong in you. Only Jesus will do that. Because your heart is broken. You need a Savior, and no one person can fix it.” (Matt Chandler)

“Broken things can become Blessed things if you let God do the mending.” (Author Unknown)

“God will mend your broken heart if you give Him all the pieces.” (Author Unknown)

“God doesn’t break things so He can fix them; He fixes broken things so He can use them.” (Bob Goff)

“There is something you can’t fix, can’t heal, or can’t escape, and all you can do is trust God. Finding ultimate refuge in God means you become so immersed in His presence, so convinced of His goodness, so devoted to His lordship that you find even the cave is a perfectly safe place to be because He is there with you.” (John Ortberg)

“We all go through hard times. But do we try to fix our own problems or do we trust God that He can fix them.” (Brandon Harrison)

“We can’t always fix our circumstances, but we can fix our minds on God.” (Lysa Terkeurst)

“Dear Lord, help me to fix my eyes on You each day so I can walk in your hope, peace, joy and beauty.” (Gwen Smith)

“Are we reaching up for the powerful hand of God or are we holding tightly to a problem that will only pull us down?” (Diane K. Chamberlain)

“Life doesn’t allow for us to go back and fix what we have done wrong in the past, but it does allow for us to live each day better than our last.” (Simple Reminders)

“Broken things and broken people are the result of sin. Yet God sent His Son to be broken that we might be healed.” (Author Unknown)

“If we can’t face it, God can’t fix it.” (Catherine Austin Fitts)

“Worry is a form of arrogance, who am I to think I can fix my problems without God.” (Kirk Franklin)

“The Bible never once says, “Figure it out,” but over and over it says, “Have Faith.” God already has it all figured out!” (Dave Willis)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT CANCER AND WHY IT WORKS?

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“RELEASE THOSE BAGS!”

Pastor Sheila shared the following with me: “When my airplane flight is over, it’s not really over. You see, there’s that closing chapter of a trip that you get to spend at baggage claim. At my home airport they have these big carousels where suitcases are dumped out and where they circle until their owners claim them. Now, my bags seem to have a knack for waiting until almost all the other bags are out, for some reason. So I just keep watching those suitcases of all shapes and sizes and conditions appear, and waiting for one I like – no, no, no. I mean, one I recognize! Moving on…I happened to notice there’s always “phantom bags” there as well. They just keep circling and circling and circling. And since the luggage carousel is all I really have to look at, the show gets pretty boring, pretty fast! Hours later you’re still saying yep, there goes that SAME BAGGAGE…AGAIN!”

Keep That Story In Mind!

Probably the most curious question Jesus ever asked is found in John 5:3-9. There was a pool where people went out to get their diseases healed and it says, “Here there was a great number of people and they used to lie there, the blind, the lame, the paralyzed, and there was one who had been an invalid for 38 YEARS. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that HE HAD BEEN IN THIS CONDITION FOR A LONG TIME he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ ‘Well sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me to get into the pool when the water is stirred.’” That’s when the healing time was. “While I’m trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Get up, pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured, picked up his mat and he walked.” 

Now, this man has been a victim of paralysis for 38 YEARS and yet Jesus asks him, “Do you want to get well?” But why ask this question? 

Well, let’s stop for a moment and consider the condition that YOU are in right now. Something that fits the Biblical description that’s given here might read over your current situation the same way: “…In this condition for a long time…” Maybe it’s the pain or the memory of some past hurt or past abuse or past betrayal. It’s haunted you; it’s even held you back for a long time. Or, it could be that you’ve carried feelings of worthlessness for a long time, and they’ve caused you to make some very hurtful choices. It may be some enslaving sin that’s held you down for a long time, but like this man at the healing pool, you’ve been in some way emotionally, or spiritually, or relationally, or mentally paralyzed for a long time. And then along comes Jesus with this strange question – the one that comes before the healing, “…Do you want to get well?…” Or to put it in airport terms, “Are you finally tired of watching the same old baggage go by again and again?

In a way, those memories and those resentments, those no good feelings, those sins, they are the BAGGAGE in your life and they just keep replaying and replaying and causing more frustration and more damage! 

Why does Jesus ask us if we want to get well? BECAUSE SOMETIMES WE’RE AFRAID TO CHANGE!

We’ve gotten used to playing the victim role! We’ve settled into an identity that revolves around that SAME OLD BAGGAGE! 

