“The Church Needs Deliverance – Part II”

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! Next Week, God willing, we’ll close out this series with Part III and then began another series! Until then, remain blessed!

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“The Church Needs Deliverance – Part I”

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 #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “A Visual Guide to Sciatica”

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“Prayer is a Lifestyle, Not a Lifeline”

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

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

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

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

At the end of a passage on spiritual warfare and defeating our enemy, the Bible says in Ephesians 6:18…pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (NIV). Did you catch all those instructions? “…pray in the Spirit ON ALL OCCASIONS…” Not just when you’re in trouble, but ON ALL OCCASIONS! It’s prayer all day, every day, at any time of the day, anywhere and around anybody! That reminds me a lot of the admonishment in our opening text of 1 Thessalonians 5:17Pray 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 PRAY WHICH IS YOUR LIFESTYLE, NOT YOUR LIFELINE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devotional Scriptures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “When to Toss Common Household Items?”

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“Tools For Christian Singles”

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

TOOL #1: “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}

Tool #3: 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 #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “10 Surprising Health Benefits of Love”

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

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 your 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 6:30am 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 be 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 #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How Much Exercise Do You Need, and Which Type is Best For You?”

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“If You Don’t Like What You See, Change It!”

The Bible’s story is one of Change from Genesis, the book of “Beginnings,” to Revelation, where God Himself says: “…Behold, I make all things New…” Therefore, whatever your situation is today, Change Is Possible Through Him!

It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go.” (Bob Proctor).

However often you’ve repented, confessed and tried changing, God Can Change What You Can’t – And Make the Change Last!

The Scripture is Still True: “Now Unto HIM That Is ABLE…” (Jude 24). The word “Able” means “Having the Power, Skill, or Means To Do Something; or to be Skillful and Competent”. Its Latin Origin “Habilis” literally means “Handy”. Therefore, Regardless to How Long You’ve Been Like This, or “Its” Been Like This, Your God Is Able to Change You and “It” For the Better, For Good! How? Because He Has the Power To Do It, He Has the Skill To Do It, He Has the Means To Do It, And He Is Competent Enough To Do It! So, Put It In His Hands, Because He Is ‘Handy’ Enough to Handle It! It’s Time For You to Change, No More Excuses!

I love Bikram Choudhury’s point of view on Change, he said: “Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again” So I Reiterate, No More Excuses! It’s Time For You to Change!

However, Change Requires Understanding Certain Principles. Let’s see what they are:

1. YOU DON’T NEED TO CHANGE OTHERS IN ORDER TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE:I’d be happier if only he’d stop…”; “Things won’t improve for me until she starts…Such beliefs make you focus on the Problem and Not the Solution, Ignore Realistic Options and Feed Depression! Therefore, follow the admonition of the Word of God:Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best YOU CAN WITH YOUR OWN LIFE” (Galatians 6:4-5 MSG). Instead of trying to change others, which only produces Resistance and Resentment, Let God Show YOU What YOU Need To Do Differently To Improve YOUR Handling Of The Problem! You See, When You Stop Doing What Doesn’t Work and Change Your Reactions to the Problem, Others Often Change Spontaneously!In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks” (Warren Buffett). You’re Getting Nowhere Trying to Patch Up the Leaks In Other People’s Lives/Boats! Instead Reserve That Energy and Be More Productive By Changing Your Own Boat and Saving Your Own Life! Sometimes, you have to step back even from those whom you love and let them handle their own life, as you get a handle on yours. Galatians says to carefully explore who you are and the work you have been given and sink yourself into that, not into them! Work on becoming the person God has intended you to be and the works that He has entrusted to your hands to fulfill. That alone will keep you busy for a lifetime! Instead of concentrating on them, concentrate on you and make improvements on your own building. Does your attitude need adjusting, your faith need increasing, your hope need refreshing, your trust need deepening? Does your habits and addictions need to be addressed? Does your marriage or family or children have issues that you’ve unsubscribed from because you keep renewing the issues from everyone else’s lives and crisis? Can you become a better believer, leader, spouse, coworker or boss? Does your prayer life need improving and your consecration need more consistency? Do you need to add more time to your Word study? Are you flowing or stagnant in your anointing? Are your gifts stirred up and set on fire or just dashed in ashes? In other words, we are all a work in progress, but you’ll get stuck in your progress if you keep comparing yours to theirs, or trying to fix theirs instead of your own. You’ve been given this one life, make it the best it can be, which will never happen if you’re constantly working overtime to change them and theirs, but taking vacation, sick, personal and comp days when it’s time to change you and yours! REMEMBER: YOU DON’T NEED TO CHANGE OTHERS IN ORDER TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

