“What YOU Have is Enough!”

The Bible says: When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it. Then Samson said: “With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men!”And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place Ramath Lehi.” (Judges 15:14-17 NKJV).

Notice Point #1: SAMSON ALLOWED THE ENEMY TO BIND HIM: …We are come down to bind thee…we will bind thee fast…AND THEY BOUND HIM…” (Judges 15:12-13). If the truth be told, much of what we would like to blame on others, WE need to take Accountability and be Honest that WE Alone are to Blame.

It is not only what we do, but also what we do Not do, for which we are Accountable.” (Moliere).

Samson was not shocked, surprised or caught off guard by his enemies! In fact, his enemies even had the audacity to let him know, IN ADVANCE, that they were coming for no other reason or purpose than to BIND HIM! The bible says, “…We are come down to BIND thee…we will BIND thee fast…AND THEY BOUND HIM… And sadly enough, the enemy was true to his word!

Now, I already know Samson’s story, but might I ask YOU, “what has you tied up today?” Or better yet, “what have you ALLOWED to tie you up today?” “What/Who have you ALLOWED to bind you, tie you up and hold you back from the work assigned to your hands?And before you answer, know that you can’t say you didn’t know that the enemies purpose was to hinder and harm you, because Jesus gave you a heads up: “The thief’s PURPOSE is to STEAL and KILL and DESTROY…” (John 10:10 NLT). So, since you knew, IN ADVANCE, but the enemy was able to bind you ANYWAY, that only means you entered into battle WILLFULLY UNPREPARED! You did not obey the orders of your Commanding Officer:

“…God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. BE PREPARED. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6:10-18 MSG).

People of God, you have Far Too Much Ammunition to Use to Your Advantage to continuously be bound, held captive, restrained and detained from the work of the Lord! Stop putting up help wanted posters on your life for the enemy to answer! Remember the Word of God admonishes: Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [GIVE NO OPPORTUNITY TO HIM].” (Ephesians 4:27 AMP). Stop Allowing him to turn your life into his career opportunity! Stop offering him room for growth, advancement, increase in pay, vacation, sick, personal and comp time, stop giving him the stocks and bonds in your life that are making him rich and leaving your body, soul and spirit bankrupt! And most of all stop handing him bonuses every time he’s successful at binding you! And all of this is what YOU allow when you keep showing up to battle ill-prepared with no armor or weaponry!

Listen to that text again:

“Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil.” (CEB)

“and don’t give the devil a chance.” (CEV)

“Don’t give the devil a way to defeat you.” (ERV)

“Don’t give the devil any opportunity to work.” (GWT)

The devil is seeking the want ads for employment, stop hiring him! Stop giving him opportunities to keep working to defeat you! Stop extending ‘grace’ to the devil, we give him just as many chances as we ask God to give us! Which is why it’s so vital that you are never without your armor! The devil is always busy, and clearly always employed to wage war on us and win! God said to BE PREPARED, and the best way to BE prepared is to STAY prepared!

Understand that: “When the devil is called the god of this world, it is not because he made it, but because we serve him with our worldliness.” (Symeon). Remember you are in Spiritual Warfare, you can’t keep allowing your flesh to give the devil a foothold or you’ll never win the war!

Church, you can’t get free with SECULAR ANTICS, only with SPIRITUAL ARTILLERY! With that said, if you want to really get free and stay free, I’ll give you a little hint: “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).  This might buck up against some folks theology, but you will not get free by running around the church, jumping over pews, singing, dancing, praising, praying, spinning, falling out at the altar, or even worshiping! The Bible says: “…THE YOKE SHALL BE DESTROYED BECAUSE OF THE ANOINTING”! And the Scripture does not say the yoke will be broken, bruised or battered, but DESTROYED! The word ‘Destroy’ means to “put out of existence by severe damage or attack; to completely ruin or spoil. That’s why it’s vital that you locate your anointing and live there! A yoke cannot and will not withstand the presence and power of the anointing! And you’ll always know when you have the right Spirit behind the anointing, because there will always be a RELEASE! The Bible says, “…the Spirit of the LORD entered Samson and gave him great power. The ropes on him weakened like burned strings and fell off his hands!” (Judges 15:14 NCV).  The anointing will destroy anything or anyone trying to bind you to the extent that it will “put out of existence” your yoke of bondage, that it never returns again! Don’t allow the enemy to bind you, and even if he has already, don’t become distressed, depressed, discouraged, dismayed, disheartened or doomed for destruction, simply follow the road-map to release, IT’S FOUND IN THE ANOINTING!

The Bible says: “…He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men…’” (Judges 15:14-18 NKJV). 

Notice Point #2: SAMSON NEEDED TO SEE WHAT HAD ALREADY BEEN GIVEN TO HIM: It was just the jawbone of a donkey, but with God’s help it was enough to win the day! Unfortunately, however, we spend far too much time focusing on what we DON’T have, that we lessen the value in what we DO possess! We focus on the gifting’s that others have, while down-playing the gifts the Holy Spirit has “willed” and “desired” for us to have. We continuously want what’s in someone else’s hand when what we actually need is placed right in our own!

Instead of complaining at his lot, a contented man is thankful that his condition and circumstances are no worse than they are. Instead of greedily desiring something more than the supply of his present need, he rejoices that God still cares for him. Such an one is “content” with such as he has.”  (Arthur W. Pink).

If the truth be told, many marriages and ministries have been destroyed by the foolish assumption that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, when in actuality, if we simply took the time to nurture, weed and water our own lawn, it would supersede even the fantasy-image we have conjured up of someone else’s yard!

Christian Contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” (Jeremiah Burroughs).

Many of you may have looked at the jawbone of the donkey and thought, “what am I supposed to do with that?”; “God you didn’t have anything else you could give me?”; “God you gave Saul full armor, you couldn’t give me the same?”; “It’s just a jawbone of a donkey, are you trying to say that’s all I can handle?Or can we really be honest and bring it home and say: “God I can sing just as good as her, why can’t I lead a song?”; “I worked with women longer than she has, why can’t I be over the women’s ministry?”; “I’m nicer than Sister Celery, why can’t I be on the usher board too?And the list could go on and on forever, because we love to complain about all that we don’t have, or better yet, all that we THINK we don’t have.

Discontent is a sin that is its own punishment and makes men torment themselves; it makes the spirit sad, the body sick, and all the enjoyments sour; it is the heaviness of the heart and the rottenness of the bones. It is a sin that is its own parent. It arises not from the condition, but from the mind. As we find Paul contented in a prison, so Ahab discontent in a palace.”  (Matthew Henry).

Saints, learn to be content both with what God gave you, and with what He saw fit NOT to give you! If you truly trust Him, then you’ll rejoice over what He has approved AND what He has Denied!

“The very first temptation in the history of mankind was the temptation to be discontent…that is exactly what discontent(ment) is—a questioning of the goodness of God.”  (Jerry Bridges).

You see, too many of us would rather preach to 500 people, who don’t care to hear us in the first place, than sing to 5 people who receive fresh strength for the journey from one simple song. Why? Because the pulpit Appears more prestigious, than the podium on the floor, hidden in the corner, unnoticed by the organ! But as for me, I would rather use what God gave me to bless, strengthen and encourage 5 people than waste my time, energy and life doing something for 500 that produces absolutely no fruit! Whatever God has given you is enough! You don’t have to be like him, you don’t have to look like her, you don’t have to act like them, you don’t need to sit over there, you don’t need that title, you don’t require that position, leave their talents, gifts, and skill-set alone. What God assigned to you is all you need to fulfill YOUR assignment! Stop comparing your equipment to others, and simply use what God has equipped YOU with!

God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” (John Piper).

Family, Samson’s “…jawbone of a donkey…may seem little, insignificant, unnoticeable, irrelevant, unimportant, useless and unimpressive. But the Bible states: “…He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, AND KILLED A THOUSAND MEN… Pay close attention, what God provided for Samson appeared, little, insignificant, unnoticeable, irrelevant, unimportant, useless and unimpressive, but, “…HE REACHED OUT HIS HAND AND TOOK IT…

Listen: If you don’t learn anything else, learn to accept what God has given YOU! Accept what God has made available for your use. Accept the road He’s called you to travel and the path He’s allowed you to cross. Whether it’s your spouse, your children, your job or your church, reach out your hand and take hold of what God has blessed you with!

Think about sports, not everyone is holding the ball at the same time. Only those who need to, do. We may praise the quarterback’s position, but not even he keeps the ball. Everybody on the team has their talents, gifts, and assignments, everybody on the team has their role to play and their position to hold. And if winning is key, then you don’t attempt to take someone else’s spot! We have to learn to work together in the Kingdom if we are to advance the Kingdom. We can’t win trying to beat our own teammates! I can’t play the organ, but so what, I don’t need to. But what I can do is join in the singing and praising and worshiping with everyone else. I don’t usher, I’m an Elder. Usher’s have their role in the church and so do I. Our ushers don’t attempt to preach, and I don’t attempt to take their bulletins and tell people where they can and can’t sit! Respect what your brothers and sisters have been assigned to do in the Kingdom of God. Stay your lane so we don’t all crash on impact and die because someone was trying to move over into a lane not needed for them to travel in order to get to their intended destination. I hope you’re getting this. Samson was successful because he used what was made available to HIM! He did not attempt to grab anyone else’s weapon in his warfare! And neither should you! What God Gave YOU Is Enough!

The contented person experiences the sufficiency of God’s provision for his needs and the sufficiency of God’s grace for his circumstances. He believes God will indeed meet all his material needs and that He will work in all his circumstances for his good. That is why Paul could say, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” The godly person has found what the greedy or envious or discontented person always searches for but never finds. He has found satisfaction and rest in his soul.” (Jerry Bridges).

Reach out your hand and take hold of your spouse, children, job and church and don’t try to change them, alter them, or compare them to what others have! His grace is sufficient, and so is all that He has given you (and all that He’s kept from you as well)! Stop complaining and comparing and learn to be content with what you have!

Can you imagine if Samson picked up that jawbone and said, ‘I don’t want this, I want a big, shiny, new spear!’ And so he throws away the very thing that was made available to him to win! Do not discard your ‘jawbone’! You see, jawbone’s are easy to dismiss, after all, who wants one? It’s the remains of something that died! It’s a bone with no life, no breathing, no organs! And since just about everything was dust and dirty then (not like our marbled streets, and paved roads) the jawbone would’ve been dusty and dirty too. Not to mention the bible says it was a ‘fresh jawbone of a donkey.’ So it had rotting flesh and blood on it as well. Surely everybody wants to be given that right? Wrong! But regardless to what was left of it, regardless that it’s no longer what it used to be, regardless that it’s bloody, dirty and dusty and a very little use, still it was what Samson needed to use to kill his enemies and win his battle! Likewise, your spouse is more than likely not as small or as young as they used to be. Wrinkles have formed, bags and sags are so disrespectful since they were not invited to be a part of our bodies. They are no longer 21 and ready to take on the world, no they’re 51 and ready to take on the bed for a nap! Yet, they are who God allowed you to marry and build a family and life with. They are who God allowed to be available to help you build that ministry, that church, that business, that school! And although they may not look like they did 20 or 40 years ago, don’t you dare discard your ‘jawbone’ now! They are a part of your life for the long haul! And since you haven’t fought your last battle with the devil, I suggest you hold on to who helped you win the last fight!

It’s so sad to say, but we’ve become a comfortable circumstantial church of convenience. If we don’t like the circumstances we quit; if it’s not comfortable and convenient, we quit. NO! Believers, that’s not our lot. We value and appreciate what/who God has made available to us to help us and make us better! So don’t be so quick to quit! Don’t throw away your ‘jawbone’, you need it to fight and win!  My dad used to say, ‘don’t chase a shiny penny because you don’t like a crumbled dollar! No matter what either one looks like, their value is still the same.’ And that’s exactly what many of us are doing, casting aside our crumpled dollars for a shiny penny! But you do realize, crumpled or not, the dollar has 99 cents more value over the one shiny penny! Be careful in the decisions you make to discard people! You Have Everything You Need in YOUR Jawbone, Keep It!

Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God.” (William Ward).

Yes, saints, it was just a “…jawbone of a donkey… but it “…KILLED A THOUSAND MEN…”!

So I admonish you today, be careful about underestimating, overlooking, undervaluing and discrediting what God provided FOR YOU, IT JUST MAY BE THE WEAPON YOU NEED TO KILL YOUR ENEMY! Your spouse, children, job and church may not be all that you thought they should be, or all that you wanted them to be, but if God provided them, YOU BETTER BE GRATEFUL, BECAUSE THEY’RE THE WEAPON YOU NEED TO KILL YOUR ENEMIES! Samson had to see what God had ALREADY provided for him, accept it and use it, and so do you! Why? BECAUSE IT IS ENOUGH!

You see, Samson used his jawbone to kill a thousand men in chapter 15. But over in chapter 16, he killed more than three thousand! Judges 16:26-30, “Samson said to the young servant who was leading him by the hand, “Place my hands against the pillars that hold up the temple. I want to rest against them.” Now the temple was COMPLETELY FILLED WITH PEOPLE. All the Philistine rulers were there, and there were about 3,000 MEN AND WOMEN on the roof who were watching as Samson amused them.Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands,he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.” (NLT)

Samson had to first use that jawbone to kill a thousand before he got to the slaughter of three thousand plus! And sometimes we forget to pay attention to using what has been made available to us in our first battle. You see, if they killed him before the jawbone, he would’ve never gotten the opportunity to slay all of his enemies! Use what God has given you, and use it when He gives it to you and how. There will be more and greater opportunities down the road, but if you don’t handle the little, don’t look for the much!

No more competing and comparing, no more envy and jealousy, no more trying to grab somebody else’s gift (or spouse, yep I said it!) What God has Given YOU is Enough for YOU! Don’t discard your small beginnings and please don’t discard your ‘jawbone’!

Be Warned: “The person with the discontented heart has the attitude that everything he does for God is too much, and everything God does for him is too little.” (Don Kistler).

Be Content With What and Who God Has Made Available for YOU! It is Enough!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “25 Genius Ways Fitness Trainers Stay Motivated to Exercise”

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“Crashed Into a Miracle”

Psalm 20:1-4, “GOD ANSWER YOU ON THE DAY YOU CRASH, The name God-of-Jacob put you out of harm’s reach, Send reinforcements from Holy Hill, Dispatch from Zion fresh supplies, Exclaim over your offerings, Celebrate your sacrifices,
Give you what your heart desires, Accomplish your plans.” (MSG)

I must admit, I have some of the greatest friends in all the world! Some are doctors, lawyers, preachers, sanitation workers, bankers, athletes, hotel managers, entrepreneurs, government officials, teachers, dancers, actors, maids, painters, and the list could go on and on forever! And the great thing about all of them, is that they are from every part of the world, every age group and every ethnicity!

HOWEVER, Nicolas is probably the biggest nut of them all! Nick has literally traveled this world over (and over) again! There is absolutely no where that is off limits to him. He loves the desert as much as he loves Alaska. He loves skiing as much as he loves skydiving. But his all-time favorite is hiking and camping. Now, I’ve known Nick since we were in elementary school (and yes, even then, he was a first-class nutcase!) Nick, would always ‘double-dog-dare’ us to eat glue, put tacks in the teachers chair, cut class (but sit on the front steps of the school)…I told you, nutcase! He’s always had such an extreme adventure streak (and still does at 50!) But one of Nick’s most hilarious/serious stories came from his last hiking/camping trip. The guys were having the time of their life…until a moose joined the trip!

You see, Nick was driving a rented RV back to their lodging place after a day of hiking. When suddenly, there was a moose crashing head first into the windshield on the driver’s side, shattering it completely propelling broken glass way back into the RV!

Friends and family raced to the scene, not knowing what to expect! There was Keith (his best friend), standing in front of that disabled RV repeating over and over again, “God is so good! God is so good!” Yes, He is (I had to agree, especially after hearing the full story knowing that my friend walked away from that disaster with minor scrapes and bruises). Even the police were amazed that there was no significant injury. Locals told them grimly, “Things like this don’t usually end well.” So, Nick and the crew, all considered it a miracle! Or, should I say Miracle Part 1, that is. Stay with me…

Obviously, a lot of repairs were needed, including re-alignment which meant putting the RV up on a rack. But, that’s when they found it! There was loose parts underneath that were not caused by the accident and that almost surely meant disaster down the road! The mechanic explained the real possibility. He said, “Your RV could suddenly pitch forward and roll end-over-end” obviously with potentially deadly consequences!

When Nick told me about this disturbing discovery and story, he began with four words that I will never forget, he said, “God sent a moose!” Well, you know what? Yes, I had to agree! Because it was crashing into that moose that revealed what otherwise might Never have been known…until it was too late of course! I agree with Keith as well, “God is so good! God is so good!

The Moose Crash has revealed more than just the problems with an RV though. It also sheds a whole new light on many things that you and I run into such as: medical challenges, painful losses, family conflict, major disappointment, a hurting heart, a financial hit, maybe it’s a child in trouble, a broken relationship, or a fractured friendship. Truth is, when we hit it, whatever our ‘it’ is, everything stops, and it usually hits hard and suddenly!

