“When the Journey With Jesus Gets Hard”

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Luke 24:13-19, “That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who He was. He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?” They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?” He said, “What has happened?…” (MSG)

There are many places in the world in which I would love to travel, even during the Thanksgiving holiday, just to see how other cultures celebrate it. But I will be very honest with you, Thanksgiving in Baghdad would not be a favorite choice of mine! I mean that’s not exactly my dream way to spend my Turkey Day. But for some American soldiers several years ago, Thanksgiving 2003 is one of the more memorable holidays of their lives! Why? Because that was the day the President of the United States joined them for Thanksgiving Dinner and even went so far as to actually help serve the Thanksgiving Dinner as well!

You see, in the aftermath of the Iraq War, Baghdad was still not a very secure place, so the President’s visit came as a total surprise and a total secret from the press. Many American soldiers were feeling the weight of an extended tour of duty and, for many, the sudden appearance of their President… well, you can guess it was a real morale booster. As GIs have learned in previous wartime visits from other Presidents, there’s just something really re-energizing about a personal visit from your Commander-in-Chief.

Now, you may not be on any military front lines, but truth be told, the battles you’ve been fighting lately are taking their toll on you! Making you feel as if you’ve been shot at, run down, blown up, I mean there simply hasn’t been much of a break in the action, and you’ve got some serious combat fatigue. You’ve been battling in marriage, on the job, in finances, in the ministry, in the family, in your health, in school. Every direction you’ve turned in has been an uphill battle! In fact, maybe it feels like you’re losing the battle right now. And if so, you know what you need? You need some personal time with your Commander-in-Chief. Not the President of the United States, because no human leader can hold a candle to your Real Commander-in-Chief! He is, after all, according to the Bible, the King of all kings! He is King Jesus!

Now, in Luke 24, beginning with verse 13, two of Jesus’ followers are battle-scarred and going down for the count (ever feel like that?) Well, in this instance, their Savior had been crucified, His body is now missing from the tomb. They’re on the road to Emmaus and here’s how our text reads: “And behold, that very day two of [the disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, [which is] about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things that had occurred. And while they were conversing and discussing together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them. But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognize Him. And He said to them, What is this discussion that you are exchanging (throwing back and forth) between yourselves as you walk along? And they stood still, looking sad and downcast. Then one of them, name Cleopas, answered Him, Do you alone dwell as a stranger in Jerusalem and not know the things that have occurred there in these days? And He said to them, What [kind of] things?…” (AMPC)

First, can I be real with you? When I read, “And behold, that very day two of [the disciples]…”, I immediately thought, as a disciple of Christ, why should the road be so rough for us? I’m being honest now. These two disciples were walking away from a gruesome scene of cruelty, their hopes dashed, and they’re walking, talking and trying to figure out what now and what next? And sometimes I think that’s what hurts us as believers, because we’re often taught that there’s this ‘bed-of-roses-faith’ that occurs once you receive Christ. As if all the bad things in the world that happen, will not happen to you. You are suddenly exempt from it all. It’s the ‘bad guys‘ that get the bad stuff, not us. We’re believers, children of the Most High God, rescued, ransomed and redeemed. It is all well with our souls! But truth is, even as disciples we have to deal with some rough roads, and some harsh circumstances. Contrary to popular belief, we’re not exempt. We blame the devil for more than he needs to receive credit for, because we were warned by our Commander-in-Chief well in advance: John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have TRIBULATION and TRIALS and DISTRESS and FRUSTRATION; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you].” (AMPC)  

Yes, disciples of Christ, we too will have to deal with discouragement, distress, tribulation, trials and frustration. Again, we are not exempt. But we are to be encouraged because there is absolutely nothing that can overwhelm us that hasn’t already been overcome by Him! So even when we feel something is “not fair”, bear in mind all of His soldiers have to fight in battle, and many of those wars will leave us with painful, bloody, battle-scars. However, it will not take our lives! So what must we do? Keep fighting! 2 Timothy 2:3-5, “Take [with me] your share of the HARDSHIPS and SUFFERING [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him. And if anyone enters competitive games, he is not crowned unless he competes lawfully (fairly, according to the rules laid down).” (AMPC)

We have to take our fair share of the fight! Yes, life gets hard and life is hard, but all that means is that we fight harder!

These two disciples were discouraged and downcast because of what they just experienced. And so they’re walking and talking on the road to Emmaus with heavy hearts. Jesus appears and asks them, “What has happened?” and they begin to explain: “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.” (vss. 19-24 MSG) 

Can you hear the frustration in their voices? They’re DOWNCAST, CONFUSED, FRUSTRATED, their faith is being tested as their hopes began to seep away. Ever walked in those shoes? I know I have, and still do on many days. For example, my mom had some extreme health challenges over the last 5 years prior to her passing in 2017, and as her caregiver, it was extremely confusing, discouraging, frustrating, scary, worrisome, and yes, even my faith and hope has had to be resuscitated a time or two (or 200, if we’re really being honest!) You see, she would go for one test, we would get the diagnosis, then as soon as they would put her on medications and start treatment, something else would go haywire! Every time they treated one thing, it would trigger off something else. Every time it seemed as if one thing was finally under control, it caused something else to go out of control! It has been the worse see-saw experience of my life! As soon as our hope would go up, within moments we would watch it come crashing back down with one phone call from the doctor or doctors visit. And truth is, that’s hard for anyone. As they say, “the struggle is real!”

Another example is my husband Elder Tim. He was born with Sickle Cell Anemia and because of it, he’s had 3 hip replacement/revision surgeries in the last 20 years! He goes in to surgery and you think he’ll be fine only to have the doctors come out and say he went into cardiac arrest but he’s back now and stable. WHAT?! Then the second time surgery is done, only to have him a little while afterwards experience a slip and fall that fractured a hip! Then this last surgery his blood sugar would go up, they would go to treat it, then the blood pressure would go up. The swelling in his hip would go down, but gout would flare up. His weight would go down, but a fever would go up. They would add meds, take away meds, switch up meds, and he would be fed up with all meds! It has been a journey, and a hard road to watch a loved one suffer so much pain, repetitively that you can do nothing about, a pain that will never fully go away because we’ll have to revisit this road in another 15-20 years! It can get to a point where you just get so frustrated, angry, downcast, hurt, even bitter. You start to ask God (more like question God), ‘I thought you said, by Your strips he’s healed. God, I’m honestly struggling here and need Your help because I heard what You said, but I can’t help but be concerned about what I see. What I see in the blood-work; what I see on the x-rays; what I see in more prescriptions being added; what I see in the doctor reports.” Unbelief kicks in and you have to find someway to push yourself to say, “okay God, I’ll still believe your report, just Lord, Help Me!” Sometimes, life can throw you curve balls that you don’t even know how to swing at. So I can really identify with these two disciples. Like, dude, what now…what next?!

Well, what’s next is, Jesus allows them to vent (just as He allows us to) and then He speaks: “Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him…” (vss. 25-27 MSG)

One of the things I love most about this text is Jesus’ response! First, I just told you I was frustrated and confused, then I explained why. My hopes are dwindling and my faith is fading fast. I don’t know where my Jesus is, who took Him or why. I don’t know what these women are talking about. I have no idea what to do next. Can’t trust any of the leaders since they’re the ones who killed Him in the first place. And yet, Jesus bypasses all of this and calls them “thick-headed and slow-hearted…” Um, Jesus, that’s not very encouraging! LOL! But I love the way He simply addresses them, because He most certainly pulled no punches! Let’s be real, if we went to one of our leaders in the church and shared all of our struggles and all they said to us was “you thick-headed, slow-hearted numbskull”, we would have left that church that Sunday! But Jesus gets to the heart of the matter, in a nutshell, ‘why are you allowing the battle to beat up your belief’?

However, Jesus doesn’t leave off His words there, nope, He goes on to the very beginning of the Books of Moses and all of the Prophets carefully pointing out to them everything that the Scriptures say in reference to Him. Why is that so important? Because can you imagine the time and patience it took for Jesus to do this? He started at the beginning and worked His way all the way through all of the prophets just to encourage, empower and inspire their faith. And believe it or not but He loves you enough to do the very same thing. Question is: Have you taken out time to walk and talk with Jesus? What might He share with you to rekindle the flame and fire of your faith, if only you took time to take your frustration to Him (instead of everybody else)? How might He enlighten you; encourage and empower you; inspire and impact you?

Let this be a challenge for you today, don’t take your next battle to people take it to Jesus! Tell Him all about it, and don’t mince your words. Speak from the heart like the Psalmist often did. Pour it all out to Him in honesty, not eloquence, and have a listening, attentive ear to what he may say that will strengthen your walk of faith as you journey through this life with Jesus.

Well, the story doesn’t stop there. Let’s see what’s next: “They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared. Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?” (vss. 28-32 MSG)

How personable is Jesus? Truth is, you can rarely find leaders today who are that personable. Not only had He walked and talked with them, but He sat down to bless and break bread with them. You know, I often hear people say when they’re going through that they feel distant from God. But in reading this text it makes me wonder how can that be? Jesus loves spending quality time with us, encouraging our faith, and even sitting at the dinner table. Though they didn’t recognize Him yet, they invited Him to dinner. We who do recognize Him, don’t. How can that make sense? Maybe the next battle you have to endure would be better if you invited Jesus into the midst. Note: He didn’t invite Himself, He was asked. When is the last time you asked Him to come and sit with you? After all, we’ll sit on the phone for hours, we’ll sit among our friends and family, we’ll sit at the altar, but when is the last time you sat with Him? Inviting Him into your personal, and even painful, space.

Revelation 3:20-21, “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!” (MSG)

James 4:7-10, “So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” (MSG)

Clearly, Jesus Has No Problems Visiting With Us, Sitting With Us, Breaking Bread With Us, Drawing Near to Us. So what’s the problem? The only problem is us extending to Him an invitation!

He blessed and break bread and gave it to them. In essence, He was feeding them. Makes me wonder if when we feel hungry and empty if it’s because we haven’t invited Jesus to come and sit with us and feed us. Remember:

John 1:1, “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.” (AMPC)

John 1:14, “And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacle (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) AMONG US; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.” (AMPC)

This is what we need to dine on when we feel hungry and empty…Jesus…the Bread of Life! John 6:35, “Jesus replied, I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never be hungry, and he who believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me will never thirst any more (at any time).” (AMPC)

With this as your option, how can you choose anything else?

Invite Jesus in, He wants to feed the hunger in your soul where frustration eats away at your faith!

And what happens next? “…At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared. Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us? They didn’t waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: “It’s really happened! The Master has been raised up – Simon saw him!” Then the two went over everything that had happened on the road and how they recognized Him when He broke the bread.” (vss. 28-35 MSG)

The Bible goes on to say they returned to Jerusalem totally pumped! They started exhausted; they ended excited! They started on empty; they ended on full! What made the difference? The personal presence of their Commander-in-Chief. He’s the one who makes all the battles worth it. Experiencing the reality of His presence is what always makes the difference. That’s exactly what you need right now, and maybe what you’ve been missing. You’ve been running all over the place, but it’s too long since you just had a walk with Jesus; a time when you pour out your heart to Him and He pours some of His heart into you. Maybe you forgot Who it’s all for – the One who loved you enough to die for you. He’s the reason for fighting the battles. He’s the joy. He’s the reward, you’re in essence, suffering from a Jesus-deficit. You might be serving Him with everything you’ve got, but you’re missing Him still. Other things are looking bigger than they really are because you haven’t been with the One who’s bigger than all those battles combined! The bottom line is really pretty simple. It’s all about Jesus, and you’re missing Him in the midst of all your battles. But your King, the Commander-in-Chief, has come your way today, and He’s asking you to just take a walk with Him; to have a heart-to-heart talk with Him. Not just today, but every new day. There’s something very re-energizing about a personal visit with the person that you’re fighting for. Believe me, there is nothing to turn the tide in the battle that you’re fighting right now like the personal presence of your King of kings.

These two disciples were headed to Emmaus, and after a walk, talk and sit with Jesus they return to Jerusalem re-energized for whatever may come next. They also go back and tell the rest of the disciples what happened. And that’s exactly what you need to do with this devotional today. Allow it to encourage you to walk, talk and sit with Jesus in the midst of your battles. And once you’ve been refueled, take the message to the other empty disciples you know and encourage them by what happened to you!

Truth is, this journey with Jesus gets hard! And when it does, allow His word to soften your heart. Hear Him and Heed Him. Your Commander-in-Chief wants to spend some time with His best soldiers. So, are you going to let your battles keep you from Him, or lead you to Him?

“The best view comes after the hardest climb.” (Author Unknown)

“When life gets too hard to stand, kneel.” (Author Unknown)

“Keep your head up. God gives His hardest battles to His strongest soldiers.” (Author Unknown)

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” (Author Unknown)

“If your path is more difficult, it is because your calling is higher.” (Author Unknown)

“Don’t ask God why He’s allowing something to happen. Ask Him what He wants you to learn and do in the midst of it.” (Author Unknown)

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” (C.S. Lewis)

“Sometimes the paths we take are long and hard, but remember: those are the ones that lead to the most beautiful views.” (Collin McCarthy)

“Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations.” (Oliver Goldsmith)

“When you face difficult times, know that challenges are not sent to destroy you. They’re sent to promote you, increase and strengthen you.” (Joel Osteen)

“The way to Heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh.” (Jonathan Edwards)

“Faith isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice to trust God even when the road ahead seems uncertain.” (Dave Willies)

“Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us more effectively. Look for the learning.” (Louisa May Alcott)

“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.”

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “A Visual Guide to Breast Cancer”

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“You’re There For a Reason!”

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Esther 4:12-14, “When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.” (MSG)

Before she passed away in 2017, me and my mom had quite a few things in common, but the one thing we had most in common (especially after the last 5 years of health challenges for her), is that as a general rule, neither of us like to do hospitals! Oh, we’ll visit other people in hospitals, but we don’t like to stay in them any longer than necessary. Truth is, God has blessed me with wonderful health over the years, and I am indeed extremely grateful. However, I do remember a time when I had such an intense bout with the flu that I ended up badly dehydrated. The doctor was concerned enough about me that he put me in the hospital, yeah, put me in the hospital to stay for a short time, actually, to get re-hydrated with intravenous fluids as he put it. Now I’ve got to tell you, I was not a happy camper when they told me they were going to admit me to the hospital. Oh, I tried to be nice on the outside, but inside I was far from nice. My thoughts, inner words, mood and attitude were horrible! That was until one of my dear friends came to pay me a visit. And she did something absolutely cruel, in my book anyway. What was it? Well, she reminded me of something I said to her once or twice when she was unfortunately admitted to the hospital. (See, I hate this! I hate it when my own words come back to haunt me! Because I can’t argue with me!) Anyway, she said to me, “I will never forget your words…you said, ‘even in this place, even under these circumstances, remember who you are and remember why you’re here.’

Don’t you just hate that? Well, tough cookies! When you encourage people (even with tough love), sometimes you have to open your arms and embrace that tough love yourself. I remember the last time my husband was admitted to the hospital (prior to this year), he was so mad he couldn’t go home. Not to mention the horrible food didn’t make it any better. And of course, there I go sharing the wisdom of the words I would have to digest myself, “’hun, even in this place, even under these circumstances, remember who you are and why you’re here.” Which by the time he was discharged, his whole demeanor would as always be noticeably different. After all, how could it not, when he would have so much time to witness and share the love of the Word of God he has always possessed? You see, even while going for testing of his own, he would still encourage his roommates when they were on their way for their testing. If anyone asked for prayer, they received it without delay. And only because even though he didn’t like where he was, he remembered who he was, and what he was there for.

So clearly, I couldn’t complain when I was admitted to the hospital because God gave me a tremendous opportunity to sow some Gospel seed in the hospital staff while I was there; the hospital I in “no way” wanted to be in. But as I finally woke up to the fact that I had been assigned there by God, I began to take advantage of the opportunities to show and tell about the love of Jesus. One nurse even wanted a copy of all my devotionals! She said, “You know, it’s been really good having you here. Just think of the influence you’ve had on all us heathen.” Naturally I laughed, and said, “No, not heathen, just people God loved so much that He sent His Son to die for you. And then sent me, His daughter, to share with you about Him.”

You see, what helped me see what was really going on in my undesirable situation was that challenge, which was actually the Mordecai Challenge. Maybe you’re a candidate for the Mordecai Challenge where you are right now. And if you are, take a listen to the challenge found in Esther 4:12-14, it’s where we find a Jewish young woman named Esther providentially placed in the position of being Queen of Persia. No one knows she’s Jewish, and she’s in this great position which her Cousin Mordecai is asking her now to totally lay on the line.

In a palace plot, Esther’s people-God’s chosen people-have been targeted for annihilation. Only Esther was in a position to get to the king and plead for the lives of her people. But the law called for anyone who went unbidden into the throne room of the king to be put to death. And Esther hasn’t heard from the king for a month. Now here’s that Mordecai Challenge, “…Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.” (MSG) Varying translations say it like this:

“And who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this [AND FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE]?” (AMP);

“But who knows? Maybe it was FOR A MOMENT LIKE THIS that you came to be part of the royal family.” (CEB);

“It could be that you were made queen for a TIME LIKE THIS!” (CEV);

“And who knows, maybe you have been CHOSEN to be the queen for such a time as this.” (ERV);

“who can say but that GOD HAS BROUGHT YOU INTO THE PALACE FOR JUST SUCH A TIME AS THIS?” (TLB)

The Mordecai Challenge is this, maybe where you are right now is for: “this very purpose; a moment like this; to be chosen as the very one that God has brought to this place, in this position, for such a time as this…to save the lives of many?”

And I know many of us want our ‘PURPOSE’ to be great, but what if our purpose to serve is in a painful (not preferred) place? Many of us are waiting for our ‘MOMENT’ to arrive, but what happens when your most effective moment for ministry occurs during misery? Many of us want to be ‘CHOSEN’, but what happens when our being chosen comes with an assignment we didn’t want to be called to? Many of us want God to open doors and bring us into great places, but what happens when the place God brings us to is the very place we’ve been trying to run away from?

Listen, I’ll be the first to tell you that my greatest moments in ministry have happened during the worst times of my life. And yet, knowing that the Will of God for my life is being fulfilled does make those painful moments all the more worth it. Reminds me of Paul:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then He told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size – abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (MSG)

How amazing that with all the gifts we seek after in God, one of the greatest of the gifts is “…THE GIFT OF A HANDICAP TO KEEP ME IN TOUCH WITH MY LIMITATIONS…”

When is the last time you thanked God for THAT GIFT?! When is the last time you, “…BEGAN APPRECIATING THE GIFT…”? When is the last time you gave God Glory for this GIFT? A gift that keeps you humble, dependent, and serving others, instead of being self-serving. The gift that keeps you from boasting, arrogance, pride, conceit, comparisons and competing. The gift that keeps you in a vulnerable weak state so that God’s Strength can be put on display instead of your Greedy desire to be Great. The gift that makes you appreciate it even in the midst of “…ABUSE, ACCIDENTS, OPPOSITION, BAD BREAKS…” You see friends, you being placed in a precarious position of pain is designed for you to remain in use as a good and honorable vessel of the Lord, pouring out His Goodness, His Word, His Gospel, His Name, His Greatness, His Testimony into the lives of those who will be saved by it, this is the reason you’re where you are today!