Notice the man didn’t just say “Yes.” He responded with a “nobody cares complaint” A “woe is me” whine. Because he’s gotten used to being the guy with the problem, he was stuck in his victim identity, but Jesus acts miraculously and that man walks away carrying what had been carrying him for 38 years! 

And just as Jesus did for him, He wants to do the very same for you! And yes, He’s still got the power to do it! He wants to help you put the pain and paralysis of the past once and for all behind you ONCE AND FOR ALL! To take away the victim card and to replace it with one that says, More than conquerors through Him who loved us.” He wants to help you make today the day that you wrap up the past and put it in a book called Volume 1, and leave it on the shelf forever! Today is the beginning of Volume 2, one in which you release the hurt through forgiving the hurter (that’s my word…I’m certain “hurter” is not in the dictionary), you release the sin through aggressive repentance, and you release the worthless feelings by living like the masterpiece God created you to be! That all happens when you come to the cross of Jesus and say, “Jesus, I’m Yours. You died to free me from all of this, and today I’m determined to be free!” Today is your day to finally do something DIFFERENT and get rid of that SAME OLD BAGGAGE! 

No more standing there watching it go around and around again! You’ve watched it throughout your teens, your twenties, your thirties, your forties, your fifties, and now you’re approaching the 65 mark, a time when you can retire from work, and Yet, you have yet to retire from looking at this same old baggage!

Whatever he did, whatever she said, LET THE BAGGAGE GO! Forget about how many times they’ve under-estimated you and overlooked you! LET THE BAGGAGE GO! Yes they betrayed you, yes they lied on you, yes they deserted you, BUT NOW IS THE TIME TO LET THE BAGGAGE GO! Mama didn’t support you, and dad didn’t understand you, I get it, BUT NOW IS THE TIME TO LET THE BAGGAGE GO! He vowed to love you till death do you part, and then Diane stepped in the picture, and ten years of marriage just went down the drain. Your anger is Justified, BUT FOR YOUR OWN SANITY AND PEACE OF SOUND MIND, LET THE BAGGAGE GO! She took your kids and the court helped her! Your hurt is Justified, BUT FOR YOUR OWN GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP, AND THE REGULATION OF YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE, LET THE BAGGAGE GO! They laid you off, they fired you, they wouldn’t hire you, OK, BUT LET THE BAGGAGE GO! Whatever happened 20 days, 20 weeks, 20 months, or 20 years ago! LET THE BAGGAGE GO!

Think of it this way: Airplanes are taking off and flying to some of the most beautiful places on earth! You have your ticket in hand and all you have to do is leave the carousel and board the plane! But You Can’t! And You Miss Out All Because You Have Become Accustomed to Watching the Same Baggage Go Around and Around! Never Claimed! Never Picked Up! Just Circling Around and Around! Meanwhile, Paris just passed you by, Rome went on the road without you, London left you, Hawaii left you high and dry, and Aruba abandoned you! All Because You Were Watching the Same Old Baggage Go Around In Circles That Has Been Going Around In Circles For The Last 38 YEARS! 

People of God, enough is enough! Free Yourself and Free Your Future! Great Things Are Awaiting You As Soon As You Stop Waiting Around the Same Old Baggage Carousel! 

In fact, Go Shopping and Buy You A New Set of Luggage! One that No One Has Put Anything Into and Pack It Yourself With Only The Things You Will Need When You Arrive to Your Destined Place In God! 

In honesty, YOU may not be tired of looking at YOUR SAME OLD BAGGAGE yet, but remember there are OTHER PEOPLE at the Baggage Carousel who have been Watching Your Baggage Too! And believe it or not, but as much as your girlfriends and sister-girls and your boys and brothers, love you, WE ARE ALL TIRED OF LOOKING AT YOUR SAME OLD BAGGAGE RESURFACE AGAIN AND AGAIN! So if you won’t do it for YOU, at least be kind enough to do it for US! We’ve been sparing your feelings, but girl/boy, truth is: We really don’t want to hear about Hank and Helen, talk about Tony and Tanisha, fight about Frank and Francine, cry over Chris and Christine or leave Larry and Lorraine….AGAIN!

So what she bought the same dress you bought, so what he didn’t help you, support you, feed you, encourage you, pay for you, stay with you, love you etc…LET IT GO! PACK UP AND SHIP IT OUT! YESTERDAY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TOMORROW SO TODAY GET YOURSELF TOGETHER! My brothers and sisters, It’s a New Day, a New Season, and almost a New Year! So buy some New Luggage and Enjoy a New Life!