But, just as that night of the moose, God is always doing something much bigger than the thing we can See. Don’t forget that! Nick saw the moose. But the moose was just part of the story. The real story was God was using the moose to prevent a much larger tragedy and showing us how great His power and His love for us really is.

The moose crash was devastating, but the damage from what could Not be seen, would have been essentially even more damaging! Because who knows when it would have happened, (because it was hidden and undetected), until the crash! Who knew, a crash could be good news?!

And maybe that’s where you are today. At the crash-site of your life’s encounters! You’re hurt, devastated and certainly you were unprepared for this to happen, but it did. The marriage crashed into divorce, the children crashed into an unexpected teenage pregnancy, your sibling crashed into drug and alcohol addiction, your best friend crashed into a foreclosure, your finances crashed into bills, debts and liens, your friendship crashed into betrayal, your job crashed into unemployment, your health crashed into a disease no one in your family even has, your business crashed into more loss than gain, your church/ministry crashed into empty pews. We’ve all experienced some form of an unexpected “life crash”. But then, isn’t that how most crashes happen? Suddenly! Unexpectedly! Inconveniently!

Well, believe it or not, but sometimes crashes work for your good! Sometimes, they end up revealing what you would have never found out any other way, until it was too late, and devastation destroyed it all!

There are some very familiar words in the Bible that fit perfectly right here. And they’re found in Romans 8:28. It takes on new significance after the night of the moose. And we know that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Now, take note that He didn’t say all things ARE good…but He did say, “All things WORK TOGETHER for good.

You know, I found out something quite interesting. Now, I believe at some point in time we’ve all heard the term/motto/phrase “Gung Ho!” But, do you know what it means? Well, by definition it means, “extremely excited and enthusiastic about doing something; overly zealous”. However, its Chinese Origin is a word taken to mean, “WORK TOGETHER”, and it has been adopted as an unofficial slogan by the US Marines. “Gung Ho!” thereby comes to mean being, “extremely excited and enthusiastic about doing something; overly zealous”. And do you know why you should be ‘Gung Ho’ over your ‘life crashes’? BECAUSE IT’S ALL WORKING TOGETHER FOR YOUR GOOD! Yes, you can be excited even about your trials, struggles, and hardships, yes, you can even feel “Gung Ho!” because at the end of the day, they are ALL WORKING TOGETHER FOR YOUR GOOD!

Will they all be good? NOPE! Will they all feel good? NOPE! Will they all look good? NOPE! But will they all work for your good? YEP!

Everything that you’ve “crashed into” is going to work together for your good, some day, some way, somehow! And how can I be sure of it? Because the Word of God don’t lie! Therefore, if God SAID it will, you will SEE that it will!

Let’s view Romans 8:28 again:

“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.” (Romans 8:28 AMP) – There are a few things to take note of in this translation: “And we KNOW…” By definition, the word, “know” means, “to have knowledge of through observation, inquiry, information or experience; to be absolutely sure of something; to be familiar with.” It’s Old English Origin literally means “to recognize and identify.” And somewhere down the course of the years, we can all say we KNOW God is a keeper of His Word! How? Because we’ve ‘observed it, inquired about it, heard information of confirmation through the testimony of others and best yet, we’ve experienced it for ourselves’! We have “great confidence” in God and His ability because we’re familiar with it. We can ‘recognize and identify it, because we’ve seen and experienced it before’. And if He did it then, He can still do it now! So why should we be worried? After all the same text also says “…who is deeply concerned about us…”: So, why should we be children who cry when we have a Father whose concerned enough about us that He’s told us to cast all our cares on Him?! (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). The Bible further says, “…causes all things to work together [AS A PLAN] for good…” Sounds a lot like Jeremiah 29:10-11 to me! “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) Listen: When God Has It “…ALL PLANNED OUT TO TAKE CARE OF YOU…” WHAT DO YOU NEED A BACK-UP PLAN FOR?!

“We know that GOD WORKS all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 CEB) – My favorite part of this translation is, “…GOD WORKS…” How awesome to know that no matter what or who is working against me, when God is working for me, neither they nor it can do me any harm! Romans 8:31-39, “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” MSG) Therefore, with God at Work…Why Do You Dare Worry?

 “We know that GOD IS ALWAYS AT WORK for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose,” (Romans 8:28 CEV) – My favorite part of this version? “…GOD IS ALWAYS AT WORK…” Family and friends may have your back sometimes, even most of the time, but God, He has your back, ALWAYS! “Always” is defined as, “on all occasions; at all times; forever; repeatedly”. So, no matter what “life-crash” you encounter, you can rest assured that God has your back “on all occasions; at all times; forever and repeatedly.” Thoughts like that make you better understand Solomon when he said, “You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry,you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises,or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound.” (Proverbs 3:21-26 MSG).

“And we know that ALL THAT HAPPENS TO US is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.” (TLB) – My favorite part here? “…ALL THAT HAPPENS TO US…”. It doesn’t matter whether your “life crash” is physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, psychological, or financial, God is there to make it all work together for your good, no matter what has happened! Nothing is too big, too small or too insignificant to God. Everything about you, means everything to Him!

“We know that in EVERYTHING God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan.” (Romans 8:28 NCV) – My favorite part here? “…EVERYTHING…” Defined simply as “nothing being left out.” God won’t miss a beat concerning anything that concerns you! He has EVERYTHING in your ENTIRE life under control. He’s not going to leave anything out! GOD IS WORKING EVERYTHING OUT FOR YOUR GOOD!

“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.” (Romans 8:28 NLV) – My favorite part here? “…GOD MAKES ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER…” You are not subject to hoping that all the Things will work Themselves out. Nope, God says, HE, HIMSELF WILL ‘MAKE ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER’! One of the definitions that I love of the word “Make” is “to force something to work”. And “force” is defined as “to push into a specified position”. And what position is God going to Make and Force your “life crashes” into? You guessed it…A GOOD POSITION! So, no more worries, God Will Make It Work In Your Favor and For Your Good!

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that EVERY DETAIL in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (MSG) – My favorite part? “…EVERY DETAIL…”. “Detail” is defined as “every small, individual item”. Meaning, God won’t miss a thing that needs repairing in our “life’s crashes”!

No matter how many or bad your “life crashes” have been, God can fix and mend them all! What looks bad to you, is just an opportunity for God to show His goodness! Think about it: The Cross of Jesus wasn’t good. It was awful. But what looked at that time like the greatest tragedy in human history turned out to bring about the greatest good of all; the payment for our sin that makes life with God forever possible !

So when a “moose” suddenly crashes into my life, seemingly wrecking things, I need to remember the God of the “something bigger” who’s weaving a beautiful tapestry that sometimes includes some very dark threads! And He’s using today’s mess to accomplish tomorrow’s miracle! The wisdom of Proverbs informs us, Proverbs 27:1, “Never boast about tomorrow. You don’t know what will happen between now and then.” (GNT). Truth is, none of us know what will happen in our lives from the time we get up until the time we lay back down. We have no idea what “life crashes” will transpire “…between now and then.” But we do know, Who Knows! And that’s what matters most!

If Nick didn’t crash into that moose, his RV would’ve eventually crashed into something greater, and even more devastating, and certainly at an even more unsuspecting time. But by crashing into that moose, he crashed into a miracle that ultimately saved his life from a greater and more dangerous impact down the road. So, don’t complain about your “life crashes”, God is always in control, and anything that happens doesn’t occur without His knowledge and permission. So, no more crying, sleepless nights, frustrations, and the long drawn out ‘why me’ saga’s! God’s got you! Every detail, everything, no matter what happens, God’s got you! You will recover! And no matter how bad it is, it has no choice but to be good, sooner or later, God has already guaranteed that He will forcefully make it so! Trust Him!

You Think You’ve Crashed Into a Mess, But Truthfully, Unbeknown to You…You’ve Crashed Right Into a Miracle! And believe it or not, but your crash is good! Proverbs 20:1-4, “GOD ANSWER YOU ON THE DAY YOU CRASH, The name God-of-Jacob PUT YOU OUT OF HARM’S REACH, SEND REINFORCEMENTS from Holy Hill, Dispatch from Zion FRESH SUPPLIES, EXCLAIM over your offerings, CELEBRATE your sacrifices, GIVE YOU WHAT YOUR HEART DESIRES, ACCOMPLISH YOUR PLANS.” (MSG)

IT’S ABSOLUTELY AMAZING THE MIRACLE OF RECOVERY AND RESTORATION THAT GOD SUPPLIES…AFTER YOU CRASH!

“Sometimes all you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe and have faith because miracles do happen.” (Author Unknown)

“A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.” (Author Unknown)

“When God steps in, miracles happen.” (Author Unknown)

“Open your heart and invite God into every circumstance because when God enters the scene, miracles happen.” (Author Unknown)

“Your miracle may be taking a long time, but God didn’t bring you this far to leave you.” (Author Unknown)

“Never lose faith. Just when you feel like giving up, God sends a miracle.” (Author Unknown)

“God is the God of the impossible and the One who can make a miracle out of any situation.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Never stop believing in hope because miracles happen every day.” (Author Unknown)

“God makes miracles out of messes and mistakes.” (Author Unknown)

“Believing in miracles isn’t so difficult once one comes to the realization that God created the entire universe.” (Michael Mino)

“Your part is to pray, God’s part is to do miracles. Do your part and God will most certainly fulfill His.” (Author Unknown)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Best Foods to Eat Each Decade”

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“LOOK Until You SEE It!”

1 Kings 18:42-44, “…Meanwhile, Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bowed deeply in prayer, his face between his knees. Then he said to his young servant, “On your feet now! LOOK toward the sea.” He went, LOOKED, and reported back, “I DON’T SEE A THING.” “KEEP LOOKING,” said Elijah, “seven times if necessary. And sure enough, the seventh time he said, “OH YES, A CLOUD! But very small, no bigger than someone’s hand, rising out of the sea.” “Quickly then, on your way. Tell Ahab, ‘Saddle up and get down from the mountain before the rain stops you.’” (MSG)

One of my friends that I admire the most, is my friend Pastor Gerard who must have a million and one great memories of ministering in South Africa. He’s there so much in fact I can’t wait for him to finally inform us all that he’s relocating! This last time he traveled there, he had the tremendous opportunity of reaching some lost young people and their parents, and even trained some youth leaders on how to reach young people as well. His schedule was extremely intense, but their Field Director and Pastor Gerard managed to sneak away for a couple of hours in a wild game park. And the Lord of all those African creatures was really good to them, because He allowed them to see zebras and rhinos and hippos and lions, and many more of God’s African best, and none of which desired to eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a midnight snack!

However, his most unforgettable moment began when their driver said, “Whoa, that’s fresh! Keep your eyes open for an elephant.” Her “that’s fresh“, referred to a broken branch she saw in the middle of the little road they were on. Now, the staff member he was with as well as himself were a little skeptical, but not for long. As they rounded a bend, There He Was – a big old elephant lumbering down the road ahead of them! They followed behind him for a while and then they watched with ringside seats as he stepped off into a pond, watered himself and sprayed himself. Pastor Gerard said it was absolutely amazing!

But what caught my attention, as well as watered my mustard seed faith so it could grow to new heights, was the part about when his driver saw just a LITTLE SIGN (of a broken branch), and knew that something really BIG was coming up next!

Now, God may very well be doing something BIG on the trail just ahead of you too! Oh, you can’t see it yet, but it’s important to be able to see even the LITTLE signs of “God’s something BIG” on the way! After all, that’s part of what our  faith is all about!

Hebrews 11:1 says, “What is faith? It is the CONFIDENT ASSURANCE that something we want IS GOING TO HAPPEN. It is the CERTAINTY that what we hope for IS WAITING FOR US, EVEN THOUGH WE CANNOT SEE IT UP AHEAD.” (TLB). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Now faith is the ASSURANCE (TITLE DEED, CONFIRMATION) of things hoped for (DIVINELY GUARANTEED), and the evidence of things not seen [the CONVICTION OF THEIR REALITY – faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” (AMP)

And that’s exactly how you need to start living today, by faith! A faith that has confident assurance that what we want is going to happen! Living with a certainty faith knowing that the promises of God are waiting for us! Living by faith in such a way that we know the promises of God to us are Assured; our faith is the Title Deed; it’s the Confirmation that our promises are Divinely Guaranteed! And All We Have to Do is Have a Faith That Has a Conviction so Strong That it Acts as if What We’re Waiting for Has Already Become a Reality! Nothing about that includes unbelief; doubting; wavering; impatience; worry; fear; anxiety; nervousness; or panic! Therefore, keep your eyes of faith focused on what God said until you see it manifest itself in your life!

Jeremiah 33:3, “‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [AND EVEN SHOW YOU] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand and cannot distinguish.’” (AMP) Don’t allow a LITTLE fear and impatience to cause you to lose focus, because any minute now, God is about to SHOW you something BIG!

Pastor Gerard’s driver saw a LITTLE broken branch as EVIDENCE that a BIG  elephant was about to appear. Imagine if we walked by faith like that, what would we believe God for, ask God for, and expect with confidence that God is able to do?! Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is ABLE to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us,” (AMP) Just a LITTLE sign showing that something BIG was about to make a grand appearance, and all they had to do was KEEP LOOKING for it!

Which brings us to Elijah. Elijah had prayed that God would show His power in Israel by sending a three-year drought. In 1 Kings 18, beginning in verse 42, we see why the Bible presents him as a man whose prayer was “powerful and effective“: (James 5:16-18, in the Message Bible reads, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t – not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.” MSG ). Now, we’ve already chatted a bit about why our FAITH is so important, but now let’s also be reminded that so is our PRAYER LIFE! Your Prayer Life is a Lifestyle, not a Life Line only used for when you’re in trouble, and need God to get you out of what you got yourself into! Elijah prayed hard! When’s the last time your prayers could be described like that? He prayed so hard and consistent for the rain to stop that it did; then he prayed the same for it to start back then it did. When’s the last time your prayer life yielded results like that?! Believing God by faith is wonderful, but you’ve got to continue your communication through prayer with God even before your something BIG comes to pass! You have to make sure that God hears from you consistently! We already know that there’s nothing too hard for our God, so clearly the problem isn’t with God, but the problem just may be that we don’t pray hard enough! Selah…

So, now Elijah’s praying for the drought to end. The Bible says, “Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. ‘Go and LOOK toward the sea,’ he told his servant. And he went up and LOOKED. ‘There is nothing there,’ he said. Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back.’ The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’ So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab (the king), ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” (vss. 42-44) It hadn’t rained for three years, but Elijah saw that little cloud as EVIDENCE that, “It’s Coming!” Do you have enough faith in God to see a LITTLE sign and know that something BIG is coming?! Elijah didn’t need to see the rain, he saw the sign, the evidence found in a LITTLE cloud no bigger than a man’s fist, and yet he spoke by faith, “…Hitch up your chariot and go down BEFORE THE RAIN STOPS YOU.” Not only did he know it would rain, but he knew the down pour of rain would be BIG enough to stop a chariot! Do you have faith in God like that?

The Message Bible reads, “… Meanwhile, Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bowed deeply in prayer, his face between his knees. Then he said to his young servant, “On your feet now! LOOK toward the sea.” He went, LOOKED, and reported back, “I DON’T SEE A THING.” “KEEP LOOKING,” said Elijah, “seven times if necessary.”And sure enough, the seventh time he said, “Oh yes, a cloud! But VERY SMALL, no bigger than someone’s hand, rising out of the sea.” “Quickly then, on your way. Tell Ahab, ‘Saddle up and get down from the mountain before the rain stops you.’”Things happened fast! The sky grew black with wind-driven clouds, and then a huge cloudburst of rain, with Ahab hightailing it in his chariot for Jezreel. And God strengthened Elijah mightily. Pulling up his robe and tying it around his waist, Elijah ran in front of Ahab’s chariot until they reached Jezreel.” (MSG) It may have been a three year wait, but once God answers prayer, “…THINGS CAN HAPPEN FAST…”! I need you to believe that wholeheartedly!

Elijah kind of reminds me of Pastor Gerard’s guide and driver there in that African game park. His eyes are wide open, LOOKING for and expecting some early sign of the major work God was about to do. Pastor Gerard saw a LITTLE BRANCH, but the one with the trained eye said, “GET READY FOR AN ELEPHANT!”