2. TRUE CHANGE BEGINS BY ADDRESSING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD: Bitterness and Frustration over problems just result in distancing from God, leaving you to handle the issue in your own strength. Surrendering to Him Changes You Fundamentally, Challenging Pride, Envy, Resentment, Fear, Dishonesty, and the like…Which Are All Characteristics of Poor Life Management!Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God…” (Lamentations 3:40 MSG). With…our lives under God…,we’re more Honest, Self-Aware, Able to Perceive Realistically; We’re Respectful, and Prepared to Become A Better Person! But This Requires You To Tighten Your Relationship With The Lord! You Need Him Near For The Change To Take Place But You Have To Keep In Mind: Come Near To God, And God Will Come Near To You…” (James 4:8 NCV). Did you recognize the order of Nearness? The Responsibility Falls On YOUR Shoulders FIRST!Come Near To God…and AFTER you do…God Will Come Near To You…You See, The Only Thing Holding Up Your Process of Change, Is Your Procrastination to Come Near To God FIRST!  If you want Him to Come Near and Change You, You’ve FIRST got to Come Near Him In Communion!  So, Renew Your Relationship With Him, FIRST, and He Will Do The Rest! So many have made their relationship with God out to be a 911 distress call only! That’s the basis of their communication. They get in a jam, and cry out to God. Is that wrong? Of course not. But it is if it’s the only time in which you do! Imagine being married, but the only time you speak to your spouse is when you’re in a jam! The only time you spend time with your spouse is so they can get you out of the trouble you got yourself into. What if the only intimacy you have with your spouse is when there’s a crisis? Exactly how long do you think this marriage is going to survive such a one-sided damaged relationship? Well, God is the very same way! He values relationship. After all, He gave us the life, death and life again of His only begotten Son for no other reason than so He could develop a relationship with us as His children also. Therefore, don’t you think that a relationship with Him is going to require more than a ‘help me God’ conversation? A relationship with God is talking to Him; listening to Him; complimenting, praising and worshiping Him. It’s trusting Him, and having faith in Him. It’s leaning on Him when you know there’s no other way for you to remain on your feet. It’s loving on Him, consistently. It’s faithfulness and unconditional love. It’s lovingly mentioning His name, and letting everyone know that you belong to Him alone. When is the last time you romanced God that way? If you had to stop and think about it, your relationship with God needs some immediate repair work done! God doesn’t want to change you from a distance, He desires an up close and personal relationship, so, how near (or far) have you allowed yourself to become? Selah…REMEMBER: TRUE CHANGE BEGINS BY ADDRESSING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD!

3. YOU MUST BE WILLING TO CHANGE UNCONDITIONALLY: In the early stage of therapy, counselors bump into theChange-If syndrome. The client sees change as a strategy of give-to-get:I’ll change if they are willing to do…If not, I won’tWith God, your reward for changing is intrinsic. You get the joy of His approval, plus all the benefits that follow from being a Changed Person! This includes God’s Gift of…salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:18 NIV). The ability to see things clearly will enable you to understand the problem and deal with it effectively, Regardless of What Someone Else Does, or Doesn’t Do! You Have to Want Change For Yourself, And Not Based On Anyone Else’s Actions, or Lack Thereof! So, Just In Case They Don’t Get Any Better Keep in mind:Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together” (Marilyn Monroe). Whether the Friendship or Relationship Stays Intact Or Not, You Need to Make the Decision to Change Yourself, For Yourself, Unconditionally! Think about it, what if they decide they are very comfortable with their dysfunction and see no need nor reason to change, does that mean you’re supposed to stay the same too? Absolutely Not! If your friendSHIP or relationSHIP or leaderSHIP has been damaged, and water is leaking everywhere and it’s about to sink, do you stay in the boat with them because you’ve both been in this same boat with each for such a long time? Or, do you make the executive decision that something needs to change, and quickly?! When a lifeboat comes alongside you and they say, ‘you can go ahead if you want to, I’ll stay right here, nice and comfortable where I’ve always been’, do you sit back down and remain in a dysfunctional dingy or do you leave them to their craziness and get out into that available lifeboat, even if it means the saving of your own life and the loss of theirs, at their own hands? It may sound harsh, but you can’t live your life boxed into the decisions of how others have decided to live theirs. Love you unconditionally enough to change you, even if they remain the same. REMEMBER: YOU MUST BE WILLING TO CHANGE UNCONDITIONALLY!