Now, I know this is gonna sound real harsh but whoever and whatever hurt you, cry you a river, build you a bridge and get over it!

After 38 years of the same old baggage, this is about as sensitive as I intend to get. Tough love is still unconditional love! Listen, it took that man 38 years to get rid of his same old baggage! And not because it couldn’t happen sooner, but because HE DID NOTHING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN SOONER, BUT WAITED FOR OTHERS TO DO IT FOR HIM!

Folks, your Future Is at Stake! Do you really want to spend all of your Present Mad about Your Past?!

Truth is, Behavior like that Distorts Your Perspective and Stops You From Pursuing, Persevering and Possessing Your Promise! Do You Really Want That To Be the Inscription On Your Tombstone?! At the end of your journey do you really want it said that she did nothing because she never got past what was done to her?!

Think about it: Another 2 more years and he would be no better than the Israelites with a 40 year unfruitful journey…and not because of what OTHERS did, but because of their OWN behavior! Yes I said it, stop blaming other folks for your misery! 

Even if they caused it! Pay attention, “Caused” it is past tense! Therefore, Whatever he did, she did, they did, IT’S DONE AND OVER WITH, AND YOU NEED TO BE TOO! If you’re still crying, still depressed, still angry, still stuck…IT’S NOT BECAUSE OF THEM…IT’S BECAUSE OF YOU! Listen, Jesus said do YOU want to be well? The man responds with THEY won’t…In other words, WHO CARES WHAT THEY WON’T DO! NOBODY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR HAPPINESS, YOUR PEACE, YOUR JOY, YOUR LIFE…BUT YOU AND JESUS! Stop waiting for them to say I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I wish I could take it back, if I had another chance I would…If I could do things all over again…SUCH TALK IS FUTILE! YOU DON’T NEED ANYBODY TO RECTIFY ANYTHING…YOU SIMPLY NEED TO MOVE ON! 

So, put on your bikinis and hop YOURSELF in the pool! YOU’VE WASTED ENOUGH TIME ON THEM…FOCUS ON YOU GETTING YOU BETTER…AND GETTING BETTER…MINUS THE BAGGAGE!

Now, I know this sounds real rough, but I’m not telling or teaching you from what I’ve read or studied, but from what I’ve had to learn from experience and apply to my own life! You see, if I was still holding on to what the rapist did in 1988, I would have wasted 3 decades of watching the same old baggage over and over again, instead of enjoying my daughter who was the product of that rape, enjoy life and be smart and successful. A daughter who became a salutatorian in high school; on the dean’s list in college and become a phenomenal paralegal at an awesome law firm! If I allowed myself to get stuck in the ‘why me’ mindset from years of enduring domestic abuse, I would have wasted all the years since where I’ve trained to be a domestic violence counselor to help other women get out, long before I did! If I still cried over every drink I’ve had, I would not be able to be someone else’s sponsor today. If I stayed depressed over the 3 failed suicide attempts in my past, I wouldn’t be so excited that I’ve made it to 50 years of life; married 22 years; raise 6 adult children and love 6 grandchildren! Are you hearing me?

You can’t get stuck in your past if you intend to be productive in your present and fruitful in your future! People of God, don’t live stuck, don’t die stuck!

Here’s something else to consider: People stand around that baggage carousel watching for their baggage because they know what their baggage looks like. You’ve spent enough years looking at your baggage go around and around. Today, claim it. You know it’s yours. And you know what’s in it, because you were responsible for packing it! Everything in that bag is left up to you to claim and unload! Like I said, you packed it, you know what’s in it. Now it’s time to stop making excuses for what’s in there; stop blaming others for what’s in there; stop complaining about what’s in there. Instead, claim it, open it up, and start getting rid of stuff one article at a time! You will not grab your luggage and dump everything out in the nearest garbage. If that were true, it would not have taken 38 YEARS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT SOMETHING THAT COULD’VE TAKEN 38 MINUTES OR 38 SECONDS! It will take you time to unpack and unload. But you have to start somewhere. Acknowledge the hurt, the pain, the choices, the consequences, the mistakes, the deliberate and willful acts of abuse. Take your life in your own hands and finally make yourself personally accountable for getting better!