Elijah’s servant saw a LITTLE CLOUD, but Elijah, with his trained eye for God at work, said, “GET READY FOR A DELUGE!” The word ‘deluge’ is defined as: ‘A SEVERE FLOOD OR VERY HEAVY FALL OF RAIN; A GREAT QUANTITY OF SOMETHING ARRIVING AT THE SAME TIME; TO OVERWHELM.’ Its Old French Origin, from Latin ‘diluvium’, from ‘diluere’ literally means ‘TO WASH AWAY!’ In other words, when the flood comes it will wipe out of its path everything that was there before it came. Anything DRY will be replaced with a DOWNFALL! And likewise, it will happen just like that for you! When your ‘deluge’ of expected and well anticipated blessings comes, it will remove the discouragement, the fear, the lack, want and need, it will wipe away the tears and replace them with a smile! All of your sadness will have to flee as you’ll have to make way for your unspeakable joy to arrive! After all, as long as you’ve prayed for this; as long as you’ve waited and expected this; as long as you’ve walked by faith waiting for this to manifest itself; shouldn’t it arrive in a BIG way?! Blessings That Will Literally Chase You Down; Run You Over; and Overwhelm Your Entire Life Are On The Way And All You Have to Do is Keep Your Faith and Prayers Intact! Note: GET READY IT’S ABOUT TO RAIN! The Next BIG Blessing Coming Into Your Life is Going to Be a Deluge! It’s Going to be VERY HEAVY, OF GREAT QUANTITY, ARRIVING AT THE SAME TIME TO OVERWHELM YOU! I Reiterate, Get Ready!

“God is Getting You Ready for What He’s Already Got Ready for You!” (Bishop James R. Chambers)

You have to have faith! You have to SEE beyond what you SEE! You have to look for the LITTLE sign, before you see the BIG showing! Which means you’ll have to look past the bank accounts, bills, tuition, mortgage, loans, car insurance, debt, health crisis, marriage and parental crisis, struggling church, loneliness, hurt, despair, rejection, abandonment…you can’t focus on that stuff because if you do, you’ll miss seeing your LITTLE sign of something BIG! So you’ll also have to get out of your own feelings. Don’t allow your emotions to cause you to have a distorted view of the great things God is about to make happen just for you! Shift your focus from anger, depression, rage, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, and the need to seek revenge. All of those things act as a cataract and glaucoma, blocking and blinding you from seeing the LITTLE signs of something BIG!

So often, we are so focused on the BIG “elephant” we’re praying for, that we miss the LITTLE branch in the road signaling us that it’s about to appear! We want that BIG thing from God – sometimes so much, that we miss the LITTLE things He is doing on the way to the BIG thing. Great faith includes the ability to look for and recognize the trail of God in your life; to be able to track the signs of what God is doing.

Isaiah 43:16-21, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! DON’T YOU SEE IT?” (MSG) Saints, If You Don’t See It Yet, KEEPING LOOKING UNTIL YOU SEE IT!

Habakkuk 2:2-3, “And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming – it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.” (MSG)

That’s your encouragement for today, Walk By Faith, Wait and Watch! It will happen, right on time! The problem for us though occurs when we’ve been walking by faith so long the soles of our faith feet are worn; we’ve waited so long, we’re trying to hold on to that last grain of sand in the hourglass; and we’ve watched so long, that our eyes need a 3 month supply of Visine, they’re so tired! And still I say, Walk, Wait and Watch!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are SMALL POTATOES compared to the coming good times, the LAVISH CELEBRATION prepared for us. THERE’S FAR MORE HERE THAN MEETS THE EYE. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (MSG)

You Are Not Giving Up! Keep Your Vision in View in the Spirit, No Matter What You See in the Natural That’s Attempting to Block You! What’s coming is so much BIGGER and BETTER than what’s been!

Which is why I encourage you to open your eyes today for the wonderful things God is already doing around you – the little cloud that will enlarge your faith to expect the big rain, the little buds that will fuel your faith to expect the glory of spring after the winter has ended…even if the weather remains cold. You see, no matter what the weather forecast predicts, it can’t change the fact that a season has changed! Look at it like this: one year, we had snow in March and snow in April, and still that couldn’t change the fact that the season had changed! Winter’s attempts to hold on can only hold on but so long, like it or not, the season has changed! You see, March 20th, was officially Spring. But if you had looked at the weather reports, there was still more snow to come in that Spring. But did that stop Spring from appearing on the calendar as the New Season? Absolutely Not! And there’s nothing going on in your life that can hinder the change of season in your life either! God can move in your life even with the eviction or foreclosure notice and layoff looming overhead! He can never be hindered by the elements He created and controls.

“So, even when it looks like nothing is happening, remember, God is Still at Work!” (Bishop James R. Chambers).

He’s orchestrating things in your favor, so you have nothing to fear! Your Season of LITTLE Has Passed, You are Now in the Season of BIG!

A lot of times we are unnecessarily discouraged and disheartened because we don’t see the tracks of God that are all over our day. A good friend of mine likes to call them “God sightings“. It may not be very large or not very dramatic, but there’s God again, working in your life. Your marriage isn’t perfect, but you’re still married; your children have gone astray, but they were trained in the ways of God, and will find their way back; your job hasn’t granted you the promotion and increase yet, but you’re still employed; your car isn’t brand new, but it gets you from A-Z and back, and during a cold season like this, there are quite a bit of people jealous of your little hunk-a-junk; you may not be healed yet, but neither are you dead yet! These are “God sightings”, you just have to look for them, and you’ll see them! In fact, the more you look for them, the more you see of them!

Don’t be discouraged while you walk by faith, wait, and watch, God will not disappoint you!

In Psalm 5:3, David says, “In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” The test of whether you have really trusted God in your prayer is whether or not you are expectant after you say “amen”. Always keep your anticipation and expectation high!

Right now, right where you are, there are little signs of God at work; the “little branch” that says the “BIG ELEPHANT” is ahead. Before God shows you the big things up ahead, He wants you to see Him in the little things that are right in front of you! You didn’t come this far, to only come this far. So even when you don’t see the blessing…YET…KEEP LOOKING! Don’t lose your focus or your faith! God is about to do something BIG on your behalf, you just have to wait a LITTLE while longer for it!

In the Meantime…KEEP LOOKING UNTIL YOU SEE IT!

Romans 4:17, “As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations. [He was appointed our father] in the sight of God in Whom he believed, WHO GIVES LIFE TO THE DEAD AND SPEAKS OF THE NONEXISTENT THINGS THAT [HE HAS FORETOLD AND PROMISED] AS IF THEY [ALREADY] EXISTED.” (AMPC)

Hebrews 10:38, “But My righteous one [the one justified by faith] shall live by faith…” (AMP)

Romans 1:17, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed in a way that awakens more faith]. As it is written and forever remains written, “The just and upright shall live by faith.” (AMP)

Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.” (AMP)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Anxiety About Money and How to Find Relief”

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“Overcoming the Fear of…WHAT IF?”

Proverbs 15:15, “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].” ( AMP).

The word “foreboding” is defined as “fearful apprehension.” The word “apprehension” means “fearful anticipation.” And “anticipation” means “to look forward to; to be aware of (a future event) and prepare for it.” How sad to say that far too often, we as believers, find ourselves foreboding. We walk around with a ‘fearful apprehension, anticipating and looking forward to future events that we’ve already deemed unfavorable for us, and then we even go so far as to prepare for the absolute worst scenario (which however, rarely happens).’ Reminds me of the quote: “Most of the things you worry about NEVER happen.” (Author Unknown).

Which is why I rather follow the advice of Joseph Hall, he quoted, “He that taketh his own cares upon himself loads himself in vain with an uneasy burden. I will cast all my cares on God; He hath bidden me; they cannot burden Him.” Sounds a lot like Scripture to me! “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” (1 Peter 5:7 AMP) The word “cast” has several definitions, however, the one I love most means “to assign, allocate, discard, and shed.” Furthermore, the word “Assign” means to “transfer to someone else”. Its Latin Origin “assignare”, from “signare” literally means “to sign”. And who has officially signed His name to your cares? Just one name, JESUS! “…By the name of JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. JESUS is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; NO OTHER NAME HAS BEEN OR WILL BE GIVEN TO US BY WHICH WE CAN BE SAVED, ONLY THIS ONE.” (Acts 4:8-12 MSG). JESUS has the Authority by His Name to Carry Any Concerns or Cares You Cast On Him! So Why Are You Still Carrying Them?! In addition, that word “shed” means to “allow to fall off; to discard; to get rid of; to take off; to cast or give off; to separate, to divide; to scatter.” With that said, what I love most about ‘shedding’ is that we can learn a lot about it from animals. Think about it: Have you ever seen a cat or dog gather up and save the fur it ‘sheds’, so it can keep it and reapply it later? Absolutely not! Just the thought of it sounds silly, and so does the fact that you keep reapplying what God keeps ‘shedding’ from your life!

Listen, When You Give it to God, Don’t Be an Indian-Giver as They Use to Say When I Was a Kid! Don’t Give it to Him, Then Take it Back! That’s Stealing! Remember: He Has Officially Signed His Name to Your Cares, They Now Legally Belong to Him! Therefore, Why Do You Keep Stealing Them Back?!

Lastly, the word “cast” is defined as “a bandage stiffened with plaster, molded to support and protect a broken limb.” How amazing, when you “cast” it protects until it heals! So what are you going to do today? Cast Your Cares On God, for He Will Protect You From Them as You Heal!

“For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” (Proverbs 15:15 NLT)

The word “despondent” is defined as “to be in low spirits from loss of hope or courage.” Its Latin Origin “despondere” literally means “to give up and abandon.And isn’t that what we do when life becomes too much? We get low in our spirit, we lose hope and courage, and eventually give up and abandon our faith as faulty.

Listen to this: An old sea captain once asked a naval student how he’d handle a sudden storm. “I’d throw out an anchor, sir,” he replied. “But WHAT IF another storm approached?” asked the captain. “Then I’d throw out another anchor,” he said. “And WHAT IF storms just kept coming?” the old man asked. “I’d keep throwing out anchors,” said the student. “Hold on, son,” said the captain, “where are you getting all those anchors?” “From the same place you keep getting all those storms, sir,” came the reply!

Can you imagine if we would become so convinced, fully persuaded, and secure in our faith, that despite the ferocious storms of life, we simply keep ourselves anchored in God? Let’s take a peek into a stormy situation with the Apostle Paul, The Bible reads, “We came under the lee of the small island named Clauda, and managed to get a lifeboat ready and reef the sails. But rocky shoals prevented us from getting close. We only managed to avoid them by throwing out drift ANCHORS…On the fourteenth night, adrift somewhere on the Adriatic Sea, at about midnight the sailors sensed that we were approaching land. Sounding, they measured a depth of 120 feet, and shortly after that ninety feet. Afraid that we were about to run aground, they threw out four ANCHORS and prayed for daylight.” (Acts 27:16-17; 27-29 MSG). I love the fact that Paul and the crew, continuously threw out Anchors! And when the storms of life rage in your life you need to make sure you remain Anchored in God the same way!

Now before you go and physically buy a million Anchors as a symbol of strength and encouragement in God, let me finish the story about Paul’s storm! The Bible says, “At daybreak, no one recognized the land—but then they did notice a bay with a nice beach. They decided to try to run the ship up on the beach. They cut the ANCHORS, loosed the tiller, raised the sail, and ran before the wind toward the beach. BUT WE DIDN’T MAKE IT. STILL FAR FROM SHORE, WE HIT A REEF AND THE SHIP BEGAN TO BREAK UP.” (Acts 27:39-41 MSG). Now I know you must be thinking, “What kind of encouragement is that?!” “I get the anchors and still end up shipwrecked?” LOL! Yep! But don’t lose hope just yet, read on, “…Paul…gave orders for anyone who could swim to dive in and go for it, and for the rest to grab a plank. Everyone made it to shore safely.” (Acts 27:42-44 MSG). You see, you can quote all the Scriptures in your Bible Vocabulary, you can have mountain moving faith, be anchored in God and still sink the ship! However, don’t miss the blessing, the Bible yet says, “…EVERYONE MADE IT TO SHORE SAFELY.” It was uncomfortable, it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t the desired way for this to work out. YET, they survived the storm and made it out safely! Listen: No matter how severe the storm, always remain anchored in God (no foreboding, no despondency, no loss of hope, faith and courage). Just cast it all on God, anchor your faith and trust in Him and His plan and purpose, then watch Him bring you through and bring you out safely on the other side of it all! Your hair may not be perfect, your makeup will not be flawless, you will not want to sing all the encouraging hymns, you will not want to run, jump, dance or praise, but you will make it out and be grateful, despite what the storm did to your looks!!!

Let’s go a little further: When you’re in the thick of things, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the storm that’s raging inside you and start listening to the “WHAT IF’S”. Can we be honest? “WHAT IF the check doesn’t come on time…WHAT IF the stock loses value…WHAT IF my mate walks out…WHAT IF the job closes down…WHAT IF the scholarship doesn’t come through…WHAT IF I can’t afford this house or this car…WHAT IF the test results are bad…WHAT IF COVID-19 gets worse instead of better?” The list is endless! And because Satan knows that “…fear hath torment…” (1 John 4:18), he’ll keep pouring on the WHAT IF’S endlessly!

You see, if he can’t get you puffed up through pride, he’ll try to bring you down through fear! It’s one of his best tools! However, you don’t have to allow his tools to work on you! Paul says, “Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].” (Ephesians 4:27 AMP) That word “foothold” is defined as “a place where a person’s foot can be lodged to support them securely.” However, the second definition is the one I want to highlight, it means “a secure position from which further progress may be made.” Do you not understand that the enemy doesn’t need to come in and invade your entire life? All he needs is an entryway. Just a small space big enough to put his foot, so he can step in your life and instead of you trampling him underfoot, he now has the opportunity, invite and advantage to trample you!

Don’t let fear win! Satan will use fear to torment you, but God has a tool of His own, and His works much better! Listen to 1 John 4:18…again…in full: “There is NO FEAR in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love TURNS FEAR OUT OF DOORS AND EXPELS EVERY TRACE OF TERROR! For FEAR BRINGS WITH IT THE THOUGHT OF PUNISHMENT, AND [SO] HE WHO IS AFRAID HAS NOT REACHED THE FULL MATURITY OF LOVE [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection.]” (AMP). You see, the WORK OF PERFECT LOVE IS STRONGER THEN THE TOOL OF FEAR! And you my friend are indeed PERFECTLY AND GREATLY LOVED! “For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “For God so GREATLY LOVED and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” (AMP).

Another Scripture I love is Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” However, I love The Message Bible translation: “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him.” (MSG)

Another of my favorites is, John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.The Amplified Bible says it like this: “No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.” (AMP)

You Need Not Allow Satan to Torment You With Fear, Not When You Are So Greatly and Perfectly Loved By God! Rest On That and Sleep Well Tonight, Because His Love is a Very Peaceful Pillow!

In addition, you should Always Remember Jesus’ Words: “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” (John 14:27 AMP). Likewise, Remember our opening text, Proverbs 15:15, “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], BUT he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].” (AMP). You are not to operate out of fear, forebodings, despondency, intimidation, or anxious thoughts, but you are to have “…a glad heart…[REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES].” That word “Circumstance” is defined as “unforeseen events outside one’s control.” And as scary as that may be for you, there are a few Scriptures that should bring you immediate comfort as soon as you start to allow circumstances to scare you:

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

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

Psalm 139:1-16, “God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you;even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there,then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in! Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” MSG);

Hebrews 13:5, “…be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (AMP)

If That Doesn’t Comfort You, Regardless of  Your Current Circumstances, Nothing Else Will!

Another note on the word “Circumstance”, Its Latin Origin “Circumstantia”, from “Circumstare” literally means “Encircle (to surround) or Encompass (to surround and have or hold within)”. I know circumstances can make you feel just like that, Completely Surrounded With No Way Out! However, For the Believer, There’s Safety, Even When You’re Surrounded!The Lord’s people may suffer a lot, but He will ALWAYS bring them SAFELY through.” (Psalm 34:19 CEV).

Not to mention another of my favorites. I like to call it my 91 for my 911, Listen to the Call: Psalm 91,You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, You’re my refuge. I trust in You and I’m SAFE!” That’s right—He rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you—under them you’re PERFECTLY SAFE; His arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left,no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered His angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.“If you’ll hold on to Me for dear life,” says God,“I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust Me. Call Me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” (MSG).

People of God, I know Circumstances can be draining, and Life’s Storms can be overwhelming, however, you are so perfectly and greatly loved by God that He’s given you Word on top of Word on top of Word of His Promises to You that He’s Got You! So, no fear, no worry, no fret, no torment, no foreboding, no despondency. Just faith, hope, courage and reliance on God! Stop letting the “What If’s” beat you down, and instead turn the tables and beat them down not with “WHAT”….but with “WHO”! Remember: JESUS has officially and legally signed His name to all your cares, concerns and even to your What If’s! They belong to Him, they are no longer your property! So no more stealing and no more trespassing! Let God’s Hands Handle It!