Sometimes God lifts you up into high positions so you can get a better view of those living in low places. Therefore, the position is not so others can see you, but so you can see others who need a hand getting back on their feet. So don’t get lost in loftiness, your positioned there not to push yourself up but to pull someone else up.

My friend, you are where you are for a reason. So, don’t complain and don’t attempt to get out of it before your time! James 1:2-4, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (MSG) You are where you are for a reason, so don’t try to get out of position prematurely! You’ll only forfeit the blessing that comes with maturity, and that is this: “…Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” Believe it or not, but sometimes God’s abundance comes from you being able to handle being put in between a rock and a hard place, and yet you remain there and do ministry! You are going to come out of this mature, well-developed and lacking nothing, that should be enough encouragement to endure your hardness as a good soldier!

Listen: Even Paul got to a point where he learned to stop focusing on the handicap and instead started appreciating the gift. And you need to learn to do likewise. Stop focusing on the pain, the hurt, the loss, the betrayal, the gossip, the discouragement, the abandonment, the loneliness, the failure, the disappointment, the grief, the anger. And instead start appreciating that God gifted you even in places such as these! You don’t lose an ounce of your anointing because of attacks. Those are in fact the best places to continue to serve God, because it says in essence, “I trust God even in this!”

Example: Daniel 3:16-18, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” (MSG) Saints, you have to reach this place in God where you KNOW He can deliver you, and yet maintain the conviction that even if He doesn’t, I’ll still serve Him and not Satan nor my Circumstances! You can’t grow having circumstantial conviction! You can’t believe God only when it’s good, you can’t believe God only on the mountain. You have to determine to believe and trust God no matter what curve ball life throws you to knock you off your game!

Listen to Jesus speak: Matthew 26:52-54, “Jesus said, “Put your sword back where it belongs. All who use swords are destroyed by swords. Don’t you realize that I am able right now to call to My Father, and twelve companies—more, if I want them—of fighting angels would be here, battle-ready? But if I did that, how would the Scriptures come true that say this is the way it has to be?” (MSG)

You see, as believers, angels have been given a charge where we’re concerned: Psalm 91:11-13, “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.” (MSG)

And though we have all of this at our disposal, there are still times in which God will NOT deliver us because He’s using us as lifeboats to rescue someone else! Why is He using us in the storms of life? Because we’ve proven to Him that we’re anchored in Him! That’s why you have to learn how to trust and rely on God even when you’re in a position that looks like it will cost you your life!

You have to grow and mature into a place that says I’ll serve Him even though He slay me! Job 13:15, “I will continue to trust God even if He kills me…” (ERV) Are you at that place of trust? Will you trust God regardless of the diagnosis, the disease, the length of the depression, the divorce, the demotion, or the disagreement? Will you still trust God that He has your best interests at heart even when they lay you off, the kids stray, the finances dwindle to dust? Will you continue to trust God even if your loved one does not receive the healing? Will you still trust God when the church doors close, the house forecloses, the car is repossessed and the business goes belly up? Will you still trust God like Paul? Will you still trust God like Jesus? Will you still trust God like Job?

Luke 22:42 says, “He walked away, perhaps a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed this prayer: “Father, if You are willing, please take away this cup of horror from Me. But I want Your Will, not Mine.” (TLB) Will you trust God enough to follow His Will, His Word and His Way, even if you’d rather jump ship?! Do you trust God enough to continue to follow His plan even while you’re experiencing so much pain? Do you trust God enough to continue to pursue His purpose for your life though you keep running into problem after problem? Do you trust God enough to stay on track even when life keeps trying to derail you? Do you trust God enough, like Jesus, that in the very thick of your heartache, you kneel in prayer instead of prostrating in a self-pity party? Do you trust God enough to ask Him to take the cup of horror away from you, but if it’s not His will, you’re content enough to drink it?

Listen, I’m not telling you this is easy, by far it’s been the hardest thing I have had to do in my life. But I will say this, I don’t regret it for one moment. Because like my husband, and my dear friend, I had the opportunity to be laid up in the hospital with sickness, but I also had the opportunity to pray with others, to share the promises of God, the salvation, healing and deliverance of God, the peace and joy of God. I had the opportunity even in my suffering to see someone else smile. Isn’t that worth it?

My friend reminded me of my own words, “Even in this place, even under these circumstances, remember who you are. Remember why you’re there.” Esther realizes she has been placed where she is to save lives, and she risks hers to rescue them. And her people live because of it. Right now, God may be saying to you about your situation-where you work, where you go to school, the sport you’re in, the club you’re in, the neighborhood you’re in, the jam you’re in, “You have been put in this position for such a time as this. Use that position to tell people about My Son.

I guess in a sense, we’re all Esther. God has placed us where we are in order to save some lives there; lives that Jesus died for. And God has put those people within your reach through your situation so you can rescue them. So…..how are you doing on the real reason you’re there?

People of God, Never let a Moment of Misery cause you to lose sight of your Monumental Ministry given to you by God! Always Remember: You Were Rescued to Reconcile! 2 Corinthians 5:16-20, “So from now on we regard no one from a human point of view [according to worldly standards and values]. Though we have known Christ from a human point of view, now we no longer know Him in this way.  Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].  But all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ [making us acceptable to Him] AND GAVE US THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION [SO THAT BY OUR EXAMPLE WE MIGHT BRING OTHERS TO HIM], that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them]. AND HE HAS COMMITTED TO US THE MESSAGE OF RECONCILIATION [THAT IS, RESTORATION TO FAVOR WITH GOD]. SO WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST, AS THOUGH GOD WERE MAKING HIS APPEAL THROUGH US; WE [AS CHRIST’S REPRESENTATIVES] PLEAD WITH YOU ON BEHALF OF CHRIST TO BE RECONCILED TO GOD.” (AMP)

That’s our job church, to employ more people in the Kingdom of God! To reach them, encourage them, help them find restoration and redemption. We are assigned to bring life to a dying soul. We are to bring eternity to those who have no idea just how short the hour of salvation has become. That’s why we can’t afford to get distracted in the last days. There are too many souls on their way to hell instead of heaven because the church is too consumed with her own hurt! But we have no time to wallow when there are so many souls that are wounded and need healing from the only One who can Mend the Broken-Hearted!

We can’t get caught up in rings, robes, titles, positions, promotions, elevations and the like, when so many souls are still at stake. Whether we’re in poverty or prosperity; whether we’re in the pulpit or the pew; whether we’re happy or hurting; it’s all irrelevant when we’ve been giving a charge to keep! And yes, sometimes we will be called to fulfill that charge in pain, in hurt, in disgust, in betrayal, in failure, in suffering, in trials, in tribulation, in frustration, in confusion, in sleepless nights, in sickness, and yet, we still have to keep the charge.

I even love the fact that God doesn’t snatch us out of every painful moment we experience because sometimes reconciling people requires you being able to relate to people, and truth is there are very few, if any people, walking around completely pain-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months and 366 days a year!

Think about it: When you’re children or your marriage is in trouble, do you really want to talk to someone who has never had any issues in this area, or would you prefer to speak with someone whose been here, and can show you how to go through and come out of it?

Look at it like this: Not one of us would take our car to a baker when it’s in trouble; we don’t take our plants to the zoo when they’re dying; we don’t go to the museum when the house is on fire. In other words, we take the issue to the appropriate person and place to get it fixed, restored or healed. And believe it or not, but you are that person and place for someone. Someone needs your fractured pieces to become whole. When you go into the hospital it’s not because you need to be there, it’s because God needs you to be there for someone else. He needs you to be His mouth, His hands, His feet, His soothing and comforting and encouraging presence that all will be well. You are where you are for a reason, and that reason is to be a Glimpse of God in someone else’s Gloom. When you show people that you don’t have to throw in the towel when tough times come, but that you can wipe your blood, sweat and tears, and remain in the fight, and even win it, that’s powerful! That’s encouragement, empowerment, inspiration, that’s purpose, that’s ministry! You are where you are so you can tell someone else: “NAY, IN ALL THESE THINGS WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM THAT LOVED US.” (Romans 8:37) The New Living Translation says it like this: “NO, DESPITE ALL THESE THINGS, OVERWHELMING VICTORY IS OURS THROUGH CHRIST, WHO LOVED US.” (NLT) You are where you are to prove to those who are suffering in bondage, that God doesn’t even have to bring you OUT, He can bless you and make you a more than conqueror even while you’re still IN! You are where you are to encourage someone in knowing that despite all these things, God is still able!

So don’t walk out on the marriage just yet (your children are watching and listening); don’t leave the church just yet (the people of God are watching and listening); don’t quit the job just yet (the bosses and coworkers are watching and listening); don’t go into despair in the doctor’s office or the hospital (other patients are watching and listening). Your actions, words, and attitude show people how to go through and get through and not give up, give out, or give in. Many will follow your lead. Show them how to take it to prayer, show them how to praise and worship even with it, show them how to dance and sing even if you’ll cry later, show them how to rest in the Word of God no matter what the newspapers say from day-to-day. Show them your life of faith!

Church, people (saved and unsaved) are watching us and listening to us, let’s not mar the image and likeness of God that we are. Let’s not murmur, grumble or complain. Let’s not have a pity party or live in a mansion of misery. Let’s show them how to keep showing up!

God has placed us where we are for a reason, it is not by accident and it is not without purpose and a plan. Therefore, don’t just sit there “Esther”, but take a stand and do something that will better the lives of many.

Esther 4:15-17, “Esther sent back her answer to Mordecai: “Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you. If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.” Mordecai left and carried out Esther’s instructions.” (MSG)

And 4 chapters later, with the very same verses reads:

Esther 8:15-17, “Mordecai walked out of the king’s presence wearing a royal robe of violet and white, a huge gold crown, and a purple cape of fine linen. The city of Susa exploded with joy. For Jews it was all sunshine and laughter: they celebrated, they were honored. It was that way all over the country, in every province, every city when the king’s bulletin was posted: the Jews took to the streets in celebration, cheering, and feasting. Not only that, but many non-Jews became Jews—now it was dangerous not to be a Jew!” (MSG)

Church, it’s time we get to work, because there are people, countries, provinces, states, cities, and nations just waiting for us to remember Why We Are Here…to Fulfill the Great Commission! And unlike our jobs, we don’t get to use vacation, personal and sick time so that we can clock out and check out on ministry. We don’t get snow days. Conditions Should Never Compromise Our Commission, Call or Conviction! We are to be about our Father’s Business like never before. So, let’s clock in and work like we know the last hours are truly at hand…because they are!

We are here for a reason, and it’s for the People’s Souls Not Our Personal Success, don’t lose Sight of that!

You Are There For a Reason!

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

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“That Container is Lying About Its Content”

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Matthew 7:15, “Be on your guard against false prophets; they come to you looking like sheep on the OUTSIDE, but on the INSIDE they are really like wild wolves.” (GNT)

My two favorite seasons are Winter and Fall! Winter, because I love Christmas, snow, carols, decorations and the like. And Fall, because I love the colors, Thanksgiving, the start of the scent of fireplaces, but most of all, Pumpkin Pie! LOL! It’s the truth! One of life’s great treats is pumpkin pie! Me and my girlfriend Monica were absolute pumpkin pie junkies growing up. However, we didn’t eat them quite the same. I loved mine simply hot (nothing added at all!) But Monica, she was crazy about Cool Whip! And that’s just how she ate her pumpkin pie, loaded with Cool Whip! And that’s exactly what she was after when she went into the refrigerator at my house. You see, one of the things my mom used to always cook as a dessert for Thanksgiving was pumpkin pie. And although no one in the house ate Cool Whip, mom would always keep some for Monica, because she was guaranteed to be a guest (invited or not!) So, Monica arrived, ate dinner, and immediately went for a large piece of pumpkin pie, and all it was missing was that little white topping of Cool Whip. She fumbled all around in the fridge until she saw that familiar plastic container with a picture of exactly what she wanted her pumpkin pie to look like. Somewhat mindlessly however, she opened that container, stuck her spoon in there, and then pulled out the contents. She was just about to decorate her pie with it when she looked at what was on her spoon! It wasn’t Cool Whip (even though the container clearly said ‘Cool Whip’)! It was in fact left over gravy, which doesn’t do much for pumpkin pie!

The container promised her one thing on the outside, but what was inside was something altogether different!

That’s an experience every one of us has had when we reached for something, based on what it was supposed to give us, only to be disappointed when we found out what was really inside. That deception is, in fact, the very nature of sin! And that’s why we end up with scars and messes we never knew we were going to be a part of. That Cool Whip container lied about its content! It was deceptive, it was a counterfeit!

The word ‘deceptive’, is defined as: “giving an impression different from the true one; to deliberately mislead into believing something false.” Its Old French Origin “deceivre”, from Latin “decipere” means “to ensnare, to cheat.

The word “counterfeit”, is defined as: “to make in exact imitation of something valuable with the intention to deceive or defraud; a forgery.” Its Old French Origin “contrefait” means “made in opposition.

And that’s exactly what sin does. Sin deceives us, it gives us an impression different from its true one; it deliberately misleads us into believing something false; it ensnares and cheats us; it imitates something valuable or worthwhile, when its true intention was to deceive and defraud us; it’s a forgery to its appearance; it is opposition to what is real and true.

It’s much like the commercials you see about smoking and drinking. Everyone in the ads appear to be having such a great time. They’re happy, smiling, laughing, partying, dancing, and living life to the fullest with utter, and complete joy…or so it seems. Because if you watch the other commercials about smoking and drinking, you see the contents of the faulty looking container. The drinking commercials show cars flipped upside down, a child’s bicycle laying in blood on the ground where they were run over, you see the pain and anguish of loved ones looking at the remains of a car that their loved one was in, but had to be cut out of. The smoking commercials, show you the black lungs, the respirators, the person with a hole in their throat, the person who suffered a heart attack at 38, the person who says, ‘I can only go as far as my oxygen tank lets me.’ Amazingly, both commercials have the same focus (smoking and drinking), however, one shows the container, but the other shows the real content! And so it is with sin!

Like the drinking and smoking commercials, sin only shows you the container, never the content…that you often don’t see revealed, until it’s far too late. James 1:13-15, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (MSG)

Sin is much like smoking and drinking. There’s a conception (pregnancy), then a baby, then the baby grows to adulthood, and then there’s death. Sin, smoking and drinking are all the very same. They take their time. They’re in no hurry at all to kill you right away. But when the full effects finally grow to maturity, they take you out prematurely!

However, Scripture warns us of 2 things: One, we are not ignorant of the enemy’s devices and two, in the midst of any temptation, there is always a way out! Read your Bible saints:

2 Corinthians 2:11, “This is so that we won’t be taken advantage of by Satan, because WE ARE WELL AWARE OF HIS SCHEMES.” (CEB);

1 Corinthians 10:13, “NO temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide THE WAY OUT AS WELL, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” (AMP)

But back to James 1:13-15, “…THE TEMPTATION TO GIVE IN TO EVIL COMES FROM US AND ONLY US. WE HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT THE LEERING, SEDUCING FLARE-UP OF OUR OWN LUST…” In other words, we have no one to blame, we have no justification, we can make no excuses, we can point no fingers. Giving In To Temptation Is a Conscious, Deliberate Decision WE Make On OUR OWN! We can’t say we knew no better, because 2 Corinthians 2:11 lets us know that, “…WE ARE WELL AWARE OF HIS SCHEMES.” And 1 Corinthians 10:13, informs us that, “…NO TEMPTATION [REGARDLESS OF ITS SOURCE] HAS OVERTAKEN OR ENTICED YOU THAT IS NOT COMMON TO HUMAN EXPERIENCE [NOR IS ANY TEMPTATION UNUSUAL OR BEYOND HUMAN RESISTANCE]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and HE WILL NOT LET YOU BE TEMPTED BEYOND YOUR ABILITY [TO RESIST], but along with the temptation HE [has in the past and is now and] will [ALWAYS] PROVIDE THE WAY OUT AS WELL, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” (AMP)

Today, is a good day to pray this short, yet effective prayer: “Lord in the midst of every temptation, grant me the discernment to see Your way of escape and the wisdom to take it!”

Don’t let Sin seduce you with its appearance of good! Don’t be fooled by the container, and be killed by the content!

Neither Satan or Sin are in any hurry to trap you! Like the effects of smoking and drinking, it damages and destroys your life slowly and often silently.

Pay attention to this Scripture: 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.” (AMP) That word “prowl” is defined as “to move about stealthily or restlessly as if in search of prey.” “Stealthily” is defined as “cautious and surreptitious action or movement; designed to make detection by radar”. “Surreptitious” is defined as “done secretly or furtively” And “furtively” is defined as “characterized by evasive secrecy” Its Latin Origin “furtivus”, from “furtum” means “theft.” And that’s just like Satan and Sin, they move about stealthily, very cautious, surreptitiously in action and movement detecting by radar their prey to devour. And it’s not done in a big way either, nor is it done quickly. But the enemy prowls, he takes his time, he roams the territory until it’s a vulnerable, opportune time to attack and annihilate! Don’t let it happen to you! Satan and Sin move furtively, very secretively like a thief. And most thieves who simply want to steal (anything, regardless of its value) don’t have a plan. They just see something and take it. But when real thieves go after something (of Value), they have a plan. They map it out. They take their time. They come up with back-up plans, a plan b-z, in case plan a doesn’t make it! They scope out an area or person. They pick all the right people to help them accomplish their goal. And Satan and Sin are no different. They aren’t looking to snatch you overnight. Because of your Value, they’re scheming and planning, and picking out just the right people to use against you. Like a lion, he’s roaming, waiting, watching, plotting and planning his ultimate theft of your life and soul! And it’s all because you are of such Value!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “…you are not your own [property]…YOU WERE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE [YOU WERE ACTUALLY PURCHASED WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF JESUS AND MADE HIS OWN]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.” (AMP)

You, my friend, or so valuable that it took the Blood and Life of the Son of God just to purchase you! And you thought you had no value?! Why do you think the devil is prowling around your life?! He knows who you are, what you’ll become and who you belong to! He knows your worth and your value (even when you under-estimate it yourself)! And most important, he knows you are the PROPERTY OF GOD! You see, some thieves will steal a $100 bracelet from Macy’s, and then there are those thieves that take their precious time to steal a Diamond that’s rare and valuable, because the work is worth what they’ll attain! Can you imagine the sheer joy Satan would have if he can steal YOU from the Kingdom of God that was purchased with the Life and Blood of the Son of God? Someone who was purchased with the Blood and Life of Jesus?! Again, I say, don’t be fooled by the container, the contents will kill you…and it will take its time doing so!