No more circles, no more cycles, no more generational curses, no more carousels!

Change begins FOR you, WITH you, BY you!

Today is the day you unload all the baggage from your past; from your former church; from your last marriage/relationship/friendship; from your last loss; from old habits and addictions; from family issues; from job issues! All of it has to go, and you are the one who is responsible for getting rid of it!

Listen, it’s time for you to soar, and the only way that will happen is if you lighten the load you’re carrying. Stop allowing the weight of the past to weigh down your wings! There is a destiny waiting for you, but you’ll never arrive until you unpack, unload, and get over all that’s behind you, because IT’S BEHIND YOU! What’s coming is better than what’s been, but you have to embrace that!

Yes, You Have to Participate In Your Own Healing and Deliverance!

Lastly, “Bon Voyage” is a French expression and it means: “Bon” (meaning “Good”) and “Voyage” (meaning “Journey”). It’s used to express farewell and good wishes to a departing traveler! Well saints, today is your day to bid a big “Bon Voyage” to Your Past With All Its Baggage! Wish Your Past Goodbye and You and Your Present Enjoy a “Good Journey” Into a Joy-Filled Future!

TODAY IS YOUR DAY TO FINALLY RELEASE ALL YOUR BAGGAGE!

Carry Luggage Into Your Future as You Soar to Your Destiny; Not the Baggage of the Past That Will Keep Your Flight Too Weighed Down to Take Off!

“If you pick something up, and it feels too heavy, it isn’t meant for you to carry.” (Author Unknown)

“Keeping baggage from the past will leave no room for happiness in the future.” (Wayne L. Misner)

“The mountains that you’re carrying, you were only meant to climb.” (Author Unknown)

“The journey is inevitable, baggage is optional.” (Author Unknown)

“Letting go of the baggage we carry with us, whether emotional, physical, or mental, is absolutely necessary so we can move forward with our own lives. Let it GO!” (Author Unknown)


“We all have baggage, but there comes a time when you realize it’s time to unpack.” (Author Unknown)

“How many of us walk around being weighed down by the baggage of our journey? You can’t possibly embrace that new relationship, that new companion, that new career, that new friendship, or that new life you want while you’re still holding on to the baggage of the last one. Let Go! And allow yourself to embrace what is waiting for you right at your feet.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Excess baggage is a symptom of something we are missing on the inside – a fear that we won’t be accepted for what we are, as if ourselves are not enough. We bring too much of our past experience, the clutter of our emotions. These things get in the way and keep us from getting close to others. Then we are left with the task of having to find someone else to carry it, whether it is our luggage or our loneliness.” (Mary Morris)

“You can check your emotional baggage at the curb and aspire to become the gentle warrior or you can carry it on and continue to be the wounded soul.” (David Rappo)

“Don’t let the baggage of your past failures, affect your identity or self-esteem. You are NOT what you did, or how you acted previously. You’re the author of your future; you control your destiny.” (Author Unknown)

“Enjoy life by limiting your emotional baggage to a small carry on.” (Tim Fargo)

“Don’t bring the baggage from your ex-relationship into your next relationship, unless you want it to be a short trip!” (Author Unknown)

“Oh what we could be if we stopped carrying the remains of who we were.” (Tyler Knott Gregson)

“If we throw out the guilt and shame and disappointment we’ve been dragging with us, we will be free to pursue those things that were hidden in the baggage.” (Sharon Hughes)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

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“ANGER…DON’T DELAY IT, DEAL WITH IT!”

Ephesians 4:26-27, “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil” (TLB)

In my house, the rule of thumb is, “if I cook, someone else does the dishes”! Now, my husband doesn’t struggle with this, but my eldest daughter makes me laugh. And it’s not because she has a problem with doing the dishes, it’s just that once she starts to clear the table, your plate, (that you’re not even done with yet), is not exempt! She will clear your plate while you’re still in mid bite! So you need to keep an eye on that if you’re ever invited to dinner. She’s not particularly excited to do the dishes, so when she has to, she wants to quickly get the job done!

However, much like my daughter, I’m not exactly fond of doing dishes either. But where she will do them immediately to get them out of the way, I would rather leave them for a minute and let my food digest, (while sitting on the sofa, in my favorite spot, watching television that is), but that’s neither here nor there. But the problem with my idea of, “leave the dishes…don’t worry about them right now…come on in the living room and relax. The dishes can wait a few“, is that while they wait, they get worse! Truth is, I’ve never known the dishes to rinse themselves, and certainly a wise discipline is to rinse the dirty dish…immediately. Why? Because the longer you wait, the harder it will be.