“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. IF HE SAID IT, HE’LL DO IT!” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 MSG)

“Fear can paralyze us and keep us from believing God and stepping out in faith. The devil loves a fearful Christian.” (Billy Graham)

“Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

“A perfect faith would lift us absolutely above fear.” (George Macdonald)

“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” (Author Unknown)

“Never let fear drown the dreams God placed in your heart for He will make those dreams come true.” (Author Unknown)

“Outside the Will of God, there’s nothing I want. Inside the Will of God there’s nothing I fear.” (A.W. Tozer)

“I’m not afraid of the devil. He can’t handle the One to whom I’m joined.” (A.W. Tozer)

“Unbelief is based in fear. Belief is a necessity for God to operate and function in your life.” (Creflo A. Dollar)

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)

“With the power of God within us, we need never fear the powers around us.” (Woodrow Kroll)

“We fear men so much, because we fear God so little.” (William Gurnall)

“I will not fear, for You are with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” (Thomas Merton)

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” (Francis Chan)

“The only God-ordained fear is the fear of God, and if we fear Him, we don’t have to fear anyone or anything else.” (Mark Batterson)

“Fear of the devil is nonsense. Fear of demons is foolish. The Spirit of God anointing the Christian heart makes the soul impregnable to the powers of darkness.” (John G. Lake)

“Meet your fear with faith.” (Max Lucado)

“There is no greater terror than the fear of death. But, as a Christian, you are learning to die daily. Thus, when the actual time comes for your spirit to leave your body, you will have already gained the victory over its sting.” (Alicia A. Willis)

“The phrase ‘do not be afraid’ is written in the Bible 365 times. That’s a daily reminder from God to live every day being fearless.” (Author Unknown)

“Your limits are liars. Your fears are thieves.” (Robin Sharma)

“The enemy will try to use fear to paralyze the anointing from activating in your life. Confidence does not tolerate fear. Your past is irrelevant to God, He is concerned about your future.” (Bill Winston)

“Fear tolerated is faith contaminated.” (Kenneth M. Copeland)

“There is no room for fear. You have the Almighty God with you and on your side.” (Lisa Osteen Comes)

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. (Author Unknown)

“The one place where the Christian can be naked without fear is in the Presence of Christ.” (R.C. Sproul)

“God created you on purpose, for a purpose – and He never wants fear of the unexpected to hold you back.” (Author Unknown)

“Fear is born of Satan.” (AB Simpson)

“Replace your Fear of What If with Faith in I Am.” (Author Unknown)

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” (Robert M. Mccheyne)

“Choose faith instead of fear and life will become a lot more fun.” (Dave Willis)

“Fear God and your enemies will fear you.” (Benjamin Franklin)

“Your excuses are just the lies your fears have told you.” (Robin Sharma)

“Can you imagine a life with no fear? What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats?” (Max Lucado)

Mark 5:36, “Overhearing what was being said, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; only keep on believing [in Me and my power].” (AMP)

Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord [on the authority of His word], and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.” (AMP)

Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe.” (AMP)

Romans 8:14-15, “For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [the Spirit producing sonship] by which we [joyfully] cry, “Abba! Father!” (AMP)

Isaiah 44:2, “This is what the Lord who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you says, ‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And Jeshurun (Israel, the upright one) whom I have chosen.” (AMP)

Isaiah 41:10, “‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’” (AMP)

Isaiah 41:13, “For I the Lord your God keep hold of your right hand; [I am the Lord], Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” (AMP)

Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—Whom shall I dread?” (AMP)

Psalm 118:6, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can [mere] man do to me?” (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)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How Long Does it Take to Lose Weight and Keep it Off? A Nutritionist Explains”

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“Binding the Strong Man”

Mark 3:27, “But no one can go into a strong man’s house and steal his property UNLESS HE FIRST overpowers and ties up the strong man, and then he will ransack and rob his house.” (AMP)

The Message Bible reads like this, “The religion scholars from Jerusalem came down spreading rumors that he was working black magic, using devil tricks to impress them with spiritual power. Jesus confronted their slander with a story: “Does it make sense to send a devil to catch a devil, to use Satan to get rid of Satan? A constantly squabbling family disintegrates. If Satan were fighting Satan, there soon wouldn’t be any Satan left. Do you think it’s possible in broad daylight to enter the house of an awake, able-bodied man, and walk off with his possessions UNLESS YOU TIE HIM UP FIRST? Tie him up, though, and you can clean him out.” (Mark 3:22-27 MSG)

I have always been a fan of movies that make you think. For instance movies like “The Negotiator” with Samuel L. Jackson or “The Inside Man” or “John Q” with Denzel Washington.  Movies about negotiating and releasing people (without harm) from their captors. As a student of psychology (I love everything to do with the study of the mind), which is what I think adds to my love and fascination of such movies. To see how people respond under stress, in crisis, and how the mind balances, ever so quickly, with ‘what to do next’, especially when we’ve run out of plan a-z options.

The word “negotiator” is defined as “a person who discusses a problem with the aim of achieving agreement between different people or groups of people; to deal or bargain with another or others, as in the preparation of a treaty or contract or in preliminaries to a business deal; to conduct; to transact; to find a way through, around, or over in a satisfactory manner; to transfer; to extend a promissory note”. Its Latin Origin “negotiari” literally means “to do in the course of business” And as believers (children of God) we are to be about our Father’s business, and His business is that of saving souls. Which puts us directly in the role of the “negotiator” for the lives of those held in bondage and hostage in the hands of the enemy (Satan). In truth, we have the same charge as Jesus:

Isaiah 61, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me To bring good news to the humble and afflicted; he has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, TO PROCLAIM RELEASE [FROM CONFINEMENT AND CONDEMNATION] TO THE [PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL] CAPTIVES AND FREEDOM TO PRISONERS To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance and retribution of our God, To comfort all who mourn, To grant to those who mourn in Zion the following: To give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning], The oil of joy instead of mourning, The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit. So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God], The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up and restore the former desolations; And they will renew the ruined cities, The desolations (deserted settlements) of many generations. Strangers will stand and feed your flocks, And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. But you shall be called the priests of the Lord; People will speak of you as the ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, And you will boast of their riches. Instead of your [former] shame you will have a double portion; And instead of humiliation your people will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore in their land they will possess double [what they had forfeited]; Everlasting joy will be theirs. For I, the Lord, love justice; hate robbery with a burnt offering. And I will faithfully reward them, And make an everlasting covenant with them. Then their offspring will be known among the nations, And their descendants among the peoples. All who see them [in their prosperity] will recognize and acknowledge them That they are the people whom the Lord has blessed. I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has covered me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom puts on a turban, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, So the Lord God will [most certainly] cause righteousness and justice and praise To spring up before all the nations [through the power of His word].” (MSG)

This is our responsibility! A portion of it says, “…TO PROCLAIM RELEASE [FROM CONFINEMENT AND CONDEMNATION] TO THE [PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL] CAPTIVES AND FREEDOM TO PRISONERS…” Are you paying attention church? We are to get Freedom for the Prisoners. And who are the “prisoners”? In one word they are “hostages”. I guess I’d call it one of the ugly words of our time – that word hostage. We’ve all seen our share of hostage situations haven’t we? Some are even right here in the United States. When someone has taken a hostage or several hostages, the first thing they do is they bring in the hostage negotiating team and they do their very best to use their psychology and human relations to talk that person into releasing their hostages safely.

Sometimes the person will give up and the hostages go free. But often the negotiations fail, and then it can get a little more violent. Well, when that happens, in come the highly trained commando units, the SWAT teams, and if necessary they’ll shoot the hostage taker, because that’s the only way the hostages can be saved. Now, can you imagine just rushing in there to rescue the hostages without first dealing with the one who is holding them? Believe it or not, but we do it all the time.

Look at Mark chapter 3, beginning at verse 26. Here’s what Jesus says, “If Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions UNLESS he first ties up the strong man. THEN he can rob his house.Jesus says here that it’s necessary, if we’re going to take people back from the strong man, and we know from the context that strong man is Satan, that we first have to tie him up – to bind him to deal with this hostage taker. See, unlike humans, you don’t negotiate with the Devil out of his hostages. You don’t shoot the Devil, but you tie his hands. That’s Jesus’ strategy.

With that said, you need to section off your teams, evangelists, and according to their gifts/anointing/skill-set, you need to figure out who your negotiators are, and who your SWAT team will be. Because just like most hostages, negotiations often go but so far, and have a tendency to fail. Which is why you need your SWAT team in place before the negotiators ever go forth. You need to have SWAT in place to do whatever it takes to take down the strong-man who has a firm grip on the captives that you’ve been commanded to set free!

You see, some of Satan’s “possessions” are some people you know and some you don’t. Does it matter? Absolutely not. Our responsibility is: “…TO PROCLAIM RELEASE [FROM CONFINEMENT AND CONDEMNATION] TO THE [PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL] CAPTIVES AND FREEDOM TO PRISONERS…” And that includes our parents; children; mates; siblings; colleagues; coworkers; friends; family; business partners. And even the pimp; prostitute; alcoholic; drug addict; and homosexual. That includes men; women; boys; girls; black; white; Hispanic; Asian; wealthy; homeless; professors; uneducated; in the city and in the field; up North and down South. They ALL need to be set free!

However, the SWAT team is very different than the negotiators that go in first. The SWAT team has no interest in talking, negotiating, making deals or bargains. Their only focus is ‘how do we take down the hostage taker?’ The SWAT team isn’t on the phone with the hostage taker and ask no questions about what are their demands and if they want pizza in the meantime. No, the SWAT team is getting strategically in place to take out the hostage taker!

Meaning, the SWAT team is more aggressive than the negotiating team. And truth is, I know that you’ve prayed for those “hostages” in your life. You want to have them freed. You talk to them sometimes about the Lord; you worry about them. But so often we miss what Jesus said is the first step – tying up the one who is holding the hostages! And despite what most churches think, you can’t neutralize the Devil with a program, or a committee, or words, or a task force, or marches, or demonstrations. There’s more to outreach and evangelism than handing out tracts. There’s more than standing at the altar, waiting for the call to be made, so you can hold hands with someone and have a 2 minute prayer that you’re under the impression will take them out of the bondage they’ve been in for the last 2 decades. Listen: The Scripture gives us clear instructions in Mark 3:27 (let’s look at a few translations):

“But no one can go into a strong man’s house and steal his property UNLESS HE FIRST OVERPOWERS AND TIES UP THE STRONG MAN, and then he will ransack and rob his house.” (AMP);

“But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, UNLESS HE FIRST BINDS THE STRONG MAN. Then indeed he may plunder his house.” (ESV);

“Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? ONLY SOMEONE EVEN STRONGER—SOMEONE WHO COULD TIE HIM UP and then plunder his house” (NLT);

One of the “…FIRST…” things the SWAT team has to do is “…OVERPOWER; TIE UP AND BIND…” the hostage taker! This must be done “…FIRST…”!

The word “first” is defined as “coming before all others in time or order; before anything else; foremost in position, rank or importance; highest; chief; preference; precedence.

The word “bind” is defined as “to tie or fasten tightly together; to restrain by tying hands and feet; to wrap or encircle tightly; to hamper or constrain.

The word “tie” is defined as “to attach or fasten; to restrict; confine; limit; to prevent escape or movement.

And SWAT team this is our charge! To FIRST, TIE AND BIND THE STRONG MAN! This is what we do FIRST (before anything else; this is our highest; chief; foremost important, preferred method of operation!) And why is that? Because when we FIRST, TIE AND BIND the strong man, what we’re strategically doing is restraining him, which is (‘to keep under control or within limits; to deprive of freedom or movement or personal liberty’. Its Latin Origin literally means “to tie back”); we’re hampering him, which is (‘to hinder or impede the movement or progress of’); we’re constraining him, which is to (‘severely restrict the activity of; Its Old French Origin “constraindre”, from Latin ‘constringere’ literally means “to bind tightly together”); we’re restricting him, which is to (‘put a limit on; keep under control; deprive of freedom of movement or action’. Its Latin Origin literally means ‘to tie back’); we’re confining him, which is to (‘set limits or boundaries; to make unable to leave; restricted due to handicap or because of becoming disabled; limiting’. Its Latin Origin ‘confinis’ means ‘bordering’ and ‘finis’ which means ‘end or limit’); and most importantly, we’re preventing his escape or movement to do any more damage! This is what happens to the strong man when we first tie and bind him! Which clearly makes it easier to free the hostages! After all, what can he then do?!

But how do we tie and bind the strong man? He is bound by prayer. And I don’t mean, “Now I lay me down to sleep” or “Bless the missionaries” kind of prayers. This is prayer that aims all the majestic power of Jesus Christ at the enemy who is holding the lives we care about.

Mark 9:29, “He answered, “There is no way to get rid of this kind of demon EXCEPT BY PRAYER.” (MSG); Matthew 17:21, “But this kind does not go out EXCEPT BY PRAYER AND FASTING.” (AMPC)

James 5:16, “Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and PRAY [also] for one another, that you may be HEALED AND RESTORED [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. THE EARNEST (HEARTFELT, CONTINUED) PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN MAKES TREMENDOUS POWER AVAILABLE [DYNAMIC IN ITS WORKING].” (AMPC)

Then the book of Revelation goes on to say, “…THEY OVERCAME HIM BY THE WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY AND BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB.” (Revelation 12:11) Another powerful weapon is our Testimony, but no weapon is as powerful as the Blood of the Lamb! We need to make sure we’re covered by the Blood, then Plead the Blood against the enemy!

And even if you dare doubt that we are well equipped to tie and bind the strong man after all of that, make sure you read Ephesians 6:10-19! Because it’s not that we’re ill-equipped, it’s that we keep forgetting to get dressed properly!

Ephesians 6:10-18, “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. And don’t forget to pray for me. Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I, jailbird preacher that I am, am responsible for getting out.” (MSG)

That’s the weapons you are to wield! This is to be your daily wardrobe if you are to win in warfare! So how have you been dressing for battle lately?!

And yet, even with that, the Scripture that blessed me the most is still Luke 10:19, “Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over ALL THE POWER THAT THE ENEMY [POSSESSES]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.” (AMPC) Remember Mark 3:27? … In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house AND CARRY OFF HIS POSSESSIONS unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.” But Luke 10:19 states, “Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] OVER ALL THE POWER THAT THE ENEMY [POSSESSES]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.” (AMPC)

SWAT team we can gear up and go in? Why? Because with the authority and power that Jesus has given unto us “…OVER ALL THE POWER THAT THE ENEMY [POSSESSES]…”, when we TIE and BIND the Strong Man, we can “…CARRY OFF HIS POSSESSIONS…”

Like Pharaoh, By the Time We’re Done With the Enemy, He Will Gladly Loose Our Hostages and Let Them Go! Exodus 12:31-36, “Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “GET UP, GET OUT FROM AMONG MY PEOPLE, both you and the Israelites; and GO, serve the Lord, as you said.  Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and GO, and [ask your God to] bless me also.” The Egyptians [ANXIOUSLY] URGED the people [to leave], to send them out of the land QUICKLY, for they said, “We will all be dead.”  So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their clothes on their shoulders. Now the Israelites had acted in accordance with the word of Moses; and they had asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing.  The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they gave them what they asked. And so they PLUNDERED the Egyptians [of those things].” (AMP) Sounds a lot like Mark 3:27, But no one can go into a strong man’s house and ransack his household goods right and left and seize them as PLUNDER unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may [thoroughly] PLUNDER his house.” (AMPC).

That word ‘plunder’ means ‘to enter in and take by force!’

Listen, once you follow the directives of Jesus’ strategy for taking down the hostage taker, you’ll be amazed at how fast the strongman wants you to take your stuff (and his) and leave! And if you follow through all the way you won’t leave anywhere near empty handed, just ask Israel!

BUT! You can’t just go running in to try to bring them out! You’ve got to DO FIRST THINGS FIRST! Deal with the one who is holding the hostages. And what’s the best way to deal with him besides prayer, fasting, the Word of God, being equipped in the armor of God, your testimony, the blood of the Lamb, and having the authority and power of Jesus? It’s using that wonderful name…JESUS! Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation].” (AMP) The Message Bible reads like this: “With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: “Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I’ll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, ONLY THIS ONE.”(Acts 4:8-12 MSG)

Philippians 2:10, “So when the name of Jesus is spoken, everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow down before Him.” (NLV).  It says in Mark 3:11, “And whenever those possessed by demons caught sight of Him they would fall down before Him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” (TLB) They didn’t even fight. They just fell down, and so will the enemies you face!

Saints, when the Devil is confronted with the presence, and the power, and the name of Jesus Christ, he surrenders and the hostages can go free!

SWAT team, it’s time to weaken the strong man, plunder his house and set the captives free! You’ve been given the weapons and the strategy, now put them to work, there are far too many hostages who are still bound waiting for you to go to battle on their behalf!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Checkups and Tests, You Shouldn’t Miss”

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“Effective Leaders Follow Jesus”

1 Peter 2:21, “For even to this were you called [it is inseparable from your vocation]. For Christ also suffered for you, leaving you [His personal] example, so that YOU SHOULD FOLLOW IN HIS FOOTSTEPS” (AMP)

People of God, if you are to have a Successful Christian Walk, you Must learn to Follow in the Footsteps of Jesus!