4. YOU MUST ACCEPT THE TRUTH THAT CHANGE MEANS LETTING GO OF THE PAST: Whatever You Cling To Ultimately Controls You! If the offense resulted from your actions, or the loss from your poor judgment, Confess It To God, Receive Forgiveness and Leave It At the Cross! If it was the other person’s fault, but you’ve held onto it because you think you’re the innocent party anddeserve your pound of flesh,Remember: the Freedom and the Options You Miss Are Too High a Price For the False Comfort of Being Right!Be kind and compassionate to one another, Forgiving each other, just as in Christ God Forgave You” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV) Or better yet, another translation says it like this: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). This will Release You From the Chains of Resentment and Give You Back Your Future! If You’re Bound by Chains of Regret Over “coulda, shoulda, woulda,” God Stands Ready to Make Your Future Better Than Your Past Could Ever Have Been (Joel 2:25, “I’ll Make Up For The Years…” MSG). Dr. Maya Angelou clearly agreed because she said:Someone was hurt before you, wronged before you, hungry before you, frightened before you, beaten before you, humiliated before you, raped before you…YET, Someone Survived…You Can Do Anything You Choose To Do And you can choose to ask God to help you change so He can make up for the years! Please, Choose to Change Your Cold, Unforgiving Heart, and Enjoy a Better Life! Keeping in mind:Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward” (C.S. Lewis). Far too many waste years of their lives pointing fingers, laying blame, making excuses and justifications, giving reasons, but never changing. Today is the day where you break this bad habit! Whether it happened 30 seconds, minutes, weeks, months, or years ago, let it go! The forgiveness is for you not for them! It’s so you can finally be free from your emotional prison that’s causing you to go mentally insane! Do your part of asking for forgiveness, and extending forgiveness, then leave the rest in God’s hands as you change what He’s strengthened your hands to handle! REMEMBER: YOU MUST ACCEPT THE TRUTH THAT CHANGE MEANS LETTING GO OF THE PAST.

5. CHANGE MEANS ACCEPTING RISK: Your anxiety will kick in and say,What if I don’t get the job? What if the economy fails? What if I make the effort to change but they don’t?We like ironclad guarantees. The predictable always feels less threatening than sticking our necks out! But the Price of Our Security Often Means Remaining Stuck With the Status Quo! Sometimes Your Greatest Risk Is Taking No Risk At All! God Often Requires You to Leave the Path That Feels and Looks Safe, For the One That Feels and Looks Risky! Why? Because:NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses” (Hebrews 11:1 AMP). Your Faith Is Full-Proof Assurance, God’s Confirmation, the Title Deed Guaranteeing That the Change You Want Will Take Place If You Act On It!Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action” (Walter Anderson). “Change in its simplest definition meansTo Make Or Become DifferentThat’s all God is looking for you to do! Take a Risk and Do Something Different! After all, all that you have been doing up til now hasn’t worked, so What Have You Got To Lose? Ask yourself,If I Dare to Change, What Could I Finally Gain?” Because: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten” (Tony Robbins) Break out of that neat little box with the bow that you’ve trapped yourself in all these years. For once, don’t follow the crowd! Don’t do what everyone is telling you, you ought to do. Seek God, hear what He has to tell you, then follow His lead! Let 2020 be the year you take a risk on YOU! You’ve spent enough of your years taking risks on everybody else and their lives, families, businesses, education, ministries, churches, vision, goals, and dreams. This time is your time to take a risk on you! REMEMBER: CHANGE MEANS ACCEPTING RISK!