Ephesians 4, starting with verse 26, reads, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the Devil a foothold.” Well, there’s a biblical clock here on strained relationships/friendships, just like there is on letting dirty dishes sit untouched. The longer you wait to clean it up, the harder it is to clean it up. Our conflict in relationships/friendships are like that too. That’s why it’s wise not to allow things to sit, settle and fester. Remember, according to the Bible, we have a clock on our discord, and that clock runs out at sundown every day! In other words, we really shouldn’t be hanging on to our anger after the end of the day.

That reminds me a lot of those old Western movies my dad used to love to watch. If you’ve ever seen them, you will know the famous line all the marshal’s use, “You better be out of here by sundown!” Well, that’s what we’re supposed to be saying to any anger, or resentment, bitterness or conflict that comes up in our relationships/friendships. “Get out of here by sundown!” There’s a good reason for this. You know those food remnants on dirty dishes which I was talking about? If you deal with them right away they’re soft and easy to remove; just kind of scrape them a little bit and they fall right off. But you know what happens if you wait with a dirty plate? The longer it sits dirty, the harder it is to get clean!

Makes me wonder if that’s where we coined the term, “hard feelings“? Because our unresolved hurt is just as hard as the non-rinsed dishes! And sadly enough, that’s when the Devil gets an opportunity to enter a marriage, or a parent-child relationship, or a friendship, or a church, business, school or workplace.

In conducting various marriage counseling sessions, I’ve discovered that at the core of most every marriage breakup there was an issue that once was small, but it wasn’t dealt with when it was smallThat’s why it’s so hard to mend marriages, because problems are never dealt with when they occur. They’re not dealt with until what was delayed has now become a damage beyond repair. Which is also why it’s so hard to keep to the current issue, because couples have left so many “small” issues ignored, that now that there’s a problem that happened in January of this year, it can’t be resolved because so much time and energy is still focused on the arguments from January 2003!

In addition, at the core of broken parent-child relationships or a hurting friendship, or a divided church, there are also people who didn’t clean up their anger when it first appeared; when it was still small, when it was still manageable, when it was relatively soft. And now it’s led to a terrible hardening outcome. And the truth is, we can’t blame the devil. The Scripture tells us not to give him a “foothold”, but a foothold is just enough space for a person to put their foot in the door. But, who opened the door? The devil couldn’t get his foot in if you didn’t open the door and grant him access. And how do you grant him foothold access? By sending your anger to answer the door!

“Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down. AND DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL AN OPPORTUNITY [TO LEAD YOU INTO SIN BY HOLDING A GRUDGE, OR NURTURING ANGER, OR HARBORING RESENTMENT, OR CULTIVATING BITTERNESS].” (AMP).

“…DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL AN OPPORTUNITY…” And what’s an “opportunity”? It’s defined as “a favorable time or set of circumstances for doing something; a career opening offered; a chance for promotion; a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal; a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success.” And all of that is the Opportunity you allow your grudge, anger, resentment and bitterness to grant to the devil. So when he gets a “foothold” in your relationships, friendships, marriage, children, church, business, workplace, remember who opened the door and invited him in as their special guest…yep, you guessed it…YOU! You made the circumstances favorable for him, you hired him and gave him a career and promotion to destroy your life and loved ones, you helped him attain his goal of disruption, discord and destruction, you placed him in a good position, you were his great prospect, you helped advance his attack and gain success. Yes, YOU and the emotions you sent to answer the door of your relationships/friendships! This my friend is not one of those times when you can say, “the devil made me do it.” No, YOU did it, all on your own! As parents, those are things we like to call Responsibility and Accountability. And if the devil has gotten a foothold into your relationships/friendships, you set out the welcome mat for him to step on. You are held accountable because it was your responsibility to make sure it didn’t happen!