Truth is, you may be looking at a temptation right now, or maybe you’re even giving into it right now; a temptation that looks promising on the outside. But God is sending you a warning right now to let you know the heartache and the hurt that’s on the inside. You see, sin conceals its ugliness and it conceals its destruction until you’ve already talked with the serpent, bitten the fruit and been banished from the garden!

The temptation that looks good to you right now may say “pleasure” on the container – do this because it will feel good. Or maybe the package says “love” – do this and you’ll get some love. The promise may be “relief” – a chance to escape from some hurt, or maybe it says “significance” – do this and you’ll get ahead, you’ll feel important.

But see, God believes in “truth-in-packaging.” He clearly reveals what sin really offers in James 1:15, “After desire has conceived” (that’s the part where the container really looks inviting) “it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.That, of course, is not on the container!

Which makes me think of the Federal Trade Commission. It states on its website: “Truth In Advertising – When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence. The Federal Trade Commission enforces these truth-in-advertising laws, and it applies the same standards no matter where an ad appears – in newspapers and magazines, online, in the mail, or on billboards or buses. The FTC looks especially closely at advertising claims that can affect consumers’ health or their pocketbooks – claims about food, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, alcohol, and tobacco and on conduct related to high-tech products and the Internet. The FTC also monitors and writes reports about ad industry practices regarding the marketing of alcohol and tobacco. When the FTC finds a case of fraud perpetrated on consumers, the agency files actions in federal district court for immediate and permanent orders to stop scams; prevent fraudsters from perpetrating scams in the future; freeze their assets; and get compensation for victims.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if that were the case with Satan and Sin? Where there had to be truth-in-advertising, or they would have to pay us for victimizing us through false and misleading claims? But people of God, that is not the case! Satan and Sin can look as inviting and appealing as a Cool Whip container, while you’re holding a nice, large, hot slice of pumpkin pie…HOWEVER, the contents in the container are not suitable for you! And there is no penalty to be paid because the Bible teaches us, we are well aware, and able to resist! So, before you puff your next cigarette, sip your next drink, say that lie, share that rumor/gossip, meet at that hotel, return that email, voicemail, text or compliment, know that you will pay a heavy price for devaluing the property of God!

First, sin fascinates you, then sin assassinates you! It kills your self-respect, it kills people’s trust in you, it kills your close relationships, it kills your freedom, it kills your closeness to God, it kills your reputation, it kills your character, it kills your integrity, it kills present and future opportunities, it kills marriages and families, it kills neighborhoods, communities, even businesses, ministries and churches, and before long, it will kill you! Short Benefit – Long Consequences! A sinful way to get something you need or want is never worth it and ultimately never delivers.

It’s a prison on the inside, that looks like a penthouse on the outside! You don’t know that you’re hooked until the cell door slams behind you! The thrill of sin lasts a short time; the bill for sin lasts a long time! There’s a little good stuff and a whole lot of guilt; a rush that’s brief and wreckage that can last a lifetime.

Don’t fall for the lies on sin’s package! Check its real contents, as exposed graphically in the Bible! Or in the words of my nutritionist, “READ THE CONTENTS!” In fact, she said something interesting to me recently. I told her I’ve been good and only eating whole wheat bread. And she said, “but is it 100%?” I was confused of course. I thought she would be happy that I was eating whole wheat bread. But she said, “the contents, the ingredients, make the difference between something bad and good, and between something good and great.” For example, I now buy tuna fish in the can (but in water, not oil); I buy my fruit cups (but in their own natural juice, not syrup). You see, tuna fish and fruit cups are good for you, but their contents, ingredients, make the difference between good and great! So, the next time a temptation avails itself, before you rush in based on “appearance sake” only, read the contents, read the ingredients!

2 Timothy 3:5, “Having a FORM of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (KJV) Here’s a few more translations:

“holding to a FORM of [OUTWARD] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.” (AMP);

“They will LOOK LIKE they are religious but deny God’s power. Avoid people like this.” (CEB);

“They will go on PRETENDING to be devoted to God, but they will refuse to let that “devotion” change the way they live. Stay away from these people!” (ERV);

“having the APPEARANCE of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (ESV);

“and will ACT as if they serve God but will not have his power. Stay away from those people.” (NCV);

“They will do things to make it LOOK AS IF they are Christians. But they will not receive the power that is for a Christian. Keep away from such people.” (NLV)

Sounds a lot like false-advertising to me! Much like Satan and Sin, they only have a, “form, look like, pretend, appear, act and look as if”. The container is misleadingly safe, the contents however are dangerous and deadly! Don’t be fooled by what’s on the outside, use wisdom and search the inside!

Now, if you’ve already opened sin’s package, just get out while you can! If you’re looking at a compromise that God calls sin, run the other way, while you still can! You haven’t got time for the pain, for the scars, for the slavery, for the shame. Do it God’s way, even if it’s harder, even if it takes longer. Remember, it’s the narrow road that leads to life. It’s the wide road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

No More Falling For Satan and Sins Container Appearance! Now That You KNOW What the Contents Are And Their Capability to Kill You, Keep Your Spoon Out of There! It’s Gravy, NOT Cool Whip!

Don’t be like the Scribes and Pharisees, focusing on the CLEAN OUTER APPEARANCE…when INWARDLY, IT’S A FILTHY MESS! (Matthew 23:25-26, “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the OUTSIDE of the cup and of the plate, but INSIDE they are full of extortion and robbery and self-indulgence (unrestrained greed).  You [spiritually] blind Pharisee, first clean the INSIDE of the cup and of the plate [examine and change your INNER self to conform to God’s precepts], so that the OUTSIDE [your public life and deeds] may be clean also.” (AMP)

Don’t Let the Container Fool You, the Contents Are Not For Your Good! They are a Mere Counterfeit! Use Discernment So That You Be Not Deceived! The Kingdom has such a need of you that it cannot afford for you to compromise and miss God! Therefore, feed your relationship with the Holy Ghost so that He can guard and guide you daily and help you to keep your footing from slipping, stumbling and falling into Satan’s attractive annihilating traps!

Don’t Let the Container Fool You in Regards to it’s Real Content!

2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers. Examine yourselves [not me]! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves [by an ongoing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test and are rejected as COUNTERFEIT?” (AMP);

Galatians 1:7, “which is really not another [gospel]; but there are [obviously] some [people masquerading as teachers] who are disturbing and confusing you [with a misleading, COUNTERFEIT teaching] and want to distort the gospel of Christ [twisting it into something which it absolutely is not].” (AMP);

2 Thessalonians 2:9, “The coming of the [Antichrist, the lawless] one is through the activity of Satan, [attended] with great power [all kinds of COUNTERFEIT miracles] and [DECEPTIVE] signs and FALSE wonders [all of them LIES]” (AMP);

2 Timothy 3:8, “These people oppose the truth in the same way that Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. Their minds are corrupt and their faith is COUNTERFEIT.” (AMP)

“It is not the wolf who looks like a wolf who is most dangerous…it is the wolf who looks like a sheep.” (Author Unknown)

“Be careful who you trust, the devil was once an angel.” (Author Unknown)

“You can speak with spiritual eloquence, pray in public, and maintain a holy appearance, but it is your behavior that will reveal your true character.” (Steve Maraboli)

“Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” (Aesop)

“Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing…people should be judged not by their outward demeanor, but by their works, for many in sheep’s clothing do the work of wolves.” (Author Unknown)

“The devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for.” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes it’s not the people who change, it’s the mask that falls off.” (Author Unknown)

“Satan is not fighting churches; he’s joining them. He does more harm sowing tares than by pulling up wheat. He accomplishes more by imitation than by outright opposition.” (Author Unknown)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “15 Ways to Stay Active With Arthritis”

Feel free to join us at: http://www.chefshermainesbiblecafe.home.blog Today’s Chef Special Word “FORMED!”

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“A Dirty Deliverance!”

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…I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.(Jonah 2:2).

Jonah chapter 2 is another one of my favorite Scriptures! You See, Right in the Midst of Trouble, Jonah Still Prayed Unto the Lord! He Forgot about his Situation and Fully Turned His Attention to God! Can you imagine what would happen if today the church did the very same thing? If we sought God no matter our situation? If we still fell on bended knee no matter how many times the rug has been pulled out from beneath us? If we still talked to God no matter how badly others are talking about us? If we still went to church even if we had to walk there? If we would still read the Bible even when we’ve lost the job? Can you imagine if we still sought God regardless of our current circumstances!?

Just think what would become of our lives if we prayed as the Bible admonishes us to: “Pray At All Times” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 GNT) Just imagine how strong our relationship with God would become if we indeed prayed at all times. And that includes praying when the car breaks down; the kids are failing in school; the marriage is holding on by its last string; the job just laid you off; the doctor just gave you a cancerous diagnosis; your parent passes away; your sibling is strung out on drugs; your church is emptying out; your bank accounts can’t even keep the bare minimum anymore; Medicaid said no; Medicare won’t cover; there’s dust in the cupboards and only Arm and Hammer in the fridge! Would you still be able to pray to God, even in these times?! Would you still trust Him? Would you still lean on Him? Would you still believe Him? Would you still praise and worship Him? Would you still have Faith in Him? Would you still thank Him?

When you study the content of Jonah’s prayer in Jonah 2:2-9, you’ll discover that he wasn’t praying the ‘give me or get me out of this prayer, but a Prayer of Worship and Thanksgiving (“…But I’m Worshiping you, God, calling out in Thanksgiving!…” (Jonah 2:9 MSG) However, what happens next is Absolutely Dynamic; the Bible says, “And the LORD Commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” (Jonah 2:10 NIV). What a Mighty Deliverance! BUT, if you look at what Jonah Worshiped in the Midst Of to Get It, you’ll have to ask yourself, ‘do I really want it that bad?Because to get This Kind of Deliverance, You’ve Got to Possess the Ability to Worship In the Worst Of It! Yes, that means to pray, worship and thank God while the eviction notice is on the front door; the pink slip after 20 years was just handed to you; the doctor has nothing else he can do for your disease; your teenage son tells you he has a baby on the way; your daughter comes home with a tattoo across her forehead; there’s nothing in the fridge but the light-bulb; the toilet water won’t go down, the heat won’t come up, the car won’t start and the bills won’t stop! YES, You Have To Still Pray, Praise, Worship and Thank God In the Midst of It All! So How Bad Do You Really Want It?!

First off, it was due to Jonah’s Disobedience that he was in Trouble in the first place! So Jonah was where he Deserved to be, and God Put Him There, the Bible says,Now the Lord had Prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah…”(Jonah 1:17). Like Jonah, many of us are where we are due to our OWN disobedience! BUT the very next verse says, “Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God Out Of the Fish’s Belly.” (Jonah 2:1). Truth be told, sometimes Deliverance Looks Downright Disgusting! I know you thought God was going to bring you out driving a 2019 so and so…NOPE…with a brand new house…NOPE…with a 7 figure income…NOPE…with the spouse dipped in honey…NOPE…with a world-wide ministry…NOPE…totally debt free…NOPE…a size 36-24-36…NOPE! Your Deliverance Is NOT Going To Look Pretty! After all, did you really think Jonah would spend 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a fish and come up smelling like roses? Truth is, I hate to even walk past the scent of a fish market, let alone have to be in the belly of a great fish for 3 days and 3 nights! So, no, Jonah wasn’t coming out fresh and clean! And neither are you going to come out of all you’ve been in smelling like Febreeze!

Just look at Mark 7:33-35, the Bible reads: “And taking him aside from the crowd [privately], He thrust His fingers into the man’s ears and spat and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, He sighed as He said, Ephphatha, which means, Be opened! And his ears were opened, his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak distinctly and as he should.” (AMP). Sweetheart, your deliverance is Not going to come with the latest fad-prophet sprinkling fairy dust over you and waving a pearly white magic wand! NOPE! Ear Wax and Spit Baby! So Do You Still Want To Be Delivered?! Listen for the two important truths here: One, the man’s ears were opened! “So faith comes from HEARING…” (Romans 10:17 AMP) Now, you may not like the method God uses to deliver you, but you will love hearing by faith what He has to say to you! The deliverance may be downright disgusting, but won’t it be worth it to hear God say: “…All these blessings will come down on you and spread out beyond you because you have responded to the Voice of God, your God: God’s blessing inside the city, God’s blessing in the country; God’s blessing on your children, the crops of your land, the young of your livestock, the calves of your herds, the lambs of your flocks. God’s blessing on your basket and bread bowl; God’s blessing in your coming in, God’s blessing in your going out. God will defeat your enemies who attack you. They’ll come at you on one road and run away on seven roads. God will order a blessing on your barns and workplaces; he’ll bless you in the land that God, your God, is giving you. God will form you as a people holy to him, just as he promised you, if you keep the commandments of God, your God, and live the way he has shown you. All the peoples on Earth will see you living under the Name of God and hold you in respectful awe. God will lavish you with good things: children from your womb, offspring from your animals, and crops from your land, the land that God promised your ancestors that he would give you. God will throw open the doors of his sky vaults and pour rain on your land on schedule and bless the work you take in hand. You will lend to many nations but you yourself won’t have to take out a loan. God will make you the head, not the tail; you’ll always be the top dog, never the bottom dog, as you obediently listen to and diligently keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you today…” (Deuteronomy 28:1-14, MSG)

Wouldn’t a Dirty Deliverance Be Worth Hearing All of That?!

Secondly, his tongue was loosed! The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21 AMP); It further shares, “You will also decide and decree a thing, and it will be established for you; and the light [of God’s favor] will shine upon your ways.” (Job 22:28 AMP) Having your tongue loosed, means you get to decree life over your life and change it with the creative power your God has given you in your ability to open your mouth and speak it! The Bible says, “…and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed.” (Romans 4:17 AMPC) Once your deliverance takes place and your lips are loosed, regardless to what your situation may still look like, you open your mouth and declare the nonexistent things God foretold and promised you and you speak them as if they already exist! “I’m healed; I’m whole; I’m debt-free; my marriage is repaired; my children are returning from straying; my bank accounts look like phone numbers with the 1 and area code attached! I’m cancer free; the mortgage company said yes; the grant was approved; I’m driving the car off the lot; God is sending me the mate He custom designed just for me; the business proposal has been approved; the tuition is free; the church is full; my household is saved; my family is delivered; the addiction has been arrested by the Holy Ghost; the anointing is fresh; the gifts are stirred; closed doors of opportunity are unlocking as I speak; the promotion is mine; the elevation is mine; the doctors diagnosis is being reversed; the blood-work is coming back in my favor; the x-rays are clear; the chemo, radiation and dialysis are stopping; I’m graduating!”

You see that’s the beauty of deliverance, no matter how dirty it is, you get to receive the restoration of your hearing and speech! It may be dirty, but thank God for deliverance anyhow!

Need another Dirty Deliverance Example? Just Look at Mark 8:23-25, the Bible reads: “And He caught the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands upon him, He asked him, Do you [possibly] see anything? And he looked up and said, I see people, but [they look] like trees, walking. Then He put His hands on his eyes again; and the man looked intently [that is, fixed his eyes on definite objects], and he was Restored and saw Everything Distinctly [even what was at a distance].” (AMP). There’s That Spit Anointing Again! Who Knew Jesus Was Such A Dirty Deliverer?! But this deliverance comes with the blessing of restored vision! Not just physical, but spiritual! All those dreams that you had that were so big and clear before life happened and you stuffed them on the shelf, are coming off the shelf! You will be like Joseph, have one dream that’s big, then dream again and it gets even bigger! You may not like the dirty deliverance, but you will love the results! Things that were so foggy and unclear are going to be 20/20 before 2020 even gets here! You were blind to God’s favor; blind to ways being made on your behalf; blind to the miracles coming down your street and to your house, but oh what happens when God delivers your vision! Another thing I love about this text is that it says, “…he was Restored and saw Everything Distinctly [even what was at a DISTANCE].” Once you’re delivered and your vision is restored you will not only see the blessings and favor of the Lord on your life, but you’ll be able to see the blessings on multiple generations to come! Your deliverance and restoration are not just for you, but for your posterity that hasn’t even been born yet!

You see, deliverance comes when you can Worship God in the Midst of the Worst of your Troubles! Understand that there’s No Doubt About Your Deliverance Coming, You Just Need to Accept the Fact, In Advance, That Your Deliverance Will Come, But It Won’t Come Clean! You’ll often have to get Dirty Before You Get Delivered! Can I Prove It? The Bible says, Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.” Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, “I thought he’d personally come out and meet me, call on the name of GOD, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are Cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not Bathe in them? I’d at least get Clean.” He stomped off, mad as a hornet. But his servants caught up with him and said, “Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?” So he did it. He went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man. His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He was as good as new.” (2 Kings 5:10-14 MSG). Are You Willing To Get Delivered Even When You Don’t Get To Choose The Method of Your Deliverance? Are You Willing To Get Delivered Even When You Don’t Get to Choose the Prophet? Are you willing to be delivered where no one can see it and talk about? Are you willing to be delivered when God uses a nobody to declare the Word of healing to you? Are you willing to get delivered even if you have to do something “beneath” your title, office or position in order to get it? How Bad Do You Really Want To Be Delivered!? Because Naaman dipped seven times in the dirty Jordan River, will you quit at 2 because it’s just asking too much of you? But at least Naaman was above ground, dipped seven dirty times and came up clean, Jonah lie in the belly of a great fish for 3 days and 3 nights! Listen, if you can’t handle 7 dips, you’ll lose your natural mind over 3 days and 3 nights! So, how bad do you really want to be delivered?!

Honestly, Do You have Enough Guts to get Dirty Before You get Delivered?! Can you Worship and Give Thanksgiving right in the Belly of the Fish, Before you get set Free on Dry Ground?! Truth is, Anybody can Worship and Give Thanks AFTERWARDS, But the Beginning of Deliverance is Doing It DURING?! And since we’re talking about Worship, how about we visit Jonah’s Church, enter into his Sanctuary, and take a good look around at What Jonah Worshiped in the Midst Of! Jonah 2:2-6, Describes Jonah’s Fish Temple of Worship: The Bible says, “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ’Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, With ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me. I said, ’I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever…” (MSG).

And you think you’ve got problems??!! You have the audacity to complain about your church?! In the winter you can’t worship because it’s too cold; in the summer you can’t worship because it’s too hot; in the spring you can’t worship because of your allergies; in the fall you can’t worship because it’s holiday season! The ushers push you in a pew; the trustees pull you and all your money apart; the choir never sings your song; the musicians are too loud; service is too long; the kids are too busy! Everything in the church hinders your worship, but nothing you face at your church can compare to what Jonah had to worship through in his! Jonah worshiped in the midst of fish guts and seaweed, and you get an attitude because the church has 2 services instead of 1?! Are you kidding me?!

