“Pretty Container, But Poisonous Content!”

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My girlfriend Caroline absolutely loves the country, hiking, and camping! She loves animals of every kind, and always has a story to tell from her adventures. Well, the last time she saw a frog, she was with one of her grandchildren. She loved it when her grandson Jake picked up a little bug-eyed green fellow and held him close so she could get a better look at him. It was one of Kermit’s cousins, you know. Now, Jake didn’t have any second thoughts about picking up a frog. They’re harmless, after all! Well, most of the time – unless that’s if it’s what they call a poisonous dart frog! No worries though, I’m pretty sure we don’t have those, but they’re about one and one-half inches long, and they live in tropical rain forests in Central and South America. And they are the good-lookers of the frog kingdom family. You see, they’re not a boring, plain ol’ green color. They are quite diverse in color, and can come in multiple colors at the same time. The dart frog is extremely brightly colored. He looks very interesting, but he can be carrying enough poison to kill 20,000 mice! Or more important to you and me – enough poison to kill ten people!

Here’s a creature who looks so good and yet kills so dead! Just like sin; maybe the sin that’s been looking pretty good to you lately. So many people have reached out and touched what they should have never touched, and they paid a painful price that they could have never imagined. Sin may appear pretty at times, but it’s pretty poison!

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)

Those are some sledgehammer verses! It traces a moral disaster from the first desire for something that’s wrong to the sinful choice to get what looks so good, to its final result. When that “baby” called sin finally is born, what you get is death because sin always kills. It kills families, it kills marriages, it kills character and reputations, and it kills ministries and churches. Sin kills your self-respect, people’s trust in you and even your closeness to the God that you can’t live without.

The story of this attractive killer goes all the way back to the very first humans God ever created, Adam and Eve. With all the beauty of the Garden of Eden available for his enjoyment, God gave Adam this one prohibition: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Satan came to Eve and told her the exact opposite: “You will not surely die.” And “when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it” (Genesis 2:17; 3:4, 6). And they learned the hard way that no matter how much you think you have to gain from going outside God’s boundaries, you have so much more to lose! They lost Eden, they lost walking with God, they lost intimacy with God, and instead they gained so much pain and even death!

It may be that the same devil is lying to you right now about the sin that looks so good to you. “It won’t hurt,” “Everybody’s doing it,” “Hey, you deserve it,” “You need this,” “Only a little,” “Ah, just this once.” Anything to get you to bite! Anything to get you to take the deadly poison of sin. It looks like you have so much to gain if you’ll just lie a little, cheat a little, flirt a little, try a little, or take just one look. But you have so much to lose! However, you won’t know that until it’s too late, unless you listen to what God says.

Wisdom Nugget: First sin fascinates you, and then it assassinates you!

However, I, in God’s love, have come to you TODAY to wave you away from a choice that will take you where you never wanted to go, it will keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and it will cost you more than you ever wanted to pay. Don’t walk away from that sin – RUN away from it! Sin looks so good yet it kills so dead! Much like the pretty, yet POISONOUS dart frog!

Let’s take a look at a few facts about this little terror, and see what Spiritual truths we can gather from their Natural world:

FOR ONE, THE BRIGHTER THE DART FROG IS, THE MORE TOXIC IT IS! And isn’t that a lot like sin? After all, it’s always the APPEARANCE of something that gets us in trouble every time! Our EYES fall in love with what we ‘SEE’, not knowing that what we can ‘SEE’ is just on the Surface! For example, we SEE someone else’s marriage and it LOOKS like it’s absolutely perfect; we SEE someone else’s children and they LOOK ideal; we SEE someone else’s home and we become dissatisfied with the apartment we live in; we SEE what someone else is driving and then we’re mad that we’re still taking the bus; we SEE the job someone else has and all of a sudden we’re ready to change careers; we SEE the position someone holds in church and overnight God has called us to a new office, title and position! But what we don’t know is all that lies underneath the SURFACE of all of that stuff we covet. You see, underneath all that brightly covered stuff, their marriage LOOKS perfect, but he beats her daily; their children LOOK ideal, but their son is in a gang and their daughter is on cocaine; their home LOOKS beautiful, but neither of them can get any sleep at night worrying about making the payments they can’t afford; their car is in a class all by itself, and yet their children have to take out loans because the car loan emptied their college funds; they have a well-paid job, and little do you know they hate it every day because of all the compromising they have to do to maintain it; they sit in a big chair at church, but possess so little character in the comfort of their own home! Be careful of allowing your EYES to LURE you into lusting after ‘SHINY, BRIGHT’ things. You just may discover that it’s nothing more than poison gift wrapped in pretty paper! 2 Corinthians 11:12-15, “And I’m not changing my position on this. I’d die before taking your money. I’m giving nobody grounds for lumping me in with those money-grubbing “preachers,” vaunting themselves as something special. They’re a sorry bunch—pseudo-apostles, lying preachers, crooked workers—POSING as Christ’s agents but sham to the core. And no wonder! SATAN DOES IT ALL THE TIME, DRESSING UP AS A BEAUTIFUL ANGEL OF LIGHT. So it shouldn’t surprise us when his servants MASQUERADE as servants of God. But they’re not getting by with anything. They’ll pay for it in the end.” (MSG)

GUARD YOUR EYES AGAINST THE APPEARANCE OF PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS! LOOKS CAN STILL BE DECEIVING AND THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE!

SECONDLY, THE DART FROG IS SMALL, BUT DEADLY! As believers, we’re quick to jump on those who commit adultery, fornicate, drink, smoke, curse, lie, and steal, but I’m often amazed by how we alter the definition of sin when it comes to our OWN! We like to categorize it and give it a size, when it becomes personal. You see, adultery is a “big sin”, oh but sister girl in the corner slandering her sister in Christ with gossip, now that’s a “little sin.” But the bible does not differentiate! Sin, is Sin, no matter who does it or what kind of sin it is! The dart frog can be as SMALL as a paperclip, and still it is DEADLY! And whether they get caught drunk driving while you’re sowing discord among the brethren, sin is still sin! It is still deadly, no matter how ‘small and insignificant’ you may think it is! Proverbs 6:16-19, “These six things the Lord hates; Indeed, seven are repulsive to Him: A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others], a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that creates wicked plans, Feet that run swiftly to evil, A false witness who breathes out lies [even half-truths], And one who spreads discord (rumors) among brothers.” (AMP) But most don’t pay these things any mind, because clearly the “bigger” sins, are adultery and drunkenness! LISTEN, anything that God deems a sin, is a sin! And sin has no size, no category, just the consequence of death! Today, is a great day, to get rid of ALL sin! Just as the ‘little foxes’ spoil the vine, even the sins in your life that you deem ‘little’ will spoil you! Song of Solomon 2:15, “Our vineyards are in blossom; we must catch the LITTLE foxes that DESTROY the vineyards.” (CEV) What You Deem a SMALL SIN Can Bring You BIG DESTRUCTION!  James 3:3-12, “Now if we put bits into the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we guide their whole body as well.  And look at the ships. Even though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are still directed by a very SMALL rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines.  In the same sense, the TONGUE is a SMALL part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See [by comparison] how great a forest is set on fire by a SMALL spark!  And the tongue is [in a sense] a fire, the very world of injustice and unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our members as that which contaminates the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life [the cycle of man’s existence], and is itself set on fire by hell (Gehenna).  For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and sea creatures, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.  But no one can tame the human tongue; it is a restless evil [undisciplined, unstable], FULL OF DEADLY POISON.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers, should not be this way [for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts].  Does a spring send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.” (AMP)

I REITERATE, WHAT YOU DEEM A SMALL SIN CAN BRING YOU BIG DESTRUCTION! DON’T COMPROMISE YOUR CHARACTER! ALL SATAN NEEDS IS A SMALL OPENING TO GIVE HIM OPPORTUNITY TO OVERCOME YOU! Ephesians 4:27, “Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].” (AMPC) A “foothold” is defined as “a place where one can lodge a foot to give secure support while climbing; to secure a position from which further progress may be made.” You may not think a ‘little sin’ can cause much damage, but the Bible disagrees with you! You see, all the devil needs is a foothold, enough room just to get his toes in, and as soon as you allow him that little wiggle room, it will become the place where he can lodge his foot to give him secure support while climbing into your life, making further progress until total takeover and destruction has been accomplished! So…do you still think ‘little’ isn’t such a BIG deal?!

THIRDLY, THE FOOD THE DART FROG EATS IS WHAT MAKES IT POISONOUS! Which is why you have to be so careful about what you DIGEST! The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, so clearly he’s not digesting anything good! Therefore, nothing to do with sin can be good! I don’t care what it looks like, feels like, or the lies it promises, sin is still a deadly killer! Everything out of the enemy and sin is ugly, damaging, and life threatening. It’s fear, discouragement, jealously, anger, maliciousness. And when you partake of sin, that’s the poison you digest! Stop coming into contact with people, places and things that will kill you! Don’t play around it, don’t flirt around it, don’t go near it, avoid it at all costs! Because nothing from it can ever produce anything good, just further destruction! People of God, Let’s Use the Wisdom of Scripture! Proverbs 4:10-15, “Dear friend, take my advice; it will add years to your life. I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way, I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road. I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys, or wasting time making wrong turns. Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip. Guard it well—your life is at stake! Don’t take Wicked Bypass; don’t so much as set foot on that road. Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth. Make a detour and be on your way.” (MSG) THE MORE WORD YOU DIGEST THE LESS CHANCE YOU HAVE OF SIPPING ON SIN AS YOUR CHOICE SUBSTANCE ABUSE! FOLLOW THE ADMONISHMENT OF THE PSALMIST: “How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of Your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of You; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked Your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in Your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from Your mouth; I delight far more in what You tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from You, I attentively watch how You’ve done it. I relish everything You’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.” (MSG)

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DIGEST, IT CAN VERY WELL MEAN LIFE OR DEATH TO YOU!

FOURTH, AS COLORFUL AS DART FROGS ARE, THEY ALWAYS HAVE BLACK ON THEM TO MAKE THEM EASIER TO CAMOUFLAGE! And that’s just like sin! It can camouflage as something good and fulfilling. But no matter how well it camouflages itself, sin is still sin, and sin still kills! You can dress it up all you like, the poison it possesses still remains intact! The Dart Frog is the Epitome of Hypocrisy…and Unfortunately, So are Many of God’s Children! 2 Timothy 3:5, “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). The Message Bible reads like this: “Don’t be naïve. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a SHOW of religion, but BEHIND THE SCENES they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.” (vss. 1-5 MSG) Which is why today is a good day to re-exam the company you keep! Why? 1 Corinthians 15:30-33, “…But don’t fool yourselves. Don’t let yourselves be POISONED…BAD COMPANY RUINS GOOD MANNERS.” (MSG); Matthew 7:15, “Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [APPEARING GENTLE AND INNOCENT], BUT INWARDLY ARE RAVENOUS WOLVES.” (AMP). Some people are nothing more than pretty containers with poisonous content! A form of godliness; a show of religion; wolves in sheep’s clothing! Nothing more than the appearance of godliness. Therefore, use wisdom when selecting your circle so you don’t end up boxed into a circus full of clowns!

Now, there are so many more facts about the dart frog that could be shared, but I’ll close with this last one:

POISONOUS DART FROGS DO NOT LIVE IN THE WATER AS THEY LACK TOE WEBBING AND ARE POOR SWIMMERS. However, like all frogs they begin life in the water as tadpoles. They live in small pools found in the leaves of bromeliads and other tree dwelling plants until they emerge as tiny frogs. And why is this my favorite fact? Because of Ephesians 5. A portion of it reads like this: “Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], JUST AS CHRIST ALSO LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER,  SO THAT HE MIGHT SANCTIFY THE CHURCH, HAVING CLEANSED HER BY THE WASHING OF WATER WITH THE WORD [OF GOD],  so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless.  Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.” (5:25-28 AMP)

Focal Point: “…SO THAT HE MIGHT SANCTIFY THE CHURCH, HAVING CLEANSED HER BY THE WASHING OF WATER WITH THE WORD [OF GOD]…”  

I’ve learned that to keep myself from sin, I need to position myself where the enemy can’t get to me! You see, the dart frog is full of poison and can kill 20,000 mice or ten people, yet it has to be able to get to them first! And if I dare to stay with Christ, and allow Him to sanctify me by washing me with the water of the Word of God (the enemy), that pretty, poisonous dart frog, can’t get to me, BECAUSE IT CAN’T SWIM! Reminds me of Moses and the Red Sea! They went through, while their enemies went under! Or like the unclean spirits that came out of the man and asked Jesus if they could enter the pigs. They were granted their request, and rushed down the steep bank into the sea; and they were drowned [one after the other] in the sea, says the Scripture! How awesome is that! If I keep myself out of the enemies reach, he can’t touch me! But family, that means that we actively do what we must to stay out of harms way! You can’t play with sin and the devil, and then get mad when you get hurt! You can’t play with hell then cry when the heat burns you! A safe place for you is to dwell in the presence of God, in the Word of God, in prayer with God! Allow Him to be the Rivers of Living Water flowing out of you (more water that the enemy can’t swim in!)

People of God, don’t be tricked, or fooled, it (and they) may look real good, and may promise to make you feel even better. However, don’t fall for it! It may be pretty, but it (and they) can be quite poisonous! Stay clean, stay holy, stay drenched in God, and stay alive!

Remember: Just as God has plans for our lives (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); so does Satan have plans for our lives! 2 Corinthians 2:11, “I did this so that Satan would not win anything from us, because we know very well what Satan’s plans are.” (NCV) And what are his plans for our lives? “…TO STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY!” (John 10:10) Let’s Not Be the Ones Who Supply Him With the Ammunition to Take Us Out! Instead, Let’s Obey Christ’s Orders: Matthew 10:16, “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.” (MSG)

The enemy is playing for keeps, so keep yourselves alert in this hazardous kingdom assignment! Don’t compromise and don’t live contrary to Christ’s commands:

Ephesians 5:11-16, “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!” (MSG);

Romans 12:1-2, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (MSG)

Hebrews 12:1-3, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (MSG)

2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way: “I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people. So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,” says God. “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself. I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to me.”  The Word of the Master, God.” (MSG)

We will not lose our crown, nor silence His ‘well done good and faithful servant!’

Let’s exam our lives saints, and get back to raising the standard bar of a Spirit of Excellence among God’s Children. Let’s not be fooled again by Satan’s Pretty Containers With Poisonous Content, We Have Too Much to Lose! Holiness Will Always Keep Us Safe From What’s Hellish!

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

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“Men Helping Men Through Failure, Encouragement and Restoration”

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Acts 15:36-41, “After a few days of this, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let’s see how they’re doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia to build up and sinew in those congregations.” (MSG)

2 Timothy 4:11, “…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very helpful to me for the ministry.” (AMP)

Remember This and Never Forget It: Every Man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul…at Some Point in Life!

One of the things I absolutely love is to watch a baby learn how to walk. It’s the most funniest thing to me ever! In fact, I like to call it the Frankenstein Walk! It’s so clumsy, so mechanical. It’s kind of a “step, boom” method. Someone comes along and says, “I think it’s about time“, then sets them up on their legs – you know, kind of spaghetti legs – and they take one step, then boom! And, of course, they get up again, and the next time it’s step, step, boom! And then step, step, step, boom! You get the idea. But what I love is that even babies don’t call it quits after a fall! As often as they wobble, step, then go boom, either someone helps them back on their feet or they struggle their way back up to give it another shot! Believe it or not, but it’s like that for many believers as well.

I remember when my youngest was learning to walk, she pretty much had the same step, boom, method as all babies have. But when she went down, you could see her grabbing something and battling to get her muscles going all in one direction so she could get up again. But then there were also those times when you saw her big sister reaching over to give her a hand. Actually, that’s what it takes whenever you go step, boom! Sometimes you can pull yourself up, and other times you need someone else to help you back up again! Are we our brother’s/sister’s keeper? Yes We Are!

And so, I think today is a good day to look at a man who stepped out to serve the Lord and went “step, boom!” His name is John Mark. Acts 15 is where we’re hearing about a missionary journey that Barnabas and Paul were launching. “Barnabas,” it says, “wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it was wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus.

Now, in order to get the full story, realize you need to turn to 2 Timothy 4, where at the end of Paul’s life he is now alone in a Roman prison. He will soon be executed for his loyalty to Jesus Christ, and guess who he mentions? Guess who he wants to see? MARK! The same guy who bombed out earlier in his Christian work, and Paul said, “Boy, I don’t think this guy’s going to make it.” But then Paul writes, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful for me in my ministry.” Wow!

Brothers, it is indeed my prayer that today’s devotional will help you look at yourself and your brothers in a new, and even better, light. I want you to look at these three men and see yourself and your brothers, and possibly began responding to each with a clearer perspective.