Listen to the Scripture again, “Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down. AND DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL AN OPPORTUNITY [TO LEAD YOU INTO SIN BY HOLDING A GRUDGE, OR NURTURING ANGER, OR HARBORING RESENTMENT, OR CULTIVATING BITTERNESS].” (AMP). One, small 3-letter word is key, “…LET…” defined as “to allow someone to have the use of” You were not supposed to give the devil a foothold but you did, even though the Scripture commanded you, “…DO NOT LET YOUR ANGER…” Did you catch that? “…YOUR…” All of this is YOUR Responsibility! You are not to give the devil room to be allowed to use your anger against you and your relationships/friendships. You are held accountable for allowing the devil to have opportunity! And how did you do that? Pay attention to the Scripture:

“…HOLDING A GRUDGE…”; “…NURTURING ANGER…”; “…HARBORING RESENTMENT…”; “…CULTIVATING BITTERNESS…” You know, for this to be “the devil’s” fault, as many will use as their excuse, YOU sure are doing quite a bit in this text to help him don’t you think?

How about we take a look at the part you play…

“Holding” – is defined as “to grasp, carry, support, keep, have in one’s possession, contain, cause to stay, remain tightly secured

“Nurturing” – is defined as “to rear and encourage the development of; to feed and cherish

“Harbor” – is defined as “to keep (a thought or feeling) secretly in one’s mind; to give refuge, shelter or protection to

“Cultivate” – is defined as “to prepare and use; raise and grow; to maintain; to acquire and develop

This is how well you take care of your Grudge, Anger, Resentment and Bitterness! Do you know this is better care and treatment than some spouses and children receive! All of the emotions that are opening the door for the devil’s foothold into your relationships/friendships are being Held, Nurtured, Harbored and Cultivated…BY YOU! Do You Know What You’ve Deliberately Decided to Do With Your Grudge, Anger, Resentment and Bitterness, according to the above definitions? You’ve purposely grasped it, carry, support and keep it, you have possession of it, you keep it contained and you cause it to stay by allowing it to be held onto tightly and secure. You’re rearing it up like a child and encouraging its development by feeding and cherishing it. You’re dwelling on it secretly in your thoughts and feelings and it means so much to you that you’ve even provided it with refuge, shelter and protection. You are even preparing it for use as you raise and grow it, maintain, acquire and develop it, because you have absolutely no intentions on letting any of it go! And that’s why the devil has been able to repeatedly enjoy a sweatless-victory over your relationships/friendships. With the loving way you hold your grudges, nurture your anger, harbor your resentment and cultivate your bitterness, what exactly is there left for him to do?

Maybe there’s a strained relationship in your life right now. Could that be why God wanted us talking about this today? Well, if that should be the case, there have been far too many sunsets, too many bad feelings you let hang on! Please understand, it will never be smaller than it is today. I know that it’s bigger than it used to be, but this is the smallest it’s ever going to be. It will never be easier to address that conflict, that resentment, that anger than it is right now, no matter how hard that might seem. It’s only going to get harder the longer you let it sit there untouched and unaddressed. It will only get more costly because you’re going to lose relationships, friendships, trust, support, and even love.

Now, I know we live in a day and age of the “church”, where everybody will tell you, “just let them go, drop ‘em, leave ‘em, forget about ‘em”, however, I do not believe that this is the Conduct of Christians. And before you go down your long, never-ending, laundry list of all the dirt, soil and filth of what they did, that is so absolutely unforgivable, might I remind you, you’re not as clean as you think.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A NUMBER OF YOU KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT, FOR NOT SO LONG AGO YOU WERE ON THAT LIST. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.” (MSG)

That’s Right, “…FOR NOT SO LONG AGO YOU WERE ON THAT LIST…” You may not have done what they did, but I assure you, you did something! We all did…we all do! So before you go grabbing knives, scissors and saws, to sever relationships/friendships, remember that the Lord forgave you, pardoned you, gave you another chance… “…NOT SO LONG AGO…” And before you go pointing fingers like Adam, “it was the spouse you gave me; it was the children you gave me; it was the friend you gave me…it was the church you gave me…”, make sure that the split didn’t happen with the ax you’re holding!

I always find it amusing and sad that people will quicker redeem cans and coupons, than they will redeem people, relationships, friendships, and even marriages…It’s sad that we possess the Fruit of the Spirit, yet our Flesh has caused it to Rot.