Look at what Jonah worshiped in the midst of! But yet in still, you cancel your worship due to rolling eyes and attitudes; over what someone said or didn’t say; because they didn’t sing your song or preach you happy; because it’s raining outside; because they sat in your seat; because of what the doctors said. Tell yourself from this day forward, the devil is a liar! I’ll let nothing and no one cancel my worship again! Not their words, facial expressions, opinions, criticisms, discouragement, or bitterness! Why do I refuse to let it cancel my worship? Because I can say with Jonah, “…Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, And my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple. Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love. But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!” (vss. 1-9 MSG)

If Jonah can worship God in the midst of all of this, surely you can worship God in the midst of your mess! God does not stop being Sovereign because of your Situation! He can do anything, anywhere for any one of His children! That’s why you need to understand the power of your worship. It summons all of Heaven to meet you in Hell, Just ask Jonah,…I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.(vs. 2). If Jonah Can Cry Out to God In the Midst of a Belly of Hell, Surely You Can Walk Into Your Pretty Sanctuary and Worship God? Surely! He lay in fish guts while you sit on cushioned seats and you still can’t worship God? His music was the indigestion of a fish, while you have a whole minstrel section and yet you still can’t worship God? He was at the bottom of the ocean and you sit elevated in your prestigious pulpit seating and yet you still can’t worship God? How is it that Jonah can give God his all right where he was, and yet you haven’t given God anything and you’re in a better position than Jonah?!

And an added bonus: You don’t have to look for God in worship, if you worship, He’ll come looking for you!…true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the FATHER SEEKS.John 4:23 (NIV).

People of God, Learn How to Worship Your Way Through, And Before You Know It, You’ll Worship Your Way Out!

It May Be a Dirty Deliverance, But It’s Guaranteed To Give You a Clean Slate!

“God will lead you into a deliverance where the means that delivers you will be those who would destroy you.” (Edwin Louis Cole)

“…unless you long for deliverance you shall not have it.” (John Owen)

“Before you ever get a problem, God has already got your deliverance planned.” (Joyce Meyer)

“The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear. It is the storm within which endangers him, not the storm without.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

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

“God is in control and therefore in EVERYTHING I can give thanks not because of the situation but because of the One who directs and rules over it.” (Kay Arthur)

“God wants you to be delivered from what you have done and from what has been done to you. Both are equally important to Him.” (Joyce Meyer)

“When the Power of God is Present, Healing and Deliverance are Just Like Breathing.” (T.B. Joshua)

“The nature of the enemy’s warfare in your life is to cause you to become discouraged and to cast away your confidence. Not that you would necessarily discard your salvation, but you could give up your hope of God’s deliverance. The enemy wants to numb you into a coping kind of Christianity that has given up hope of seeing God’s resurrection power. Don’t give up!” (Bob Sorge)

“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.” (George Muller)

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

“Sometimes God will deliver you from the fire, and other times God will make you fireproof.” (Joel Osteen)

“I’m determined to stand whether God will deliver me or not.” (Bob Dylan)

“We all know the disappointments that come when we base anticipation on what we and other humans can deliver. God will never have a problem delivering.” (James MacDonald)

“God Who delivers us from the guilt of sin through faith in Jesus Christ, is able to deliver the believer from the power of sin as well.” (J. Edwin Orr)

“What’s damaged you as a child does not have to destroy you as an adult. God can deliver you from all your hurt and pain. Enter into God’s delivery room!” (Jasmine Harris)

“Don’t rush the time of God. He knows what is best for us and when it is best for us. Continue to wait, but know that He is faithful and He will deliver.” (Lisa Osteen Comes)

Psalm 50:15, “And call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall honor and glorify Me.” (AMPC)

Psalm 59:1, “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend and protect me from those who rise up against me.” (AMPC)

Psalm 32:7, “You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” (AMPC)

Psalm 70:1, “Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord!” (AMPC)

Jeremiah 15:21, “And I will deliver you out of the hands of the wicked, and I will redeem you out of the palms of the terrible and ruthless tyrants.” (AMPC)

Job 5:17-18, “So, what a blessing when God steps in and corrects you! Mind you, don’t despise the discipline of Almighty God! True, He wounds, but He also dresses the wound; the same hand that hurts you, heals you. From one disaster after another He delivers you; no matter what the calamity, the evil can’t touch you.” (MSG)

Galatians 1:3-5, “Grace and spiritual blessing be to you and [soul] peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), Who gave (yielded) Himself up [to atone] for our sins [and to save and sanctify us], in order to rescue and deliver us from this present wicked age and world order, in accordance with the will and purpose and plan of our God and Father – To Him [be ascribed all] the glory through all the ages of the ages and the eternities of the eternities! Amen (so be it).” (AMPC)

Daniel 3:17, “If our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.” (AMPC)

Genesis 45:7, “And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (KJV)

Psalm 107: “Oh, thank God—He’s so good! His love never runs out. All of you set free by God, tell the world! Tell how He freed you from oppression, Then rounded you up from all over the place, from the four winds, from the seven seas. Some of you wandered for years in the desert, looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst, staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion. Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God. He got you out in the nick of time; He put your feet on a wonderful road that took you straight to a good place to live. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves. He poured great draughts of water down parched throats; the starved and hungry got plenty to eat. Some of you were locked in a dark cell,  cruelly confined behind bars, Punished for defying God’s Word, for turning your back on the High God’s counsel—A hard sentence, and your hearts so heavy, and not a soul in sight to help. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; He got you out in the nick of time. He led you out of your dark, dark cell, broke open the jail and led you out. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves; He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors, He snapped the prison bars like matchsticks! Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin; You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; He got you out in the nick of time. He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves; Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what He’s done—sing it out! Some of you set sail in big ships; you put to sea to do business in faraway ports. Out at sea you saw God in action, saw His breathtaking ways with the ocean: With a word He called up the wind—an ocean storm, towering waves! You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out; your hearts were stuck in your throats. You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk, you didn’t know which end was up. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; He got you out in the nick of time. He quieted the wind down to a whisper, put a muzzle on all the big waves. And you were so glad when the storm died down, and He led you safely back to harbor. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves. Lift high your praises when the people assemble, shout Hallelujah when the elders meet! God turned rivers into wasteland, springs of water into sunbaked mud; Luscious orchards became alkali flats because of the evil of the people who lived there. Then He changed wasteland into fresh pools of water, arid earth into springs of water, Brought in the hungry and settled them there; they moved in—what a great place to live! They sowed the fields, they planted vineyards, they reaped a bountiful harvest. He blessed them and they prospered greatly; their herds of cattle never decreased. But abuse and evil and trouble declined as He heaped scorn on princes and sent them away. He gave the poor a safe place to live, treated their clans like well-cared-for sheep. Good people see this and are glad; bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks. If you are really wise, you’ll think this over—it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.” (MSG)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Health Benefits of Beans”

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LETS STAY CONNECTED!
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“The Church Needs Deliverance!” (Part III)

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…when I arrive, I will call attention to what he is doing, his boiling over and casting malicious reflections upon us with insinuating language. And not satisfied with that, he refuses to receive and welcome the [missionary] brethren himself, and also interferes with and forbids those who would welcome them, and tries to expel (excommunicate) them from the church.” {3 John 1:9-10 Amp}

Now, I thought Diotrephes did enough damage in verse 9, but that’s nothing compared to his Destructive Behavior in verse 10!…his boiling over and casting malicious reflections…with insinuating language. And not satisfied with that, he refuses to receive and welcome the [missionary] brethren himself, and also interferes with and forbids those who would welcome them, and tries to expel (excommunicate) them from the church.

You ever see somebody go so far wrong that you’re not sure if they’ll ever be right again?! Well, unfortunately, we’re back in detention with “Diotrephes”! And what has he done this time? Like many of us, he allowed his mouthpiece to get him into trouble!

The Bible says: “…his boiling over and casting malicious reflections…with insinuating language…” (AMP). However, so that we get a clearer picture of his runaway train of a mouth, let’s look at this verse in a few translations:

…he has been attacking us with GOSSIP…” (CEV);

…EVIL ACCUSATIONS he is making against us…” (NLT) – which is double wicked in itself since the Bible says that SATAN is the ACCUSER of the brethren!;

…TALKING WICKED NONSENSE against us…” (ESV);

…HE LIES AND SAYS EVIL THINGS about us…” (NCV);

…SPREADING VICIOUS RUMORS about us…” (MSG);

…UNJUSTLY ACCUSING us with WICKED WORDS…” (NASB);

…GOSSIPING MALICIOUSLY about us…” (NIV);

…SLANDERING us with MALICIOUS WORDS…” (HCSB);

…PRATING (TALKING FOOLISHLY) against us with MALICIOUS WORDS…” (NKJV).

Now, if I didn’t know any better, I would think we were talking about the DEVIL INSTEAD OF A CHURCH LEADER! Ever experience that? “…ATTACKED WITH GOSSIP; ENDURING EVIL ACCUSATIONS; HEARING WICKED NONSENSE AGAINST YOU; LIES AND VICIOUS RUMORS ABOUT YOU; BEING UNJUSTLY ACCUSED; SLANDERED AND PRATED ABOUT? AND ALL OF IT COMING FROM “CHURCH FOLKS!” WORST THAN THAT, A “CHURCH LEADER!” UNFORTUNATELY, THE “SPIRIT OF DIOTREPHES” IS MOST EASILY DETECTED BY THE MOUTHS OF LEADERS! Which should never be since the Bible is clear about our speech! Ephesians 4:29-32, “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (MSG)

Therefore, Leaders, bear in mind:

GOOD LEADERS ABHOR WRONGDOING OF ALL KINDS; SOUND LEADERSHIP HAS A MORAL FOUNDATION. GOOD LEADERS CULTIVATE HONEST SPEECH…” (Proverbs 16:12-13 MSG);

GOOD LEADERSHIP IS A CHANNEL OF WATER CONTROLLED BY GOD; HE DIRECTS IT TO WHATEVER ENDS HE CHOOSES. WE JUSTIFY OUR ACTIONS BY APPEARANCES; GOD EXAMINES OUR MOTIVES. CLEAN LIVING BEFORE GOD AND JUSTICE WITH OUR NEIGHBORS MEAN FAR MORE TO GOD THAN RELIGIOUS PERFORMANCE” (Proverbs 21:1-3 MSG);

LIKE THE HORIZONS FOR BREADTH AND THE OCEAN FOR DEPTH, THE UNDERSTANDING OF A GOOD LEADER IS BROAD AND DEEP. REMOVE IMPURITIES FROM THE SILVER AND THE SILVERSMITH CAN CRAFT A FINE CHALICE; REMOVE THE WICKED FROM LEADERSHIP AND AUTHORITY WILL BE CREDIBLE AND GOD-HONORING” (Proverbs 23:3-5 MSG).

SINCE EVERYTHING FROM ORDER TO ACCOUNTABILITY, FROM RESPONSIBILITY TO DISCIPLINE ALL START WITH LEADERSHIP…LEADERS, LET NOT THE “SPIRIT OF DIOTREPHES” BE FOUND AMONG YOU ANY LONGER!  “…IF GOD HAS GIVEN YOU LEADERSHIP ABILITY, TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY SERIOUSLY…” (Romans 12:7-9 NLT). FROM YOUR SPEECH TO YOUR ACTIONS; FROM YOUR MOTIVES AND INTENTIONS TO YOUR ATTITUDE AND EVEN INCLUDING YOUR FACIAL EXPRESSIONS AND BODY LANGUAGE, LEARN TO LEAD MORE EFFECTIVELY!

A dear covenant sister of mine, Minister Donna, taught a workshop seminar on “Developing Heart” and there was one statement that she made that I’ve learned to hold dear even after all of these years, and I find it quite befitting right here, she said: “We have a tendency to misquote Proverbs 18:21, we’re under the impression that life and death are in the power of the tongue, when in reality the Scripture reads: “DEATH and LIFE are in the power of the tongue…” Therefore, we are more inclined to KILL WITH OUR WORDS FIRST THAN WE ARE TO SPEAK LIFE…” Even when you view this Scripture in various translations, at least 90 % of them all state “DEATH AND LIFE…

SADLY, THAT HAS BECOME TOO TRUE, TOO OFTEN, IN THE LIVES OF CHURCH LEADERSHIP! WE USE OUR WORDS TO DELIVER DEATH, AS A FIRST OPTION!

But TODAY WE’RE GOING TO BE MORE LIKE SOLOMON THAN DIOTREPHES,THE RIGHT WORD AT THE RIGHT TIME IS LIKE A CUSTOM-MADE PIECE OF JEWELRY, AND A WISE FRIEND’S TIMELY REPRIMAND IS LIKE A GOLD RING SLIPPED ON YOUR FINGER” (Proverbs 25:11 MSG). WORDS CAN BRING WHOLENESS OR WOUNDS, THE CHOICE IS YOURS! But be mindful: “…ON THE JUDGMENT DAY PEOPLE WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY CARELESS THING THEY HAVE SAID. THE WORDS YOU HAVE SAID WILL BE USED TO JUDGE YOU. SOME OF YOUR WORDS WILL PROVE YOU RIGHT, BUT SOME OF YOUR WORDS WILL PROVE YOU GUILTY.” (Matthew 12:35-37 NCV).

It may sound a little old fashion, but WATCH YOUR MOUTH!

Believe it or not, even after doing all of that, Diotrephes, according to the Word of God was: “…not satisfied with that… So what else does he do? “…he refuses to receive and welcome the [missionary] brethren himself, and also interferes with and forbids those who would welcome them, and tries to expel (excommunicate) them from the church. I really had to pause for a moment to see if one “Church Leader” could really be this bad?! Unfortunately, Diotrephes was! He refused to receive and welcome, of all people, the missionaries! People who are on assignment to make things better, to aid, to help, to minister to the needs of those less fortunate! He refused to receive and welcome them that feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty and shelter to the homeless! Maybe he didn’t hear when Jesus said: “…to…the ones on his left…’Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’ Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’ “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’ “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.” (Matthew 25:41-46 MSG).

 The “Spirit of Diotrephes” is easy to recognize, because it will be found amongst them that refuse to receive and welcome them that want to make things better, to aid, to help and to minister. This spirit is also in full operation when new members join the church! Or, elevation takes place for one considered to be the “least” of them.

The Scripture says: “…he refuses to receive and welcome the [missionary] brethren himself…” which lets us know it was Customary and His Responsibility to do so as a “Church Leader”! Therefore, what kind of example was he setting as a leader, for others to follow?! Again, LEADERS, be careful! The Bible says: “Now it’s up to you. Be on your toes—both for yourselves AND YOUR CONGREGATION OF SHEEP. THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS PUT YOU IN CHARGE OF THESE PEOPLE—GOD’S PEOPLE THEY ARE—TO GUARD AND PROTECT THEM. GOD HIMSELF THOUGHT THEY WERE WORTH DYING FOR.” (Acts 20:28 MSG). AND USUALLY IF SOMETHING IS WORTH DYING FOR, IT’S WORTH KILLING FOR! I WOULD HATE FOR YOUR DAYS TO BE CUT SHORT BECAUSE YOU HANDLED GOD’S SHEEP HAPHAZARDLY! Listen: DOOM TO THE SHEPHERD-LEADERS WHO BUTCHER AND SCATTER MY SHEEP!” GOD’S DECREE. SO HERE IS WHAT I, GOD, ISRAEL’S GOD, SAY TO THE SHEPHERD-LEADERS WHO MISLED MY PEOPLE: ‘YOU’VE SCATTERED MY SHEEP. YOU’VE DRIVEN THEM OFF. YOU HAVEN’T KEPT YOUR EYE ON THEM. WELL, LET ME TELL YOU, I’M KEEPING MY EYE ON YOU, KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR. I’LL TAKE OVER AND GATHER WHAT’S LEFT OF MY SHEEP, GATHER THEM IN FROM ALL THE LANDS WHERE I’VE DRIVEN THEM. I’LL BRING THEM BACK WHERE THEY BELONG, AND THEY’LL RECOVER AND FLOURISH. I’LL SET SHEPHERD-LEADERS OVER THEM WHO WILL TAKE GOOD CARE OF THEM. THEY WON’T LIVE IN FEAR OR PANIC ANYMORE. ALL THE LOST SHEEP ROUNDED UP! ‘ GOD’S DECREE” (Jeremiah 23:1-4 MSG). APPARENTLY GOD TAKES THE CARE OF HIS SHEEP PERSONALLY AND SERIOUSLY! LEADERS, CHECK YOURSELF!

But not only does Diotrephes refuse to receive and welcome the missionaries himself, but he further has the audacity to: “…interfere with and forbid those who would welcome them, and tries to expel (excommunicate) them from the church.The “Spirit of Diotrephes” will have you acting just as crazy as Nebuchadnezzar! The Bible says: “You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’ “That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws. “After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. MY SANITY RETURNED, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever…” (Daniel 4:32-34 NLT). God doesn’t have to make a fool out of you, BUT HE WILL! Likewise, the “Spirit of Diotrephes” WILL MAKE A FOOL OUT OF YOU TOO! Since no sane person would believe that as a “Church Leader’ you can bad mouth God’s Children, refuse God’s Missionaries, and kick folks out of God’s Church WITH NO REPERCUSSIONS! “…YOU CAN BE SURE I’LL HOLD HIM TO ACCOUNT…” (3 John 1:10 MSG).

Saints, if I were you, I would get delivered from the “Spirit of Diotrephes” because likewise, “…you can be sure GOD WILL HOLD US TO ACCOUNT…”

REMEMBER: “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and HE IS THE ONE TO WHOM WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE.” (Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT).

In closing: “…but Diotrephes…” {3 John 1:9 NIV} I’m sure you’ll agree, that it’s indeed been a pretty rough few days for the “Spirit of Diotrephes”! But I must say, Overcomers, you have made my heart exceedingly glad! To say the least, I was completely floored by a lot of your responses! I knew this spirit was running rampant in the church, but I wouldn’t dare have imagined that it was as prevalent as I found out this week. With that said, I appreciate all of you Leaders in particular, who didn’t point your finger at other folks churches or their pastors. In fact, you didn’t even point your finger at your Own Churches! But the countless emails that I’ve received from those of you, particularly in Leadership roles, pointed your Own finger at your Own self! To tell you the truth, when I knew the direction for this devotional series, I started praying immediately against the emails I would receive from people slandering their own churches and pastors, or that of others. Yet, I can say with gladness, that out of all the emails I’ve received, and during this series there have been hundreds, I didn’t receive one single response in the negative about someone else! Instead, there was ministry gifts emailing repentance and conviction on their own behalf! Responses on being challenged to change! Responses on how to recover and redeem the lost time that was given to the “Spirit of Diotrephes”! Responses from clergy that didn’t realize that not only was the “Spirit of Diotrephes” prevalent in their churches, but that it was prevalent in themselves! With that, I can’t but appreciate your testimonies, your honesty, candidness, sincerity, your transparency was heartfelt! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to really express my feelings during this series. I mean so many of you just took off your masks, stripped out of your pretensions and just got real and said with Isaiah, “…Woe is ME! For I am undone and ruined, because I am a man…unclean…” (6:5 AMP). Like Isaiah, you simply said “…me…and…I”!  There was no blaming your past, spouse, job, church, addictions, habits, friends, family, circumstances, not even your enemies! But simply, “…me…and…I”!  That alone is greatly commendable in my book!