Observe 5 of His Footsteps:

1) HE NEVER ACTED IN HASTE: Jesus never made decisions in response to the pressure tactics of others! Saint Francis de Sales gives us some good advice: “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.Skilled negotiators know that Waiting is a Weapon! Whoever is the most hurried usually ends up with the short end of the stick! Waiting reveals the weakness in any plan, plus the motives of those around you! Your greatest mistakes will often happen because of impatience, so you should always think long term! “Indeed it is better to postpone, lest either we complete too little by hurrying, or wander too long in completing it.” (Tertullian). Take time to think things all the way through! Don’t marry them, purchase that, move there, try it, attend there, accept that etc…without taking the time to weigh your options and design a blueprint that will eventually become a building made on rock…Not sand! Building on rock takes longer and more sweat, but at least it won’t be swept away with the sand of speed!These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are FOUNDATIONAL words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.(Matthew 7:24-28 MSG). Leaders, don’t make haste! Take your time and pace yourself in all things! It will always be worth the wait!

“Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste.” (Benjamin Franklin); “Haste is of the Devil.” (St. Jerome); “Never make permanent decisions on temporary feelings.” (Author Unknown); “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” (Lao Tzu)

2) JESUS KNEW WHEN TO WORK AND WHEN TO REST: In the storm on the Sea of Galilee the disciples sweated, But Jesus Slept. In the Garden of Gethsemane the disciples slept, But Jesus Sweated. That’s because he knew when to work and when to rest!Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.” (Brian Tracy). Knowing when to act and when to trust, what to give your attention to and what to leave in God’s hands, is a secret you must learn if you’re to do God’s Will and not burn out!It is impossible to get exhausted in work for God. We get exhausted because we try to do God’s work in our own way.” (Oswald Chambers). Listen: Absolutely Nobody was busier than Jesus! Everybody wanted something from Him! The Bible reads: “When Jesus had completed these teachings, He left Galilee and crossed the region of Judea on the other side of the Jordan. Great crowds followed Him there, and He healed them.” (Matthew 19:2 MSG). Understand that the more successful you are, in the work of the Lord, the more people will reach out for you! BUT, never let it go to your head! Even Jesus knew how to pull away from the crowd, with their applause, confidence in His gifts and ministry, all of the acclaim etc…none of it mattered! When it was necessary, Jesus separated Himself in order to receive! He understood that you can’t give what you don’t have! See, when the living waters that flow out of you quench the thirst of the peoples spirit, they will pull on you until you pour even more, even to the point of your own personal, spiritual dehydration! But following in the footsteps of Jesus gives you simple wisdom to follow: Work means Giving; Rest means Receiving! It’s essential that you know when to apply each! Jesus understood the balance; that’s why He accomplished so much in three short years! When you’re rested you think more clearly, you make better decisions, you see life through confident eyes, you accomplish more in less time, and what you build is built to last! But it requires balance! So stop your frantic rush! Following in the footsteps of Jesus means being Led, not Driven or Dragged! Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

“Life is all about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back, and do nothing.” (Lori Deschene); “Balance is to never let success go to your head, or failure to your heart.” (Author Unknown); “A healthy life is a good balance between holding on and letting go.” (Author Unknown); “Life is about balance. Be kind, but don’t allow people to abuse you. Trust, but don’t be deceived. Be content, but never stop improving yourself.” (Author Unknown).

3) JESUS KNEW HE DIDN’T HAVE TO PROVE HIMSELF: At the cross, skeptics, “…passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!” (Matthew 27:40 MSG). His Reaction? He refused to let their comments intimidate Him or alter His plans! HE DIDN’T NEED THEIR APPROVAL; He already had the only one that mattered, HIS FATHER’S!Then a voice from heaven said, “This is My Own Dear Son, and I Am Pleased With Him.” (Matthew 3:17 CEV). Many of us are accomplishing so little, because we’re expecting so much from the Wrong People! You do not have to prove you’re gifted, talented, anointed, or called! When you’ve been Approved By God, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO PROVE TO PEOPLE!And those whom He thus foreordained, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified (acquitted, made righteous, putting them into right standing with Himself). And those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity and condition or state of being].(Romans 8:30 AMP). I believe Galatians 1:10-12 says it best: “Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ.” (MSG) The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Am I now trying to win the favor and approval of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please someone? If I were still trying to be popular with men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I want you to know, believers, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel [it is not a human invention, patterned after any human concept]. For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a [direct] revelation of Jesus Christ.” (AMP) Friends, YOU DON’T NEED PEOPLE’S APPROVAL! JESUS DIDN’T NEED IT, AND NEITHER DO YOU!

“Life is too short to waste time waiting for other people’s approval on how you live it.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli); “If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection.” (Lecrae); “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” (Steve Jobs); “When you are your own best friend, you don’t endlessly seek out relationships, friendships, and validation from the wrong sources because you realize that the only approval and validation you need is your own.” (Mandy Hale); “I do not need your approval, that’s for insecure people.” (Author Unknown); “Don’t seek to be a people pleaser. Don’t compromise what you know is right in your heart to gain the approval of others. The only approval you need is God’s and you already have that.” (Joyce Meyer); “Never trade your authenticity for approval.” (Author Unknown); “A truly confident person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep.” (Vernon Howard); “When you do not seek or need external approval, you are at your most powerful.” (Author Unknown)

4) JESUS DIDN’T WASTE TIME ANSWERING HIS CRITICS: The Bible says: “But when the accusations rained down hot and heavy from the High Priests and Religious Leaders, HE SAID NOTHING. Pilate asked Him, “Do You hear that long list of accusations? Aren’t You going to say something?” JESUS KEPT SILENCE—NOT A WORD FROM HIS MOUTH. The governor was impressed, really impressed.” (Matthew 27:14 MSG). Jesus responded to hunger, to need, to healing, to seekers, BUT NOT TO PEOPLE TRYING TO TRAP HIM! Simply Put: YOU OWE NOTHING TO A CRITIC!Speak not in the ears of a [self-confident] fool, for he will despise the [godly] Wisdom of your words.” (Proverbs 23:9 AMP). Leaders, you have far too much preaching, teaching, praying, exhorting, interceding, counseling and the like to do, to waste your words on critics! Sometimes, saying Nothing, is saying Everything!

“Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember the only taste of success some people get, is taking a bite out of you.” (Zig Ziglar); “If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success.” (Malcom X); “Let go of the people who dull your shine, poison your spirit, and bring you drama. Cancel your subscription to their issues.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli); “Often the people that criticize your life are usually the same people that don’t know the price you paid to get where you are today.” (Author Unknown); “If you are never criticized, you may not be doing much that makes a difference.” (Author Unknown); “Don’t let compliments get to your head; and don’t let criticism get to your heart.” (Author Unknown); “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” (John Wooden); “Criticism can bother you, but you should be more bothered if there’s no criticism. That means you’re too safe.” (Kanye West); “The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment.” (Elbert Hubbard); “Pay more attention to your Creator than your critics.” (Author Unknown)

5) JESUS DIDN’T FOCUS ON THE PAST, BUT THE FUTURE: His mother was pregnant with Him before she was married. Only a few people knew the truth. Jesus grew up with this stigma, and Yet He didn’t feel the need to explain it! Therefore, stop complaining that your family was poor, or talking about your limited education, or repeating stories of those who failed you, or advertising your pain, or meditating on your flaws! All of us are challenged in some way or other! So, “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? …” (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG). Satan discusses our yesterdays; apparently that’s the only information he has about us! But Jesus, on the other hand, discusses our tomorrows (despite knowing our past)! So if you want to follow in His footsteps, focus on what’s ahead, not what’s behind! “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (Philippians 3:12-14 MSG). YOUR FUTURE IS BEFORE YOU…NOT BEHIND YOU! FOCUS FORWARD!

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” (Author Unknown); “The past is a nice place to visit but certainly not a good place to live.” (Author Unknown); “Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you’ve ever imagined.” (Author Unknown); “The past cannot be changed, the future is yet in your power.” (Author Unknown); “Being stuck in the past is like walking forward with your back facing the front. You’ll always miss out on what’s in front of you.” (Author Unknown); “Let go of the past, but hold onto the lessons it taught you.” (Author Unknown); “If you want to fly on the sky, you need to leave the earth. If you want to move forward, you need to let go of the past that drags you down.” (Amit Ray); “When your past calls don’t answer. It has nothing new to say.” (Author Unknown); “Don’t judge me by my past, I don’t live there anymore.” (Author Unknown)

Sadly enough, in this day and age of the church, people are so busy following people that no one is following God! And if you are to be an effective man or woman of God you must learn how to mature your walk in God, by following God, not just other men/women of God! You need to set the standard for yourself, family and ministry, and that cannot be accomplished by simply imitating Bishop Lollypop, Pastor Cadillac, Elder Pulpit, and Minister It’s My Time! You have to follow Jesus! Even Paul in his greatness still admonished, “follow me…AS I FOLLOW CHRIST…” There’s nothing wrong with following effective people in God, but be careful that you don’t follow them by fascination of becoming them or like them. The only Person you need to groom yourself after is the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember that the next time you find that your walk is going astray, it may be that you’re following the wrong leading! FOLLOW IN HIS FOOTSTEPS!

“This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, STEP-BY-STEP. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:21-25 MSG)

“Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life, not death. FOLLOW ME. Pursue life.” (Matthew 8:22 MSG)

“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come FOLLOW ME.” (Matthew 19:21 MSG)

“Jesus was curt: “Are you ready to rough it? We’re not staying in the best inns, you know.” Jesus said to another, “FOLLOW ME.” (Luke 9:58 MSG)

“If any of you wants to serve me, then FOLLOW ME. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.” (John 12:26 MSG)

“Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. FOLLOW ME and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Matthew 16:24-26 MSG)

“The road that leads to heaven is risky, lonely, and costly in this world, and few are willing to pay the price. Following Jesus involves losing your life and finding new life in Him.” (David Platt)

“Jesus didn’t invite us to become theologians or Bible scholars. He didn’t call us to become more religious. He didn’t ask us to join a club or a political action committee. He asked us to follow Him.” (Marc Alan Schelske)

“Following Jesus Christ isn’t an easy road, but it’s the only road worth following.” (Author Unknown)

“Following Jesus means taking up one’s own cross to accompany Him on His path, an uncomfortable path that is not one of success or earthly glory, but which leads to true freedom, the freedom from selfishness and sin.” (Pope Francis)

“Jesus is not looking for fans, He’s looking for followers.” (Tony Evans)

“Lukewarm people call ‘radical’ what Jesus expected of all His followers.” (Francis Chan)

“Following Jesus isn’t about trying every day. It’s about dying every day.” (Kyle Idleman)

“My prayer is that people will see that following Jesus costs you everything you are and everything you have. And my prayer is that people will see that Jesus is worth it.” (David Platt)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “20 Stress Relieving Foods to Try if You’re Feeling Anxious”

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“Guard the Word God Gave You!”

Mark 4:15, “These [in the first group] are the ones along the road where the Word is sown; but when they hear, SATAN IMMEDIATELY comes and takes away the Word which has been sown in them.” (AMP)

When you come from a military family, you learn quite a bit about military lingo. And one of the terms I learned was “beachhead”. Now, since we’re not all military types, it’s probably good to explain what a beachhead is before we talk about one. A beachhead is not where the beach begins (yeah, that’s what I thought it was, so what, don’t laugh!). And for further clarity, it’s also not a guy who just thinks about getting to the beach all the time!

You see, in wartime, a beachhead is pretty serious business! It’s a small piece of ground that you try to take as your first step in taking all the ground that your enemy holds! The dictionary defines it as “a fortified position on a beach taken by landing forces.”

For example, during WWII, two of the world’s greatest generals went against each other when the Allies set out to take North Africa back from the Germans. General Dwight Eisenhower, the commander of the Allied forces, planned to land and take three important beachheads. German general Rommel, the famous “Desert Fox“, basically said, “We must stop Eisenhower within 48 hours of his landing or we won’t stop him.” Needless to say, they didn’t stop him. And five months after Eisenhower successfully captured that first beachhead, Rommel had to flee and surrender everything, including 250,000 soldiers. And he lost it all at that first beachhead!

Satan, the commander of hell’s forces, is determined to stop you from ever becoming what Jesus died for you to be! And like any smart general, he knows he has to stop you at that first beachhead, before you grow and gain any more ground. His strategy is revealed in Mark 4:15. “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. AS SOON AS they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Let’s look at this Scripture in a few translations:

“The ones along the path are those who have the Word sown [in their hearts], but when they hear, SATAN COMES AT ONCE AND [BY FORCE] takes away the message which is sown in them.” (AMPC);

“This is the meaning of the seed that fell on the path: When the word is scattered and people hear it, RIGHT AWAY SATAN COMES and steals the word that was planted in them.” (CEB);

“The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But SATAN SOON COMES and snatches it away from them.” (CEV);

“And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, SATAN IMMEDIATELY COMES and takes away the word that is sown in them.” (ESV);

“The hard pathway, where some of the seed fell, represents the hard hearts of some of those who hear God’s message; SATAN COMES AT ONCE to try to make them forget it.” (TLB);

“The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. NO SOONER DO THEY HEAR THE WORD THAN SATAN SNATCHES away what has been planted in them.” (MSG);

“Sometimes the teaching falls on the road. This is like the people who hear the teaching of God, but SATAN QUICKLY COMES and takes away the teaching that was planted in them.” (NCV)

Listen to what Satan does WHEN YOU HEAR A WORD FROM THE LORD: “AT ONCE AND BY FORCE… RIGHT AWAY SATAN COMES… SATAN SOON COMES… SATAN IMMEDIATELY COMES… SATAN COMES AT ONCE… NO SOONER DO THEY HEAR THE WORD THAN SATAN SNATCHES… SATAN QUICKLY COMES…”

Here’s what happens: God’s Word has landed in your heart. You’re starting to gain some ground spiritually, so hell has been notified and your enemy is alarmed. He comes immediately to try to take away the ground you just gained through God’s Word. This is what causes us to become discouraged so quickly. Because as soon as God gives us a Word, Satan goes to War! God speaks healing, and here comes Satan with another symptom; God speaks wealth, and here comes Satan with an unexpected bill; God speaks promotion, and here comes Satan with a layoff; God speaks a new home, and here comes Satan with a leaky roof; God speaks opportunity, and here comes Satan with obstacles; God speaks calm, and here comes Satan with chaos; God speaks anniversary, and here comes Satan with divorce papers! And he doesn’t drag his feet either, the Bible says, “at once, by force, right away, immediately, no sooner than, quickly, and as soon as” the Word is Sown, here comes Satan with his Shovel!

It’s important to understand that Satan doesn’t want you to gain any more ground!

Remember the beachhead, is “a fortified position on a beach taken by landing forces.” It’s important to know that the beachhead isn’t vulnerable, it is fortified! And the word “fortified” is defined as, “to provide with defensive works as protection against attack.” Its Latin Origin “fortificare,” from “fortis” literally means “strong.” So, General Eisenhower wasn’t landing on a ground that wasn’t protected! It was guarded, just not well enough to stop him from taking it. Which is why Rommel said, “We must stop Eisenhower within 48 hours of his landing or we won’t stop him.Rommel knew Eisenhower was coming, and knew that he was coming to take their ground, their land, their territory, and their beachhead. And he obviously knew how strategic and strong Eisenhower’s troops were, because he immediately tells his own,We must stop Eisenhower within 48 hours of his landing or we won’t stop him.” And surely you recall how this attack ended from the opening statement: “…five months after Eisenhower successfully captured that first beachhead, Rommel had to flee and surrender everything, including 250,000 soldiers.” And he lost it all at that first beachhead!

Because Rommel didn’t stop Eisenhower, he had to flee, and surrender everything, including his soldiers!

Listen: If you don’t Guard the Word God has given you, Satan will come in IMMEDIATELY, and fight to steal it! And in the end, you will be the one fleeing, and surrendering everything, including those attached to you!

In other words, by no means is Satan playing games, in fact, he’s playing for keeps! “The thief’s PURPOSE is to STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY…” (John 10:10 NLT) Nothing about that sounds like child’s play! Which is why it’s so vital that you take the enemy seriously! He has a Purpose just as much as you do! And if you let him, he will fulfill his, leaving you to forfeit yours!

Which may help explain why things have suddenly gotten so tough for you, why things are going wrong, maybe why you don’t have the spiritual enthusiasm you did before. Your logical reaction is, “I’ve been really trying to do what God wants, so what’s wrong here?” The answer is, “‘Nothing’s wrong! It’s because something’s right!

You have a beachhead (‘a promise’; ‘a word from God’) and the enemy is worried and ready to attack because he can’t let you have that ground, then gain more! So suddenly he’s interested in you. He didn’t have to bother you when you weren’t a threat. He didn’t bother you when you stopped fasting, became lazy in reading/studying the Word, started slacking in your prayer/devotion time with God, when you stopped going to Sunday School, and started making excuses for skipping Bible Study. The enemy didn’t think 2 cents about you. You didn’t even appear on his radar, in fact he may have said something like this: “But the evil spirit retorted, “I know and recognize and acknowledge Jesus, and I know about Paul, BUT AS FOR YOU, WHO ARE YOU?” (Acts 19:15 AMP)

The enemy doesn’t bother those who don’t bother him! If you’re not reading the Word, in prayer, fasting, obeying the commandments, fellow-shipping with your brothers and sisters in Christ, walking in the Spirit, being directed and guided by the Holy Ghost, what does he want with you? After all, what can you do to attack his kingdom, when you aren’t armed with any of the weaponry of the Kingdom yourself!?