First, there’s MARK (HE FAILED). And believe it or not, you’ve failed and so have many of the men you know. Does that mean you or they have to live in failure forever? No! Failure never has to be fatal. It doesn’t have to end your marriage, ministry, career or life. Yes, Mark, went the wrong way, he let people and leaders down, but thank God that’s not how his story ended, and neither will it be the closing chapter of your life. In truth, maybe you did fail at the marriage: (you didn’t give it everything you should have, you weren’t as supportive, or kind, or faithful, or loving, or committed, or encouraging as you should have been); maybe you did fail at fatherhood (you weren’t there for the events, activities, talks, and medals); maybe you did fail at the ministry (you didn’t tithe, you didn’t go to prayer, bible study, Sunday school, or afternoon services, you didn’t support the men’s ministry efforts); maybe you did fail at the business/career (you didn’t pay attention to the over-head, you didn’t handle the budget right, you didn’t do better by your staff, you took advantage of your sick and vacation time, you were late to clock in, early to clock out, and went into overtime on lunch). Let’s say the truth of the matter is, this is the truth of the matter! You Failed! But do you have to stay there, absolutely not! Be honest with yourself first (and then others), that you didn’t get it right. Then, if you can pull yourself up, then pull yourself up! But if not, know that you are not the only one, and that there is help available! Which is why you have to be so careful in how you judge your brothers. You don’t know what led them to where they are, just like they don’t know what led you to your failures. So, instead of gossiping or getting and staying stuck, just turn around and start looking for Barnabas!

Second, there’s BARNABAS (HE ENCOURAGED). Mark may have screwed up, but thanks be to God he wasn’t left to his own devices! And neither are you. There will be times that you and your brothers will be Mark (you will have failed at many things, badly). But there will also be times when Barnabas will come to your aid, and then there will also be those times when you’ll need to be the Barnabas that comes to your brother’s aid. You never want to kick someone when they’re already down. And the best way to keep you from doing this is to remember when you were Mark too.  You needed someone to look beyond the worse in you and still see the best. Well, there are men around you who need the same thing.  Not all men will come to church! And those that do, won’t always come speaking in church lingo. Some will come, but not dressed like you, act like you, conduct themselves as you do. Some will come and they will come with more baggage than the baggage claim at an airport. Some will come from gangs, drugs, alcohol, failed marriages, poor fatherhood, estranged relationships with their children and family. Some will come with no job, no place to live, no hope, no faith. Some will come bitter, discouraged, angry even combative. But Barnabas, if you can encourage the Apostles to take a shot and believe in Paul who was the King of the Killers of Christians, most certainly you can work with these brothers also. Some brothers just need to feel like they’re not going to be picked last to be on the team. Like Barnabas, he could’ve said, listen Mark, I’ve worked with Paul a long time, I’ve built a friendship with him, I trust his leadership, I’m loyal to our covenant. I can’t help you, you should’ve done what you were supposed to do from the beginning. But that was not at all Barnabas response, instead, he picked the one person no one wanted on their team, and he says in essence, ‘I’ll take him’! Brothers, there are some men in your church, in your home, in your family, on your job, in your community that simply need to hear,I’ll take him!” Yep, with all his baggage and all his failures, “I’ll still take him!” Men of God, be the man that watches Mark go “step, boom,”, then go over and help him back up! And do it knowing full-well that he may go down again! But after all, when did you get it perfectly right? You still wobble in some areas, and yet you still have God’s grace, mercy, favor and forgiveness. Are you really going to withhold such a wonderful gift like that from your brother, that you open every new day?

Third, there’s Paul (HE RESTORED). Now, Paul had a two-fold responsibility. Because first of all, as a leader, he had to be honest. Mark did fail! And there’s no such thing as an effective leader who doesn’t correct bad behavior. Paul still had more journey’s to go on, more people to reach, more work to do. He couldn’t just take into account Mark, but the danger of Mark relapsing again in failure that would affect others. So he makes a leadership decision not to take him. But what I love is that even though as a leader, he corrected and reproved Mark, that wasn’t the end of their relationship!

You know what the message is? When you’re following Christ, failure is not final! But it takes two kinds of people to recover someone from a fall. It takes Barnabas to encourage the one who has fallen, to get back up, but it also takes Paul the restorer, to say I’ll give him another chance. I still see hope, a future, a change, some more potential, he deserves another chance.

You know, if that baby goes “step, boom” he can’t just say, “Well, I fell down. I guess I’ll never walk. I’m not cut out for this.” He can’t just keep lying there helpless on the floor. No! Because if he does, he’ll still be there when he’s 18; his Mom will be vacuuming around him! LOL! But no, instead, he gets up and he says in his own little brain, “I will try this walking thing again.But sometimes you need help, you need a Barnabas to Lift and a Paul to Re-Launch!

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’ve been giving up because you failed. But the gospel of Mark’s life is that you can be restored. You can be useful again if you’re willing to battle your way back up, even on wobbly legs. But recovery also requires a brother; one like Barnabas, who will work with you patiently, who will deal with your weaknesses, who will give you an another chance. And it takes a brother like Paul, who though he had his doubts, is willing to accept him once he’s restored, and not to continue to say, “Oh, yeah, he’s the failure.

Now, one of these is you, or it needs to be. Maybe you’re a Mark and you feel that you’ve fallen. But now ask the Lord for the courage and the patience to battle your way back up. Maybe you’re a Barnabas who reaches out to that person that others have given up on, maybe even a member of your own family. Or maybe you’re Paul, who can make or break somebody’s comeback by whether you greet them with open or folded arms.

When one of God’s kids goes “step, boom” there is still hope if there’s a battler determined to walk again and a brother who’s offering a hand of help.

Can we be honest brothers? Life is not easy, and most times it’s horribly unfair. So you never get the opportunity to be Paul all the time. The strong one that restores. But when life happens, you will find yourself being all three of these men, and sometimes you can find yourself being all three, all in the same day. But know this, Mark didn’t die in his failure; Barnabas didn’t overlook him; and Paul didn’t completely give up on him. In fact, the Scripture says, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11 KJV). Let’s look at Paul’s words in a few translations:

 “…Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING.” (ASV);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY.” (AMP);

“…Get Mark, and bring him with you. He has been A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY.” (CEB);

“…Take Mark, and bring him with you, because he is a VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK.” (CJB);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, because he CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK.” (GNT);

“…Bring Mark with you when you come, FOR I NEED HIM.” (TLB);

 “…Bring Mark with you; HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN.” (MSG)

As badly as Mark messed up, Paul says, I need him, he’ll be my right hand man! Can you imagine what those words must be like to hear after you’ve failed so miserably? And more importantly, to hear them from the very person whom you failed! I wonder if the man (who you know) that messed up, but was received like this by the brethren, if he would still be a member of the church today? You know that same ‘Mark’ in your ministry, in your home, on your job, who failed in his leadership; who didn’t complete his assignment; whose wife left him; who’s estranged from his children (by his own fault); whose lost the job. You know, that Mark. What kind of man could he have matured and grown and developed into had he been mentored in his mistakes?

Paul went from, “Acts 15:36-41 saying, “…Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. BUT PAUL WOULDN’T HAVE HIM; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia…” (MSG); to saying in 2 Timothy 4:11, “…Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR SERVICE.” (NASB)

Paul, says, don’t leave him down in his failure, pick him up and bring him to me because even after his failure he is still, “…USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING; … VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY… A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY… VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK… CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK… FOR I NEED HIM… HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN! Now, that’s what you call Restoration!

Men of God, please know that you as well as your brothers will all experience times of being Mark (who failed), Barnabas (who encouraged) and Paul (who corrected and restored). And whichever stage you find yourself in, know that it’s progressive and repetitive. You don’t stay in either stage permanently. As anointed, gifted, talented, powerful and awesome as you are, you will fail again, you will need to be encouraged as well encourage others again, you will need to give and receive rebuke and restoration again. And all of this is a blessing because Mark teaches us Humility; Barnabas teaches us Hospitality; and Paul teaches us Hope. Give these wonderful gifts to yourself, as well as to your brothers!

Life is not easy, and there is no flawless, perfect male specimen walking around on this planet! All have sinned, all have missed the mark, all have made mistakes, all have messed up, all have gotten it wrong at some point in life. Pointing fingers is not a remedy. Gossip, rumors, slander, and lies, is not a remedy. Favoritism, is not a remedy. Encouragement and Restoration, now that’s a Remedy! That’s a Recipe for Greatness and Recovery!

Today, Remember that every man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul at some point from moment to moment in this life. Be as forgiving, encouraging, supportive and strengthening as you would want someone to be to you. Be the living proof that any man can go from failure, to encouragement, to restoration! And make it your business to personally be a part of his process!

Which means you will not only need to be Barnabas and Paul, but you’ll also need to be Peter: Luke 22:32, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen they brethren.” (KJV) Let’s review this text in a few translations:

“but I have prayed [especially] for you [Peter], that your faith [and confidence in Me] may not fail; and you, once you have turned back again [to Me], strengthen and support your brothers [in the faith]” (AMP)

“But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.” (AMPC)

“But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others.” (CEV)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (ERV)

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you recover, strengthen the other disciples.” (GWT)

“but I have pleaded in prayer for you that your faith should not completely fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up the faith of your brothers.” (TLB)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (NCV)

“But I have prayed for you. I have prayed that your faith will be strong and that you will not give up. When you return, you must help to make your brothers strong.” (NLV)

“Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.” (vss. 31-32 MSG)

Brothers, Today, Determine to be There for Your Brothers!

“Conflict cannot continue without your participation.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer)

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” (William James)

“Do not kid yourself, a conflict is never about the surface issue. It’s about issues unsaid, untreated, and unhealed.” (Author Unknown)

“The goal of resolving conflict in a relationship is not victory or defeat. It’s reaching understanding and letting go of our need to be right.”

“Explain your anger, don’t express it, and you will immediately open the door to solutions instead of arguments.” (Author Unknown)

“Conflict is Inevitable, but Combat is Optional.” (Max Lucado)

“Bringing a problem to resolution and closure through continued discussion and compromise is an honorable act as it shows respect for the needs of both partners.” (Lynne Namka)

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” (Albert Einstein)

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

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“POUR On the SALT, TURN On the LIGHT”

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I’m such a lover of history! So today I invite you to take a little trip with me!

It was the early winter of 1994 – the one the Sanitation Department of New York City would not forget for a long while. Much of the East Coast got hit big time with this parade of snow and ice storms. At one point, they were coming about every other day. A hard freeze and frequent storms created layers of frozen precipitation on the ground. Kind of like geological strata except slippery. Olympic skaters could have practiced on Broadway or Fifth Avenue to give you a real good visual!

Needless to say, the sand and salt trucks were working around the clock, and drivers worked such long hours that I’m persuaded they had to wear name tags when they finally got home because they’d been gone so much and so long, it’s a wonder their families remembered who they were! But, ultimately, the slippery stuff wasn’t the biggest problem. No, the real crisis was a salt shortage. Now, snow and ice are bad. But no salt on the snow and ice? Well, that’s horrific! People were saying, “Hey, they ran out of salt!” However, one city official explained that was not the problem. He said, “There’s plenty of salt. The problem is we can’t get the salt from where it is to where it’s needed.

Read with me Matthew 5, beginning at verse 13, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” God goes on to describe us, then, as “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” (vs. 14) And then He says, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (vss. 15-16).

Let’s look at these verses in the Amplified Bible: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste (purpose), how can it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and walked on by people [when the walkways are wet and slippery]. “You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (AMP)

The first thing that struck me is this: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste (PURPOSE)…” And what’s our “Purpose”? Simple: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20); “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:15-20); “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

In a nutshell: It is our responsibility to bring the Gospel to EVERYBODY, EVERYWHERE! If we’re not sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we’ve lost our PURPOSE! And what happens when PURPOSE is lost? …It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and walked on…” It’s dangerous to lose your PURPOSE! Sadly, the church has become so consumed with “Personal Purpose” that we’ve missed out on our “Corporate Purpose”! We’re so fixated on getting people to join our church, that in the end, all we’ll have is a long church roster on earth, but a short roster in heaven! The early church of Acts 2 was so powerful because it possessed a single-minded focus on Corporate Purpose! They were assembled together, of one mind, goal, and purpose. They worked together for all! And what happened? They got 3,000 souls in a day and we can’t get 3 visitors in a year! People of God, our Salty Purpose is to Work Together in Sharing the Good News With All We Come in Contact With! And not for the aim and goal of getting people to join our church, but getting people to have their name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life!

Think about this: When salt loses its purpose, it’s good for nothing but to be thrown out. Well, if we’re not sharing the Good News, which is our purpose, why would God allow us to continue living and breathing on the Earth, when we’re no longer good for anything since we’ve lost our purpose? When something has lost its purpose, why hold on to it? Why keep it around? It no longer serves a purpose! Let that be your days meditation thought…

Now let’s take a look at The Message Bible Translation:

 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (MSG)

 Let’s look at this in a few parts: “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?…” I love Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” But again, Matthew says, “…If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?…” YOU my friend are the key ingredient! Your saltiness gives people a thirst for Living Water! But if you lose your salt, they lose a taste that would’ve led them to a Water in which they would never thirst again! It’s important to ALL that you never lose your saltiness! It’s vital to the salvation of others! You will lead them to Living Waters; You will lead them to Godliness; You will lead them to Experience the Goodness of the Lord; You will lead them to Trust Him! Don’t Lose Your Salt!

Matthew goes on to say, “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a SECRET to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill…” (MSG) So, if God is not a secret to be kept, why do we, as believers, keep Him tucked away quietly within our church walls? The word “secret” is defined as “not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others”. Clearly, God Was Not Meant to Be the Churches Secret! The Scripture Declares, “…We’re going PUBLIC with this, as public as a city on a hill…” (MSG) And do you know what the word “public” means? It’s defined as “available to the people as a whole; involving the affairs of the community; in open view of everything and everybody”. In other words, God is Not a Secret to Be Kept, Nor Hidden or Confined! Which means we, the church, need to get out of the church! We’re preaching, teaching, praying, encouraging just Saved Folks! We’re so busy with protocol, programs, and positions that People are slipping through the cracks and sliding right into hell! Maybe we should stop sitting at the Dais table and go stand in the soup kitchen and serve. Maybe we should stop attempting to out-dress one another, and take those clothes to much needed clothes drives. Maybe we should stop gathering at the church, and gather at the shelters instead. Maybe we should stop having countless praise breaks, and take a break from superficial Christianity and actually live as Christians who really serve Christ.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, there are two things you need to know that your Savior says you are. You are salt and you are light. Now, it doesn’t take a lot of salt to change the environment. Think about it: you don’t need a pound of salt for a pound of meat, right? You don’t have to have as much salt as there is ice. But in order for salt to do any good, it has to be in contact with the thing it is needed to change; on the street or on the meat. It doesn’t do anything in a salt shaker or piled in a salt mountain somewhere in a big storage yard! There needs to be contact! But how can we as salt, season the earth, if we never come in contact?! We have to leave the pews and pulpits if we’re ever going to come into contact with the world!

God’s problem with getting Jesus to lost and dying people is the same as that winter emergency in New York; the salt wasn’t getting where it was needed! We – who know Christ – often are not in enough meaningful contact with the people who need us most. It’s as if there are these great mountains of spiritual salt in a very cold and frozen world. We salt people spend so much time in meetings with each other, doing programs for each other, having concerts with each other, serving on committees for each other, and doing books and music for each other. We’re disconnected from the people who are dying without our Jesus! If we’re to season the earth we need to come into contact with its inhabitants. And YES, that means we need to come into contact with the prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts, alcoholics, gangs, homeless and the like. We need to visit the sick and shut-in, the hospice, the nursing homes, the emergency rooms, shelters, soup kitchens, prisons, asylums, abortion clinics, dialysis and chemo centers. We need to share our salt in the laundromat, the supermarket, on the train, in the cab, or standing in line at the deli! We are constantly surrounded by people who need what we have, and yet we give them nothing, but give each other the same things week after week, behind the closed doors of the church!

Isn’t it time for the salt to get out where it’s needed? We need to leave the comfort of Salt Mountain and dare to risk getting involved in places where lost people are; to look at the unbelieving people around us and start building some bridges into their lives; building intentional rescue relationships. More than picketers, protestors, politickers, or promoters, God needs some of His people to just move close to some people who are not His people…YET!

Listen to Matthew again in The Amplified Translation and then The Message Bible:

You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (AMP);

“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (MSG)

Can you imagine how odd it would look if you walked into a dark room, turned on the lamp, and then put the lit lamp in a closet and closed the door? Sounds silly doesn’t it? But that’s what we’ve been doing. We sing all these wonderful songs about the goodness and faithfulness of God, yet we sing in the church. We preach all these inspiring messages about the salvation, healing and delivering power of God, yet we preach in the church. We teach about the attributes of God, the fruit of the Spirit, the unconditional love of Jesus, yet we teach in the church. We pray until tumors dry up, cancer is cured, Aids no longer exists, the lame are walking, the deaf can hear, the mute can speak, the blind can see, the bound are free, and yet we pray this only in church. Why do we keep light surrounded by more light, when we live in such a dark world? We talk about sagging pants, rebellious youth, broken homes, tattoos, piercings, addictions, and the like, and yet all light does is talk to more light about it, instead of light going out into the world and fulfilling its purpose, “…it gives light to all who are in the house.  ” (AMP); I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!” (MSG) I love one of the definitions of the word “shine” it’s defined as “a torch used to give direction in the dark.” That’s what we’re assigned to do. Give a dark world some light, so that they may see our Jesus! And what happens when we do? “…they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (AMP). When we shine light, they see our Father, and find a path that leads them to Him. And once they find Him, they praise Him, honor Him, and glorify Him!