Dealing with the “Spirit of Diotrephes” was a lot to deal with! Because we had to put ourselves in the very vulnerable position of standing in bold, bright lights, naked before a mirror and seeing what’s the naked truth about who we really are, especially as leaders! But keep in mind: Exposure is difficult to endure, but necessary to soar! You see, an eagle is an eagle whether it’s sitting on a tree or flying through the sky! But in order for it to soar, it has to go up high, and be made visible and exposed for all to see! It has to open it’s wings and expose what is normally kept hidden and covered up! That’s if it wants to soar! Likewise, if you’re going to soar in God, you’ve got to accept that nakedness is a necessity! Note: No one comes up to an eagle and opens its wings, the eagle has to do that on its own, if it wants to soar! Yes it’s still an eagle whether it sits in a tree, or fly’s through the air, but no eagle can soar and sit at the same time! You have to be high up, visible for all to see in order to soar! Exposed before everything and everyone is your essential!  

That’s why I appreciate Leaders in particular, because if this spirit is going to be delivered from our churches, the deliverance service has to start within! And as hard as it is, be encouraged to know that exposure is always tied to elevation! And I’m not talking about gaining new titles and positions. But every time you crucify your flesh, your spirit resurrects! Something new and more powerful always follows exposure! Every time imaginations are pulled down, new visions come up! See, “Elevation”, despite what we’ve made it out to be in the church, is merely, “a height above a given level”. So every time you endure exposure, you elevate to another level in your relationship with God, not another level in the church! When you said no to fornication, you received elevation! When you said no to adultery, you received elevation! When you said no to gossip, you received elevation! When you said no to vengeance, you received elevation! You’ll always go to another level in God, when you bring light to your own darkness! Exposure brings you to a new level in your relationship with God. The more you put out, the more He puts in!

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God…” (Matthew 5:8 MSG).

…pursue…consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14 AMP).

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” (James 4:7-10 MSG).

You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life. Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life…set these once-broken bones to dancing…give me a clean bill of health. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me…” (Psalm 51:6-11 MSG).

I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” (John 15:5-8 MSG).

Isn’t it absolutely amazing what God will do in and through us when we realign our lives to live as He desires? He wants to live in us, dwell with us, clean us, have intimate fellowship with us, bless us, and all we have to do is live right!

…didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 MSG).

Understand that because of who you are, Whose you are, and Who lives in you, it is Vital that you receive deliverance from the “Spirit of Diotrephes”! You have too much at Eternal Stake to keep straddling the fence!

As a recap and in a nutshell: Don’t allow the “Spirit of Diotrephes” to cause ‘gaps’ in your relationships; don’t allow it to bring disunity or discord of any kind to the Body of Christ; rid yourself of arrogance and out-of-control egos; remember the greatest among you is a servant, and there is no greatness without servitude; anyone unwilling to serve is unqualified to lead; clothe yourselves in humility that you are subject to those who have rule and authority over you; always be open and receptive to change, new ideas and unheard of suggestions; learn to listen; remember that you are not the only planet in the solar system or the only anointed vessel in God’s cabinet; there is never a time when there is only one star in the sky, they all shine together, therefore you are only one member, appropriately connected to others, in one Body, so you all shine together or don’t shine at all; set a full-time guard over your mouth; don’t be made up of height only, but develop some depth; you are Not irreplaceable; you are Not the only gift given by the Holy Ghost; beware of the company you keep; understand that what you Don’t Know, Can Hurt You; change your tune before the last trumpet sounds; you are Not Blind, so when you See the “Spirit of Diotrephes” with Your Own Eyes, in Your Own House, open Your Own Mouth, Correct and Repent; never refuse the help, aid or ministry gifting’s of others; and most important, You Will be held Accountable for Everything Before God!

Once again, I thank all of you for all that you’ve shared, and more-so for all that you’re committed to changing about your Own life! Please re-read the series over and over again (I know I will)! In addition, continue sending in your feedback, we are nurturers one to another. Iron Still Sharpens Iron! And I’m growing and maturing as much from you as you are from me!

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

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“The Church Needs Deliverance!” (Part II)

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3 John 1:9, “I have written briefly to the church; BUT DIOTREPHES…” {AMP}

I don’t know about you, but “Diotrephes”, has wearied my nerves! Every time I think he’s been dissected enough, the Holy Spirit shines a brighter light so I can see all up in the crevices of his cracked character! And here’s why it’s so important to cover Diotrephes so thoroughly. The Bible says, “Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMP). Therefore, “Diotrephes” is going to continue aiding us by instructing, reproofing, convicting, correcting, disciplining, and training us on what NOT to do!

Remember this: You can learn just as much from King David on what TO DO; as you can from King Saul on what NOT TO DO!

With that said, I’ve discovered thatDiotrephesname means:Nourished by Jupiter or Fed by Jupiter.Now, I’m not into astrology or reading the planets, but to be honest with you, I found the meaning of his name quite interesting, so I figured I would check out some facts about the planet “Jupiter that he’s named after to see what I found. And more importantly, what was it that Jupiter was Symbolic of Nourishing and Feeding Diotrephes?

Let’s see if you’ll find these facts as interesting as I did:

1…JUPITER IS THE LARGEST PLANET IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM! Isn’t it amazing how the “Spirit of Diotrephes” always wants to be SEEN as the LARGEST, and most PROMINENT member in the church?! Always wanting to STAND OUT from the congregation, preferring to SIT HIGH in the pulpit for all men to SEE! APPEARING to be the BEST, when they’re usually the WORST! Reminds me of a Scripture:Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but within they are full of extortion (prey, spoil, plunder) and grasping self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:25 AMP). Even better, listen to this:And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?” (Matthew 6:5 MSG). I take itDiotrephesdidn’t read Proverbs 16:18,First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (MSG). Listen, you’ll always recognize the “Spirit of Diotrephes” when you locate the “LARGE” individuals in the Church. You know those that are Arrogant, Self-Seeking, Self-Serving, High-Minded, Conceited, and Boastful (I’m sure you can agree that this list can be endless?!) That’s why it behooves you to keep the following Scriptures in mind:Whoso privily slanders his neighbor, him will I cut off [from Me]; he who has a Haughty Look and a Proud and Arrogant Heart I cannot and I will not tolerate.” (Psalm 101:5 AMP); “Everyone Proud and Arrogant in heart is disgusting, hateful, and exceedingly offensive to the Lord; be assured [I pledge it] they will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5 AMP); “…he who raises high his gateway and is Boastful and Arrogant invites destruction.” (Proverbs 17:19 AMP); “Not Domineering [as Arrogant, Dictatorial, and Overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation).” (1 Peter 5:3 AMP). A sure sign of the Spirit of Diotrephes, is a braggadocious assumption of how ‘Large’ you really are! Remember: God Himself Has Charged,…HE WHO HAS A HAUGHTY LOOK AND A PROUD AND ARROGANT HEART I CANNOT AND WILL NOT TOLERATE” CHURCH: YOU HAVE OFFICIALLY BEEN WARNED!

2…JUPITER CAN’T EVER BECOME A STAR! Why? Because it would need 70 times its current mass to ignite enough nuclear fusion in order to become one. In other words, It Doesn’t Have Enough In Its Makeup To Become A Star BY ITSELF! In fact, if you could crash dozens of Jupiter’s together, you might have a SLIGHT CHANCE to make a new star! BUT IN AND OF ITSELF, IT CANNOT! The “Spirit of Diotrephes” has yet to come to the understanding that there is indeed ONE BODY, but there are MANY MEMBERS! The Bible reads: “…Your body has Many Parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still One Body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his One Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything…The old labels we once used to identify ourselves…are no longer useful…” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13 MSG). No matter how BIG you are, or how big YOU THINK YOU ARE, you are but “A Member” in “One Body”! Jupiter can’t become a star by itself, And Your ONE MEMBER Does Not Make Up the WHOLE BODY, or the WHOLE CHURCH! Regardless to your gifting, anointing or calling, YOU CAN ONLY GO SO FAR AS YOU ARE WILLING TO TAKE ALL THE MEMBERS COLLECTIVELY! Think about it: Even the sky never has only one star! One Scripture that the Church needs to dwell on Daily is 1 Corinthians 12:14-26, here’s why: “…A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it. But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are A Part Of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, But a Monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No Part Is Important On Its Own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair? The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.” (MSG). Another sure sign of the Spirit of Diotrephes, is the desire to Be the Only One Seen, Heard, Used or Acknowledged! Remember: It is the BODY of Christ, Not the FINGER of Christ! You Can’t Shine By Yourself, We Were ALL Called to be the Light of the World! SO IF YOU’RE REALLY ON FIRE FOR GOD, PROVE IT BY SHARING YOUR FLAME!

3…JUPITER IS THE FASTEST SPINNING PLANET IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM! However, due to its rapid rotation it Produces a Dangerous Level of Radiation that Exudes from its Core! Even though the Bible says: “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” (James 1:19 NIV), the “Spirit of Diotrephes” always REVERSES the order and the result is far too many are: “slow to listen, quick to speak”! WOMEN, I hate to do it to you, but the truth is, Women Speak Three Times More Than Men! A woman says about 20,000 words per day compared to a man’s mere 7,000! In addition, women speak much quicker, than men, spend more force on gossip and receive pleasure from their own voice! I wish I could dispute it, but when all the researchers have all the same documental proof, that’s a little tough to do! However, ALL of us are Admonished to Reduce the Speed Levels of Our Mouths! “The one who knows much says little…Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise; as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart.” (Proverbs 17:27-28 MSG). In addition, the DANGEROUS RADIATION that comes from JUPITER’S SPEED, is Produced FROM ITS CORE! That’s why we ought to be mindful of Proverbs 4:23-27, “Keep vigilant watch over your heart that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip…” (MSG). And dare we forget: “…Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” (Matthew 12:34 MSG). Another sure sign of the Spirit of Diotrephes, is a RUN-AWAY MOUTH! QUICK to slander, gossip, spread rumors and lies! Diotrephes will tear reputations, character and integrity to shreds in seconds with just a few careless, thoughtless words! Which is why you must always bear in mind, your Salvation and/or Damnation, according to the Word of God, hinges on Your Words! So Be Wise and Watch Your Mouth, and Keep It Off Peoples Lives!

4…THE CLOUDS ON JUPITER ARE ONLY 50KM THICK! Compared to its size, and the beautiful clouds and storms you see on Jupiter, It’s Not Really That Deep, Not Much Thickness To It At All! In a nutshell, It’s Big, With No Depth! Reminds me of a Scripture: “…By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.” (Hebrews 4:11-14 MSG). Sadly, the “Spirit of Diotrephes” is found most Prevalent amongst “TITLES”, you know: “…apostles… prophets… evangelists… pastors and teachers…” (Ephesians 4:11). Them that Appear Big, By Title, But Have Not An Ounce of Depth! No Depth in Compassion, Courtesy, Sincerity, Generosity, Respect, Word, Prayer, Fasting, Preaching, Teaching, Evangelism, Faith, Discipline or Self-Control…That’s why we’re admonished: “For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].” (2 Timothy 3:5 AMP). Another sure sign of the Spirit of Diotrephes, is Height With No Depth! The Illusion that You are Bigger and Greater Than You Actually Are! Let there be more to your faith than the parading of titles, but the actual performance of true authentic works! Stop Acting the Part, and Finally Become the Person!

5…THE GREAT RED SPOT ON JUPITER HAS BEEN AROUND FOR A LONG TIME! This is one of Jupiter’s Most Familiar Features. The spot has been around for almost 350 years.  A century ago, the Great Red Spot measured 40,000km across, BUT IT’S SHRINKING—It’s Currently HALF That Size! But astronomers have no idea if and when it’ll ever disappear entirely. Those with the “Spirit of Diotrephes” need to be careful about boasting over their gifts, talents, skills, anointing, ministry etc., because LIKE JUPITER, WHAT YOU ARE MOST FAMILIAR AND FAMOUS FOR, CAN SHRINK OVER TIME! Them that possess such a spirit need to understand that you are in a great position to be DONE AWAY WITH, REPLACED, REPOSITIONED, EVEN FORGOTTEN! Don’t believe it? Read this: “They nominated two: Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, O God, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to TAKE THE PLACE in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way.They then drew straws. Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:23-26 MSG). I guess Beyonce’s not the only one warning someone not to think they’re Irreplaceable! In short, if you are “Possessed” with the “Spirit of Diotrephes”, I admonish you to get delivered, and fast! It doesn’t matter how sensational you can sing, how great you can play, how powerful you can preach, how awesome you can lay hands or how accurate your prophecy! When you walk in the Spirit of Diotrephes, IT CAN ALL BE GONE IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE! God has Warned that He will share His Glory With No Man! Therefore, to check your Ego and Attitude are a Must! Just like Judas, there’s a Matthias just waiting in the wings for you to screw up that final time, to push God just one time too many, and his name will be drawn from the hat, and you will be long forgotten, only remembered for your failures, never your successes! Think about it: We never hear how Judas walked with Jesus, just how he betrayed Him! So, don’t allow this spirit to rob you of all God has Granted You to Accomplish in the Kingdom! Remain a Servant or You’ll Begin Shrinking!

6…JUPITER HAS RINGS: The rings around Jupiter were the THIRD set of rings discovered in the Solar System, after SATURN (of course) and URANUS. What’s so interesting about that? Simple, Jupiter has rings, But So Do Others! The “Spirit of Diotrephes” has a tendency to forget that what they have to offer, Others Have To Offer The Same Thing! They forget, they are Not The Only One! Reminds me of Elijah, “…LORD…I have always served you as well as I could. But the people of Israel have broken their agreement with you, destroyed your altars, and killed your prophets with swords. I AM THE ONLY PROPHET LEFT…The LORD said to him…I HAVE SEVEN THOUSAND…LEFT in Israel who have never bowed down before Baal and whose mouths have never kissed his idol.” (1 Kings 19:14-18 NCV). Hartman Rector, Jr., said it right: “Self-esteem is different than conceit. Conceit is the weirdest disease in the world. It makes everyone sick EXCEPT the one who has it.” The Apostle Paul further admonishes us: “For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you NOT TO ESTIMATE AND THINK OF HIMSELF MORE HIGHLY THAN HE OUGHT [NOT TO HAVE AN EXAGGERATED OPINION OF HIS OWN IMPORTANCE],  but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.” (Romans 12:3 AMP). Saints, your rings may be pretty, BUT THEY’RE NOT THE ONLY ONES IN THE JEWELRY STORE! GET OVER YOURSELF!

7…JUPITER’S MAGNETIC FIELD IS 14 TIMES AS STRONG AS THE EARTH’S: Jupiter has the Strongest Magnetic Field in the Solar System! These particles create a dangerous belt of radiation around Jupiter that can even cause damage to Spacecrafts! Why is that relevant? Because the “Spirit of Diotrephes” possesses that same Magnetic Pull! You have to be careful around folks like this, because as quick as you bat an eye, you’ll wonder how in the world you got pulled into such mess so fast! That’s why the Bible warns: “Do not be so deceived and misled! EVIL COMPANIONSHIPS (COMMUNION, ASSOCIATIONS) CORRUPT AND DEPRAVE GOOD MANNERS AND MORALS AND CHARACTER.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 AMP); “Take no part in and have NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FRUITLESS DEEDS AND ENTERPRISES OF DARKNESS, BUT INSTEAD [LET YOUR LIVES BE SO IN CONTRAST AS TO] EXPOSE AND REPROVE AND CONVICT THEM” (Ephesians 5:11 AMP).  Keep in mind: Jupiter is extremely massive—318 times the Mass of Earth! Anything passing near to it will either be FLUNG OUT OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM, RIPPED APART BY GRAVITATIONAL TIDES, OR CAPTURED INTO ORBIT! Therefore, Become wise by walking with the wise; HANG OUT WITH FOOLS AND WATCH YOUR LIFE FALL TO PIECES.” (Proverbs 13:20 MSG). But before you place all the blame on someone else for “DRAWING” or “PULLING” you in, REMEMBER: A MAGNET WORKS “BOTH WAYS”! IF IT CAN PULL YOU IN AND STICK TO YOU, THERE WAS SOMETHING “SIMILAR ALREADY IN YOU” THAT ATTRACTED IT! Don’t take my word for it, take Gods: “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. THE TEMPTATION TO GIVE IN TO EVIL COMES FROM US AND ONLY US. WE HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT THE LEERING, SEDUCING FLARE-UP OF OUR OWN LUST. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (James 1:14 MSG). Understand, you’re only drawn away and enticed based off what’s “ALREADY IN YOU”, so before you point your fingers at the magnetism of Jupiter, or the pull of the Spirit of Distrephes, know that something IN YOU DIDN’T MIND BEING PULLED IN, IN THE FIRST PLACE! 

8…JUPITER HAS 63 “KNOWN” OR “OFFICIAL” MOONS: YET, there are also a host of “UNKNOWN” or “UNOFFICIAL” ones noted! Therefore, keep in mind, no matter what you KNOW about the flaws, faults, and failures of an individual under the influencing of the “Spirit of Diotrephes”, THERE ARE ALWAYS THOSE “UNOFFICIAL” THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW, THAT CAN POP UP AT ANY GIVEN TIME! Think about it: Jupiter didn’t start out with 63 moons, they DEVELOPED OVER TIME! Be mindful: “A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church].” (Galatians 5:9 AMP). That’s why you don’t hang out with those that tell “LITTLE white lies”, because before you know it: “…the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and ALL LIARS—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur…” (Revelation 21:8 NIV). So whether you want to call it a “LITTLE” lie or a “BIG” lie, apparently GOD DOESN’T CARE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER SINCE HIS WORD SAYS: “…ALL LIARS…” ARE GOING TO BURN! In addition, did you notice the others who will burn With All Liars? “…the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters…” I mean do you really want that to be the description of the Company You Keep?! People of God, be Discerning! Because hanging out with the “little white liars” will eventually lead you to sitting in a Big Sulfur Sauna! Therefore, don’t BANK on what you KNOW about the “OFFICIAL” stuff, because what you DON’T KNOW about the “UNOFFICIAL” stuff, just might BANKRUPT YOUR SOUL! 