However, for those who have made the decision to LAY ASIDE AND GET RID OF their bad habits, attitudes and addictions (Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (UNNECESSARY WEIGHT) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,” (AMPC); those who have decided to REIGNITE THE FIRE in their gifts, prayer and devotion time (2 Timothy 1:6, “That is why I would remind you to stir up (REKINDLE THE EMBERS OF, FAN THE FLAME OF, AND KEEP BURNING) the [gracious] gift of God, [THE INNER FIRE] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination].” (AMPC); (1 Thessalonians 5:17, “BE UNCEASING IN PRAYER [PRAYING PERSEVERINGLY]” (AMPC); (1 Timothy 2:10, “But by doing good deeds (deeds in themselves good and for the good and advantage of those contacted by them), as befits women who profess reverential fear for and DEVOTION TO GOD.” (AMPC); those spending more time with God, the saints, and in the sanctuary; those hearing from God and following the directives of the Holy Ghost, the enemy is screaming from hell, “READY, AIM, FIRE!”

And by no means should that terrify you, in fact, it ought to excite you, that you’re finally on the enemies hit list! It’s not because of what you’ve done wrong, it’s because you’ve finally got it right!

So now he’s got to get himself in position to make it hard for you! He’s got to stop your forward progress fast or there’s no telling how much ground he’s going to lose! He has to stop you before you start interceding for folks, laying hands on people, speaking in tongues, binding the works of the flesh. He’s got to stop you before you start pleading the blood of Jesus over your family; before you start anointing your children. He’s got to stop you before you start speaking those things that be not as though they were. He’s got to stop you before your hope is renewed and your faith is revived. He’s got to stop you before you start believing that God meant just what He said concerning you. He’s got to stop you before you start dreaming again. He’s got to stop you before you stop living in the past and start seeing yourself in a great future. He’s got to stop you from walking with God, before you gain more ground!

Satan gets busy whenever God has made a major landing in your life. Maybe you’ve recently made a new surrender of your life to Jesus or you’ve said yes to His call on your life. You’ve stepped up to leadership. Could it be that you’ve begun a new work for the Lord? Made a new commitment to be the marriage partner or the parent you should be, to give more to the Lord’s work, to live by new priorities? Guess what? If so, alarm bells are going off in hell!

But don’t get discouraged. Don’t go back to the old ways. This is just your old enemy trying to stop this progress while it’s new and fragile. If you keep going this way, your enemy’s going to lose big time and he knows it. So step up and launch a Biblical counterattack. In the words of James 4:7, “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

Remember, Rommel’s beachhead was guarded, just not well enough to stop Eisenhower’s attack! Which is why you have to be sure you guard well your beachhead (‘your promise/your Word from God’). And how do you do that? By doing your part and allowing God to do His. What I love about James 4:7 is that when I come near to God, He comes near to me. And what greater protection can your beachhead possibly have than to have the Presence of the Lord near? Look at it like this: If there was a thief across the street from you, but you were surrounded by 20 of the NYPD’s finest, armed, locked and loaded…how scared would you really be of that thief? You would probably stand there in full confidence saying, “what you waiting for? Come on over here, in fact, I double-dog dare you!” And why are you able to say that? Because you are heavily guarded and protected! And just so you know that’s not just an illustration, but it’s the truth!

Psalm 91: “You who sit down in the High God’s presence,spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.I trust in you and I’M SAFE!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you—under them you’re PERFECTLY SAFE;his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness,not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around,drop like flies right and left,no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand UNTOUCHED, watch it all from a distance,watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge,the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you,harm can’t get through the door. HE ORDERED HIS ANGELS TO GUARD YOU WHEREVER YOU GO. If you stumble, they’ll catch you;their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk UNHARMED among lions and snakes,and kick young lions and serpents from the path.“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,“I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the BEST OF CARE if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life,give you a long drink of salvation!” (MSG)

That’s the security you have when you come near to God and He comes near to you! Not only is He your refuge keeping you safe, but He’s also Ordered (not asked) His angels to guard you wherever you go! Remember this the next time God gives you a Word. Protect it by remaining in the Presence of God. Knowing that His angels are with you, guarding you, keeping you safe, wherever you go. That’s how you protect your beachhead (‘your promise/your Word from God’). Don’t just let the devil take your property! Fight for it, guard it, and stay as close to God as you can!

Don’t get all excited about the Word from God, and forget to Guard it! Remember the enemy is ready to steal, kill and destroy, and that includes you and the Word of Promise given to you. Don’t let him get it! He’s ready and alert, now make sure you are too!

1 Peter 5:8-11, “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” (MSG) Stay Alert, The Devil Is Poised To Pounce! The Danger for us as believers in becoming lazy, is that the devil never is! He’s Poised to Pounce! He’s in Position to Attack, are you?!

Charles Spurgeon said, “The greatest sign of God’s will and God’s power is the Devil’s growl.” If you’re hearing the “growl” you’re probably on the right track! The battle for the beachhead… it might be raging around you or even in you right now. Hold your ground, soldier! You’re not losing or the enemy wouldn’t bother with you. You’re on your way to some of the greatest victories of your life! Protect Your Word, Protect Your Promise! He’s Only Getting Worse, Because You’re Getting Better! It will be a fight to the finish, but one you will finish and win! Keep your armor on, and fight the good fight of faith!

You’ll Gain More Ground If You Keep the Devil Under Your Feet!

1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of the faith [in the conflict with evil]; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and [for which] you made the good confession [of faith] in the presence of many witnesses.” (AMP)

Psalm 144:1, “Praise and thanks be to the Lord, my rock. He makes my hands ready for war, and my fingers for battle.” (NLV)

2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man.  The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ” (AMP)

1 John 4:4, “Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind].” (AMP)

Therefore, Soldiers in the Lord’s Army, Put Your Warfare Clothes On, Go to Battle and Guard the Word God Gave You!

Ephesians 6:10-18, “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (MSG)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “20 Things You Should Throw Away for Better Health”

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“Just Do It!”

“But his mother told the servants, “DO whatever He tells you to.” (John 2:5 TLB)

Do you need a miracle? Then reread the story of Jesus turning water into wine. And while you’re at it, keep in mind what Mary said to the servants at the wedding reception: “…Whatever He says to you, DO IT.” (AMP)

Which means:

1.. DO IT EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE NOT IN THE ‘RIGHT PLACE’: They were at a wedding, not a church, when Jesus performed this miracle. “Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee…” (John 2:1 MSG) Believe it or not, but some of our greatest blessings will occur at “places” other than the ones we’re used to, accustomed to, or expect. We simply have to learn how to be sensitive and obedient to a move of God in unfamiliar places. We expect to come to church and hear testimonies of the goodness of God. But do you know God works miracles outside of the four walls of the church? As hard as it may be for you to grasp, but God is saving souls behind prison walls, He’s giving job opportunities to those with no degree, He’s healing in the hospice, He’s providing shelter for those who last night slept under the bridge, He’s feeding those who just spent their last food-stamp. God is not restrained, restricted, limited or held captive, hostage or in bondage by our menial expectations of Him or His ability. Do you know that you don’t have to be in church, at the altar, or listening to gospel in order to experience a move of God? Understand that your limited location can’t limit a limitless God! He can heal at the gas station, provide while you’re in the beauty salon, make a way while you’re stuck in traffic, pay a bill while you’re applying for unemployment. You’re God Is Able! And you don’t have to be in the right circles, or in the proper location in order for Him to do it! So the next time you need a miracle from God, call on Him, no matter where you are! He can hear you from the basketball court; in the hospital; at the Medicaid/Medicare office; at the mechanic shop; waiting for the bus; standing in line at the supermarket; waiting for customer service at the bank; or even sitting on a swing in the park! He Hears You, He Sees You, And He Will Indeed Meet Your Every Need…No Matter the Address Your Need Shows Up At! Philippians 4:19, “And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) YOUR EVERY NEED according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (AMPC) Think about it: If He can show up and help the three Hebrew boys in a fire; Jonah in the belly of a fish; a bleeding woman in a crowd; or a paralytic coming down through the roof, surely He can show up anywhere you are, don’t you think? The Bible encourages us like this: “She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, “YOU’RE THE GOD WHO SEES ME! “YES! HE SAW ME; AND THEN I SAW HIM!” (Genesis 16:13 MSG); “God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’M NEVER OUT OF YOUR SIGHT. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too – your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful – I can’t take it all in!” (Psalm 139:1-6 MSG). My friend, God can meet you ANYWHERE simply because He’s EVERYWHERE!  

2.. DO IT EVEN THOUGH YOU’VE GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS: They’d run out of wine for their guests. Embarrassing! However, truth be told, far too often our problems drive us away from Jesus instead of to Him! Listen: If you really want to empty out a church house just let the church folks encounter a problem in life! Money dwindles down, we stop going to church; the doctor gives us a diagnosis, we stop going to church; the car breaks down (as if there is absolutely no other means of getting to church), you guessed it, we stop going to church; we break up in a relationship, we stop going to church; we lose a job, we stop going to church; we’re evicted, we stop going to church; our big toe hurts, and we stop going to church! BUT, if God is as powerful as He says, and we believe, then why would we want to go away from Him instead of to Him? For instance, if my car breaks down, I don’t want to leave the mechanic and go to the pharmacy! What help can I possibly get from there besides an aspirin to get rid of the headache my broke down car just gave me! Please hear me when I say this to you, your praise cannot go on pause because of your problems, neither can your worship water down because of your worries! Those are in fact the ideal times to seek God’s direction, wisdom and answers! Can you imagine if our children had a problem with a school assignment and instead of taking it to the teacher they decided to bring it home to the dog?! Sounds comical, but when we face problems in life that’s exactly what we do, we take our problems to people who cannot solve or resolve them, instead of taking them straight to God, the ultimate problem solver! There’s nothing too hard for Him, nothing impossible for Him, and nothing His hands cannot handle! Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?” (AMPC); Genesis 18:14, “Is anything too hard or too wonderful for the Lord? At the appointed time, when the season [for her delivery] comes around, I will return to you and Sarah shall have borne a son.” (AMPC) Luke 18:27, “But He said, What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (AMPC) So the next time you’re in need of a miracle, don’t take your problems to others, and surely do not keep them to yourself, take them to God! Miracles begin when we focus on God’s power, instead of our problems! The Bible declares: “If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, THEN TRUST THE LORD COMPLETELY; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” (Proverbs 3:4-6 TLB)

3.. DO IT EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE NOT BEING ENCOURAGED: When Mary turned to Jesus for help, He tested her faith saying, “Woman, why do you involve me?…” My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4 NIV). The Message Bible is a bit more colorful of course, “Jesus said, “Is that any of our business, Mother – yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.” (MSG); And even The Living Bible has an interesting way of putting this verse: “…Jesus’ mother came to Him with the problem. “I can’t help you now,” He said. “It isn’t yet My time for miracles.” (TLB). However, even in the face of what seemed like discouragement, Mary still passed the test! Instead of being disheartened in the face of what looked helpless and hopeless, Mary yet laid hold of the possibility of a miracle, believed God and received one! Because regardless of Jesus’ words “…It isn’t yet My time for miracles”, the very next verse says “BUT his mother told the servants, “Do whatever He tells you to.” (vs. 5) And what happens next? “Six stone waterpots were standing there; they were used for Jewish ceremonial purposes and held perhaps twenty to thirty gallons each. THEN JESUS TOLD THE SERVANTS to fill them to the brim with water…” (vss. 6-8 TLB). How interesting. We went from “…It isn’t yet My time for miracles…” to “…Jesus told the servants…” When you know without a shadow of doubt that God is ABLE, you don’t allow anything or anyone to hinder or alter your belief! Mary never discussed a thing with Jesus, no crying, no complaining, no murmuring, no “but I’m your mama!” She simply gave the servants the only instructions that matter when there’s a problem and Jesus is present, “…DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU TO.” And that’s the attitude you have to learn to take on. Even if no one asks you how are you doing? How are you getting by? Do you need anything? Do you want to talk about it? Is there anything I can do for you? You must maintain your inner encouragement! You must learn to be your own Barnabas! Acts 4:36 says, “Now Joseph, a Levite and native of Cyprus who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles, which interpreted means Son of Encouragement,” (AMPC) And not only was Barnabas a Son of Encouragement, but David was a King of Self-Encouragement: The Bible says, “David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. BUT DAVID ENCOURAGED AND STRENGTHENED HIMSELF IN THE LORD HIS GOD.” (1 Samuel 30:6 AMP). Learn how to do this for yourself! Even when the odds are against you! Stay in the ring and keep on fighting even when there’s no crowd cheering you on and no one in your corner to wipe your blood, sweat and tears. Believe God is Able, because He is, and I assure you, that will be all the encouragement you need!

4.. DO IT EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVEN’T WALKED WITH CHRIST VERY LONG: The servants who obeyed Jesus had just met Him! And His disciples had just started following Him! YET, they were ALL EXPECTED to obey Him! So are you! The church has gotten so high and mighty with titles, positions, offices, elevations, degrees, and the like that we’ve lost the childlike simplicity of faith in God. You don’t need all the proper vestments and to be seated in the right chair, you simply need to follow the voice of the Lord and obey it. I don’t care if you just walked off the street and all you know is the name of Jesus, truth is, that is all you need to know! The Bible says, “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did – Jesus crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2 MSG); “For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14 MSG). Whether you’ve been with Jesus 20 seconds, 20 minutes, 20 hours, 20 days, 20 months, or 20 years, the key is simple, childlike faith. Believe God and Obey Him! Let nothing and no one complicate the simplicity of faith! These servants and disciples believed and obeyed Him with the least of information about Him. You know that He saves, heals, delivers, performs miracles and He’s still alive and well, that’s enough! Don’t let go of that!

5.. DO IT EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVEN’T YET SEEN HIM WORK MIRACLES IN YOUR LIFE: This was Jesus’ FIRST MIRACLE! They had to obey Him without the faith that comes from a previous track record! That’s challenging! But I understand it! My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. The problem for us, the family, was, we had no point of reference for this! On both sides of the family there’s hypertension, diabetes, heart disease etc…but breast cancer? That was just as foreign to us as talking to us in Russian! We’ve seen Him regulate their hearts, blood pressure and even diabetes, but we had no point of reference for what He could do with breast cancer! So, we were all in a new place of trusting God for something we couldn’t even trace! Is that hard? Absolutely! Preacher or not, I will not tell you that was an easy faith walk for me! I’ve seen God heal people of cancer before, but this was different, this was MY Mama! And this was an area unfamiliar to my faith! Likewise, you may be facing some things in your life where you’re looking at it like, “where the heck did that come from? When did that start? Who has that? What do we do with that? That nut is not on our family tree?” And yet I admonish you, trust God anyhow! Yes, there will be times when even the treatment seems like it’s working against your condition, but trust God still. He knows what He’s doing. And whether He decides to bring you out of it, or leave you in it, and prove His ability still, trust Him. Your testimony, whether you come out or stay in, will ultimately strengthen your faith, and those around watching you! Romans 8:37, “Nay, IN ALL THESE THINGS we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (KJV) God doesn’t have to bring you OUT to bless you, He can bless you even while you’re still IN it!

6.. DO IT EVEN THOUGH YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS: Why pour water into empty containers, when your problem is not water but wine? Answer: Give Jesus what you’ve got and He’ll give you back what you need! Believe me, like you, I’ve had Jesus to tell me to do some things that made absolutely no sense whatsoever! I just couldn’t grasp His required instructions. I mean think about it like this: In regards to tithing, God says give Me 10%, you keep 90%, and because you gave Me the 10%, I’m going to open the windows of heaven and increase your 90%! WHAT?! Jesus, what kind of math is this?! Reminds me of when my daughters would come home with math homework with numbers, letters, symbols and the like all in the same problem and go “mommy can you help me with this?Uhhh NO! It looked like something to crack a code to hack into governments files! Who thought this math made sense! And so it feels the same when we try to make sense out of God’s process. But always remember this: He Has Never Asked Us to Understand the Process, Only to Obey It! Thank you Jesus! Because if my children were left dependent on me to help them with their math homework, they would currently be the oldest children in elementary school! Sounds comical, but I promise you it’s the truth! But you know what really encourages me when I don’t understand the process? Jeremiah 18:1-4, “God told Jeremiah, “Up on your feet! Go to the potter’s house. When you get there, I’ll tell you what I have to say.” So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot.” (MSG). Even when things don’t turn out as well as we feel they should, the blessing is that the Potter keeps His foot on the wheel, and doesn’t throw away or discard the clay, but remolds and remakes it into something else. Do we need to know how? Absolutely not! All we need to know is that when it turns out bad, the Potter’s foot is still on the wheel, making it good again! Romans 8:26-28, “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (MSG) No Matter How BAD It Gets, the Potter Can Always Remake It For Our GOOD! So, don’t worry about the Potter or the Process, just remain Yielded Clay that He can work with!