But I also love the way the Message Bible says it, “…By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (MSG) When we go to where we’re needed, and share our salty testimonies about what God has done for us, we prompt them to do the same. Seek Him, Find Him, Follow and Trust Him. But we have to go to them first, and “open up”.

And an added bonus is this, “it gives light to all who are in the house…” When you share the Good News with just one person, you in fact share it with many more. You see, when you share it with that husband, you have to remember that he’s also a son, a brother, an uncle, a god-father, a teacher, a coach, a friend etc…what does that mean? When you share light with him, he in turn shares it with his wife, children, siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, god-children, students, athletes, friends etc… When you share with him, he shares with a whole host of others! Your light shines on his whole household! “it gives light to ALL who are in the HOUSE…”

Would you dare to ask God today to lay some lost person on your heart? Maybe He already has. Ask Him, “God, go ahead and break my heart for the people within my reach who do not have You.” And then invest yourself in what Jesus did. He came “to seek and to save those who are lost.” If you share your light, they’ll find Him too!

Listen: Too many people are slipping away, falling, and crashing because there is no salt making a difference where they are. Please, if you know Jesus, be where you are needed the most!

Luke 14:34, “Salt is excellent. But if the salt goes flat, it’s useless, good for nothing. “Are you listening to this? Really listening?” (MSG)

Today Determine to Pour On the Salt, and Turn On the Light!

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

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“Keep SHINING, You’re Someone’s Way Out of DARKNESS!”

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Matthew 5:14-16, “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—SHINE! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (MSG)

There are two types of stories that pull at my heart-strings immediately. One is that of anyone who survives a life-devastating event; and two, anything concerning children. Well, what I’m about to share with you combines them both.

You see, she was only seven years old; the lone survivor of a plane crash that killed her parents, her sister, and her cousin. The sheriff said “she literally fell out of the sky into a dark hole.” He called her survival “a miracle.” This “miracle” survivor somehow crawled out of this upside-down wreckage of her dad’s plane dressed only in shorts and a t-shirt on a cold winter night. Shoe-less, through brambles and underbrush, this, who they called “remarkable” young girl, navigated two embankments, a hill, and a creek bed in the dark!

Then, much like the book of Genesis, “and then there was light”. Actually, it was just a single security light on a house. But when she knocked on that door, a kind, grandfatherly man brought her inside. Then she was safe. One report said this: “He thinks his security light may have been a beacon.I agree, a beacon of light for a little girl who had lost so much in the dark. Thank God for the light that saved her life.

This story got me to thinking about who I need to be for people who’ve lost so much (in the dark moments of life). Those who feel alone, depressed, disheartened…those whose world has suddenly crashed into darkness, who need someone to be a light – a “beacon” – to lead them to safety.

I love that word “beacon”, it’s defined as “a fire lit on the top of a hill as a signal; a light serving as a signal for ships or aircraft.” Its Old English Origin literally means “sign.” The word “signal” is defined as “a gesture, action or sound conveying information or an instruction.” Its Italian Origin “segnalato” means “distinguished”, from its root “segnale” which means “a signal.When we as believers become beacons of light for those lost in darkness, we serve as a signal conveying information about our Savior and instruction that He is the Light of the World to follow. And our signal is “distinguished”, which is defined as “having an identifying characteristic.” And what characteristics stand out for us as believers? “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [UNSELFISH CONCERN FOR OTHERS], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.  If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [WITH PERSONAL INTEGRITY, GODLY CHARACTER, AND MORAL COURAGE—OUR CONDUCT EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT].” (Galatians 5:22-25 AMP) That’s what distinguishes us. That’s what makes people who are walking around in darkness, look up and take notice of us. They see the light of an unselfish person with personal integrity, godly character and moral courage that conducts themselves according to the empowering Holy Spirit from within.

In other words, when people (whether saved or unsaved) see us, they should see light! They should see a way out. They should see encouragement, inspiration, empowerment, care, unconditional love and a non—judgmental attitude. They should see someone who simply wants to help guide them out of Gloom and into God. Those starving for help should see the Fruit of the Spirit in us. They should see love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. As believers, we are to be beacons of light in this dark world. Philippians 2:15, “so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, AMONG WHOM YOU ARE SEEN AS BRIGHT LIGHTS [BEACONS SHINING OUT CLEARLY] in the world [of darkness],” (AMP).

So, are you shining light, or throwing shade? Because you can’t do both!

In our text for today, Jesus says this in Matthew 5, beginning with verse 14, “You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see.  Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.” (TLB) The word “glow” is defined as “to give out steady light; to have an intense color and a slight radiance.” And the word “steady” is defined as “firmly fixed, supported, or balanced, not faltering or wavering; reliable; regular; continuous; and frequent.” In other words, our lights are always on, they do not turn off! The Scripture commands us, “…DON’T HIDE YOUR LIGHT!” When something is “hidden” it means it’s “put or kept out of sight; concealed; and camouflaged”. Which is very descriptive of some of us, believers, when we’re anywhere else, outside of church! Oh, we’ll shine brightly within the 4 walls of the church, but somehow we manage to dim-down at work, the salons, the barbershop, supermarket, laundromat, the mall, and most certainly when we’re cut off by someone on the highway! And that word “dim” means “difficult to see, shady, and unclear.” It becomes difficult to see our light when we want to blend in and look and sound like everyone else. When we conform to the crowd, it’s difficult to see our individual light. And depending on where we are, what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with, we become real shady. Our integrity and character becomes unclear. We’re no longer distinguished but indistinguishable. And what’s the danger of that? “YOU ARE THE WORLD’S LIGHT…” The world will only see the light that we shine. But when we remain hidden, they remain in the dark. But we’re commanded, “LET IT SHINE FOR ALL…” People are depending on us church. And as the Scripture says, “…ALL…” people are depending on us. Every culture, nationality, gender, race, age, rich, poor, single, married, divorced, with kids, without kids, varying religions, they are all depending on us…whether they know it or not. Because despite the popular ideas of “higher powers”, there is only One Power, One Name and One God, that can save them from eternal darkness and His name is Jesus Christ. And we as His followers, named after His name (Christians) are to continuously be the road map that points them in His direction! John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, I AM THE [ONLY] WAY [TO GOD] and the [REAL] TRUTH and the [REAL] LIFE; NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT THROUGH ME.” (AMP); Philippians 2:9-11, “Because of that obedience, God lifted Him high and honored Him FAR BEYOND ANYONE OR ANYTHING, EVER, so that ALL CREATED BEINGS IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH—EVEN THOSE LONG AGO DEAD AND BURIED—WILL BOW IN WORSHIP BEFORE THIS JESUS CHRIST, and call out in praise that HE IS THE MASTER OF ALL, to the glorious honor of God the Father.” (MSG)

We are the Beacons of Light, in this Dark World, that will Lead ALL to Jesus! Saints, We Can’t Dim Our Light, They Need Us to Show Them the Way Out!

Speaking of being a beacon and light, I’ve been thinking what it means to be a beacon or light for people in my personal world. And I found out, in its simplicity, it means being one person they know who is all about their need, not about my own. One who has time to listen (and even when I don’t have time, making time anyhow). Being that one person who doesn’t just ask the obligatory “How you doing?” But one who asks that second and third question to see if that obligatory “I’m fine” answer they gave me is really how they’re doing. Being a light means being the one who refuses to hear or speak trash talk about anyone. Who protects a person’s name when they’re not in the room. Who builds a person up and never tears them down. Who says, “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong.” It’s being the person to call, leave a voicemail, text, email, or visit. It’s the person to mail a get well card. It’s the person giving more than a “church hug”, but being arms in which someone can fall into, cry freely and still feel unashamed. Its’ being a safe place for someone to strip off all their layers of initials, titles, positions, and the like, and simply being who they really are in the moment (hurt, confused, in pain, lonely, depressed, bitter, discouraged, angry). It’s being the person they can confide in knowing that their confidence will never be betrayed.

It’s always being the person who treats people, as the Bible says, “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). The Message Bible reads it like this, “If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, AND ALWAYS WITH THE UTMOST COURTESY. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad…” (vss. 13-18 MSG) People of God, this ought to be descriptive of us, no matter what or where. Christians ought to always be courteous, kind, generous, gentle, caring, and understanding. After all, how can we possibly be anything contrary to the Christ we’ve been called to represent in His Image and Likeness?

In a nutshell: We do not “turn off our light” no matter how dark a person may be that approaches us. We have not been called to judge, point fingers, assign blame, pronounce guilt, to condemn or put down. We are simply to be light that directs dark to Light. That’s our responsibility. We are to represent God, not attempt to replace Him, or try to “be Him”. Just do what He asked of you, and certainly I’ve found nowhere in Scripture where He’s asked of us to treat cruel with cruel or dark with dark. In fact, His Word admonishes us, “Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. THAT GOES FOR ALL OF YOU, NO EXCEPTIONS. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—THAT’S YOUR JOB, TO BLESS. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth. God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well TO WHAT HE’S ASKED; But he turns his back on those who do evil things.” (1 Peter 3:8-12 MSG). Did you read your job responsibility? “…BLESS – THAT’S YOUR JOB, TO BLESS…” Not to curse, but to bless! No matter who you’re dealing with, no matter their attitude or response, you are to bless. Whether you feel like it or not, you are to bless. Whether it’s morning, noon or night, you are to bless. Whether it’s family, friend or foe, you are to bless. Whether it’s at home, church, work, business, gas station, in traffic, or a PTA meeting, you are to bless!

It’s a blessing, to be light! You know why? Because “light” people are those who remember a person’s birthday, who checks on them when they’re sick, who’s at the hospital, the wedding, and the funeral. Who drops what I’m doing when they’re hurting. Who offers to pray withnot just for – them when God is needed so much. “Light” people give you their precious time and undivided attention.

And so you don’t take this as a personal attack, I even asked MYSELF: do people around me see me as “safe“; the “go-to” person when it’s dark, when it’s cold and when it’s lonely? Have I so lived that when they hit a wall, they’ll think of me as a place to turn? Am I the light on the porch when people around me are feeling lost? Do people see Christ in me? Do they taste salt and see light? Am I compassionate, kind, enduring, patient, loving, understanding, pleasant to be around? Is my attitude a good one (or does it depend on the day, person and circumstance)? Do I murmur? Do I complain? Am I negative? Am I pessimistic? Am I confrontational? Am I critical? Am I the person someone would call in times of trouble? When someone has fallen into sin and needs restoration, am I a person they would call on to help them reconcile with God? As James admonishes us, am I a person they can confide in, trust, and confess to? In other words, this Word challenged me to re-exam my own life, lifestyle and walk with God, and His people. Now, I’ve discovered that I’m not a horrible person, however, I’ve also realized that I can certainly become a better person. I can be the light someone needs in their dark tunnel. I can help them navigate their way. And sometimes that’s not with speech, just with the gift of presence.

I can be that for one reason. Truth is, Jesus Christ has been that for me. And so have my brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether it was worry over my children, struggling in marriage, hardship in finances, discouraged with church, sleepless nights with school, the loss of my dad, the loss of my mom. I’ve had “Light” people that stepped into my dark path, and said, “lets walk this thing together.” And believe it or not, but there are people in your life that need your light. Oh, yeah, they have a smile on their face, and they know how to laugh on cue, and they’ve mastered, “I’m good, I’m fine, All is well, I’m blessed and highly favored.But truth is, in private, many are struggling just to wake up, get up, get dressed and keep going. For many, it’s a struggle just to put both feet on the floor in the morning. For many, their nights are so bad, they no longer want to face another day. YOU, my friend, can be their little piece of personal sunshine on a stormy day.

One thing that always warms my heart is passing by a person and they smile, which makes me smile. We never speak, we never exchange words at all. And yet, I feel instantly better. Likewise, you don’t have to be everything for everybody. Sometimes a little smile, a brief hug, a quick pat on the back, is all that’s needed to turn someone’s day around. In fact, you’ll be absolutely amazed at the rekindling of fire you can be to someone’s desire to live with just a few words, I believe in you, you can do this, you can be better, I see greatness in you, dream again, try again, don’t give up, keep pressing, you’ll make it.Everyone needs encouragement, even those that don’t admit it or ask for it. Everyone at one time or another experiences dark days and needs someone to shed a little light. Why not allow yourself to be that light?

Someone in your life needs to feel loved, important, significant, and cherished. Because someone in your life feels neglected, wounded, unforgiven, ashamed, guilty, and desperate. And all they need to make a difference in their darkness is just a little light. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). The Message Bible says it like this, “Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” (MSG). If you could just help them direct their darkness to Him, He’ll provide them plenty of light to live in. However, that can’t happen, if you don’t help them get to The Light. If someone in my personal world is wandering in the dark today, I just pray they’ve seen the light in me so I can help them find the Light in Him.

I’ll close with this little story. I have pocketbooks! Lot’s of ‘em! Every color, style and size. My favorites however, are my big bags. But the down-side of them is that I always throw my keys in my bag, so when I get home and try to get in the house, I can’t! It’s dark when I get home at night, and I never think to take them out ahead of time or to place them in a better place of convenience. Well, I ended up attending a friends event and the giveaways were cute little keychain flashlights. I said “what in the world am I supposed to do with this little thing?” And a child (yes, a little kid) gave me the answer. She said, “well, maybe you can use the little light until you can get to a bigger one.” All I could think was: “And a child shall lead them!” That was one of those moments when I thought, “kids say the darndest things”. Sounds comical, but I think she nailed it. The little light, would help me get to the big Light. And upon using my little keychain flashlight to fish out my keys one night, I found it to be true. That little light helped to find my keys, unlock and open the door and the first thing I did was cut on the big light inside.

Today, that’s my prayer for US! That we’ll be just a little light that leads someone in darkness to the Big Light! Just think about the opening story, she walked away from so much tragedy, in the middle of a dark, cold and lonely night, and the only thing that saved her and her life, was a little light that was kept on.

My Admonishment to You Today: KEEP SHINING, YOU ARE SOMEONE’S WAY OUT OF DARKNESS!

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” (Dr. Maya Angelou)

“There are two ways of spreading light, to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” (Edith Wharton)

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” (James Heller)

“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” (Francis Bacon)

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” (Desmond Tutu)

“If you want to give light to others, you have to glow yourself.” (Thomas S. Monson)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“Small lights have a way of being seen in a dark world.” (Neal A. Maxwell)

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” (Francis of Assisi)

“Within you is the light of a thousand suns.” (Robert Adams)

“If you want light to come into your life, you need to stand where it is shining.” (Guy Finley)

“Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.” (Benjamin Franklin)

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” (Aristotle Onassis)

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” (Helen Keller)

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

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“Don’t Judge My Character When You Don’t Know My Story”

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“…What’s the STORY behind these ruins?” (1 Kings 9:6-9 MSG)

“I’m on the edge of losing it – the pain in my gut keeps burning. I’m ready to tell my STORY of failure…” (Psalm 38:17-20 MSG)

Anybody that knows me, knows how much I love dogs! In fact, if I wasn’t so busy, I’d have a dog right now! You see, I’ve had them ever since I was a baby. Every breed, every size! And those that know me best, know that German Shepherds have always been my favorite dog, since my favorite childhood dog was a German Shepherd named “Captain.” Every time I see a dog, whether walking down the street or if I’m in the car or on the bus, I instantly turn into a 5 year old screaming, “daddy can I have him?” In a nutshell: I Love Dogs!

However, I’ve never met a pup quite like my friends Yorkie “Bella”. You see, Bella wasn’t very easy to get to know. She was such a cutie pie though! So little, so adorable, but not approachable at all! In my experience, most dogs run up to you when you come to the door, even if you’re a stranger, and they’re usually all over you. But Not Bella! She ran the other way and cowered in the corner! No matter how gentle, or how friendly you were to her, it didn’t matter. As soon as she saw someone coming, she ran in the opposite direction! She refused to come out of her corner for anybody! Strange dog,” I thought. However, that was until my girlfriend explained that Bella had been terribly abused by her first owners. So, when she saw people, she saw pain.

You couldn’t understand the way Bella ACTED, until you knew her STORY. Believe it or not, but people are like that, too.

You watch how they act, how they treat people, you see the bad attitude they have, and you say, “I don’t know what her problem is, but I don’t have to deal with her foolishness! I don’t know why he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but I will not be treated like I was his aggravating alarm clock that disturbed his beauty sleep! Or, you respond with the same garbage they just dished out to you. So often we judge people with little, distorted or no information at all! We see what they do, and assume that’s who they are. But rarely is that ever the case.

I’ve discovered that the “make a difference” people in this world, the healers, are the ones who never forget this critical issue in dealing with people: YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND THE WAY THEY ACT, UNTIL YOU KNOW THEIR STORY! AND EVERYBODY’S GOT A STORY!