9…JUPITER HAS BEEN VISITED 7 TIMES BY SPACECRAFT FROM EARTH: Likewise, do not be naïve enough to think that the “Spirit of Diotrephes” HAS NOT BEEN ADDRESSED BEFORE! PASTORS, I FEEL YOU! I can hear you say, How many more times can I address the SAME spirit with the SAME people?!” Well, even though Jupiter has been visited 7 times, and will likely be visited more times in the future, Pastors, likewise, you will have to address this spirit again and again! But bear in mind, you have to do frequent inspections NOW, but eventually a FINAL INSPECTION will be done!The work of each [one] will become [plainly, openly] known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done.” (1 Corinthians 3:13 AMP). Since none of us knows when our FINAL EXAM will be taken, we need to study how we live daily! So take inventory of your life and lifestyle! See what you need to stock up on and what you need to throw out altogether! And if your Pastor has been REPETITIVELY coming to you on the SAME issue, my advice to you would be to CHANGE YOUR TUNE BEFORE THAT LAST TRUMPET SOUNDS! 

10…YOU CAN SEE JUPITER WITH YOUR OWN EYES: Jupiter is the third brightest object in the Solar System, after Venus and the Moon. Chances are, you saw Jupiter in the sky, and had no idea that’s what you were seeing.  With that said, know this, One of the hardest things to deal with is when the “Spirit of Diotrephes” IS FOUND IN YOUR OWN HOUSE! CLOSE ENOUGH FOR YOU TO SEE WITH YOUR OWN EYES! But the Word declares: “For there is no good (healthy) tree that bears decayed (worthless, stale) fruit, nor on the other hand does a decayed (worthless, sickly) tree bear good fruit.” (Luke 6:43 AMP). THEREFORE, IF YOU SEE THE EVIDENCE OF IT, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ADDRESS IT! WHAT LIVES IN YOUR HOUSE, GOT PERMISSION FROM YOU TO MOVE IN! For if a man does not know how to rule HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD, HOW IS HE TO TAKE CARE OF THE CHURCH OF GOD?” (1 Timothy 3:5 AMP). AND JUST BECAUSE IT’S YOUR FAMILY MEMBER DOESN’T MEAN YOU GET TO PLAY FAVORITES; PICK AND CHOOSE WHICH SIN IS TOO INSIGNIFICANT TO ADDRESS; BE PARTIAL OR BIAS! REMEMBER: “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, TO HIM IT IS SIN” (James 4:17 NASB). And if that’s not enough, how about a few more admonishments? “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, WILL RECEIVE MANY LASHES.” (Luke 12:47 NASB); “Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ YOUR SIN REMAINS.” (John 9:41 NASB); “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, THAN HAVING KNOWN IT, TO TURN AWAY FROM THE HOLY COMMANDMENTS HANDED TO THEM” (2 Peter 2:21 NASB); “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, WILL HE LIVE? ALL HIS RIGHTEOUS DEEDS WHICH HE HAS DONE WILL NOT BE REMEMBERED FOR HIS TREACHERY WHICH HE HAS COMMITTED AND HIS SIN WHICH HE HAS COMMITTED; FOR THEM HE WILL DIE” (Ezekiel 18:24 NASB). Just as you can see Jupiter with your own eyes, YOU CAN SEE THE “SPIRIT OF DIOTREPHES” IN YOUR OWN HOUSE AND IN YOUR OWN LIFE! We’ve seen the devastating damage that such demonic influence can have over an individual. But we must also be Responsible By Holding Our Own Homes Accountable For Its Deliverance From Such a Spirit as well!

People of God, I reiterate, I am not into horoscopes, astrology, or reading the stars and planets. But I do love to study people, places and things. And in this study of Diotrephes, one whose name is derived from the planet Jupiter, I was amazed by all the Lord showed me. I’ve always been a huge parable preacher/teacher, after all I’ve preached about snakes, eagles, chickens, donkey’s, ants, gerbils, cows, waves, wind, sea, mountains, dirt, etc. so it was befitting for me to use something else as a parable teaching point to bring the Word of God to people (saved and unsaved) who will think twice every time they hear ‘Jupiter’ from now on. I hope you will be able to glean from today’s devotional so that you can become a better YOU! Tomorrow, God willing, we’ll close out this series with Part III and then began another series! Until then, remain blessed!

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

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“The Church Needs Deliverance!” (Part I)

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3 John 1:9, “I have written briefly to the church; BUT DIOTREPHES, WHO LIKES TO TAKE THE LEAD AMONG THEM AND PUT HIMSELF FIRST, does not acknowledge my authority and refuses to accept my suggestions or to listen to me.”{AMP}

In the movie ‘Rocky’, boxer Rocky Balboa describes his relationship with his girlfriend Adrienne like this:I’ve got gaps. She’s got gaps. But together we’ve got no gaps.That may sound comical, but truth be told, it doesn’t matter how gifted we are—we’ve all allowed gaps to form in our lives and in the church! But then what is a “Gap”? Well, it’s defined as,a break or hole in an object or between two objects.And the last thing Believers need in these end times, is a Gap, Break or Hole Between Them! Why? Because the Word of God informs us in Ephesians 4:27:LEAVE NO [SUCH] ROOM OR FOOTHOLD FOR THE DEVIL [GIVE NO OPPORTUNITY TO HIM]” (AMP). THE DEVIL LOVES CRACKS, BREAKS, HOLES, AND GAPS, IT’S ALL THE SPACE HE NEEDS TO BRING FORTH DIVISION IN THE ENTIRE BODY OF CHRIST! And last I checked, the Word of God still declares that one of the things the Lord Hates is:… HE WHO SOWS DISCORD AMONG HIS BRETHREN” (Proverbs 6:16-19 AMP). Church, stop allowing the “Spirit of Diotrephes” to cause GAPS in your relationship with other believers, you are destroying the Body of Christ!

The Body of Christ Was Not Designed For Disunity, But UNITY! Ephesians 2:21, In Him THE WHOLE STRUCTURE IS JOINED (BOUND, WELDED) TOGETHER HARMONIOUSLY, and it continues to rise (grow, increase) into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, consecrated, and sacred to the presence of the Lord].” (AMP). Then, Ephesians 4:16 says,For because of Him THE WHOLE BODY (THE CHURCH, IN ALL ITS VARIOUS PARTS), CLOSELY JOINED AND FIRMLY KNIT TOGETHER by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, WHEN EACH PART [WITH POWER ADAPTED TO ITS NEED] IS WORKING PROPERLY [IN ALL ITS FUNCTIONS], GROWS TO FULL MATURITY, BUILDING ITSELF UP IN LOVE” (AMP).

Now, maybe it’s just me, but the Word of God sure sounds like the Church needs to be Delivered Quickly From the Spirit of Diotrephes! Why? Because it goes against the very Word our God has spoken to His Church! Understand this, according to what we read in Ephesians 2:21 and Ephesians 4:16, any spirit that brings disunity to the Body of Christ, BREAKS OUR HARMONY, HINDERS OUR GROWTH AND INCREASE, DESECRATES OUR HOLINESS, DEDICATION, CONSECRATION AND THE SACRED PRESENCE OF THE LORD! IT SEPARATES US DEEP DOWN TO JOINTS AND LIGAMENTS, IT DEPLETES OUR POWER, STOPS US FROM WORKING PROPERLY IN ALL OUR FUNCTIONS, STUNTS OUR GROWTH OF FULL MATURITY AND TEARS DOWN THE LOVE WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BUILD UP! We need to grasp and fully understand the Danger of theSpirit of Diotrephesthat’s running rampant in our churches! For it’s not the attacks of the world that’s destroying the church, it’s the disunity of the church destroying itself! We, the Church, are COMMANDED by God to Stay Connected! Which is why the last thing we want to do is to DISOBEY a direct COMMAND from God! Why? Listen to what happened to Adam when he DISOBEYED a direct COMMAND from God: The Bible reads, “He told the Man: “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree THAT I COMMANDED YOU NOT TO EAT FROM…The very ground is cursed because of you; getting food from the ground Will be as painful as having babies is for your wife; you’ll be working in pain all your life long. The ground will sprout thorns and weeds, you’ll get your food the hard way, Planting and tilling and harvesting, sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk, Until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried; you started out as dirt, you’ll end up dirt.” (Genesis 3:17-19 MSG). I’m sure if Adam could say two words to the church today it would be: “Get Delivered!”

So what’s the best way to close the “Gaps” we’ve created in the church? BY WORKING WITH OTHERS WHO HAVE STRENGTHS IN OUR AREAS OF WEAKNESS! The New Testament Christians did it; and as a result,THE WHOLE CONGREGATION of believers was UNITED AS ONE—ONE HEART, ONE MIND! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” THEY SHARED EVERYTHING. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and GRACE WAS ON ALL OF THEM” (Acts 4:32-33 MSG).

Following the advice of Acts we’ll likewise continue following the advice of Ephesians 4:32:MAKE A CLEAN BREAK WITH ALL CUTTING, BACKBITING, PROFANE TALK, BE GENTLE WITH ONE ANOTHER, SENSITIVE. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (MSG). The early church left us good examples to follow, they did all of this, so what’s the problem with the church today?! Why don’t we work together anymore? I’ll tell you why, it’s because of the “Diotrephes Spirit”: 3 John 1:9-10 says, …but Diotrephes, Who Loves to Be the Leader, Refuses to Have Anything to Do With Us. When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, He Also Tells Others Not to Help Them. And When They Do Help, He Puts Them Out of the Church.” (NLT). Outside of sowing discord, what else is Diotrephes’ problem? HE LOVES CONTROL! He wasn’t service-driven, HE WAS EGO-DRIVEN!  And, ‘an ego has a voracious appetite, the more you feed it, the hungrier it gets.’ (Nathaniel Bronner, Jr.) Diotrephes was afraid to have anyone challenge him! With him it was “my way or the highway.” And,Anytime there is a struggle between doing what is actually right and doing what seems right, then your ego is interfering with your decision.” (Darren L. Johnson). Like many church folks, he didn’t want a team, just a supporting cast! But ask anyone in Hollywood, just as fast as a “star” rises, oftentimes it falls even faster! Church, this is about US working Collectively, not Individually!

And please note that Diotrephes is easy to recognize, because he’s EXTREMELY INSECURE; which is why he holds the reins so tightly! But the trouble is, people who are afraid to trust others end up not being trusted themselves! There’s a level of success they never get beyond because they can’t work with anybody else! And why is that such a problem? Well, in actuality, I wouldn’t just call it a problem, but I’d call it down right dangerous! Because, whenLeave Me To Myself Diotrephesstumbles and falls, as we all do, no one is there to help him back up! Which is why Ecclesiastes 4:12 warns us, A PERSON STANDING ALONE CAN BE ATTACKED AND DEFEATED, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (NLT). Leaders like Diotrephes stay weak in certain areas; because they’re too prideful and arrogant to reach for the strength that others are already extending to them! Understand, that you’ll get further with the help of others than you’ll get without it! Church, like it or not, WE need each other! There’s a motivational piece of artwork that hangs in my office that I keep myself mindful of whether in my home, on my job or in my church, it reads: “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives, it is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” People of God, today is the day of deliverance from the Spirit of Diotrephes! No more sowing discord, no more arrogant, out of control egos (which are running rampant amongst Leadership), no more my way or the highway, no more me-ism, no more I lead and you follow! NO! Today’s church needs to travel back to the church of yesterday, before we utterly destroy the church of tomorrow!  

3 John 1:9, “I have written briefly to the church; BUT DIOTREPHES, WHO LIKES TO TAKE THE LEAD AMONG THEM AND PUT HIMSELF FIRST, does not acknowledge my authority and refuses to accept my suggestions or to listen to me.”{ AMP}

According to our text, DIOTREPHES:…LIKES TO TAKE THE LEAD…AND PUT HIMSELF FIRST…So, to those who are battling with this spirit, might I inform you that the Bible says, “So those who [now] are last WILL BE FIRST [THEN], and those who [now] are first WILL BE LAST [THEN]…” (Matthew 20:16 AMP) Therefore, you might want to be careful about rushing to be FIRST…NOW…since you’ll only be LAST…THEN…when it counts most! You see, the problem is, everyone wants to be a great leader, without serving, when in truth, there is no greatness apart from serving! Luke 22:24-26, Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. BUT JESUS INTERVENED: “Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. IT’S NOT GOING TO BE THAT WAY WITH YOU. LET THE SENIOR AMONG YOU BECOME LIKE THE JUNIOR; LET THE LEADER ACT THE PART OF THE SERVANT” (MSG). Saints, Until You Meet the Requirements of Serving, You’re Unqualified To Lead! ‘He that cannot obey, cannot command.’ (Benjamin Franklin) Until you learn how to bring “YOU” under subjection, your leadership will always face objections and rejections! Why? Because William Penn said it best:No man is fit to command another that cannot command himself.If you want to know the steps to proper and effective leadership, follow the blueprint of Proverbs 18:12, “Pride leads to destruction; humility leads to honor.” (CEV). Both play a lead role, but the type of character exemplified is up to you! “I admire men of character, and I judge character not by how men deal with their superiors, but mostly how they deal with their subordinates, and that, to me, is where you find out what the character of a man is.” (General H. Norman Schwartzkopf)

Next we find that “DIOTREPHES” “…DOES NOT ACKNOWLEDGE…AUTHORITY…{3 John 1:9 AMP} One of the worst individuals you can work with in the church is them that do not Acknowledge Authority! Is that dangerous, you ask? Let’s see what Hebrews 13:17 has to say about it: “Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [CONTINUALLY [RECOGNIZING THEIR AUTHORITY OVER YOU], for they are CONSTANTLY KEEPING WATCH OVER YOUR SOULS AND GUARDING YOUR SPIRITUAL WELFARE, as men who will have to render an account [of their trust]. [Do your part to] let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, FOR THAT WOULD NOT BE PROFITABLE TO YOU [EITHER]” (AMP). WARNING: When you don’t Acknowledge Authority, you in essence tell your Spiritual Leaders to close their eyes from watching over your soul, and to lay their weaponry down from guarding your spiritual welfare! Not to mention you become a Liability to the Kingdom, instead of an Asset, since you’re no longer Profitable! With that said, not Acknowledging Authority is dangerous indeed! Selah…

People who do not Acknowledge Authority fall in the category that the Israelites found themselves in over and over again! REBELLION! And “Rebellion” is defined as, “an act of rebelling against an ESTABLISHED GOVERNMENT OR RULER; defiance of authority or control.” When you don’t Acknowledge Authority, it’s deeper than you think: I’ll Prove It: “…JESUS came to them and SAID, “ALL AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME” (Matthew 28:18 NIV). So, when you think you’re just ignoring the authority of earthly rulers, you are in fact IGNORING THE AUTHORITY OF THE ONLY ONE WITH TOTAL AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND EARTH! IGNORING EARTHLY AUTHORITY, IS EQUAL TO IGNORING JESUS’ AUTHORITY! And maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think you want that to be the description of your lifestyle as a believer! The Bible says: “…rebellion is as the sin of WITCHCRAFT…” (1 Samuel 15:23 AMP). And what does that same Bible say about witchcraft? “But I will tell you what will happen to cowards and to everyone who is unfaithful or dirty-minded or who murders or is sexually immoral OR USES WITCHCRAFT or worships idols or tells lies. THEY WILL BE THROWN INTO THAT LAKE OF FIRE AND BURNING SULFUR…” (Revelation 21:8 CEV). Again, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think you want that to be the closing chapter of your life’s story!

Amazingly, “DiotrephesSTILL MANAGES TO GET WORSE! He is also known as one who: “…REFUSES TO ACCEPT…SUGGESTIONS…{3 John 1:9 AMP} Another individual type that is difficult to work with is the one that “…REFUSES TO ACCEPT…SUGGESTIONS…! I know this may be a severe shock to some folks systems…but…YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING! Want proof? Just ask some folks for their suggestions on any given topic! You’ll be amazed at how much you didn’t know, that you didn’t know! It doesn’t even matter if something is running smoothly, suggestions should always be welcomed, no matter what! Listen, a “suggestion” is merely: “an idea or plan put forward for CONSIDERATION.” That’s it! No need to panic! No one is attempting to turn your whole world upside down! It just means your thoughts are as important as mine. And you’ll be amazed at how much that means to people (Leaders, Give it a Shot)! Oftentimes, people don’t even want to change something, they just want you to hear their ideas about change! “Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request.” (Phillip Stanhope) The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18). Another version puts it like this: “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend what he reveals, they are most blessed.” (MSG). Take time to see the revelations from God that He has granted unto OTHERS, you just may stop stumbling all over YOURSELF!

Believe it or not, “Diotrephes”, HAS YET ANOTHER FLAW, he: “…REFUSES…TO LISTEN…{3 John 1:9 AMP} The Word of God has given us clear instructions on this matter: “Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [A READY LISTENER], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.” (James 1:19 AMP) Now for some Wisdom concerning LISTENING the Bible says this: “…LISTEN for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go…” (Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG); “…pay close attention to…my wisdom; LISTEN very closely to the way I see it. Then you’ll acquire a taste for good sense; what I tell you will keep you out of trouble.” (Proverbs 5:1 MSG); “…LISTEN closely; don’t treat my words casually…” (Proverbs 5:7 MSG); “…LISTEN to me, take these words of mine most seriously…” (Proverbs 7:24 MSG). And my personal favorite: “Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling? Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice? She’s taken her stand at First and Main, at the busiest intersection. Right in the city square where the traffic is thickest, she shouts, “You—I’m talking to all of you, everyone out here on the streets! LISTEN, you idiots—learn good sense! You blockheads—shape up! Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well, I’m telling you how to live at your best. My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth—I can’t stand the taste of evil! You’ll only hear true and right words from my mouth; not one syllable will be twisted or skewed.” (Proverbs 8:1-3 MSG). People of God, learn how to LISTEN, especially for WISDOM, it will aid you in making wise decisions! If you are around the people, never forget the people have a VOICE that needs to be heard, JUST LIKE YOURS! REMEMBER: “Big egos have little ears.” (Robert Schuller). SO UNTIL YOU’VE LEARNED HOW TO LISTEN MUCH, YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH TO SAY WORTH LISTENING TO! 

It is my hearts desire that the Church receives deliverance, immediately, from the Spirit of Diotrephes! The healing that would take place in the Body of Christ would restore to perfect health our ability to lead effectively, properly acknowledge authority, clear up impaired vision from lack of accepting suggestions, and heal the hearts cry of the unheard!

I’ll leave you with a scripture that I believe to be quite befitting: “When the city came into view, He wept over it. “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it’s too late. In the days ahead your enemies are going to bring up their heavy artillery and surround you, pressing in from every side. They’ll smash you and your babies on the pavement. Not one stone will be left intact. ALL THIS BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T RECOGNIZE AND WELCOME GOD’S PERSONAL VISIT” (Luke 19:43-45 MSG).