In a Nutshell: When You’re In Need of a Miracle, Just Do What He Tells You To!

“To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust Him in the dark – that is faith.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“Pray, then let it go. Don’t try and manipulate or force the outcome. Just trust God to open the right doors at the right time.” (Author Unknown)

“Faith is trusting God even when you don’t understand His plan.” (Author Unknown)

“The more you believe and trust God, the more limitless your possibilities become for your family, your career, your life.” (Rick Warren)

“God said that everything would work out, not that everything would make sense. Trust Him!” (Author Unknown)

“Everything will work out in the end. You don’t need to know how. You just have to trust God and believe that it will.” (Author Unknown)

“Those who leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything.” (Author Unknown)

“Trust in God’s timing. It’s better to wait a while and have things fall into place, than to rush and have things fall apart.” (Author Unknown)

“Trust God and Believe in good things to come.” (Jeffrey R. Holland)

“Trust God, and do the next thing.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Trust God in the dark until the light returns.” (Aiden Wilson Tozer)

“Faith is about trusting God even when you have unanswered questions.” (Joel Osteen)

“When we trust God more than our feelings, it confuses the devil. I mean, when he throws you his best shot and he can’t budge you from believing God, he won’t know what to do with you anymore.” (Joyce Meyer)

“I believe that a trusting attitude and a patient attitude go hand in hand. You see, when you let go and learn to trust God, it releases joy in your life. And when you trust God, you’re able to be more patient. Patience is not just about waiting for something – it’s about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting.” (Joyce Meyer)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How to Help an Overweight Teen?”

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“Two Keys That Unlock EVERYTHING!”

Genesis 9:1-3, God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fertile, multiply, and fill the earth. All of the animals on the earth will fear you and dread you – all the birds in the skies, everything crawling on the ground, and all of the sea’s fish. They are in your power. Everything that lives and moves will be your food. Just as I gave you the green grasses, I NOW GIVE YOU EVERYTHING” (CEB).

If you want to get what Noah got, observe two things about his life that will teach you how to unlock God’s EVERYTHING for you:

KEY #1: HE HONORED GOD: “By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God.” (Hebrews 11:7 MSG). Noah had NEVER seen rain, nor had anyone else! In addition, Noah lived a hundred miles from the nearest ocean! Therefore, even if he could learn to build an ark, how would he get it to the water?! And how about rounding up all those animals? UGH! Listen: Growing up we always had dogs, but we only had one at a time! And even with just One Dog, trying to get him in the house or in the yard sometimes was an all-day event! So, I can’t even wrap my brain around what Noah had to do! Truthfully speaking, if it was me, I would’ve been sitting there in full negotiation mode with God…Seriously! Listen God, I’ll get the animals, but can I just get “some animals?” I mean do I necessarily have to get “Specific Kinds“ of animals, and to add more burden to my back, do I really have to also pair them up?! God this really sounds like unnecessary excess…don’t You think?! See, that’s why I’m Shermaine and HE WAS NOAH! And before You think this was just a small assignment, listen to Noah’s task: “I’m going to bring a flood on the Earth that will destroy everything alive under Heaven. Total destruction. “But I’m going to establish a covenant with you: You’ll board the ship, and your sons, your wife and your sons’ wives will come on board with you. You are also to take two of each living creature, a male and a female, on board the ship, to preserve their lives with you: two of every species of bird, mammal, and reptile – two of EVERYTHING so as to preserve their lives along with yours. Also get all the FOOD you’ll need and store it up for you AND THEM.” (Genesis 6:17-21 MSG) Okay, did you catch all of that?! First off, that’s a lot of relatives to gather in the first place! Laugh if you will, but have you seen the chaos that breaks out when we have to get families together for an event?! Lord have mercy! I promise you I would’ve boarded that ark leaving behind at least 2 siblings, 4 cousins, 6 nieces and nephews 8 aunts and uncles, and 10 in laws…not to mention a spouse and at least 1 kid! Judge me all you like! I Promise You I Would Not Have Made Out As Good As Noah! And then if that wasn’t enough, God tells him to be Specific, “Get Two of Everything”…Seriously God, Two of EVERYTHING?! And then you have to look at the animals carefully, because you have to make sure you have a “male and female“, I would’ve certainly been upset if I had to be the one to check for that in each animal! In my Kevin Hart voice, “PINEAPPLES!” But then God goes even further to make sure he got two of “Every Species“! What?! Do you know how many “Species” of “Each AnimalThat Is?! And then to add insult to injury, I now have to get all the food that me, my relatives and ALL the animals will need to sustain us for this entire journey! Me and my husband are empty nester’s now. All six of our children are adults and all live on their own. So, grocery shopping has changed dramatically over the years since it’s now only food shopping for the two of us. And even with that small task, there are still times I dread having to go to the supermarket for just two people! And yet, Noah honored and obeyed God’s instructions and went food shopping for all his relatives, himself and all the animals! Let’s just say I don’t think me and God would’ve been on the best of speaking terms after that supermarket shopping ordeal! However, Noah, with all that his task required of him, HONORED GOD! Even though for a hundred and twenty years he was a complete and utter laughingstock in the land! Noah, yet Honored God! And because he Honored God, God Honored Him! People of God, I know this was somewhat comical, but truth is, that is my prayer for you! That you will live as People of God, Who Honor Their God, No Matter the Task They Receive From Their God! After all, NONE OF US will ever receive a greater and harder and sacrificially painful task as Jesus, and yet, He also honored and obeyed the Father! Isaiah 53: “Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this? The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. He was beaten, he was tortured,but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off—and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true. STILL, IT’S WHAT GOD HAD IN MIND ALL ALONG, TO CRUSH HIM WITH PAIN. THE PLAN WAS THAT HE GIVE HIMSELF AS AN OFFERING FOR SIN SO THAT HE’D SEE LIFE COME FROM IT-Life, life, and more life. And God’s PLAN will deeply prosper through him. Out of that terrible travail of soul, HE’LL SEE THAT IT’S WORTH IT AND BE GLAD HE DID IT. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,”as he himself carries the burden of their sins. THEREFORE, I’LL REWARD HIM EXTRAVAGANTLY—THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, THE HIGHEST HONORS—BECAUSE HE LOOKED DEATH IN THE FACE AND DIDN’T FLINCH, BECAUSE HE EMBRACED THE COMPANY OF THE LOWEST. HE TOOK ON HIS OWN SHOULDERS THE SIN OF THE MANY, HE TOOK UP THE CAUSE OF ALL THE BLACK SHEEP.” (MSG) Church, whatever God assigns to your hands that will Preserve Your Posterity, Do It! No matter how ridiculous, no matter how silly, no matter how time consuming, no matter how painful or even life threatening, Do It! For When You Honor Your Father, Your Father Will Honor His Children! Jesus and Noah are Full Proof of This!

KEY #2: HE OBEYED GOD: “So Noah did EVERYTHING EXACTLY as God had commanded him” (Genesis 6:22 NLT). Saints, understanding can wait; Obedience Can’t! Instant Obedience will teach you more about God than a lifetime of Bible discussions. In fact, there are many of God’s commandments you won’t understand until you first obey them! And is there really a blessing of grace and favor when you obey God? Sure is, listen, when Noah emerged from the ark after the flood, the Bible says this,God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fertile, multiply, and fill the earth. All of the animals on the earth will fear you and dread you – all the birds in the skies, everything crawling on the ground, and all of the sea’s fish. They are in your power. Everything that lives and moves will be your food. Just as I gave you the green grasses, I NOW GIVE YOU EVERYTHING” (Genesis 9:1-3 CEB). The first thing God does in response to Noah’s Honoring and Obeying him was to BLESS HIM! That’s your motivation! God has a blessing that is released as soon as you embrace His commandments with obedience! And what I also found to be an interesting point, the Scripture says, “God blessed Noah AND HIS SONS…” Now, if you’re anything like me (and God help you if you are), the first thing to come to mind is: “What are they being blessed for? They didn’t do anything…I did!But God loves us so, that when we Honor and Obey Him, He Grants Us Generational Blessings That Are Poured On the Entirety of Our Posterity! The word ‘posterity’ is defined as, ‘all future generations of people.’ Its Old French origin, ‘posterite’, from Latin ‘posterus’, literally means, ‘following’. Honor and Obedience means so much to God, that He’s not satisfied to just bless US, but He blesses all of our future generations, every single seed that will follow us! That’s the best inheritance besides salvation and eternal life! When have you ever heard of a better life insurance policy?! Listen, Parents, Your Sons and Daughters Are Blessed Because Of Your Honor and Obedience! You see, With God, your reward will ALWAYS be Greater than your Obedience! So, never compromise what you’ve been called to do! Truth is, sometimes we try “Partial Obedience”: We say things like, “I’ll attend church, but won’t tithe. I’ll read my Bible, but I won’t forgive the person who hurt me”. But: “Partial Obedience”, IS FULL DISOBEDIENCE! The word “Partial” literally means “Incomplete”. Which is why I find it interesting that we always want God to Completely Bless Us While We Incompletely Obey Him! However, Our God is a God of “Completion”: The Bible says, “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) God Completes Us So We Can Complete What He’s Given To Us and that Can Only Be Done In Complete Obedience! The Bible says, “You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of OBEDIENCE as well as by what he believes]” (James 2:24 AMP). Your faith and belief are not enough! God is looking for your…WORKS OF OBEDIENCE AS WELL AS BY WHAT YOU BELIEVENoah had a job to do for God and so do you! So get your overalls on and Put Your Obedience To Work! Why is Obedience so important? Because Jesus said simply, “If you [really] love Me, you will keep (OBEY) My commands” (John 14:15 AMP). Jesus puts the validity of our whole love relationship with Him on the line solely on the basis of our obedience! I’d say obedience means a lot to Him, wouldn’t you say the same?

Know this: God is watching you: The Bible says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. HE DELIGHTS IN EVERY DETAIL OF THEIR LIVES” (Psalm 37:23 NLT). He’s Looking At Your Life (“…In Every Detail…”) Whether It Be In Church, On the Job, In the Home, In the Streets, In Public or In Private…and He’s Expecting To See Honor and Obedience…Will He Find It In You? And guess what? If He does, you get to get what Noah got (I know, coming from an English Major…that was absolutely horrible grammar, but I love the way it sounded…lol) God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fertile, multiply, and fill the earth…everything…is in your power…I NOW GIVE YOU EVERYTHING” (Genesis 9:1-3 CEB).

That’s the blessing that’s waiting on you, your blessing to be fertile, multiply and fill the earth; the blessing of having power and dominion! Not to mention His previous blessings were awesome, but after You Honor and Obey Him, He then says, I NOW GIVE YOU EVERYTHING! What Person Do You Know, Alive Or Dead, That Would Pass Up Such a Blessing?!

People of God, Blessings Are Waiting To Be Picked Up By You, But It Can Only Be Claimed By Those Who Honor and Obey God…So Do You Have a Valid Ticket?

Genesis 6:8, “But Noah found FAVOR and GRACE in the eyes of the Lord.” (AMP); “But Noah was different. GOD LIKED WHAT HE SAW IN NOAH.” (MSG); “But NOAH PLEASED THE LORD.” (NCV); But as for Noah, THE LORD APPROVED OF HIM.” (CEB)

Saints, once God likes what He sees in you, and you’re found to be pleasing to the Lord and receive His approval, like Noah, you’ll have the opportunity to hear God say, “…I NOW GIVE YOU EVERYTHING” (Genesis 9:3 CEB).

Never Forget: The Keys of Honor and Obedience Unlock the Blessings of God! So, are the Keys in Your Hands, or Have Your Dishonor and Disobedience Caused You to Forfeit All the Access of Heaven’s Resources?!

“When you honor God, He will do in a fraction of the time what should have taken you a lifetime to accomplish.” (Joel Osteen)

“When you honor God, when you’re faithful, you’re not going to have to go find blessings, blessings are going to find you.” (Joel Osteen)

“Man’s greatest honor and privilege is to do the Will of God.” (Zac Poonen)

“We do not segment our lives; giving some time to God, some to our business or schooling, while keeping parts to ourselves. The idea is to live all of our lives in the presence of God, under the authority of God, and for the honor and glory of God. That is what the Christian life is all about.” (R.C. Sproul)

“When you honor God, the storms may come, but you have a promise that others don’t have, when it’s all said and done, you’ll still be standing. You may suffer a setback, but don’t get discouraged. If you’ll stay in faith, God promises that when the smoke clears, when the dust settles, you won’t be the victim, you’ll be the victor.” (Joel Osteen)

“You need to know that you can’t honor God when you’re chained to the voice and opinions of man.” (Tyler Perry)

“We honor God by asking for great things when they are a part of His promise. We dishonor Him and cheat ourselves when we ask for molehills where He has offered mountains.” (Vance Havner)

“Keep your honor code between you and God, you don’t break that, no matter who’s not looking. God is.” (Caroline Myss)

“We reverence God and we hallow God’s name when our life is such that it brings honor to God and attracts others to Him.” (William Barclay)

“If you be faithful, you will have that honor that comes from God: His Spirit will say in your hearts, Well done, good and faithful servants.” (Adam Clarke)

“Be obedient even when you do not know where obedience may lead you.” (Sinclair Ferguson)

“Don’t obey God to get things, obey God to get God.” (Tim Keller)

“Obedience is not the mark of a slave; it is one of the prime qualities of leadership.” (Author Unknown)

“Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.” (Charles F. Stanley)

“You cannot obey God without your obedience spilling out in a blessing to all those around you.” (Adrian Rogers)

“Obedience is an act of faith; disobedience is the result of unbelief.” (Edwin Louis Cole)

“We don’t want to merely obey God: we need to catch His heart. It is then we will glimpse the wisdom behind His directives, and not just see them as laws.” (John Bevere)

“The Bible is full of ordinary people who went to impossible places and did wondrous things simply because they decided to obey God.” (Andrew van der Bijl)

“Faith means obeying God even when all my questions aren’t answered.” (Renee Swope)

“When we love the Lord, obedience ceases to be a burden. Obedience becomes a delight.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin)

“I could not comprehend God’s plan, but my understanding was not essential. My obedience was.” (Alice Gray)

“People will try to dissuade you from obeying God. Your obedience to Him highlights their disobedience. Don’t be distracted by their opinions. Be determined to keep your stance to obey God no matter what people say.” (Jacqueline McCullough)

“Why is being a servant such an important aspect of faith? It’s simple. If you cannot obey and serve someone you can see, will you really be able to obey and serve God whom you cannot?” (Paul B. Heidt)

“You can’t live outside the manual of your manufacturer and perform the function He created you for. God’s Word is His manual; obey and take the lead.” (Author Unknown)

“If I obey Jesus Christ, the redemption of God will flow through me to the lives of others, because behind the deed of obedience is the reality of Almighty God.” (Oswald Chambers)

“However much faith to obey God we now have, we will need to strengthen it continually and keep it refreshed constantly. We can do that by deciding now to be more quick to obey and more determined to endure. Learning to start early and to be steady are the keys to spiritual preparation. Procrastination and inconsistency are its mortal enemies.” (Henry B. Eyring)

“The great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life.” (Henry B. Eyring)

“It is the easiest thing in the world to obey God when He commands us to do what we like, and to trust Him when the path is all sunshine. The real victory of faith is to trust God in the dark, and through the dark.” (Theodore L. Cuyler)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “This Healthy Diet Plan Will Jumpstart Your Weight Loss Goals, According to a Nutritionist”

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“Why Is Prayer So Important?”

REASON #1: SOMEONE NEEDS TO REMAIN STANDING IN THE GAP! “Pray Without Ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Two things about prayer are truly amazing:

(1) GOD LISTENS WHEN WE PRAY!  “…believe that you have received the things you ask for in PRAYER, and GOD WILL GIVE THEM TO YOU” (Mark 11:24 NCV). You may not have much “clout” anywhere else, BUT WHEN YOU PRAY…GOD LISTENS!

(2) AND YET, WE SELDOM PRAY! We have the Greatest Privilege Imaginable—Access to the Control Center of the UniverseYET WE RARELY USE IT! Through the Prophet Ezekiel God lamented: “…I sought for a man among them who would…stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; BUT I FOUND NO ONE.” (Ezekiel 22:30 NKJV). NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED SINCE EZEKIEL’S DAY UNFORTUNATELY!

Upon learning that Sodom and Gomorrah were going to be destroyed, Abraham didn’t rush to warn the cities. No, he chose to “[REMAIN] STANDING BEFORE THE LORD.” (Genesis 18:22 NIV).