6. CHANGE WILL HAPPEN IF FAILURE IS NOT ALLOWED TO STOP YOU: Fear of Failing Often Stops Us From Trying, Yet Many of God’s Best People Experienced Failure On Their Way to Success! Consider Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David, etc…All of Them Succeeded Only AFTER Dealing With Personal Failure! Indeed, the Richest, Most Profound Change Often Happens AFTER We’ve Tasted Failure! Until then we tend to be cocky and of not much use to God! Peter failed the Lord miserably, and at the most crucial moment (Matthew 26:50, 72,…some men came forward, took hold of Jesus, and arrested him…Again Peter denied it and swore with an oath, “I don’t know the man!”  GWT). But even after that, Peter grew, becoming Christ’s Choice to Lead His Newly Empowered Church On the Day of Pentecost, Winning Three Thousand Souls (See Acts 2)! So Don’t Let Failure Stop You! You Can Change! Even the Apostle Paul went from beating Christians to becoming one and leading many!Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, IT ISN’T!” (Richard Bach) Yes, Even After All Your Failures, You Too Can Still Change! You’re not too old; it’s not too late; and you haven’t messed up too bad! God can bring recovery out of your ruins if only you’d trust Him! REMEMBER: CHANGE WILL HAPPEN IF FAILURE IS NOT ALLOWED TO STOP YOU!

In a Nutshell: You’ve been this way long enough! Therefore, no more excuses, reasons or justifications! Today simply determine to Change Your Life For the Better! REMEMBER: IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT YOU SEE, CHANGE IT!

“Your Life Does Not Get Better By Chance, It Gets Better By Change” (Jim Rohn)

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

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” (Socrates)

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” (Jimmy Dean)

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” (George Bernard Shaw)

“Change can be scary, but you know what’s scarier? Allowing fear to stop you from growing, evolving and progressing.” (Mandy Hale)

“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” (Author Unknown)

“Don’t be afraid to change. You may lose something good but you may gain something better.” (Author Unknown)

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” (Carol Burnett)

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” (Oprah Winfrey)

“Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“The 3 C’s of life: Choices, Chances, Changes. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.” (Author Unknown)

“Small changes eventually add up to huge results.” (Author Unknown)

“Embrace change. True success can be defined by your ability to adapt to changing circumstances.” (Connie Sky)

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” (Rumi)

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” (John Maxwell)

“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” (Author Unknown)

“You can’t change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react to it.” (Author Unknown)

“Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes.” (Author Unknown)

“The key to change is to let go of fear.” (Rosanne Cash)

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” (Gail Sheehy)

“Changing the world begins with the very personal process of changing yourself. The only place change can begin is where you are, and the only time you can begin is always now.” (Author Unknown)

“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” (Robin Sharma)

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” (Author Unknown)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “The 12 Powerhouse Vegetables You Should Be Eating”

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“Don’t Let Your Complacency Kill You!”

Proverbs 1:32, “…Don’t you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots? Carelessness kills; COMPLACENCY IS MURDER…” (MSG).

A friend of mine had a ringside seat on a family of birds. They actually decided to nest under the roof on the porch. The fun part was watching the birth and development of those baby birds. My friend actually got to see them hatching out and then settling down into their nest. They all fit very nicely in there – AT FIRST! See, Mama Bird kept filling their open mouths with more and more food, and the little birdies didn’t stay little for very long! THEY STRETCHED AND THE NEST SHRUNK! As it got more and more crowded, each baby did more and more wiggling around to kind of keep his position in the nest. Then they feathered out, and they forgot about all of them sitting in the nest comfortably ever again! They began to perch on the edges of the nest until they were pushed off the edge by their siblings in a battle for whatever food Mama brought. One by one, as crowding pushed those little birds to the edge – and then over the edge – THEY WERE FORCED WITH THE DECISION TO EITHER FLY OR DIE! They decided to fly! However, the last nester stayed in the nest for actually another full week, being fed as an only child by Mama Bird. Finally though, Mama Bird must have gotten disgusted with her nest-addicted child. So, she quit feeding him! First, there was a lot of squawking and fussing, and then even he abandoned the nest to finally touch the sky!

“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.” (Helen Keller).

We all know what those baby birds have to discoverthat they weren’t made to just hunker down in their comfortable nest until complacency finally kills them! AND NEITHER ARE WE! “The spirit that does not soar is destined to grovel.” (Benjamin Disraeli). AND CERTAINLY OUR GOD DIDN’T GO THROUGH GUARDS, GRAVES, AND GOLGOTHA, JUST FOR US TO GROVEL ON THE GROUND! You see, those birds are DESTINED to leave where it’s safe so they can finally soar, AND SO ARE WE!

Mike Apicello said it best: “Complacency is our worst enemy.”