Church, God is personally visiting us today through this devotional and warning us to recognize the Spirit of Diotrephes that’s dwelling in our midst. It’s time for the church to improve its’ leadership and its’ followship! Remember, the world is watching US! Therefore, the Spirit of Diotrephes Must Die!

Check in Tomorrow for Part II!

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

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“Prayer is a Lifestyle, Not a Lifeline!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 6:18:

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

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

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

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

1 Thessalonians 5:17:

“be unceasing and persistent in prayer” (AMP)

“Always keep on praying” (TLB)

“Never stop praying.” (NLV)

“…pray all the time…” (MSG)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devotional Scriptures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Tools For Christian Singles”

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1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

TOOL ONE: “Be Careful…What Goes In Is Coming Out!”

Being single and abstinent can seem difficult these days due to the highly “sexually” influenced things we see and hear each day. But being sexually active as a single just won’t cut it in the Kingdom of God, so there has to be a way to curb such urges. Being a virgin before marriage is hardly promoted these days, so most singles in this day have either been married before, or have been sexually active before. Many single people feel that God understands the urges they have and they should be able to ‘get some’ every now and then to take the edge off, because after all, God made sex a good thing right? Well, yes, it is a good thing, but for married couples only! So what you must do is trace the urges back to their source. James 1:13-15, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from US AND ONLY US. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of OUR OWN lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (MSG). You have to trace your own triggers! Because, what you put into yourself is what you desire for yourself: “For as he thinketh in his heart, SO IS HE…” (Proverbs 23:7).

You must understand that if you’re single, movies that include sex scenes, songs that encourage making love or lust, magazines/novels that you read, and television shows that portray sexually active singles can play the villain when you’re trying to abstain. The devil uses these images and lyrics to feed the need in your mind and awaken your sexuality. I know many are saying, “it doesn’t affect me”. But for ‘Normal People’ that buy hamburgers, because they walked pass and it smelled good, or for people that buy nice clothes because you saw someone wearing it and it looked good on them, …what we see and hear affects us! Truth is, for many of us, our senses (except our common sense that is) has gotten us into much trouble over the years! And I don’t know about you, but I CAN be influenced. And if you can be influenced by anything in this life, then the media is playing a very big part in how you feel about your sexuality. But God wants to influence us, and it’s simple. If you’re watching Christian Television, reading Christian literature, and surrounding yourself with Christians, then you will be more influenced by godly things and people, than the world! 2 Corinthians 6:11-18, “Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way: “I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people. So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,” says God. “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself. I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to me.” The Word of the Master, God.” (MSG) Thus, it will be easier to abstain when you separate yourself from those who don’t!

Think about it like this: if you put a plain bagel, a whole wheat bagel, and a cinnamon raisin bagel all in the same bag with an onion bagel, guess which smell will be the most prominent?! The one with the strongest scent, the onion bagel! Likewise, what/who you spend your time with, that influences you the strongest, is the one you will come out smelling like, thinking like, behaving like, acting like! Therefore, if you want the fragrance of Christ on your life, you can’t hang around being influenced by the foul odor of sin that is a stench in the nostrils of God!

Which further means, it’s time to even check your music! Songs about making love are not for singles! I’ve always been a huge fan of Teddy Pendergrass myself, but I got a feeling Neyo is more the speed for this generation. But lyrics like [“I can feel her on my skin, I can taste her on my tongue, she’s the sweetest taste of sin, the more I get the more I want”] are not lyrics that keep you OUT the bed—but usher you IN it! Remember, your senses are dangerous when they are not kept under control!

Which is why you also have to check your literature. Even Christian fiction books that graphically depict sex scenes should be avoided. I was reading one Christian novel and had to stop because I was getting images in my head of the scene between the Pastor and the Deacon’s wife! So yes, I know what I’m talking about when I say be careful with so called “Christian Fiction” too.

You also have to check your movies! If you’re planning to be an abstinent single, you have to pick and choose your entertainment carefully. You should avoid movies with nudity and sex scenes at all costs! Stop stirring that stuff up! 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” (AMP) No matter the temptation, no matter its strength or source, you are never tempted beyond human resistance! That’s why you have to keep a tight rein on your mind and protect your spirit from the things that tempt you. You can’t keep saying it’s an issue, a struggle and a stronghold, when God said, it’s not more than you can handle because I already provided you with a way of escape! You just need to learn how to pray for discernment to see it and wisdom to take it! The good thing is God can create a new heart and transform you by renewing your mind! Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” (AMP)  But, you have to change your habits so your mind and heart are guarded daily from the things that the enemy wants to put in them. Anything you’re reading or listening to, if you don’t have Peace close the book or turn off the song. Philippians 4:7, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Peace is your guard. When peace is absent, your mind and heart are unguarded and the enemy has unlimited access!  So Be Careful…What Goes In, Is Coming Out!

Proverbs 3:6, “Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” (NLT)

TOOL #2: “When Seeking a Spouse FIRST Seek God”:

The vow of marriage is just that—A Vow! Therefore, we cannot experiment with casual dating, premature intimacy, and multiple simultaneous relationships. It’s a must that we learn to follow God, even while we’re in the dating stage. Singles, God must lead you! Although many single’s conferences will tell you that there’s no match made in heaven, and that you choose your spouse on your own, I beg to differ that that is the most ideal plan. Because my Bible tells me that “In ALL your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him (God), and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 (AMP).  The admonition is not to seek God’s approval after your choice, but to seek God before ever choosing! Acknowledge Him in ALL your ways, not a few, not some, not just the ones you’re comfortable with, but in ALL your ways! Which includes seeking a spouse. Think about it, how can you see into the future? How could you ever know, with the stakes so high, that you’re choosing the right woman or man? You can’t, unless you’re led by the Spirit of the Lord. I refuse to believe that God won’t lead us to the spouse of His choosing, if we seek Him before attempting to seek them! He makes it clear when He says, Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3) Saints, that includes your spouse! Listen: Your spouse is your gift. And according to the Word of God, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down FROM THE FATHER…” James 1:17. Now I know you want a spouse that’s good and perfect…for you. Well, the only way to get him or her is “…from the Father.” Think about it, with society’s methods of raising children and exposing them to all kinds of spirits as they’re growing up, there’s no telling these days what kinds of issues you’re marrying into. Therefore, God must be first in order to be heard! God is not to lead from behind, you must follow Him!  You are not to walk after the flesh, but AFTER the SPIRIT, and listen to Him as He leads you into His perfect plan for your life. “…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.” Jeremiah 29:11. If God can speak to you about everything else concerning your life, why can’t He speak to you about that man or woman of your dreams too? Why can’t He say Yea or Nay before you say “I do?”

I encourage all of you singles to find yourselves and your place in God first. Don’t pursue people, pursue God. Wait until you hear the voice of God about your life, your future, and your purpose. Until the Bible speaks to you, don’t do it! Until you’re sure that God is leading you, don’t do it. Don’t leave your destiny to chance! If you believe God can lead you to the right job, or the right career, or can empower you to cast out devils, and heal the sick, why can’t you believe that He can show you who your spouse should be? If He can show us spirits, surely He can show us a spouse! Trust God. Something as important and lasting as the marriage covenant should not be taken lightly and before you’re ever blessed to marry the person of your dreams, you must first become a blessing for them! So seek God, and you’ll find your God-Given spouse along the way.       

Matthew 6:33, “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers-most of which are never even seen—don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (MSG) And that includes your human concerns about a spouse! God can be trusted to guide you, but you first have to follow Him and His directions. When seeking a spouse, don’t get so lost in finding them, that you lose sight of finding Him first!

Mark 10:9, “What therefore GOD HAS UNITED (JOINED TOGETHER), let not man separate or divide.” {AMP}

Third Admonishment, Let the Maker Match You:

When do you know that you have found your mate? Well, the first issue to be addressed is, what does God say about this person? This is why it’s so important to stay Sexually Pure and Spiritually Minded before you begin to date a person! If you nurture your relationship with God, Beforehand, then you will be able to hear Him about the person you are interested in. If you are involved with this person sexually, then you will Not know whether they are from God or the devil because you have already become ONE with them.

Again, I know many preachers and pastors say that there is no “match made in heaven”, but I believe that to be a lie! I would not want any mate that wasn’t designed by God for me. Think about it: Why would God custom build Eve for Adam and not make a mate for you too? Remember, the Bible says, “In ALL your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” (Proverbs 3:6 AMP). It Does NOT Exclude Marriage From That, But In Fact He Said In ALL Thy Ways! God desires to lead and guide us in EVERY area of our lives, especially in Marriage! Truth is, how in the world could we ever use our finite minds to choose a life-long spouse anyhow? “Finite” literally means “Limited in Size or Extent”. We Are Limited! However, God Is Infinite! And “Infinite” literally means “Limitless in Space, Extent, or Size; Very Great in Amount or Degree”. So Why Would I Chance Making a Life-Long Decision With Limited Wisdom When I Can Go To God, Who IS Limitless Wisdom?

I honestly believe this is why divorce is so prevalent among believers today. We are choosing based on chance or our feelings and lust, or people who pair us up thinking we “look like” a good match together, instead of hearing what God says about it! I am convinced that God will not let a “Good Man” find a bad wife if he is living right before Him (and we cannot use Hosea, because he was a specific man given a specific assignment to a specific people. The focus and purpose of his marriage to an ungodly woman was to get God’s people to see the spiritual adultery they had committed against Him). Likewise, I am convinced that a “Good Wife” will not be subject to chance when she marries because God has custom made her as a helpmate for someone. God is more detailed than that and there is a person that is created to match you! That’s how big I feel God is and you cannot tell me that He allows us to blindly enter into a relationship with the wrong person!

God says He delights in giving “good things” to His children, {“…the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightlyPsalm 84:11 AMP}, so if you ask for a perfect match will He not give that to you? Of course no one is perfect, but they can be “Perfect” For You!

However, the most important thing BEFORE marrying anyone is to Make Sure YOU Are Secure In Who You Are! You must find your purpose in God and your place in the Kingdom of God to be a good candidate for marriage! If you have not tapped into your God given potential PRIOR to a marital commitment, then you may suffer turmoil in your relationship trying to find yourself while you take care of your mate. Which will be a breeding ground for resentment and contempt! That is what Paul was saying to the church at Corinth. 1 Corinthians 7:8, “I do, though, tell the unmarried and widows that Singleness might well be the best thing for them, as it has been for me.” {MSG}

Don’t get me wrong, marriage is a Good Thing, but if you can Wait until you Mature as a Believer, it would be Better! Men, you cannot be a good husband if you don’t know who you are! Women, you cannot be a good help meet if you cannot even help yourself! This is another reason why it’s so dangerous to play sexual and emotional games while dating. If you get too close, you will be blinded by lust and attraction and you will not be able to hear what God is saying! This person may be the devil in disguise. How can we see the future? We cannot! We must rely totally on God and God will be faithful to speak to us if we know how to hear Him. But if we aren’t secure in ourselves then we will jump at the first thing that makes us feel better about who we are. And my friend, that’s God’s position! Until you get to the point where God Alone can make you feel good about who He made you to be, you should not even consider marrying. People say communication is key to a good marriage, but I beg to differ. Maturity is the key to a good marriage. Anybody can communicate! Even children communicate! But it takes Maturity to Communicate Effectively! You Need to Grow Up First! When You Know Who You Are, You Don’t Spend Your Entire Marriage Hoping That Your Spouse Can Validate, Confirm and Define You! People don’t mind their Marriage being a Project that they work on Together with their spouse. However, NO One Wants to Marry a Person That’s a Project that requires 24/7, 366 Work Days! Marriages Will Stay Together If We Learn To Get Ourselves Together, BEFORE MARRIAGE!

Unfortunately, people like to have fun with the opposite sex and date haphazardly, but that’s a dangerous game. If you play with fire, you will get burned!  Remember: Dating Has a Different Definition When It Comes to Believers! So, Why THINK she may be the one? Why HOPE he may be the one? Why not simply WAIT and hear the voice of God who will make your selection a sure thing? Remember: Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!” {Proverbs 3:5-8 MSG} Again God’s Word Admonishes: “‘…Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.‘” {Jeremiah 33:3 MSG} As well intentioned as your boys are, as well meaning as your girls are, there is no one’s voice of approval better than that of Your God! Trust Him, Tell Him, Talk to Him, and most important, Ask Him! Let Him tell you who HE Custom-Designed For You! After all, who better to talk to about a Product, than the Manufacturer?!

There will Never be Someone Perfect, but there is Someone Perfect FOR YOU! Don’t leave it to chance, luck, the psychic, or the fly-by-night Prophet declaring your spouse will come right after your $100 is sown into the Kingdom of God! We are by far God’s most Intelligent Creatures, so Stop Making Stupid Decisions as though you don’t know any better! Besides, you don’t have to be a Genius to know Common Sense Says to the Godly, “Consult God!” Your Destiny and Purpose can be tragically hindered by hooking up with the wrong person! Or do you not know and realize that when a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? The two, it is written, shall become one flesh.” {1 Corinthians 6:16 AMP}

WARNING: WHATEVER YOU ATTACH YOURSELF TO, YOU BECOME ONE WITH! AND THAT ONENESS IS DESIGNED TO REMAIN IN TACT FOR LIFE! THEREFORE, ARE YOU REALLY WILLING TO RISK BEING ATTACHED TO DESTRUCTION INSTEAD OF DESTINY…FOR LIFE?! I THINK NOT! So, my single believers, learn the voice of God before you become subject to the voice of a life-long bad choice.

Proverbs 18:22, “Find a good spouse, you find a good life—and even more: the favor of God!” {MSG} And how do you know when you’ve found a “Good” spouse? Just ask the Originator of GOOD! “And GOD saw everything that HE HAD MADE, and behold, IT WAS VERY GOOD (SUITABLE, PLEASANT) and HE APPROVED IT COMPLETELY.” {Genesis 1:31 AMPSo, if you want a Good, Suitable, Pleasant Spouse that God Approves of Completely…GET THEM FROM HIM!

The next time someone tells you there is no such thing as A Match Made In Heaven“, take them to Mark 10:9, “What therefore GOD HAS UNITED (JOINED TOGETHER), let not man separate or divide.” {AMP} Did you catch that? God Gets the Credit For Uniting and Joining Together, Man Gets the Credit for Separating and Dividing! So when you’re ready to be Attached, Remember Let the Maker Match You! After all, that’s Living Biblical!

Galatians 5:19-21, “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (MSG)

Ephesians 5:3-4, “Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.” (MSG)

Ephesians 5:11, “Do not participate in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness, but instead expose them [by exemplifying personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character];” (AMP)

1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world.” (AMP)

Colossians 2:11, “In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but by the [spiritual] circumcision of Christ in the stripping off of the body of the flesh [the sinful carnal nature],” (AMP)

“Singles, finding your value is not tied to finding your mate. God has a plan for You.” (Tony Evans)

“Embrace Being Single: So what if you’re alone right now. Embrace it. Go get coffee alone. Shop alone. Drive alone. Watch movies alone. Get to know yourself. Nothing bad can come from riding whatever wave to self-improvement you’re blessed with in the moment.” (Author Unknown)

“Being single is smarter than stupidly being in the wrong relationship.” (Author Unknown)

“Instead of ‘single’ as a marital status, they should have ‘independently owned and operated.” (Author Unknown)

“Don’t be the woman who needs a man; be the woman a man needs.” (Author Unknown)

“Being single means you’re strong enough to wait for what you deserve.” (Niall Horan)

“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.” (Mandy Hale)

“A strong woman builds her own world. She is one who is wise enough to know that it will attract the man she will gladly share it with.” (Ellen J. Barrier)

“Appreciate being single because that’s when you grow the most and with that growth, you come to know what you’re looking for.” (Daniel Goddard)

“Sometimes, ‘I’m Single’ means ‘I’m drama free, less stressed and I refuse to settle for less.” (Author Unknown)

“Being with no one is better than being with the wrong one. Sometimes, those who fly solo have the strongest wings.” (Author Unknown)

“Being single isn’t a time to be looking for love. Use that time to work on yourself and grow as an individual.” (Author Unknown)

“If you aren’t happy being single you will never be happy in a relationship. Get your own life and love it first, then share it.” (Author Unknown)

“Single doesn’t mean you don’t know anything about love, it just means you know enough to wait for it.” (Author Unknown)

“Being single is much better than being lied to, cheated on, and disrespected.” (Author Unknown)

“I’ve been single for a while and I have to say, it’s going very well. Like, it’s working out, I think I’m the one.” (Emily Heller)

“When you stop trying to find the right person and start becoming the right person, the right one will eventually find their way to you.” (Author Unknown)

“Single isn’t a status. But it’s a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.” (Author Unknown)

“Wait for the person who will do anything to be your everything.” (Author Unknown)

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

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“Don’t Let Potiphar’s Wife Catch You!”

dose31

Genesis 39:2-10, “As it turned out, God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended up living in the home of his Egyptian master. His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did. He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian—all because of Joseph. The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day.  Joseph was a strikingly handsome man. As time went on, his master’s wife became infatuated with Joseph and one day said, “Sleep with me.” He wouldn’t do it. He said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me here, my master doesn’t give a second thought to anything that goes on here—he’s put me in charge of everything he owns. He treats me as an equal. The only thing he hasn’t turned over to me is you. You’re his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?”  She pestered him day after day after day, BUT HE STOOD HIS GROUND. HE REFUSED TO GO TO BED WITH HER.” (MSG).

The NIV says verse 10 like this: “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her OR EVEN BE WITH HER.”

When I was a little pre-teen, my bicycle and I spent a lot of time together. You would see this little girl with big pigtails chugging all over Roosevelt; after all, that was my only way to get around back then. However, there was only one thing that compromised my total enjoyment of biking – and that was…THE HUNGRY, MAD DOG ON THE CORNER! You see, our street ended at our house, there was just no other way to approach our house. So, often that little dog would sense me coming; (And I’m a firm believer that he had other canine lookouts posted and reporting my nearness! (Don’t Laugh…I’m very serious…in my Kevin Hart voice…LOL) I’m telling you, he would appear out of nowhere, charge in my direction with teeth bared, and his bark would send chills up my spine! I’m fully persuaded that dog was “Cujo” incarnate! Well, I picked up my speed; and boy, I got real fast! I could feel him nipping at my heels! I didn’t even know I could peddle that fast! I honestly believe I could have qualified for the Olympics! My only prayer was simple: “FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW!

I very quickly learned any evasive action I could think of: getting my speed up before I got there, coming down the other street where he seemed less likely to be, then carry my bike through a neighbors yard. I tried ignoring him, pretending I didn’t see him so I didn’t look scared. Somebody told me that was a good idea, and yes I was dumb enough to listen! Anyhow, I learned rather quickly that a vicious dog is nothing to mess with and should be Avoided at all costs!