Listen, I by no means am saying that those of you with “justifiable hurt and legitimate pain” should not be angry. Even the Scripture doesn’t say that, “GO AHEAD AND BE ANGRY. YOU DO WELL TO BE ANGRY…” (MSG) The Bible does not tell us to hide, mask, camouflage, or pretend with our feelings and emotions. We’re never asked to lie about the level of hurt we’ve experienced. However, we cannot take Part of the Scripture, we must embrace it Whole, and the rest reads, “…BUT DON’T USE YOUR ANGER AS FUEL FOR REVENGE. AND DON’T STAY ANGRY. DON’T GO TO BED ANGRY. DON’T GIVE THE DEVIL THAT KIND OF FOOTHOLD IN YOUR LIFE.” (MSG)

Get Angry, Deal With it in a Healthy Manner, Then Let It Go Before Sundown!

Listen to the Bible, “…DON’T USE YOUR ANGER AS FUEL…” And for a lot of us, that’s exactly what we’re doing, using our anger as fuel. And one of the definitions of “fuel” is “to supply or give power to.” That’s why it keeps going, that’s why that issue never stops, because you keep refueling it, day-by-day, never dealing with it, never addressing it, never resolving it, and never letting it go. Well, today, I was sent to you for the sole purpose of taking your discord out of delay mode, and shifting it to deal with it mode instead!

The word “delay” is defined as “to put off to a later time; defer; postpone; to impede the process or progress of; to put off action; to retard or hinder.” The key word however, is “impede”. It means “to delay or block the progress or action of.” But its Latin Origin “impedire” means ‘shackle the feet of’. How dangerous to have the devil’s foot free, but yours shackled! While you’re doing nothing, he’s able to move around freely all through your house, marriage, family, relationships, friendships and churches and cause havoc everywhere!

Think about it, do you really want to lose that family member; that relationship, that friendship? As much as its meant? As long as it’s been? With all the good times and memories, are you really willing to sit shackled on the sidelines while the devil steps all over everything and everyone you love? Have you forgotten their value, their worth, their importance?

Let no one tell you that anyone is beyond restoration. Not even Jesus felt that way. And He had good reason to kick quite a few folks to the curb, but He didn’t…Judas betrayed Him (but He didn’t discard him); Peter denied Him (but He didn’t discard him); Thomas doubted Him (but He didn’t discard him); and in the end, they all left but John, and still He didn’t discard them, in fact, He gave up His life still. Can you imagine hanging on a cross, dying yourself, between 2 thieves, knowing full well that they are guilty as sin, and yet one calls out to Him, and He still answers. Don’t discard your loved ones. One day they will be on the other side of dirt, and by then it will be too late to wish you would have dealt with what you delayed.

Church, we are still called to the Ministry of Reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:16-20, “Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that ANYONE UNITED WITH THE MESSIAH GET’S A FRESH START, IS CREATED NEW. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE BURGEONS! Look at it! All this comes from the God WHO SETTLED THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US AND HIM, AND THEN CALLED US TO SETTLE OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH EACH OTHER. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world A FRESH START by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to DROP THEIR DIFFERENCES and enter into God’s work of MAKING THINGS RIGHT BETWEEN THEM. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” (MSG)

All of this God did for us, so we could do the very same for others. Don’t Ruin What Simply Needs Repairing! They Can Be Redeemed, They Can Be Restored, They Can Be Renewed, and You Both Can Be Reconciled! Don’t give up and give in so quickly. Just think where we’d all be if Jesus threw in the towel every time we messed up our relationship/friendship with Him!

Today is always your best opportunity to go to that person and do whatever it takes to repair things. Apologize if you need to, confront if you need to, pray together, talk it through. You just can’t afford the hard spot in your heart that develops from anger that you stuff inside and let sit and settle. Anger never stays the same size. Bitterness never stays the same size. It always grows, just like sin! James 1:13-15, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! SIN GROWS UP TO ADULTHOOD, AND BECOMES A REAL KILLER.” (MSG) You can’t afford for the sin of bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness to grow! Neither can you allow anger, even when it’s justified, to grow! Because all you will be doing is helping the devil accomplish his goal, letting those things grow until they become a “…Real Killer” to you, your relationships, friendships, marriages, families, jobs and churches.

Remember the ‘dish-rinse’ philosophy, there’s nothing to gain in waiting! The longer you wait, the harder it gets! Today is a great day for a new start. So, call them, email them, text them, write them, visit them. Whatever it takes for however long it takes, put the work in and rebuild your relationship ruins! It can be done, it will be done. No More Delays…Today…DEAL WITH IT…before the sun goes down!

Luke 17:3-4, “Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.” (MSG)

Matthew 18:21-22, “At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.” (MSG)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

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