One of the definitions I found interesting about the word ‘complacencyis: “to be pleased with oneself or one’s merits, advantages, situation, and often without awareness of some potential danger to being self-satisfied.” Did you catch that? ‘complacencymakes you so comfortable in a situation that you don’t even realize that DANGER is lurking nearby! When you become ‘complacentyou let your guards down; your convictions are easily compromised; your sensitivity wanes; your discernment is weakened; your expectations are lowered; your high standards fall down low, you negotiate with the choices and consequences of sin, and the things and people you ought to accept or reject become so entwined that your judgment is faulty!

The Bible clearly warns us about the DANGERS of ‘Complacency’:

“…Fools are DESTROYED by their own COMPLACENCY.” (Proverbs 1:32 NLT);

“Tremble, you COMPLACENT women; shudder, you daughters who feel secure! Strip off your fine clothes and wrap yourselves in rags.” (Isaiah 32:11 NIV), another version reads like this: “Women, you are calm now, but you should shake with fear. Women, you feel safe now, but you should tremble. Take off your nice clothes and put rough cloth around your waist to show your sadness.” (NCV).

Zephaniah 1:12 should really pierce your ‘COMPLACENCY’: “…On Judgment Day, I’ll search through every closet and alley in Jerusalem. I’LL FIND AND PUNISH THOSE WHO ARE SITTING IT OUT, FAT AND LAZY, amusing themselves and TAKING IT EASY, Who think, ‘God doesn’t do anything, good or bad. He isn’t involved, so neither are we.’ But just wait. They’ll lose everything they have, money and house and land. They’ll build a house and never move in. They’ll plant vineyards and never taste the wine.” (MSG).

And of course, the book of Revelation brings it home: “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! YOU’RE STALE. YOU’RE STAGNANT. YOU MAKE ME WANT TO VOMIT. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.” (3:15 MSG).

Yes, ’COMPLACENCY’ will cost you BIG! WHICH IS WHY GOD LOVES US ENOUGH TO NUDGE US OUT OF THE NEST!

Read His description of His loving plan for our lives: “In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.” (Deuteronomy 32:10-11 NIV). The New Living Translation reads like this: “He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; he guarded them as he would guard his own eyes. LIKE AN EAGLE THAT ROUSES HER CHICKS and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions.” (NLT). I love that word ’rouses, it means: “to bring or come out of sleep; to awaken or wake up; to bring out of inactivity; to excite or provoke.” THAT’S WHAT OUR LOVING FATHER DOES FOR US! He ‘rouses’ us, because HE LOVES US TOO MUCH TO LET US SLEEP THROUGH OUR PURPOSE; BECOME IMMOBILE AND INACTIVE IN OUR CALLING; BORED WITH OUR GIFTS OR DULLED IN OUR DESIRE TO FULFILL OUR DESTINY!

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

The mother eagle actually removes all the cushioning in her nest, and that leaves her eaglets living on just the rocks and the sticks underneath it! WHICH IS EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE! Ultimately, the stirring of that nest leads to their willingness to leave the nest where they had been so comfortable, and ultimately to take to the sky. Think about it, maybe your nest isn’t quite as COMFY as it once was. Things are stirring that use to be still and changing where they use to be quite COMFORTABLE remaining the same. In your environment and in your heart there’s this gnawing RESTLESSNESS that seems to say, “GOD’S GOT MORE FOR YOU THAN THIS”! Well, He does, and He’s making you RESTLESS for it because RESTLESSNESS almost always precedes a great work of God! Your Lord is trying to move you into a new season of your life where you can make a far greater difference than you’ve ever made before!

He’s NUDGING YOU OUT OF THE NEST so you can Soar to the place where: His blessings overtake you; soar till you’re blessed in the city and the field; soar till the fruit of your body is blessed; soar till the fruit of your ground is blessed; soar till the fruit of your cattle is blessed; soar till your basket and store are blessed; soar till your blessed coming in and going out; soar till your enemies that rose up against you are smitten before your face; soar till those that came at you one way, flee from you seven ways; soar till your storehouses are filled; soar till everything your hands touch prosper; soar till He blesses the land He gave you; soar till he establishes you as His holy people; soar till all the people of the earth are afraid of you; soar till He makes your goods plenty; soar till He opens His good treasure to you, rains on your land in season and blesses the work of your hands; soar till He makes you the lender and not the borrower; soar till He makes you the head; soar till He makes you above only!  (Gleaned from Deuteronomy 28:1-14).

SAINTS: HE’S NUDGING YOU OUT OF THE NEST, NOT SO YOU CAN FALL, BUT SO YOU CAN FINALLY FLY!