This little story from my past reminds me of our text in Genesis 39, beginning at verse 7. You see, Joseph is about to be a Jewish transplant; picked up and sold as a slave into Egypt. He’s working for Potiphar, a military leader. He’s been trusted with total responsibility of the man’s household!

Now, Potiphar’s wife gets an eye on this good looking young man. And if you don’t believe Joseph looked good, check out his Biblical Description found in verse 6:

“…Joseph was an ATTRACTIVE PERSON AND FINE-LOOKING” (AMP);

“…Joseph was WELL-BUILT AND HANDSOME” (CEB);

“…Joseph was of a BEAUTIFUL FORM AND OF A BEAUTIFUL COUNTENANCE.” (DARBY);

“…Joseph was a VERY HANDSOME, GOOD-LOOKING MAN” (ERV);

“…Joseph was a STRIKINGLY HANDSOME MAN” (MSG);

“…Joseph was STRONG AND GOOD-LOOKING” (NLV);

EVEN IN THE ORTHODOX JEWISH BIBLE JOSEPH WAS FINE! “…Yosef was YAFEH TO’AR (WELL BUILT) AND YAFEH MAREH (GOOD LOOKING)” (OJB)

So, now that we’ve established PHYSICALLY why girlfriend lost her NATURAL mind, the Bible goes on to say, “After a while, his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me.’ But he refused.Verse 10 of Genesis 39 says– “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her.” However, if that wasn’t bad enough notice this, the Bible says, “…or even be with her.”  OUCH! Joseph was in no way as crazy as I was with “Cujo”! I would try to figure out ways to still go around “Cujo”…without being bit! DUH! But Joseph??? He didn’t even want to be with her or around her! CAN SOMEBODY SAY “THAT BOY GOT GOOD SENSE?!”

FOR THE DEEP FOLKS THAT WANT TO KNOW “DOES IT REALLY TAKE ALL THAT?” I’m A Witness, YES!!!!!!!!!

Now, this has got to be for Joseph a pretty tempting temptation. Think about it: He’s lonely; he’s away from home. I would guess that a powerful man’s wife is probably pretty attractive, and he is totally trusted in the man’s home with all the man’s stuff! And the truth of the matter is…He may very well get away with this and no one even know that he’s done it!

BUT, he says, “How could I sin against God.Joseph knows…Ultimately if no one else will know…GOD WILL! He knows that he and his conscience will know too! And had he said ‘yes’ to this temptation, it would have been a Spiritually Fatal Mistake – probably Disqualifying him from being God’s hero as we know him today! AND WHAT FOOL WOULD SACRIFICE ALL OF THAT?!

Temptation is always out to bite you, to discredit you, to scar you. But unlike “Cujo” at the corner when I was a kid, TEMPTATION DOESN’T WARN YOU WITH A BARK! Therefore, do you know what your “Potiphar’s Wife” is right now? It could be a sexual opportunity; it could be the apparent advantages of compromising your integrity just a little bit; being a little dishonest; maybe it’s the urge to retaliate or a compromise that seems better than losing this person, or that old habit, or going back to the old friends, places or things. Whatever your “Potiphar’s Wife” is…remember this: THE ADVANTAGES OF SINNING ARE ALWAYS SHORT LIVED, HOWEVER THE PRICE YOU PAY ALWAYS LASTS A LONG TIME!

Notice that Joseph can recognize that ‘vicious dog of temptation’ under all that mascara and perfume! In other words, he’s smart enough to take evasive action to not ride anywhere near “Cujo’s” house! Which for him was twice as hard since he was living in ‘Cujo’s’ house!

That may be why the pull of temptation is so strong on you! You haven’t burned your bridges to it! Oh, you may distance yourself a little bit, but you remain connected. Your “Potiphar’s Wife” can still call you, text you, sext you, email you, compliment you, make advances on you, have access to your personal space, and get close enough to even get your clothes off! Yep, I said it! So, when do you plan to disconnect from your attachment to ‘Potiphar’s Wife’? When are you going to delete the pictures, block the phone number, go ghost on their social media sites? When are you going to stop allowing ‘Potiphar’s Wife’ to remain so close to you that she can reach out and touch you? Why are you still within arms distance of ‘Potiphar’s Wife’? Especially, since she hasn’t been at all shy about her motives or intentions!

Listen, Joseph got away from his temptation, however, not before his temptation was able to take something from him! She didn’t get what she wanted, but she did get something! The Bible Says: “And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me! But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out [of the house]. And when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled away, She called to the men of her household and said to them, Behold, he [your master] has brought in a Hebrew to us to mock and insult us; he came in where I was to lie with me, and I screamed at the top of my voice. And when he heard me screaming and crying, he left his garment with me and fled and got out of the house. And she laid up his garment by her until his master came home.” (Genesis 39:12-16 AMP)  The Message Bible Says It Like This: “On one of these days he came to the house to do his work and none of the household servants happened to be there. SHE GRABBED HIM BY HIS CLOAK…” (MSG)

The danger of even entertaining temptation is that you’re still close enough for it to take something from you! For Joseph, it was his cloak, however for many it grabbed their character, integrity, dignity, testimony, witness and influence. For some, it grabbed their family, their marriage, their ministry and even their mind! Being Too Close Is Still Too Much Of A Compromise! Don’t let your temptation take the very thing that your Father Gave You to Distinguish You in the First Place! Think about it: Isn’t it amazing that Joseph’s brothers were angry and jealous and abused and banished him because of a coat, and yet he was still so close to temptation that another coat was snatched off him?! Joseph was well known for his coat of many colors that was given to him by his father, because of his great love for him. When you get too close to temptation, it will likewise attempt to take from you all that the Father gave you to distinguish you as His Favored Child! 

Joseph had two coats taken from him, his coat of many colors by his brothers who Hated Him; and his Cloak by Potiphar’s wife, a woman who was Hot for Him But Couldn’t Have Him! A Temper Took His First Coat, Temptation Took His Second! And He Never Got Either of Them Back! Temptation Will Take From You and Never Return! In fact the loss of his cloak stayed with Potiphar’s wife and was used against him in a lie and false imprisonment! How do you get in this much trouble, for doing Nothing?!

Make Sure You’re Not Being Too Close For Comfort!

Truthfully, the Things and People that Can Grab a Hold of Us, Is Only Because We Keep Ourselves Within Their Reach! Think about it: It’s hard for them to touch you when they can’t text you, call you, write you, or visit you. Not to mention taking the extra measures and precautions to evict them out of your heart and mind (by the way: if you do that, keeping them off, out of and away from your body will be that much easier…just saying)!

So, have you made up your mind yet? Do you want to avoid being bitten? THEN YOU HAVE TO AVOID THE PLACES WHERE IT IS, THE PEOPLE WHO DRAW YOU INTO IT, and THE PROPS THAT GET YOU EXCITED ABOUT IT…Truth Is: YOU CAN’T FLIRT WITH SIN; IT’S A VICIOUS DOG! NO MATTER HOW FINE JOSEPH LOOKS OR HOW AVAILABLE POTIPHAR’S WIFE IS…YOU ARE ABOUT TO GET BITTEN BY “CUJO” IF YOU DON’T GET OFF THAT CORNER OF COMPROMISE!

Therefore, TODAY, Determine to PEDDLE FAST AND FIND ANOTHER, SAFER ROUTE! USE YOUR BIBLE AND YOUR WORKING HOLY GHOST LIKE YOU WOULD A MAP APP FOR YOUR PHONE! “FIND ME THE QUICKEST AND SAFEST WAY OUT OF HERE…NOW!” Seriously, think about it, our phone maps not only give us directions, but some of them also let you know in advance that there’s an accident ahead of you on the same road you’re on. And what does it do? It gives you another route to take! Truth is, sometimes that new route is a lot longer and sometimes even unfamiliar. You may not like it, but at least you get to bypass the accident that could delay and detour you from your God-Intended destination! Likewise, you have to strengthen you relationship with the Holy Spirit! He’s not just your comforter but He’s your counselor! He lives on the inside of you! When it comes to communicating with someone in an emergency, how much closer can a person get than to talk to the person living inside them?! The Holy Spirit is there to lead you, guide you, direct and redirect you when necessary! But just like your GPS doesn’t work without being activated, neither does the Holy Spirit! You build a relationship with Him and give Him permission to change your route when you’re heading for danger! And you know what strengthens this relationship? Prayer! And what’s prayer? Communication! Keep it simple or you will complicate something that can help you! Prayer is communication! And the more you do it, the more consistent you are at it, the more you’ll stay out of dangerous places and away from dangerous people!  

Here’s an example. My husband can pretty much tell you where I am and what I’m doing from day to day. And he’s not with me from 6:40am to around 6:30pm daily. So how can he tell you where I am or what I’m doing? Because we stay in communication throughout the day! He knows when I get to work and at what time; he knows what I’ve had for breakfast and lunch and at what time; he knows when I’ve left work; he knows when I’m on the train; he knows when I’m on the bus; he knows when I get home. How? We stay in touch throughout the day! Imagine if you stayed in touch with the Holy Spirit like that throughout the day, how many vicious “Cujo’s” would you be able to be rerouted away from without ever being bitten?! 

People of God, your prayer life and relationship with the Holy Spirit will save you from the attacks of ‘Potiphar’s Wife’! You’ll began discerning what people, places and things you have to avoid for your own mental; emotional; physical; spiritual and even financial well-being! However, this will require you to run from the temptation and retreat in prayer with the Holy Spirit! And how long should you retreat in prayer with the Holy Spirit? The Bible admonishes: “Pray Without Ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Let’s see this verse in a few translations: 

“be unceasing and persistent in prayer.” (AMP);

“Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]” (AMPC);

“Pray continually.” (CEB);

“and never stop praying.” (CEV);

“pray at all times” (GNT);

“Always keep on praying.” (TLB);

“…pray all the time…” (MSG) 

Imagine how protected you would be, especially from the temptation of sin, if you’re in communication with the Holy Spirit: “UNCEASINGLY; PERSISTENTLY; NEVER STOP; and AT ALL TIMES”?! Truth is, temptation will NEVER CEASE, which is why your prayer life can NEVER CEASE! And remember, there is absolutely no temptation powerful enough to FORCE you to surrender! 

1 Corinthians 10:13, “NO TEMPTATION [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His Word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” (AMP) You will never as a child of God be able to say that a temptation was so strong it overtook you and you had no way out because your Father loves you so much that the Bible says, “…He [has in the PAST and is NOW and] WILL [ALWAYS] provide the way out as well, so that you will be ABLE to ENDURE it [WITHOUT YIELDING, and will OVERCOME TEMPTATION with joy].” Your Father has in the past, is now and will always provide the way out of temptation, YOU just have to add an addendum to your daily prayers that I keep in mine: “Father, help me to mindful that in the midst of every temptation presented to me today, You’ve ALREADY provided me a way of escape. Now, grant me the discernment to see it and the wisdom to take it.”

Because let’s be honest, you are NEVER forced to surrender to a temptation! James 1:13-15, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil COMES FROM US AND ONLY US. WE HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT THE LEERING, SEDUCING FLARE-UP OF OUR OWN LUST. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (MSG). If You Give In, You Wanted to. If You Give In, You Decided to. If you allow the temptation to sin, to be conceived in your life; and then you nourish it so it grows up to adulthood and becomes a real killer of your marriage; integrity; family; character; calling; anointing; dignity…It Was Your Choice!

You Don’t Get to Complain About What You’ve Condoned! Remember, Your Choice…Your Consequence! 

Which is why it’s so important to remember Joseph’s example: “…The only thing he hasn’t turned over to me is you. You’re his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?”  She pestered him day after day after day, BUT HE STOOD HIS GROUND. HE REFUSED TO GO TO BED WITH HER.” (MSG). “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her OR EVEN BE WITH HER.” Listen: Temptation doesn’t knock once then walk away from the door! Potiphar’s Wife “PESTERED HIM DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY! She spoke to Joseph DAY AFTER DAY!” Every day you will be faced with the opportunity to accept temptation, which is why every day you have to remain praying without ceasing so you can receive clear directions on how to get away from Potiphar’s Wife, the ‘Cujo’ On a Mission to Kill You!

The Bible says, “FLEE FROM IT” Which is your admonishment to take a route that’s nowhere near the opportunity to sin! 1 Timothy 6:11, “But as for you, O man of God, FLEE FROM THESE THINGS; aim at and pursue righteousness [true goodness, moral conformity to the character of God], godliness [the fear of God], faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.” (AMP) The Message Bible reads like this: “But you, Timothy, man of God: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE FROM ALL THIS. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.” (MSG)

REMEMBER TIMOTHY AND FLEE, REMEMBER JOSEPH AND RUN! AND DON’T JUST RUN, BUT RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! LIKE JOSEPH, USE COMMON SENSE! NO MATTER HOW CUTE AND FRIENDLY A DOG IS…IF IT HAS TEETH…IT WILL BITE! HOWEVER, IF YOU’RE NOT CLOSE ENOUGH TO PET IT…IT’S NOT CLOSE ENOUGH TO BITE YOU! THEREFORE, AVOID BEING BITTEN BY AVOIDING BEING TOO CLOSE TO CHOMP! DON’T LET POTIPHAR’S WIFE CATCH YOU!

“Don’t just run from temptation, look it in the eye and defeat it.” (Baylor Barbee)

“With every temptation there will be a way of escape.” (F.B. Meyer)

“Every moment of resistance to temptation is a victory.” (Frederick W. Faber)

“If you don’t want temptation to follow you, stop acting as if you’re interested.” (Author Unknown)

“Satan would have you believe that happiness comes only as you surrender to his enticements, but one only needs to look at the shattered lives of those who violate God’s laws to know why Satan is called the Father of Lies.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” (Deepak Chopra)

“Every time you defeat temptation you become more like Jesus.” (Rick Warren)

“Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.” (Author Unknown)

“When temptation knocks, imagination usually answers.” (Dan Bennett)

“Tis one thing to be tempted, another thing to fall.” (William Shakespeare)

“When fleeing the scene of temptation, do not leave a forwarding address.” (Jeffrey R. Holland)

“Temptation will knock at your door; don’t ask them to stay for dinner.” (Author Unknown)

“Be alert. The devil never sleeps. As we come closer to perfection, his temptations are more cunning.” (Author Unknown)

“Nothing sexier than someone who can face temptation and say, ‘Nah, this ain’t worth losing what I have.” (Author Unknown)

“Temptation is the feeling we get when encountered by an opportunity to do what we innately know we shouldn’t.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.” (C.S. Lewis)

“The Devil did not tempt Adam and Eve to steal, to lie, to kill, to commit adultery; he tempted them to live independent of God.” (Bob Jones, Sr.)

“Temptation can be defined as an inducement to do evil. Three powerful forces work together to ruin a believer’s character and witness; Satan, the world system, and our own lustful ‘flesh’ tendencies.” (Charles Stanley)

“The first time temptation comes, meet it in such a decided manner that it will never be repeated.” (Ellen G. White)

“Integrity is built by defeating the temptation to be dishonest.” (Rick Warren)

“I have one good reason why you should walk away from temptation right now. One reason. God is Better.” (Francis Chan)

“In all temptations let us consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose.” (Author Unknown)

“Temptation exercises our faith and teaches us to pray.” (A.B. Simpson)

“Temptation is not a sin, but playing with temptation invites sin.” (Fulton J. Sheen)

“Temptation is not a sin; it is a call to battle.” (Erwin W. Lutzer)

“Sexual temptations are lurking around every corner in our lives today. Resisting the temptation to gratify the flesh is a full-time job.” (Gary Rohrmayer)

“Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.” (Billy Sunday)

“Temptation usually comes in through a door that has been deliberately left open.” (Author Unknown)

“Temptation is a hard battle to fight and it’s a struggle. But that’s not an excuse to give in.” (Author Unknown)

“Nothing is hotter than a man that can face temptation and say ‘nothing is worth turning my back on God and losing what I have.” (Jonni Nicole)

“The Bible never says to manage temptation, it says to flee it.” (Author Unknown)

“Strengthen your commitment to Christ – now. Don’t wait until the storms of temptation, or sickness, or old age threaten to blow you off-course; now is the time to strengthen your faith.” (Billy Graham)

“The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came. Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory.” (R. A. Torrey)

“In the last analysis it is not the temptations that meet us on the streets that determine our conduct; it is the heart of the man who faces them. Two men may face the same conditions; one falls, the other stands. The difference is not in the temptation but in the heart of the man.” (D. Martyn-Lloyd Jones)

“Satan’s chief device of temptation is to attack the truth of God.” (R.C. Sproul)

“I once faced a temptation that was so persistent and so overwhelming that I literally believed my whole world would go dark if I refused to give in to it,” he said. “All I could do was scream to the Holy Spirit to keep me from it.” (Wesley Hill)

“You don’t have to face temptation alone, and you never have. Just remember that He is with you, and when a temptation comes, imagine Him being right by your side, and you’ll immediately feel added strength and power.” (John Bytheway)

“Every Christian is endued with a power whereby he is enabled to resist temptation.” (Author Unknown)

“The greatest temptations are not those that solicit our consent to obvious sin, but those that offer us great evils masking as the greatest goods.” (Thomas Merton)

“Why does one of God’s ministers preach the Gospel powerfully? Because God gives him assistance. Why does Joseph stand against temptation? Because God give him aid. The strength of a Christian is divine strength.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“The best thing to do when there is temptation is run.” (Johnny Hunt)

“The idle man tempts the devil to tempt him.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“If evil were not made to appear attractive, there would be no such thing as temptation. It is in the close similarity between good and evil, right and wrong, that the danger lies.” (Billy Graham)

“A great help during temptation is to remember that to sin is more than just breaking a rule; it is to grieve the person who loves us beyond measure.” (Paul Washer)

“What makes resisting temptation difficult for many people is they don’t want to discourage it completely.” (Franklin P. Jones)

“The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.” (Matthew Henry)

“Satan rejoices when old habits overwhelm us and we cave in to the pressure of the crowd, perhaps temptation lures us into sin. A backsliding Christian compromises their faith and causes unbelievers to mock the Gospel.” (Billy Graham)

“Anticipate your battles. Fight them on your knees before temptation comes and you will always have victory.” (Stacey Hitch)

“Temptation is a push or a pull intended to take us away from the will of God.” (Christian Michael)

Matthew 26:40-41, “When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” (MSG)

Luke 22:39-40, “Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, “Pray that you don’t give in to temptation.” (MSG)

Galatians 6:1-3 , “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you who are spiritual [that is, you who are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit] are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [not with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness], keeping a watchful eye on yourself, so that you are not tempted as well. Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love]. For if anyone thinks he is something [special] when [in fact] he is nothing [special except in his own eyes], he deceives himself.” (AMP)

Galatians 5:16, “But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts].” (AMP)

Matthew 6:13, “‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’” (AMP)

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

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