I remember discovering how wrong I had been about some of the women in my leadership group, AFTER many of them poured out their hearts at our women’s retreat. Late into the night, people you thought you knew, revealed the pain in their background. Some of the women who were “distant” were physically, mentally, verbally, and sexually abused. Some of the women who had “bad attitudes” actually suffered from varying mental illnesses (such as depression). Some of the women who “dogged men out“, were in relationships that treated them like property instead of like a person. Some of the women who didn’t like to be a “part of our social gatherings“, were actually ex-alcoholics, and although our events had no alcohol at them, for them, just being in a place with a lot of people, laughing, joking, having fun, listening to music, all gave them urges to need a drink (since that was mostly the settings when they did drink). They were simply trying to avoid the triggers that have shot them in the past!

In other words, suddenly the lights went on and I said, “So that’s what I’ve been seeing all these years! It had nothing to do with their personality, just their personal, private, painful past.I felt bad that I had been responding to them based on their deeds, and never considered the needs behind those deeds.

Reminds me of parenting my children as babies. I had my oldest daughter at 17 and my youngest at 19, so I wasn’t exactly the most patient, understanding or experienced parent! I could deal with them crying because they were hungry or wet, but it was those times when they would cry, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they were crying about, that drove me nuts! There were times I would cry because I couldn’t figure out why they were crying. Panic attacks would set in, depression would be overwhelming…and then my mom would come in the room, pick them up, close my door, and take them to her room. I guess some “motherly sixth-sense” would kick in and she would know when to come to my rescue. I remember feeling so discouraged, inadequate, and like a down-right poor excuse of a mother, because I couldn’t figure out why my children were crying. Me and mom had a little chat not long after those early days, and she said, “every cry has a story behind it, some chapters are quick and you find out right away, but then some you have to wait it out until chapter 40 before you figure it out. Either way, every cry has a story behind it.” I have no idea what made me recall that today, but that’s what brought out this devotional.

And the truth is, there are some people that we come into contact with on a daily basis (in our homes, churches, work, school, supermarket, laundromat, hair and nail salon etc…) that are “crying”. But unfortunately, we get so frustrated because we don’t know why they’re crying that we simply ignore the cry, or wait for someone else to come and pick them up and figure it out. I can’t even imagine the amount of people who have left our churches because they were “crying” and no one took the time and patience to figure out why. We were so busy being frustrated by the “noise” of their behavior, attitude, ways, and words, that we didn’t listen for the story behind the act of ‘crying’.

Problem is, we’re too busy reacting, instead of listening. Which brings to mind Ephesians 4, beginning with verse 29. He says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their NEEDS, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV).

Let’s, as my custom, view this verse in a few translations, shall we?:

“Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the NEED and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” (AMP);

“Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is NEEDED for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.” (CEB);

“When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people NEED—whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you.” (ERV);

“Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is NEEDED. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.” (GWT);

“Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is NEEDED, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” (GNT);

“Watch your talk! No bad words should be coming from your mouth. Say what is good. Your words should help others grow as Christians.” (NLV)

In other words, don’t say things that will tear a person down, only things that will build that person up! Why? Because you’re focusing on their NEEDS, not their DEEDS! The word “need” is defined as “something required because it is essential or very important; expressing necessity or obligation; circumstances in which a thing or course of action is required.” And despite what their deeds may have been, there were needs that they stemmed from (if only we would take the patience and time to figure them out).  And according to Scripture and the very definition of the word “need”, this is what God is requiring of us, as essential for them.

Listen: Whether that person is your child, your spouse, your parent, your friend, your coworker, or someone at church, they’re response is more about their need than their deed. And no matter what their response, your reaction is to meet their need! You are to love them enough to listen to their story until you can find the chapter their stuck in that needs and requires your help. Are you obligated to do that? Absolutely! “You are your brother/sisters keeper!John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” (AMP) The Message Bible says it like this, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (vss. 34-35 MSG). Then 1 John 4:20-21, declares, “If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” (MSG)

And no matter how badly they’ve Acted, you have to love them enough to hear their Story, and be concerned enough to help them write a new Chapter! You can’t love God and not love people! God Himself calls you a liar!

Listen: If you knew their story, you’d understand that many have been made to feel worthless much of their life. So they make choices based on the fact that they’re viewed as trash by some (especially those closest to them). And that’s one of the hardest battles to be won, is helping a person get past their past, and to forget what they keep recalling. You have to love them Forward! Your love for your brothers/sisters needs to be progressive (which is defined as, ‘proceeding gradually or in stages; engaging in or constituting forward motion’)! They will never get to where they need to be if they remain stuck where they are. And sometimes that means we have to be their “pen” of inspiration. When they feel the horror story is how it ends, we need to step up to the “desk” and say “oh no it’s not! There’s another chapter in you and we’re going to write it out!They need to know that their character doesn’t die here; this is not the final chapter; the story is not over!

No Matter How They ACT, You Are Responsible to Stay In CHARACTER! Never ACT Out of CHARACTER!

Now, if we’re being honest here, we’ve all been in situations where we wanted to (and some of us did), treat other people the same way they treated us! After all, no one smiles at the person they held the door open for, and when they walk through they never parted their lips to say thank you. No one is happy about a person they’ve helped, that treats them harshly in return. But does that give you reason, justification, license or excuse for us to Act out of Character? Absolutely Not! Ephesians 4:26-27, “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—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); Then Matthew 18:21-22 shares, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when someone won’t stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive them more than seven times. You must CONTINUE to forgive them even if they do wrong to you seventy-seven times.” (ERV); [By the way, that wonderful word “continue” is defined as “to persist in an activity or process; to remain in existence; to carry on with; to carry on traveling in the same direction.” Its Latin Origin “coninuare”, from “continuus” literally means “uninterrupted.” So no matter their response or reaction, you have to CONTINUE to forgive them, with no interruptions!]

1 Peter 3:9, “and never return evil for evil or insult for insult [avoid scolding, berating, and any kind of abuse], but on the contrary, give a blessing [pray for one another’s well-being, contentment, and protection]; for you have been called for this very purpose, that you might inherit a blessing [from God that brings well-being, happiness, and protection].” (AMP);

Romans 12:17-19, “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (MSG);

And My Personal Favorite: Matthew 5:38-42, “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” (MSG)

Are You Getting This?! Your Only Reaction to Their Response is Love!

You have to step in their shoes, after all, that’s what Intercessors do. They fill the gap, step in the middle, carry a load that’s killing somebody else! And truth is, maybe their story includes some awful hurt that has turned them hard, just so they won’t get hurt anymore. Maybe there’s some morally dark chapters in their past that can make them critical and legalistic today because they hate what they used to be. They may wound because they’ve been wounded. Remember: “Hurt People, Hurt PeopleSomewhere behind the way they act is a story of a perfectionist parent, trust lost because of abuse, the absence of a father’s love, abandonment, failure, tragedy and the like. So stop judging their story, intercede instead, and simply help them to write a new chapter!

Stop concerning yourself with what they’re drinking; what they’re smoking; how long they’ve been fornicating; how many tattoos and piercings they have; why the marriage ended; why they didn’t finish school; why they left that church; why they dress the way they do; or why do they have 5 kids with 3 baby daddies! Concern yourself more-so with helping them to write their next chapter, instead of being stuck re-reading their last one!

The Bible is clear, “…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31 NIV) Which for many of us, that has been our response to their deeds. But instead, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ in God forgave you.” (vs. 32 NIV) That’s how we’ll respond if we operate, trying to understand there are needs beneath those deeds; there’s a history behind those hang-ups.

One thing I can tell you from a lot of years of learning what’s really inside people – when a person is hardest to love, they need your love the most! And that’s when you ask Jesus to release His love through you because your love just isn’t enough. React to their bad attitude or their bad treatment, and you can be just another person who just wounds an already wounded person more. Respond with the mercy and the grace and the compassion you received from Jesus and you can be part of healing that wounded person. Everybody’s got a story, and you can help write a new chapter.

Remember the opening text: “…What’s the STORY behind these ruins?” (1 Kings 9:6-9 MSG) Everybody has a story behind their ruins! So don’t be so quick to respond and react! James 1:19, “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];” (AMP) If that be our reaction, maybe, just maybe, their response will be our other opening text: “I’m on the edge of losing it – the pain in my gut keeps burning. I’m ready to tell my STORY of failure…” (Psalm 38:17-20 MSG) No one wants to talk to someone that’s not listening. How about today be the day we stop lashing out at the way they act, and simply listen to their story?

Remember this: “…But that’s not the end of it. There’s MORE to this STORY.” (Daniel 11:27 MSG)

Likewise, there’s more to their story as well, and it will be a beautiful best-seller, if only you’ll listen and not judge their story, then let your response and reaction be, “Let Me Help You Write a New Chapter!”

“Everybody’s got a story to tell. The only problem is finding a person that will listen…and care.” (Author Unknown)

“Every single person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them. The truth might surprise you.” (Author Unknown)

“Everyone has a story. It might or might not be a love story. It can be a story of dreams, friendship, hope, survival or even death. And every story is worth telling. But more than that, it’s worth living.” (Savi Sharma)

“Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is a writer, some are written in books and some are confined to hearts.” (Savi Sharma)

“Before you judge my life, my past or my character, walk in my shoes. Walk the path I have traveled, live my sorrows, my doubts, my fears, my pain and my laughter. Remember, everyone has a story. When you’ve lived my life then you can judge me.” (Pinterest)

“Don’t judge people for the choices they make when you don’t know the options they had to choose from.” (Pinterest)

“Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on.” (Author Unknown)

People of God: “Don’t Judge Their Character, Before Hearing Their Story!”

Matthew 7:2, “For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.” (AMPC)

Galatians 6:1-5, “Live creatively, friends. 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. Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” (MSG)

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: “Fasting: What You Should Know”

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“Leadership Balance: When to SIT, When to SERVE”

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Luke 10:38-42, “Now while they were on their way, Jesus entered a village [called Bethany], and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister named MARY, WHO SEATED HERSELF AT THE LORD’S FEET AND WAS CONTINUALLY LISTENING TO HIS TEACHING.  BUT MARTHA WAS VERY BUSY AND DISTRACTED WITH ALL OF HER SERVING RESPONSIBILITIES; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part.”  But the Lord replied to her, “MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU ARE WORRIED AND BOTHERED AND ANXIOUS ABOUT SO MANY THINGS;  but only one thing is necessary, for MARY HAS CHOSE THE GOOD PART THAT WHICH IS TO HER ADVANTAGE], WHICH WILL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM HER.” (AMP)

Every now and then I love a good 5-star restaurant, however, anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m an Applebee’s-A-Holic! I love the Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp (that’s my New Orleans side talking). But it’s my absolute most favorite meal there. Well, me and a few coworkers went there for lunch one day and it was at the tail end of their rush hour. Can I tell you, this place is a zoo for about 90 minutes around that time! But after some time it was slowing down and one of the waiters was finally able to stop and chat with us (a good friend from our leadership workshops). Anyway, when he asked how we were doing, I said, “I don’t know about them, but I’m doing a whole lot better now. I had lunch!” Sean’s response? “I know what you mean. If I wait very late to eat lunch, I start to get shaky. I told him, “Well, I guess you’re in a good place then.” Sadly, he corrected me. He said, “Sometimes we are so busy serving it that we don’t have time to eat it ourselves. I guess you could say we’re ‘Starving Servants’Nothing could’ve broken my heart more.

Truth is, a lot of us have experienced what my restaurant friend Sean was talking about – being so busy serving that we don’t have any time to get fed ourselves naturally or spiritually. Think about it, it happened to Martha, didn’t it? It’s happened to me way too often, and probably to you, too.

Particularly in leadership, I find it easy to burn out while trying to keep everybody else’s flames burning brightly. For many of us, we’re busy getting wood, finding matches and lighters, positioning logs, collecting paper or twigs, stoking dying embers, and even removing ashes so they don’t hinder any future fires. We’re so busy trying to keep others on fire, that we’ve become lukewarm ourselves! And certainly we don’t want “lukewarm” to be descriptive of us! Revelation 3:16, “So because you are lukewarm (SPIRITUALLY USELESS), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth [REJECTING YOU WITH DISGUST]” (AMP). I reiterate, surely, you don’t want this to be descriptive of us!

But the hard truth is, sometimes, you can get so busy praying for others, that you forget to pray for yourself. You take such good care of everyone else’s health, while yours deteriorates. So busy doing everything for everybody, that you forget you are a body too. And your body needs proper food, exercise, and rest as well. Think about it: Jesus was hungry, so He ate, He was tired, so He slept, He was angry, and so He threw the money-changers out, He was sorrowful, and so He wept. Now, if the Son of God Himself can have emotions and healthily express them, who are we to pretend to be ‘Super-Human’? Selah…

Mary and Martha’s experience is described to us in Luke chapter 10. The above version gives it to us in the Amplified Bible, but now, let’s look at the same Scripture in the Message Bible translation, it reads: “As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, MARY, WHO SAT BEFORE THE MASTER, HANGING ON EVERY WORD HE SAID. BUT MARTHA WAS PULLED AWAY BY ALL SHE HAD TO DO IN THE KITCHEN. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU’RE FUSSING FAR TOO MUCH AND GETTING YOURSELF WORKED UP OVER NOTHING. One thing only is essential, and MARY HAS CHOSE IT—IT’S THE MAIN COURSE, AND WON’T BE TAKEN FROM HER.” (MSG).

The 2 parts I love about this version is: “…ONE THING ONLY IS ESSENTIAL…” and “…IT’S THE MAIN COURSE…” Can you imagine being so busy in the kitchen that you don’t even know the ‘MAIN COURSE’ has been served? How can you be Starving and yet miss out on the Main Course?

Now, anyone following my devotionals/blogs for any length of time, know I love the origin of words. I love what’s called ‘Etymology’, which is defined as, “an account of the origins and the developments in the meaning of a word.” Its Greek Origin, “Etumologia”, from “Etumos”, literally means “True”. And that’s all Etymology is, discovering the true meaning of a word. With that said, let’s discover some definitions. Remember now, my 2 favorite parts about the text are: “…ONE THING ONLY IS ESSENTIAL…” and “…IT’S THE MAIN COURSE…”

“Only” is defined as “unquestionably the best; alone in a class or category; existing with no other or others of the same kind.”

“Essential” is defined as “fundamental; central; absolutely necessary.”

“Main Course” is defined as “the most substantial course of a meal; featured; primary; usually the heaviest, heartiest, and most substantive; also called the ‘meat course.’”

In other words, Mary, being, “…seated…at the Lord’s feet…continually listening to His teaching…and…who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said…” was doing the thing that was: unquestionably the best thing, for it is in a class all by itself, not in comparison to anything else. Being seated at the feet of Jesus is fundamental, central and absolutely necessary. Mary choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus, to hear the Words of Jesus, chose the Main Course, that which is most substantial, featured, primary, the heaviest, heartiest and most substantive meal of any course. She chose the Main Course which was indeed the Meat Course! Leaders, can you honestly say you’ve made the same choice?

This reminded me a lot of Matthew 4:4, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Let’s look at this Scripture in a few translations:

“…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’” (AMP);

“…People won’t live only by bread, BUT BY EVERY WORD SPOKEN BY GOD.” (CEB);

“…‘No one can live only on food. PEOPLE NEED EVERY WORD THAT GOD HAS SPOKEN.” (CEV);

“…‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive. THEIR LIVES DEPEND ON WHAT GOD SAYS.’” (ERV);

“…Scriptures tell us that bread won’t feed men’s souls: OBEDIENCE TO EVERY WORD OF GOD IS WHAT WE NEED.” (TLB);

“…“It takes more than bread to stay alive. IT TAKES A STEADY STREAM OF WORDS FROM GOD’S MOUTH.” (MSG);

“…‘A person lives not on bread alone, BUT BY EVERYTHING GOD SAYS.’” (NCV);

“…’Man is not to live on bread only. MAN IS TO LIVE BY EVERY WORD THAT GOD SPEAKS.’” (NLV)

Serving does have its place of priority, especially among leadership. However, do you now see the vitality attached to the admonishment of hearing and heeding the Word of God? Our very lives, says the Scripture, ‘…depends on what God says…” But if we make no time to hear what thus saith the Lord, how do we intend to keep on living? This is the equivalent of having your heart literally stop beating, your lungs stop pumping oxygen, your brain entering into a vegetative state, your warm blood starts to run cold, but you insist You Are Alive! No ma’am, no sir, you are not! And just as you cannot live without the healthy functioning of your vital organs, so you need a healthy appetite of the Word of God to ensure you continue to live, and live well. The Word of God is Your Vital Organ! “Jesus answered him, “The Scriptures say, ‘It is not just bread that keeps people ALIVE. THEIR LIVES DEPEND ON WHAT GOD SAYS.’” (ERV)

Preachers, Teachers, it’s not enough to study the Word of God only to give it out to others. Now, is that our responsibility to share it, absolutely. However, is that our only responsibility, absolutely not!

I believe we are personally accountable to study the Word of God for ourselves, according to 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” (AMP); and 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (AMP)

However, I also believe we are personally accountable to Ephesians 4:11-13 as well, “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)

It’s vital to take personal accountability for ourselves AND others. A Healthy Balance between the two. We have to study AND teach, but we also have to individually become mature believers, growing spiritually for ourselves.