When God said the golden calf warranted a nationwide death penalty for Israel, MOSES INTERCEDED AND SAVED THEM! One translation even says, “MOSES SOOTHED THE FACE OF HIS GOD”

An obscure priest by the name of Phinehas begged God not to send the plague, and it was so (Psalm 106:30, “But Phinehas prayed to the LORD, AND THE DISEASE STOPPED” NCV).

You say, “Why place such a premium on prayer?” Simple: BECAUSE WHEN WE WORK…WE WORK! BUT WHEN WE PRAY, GOD WORKS! Scripture attaches breathtaking power to Prayer: “…When two of you get together on anything…and make a PRAYER of it, MY FATHER IN HEAVEN GOES INTO ACTION…” (Matthew 18:19 MSG). Think about it: Does any other activity promise such results? Did God call us to preach without ceasing? Or have committee meetings without ceasing? No, but He did call us to “PRAY Without Ceasing.” But are we?

In 1888 a noted chess master named Paul Morphy attended a dinner party in Richmond, Virginia. During the dinner his attention was drawn to a painting on the wall. The scene portrayed a young man locked in an intense chess match with the devil. The devil’s next move would surely claim victory—entitling him to the young man’s soul. The devil wore a triumphant expression. After dinner the chess champion walked over to the painting, studying the board and the pieces portrayed on it. Suddenly he turned to his host and said, “I can take the young man’s game and win!” “That’s not possible!” his host replied. “Not even you can retrieve that game.” The chess master answered, “yes, I think I can. Suppose we place the men and give it a try.” To the surprise of everyone Morphy bested the smug opponent in the painting. In essence, victory was snatched from the devil and the young man was saved!

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE VICTORY YOUR INTERCESSION COULD BRING ABOUT IN SOMEONE’S LIFE! ONE RIGHT MOVE IN PRAYER COULD SLAUGHTER SATAN AND SAVE A SOUL!

When Chris Milbrath went to work with Co-Mission in the Ukraine, the last thing he envisioned was being hospitalized. He experienced a persistent stomach-ache and his doctor diagnosed a ruptured appendix and told him that without surgery he’d die. Things didn’t go well and infection set in. However, halfway across the world a lady who was one of Chris’s supporters woke suddenly during the night. She didn’t know why, but she knew she had to pray for him. Later, comparing notes and making adjustments for the different time zones, they discovered that her prayer-burden “JUST HAPPENED TO COINCIDE” with the time he was clinging to life. Within 24 hours a missions group in Moscow heard about the situation. A small jet “JUST HAPPENED TO BE AVAILABLE” to airlift Chris to Geneva where one of Switzerland’s best surgeons “JUST HAPPENED TO BE ON CALL” to perform additional surgery that saved his life. Chris later said, “I can’t help wondering what would’ve happened to me if that woman had just rolled over and said, “I’ll pray for Chris tomorrow.”

Imagine how many lives you could have affected for the good if every time you felt the urgency to pray for someone, you actually prayed?

God said, “I sought for a man…who would… stand in the gap…but I found no one.TRUE INTERCESSORS REALIZE WHAT’S AT STAKE AND REMAIN STANDING IN THE GAP UNTIL THEY KNOW THEY’VE BROKEN THROUGH AND GOD HAS HEARD AND ANSWERED THEM!

James writes, “…When a believing person prays, GREAT THINGS HAPPEN” (James 5:16 NCV).

SO THE NEXT TIME GOD PROMPTS YOU TO PRAY FOR SOMEONE, DON’T WAIT, HESITATE, OR PROCRASTINATE—DO IT RIGHT THEN! YOUR PRAYERS MAY BE THE ONLY THING STANDING BETWEEN THAT PERSON AND CATASTROPHE!

REASON #2: INTERCESSION IS POWERFUL! “He told them…STAY HERE AND KEEP VIGIL WITH ME” Mark 14:34 MSG

Dutch Sheets says: “Through intercessory prayer we meet the powers of darkness, enforcing the victory Christ accomplished when He met them in His work of INTERCESSION.

The word Intercession comes from its Latin Origin ‘Intercedere’ meaning to ‘Intervene’.  ‘Intervene’ means ‘to come between so as to prevent or alter the result or course of events.’ It happens every day in the court system when lawyers Intervene on behalf of their clients.

With that said, throughout history God has looked for men and women to Intercede or Intervene on behalf of a lost world. However, more often than not, He’s been disappointed. How do I know? Because God said, “…I sought for a man among them who would…stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; BUT I FOUND NO ONE” (Ezekiel 22:30 NKJV). That Scripture was God’s “Help Wanted” ad and still is today. Sadly, Not Many Believers Are Applying for Employment!

Matthew 9:35-38, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and every weakness and infirmity.When He saw the throngs, He was moved with pity and sympathy for them, because they were bewildered (harassed and distressed and dejected and helpless), like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few.So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.” (AMPC)

Unfortunately, the most depressing part of the Scripture in Ezekiel 22 is the reality that one: God was only looking for ‘…A MAN…’, Just ONE MAN! And two: the man he was looking for was supposed to come from ‘…AMONG THEM…’! WARNING: Be careful if you’re surrounded by a company of folks and not even ONE of them knows how to INTERCEDE! Why is that so dangerous? Listen to what God says, “I looked for Someone to stand up for Me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for Me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn’t have to destroy it. I COULDN’T FIND ANYONE. NOT ONE. SO I’LL EMPTY OUT MY WRATH ON THEM, BURN THEM TO A CRISP WITH MY HOT ANGER, SEVER THEM WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF ALL THEY’VE DONE…” (Ezekiel 22:30-31 MSG).

Think about how much stuff and how many people are being destroyed around you SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU WON’T STAND IN THE GAP FOR THEM! TRY TO WRAP YOUR HEAD AROUND THE FACT THAT LITTLE OLE YOU COULD SAVE A NATION JUST BY STANDING IN THE GAP IN PRAYER!

That’s why I don’t do anything without Intercessors! Why? BECAUSE BY THEIR VERY DESCRIPTION AND DEFINITION, THEY ‘INTERVENE’ ON MY BEHALF! AND IN DOING SO THEY ‘ALTER THE VERY PLAN OF THE ENEMY AGAINST ME’! THEY THWART HIS DEVICES AND SCHEMES! Remember to ‘INTERVENE’ IS ‘TO COME BETWEEN SO AS TO PREVENT OR ALTER THE RESULT OR COURSE OF EVENTS’! THAT’S WHY I TAKE THE INTERCESSORS WHEREVER I GO, BECAUSE WHATEVER THE ENEMY HAD ON HIS AGENDA TO ANNIHILATE ME WITH, THE INTERCESSORS ARE GOING TO COME IN BETWEEN ME AND HIM AND PREVENT OR ALTER THE RESULT OR COURSE OF EVENTS! YES, THAT’S HOW POWERFUL TRUE INTERCESSORS ARE!

Listen: The disciples were willing to go with Jesus into the garden of Gethsemane. YET, IN SPITE OF KNOWING THE URGENCY OF THE HOUR, THEY STILL FELL ASLEEP! Even Peter, James and John, THE ONES IN THE “INNER CIRCLE”, THE SO CALLED “ARMOR-BEARERS”, THOSE THAT “APPEAR” TO BE CLOSER TO HIM THAN ANYONE ELSE, STILL DIDN’T GET IT, AND SO IN THE END, JESUS PRAYED ALONE! That’s why so few want to do it, because INTERCESSION IS OFTEN A VERY LONELY ASSIGNMENT!

You can go for months and years before seeing the fruits of your labor. However, WHEN YOU GO DEEPER WITH GOD, YOU GET TO SHARE THINGS THAT THE ANGELS ALONE WERE PRIVY TO THAT NIGHT IN THE GARDEN! JUST IMAGINE WHAT THE DISCIPLES MIGHT HAVE SEEN, HEARD OR EXPERIENCED, HAD THEY ENOUGH SENSE LIKE JESUS TO SIMPLY GO A LITTLER FARTHER AND PRAY! The Bible says, “Jesus told His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with Him. He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony. He told them, “I feel bad enough right now to die. Stay here and keep vigil with me.” (Mark 14:32-34 MSG). That word ‘VIGIL’ has a Latin Origin meaning ‘AWAKE’! And “AWAKE” by definition is ‘a period of staying awake during the time usually spent asleep, especially to keep watch and pray’. IMAGINE WHAT YOU COULD ACCOMPLISH IF YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH FOLKS THAT WILL STAY AWAKE AND ALERT AND INTERCEDE FOR YOU! IMAGINE THE VICTORIES YOU’D ATTAIN IF YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH FOLKS THAT EARNESTLY HOLD VIGIL ON YOUR BEHALF!

1 Peter 5:8-11, “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” (MSG)

Listen, at this late hour, not even babes in Christ can afford to act like kindergartener’s waiting to take an afternoon nap! All Satan needs is to catch us snoozing so he can start slaughtering! Remember, his goal is “to steal, kill and destroy…” (John 10:10) so act like you’re ready to make certain his goal is Never accomplished! And how will you do that? INTERCESSION!

When Pastor Jim Cymbala took a broken-down church in a bad neighborhood, there were fewer than twenty-five members. Now, twenty-five years later, over 6,000 people attend Brooklyn Tabernacle! He says, “It didn’t happen because of programs, it happened because of intercessory prayer.

I reiterate: INTERCESSION IS POWERFUL!

REASON #3: THERE’S POWER IN GATHERING PRAYER REINFORCEMENTS! Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19 NIV

Sometimes you need somebody to agree with you in prayer—somebody who knows how to stand on God’s Word and Intercede with Him for Your finances, Your children, Your marriage, Your health, Your job, Your ministry, Your habits, etc.

Now I don’t mean folks who simply know how to PRAY, because praying folks MAY call out your needs, but they’re DEFINITELY going to call out their OWN as well! But I mean INTERCESSORS who go so far as to ask you to step out of your own shoes so they can step in them and go to God on your behalf when you no longer have the strength to press in on your own! INTERCESSORS who put their life and all its contents on the back-burner, while seeking the presence of God to manifest in YOUR situation NOT THEIRS!

Characteristics like that make it hard to find True Intercessors in this day and time because of the high price you pay for interceding! Oh yes, to be an intercessor is going to cost you and sometimes, BIG! Why? BECAUSE IT REQUIRES SACRIFICE, AND SELF-DENIAL, IT KILLS SELFISHNESS AND REFOCUSES YOUR ATTENTION OFF YOUR OWN FLESH TO ENCOURAGE THE SPIRIT OF YOUR BROTHER OR SISTER IN CHRIST! It means ‘God I know you can and will do this for me, BUT I PREFER YOU DO IT FOR MY BROTHER OR SISTER INSTEAD!That’s why the Bible says, “Love each other as brothers and sisters and HONOR OTHERS MORE THAN YOU DO YOURSELF” (Romans 12:10 CEV). True Intercessors forget about their blessings and miracles, their house and car, their breakthrough and victory. And instead they end up being the loudest cheerleader in the bleacher’s screaming, ‘Bless THEM Jesus, open the door for THEM Jesus, make a way for THEM Jesus, promote THEM Jesus…’ True Intercessors know that it’s NEVER about them, but ALWAYS about others!

Let’s look a little further: James had just been executed and Herod was planning to kill Peter in the morning. Now, you’d think Peter would have been up all night praying, but he wasn’t. The Bible says he was SLEEPING! Acts 12:6, “Then the time came for Herod to bring him out for the kill. That night, even though shackled to two soldiers, one on either side, PETER SLEPT LIKE A BABY” (MSG). Now I’ve heard of confidence in God, but I honestly thought Peter was stone-crazy! I know for a fact I would’ve flipped out!

So where did Peter get such faith? The Bible says: “Peter therefore was kept in prison: BUT PRAYER WAS MADE WITHOUT CEASING OF THE CHURCH UNTO GOD FOR HIM” (Acts 12:5).

But you have to see in the various translations how these intercessors REALLY PRAYED for Peter:

The Amplified Bible says, “…FERVENT PRAYER for him was PERSISTENTLY made…” (AMP);

The Message Bible says, “All the time …Peter was under heavy guard…the church prayed for him MOST STRENUOUSLY” (MSG);

The New Living Translation says, “…the church prayed VERY EARNESTLY…” (NLT)

And the Contemporary English Version says, “While Peter was being kept in jail, the church NEVER STOPPED PRAYING to God for him.” (CEV)

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

Understand that any time you can sleep in the face of danger and experience grace in the midst of chaos, it’s one of two things:

(1) You know God well, you’re standing on His promises and you’ve handed the situation over to Him;

(2) Somebody is interceding for you, and I mean somebody with “clout” in the heavenly realm.

Notice, the church didn’t say, “If Peter was in God’s Will, he wouldn’t be in this mess right now,” or “Since Peter’s in jail, who’s going to preach for us next Sunday?” No, while they were praying in faith for a breakthrough, GOD WAS AT WORK ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CITY DISPATCHING AN ANGEL TO SET PETER FREE! The Bible says: “…THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CAME upon him…light shined…he smote Peter on the side…RAISED HIM UP…AND HIS CHAINS FELL OFF FROM HIS HANDS” (Acts 12:7) That’s how powerful prayer works!

John Wesley said, “We can do great things when we pray; but we can do nothing great until we pray!

SO, GATHER YOUR REINFORCEMENTS AND LET THE DEVIL KNOW YOU DON’T NEED ARMOR FOR YOUR BACK, BECAUSE THE INTERCESSORS GOT IT COVERED!

SO, I ASK AGAIN, WHY IS PRAYER SO IMPORTANT? ANSWER: BECAUSE OTHERS ARE DEPENDING ON YOU TO REMAIN STANDING IN THE GAP ON THEIR BEHALF; AND EVEN WHEN GOD DETERMINES TO DELIVER HIS WRATH, INTERCESSION IS POWERFUL ENOUGH TO HALT IT; ONLY ONE PERSON STANDING IN INTERCESSION WOULD HAVE TURNED GOD’S WRATH IN ANOTHER DIRECTION AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, BUT THERE IS SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE WHO NEEDS YOU TO GATHER SOME PRAYER REINFORCEMENTS BECAUSE THEY’VE BEEN LIKE PETER LOCKED UP IN PRISON (BE IT PHYSICAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL, FINANCIAL ETC) AND THEY NEED TO BE SET FREE! AND THEY NEED TO HAVE THE CONFIDENCE IN THE CHURCH THAT PRAYER MEANS SO MUCH TO US, THAT EVEN WHILE THEY ARE IN PRISON, UNDER GUARD, THAT THEY CAN REST AND SLEEP AS SOUND AS A BABY, BECAUSE OUR PRAYERS FOR THEM WILL NOT CEASE UNTIL THE ANGELS COME AND GIVE THEM SWEET RELEASE!

YES, YOUR PRAYER LIFE IS THAT IMPORTANT! SO HOW WILL YOU DETERMINE TODAY TO STRENGTHEN IT ALL THE MORE?

“The Church has not yet touched the fringe of the possibilities of intercessory prayer. Her largest victories will be witnessed when individual Christians everywhere come to recognize their priesthood unto God and day by day give themselves unto prayer.” (John Mott)

“To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them.” (John Calvin)

“Jesus Christ carries on intercession for us in heaven; the Holy Ghost carries on intercession in us on earth; and we the saints have to carry on intercession for all men.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Jesus’ intercession for us is stronger than Satan’s accusation against us.” (Mike Bickle)

“God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Discernment is God’s call to Intercession, never to Faultfinding.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

“Prayer must be broad in its scope – it must plead for others. Intercession for others is the hallmark of all true prayer. When prayer is confined to self and to the sphere of one’s personal needs, it dies by reason of its littleness, narrowness and selfishness.” (Edward McKendree Bounds)

“All vital praying makes a drain on a man’s vitality. True intercession is a sacrifice, a bleeding sacrifice.” (John Henry Jowett)

“Our prayers lay the track down on which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, His power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails.” (Watchman Nee)

“If you are an intercessor, you see many needs, but you will also see many answered prayers.” (Prophetic Crossroads)

“History belongs to the intercessors – those who believe and pray the future into being.” (Walter Wink)

“God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight.” (Author Unknown)

“Worship is agreeing with who God is, while Intercession is agreeing with what God promised to do.” (Author Unknown)

“Intercessory prayer might be defined as loving our neighbor on our knees.” (Charles Bent)

“Intercession is truly universal work for the Christian. No place is closed to intercessory prayer. No continent – no nation – no organization – no city – no office. There is no power on earth that can keep intercession out.” (Richard Halverson)

“The power of intercession is the fruit of intimacy. There’s no difference between the two.” (Corey Russel)

“Intercession is the most unselfish thing anyone can do.” (Paul Billheimer)

“The more time we spend in prayer interceding for those in authority; the more we are actually interceding for ourselves.” (Carol Helmick)

 “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Christ’s intercession is the continual application of His death to our salvation.” (John Calvin)

“Every kind of prayer, not intercessory prayer only, which is the highest kind of prayer, but all prayer, from the lowest kind to the highest, is impossible in a life of known and allowed sin.” (Alexander Whyte)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Blood Pressure Often Differs Widely Between Arms”

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