It takes nothing from you as a leader to know when to SERVE and when to SIT. For in truth, you will need to do them both if you are to be an effective, efficient leader. In a nutshell, SERVE AND FEED OTHERS, BUT DON’T STARVE YOURSELF!

Now, Martha’s busy serving Jesus. Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him. Which is better? Most of us make-it-happen, get-it-done types would instinctively gravitate to the doing stuff rather than the being stuff. But Jesus says, “Mary has chosen what is BETTER. I think we’ve all been Martha-ed…and maybe you are right now. You get so busy SERVING Jesus that you have no time to SIT WITH Jesus. It’s like my Applebee’s friend. We’re so busy serving spiritual food to others that we’re actually eating less of it ourselves. Now that’s backwards! The more people are looking to you, the more you have to be with the Lord yourself. But, frankly, it’s easy to let your spiritual health become a victim of ministry. In fact, serving God’s Word without experiencing God yourself is a prescription for burnout!

There is no leader, no believer, so gifted, anointed, talented, and powerful, that you are the only person God can use. The reality is, if you don’t teach another lesson, there will be another teacher. If you don’t preach another sermon, there will be another preacher. If you don’t make it to visit the hospital, hospice, jail, and nursing home, there is someone else who can! Neither the world or the Kingdom of God Stop, because you Start to take some time for yourself! It’s not selfish, it’s self-preservation, it’s self-care.

Elijah, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE LEFT! 1 Kings 19:13-18, “…He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts (armies), because the sons of Israel have abandoned (broken) Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. AND I, ONLY I, AM LEFT; and they seek to take away my life.” The Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram (Syria); and you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel; AND ANOINT ELISHA THE SON OF SHAPHAT OF ABEL-MEHOLAH AS PROPHET IN YOUR PLACE.  It shall come about that Jehu shall put to death whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, and Elisha shall put to death whoever escapes the sword of Jehu. YET I WILL LEAVE 7,000 [SURVIVORS] IN ISRAEL, ALL THE KNEES THAT HAVE NOT BOWED DOWN TO BAAL AND EVERY MOUTH THAT HAS NOT KISSED HIM.” (AMP). So, God Not Only Has a Replacement in Place for YOU, but He’s Also Got 7,000 Survivors! I reiterate, you are not so gifted, anointed, talented, or powerful that you are the only person God can use. He’s already got in place your replacement, plus, 7,000 others! Please believe me, you are not the only one God has left to use. Therefore, I strongly admonish you to learn the balance between SERVING and SITTING. This is the sign of a healthy, effective leader. After all, if you die prematurely because of your lack of balance, you do realize God already has your understudy in place? The term ‘understudy’ is defined as, ‘an actor who learns another’s role in order to be able to act in their absence.’ The show don’t die because you do! So if you die early, we’ll celebrate your life; mourn your death; and then another actor will step into your role! Leaders, Take Better Care of You!

I learned the hard way, there’s a danger in studying God’s truth only to prepare lessons, Bible studies, sermons, devotionals, blogs etc…and missing the purpose of studying it, which is to have your life changed through applying it to your everyday life. Not, just sharing with others so they can apply it to theirs. There’s a danger of becoming someone who leads others to experience the Lord while you’re slowly becoming a spectator yourself. And you can so fill your life with Christian meetings, Christian positions, and Christian activity that it feels like knowing the Lord. But, in fact, those activities have slowly crowded out that precious private time with Jesus. And that time is the fuel for any valid ministry! When you run out of time with God, you run out of fuel, which may clarify why you’ve been feeling so empty!

Stop Serving And Starving! Sooner or later that’s going to lead to a Martha Meltdown! Ministry is supposed to be the overflow of your own time with the Lord, not a religious substitute for it. So if you feel yourself growing weak and tired, frustrated, and negative while you’re serving your Lord, don’t blame the work and don’t blame the customers. You probably have not taken time to feed yourself spiritually – to really be with Jesus. And remember, your very life depends on every Word God speaks. You don’t want to lose your seat at the foot of Jesus because you were so busy serving for Jesus! You need balance. That word “balance” is defined as “an even distribution of weight ensuring physical, mental or emotional stability.” Its Old French Origin, from Latin literally means “balance having two equal scale-pans.” And what does God have to say about balance and scales? Proverbs 20:23, “The Lord hates for people to use the wrong weights to cheat others. It is wrong to use scales that are not accurate.” (ERV) Whether you lean too much to the Mary side or too much to the Martha side, neither is Good. Neither is a just weight. You are cheating yourself and others out of your very best. The natural and spiritual scales in your life should always be equally balanced. You need time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen, then you need time to get up from the feet of Jesus and be the feet of Jesus, to go and feed the masses the Bread of Life.

“…BUT MARTHA WAS VERY BUSY AND DISTRACTED WITH ALL OF HER SERVING RESPONSIBILITIES…” (AMP); BUT MARTHA WAS PULLED AWAY BY ALL SHE HAD TO DO IN THE KITCHEN….” (MSG) Martha, you are not by yourself, so stop being so busy. Distractions are deadly, so pace yourself and focus your attention. There are only 24 hours in every day. You can only do but so much. So, do your part, and know when the scenes have changed, we’ve moved on to another part in the play. It’s now their time to act, their role is to be played, not yours. Leaders, know how to share parts, and know when to bow out when yours is done. You are not the only character in the story of the Kingdom.

“MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU ARE WORRIED AND BOTHERED AND ANXIOUS ABOUT SO MANY THINGS…” (AMP); “…“MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU’RE FUSSING FAR TOO MUCH AND GETTING YOURSELF WORKED UP OVER NOTHING….” (MSG) Martha, are the people around you becoming more and more annoyed by your presence? Have you even noticed? Martha, stop comparing, stop complaining, stop fussing, worrying, being anxious and bothered (and bothering everybody else by the way)! You’ve been getting yourself worked up over everybody and everything. Stop running around, and go sit down!

“…MARY, WHO SEATED HERSELF AT THE LORD’S FEET AND WAS CONTINUALLY LISTENING TO HIS TEACHING….” (AMP); “…MARY, WHO SAT BEFORE THE MASTER, HANGING ON EVERY WORD HE SAID…” (MSG) Martha, Balance With Mary! It’s not about being one or the other. It’s not about one being so much better than the other. The best is balancing the both of two great worlds. Serving and Sitting. Leading and Listening. Being at His Feet, and Being His Feet. Balance is Beautiful and Necessary! Leaders, the Head can’t be sick while expecting the Body to be Well. Everything Starts at the Top and Works Its Way Down. And Whether You are a Healthy or Unhealthy Leader, It Is Working Its Way Down From the Head to the Body. Do Not Become the Illness That Infects Your Own House!

“Balance is not something you FIND, it’s something you CREATE” (Jana Kingsford)

“Life is a balance of holding on, and letting go.” (Author Unknown)

“Life is about balance. Be kind, but don’t let people abuse you. Trust, but don’t be deceived. Be content, but never stop improving yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“Extremes are easy. Strive for balance.” (Colin Wright)

“The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.” (Gordon B. Hinckley)

“Life is a balance between what we can control and what we cannot. I am learning to live between effort and surrender.” (Danielle Orner)

“If the emotional bills don’t balance, there has to be an accounting.” (Marie Casey Stevens)

“Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between what people need from you and what you need for yourself.” (Jessye Norman)

“I want balance in my life.” (Ron Dellums)

1 Corinthians 12:18, “But now [as things really are], God has placed and arranged the parts in the body, each one of them, just as He willed and saw fit [with the best BALANCE of function].” (AMP);

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, WELL-BALANCED mind and self-control].” (AMP);

1 Peter 4:7, “The end and culmination of all things is near. Therefore, be sound-minded and self-controlled for the purpose of prayer [staying BALANCED and focused on the things of God so that your communication will be clear, reasonable, specific and pleasing to Him.]” (AMP);

1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober [WELL BALANCED and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.” (AMP) 

Leaders: Don’t Serve Life to Others, Yet Starve to Death Yourself!

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: “Quick Home Remedies for Puffy Face and Body”

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“The Protocol of the Anointing”

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“…It’s like costly anointing oil FLOWING DOWN head and beard, FLOWING DOWN Aaron’s beard, FLOWING DOWN the collar of his priestly robes.” (Psalm 133:2 MSG)

A Well-Known Fact Is This: If People Can Lift You Up, They Can Also Very Well Let You Down! Remember That!

In April 1993, after Steve Morrow scored the goal that gave the Arsenal Football Club England’s Championship Cup, his teammates tossed him into the air in ritual celebration. BUT…they failed to catch him when he came down, and an embarrassed Morrow was carried off the field on a stretcher with a broken arm and an oxygen mask over his face! Can you imagine the feeling after such a great victory, to walk away looking more like the loser than the winner? And if that’s not bad enough, what’s worse is that it wasn’t those AGAINST him that hurt him, but it was those FOR him, those on his OWN TEAM!

The Psalmist writes: “How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! It’s like costly anointing oil FLOWING DOWN head and beard, FLOWING DOWN Aaron’s beard, FLOWING DOWN the collar of his priestly robes. It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon FLOWING DOWN the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.” (Psalm 133:1-3 MSG).

The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment poured on the head, that RAN DOWN on the beard, even the beard of Aaron [the first high priest], that CAME DOWN upon the collar and skirts of his garments [consecrating the whole body]. It is like the dew of [lofty] Mount Hermon and the dew that comes on the hills of Zion; for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, even life forevermore [upon the high and the lowly].” (AMP).

I want us to take a look at a few vital lessons found here:

1…According to the Bible, the “COSTLY ANOINTING OIL” is tied directly to “how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in UNITY.” And yet, somehow the church still manages to fight and compete more over the “anointing/anointed” than they are willing to come together and work together on the same team for the same goal. Listen, you can’t tell me you’re anointed and yet you’re at odds with your brothers and sisters in Christ who are connected and fitly joined in the same One Body. The anointing is yoked to your unity, not disunity. So if you’re so “anointed” that you can’t get along with your brothers and sisters, perhaps you’re not necessarily “anointed”, just “oily.” Look at it like this: Pouring oil on raw chicken then serving it to others is unhealthy and deadly. Yet, pouring oil on the same raw chicken, however, placing it in the oven to thoroughly cook until it’s done and then serving it to others, feeds and nourishes them. The difference is one went through nothing, and the other went through a process. With that said, I’ve come to discover that some people are just “oily”, possessing no nutritional value whatsoever, and can be deadly in their words, actions and attitude, because they’ve endured no process. They just threw on some oil and assumed it was the same as the anointing. And yet you also have those who have more than just “oil”, because they’ve been processed. Which is why a lot of “oily” folks are immature; while processed “anointed” folks are mature. You see, they’ve learned to respect process; time; persistence; endurance; patience; and waiting. All things that the immature can’t handle. On the other hand, the maturity of the anointed knows that the key is dwelling and working together in unity with your brothers and sisters. Anything less, is just immature, oily folks who cause malnutrition to the Body of Christ. Which is why it’s so vital to remember: Ephesians 4:16, “From Him the WHOLE BODY [THE CHURCH, IN ALL ITS VARIOUS PARTS], JOINED AND KNITTED FIRMLY TOGETHER by what EVERY JOINT supplies, when EACH PART IS WORKING PROPERLY, CAUSES THE BODY TO GROW AND MATURE, BUILDING ITSELF UP IN [UNSELFISH] LOVE.” (AMP) The Costly Anointing Oil is Yoked to Unity in the Body of Christ;

2…According to the Bible, the “anointing oil” is “PRECIOUS”. It is not to be used as a tool of competition and comparison. It is to be treated as the precious, treasure that it is, not fruitless attempts to out-do, or be better than someone else. We’ve so grievously misused, and mishandled the anointing. But it was never given for the purpose of trying to out-shine anyone else. The anointing serves a purpose and that purpose is not a selfish tool used at your whim. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.” (Isaiah 10:27). Does that sound like the anointing should be used in a common manner? Certainly not. Therefore, today, realize the purpose, plan and power of the anointing, and handle it as the precious oil that it is. It should never be handled haphazardly for it’s the necessity to the destruction of yokes! The word “precious” is defined as “having great value”. Its Latin Origin ‘pretiosus’, from ‘pretium’ literally means ‘price.’ The anointing is too costly to be utilized in such a cheap manner as to degrade it with competition and comparisons. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to out-preach, out-teach, out-pray, out-sing, out-shout, out-praise your brethren! That is not the purpose for something this precious and priceless. The Costly Anointing Oil is Precious;

3…According to the Bible, the “anointing oil” covered “…the collar and skirts of his GARMENTS…Can you imagine the anointing covering your garments? Sometimes I wonder if the anointing is as present on us, in us and with us as we say? Because shouldn’t at some point in time, contact with the anointing alter your garments? Truth is, there’s some attire (on both men and women) in church that confuses me. I don’t understand open cleavage; visible panty-lines; tight clothes that need an oxygen mask of their own. And things have gotten so bad in church, even amongst leadership, that vestments have become “fashion statements”. But in Scripture the “anointing oil” covered “…the collar and skirts of his garments…Shouldn’t the church be seen differently than the world, even in our attire? And if so, why do our “holy garments” look no different than their “fashion statements”? And since when did words like “basic”; “simple”; “fundamental”; “decorum“; “descent“; become curse words? Think about this: Being crafted in His image and likeness; being called the righteousness of God and ambassadors of Christ, shouldn’t we be a bit more cautious and careful in how we present ourselves, or should I say more importantly, how we present and represent HIM? With that said, today, take a double-look at how you “as a believer” dresses (men and women alike). Make sure that you are sending the right message. After all, would you want to be in an emergency situation and the NYPD showed up dressed like the swim team? No, you expect them to be in uniform and to be prepared and equipped, and looking like the distinguished officers they’ve been called to be. Well, people should expect the very same from us as believers, followers, disciples, Christians and Children of God. There should never be cause for people to need to take a double-look or question if we’re a part of the Kingdom of Light or the Kingdom of Darkness. The Costly Anointing Oil Should Alter Our Attire;

4…According to the Bible, the “anointing oil” did something special “…it consecrated the whole body.The word “consecrate” is defined as “to make or declare sacred; to ordain to a sacred office.” Its Latin Origin “consecrare” literally means “to dedicate or devote as sacred.” In this day and age of the church we don’t see much consecration, dedication or devotion to GOD. Can we dare to tell the truth, rings, robes, chairs, positions and titles are all being haphazardly tossed to and fro with no meaning or purpose other than to say from one year to the next, I’ve been elevated…again. But the “anointing oil” is precious and serves to consecrate. It signifies that you’ve been set apart for no other reason, purpose, motive, intention, or agenda than to simply be used of God. “…the whole body…” was consecrated. Head to Toe. Which makes me wonder do we make sure that our minds, thoughts, deeds, actions, words, emotions, and the like are all set apart for God as well as our bodies? Does He have all of us, or just the parts we’re willing to give Him? Think about it: When the Father gave us His Son, He didn’t give us pieces of Him, He gave us His Whole Son. He sacrificed All that He is, just to have all that we are, and to use us to draw in others with the same loving-kindness. Is the anointing that special to you? Does it mean so much to you that you’re willing to give God ALL of you for His use in His service for His kingdom? Or is the anointing just special to you when you’re assigned to preach, to teach, to pray, to lead, or to be visible to others? The Costly Anointing Oil Consecrates the WHOLE Body;

5…According to the Bible, the “anointing oiland the “unity of the brethren” is also tied directly to “the dew of Mount Hermon…that comes on the hills of Zion; for there the Lord has commanded the blessing even life forever more…How amazing that the anointing is attached to a place where the Lord has commanded blessings and eternal life? And yet, we treat it so commonplace. But your anointing is a blessing and its life! Don’t get so caught up in the distractions of treating the anointing as a competitive edge over your ministry colleagues. Your anointing is not so you can preach better, teach awesome, or pray like the intercessor of the month. Your anointing is where the Lord has commanded blessings and life, treat it as such and don’t devalue it by abusing it carelessly. The Costly Anointing Oil Gives Blessings and Life;

6…According to the Bible, the “anointing oil” is “…upon the high and the lowly…The anointing does not discriminate. It doesn’t wait until Sunday morning, special services, consecrations, conferences and convocations to flow. It doesn’t need to be attired in full vestments to flow. It serves 2 people no differently than it serves 200 or 2 million. So, a good question to ask yourself is, do I flow to All, or just stagnate toward a few? The anointing reaches the “…the highly and the lowly…It treats alike the rich and the poor, the white and the black, the educated and the challenged, the sick and the well, the old and the young, the women and the men, all equally. Do you? Honestly, do you teach to the same degree with a class of 3 that you do in a class of 30? Do you preach to a congregation of 12 the same as you would 1,200? Do you carry yourself the same whether meeting with the CEO or the janitor? The anointing is consistent and does not change up roles like characters in a play. And if you are amongst the anointed, neither should you. The Costly Anointing Oil Does Not Discriminate;

7…Lastly, according to the Bible, “the anointing oil” “…FLOWS DOWN…

Despite what you see in a lot of our churches today, God still works through Structure and Order! “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33). The New Living Translation says it like this: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.” (NLT). In other words, the Oil Flows DOWN, Not UP! That would be confusion and contradiction, doing the opposite of what the Word has already declared.

Truth is, it doesn’t matter if those Under you think you’re absolutely wonderful, unless those Above you agree! Like it or not, but leadership and anointing come with the requirement of complete submission and total surrender. I don’t care how many people pat you on your back, never let it go to your head! Meek, lowly, humble are all characteristics that every anointed leader should carry. It keeps you from becoming pompous, arrogant and conceited. Remember: the anointing flowed down from Aaron (the leader, the high priest). It did not flow from Israelite to Israelite. It flowed from the High Priest down…In Order!

Until you understand that, you’ll be susceptible to those who, for their own reasons, and hidden agendas, want to tell you how wonderful you are and how you should be running the show! However, in God’s Kingdom, you’re not approved by people, you’re approved by God: “…This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” (Matthew 17:5); “Fellow Israelites, listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene was a man whose credentials God proved to you through miracles, wonders, and signs, which God performed through him among you. You yourselves know this.” (Acts 2:22 CEB); “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10 NLT); “God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message. Be assured that when we speak to you we’re not after crowd approval—only God approval. Since we’ve been put through that battery of tests, you’re guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen to take advantage of you.” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-5 MSG). Bottom Line: The Anointing is Approved of By God, Than the Leadership in Which You Are Submitted, Subjected and Surrendered to, NOT By the People Who Pat and Applaud You!

Like in the opening story above, the very same people who lifted Steve Morrow UP, were the very same people that let him fall DOWN! And if you think they won’t do the very same to you, just ask Jesus! The same that yelled “Hosanna, Hosanna,” in one breath, were the very same people who inhaled then exhaled “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” God is still a God of structure and order. Let Him Approve of You, Then Be Patient and Wait For His Approval to Pass From His Desk to Your Leaders, and Then On to You. The anointing is not like ordinary oil, it does not run out. So even if you have to wait for the appointed, appropriate time, WAIT. You’re anointing will never be assigned to someone else. Nor will it dry up and deplete itself. Nothing from the Holy Spirit lacks or is deficient in anyway. So I admonish you, don’t allow people, especially your inner circle, clique, crew etc…to push you before God’s allotted time. Respect the process and wait. Let the oil flow DOWN from the head to you!

The word “flow” is defined as “to move steadily and continuously; to move or issue forth freely.In other words, you don’t have to force it, you just have to wait for it!

Remember this: To do anything significant for God you must first submit to leadership that can inspire you, instruct you, and when the time is right, release you into your calling. So don’t leave the church, argue with leadership, get caught up in the gossip mill, resign, walk away, throw in the towel and give up. Just be patient and wait. The anointing oil is still flowing!

And while you wait, learn the protocol that goes with the position. The word “protocol” is defined as “the official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions; the accepted code of behavior in a particular situation.” Its original sense however meant “the original note of an agreement; the first page or flyleaf.” Which is the introduction or beginning of an agreement. It’s the table of contents letting you know all that comes AFTER this first, initial page. It gives the description of what is to come. And the start of any proper protocol to any position is submission and surrender. The ability to wait with expectation and a good attitude. And the first step of protocol to your anointing is to remember that the Oil Flows DOWN! So stay low, stay meek, stay humble. It is after all, the place where the anointing flows and settles.

In conclusion: The “anointing oil” reminds me a lot of the Old Testament leader Joash, who was the keeper of the cellars of oil. When you get a chance make sure you study it, it is valuable information for leaders and laity alike! However, in a nutshell: He was responsible for keeping the oil; making sure it stayed in place; and watching out for intruders. But the downside, as some would say, to his position was that he was unnoticed, uncomfortable, lonely and unappreciated. He couldn’t come out the bottom of the cellar until the king called for him. And much is the same for you, the anointed, possessors of the anointing. The oil flows DOWN, not in a prominent, seen, visible, highly acknowledge position. But it’s lowly and unnoticed until the king calls you forth. Make sure you remember that the very next time someone attempts to “encourage you to follow them instead of the flow of the anointing oil.” Stay low and humble, continue to serve, because even when you think no eyes are on you, they are. When leadership deems it time for you to come to the forefront, your anointing will flow. But until then, stay down until He brings you up!

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

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“What You SEE Depends On What You’re LOOKING For”

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Lamentations 3:19-27, “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God…” (MSG)

Alex is the director for the outreach team at his church. One year, several of his team members were all driving together to an evangelism explosion out of state. They were in two cars, but stayed in touch by means of walkie-talkies. At a couple of points, one of the men in the car behind him pointed out a hawk that he spotted soaring gracefully over them. They saw several of them, actually, on this particular trip. ‘Now, when you see a hawk or an eagle’ Alex said, ‘it’s kind of always an event for a city boy like me’. But then Alex friend Terry – who was not driving at the time said, “Well, I just saw a dead coyote on the shoulder.” As their walkie-talkie conversations went on during that trip, that wasn’t the last hawk Alex saw – nor was it the last road kill that Terry saw. I guess whether you see soaring hawks or dead coyotes depends on where you’re looking and what you’re looking for.

Truth is, some of us have this amazing ability to miss out on the most beautiful things going on around us because we only focus on seeing the ugly or even the dead. For instance, some folks see mostly what’s right with people and with their situation – others just can’t help focusing on what’s wrong…or the ‘dead coyotes’. And it really does depend on where you Choose to look – Up or Down. And in the end, it all boils down to Choice…whether you look Up or Down, or focus on what’s good or what’s bad, either way it is always your deliberate Choice.

Alex and Terry were on an evangelism mission, you would think they would already have their focus on what’s good, positive, great, and uplifting. But you had two men, traveling down the Same road, but seeing two very Different outlooks. Alex was focused on the soaring hawks, Terry was focused on the dead coyotes…which are you focusing on?

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah knew what it was to see the ‘dead coyotes’ – until he Chose to look up and see those ‘soaring hawks’. Both perspectives are evident in Lamentations 3, beginning in verses 19-20.

First, he saw, the ‘dead coyotes’ – for the Bible reads: “Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed.” (CEV). Another translation reads: “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” (NIV). That word “downcast” is defined as “to have eyes that continually look downwards; to be low in spirit; to be bowed down; distressed; troubled; uneasy; worried; hopeless; disappointed; discouraged; agonized; anguished; weeping; bleak; desolate; dreary; comfortless; having a despondent feeling.” And “despondent” is defined as “to feel or show extreme discouragement, dejection, or depression; to be brokenhearted; gloomy; joyless; miserable; saddened; sorrowful; unhappy; pessimistic.” Needless to say, the prophet was not feeling all that great! But how could he when the Bible says, “Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. THAT’S ALL I EVER THINK ABOUT, and I am depressed.” Of course if this is your only mindset about yourself, your life and the challenges you face, you will be depressed, especially if this is “…ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT…”! Imagine going day in and day out with nothing positive, good, uplifting or encouraging to enter your mind. What a horrible way to live, especially as a believer who has been given the promise of Life and that More Abundantly! What the prophet struggled with was his: affliction, troubles, loneliness, bitterness and gall. Is that where you are? Does your pain, failures, broken heart take away God’s Unspeakable Joy from your life? Well, it’s possible, when you focus on your frustrations and your failures, the bad news and the negative feelings, yeah, you’re going to be discouraged, you’re going to be depressed, your souls going to be downcast within you. Especially when this is “…ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT…”!

At this point, the prophet is very much like Terry, all he can see is the ‘dead coyotes’, while others are focusing on the ‘soaring hawks’.

Reality Check: Now, truth is, at some point in time we’ve all felt like this, and if you haven’t yet…just keep living! To be honest, life can throw you some curve balls that no one can prepare you to catch. Can we be real? No one looks forward to a divorce, a baby out of wedlock, an addiction, a disease, the loss of a loved one, the bankruptcy, the foreclosure, the abandonment, the rejection, the depression, the job loss, the repossessed car, the unmet tuition, the promotion passing you by. No one wakes up one morning and thinks this will be a part of their agenda for the day. But for many, life happens, and happens hard and unexpectedly! And so we look around and all we see are ‘dead coyotes’. It doesn’t look as if things could get any worse, nor does it look as if things will get any better. Then, the next thing you know your mind starts wandering, “I thought I’d be married by now; I thought I’d have at least my first child by now; I thought the church/ministry/business would have taken off by now; I thought my vision and dreams would have come to pass by now; I thought I’d be finished school by now; I thought I’d own my own home by now; I thought I’d be off the bus by now; I thought I’d finish writing my book by now; I thought I’d be through with all these tests and medications by now; I thought the ailment would have run its course by now; I thought I’d be happy by now…” It appears as though life, happiness, promise, dreams and even God has forgotten about us. And so we look around like Terry and only see ‘dead coyotes’, or like the prophet we only see troubles and misery.

But then there comes a turn of events, a shifting of focus and perspective. Listen to the change: “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom. BUT THERE’S ONE OTHER THING I REMEMBER, AND REMEMBERING, I KEEP A GRIP ON HOPE. GOD’S LOYAL LOVE COULDN’T HAVE RUN OUT, HIS MERCIFUL LOVE COULDN’T HAVE DRIED UP. THEY’RE CREATED NEW EVERY MORNING. HOW GREAT YOUR FAITHFULNESS! I’M STICKING WITH GOD (I SAY IT OVER AND OVER). HE’S ALL I’VE GOT LEFT. GOD PROVES TO BE GOOD TO THE MAN WHO PASSIONATELY WAITS, TO THE WOMAN WHO DILIGENTLY SEEKS. IT’S A GOOD THING TO QUIETLY HOPE, QUIETLY HOPE FOR HELP FROM GOD…” (vss. 19-27 MSG)

Alright, prepare for the soaring hawks!

You see, when you focus on all the evidence of God’s love and God’s care in your life…when you look for the blessings that He has sown into this day and every day, your load gets lighter and your heaviness turns to hope. Same situation – two Different outlooks. Either way, you Choose! Because things didn’t change for the prophet, but his Mindset, Focus and Perspective did. The trouble, lostness, taste of ashes, poison, hitting rock bottom…all that was still there, but placed in perspective of an even greater truth… “BUT THERE’S ONE OTHER THING I REMEMBER, AND REMEMBERING, I KEEP A GRIP ON HOPE…” That’s what you have to learn to do when you’re losing your grip on life, grab ahold of hope! For it’s in that hope that you’re reminded of God’s loyal love that can’t run out and His mercy that can’t dry up! Every new morning they are there to meet you before you even meet the day! Your God is that loving and that caring and that protective of YOU! Even when you’re situation doesn’t change, your Mindset can, your Outlook can, your Perspective can! Which is what happened to Jeremiah, he said, I’M STICKING WITH GOD (I SAY IT OVER AND OVER). HE’S ALL I’VE GOT LEFT. GOD PROVES TO BE GOOD TO THE MAN WHO PASSIONATELY WAITS, TO THE WOMAN WHO DILIGENTLY SEEKS. IT’S A GOOD THING TO QUIETLY HOPE, QUIETLY HOPE FOR HELP FROM GOD…”

The same God who has promised to never leave you or forsake you is still your very present help in times of trouble. Remember His Love Notes Penned Directly to You:

Hebrews 13:5, “…FOR HE HAS SAID, ‘I WILL NEVER [UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES] DESERT YOU [NOR GIVE YOU UP NOR LEAVE YOU WITHOUT SUPPORT, NOR WILL I IN ANY DEGREE LEAVE YOU HELPLESS], NOR WILL I FORSAKE OR LET YOU DOWN OR RELAX MY HOLD ON YOU [ASSUREDLY NOT]!’” (AMP);

Matthew 28:20, “…AND LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS [REMAINING WITH YOU PERPETUALLY – REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCE, AND ON EVERY OCCASION], EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE.” (AMP);

Deuteronomy 31:6, “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS, DO NOT BE AFRAID OR TREMBLE IN DREAD BEFORE THEM, FOR IT IS THE LORD YOUR GOD WHO GOES WITH YOU. HE WILL NOT FAIL YOU OR ABANDON YOU.” (AMP);

Joshua 1:9, “HAVE I NOT COMMANDED YOU? BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS! DO NOT BE TERRIFIED OR DISMAYED (INTIMIDATED), FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO.” (AMP);

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);

Psalm 46:1, “GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH [MIGHTY AND IMPENETRABLE], A VERY PRESENT AND WELL-PROVED HELP IN TROUBLE.” (AMP)

And that’s just a FEW Love Notes from Your Father!

Listen: Even on a bad day you still serve a good God! Which is why you have to make the deliberate choice to stop looking for the ‘dead coyotes’ when the ‘soaring hawks’ are flying overhead to remind you to look in the right direction…Upwards! Could it be that maybe you’ve allowed too much negativity to blind you to God’s blessings that are all around you? You’ve allowed your frustrations and hurts and stresses to dominate your view. Maybe people can tell because you seem to be kind of: cynical, sarcastic, accumulating negatives, or looking for things to criticize. You’ve allowed yourself to get stuck in a negative rut – and the trip gets to be drudgery when all you’re looking at is the ‘dead coyotes’.

Trust me, we all have said a time or two, “God, this is not how it was supposed to turn out!But don’t forget, your problems don’t hinder His plans, and His plans for you are still marvelous!

Jeremiah 29:10-11, “This is God’s Word on the subject…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised…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) No amount of troubles, misery, or struggles, can ever hinder the plan of God for your life!

Listen, you’ve been driving along this life highway for a good minute now, don’t you think it’s high time you change your perspective on the view? Think about it: Alex and Terry were driving around mountains, yes, there was dirt, gravel, bumps in the road, scary turns, dark nights…but there was also beautiful sunshine and flowers by day, there was birds chirping, hawks soaring, and above all, they were on their way to minister to the lost about the Jesus they’ve found. Two men, on the same road, same mission, and yet focusing on two very different views. One saw life, the other saw death, one saw soaring, the other saw grounding. But both had a Choice in what they saw based on where they looked and what they were looking for. One Chose to look up the other Chose to look down, where have you Chosen to look?

Maybe it’s time to say, “Lord, would you forgive me for letting the negative take over – for missing so many of the beautiful things that You put into every one of my days. I’ve been looking in the wrong direction. Please shift my focus. Help me to see the positive; to see Your new mercies every morning; to see Your love in action.” Then you can make this a day full of God sightings of good stuff. “Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6 GWT) Goodness and Mercy will not only be with you always, but they will stay close to you all the days of your life! There will always be something good to see, every day, in your life…you simply have to make the Choice to see it! Out the same window, you can see the majesty of the soaring hawks or you could see the mess of the dead coyotes. What you Choose to focus on is actually going to determine the kind of journey you have. So, if you don’t see happiness in your life; change direction. If you don’t see joy in your life; change direction. If you don’t see peace in your life; change direction. If you don’t see love in your life; change direction. Stop looking down, and start looking up! You didn’t survive all that you have to walk around with your head down, your eyes downcast, your back bent and your shoulders slumped.

Psalm 3:3-4, “But You, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, You lift my head high; with all my might I shout up to God, His answers thunder from the holy mountain.” (MSG)

If you are walking with your head down, you have not gone to God! Because according to Scripture, He lifts your head high! Even in the midst of pain, heartache, loss, bitterness, resentment…He can still lift your head high! No matter what your finances may look like, He can still lift your head high. No matter what your marriage looks like, He can still lift your head high. No matter what’s going on with your children, He can still lift your head high. No matter what the doctor said, He can still lift your head high. And not only lift it, but lift it HIGH!

Listen good to the psalmist, “But You, God, shield me on all sides…” No matter what you face in life, God is still your shield, on all sides!  Even when it doesn’t look good, sound good, or feel good, God is still there…on all sides! You can’t make a turn and not run right into God! So don’t you dare think that you are in this life alone. Nor are you in your hurt, suffering, confusion, or disappointment alone. God has you on all sides. You just need to shift the direction of your focus. Stop looking at you, stop looking at your marriage, loneliness, children, job, loss, hurt, finances, health…and start looking to God! Start looking up!

Psalm 5:1-3, “Hear my words, O Lord. Think about my crying. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God. For I pray to you. In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice. In the morning I will lay my prayers before You AND WILL LOOK UP.” (NLV)

Lay it all before the Lord in prayer and look up to Him. Not to other people, not to your situation, but to Him! Your problems aren’t the problem, your perspective is. The word “perspective” means “the angle or direction in which a person looks at an object; the ability to understand what is important and what isn’t; having a clear point of view; the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see something objectively.” The word “objectively” is defined as “to not be influenced by personal feelings or opinions.” You see, no matter what is going on in your life, you need to always maintain a good perspective. No matter how bad it is, don’t allow your feelings and opinions to influence you to look down at the ‘dead coyotes’. No, look at it from the right angle, above, upwards, towards the direction of clear and accurate viewing, noting what is important and what’s not. In a nutshell: The fact that you have a problem, is not important. The fact that you have a God who has a solution for every problem, is important! Don’t look at IT, look at HIM!

Remember these 3 examples:

1…Luke 10:38-42, “As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, YOU’RE FUSSING FAR TOO MUCH AND GETTING YOURSELF WORKED UP OVER NOTHING. One thing only is essential, and Mary has CHOSEN it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (MSG) Mary had the right focus, the right view, the right perspective. After all, when Jesus is present, what/who else really matters? Don’t allow your circumstances to shift your focus from God.

2…Numbers 13:27-33, “We went to the land to which you sent us and, oh! It does flow with milk and honey! Just look at this fruit! The only thing is that the people who live there are fierce, their cities are huge and well fortified. Worse yet, we saw descendants of the giant Anak. Amalekites are spread out in the Negev; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites hold the hill country; and the Canaanites are established on the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan.” CALEB INTERRUPTED, called for silence before Moses and said, “LET’S GO UP AND TAKE THE LAND – NOW. WE CAN DO IT.” But the others said, “We can’t attack those people; they’re way stronger than we are.” They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, “We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants (the Anak giants come from the Nephilim). Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.” (MSG) When you know what God has promised you, let no one attempt to talk you out of attaining it. Not others, not yourself, not your situation! Caleb never wavered in the belief of the promise of God, not even with the presence of Giants added to the mix. Likewise, keep your focus on God, nothing and no one else. The giants don’t matter compared to God! No matter how big your giants, they can never out-size your God!

3…1 Samuel 17:32-37, “Master,” said David, “don’t give up hope. I’m ready to go and fight this Philistine.” Saul answered David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced—and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born.” David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. Lion or bear, it made no difference—I killed it. And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive. GOD, WHO DELIVERED ME FROM THE TEETH OF THE LION AND THE CLAWS OF THE BEAR, WILL DELIVER ME FROM THIS PHILISTINE.” Saul said, “Go. And God help you!” (MSG) Always remember what God has already done on your behalf! That’s what David and Jeremiah both did! They remembered…GOD! If He could do it then, He can do it Again! So, before you go looking for ‘dead coyotes’ again, remember that the God whose wings you find safety and shelter under is still soaring overhead! Don’t look down, look up! Even when what you’re facing looks like it will slaughter you, remember Who is on your side…On All Sides! No matter how great the struggle you face, nothing and no one will ever be able to Out-Size Your God!

Today, be encouraged to look at life from a different perspective! Focus on the good, for your God is still good even when you’re having a bad day!

Genesis 50:20, “AS FOR YOU, YOU MEANT EVIL AGAINST ME, BUT GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD IN ORDER TO BRING ABOUT THIS PRESENT OUTCOME, THAT MANY PEOPLE WOULD BE KEPT ALIVE [AS THEY ARE THIS DAY].” (AMP);

Romans 8:28, “AND WE KNOW [WITH GREAT CONFIDENCE] THAT GOD [WHO IS DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT US] CAUSES ALL THINGS TO WORK TOGETHER [AS A PLAN] FOR GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE GOD, TO THOSE WHO ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PLAN AND PURPOSE.” (AMP)

He’s working all things for your favor and for your good. Don’t let the situation shift your focus! Even when your shoulders are weighed down, go to God to lift your head high! Even when you’re overwhelmed you will not be overtaken! God is there, every morning with new mercies, ensuring that you are never consumed! Keep your eyes on Him at all times, especially in hard times, remembering that What You See Depends On Where You Look! Look Up and Look to God!

Isaiah 40:31, “BUT THOSE WHO WAIT FOR THE LORD [WHO EXPECT, LOOK FOR, AND HOPE IN HIM] WILL GAIN NEW STRENGTH AND RENEW THEIR POWER; THEY WILL LIFT UP THEIR WINGS [AND RISE UP CLOSE TO GOD] LIKE EAGLES [RISING TOWARD THE SUN]; THEY WILL RUN AND NOT BECOME WEARY, THEY WILL WALK AND NOT GROW TIRED.” (AMP)

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” (John Lubbock)

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” (Wayne Dyer)

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” (Henry David Thoreau)

“Use your struggles and frustrations today to motivate you rather than annoy you. You are in control of the way you look at life. Be mindful.” (Marcandangel)

“Which way you ought to go depends on where you want to get to.” (Lewis Carroll)

“If you keep looking back, you’re going to trip going forward.” (Pinterest)

“It’s easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top.” (Henry Ward Beecher)

“You’re the one who decides how big or small your problem is. It depends on how you look at it.” (Pinterest)

“People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.” (Epictetus)

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

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“You’re Too Close to Lose Focus Now!”

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“LET’S KEEP FOCUSED…those of us who want everything God has for us” (Philippians 3:15 MSG)

My mama always said, “You Become Effective By Being Selective!”

It’s human nature to get distracted! Many of us are like gyroscopes, spinning around at a frantic pace but not getting anywhere! Without a clear purpose you keep changing directions, jobs, relationships, churches, etc., hoping each change will settle the confusion or fill the emptiness in your heart. You think, “This time will be different,” but it’s not because it doesn’t solve your real problem—Lack of Focus!

The power of focusing can be seen for instance in LIGHT. With a magnifying glass the rays of the sun can set paper on fire! But when light is FOCUSED even more as a laser beam, it can cut through steel! Just as it is with Light, so it is with LIFE, nothing is as Potent as a Focus! The men and women who make the greatest difference in life are the most Focused! For instance, the Apostle Paul said,I am bringing all my energies to bear on this ONE THING.” (Philippians 3:13 TLB). Paul’s obsession was to make Christ known, and maintaining a Focused Life, allowed him to do just that. So if you want your life to have impact, FOCUS it! Remember: “You Become Effective By Being Selective!” Which means in a nutshell: Stop Dabbling! Stop trying to do it all! Do less in fact. Turn away from even good activities and do only that which matters most. I learned a hard lesson that I hope you’ll learn easy: Never Confuse ACTIVITY With PRODUCTIVITY!

Poet William Matthews wrote, “One well-cultivated talent, deepened and enlarged, is worth a hundred shallow faculties. The first law of success in this day when so many things are clamoring for attention is Concentration—to bend our energies to One point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right nor to the left.

Focus doesn’t come easily or naturally, it’s a Discipline that must be practiced Daily!

Paul told Timothy to Focus on his strengths:That special gift…you were given…keep that dusted off and in use.” (1 Timothy 4:14 MSG). Focused people don’t hide their weaknesses or excuse them; instead they focus on their strengths!

There’s a story about a couple who decided to build a farm. Then they began to argue. The wife wanted to build the house first. The husband wanted to build the barn first to house the animals. They went back and forth until finally the man said, “Look, we have to build the barn first—because the barn will enable us to build the house, the garage, the silo, the kid’s swing set, and everything else!” In other words, When You Focus on Putting FIRST Things FIRST, Everything Else Falls Into Its Proper Place Automatically!

Anthony Campolo says, “What you commit yourself to, will change what you are and make you into a completely different person. The future conditions you, not the past. What you commit yourself to become, determines what you are—more than anything that ever happened to you yesterday. Therefore, I ask you, ‘What are your commitments? Where are you going? What are you going to be? Show me somebody who hasn’t decided, and I’ll show you somebody who has no identity, no personality, and no direction.

Focusing on weaknesses instead of strengths is like having a handful of coins, a few made of gold, the rest of tarnished copper, and setting aside the gold coins to spend your time shining the copper ones in hopes of making them more valuable. Think about it: No matter how long you spend polishing tarnished copper coins, they’ll never be worth what the gold ones are! So, Stay Focused on your God-given strengths! That is an investment that will yield great dividends!

Another way to look at it is this: Why focus on the many that were called, instead of the important few that are chosen?! Remember: “You’ll Become Effective By Being Selective!” So make sure your selections today are those Few things and people that Matter Most!

“Do not swerve to the right or the left.” Proverbs 4:27 NIV

Bear this in mind, Focus does 3 things for you:

(1) IT KEEPS YOU ON TARGET: We find ourselves pulled in a dozen different directions, spending much of our time and energy on things we don’t really care about. Author Don Marquis put it this way: “Ours is a world where people don’t know what they want, and are willing to go through hell to get it.” The Bible says: “Let your eyes look straight ahead…Do not swerve to the right or the left.” (Proverbs 4:25-27 NIV) Focused People Develop a Discipline that helps them to Stay On Target Without Swerving to the Right or the Left! Distractions Invite Detours From Your God-Given Destination! So, Stay Focused!

(2) IT INCREASES YOUR ENERGY: Attempting everything, like attempting nothing, will suck the life right out of you! Focus gives you energy. Admiral Richard Byrd, the Polar explorer, said, “Few men come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used.One of the reasons those wells go untapped is Lack of Focus. The mind doesn’t reach toward achievement until it has clear objectives. Focused People have Learned to Focus All of Their Efforts Into One Thing or One Direction, which in Return Replenishes the Energy and Strength that was Zapped from Multiple Activities that didn’t Produce an Ounce of Productivity! All you desire will come together once you stop letting everyone and everything pull you apart!

(3) IT LIFTS YOU: It’s been said thatthe world stands aside to let anyone pass, who knows where he or she is going.In a sea of mediocrity, just knowing what you want to do and making an effort to pursue it, distinguishes you from almost everybody else. Henry David Thoreau asked, “Do you ever hear of a man who had striven all his life faithfully and singly toward an object, and in no measure obtained it? If a man constantly aspires, is he not elevated?Just by striving to become better than you are, you become elevated—even if you don’t accomplish all of what you desire, and even if others don’t step aside for you. By trusting God and aiming higher, you move to a higher level—Regardless. Staying Focused Isn’t All About Elevating to Another Level, Another Position, Another Title. Staying Focused Gives You The Best and Highest Level of Elevation There Is…Which is Simply Becoming a Better You Today Than You Were Yesterday, and a Better You Tomorrow Than You Were Today! Now That’s What You Call a Worthy Elevation!

Acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:6).

When it comes to staying focused, keep in mind these 3 additional notes:

(1) FOCUSED PEOPLE ALWAYS LOOK FOR A BETTER WAY: What got you where you are, won’t necessarily get you where you need to be. A family who moved into a new neighborhood got a late start one morning. As a result their 6-year-old missed her school bus. Though it would make him late for work her father agreed to take her to school if she gave him directions. After 20 minutes of going in circles they finally arrived at the school, which turned out to be only a few blocks away from where they lived. Steaming, her dad asked why she drove him all over the place when the school was so close to home. “We went the way the school bus does,” she said. “That’s the only way I know.” Focused People Don’t Get In a Rut, Nor Do They Get Stuck and Stagnant! They Continuously Reinvent Themselves and How They Do Things. They Grow and Change Constantly! They Don’t Regress, They Progress! They’re Forever Moving Forward Looking to Do Better In 2020 Than They Did in 2010! If Everything You Do Is Still Done the Same Way and The People You Are Around Are Still the Same People, You My Friend Are In Serious Danger of Never Becoming Better!

(2) FOCUSED PEOPLE CONCENTRATE A LITTLE HARDER AND A LITTLE LONGER: Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron said, “What separates a superstar from the average ballplayer is that he concentrates just a little bit longer.Focused thinking is the ability to remove distractions and mental clutter so that you can concentrate with clarity. Examine Your Thoughts, Examine Your Emotions, Examine Your Speech, Examine Your Attitude, Examine Your Heart, Examine Your Habits and Certainly Examine Your Associations and Immediately Remove Anything or Anyone That Clutters Your Clarity or Breaks Your Concentration! Keep In Mind: Folly and Focus Can’t Dwell In the Same Place!

(3) FOCUSED PEOPLE MAKE COMMITMENTS, NOT EXCUSES: A sign on the desk of an officer at the Pentagon read: The secrecy of my job does not permit me to know what I’m doing.It’s a cute joke, but not so cute when it’s true. When you don’t know what you’re doing, you become frustrated and end up failing. That’s why praying and getting direction from God, is critical for every area and aspect of your life.Do not swerve to the right or the left”, says the Scripture.  To ’Swerve’ means ‘to make an erratic deflection from an intended course.In other words, your lack of focus, when heading in the direction of your destiny will cause you to ’swerve– or stray from the intended course God has set for your life. Which is why you must always remember: In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (NIV). And when He does—STAY FOCUSED!

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I FOCUS on this ONE THING: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13 NLT)

The poorest man in the world is not the one without money, he’s the one without a vision for his life. But Vision requires Focus. When you’re spread too thin you become mediocre at everything and excellent at nothing! Failure always results from saying yes to too many things. Because something is good doesn’t mean it’s right for you. When your plate’s full doing what God has given you to do, learn to say no to everything else! “No” doesn’t mean never, it just means “not now.” If you try to fight on every front you’ll wear yourself out and fail to win where it counts most. Fighting a battle without spoils is like pouring water on a burning shack. Unless somebody’s life’s in danger it’s probably not worth fighting for. Conserve your energy for when something important is at stake!

Know that you’ll always lose when you: Fight the wrong battle; Fight at the wrong time; Fight when you shouldn’t be involved; Fight because you need to win in order to feel good about yourself; Fight, though the battle has been lost, but your pride won’t let you swallow it! Learn to Stay Focused on your goals. Keep your eyes on the prize that God has set before you. And be warned: If the enemy can’t defeat you, he’ll distract you with side issues or disqualify you by getting you to make bad decisions. Either way, he wins and you lose! 

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I FOCUS on this ONE THING: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.Notice 3 more things about Focused people:

(1) FOCUSED PEOPLE DON’T LIVE IN THE PAST: Too many of us yearn for the past and get stuck in it! Instead, we should learn from the past and let go of it. Elbert Hubbard wrote, “A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is a token of greatness. Successful people forget. They’re running a race. They can’t afford to look behind. Their eye is on the finish line. They’re too big to let little things disturb them. If anyone does them wrong, they consider the source and keep cool. It’s only the small people who cherish revenge. Be a good forgetter…success demands it.

(2) FOCUSED PEOPLE DON’T THINK ABOUT THE DIFFICULTIES, BUT THE REWARDS: If you dwell on the difficulties too long you’ll start to develop self-pity instead of self-discipline. As a result you’ll accomplish less and less. By focusing on results you’ll stay encouraged. Make Christ your example.He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross BECAUSE OF THE JOY HE KNEW WOULD BE HIS AFTERWARDS.” (Hebrews 12:2 TLB).

(3) FOCUSED PEOPLE CHOOSE THEIR FRIENDS CAREFULLY: Here are 5 types of people you’ll encounter: 1) REFRESHERS—who strengthen your faith and energize you; 2) REFINERS—who sharpen you and clarify your vision; 3) REFLECTORS—who mirror your energy, neither adding to nor subtracting from it; 4) REDUCERS—who try to diminish your goals and efforts to their comfort level; and 5) REJECTERS—who don’t understand you or what God’s called you to do. At some point in time you will have to encounter all five of these people! So, remain Focused and you’ll stay grounded; the praise of others is less likely to go to your head, and the negative impact of your critics will be minimized!

“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” (Genesis 12:1 NLT)

I use to wonder why God would take people like Moses, or Abraham away from their familiar environments, after He called them. Uprooting them from family and friends to use them for greater works. But the more I look at where I was, where I’m at, and where I’m going, the more I understand why God does such a thing as this. The harsh reality is, there are many limits put on us By Our Very Own Loved Ones! Especially those that have watched us come up and fall down many times before. Often, their perception of us distorts our vision and causes us to doubt ourselves, God, and even the planned purpose He has for us. But what we must remember is, whenever someone says you can’t do it or be it, they are a liar! Because the Bible Clearly Declares,I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” {Philippians 4:13} Understand that too often people will speak into your life, according to what THEY were able or NOT able to accomplish for their own. They will judge you based on what they could or Moreso, what they couldn’t do themselves. But Listen: A vision is only seen by the bearer of it and because you were selected to bear it, it is therefore invisible to others. In actuality, they only get to see the back of it, after the glory of it has passed by, (Exodus 33:12-21) That’s why folks get mad with you, because they want to see the personal face-to-face of your vision, but have to settle for the hind parts instead! So prepare yourself, because when you’re chosen by God to carry out a vision, not everyone’s going to understand what you’re doing or why.  So they’ll label you based on the outside, because they don’t have inside access! Don’t let them shift your focus because they can only see the container and not the contents! 

And they said one to another…this dreamer cometh…let us slay him…and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” {Genesis 37:19-20} Listen: Don’t feel bad when you don’t have a lot of friends and family around, or when people abandon you and walk away. Count it all joy, because those that God wants in your life will never leave and those that are from Him will never lead you astray. Friends and family are good to have, but many times God removes them so prepare yourself for it. Don’t fight it. Stop holding folks hostage in your life that need to be set free! Allow God to add and subtract what’s best for your multiplication! There’s so much more to you than meets the eye, so surround yourself with people that can see past your appearance. If you just Stay Focused, you’ll say like Joseph,…Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” {Genesis 50:20} Need I remind you, Joseph didn’t say that to enemies, or even friends, but to FAMILY!

Isn’t this the carpenter?” {Mark 6:3} Please be careful around those who love to say, “I knew you when…” in an attempt to label or limit you. When David volunteered to fight Goliath his faith was an embarrassment to his big brother Eliab, an officer in King Saul’s army. Think of Eliab’s position, “If my little brother wins, everybody will ask, ‘How come you couldn’t do it—big brother?’” Beware: your decision to step out and follow God will put pressure on others around you! And the first place you’ll feel it will be amongst those closest to you, especially if your calling sets you apart, and takes you higher than them! The Bible records that Eliabburned with anger at [David] and asked, ‘Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is” (1 Samuel 17:28). Take Note: Before David could overcome Goliath, he had to overcome the thoughts and opinions of those around him, especially his family. And you will too! Look at the life of Jesus. When He went back to His hometown they said,What’s this wisdom…given him,…he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son…they took offence at him. Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them…he was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mark 6:2-6)

Bottom line: Don’t allow those “who knew you when”, to hinder where you’re going! Neither friend, family or foe! STAY FOCUSED!

“…Stay close to the king wherever he goes.” (2 Chronicles 23:7 NIV)

Commercial flying can be a real adventure. Like the day Pastor Ron booked a last-minute flight to the Northwest to support some Native American friends who had just lost their young son. He was supposed to fly into Spokane, Washington, but fog shut it down and he was diverted to another airport for the night. So, the airline put him up in a hotel overnight and promised they’d do their best to get him to Spokane the next morning. Pastor Ron knew if he didn’t get to the reservation that next day, he would have missed what he was going for. He really needed the real scoop on whether or not his plane was going to get into Spokane. Thankfully, from a casual conversation at the hotel, he knew who the captain was. So that next morning, as he waited around trying to get some word on the fate of his flight, he saw the captain headed for a pay phone in the airport. He made sure he got close to the captain; he was calling to check the current Spokane weather. Then, as he walked over to the gate agents in charge of his flight, Pastor Ron overheard him say, “Well, we’ll try Spokane, but I think there’s only a 20% chance we’ll get in. We’ll probably end up back in Denver where we started.” Well, that inside information helped Pastor Ron pursue alternatives – one of which got him where he needed to be, when he needed to be there.

There was one reason Pastor Ron knew where to go – He Stayed Close to the Captain. Actually, that’s how all of us are going to know what we’re supposed to do and where we’re supposed to go – and that’s by Staying Close to the Captain of our flight; Staying Close to Captain Jesus!

There are eight words in 2 Chronicles 23:7 that I’ve actually typed out and posted on my wall at work. These eight words remind me of the secret of knowing and doing what God has planned in any given situation. In this chapter, a coalition of military and spiritual leaders is working to put the rightful king on the throne in Judah – even though he’s only a boy. The temple staff, the Levites, are given a straightforward assignment, and here are those eight words,Stay close to the king wherever he goes.That’s our assignment, too. And when we fulfill this assignment, we’ll be led naturally and supernaturally – into the next steps we’re supposed to take. Just like that day at the airport when Pastor Ron got his direction just by staying close to the captain. He had the information Pastor Ron needed, but he never would’ve known that information Except For His Proximity to the One Who Knew. It’s like that with knowing God’s Will for our lives. It’s not your cleverness in figuring it out; It’s Your Closeness to the God Whose Will You’re Looking For! That’s actually the Focus of John 10, which describes us as sheep following our Shepherd. Jesus said,My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27) NIV. See, it’s about being where you can hear His voice – not figuring out some spiritual jigsaw puzzle called “The Will of God.”

If you’re needing to know God’s direction right now, don’t focus so much on figuring out The Plan. Focus on staying close to the Man, to Jesus, whose plan it is. Living in God’s Will isn’t supposed to be this stressful spiritual mystery game. Relax and do the things that get you really close to the person Who is the Pilot of your earth-journey. Or in the words of the Bible, “Stay close to the King … wherever He goes!“ Unfortunate in this day and time of the church, too much attention is being Focused on Fleshly Leadership! But God’s Word still declares:You can’t depend on anyone, not even a great leader. Once they die and are buried, that will be the end of all their plans. The LORD God of Jacob blesses everyone who trusts Him. God made heaven and earth; He created the sea and everything else. God always keeps His word. {Psalm 146:3-6 CEV}. Stop focusing on the arm of flesh, for it will fail you every time. Instead, Stay Focused on Your Captain, Your Leader, Your King, Whose Word Never Fails! Knowing With Assurance that Once He Gives You Direction, You Are Guaranteed to Make it to Your Intended Destination!

It is indeed my prayer that you will now set your heart, mind and spirit to the things of God and the Will of God for your life, and that you will allow nothing and no one to distract you or deter you from destiny, Not Even You! People of God, Stay Focused and Finish Strong! Because You’re Too Close to Manifestation to Lose Sight of the Vision Now!

“If your parents ever measured you as a child, they had you stand against a wall, and made a little pencil mark on the wall to show your growth. They did not measure you against your brother, or the neighbor’s kids, or kids on TV. When you measure your growth, make sure to only measure your today self by your past self. If you compare your relationships, your success, or your anything against anyone else, you are not being fair to you. Everyone has a different path, a different pace, and different challenges to face along the way.” (Doe Zantamata)

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

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“Go Through Until It’s Granted!”

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“Later on Eve gave birth to another son and named him SETH (meaning “GRANTED”); for, as Eve put it, “God has GRANTED me another son for the one Cain killed.” (Genesis 4:25 TLB)

In one sweep of jealousy Eve’s dreams lay bleeding on the ground; her older son a criminal on the run, her younger son murdered in the prime of his life. And yet she’s supposed to be the mother of all living! In fact, this is what the Scripture says: “The man named his wife Eve (meaning “The Life-Giving One”), for he said, “She shall become the mother of all mankind.” (Genesis 3:20 TLB). Well, how do you maintain a title like that, when you’re now the mother of a corpse and a killer? Her own husband spoke “Life” in naming her, and yet the one he called “Life” would have birthed from her own womb, one that would be killed and one that would be his killer! How bad it must have felt to be called “Life”, and yet deal with “Death”?

Have you ever been there, when you’re CALLING and your CIRCUMSTANCES are opposites that DON’T attract?

Can you identify just a little bit with Eve? Or should I say it like this, have you ever found yourself asking, “Lord, this is not what YOU promised me!”; “Lord, this is not the way this was supposed to go!”; “Lord, I saw this work out a little different in my mind than what has manifested in my life!”; “Lord, after all this time, shouldn’t this and they be better?”; “Lord, I give my tithes, but the windows of heaven must be open on the wrong side of the house!”; “Lord, am I really supposed to STILL live here, STILL drive that, STILL walk there, STILL face this, STILL deal with them?” In Essence: Lord, This Is NOT How This Was Supposed to Go!

YOU Said You Have a Plan, a Purpose, and a Promise Just For Me, and Yet All I’ve Seen Thus Far are Problems, Pain and Persecution! Lord, What Happened?!

Well, if that’s where you are today, here’s my advice to you and it’s free: GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH! Or in the words of our title: GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED!

Now, many of you will say, “Thanks for the encouragement, but I’m still stuck in the middle of the tunnel, and I hear a train coming but don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel! You say Go Through, but I’m still stuck and can’t Get Through, so, now what?” I reiterate, GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH…GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED! How is that possible? Simple, just remember this: Matthew 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (KJV). However, there’s another translation of this Scripture that I love and it reads like this: “I can GUARANTEE this truth: Until the earth and the heavens disappear, neither a PERIOD OR A COMMA will disappear from the Scriptures before EVERYTHING HAS COME TRUE.” (GWT). Do you know how determined God has to be to “Guarantee” that not even a “Period or a Comma” will come up missing “Before Every Word He’s Declared Comes True”?! In other words, be encouraged, because regardless to how bleak the situation looks, whatever God has declared concerning you in His Word HAS to come to pass! Listen: The word “Guarantee” means “a formal assurance that certain conditions will be fulfilled; something that makes an outcome certain; a promise of certainty”. Its Spanish Origin comes from “Garante” and is related to the word “Warrant”. “Warrant” means: “a document entitling the holder to receive goods, money, or services.” Its Origin comes from the words “Protector and Safeguard” and thereby means “To Protect From Danger.

Hear me clearly: You will go through and get through because God has granted you a guarantee that everything He said WILL come true! And His guarantee comes with an assurance that every condition will be favorable in the end. Your outcome of victory is sealed and certain. Your promise of goods, money, and services are safe-guarded and protected. And as long as you have this promise from God you will forever be protected from dangers that attempt to sift your life!

Remember This: Satan can touch your POSSESSIONS, but he can’t take your PROMISE! Listen to Job 1:12 in a few translations:

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that Job has is in your power, ONLY DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND ON THE MAN HIMSELF.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.” (AMP)

“And the Lord said to Satan (the adversary and the accuser), Behold, all that he has is in your power, ONLY UPON THE MAN HIMSELF PUT NOT FORTH YOUR HAND. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” (AMPC)

“The Lord said to the Adversary, “Look, all he has is within your power; ONLY DON’T STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND AGAINST HIM.” So the Adversary left the Lord’s presence.” (CEB)

“The Lord replied, “All right, Satan, do what you want with anything that belongs to him, BUT DON’T HARM JOB.” Then Satan left.” (CEV)

“The Lord said to Satan, “All right, do whatever you want with anything that he has, BUT DON’T HURT JOB HIMSELF.” Then Satan left the meeting.” (ERV)

“And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. ONLY AGAINST HIM DO NOT STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (ESV)

“The Lord told Satan, “Everything he has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT LAY A HAND ON HIM! Then Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (GWT)

“All right,” the Lord said to Satan, “everything he has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT HURT JOB HIMSELF.” So Satan left.” (GNT)

“And the Lord replied to Satan, “You may do anything you like with his wealth, BUT DON’T HARM HIM PHYSICALLY.” So Satan went away; and sure enough, not long afterwards when Job’s sons and daughters were dining at the oldest brother’s house, tragedy struck.” (TLB)

“God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. JUST DON’T HURT HIM.” Then Satan left the presence of God.” (MSG)

“The Lord said to Satan, “All right, then. Everything Job has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT TOUCH JOB HIMSELF.” Then Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (NCV)

“The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, BUT ON THE MAN HIMSELF DO NOT LAY A FINGER.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (NIV)

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “See, all that he has is in your power. ONLY DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND ON HIM.” So Satan went out from the Lord.” (NLV)

“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, BUT DON’T HARM HIM PHYSICALLY.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (NLT)

I REITERATE: Satan can touch your POSSESSIONS, but he can’t take your PROMISE!

You will maintain the testimony that…MY LIFE IS SAFE, AND I WILL LIVE TO TELL WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE.” (Psalm 118:17 CEV) Or in the words of the Good News Translation, “I WILL NOT DIE; INSTEAD, I WILL LIVE AND PROCLAIM WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE.” (GNT). I love that word “Instead”, it means “In Place Of”. In other words, devil, no matter what you do or bring my way, IN PLACE OF DYING, I will Survive and LIVE to tell the story! Will this always be easy? Of course not, if it was, none of us would need any encouragement at all! But is it doable, is it possible? YES! Just Let His Guaranteed Promises Keep You Anchored in His Word Which Cannot Even Allow a Period or Comma to Move Out of Place Before ALL He Has Said (Promised) Comes True!

Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that He should lie. He is not a son of man, that He should be sorry for what He has said. Has He said, and will He not do it? Has He spoken, and will He not keep His Word?” (NLV)

Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My Word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (AMP)

Jeremiah 1:12, “The Lord then said, “You are right, for I’m watching over My Word until it is fulfilled.” (CEB)

Are you getting this? No matter how bad things may be, they cannot, and will not stay this way for good! Before you know it you’ll have the testimony that “IT’S MY TURN!” Psalm 30:11, “Then He TURNED my sorrow into joy! He took away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” (TLB).

I know it’s tough right now, tight right now, stressful right now, frustrating right now, confusing right now. And yet I still assure you that with all that’s against you, you will still say like Joseph, …Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” (Genesis 50:20 MSG). You see, even when things don’t work out as we think they should, God’s plans are never put on pause because of our problems. He’s in fact so awesome as God that He won’t even change the plans of the enemy, but will even make the enemies plans work for your good! How powerful is that?!

Which is why you must always remember: Romans 8:28, “We know that God makes ALL things work together for the GOOD of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His PLAN.” (NLV); Jeremiah 29:11, “…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)

I reiterate, are you getting this? Not even the plans of the enemy, nor your own failed plans can hinder the Guaranteed Plans God has in Place for Your Future! That’s a good place to give God praise!

Look at another example of what God did for His people in the wilderness: “He led them forth by the straight and right way, that they might go to a city where they could establish their homes.” (Psalm 107:7 AMP). Your job is to Go Through, no matter how painful, just Go Through! Why? Because even in the struggles of the wilderness, God can still lead you in a straight and right way and as an added bonus, when you come out, you’re coming out Established! You know what I love about the word “Establish”? Its’ meaning of course! “To Set Up On a Firm and Permanent Basis”! His people Went Through, and When They Came Out, They Were “Set Up On a Firm and Permanent Basis”! Be Encouraged, Your Next Blessing Won’t Be Seasonal, It Will Be Permanent!

I reiterate yet again, GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH! Because on the other side of your BIG Burden is an even BIGGER Blessing!

Back to our text, you see, when Cain killed Abel God’s plan for Eve was delayed…but not denied, nor destroyed! And in spite of what you are going through right now, everything God has promised you will likewise be fulfilled: The Bible declares: And I am CONVINCED and SURE of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to FULL COMPLETION IN YOU.” (Philippians 1:6 AMP). Therefore, don’t let the disturbances, distractions and discouragement deter you, His Promises Are Coming to Full Completion In Your Life! Remember: Your God Can’t Lie, and His Word Can’t Fail!

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand)” (AMP)  Listen: When doubt and unbelief and even fear try to creep up and steal the joy of your promise, just call on God, He’ll not only answer you, but come to you and show you great and mighty things that are fenced in and hidden in your struggles!

No matter what it looks like, consult God, He will always reveal your hidden blessings! Don’t believe it? Listen to this: “I will give you RICHES HIDDEN IN THE DARKNESS and things of GREAT WORTH that are HIDDEN IN SECRET PLACES. Then you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name.” (Isaiah 45:3 NLV). Be Encouraged, You’ve Got Hidden Blessings About to Be Revealed!

Then the Bible further declares: “The LITTLE TROUBLES we suffer now FOR A SHORT TIME are making us ready for the GREAT THINGS God is going to give us FOREVER. We do not look at the things that can be seen. We look at the things that cannot be seen. The things that can be seen will come to an end. But the things that cannot be seen will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLV). All you have to do is endure a little trouble for a short time now, and then wait and watch God do great things for you forever! Now that’s worth holding on and hanging in there for! That’s worth going through until it’s granted!

In fact, God loves us so much that He even promises: “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!” (Isaiah 65:24 TLB) I declare, the promises of the Lord gets gooder and gooder as the days go by! (I know, bad grammar, but good point!)

Now, we’ve talked a lot about GO THROUGH and GET THROUGH…but what about GRANTED?

Well, God has a way of restoring things you thought would never come to pass again. He moved in Eve’s life and gave her another son named “Seth”, which means “One who takes the place of; compensation and granted”.

Isn’t that just like God, after all this time and frustration, and fear that things may not get any better, He steps in and declares: “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…” (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG) If you would finally stop crying over what WAS, you’d be able to See and Celebrate what IS!

Eve named “Life”, had to Go Through “Death”, but ended up being “Granted” another blessing, and his name was “Seth”. “In Place Of” all that had been loss, she gained a ‘Grant’, which is defined as ‘Favor’! In the end, Eve could testify that: “My Loss Gained Me More”! Which brings us to an additional fact: Seth’s name also means “Compensation”. And “Compensation” is defined as, “something given to compensate for loss, suffering, or injury; something that compensates for an undesirable state of affairs.” Why Go Through Until You Get Through? Because God is not a Stingy God! He Will Compensate You For Your Loss, Suffering, Injury and Undesirable State of Affairs! Which reminds us of James, the Bible declares: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, NOT LACKING ANYTHING.” (1:2-4 NIV) Sounds Like Compensation to Me!

And then as an added generational blessing, Seth bore his parents a grandson named Enosh. The Scripture declares, “Adam slept with his wife again. She had a son whom she named Seth. She said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel whom Cain killed.” And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh. THAT’S WHEN men and women began praying and worshiping in the name of GOD.” (Genesis 4:25-26 MSG).

Never Judge Prematurely How Your Story Will End! After All, Eve Began Chapter 4 With LIFE…Then Stepped in DEATH…HOWEVER, Before the Closing of the SAME Chapter, She Birthed LIFE AGAIN, Plus the Added Blessing of a Grandson Who Invoked the People to Pray and Worship in the Name of GOD! “…And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh. THAT’S WHEN MEN AND WOMEN BEGAN PRAYING AND WORSHIPING IN THE NAME OF GOD.” (Genesis 4:25-26 MSG).

In a Nutshell: Don’t Get Discouraged By a Few Verses, God Can Turn Everything Around in Your Favor Before the Closing of the same Chapter!

People of God, Be Encouraged: GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH, FOR WHEN YOU GET THROUGH YOUR GREATEST BLESSING WILL BE GRANTED!

1 Chronicles 4:9-10, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; but his mother named him Jabez, saying, “Because I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would indeed bless me and enlarge my border [property], and that Your hand would be with me, and You would keep me from evil so that it does not hurt me!” AND GOD GRANTED HIS REQUEST.” (AMP)

PEOPLE OF GOD, GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED, FOR WHAT GOD PROMISED YOU IS GUARANTEED TO COME TO PASS!

1 Peter 5:10, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.” (AMPC)

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

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