But you’ll miss it if you insist on staying where it’s safe! Financially safe, geographically safe, occupationally safe, where it’s methodologically safe, socially safe, emotionally safe, mentally safe, spiritually safe.

LOOK AT IT THIS WAY: Abraham would NEVER have discovered God’s amazing plans for his life UNLESS he was FIRST willing to LEAVE the SAFETY and prosperity of a FAMILIAR AND SECURE place! The disciples would have always been just another bunch of fishermen UNLESS they had been willing to ABANDON THE SECURITY of their career for the call of Jesus! Noah would have never reaped the blessings from obediently building the ark if he WAITED COMFORTABLY FOR GOD TO SEND THE RAIN BEFORE HE READ THE BLUEPRINTS! Ruth would have missed out on Boaz if she REMAINED UNDER NAOMI’S ARMS INSTEAD OF OBEYING NAOMI’S INSTRUCTIONS TO LAY AT HIS FEET UNTIL HE AROSE! Deborah would have no song to sing if she SAT BACK COMPLACENTLY AND TOLD BARACK, JUST GO ON WITHOUT ME, YOU GOT THIS! If Mary waited for the plan of God to make sense to everybody around her before she STEPPED OUT AND MADE THE BOLD DECLARATION, LET IT BE TO ME AS YOU HAVE SPOKEN, SHE WOULD HAVE MISSED OUT ON BEING THE MOTHER OF JESUS! Peter could have NEVER known what it was to walk on water if he hadn’t CLIMBED OUT OF WHAT COMFORTABLY CARRIED HIM! Imagine if when Samuel asked Jesse for anymore of his sons, and they went out to get David, that David’s response was, NO THANKS, THAT WHOLE KING, KINGDOM, CROWN, AND ANOINTING THING SEEMS LIKE A LOT WORK AND HEADACHE. I’LL JUST STICK TO WHAT I KNOW AND STAY COMFORTABLE IN THIS HERE PASTURE! What about Paul? We could easily understand if he decided to say, GOD, YOU AND I BOTH KNOW WHERE I COME FROM AND WHAT I DID. IT’S NICE THAT YOU WANT TO USE ME REGARDLESS, BUT I DON’T THINK I WANT TO DEAL WITH THE HASSLE OF ALL THE CRITICS ADDRESSING MY PAST. I’LL JUST WRITE A LETTER OR TWO ON YOUR BEHALF, TO YOUR CHURCHES, BEHIND THE SCENES AND SIGN IT ANONYMOUSLY! Just imagine if Jesus said I’ll WAIT FOR A MORE COMFORTABLE METHOD OF SALVATION FOR THE WORLD, THAT CROWN AND CROSS, THOSE NAILS AND SPEARS, ALL LOOK A BIT TOO UNCOMFORTABLE FOR ME TO BEAR!  

Listen: God has much more of Him that He wants you to experience, but it will ONLY happen as you move beyond all your usual security blankets and abandon yourself to total trust in Him! He has so much more He wants to do with your life, BUT IT’S BEYOND YOUR COMFORT ZONE! Like those baby birds, you weren’t created to just hunker down in a safe, secure little nest – a nest that’s becoming increasingly uncomfortably small! No, you are destined to soar! Therefore, don’t let the comfortability of the nest kill you!

“…Don’t you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots? Carelessness kills; COMPLACENCY IS MURDER…” (Proverbs 1:32 MSG).

DON’T LET COMFORTABILITY, CARELESSNESS AND COMPLACENCY KILL YOUR CALLING!

Write the book; preach the sermon; teach the lesson; play the instrument; travel the land; go back to school; apply for the mortgage, the scholarship, the grant; the loan; start the business…whatever it is, stop procrastinating! Just because the opportunity came once, is no guarantee it will come again!

Listen: the word ‘procrastinate’ is defined as, ‘to delay or postpone an action.’ Its Latin origin, ‘procrastinare’ literally means, ‘to defer till the morning.’ But listen to what the Bible says: James 4:13-15, “And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.” (MSG) In a Nutshell: All you have is TODAY! Tomorrow is promised to NO MAN! Therefore, stop deferring till the morning what you can do TODAY! When the Spirit gives you a GO, don’t allow your Flesh to STOP you! Don’t make excuses; don’t blame others or point fingers to accuse. No, this is your life, the only one you get, so make the best and most of it!  

“The Discomfort of Change is Better Than the Heartbreak of Complacency.” (Robin Sharma)

“Every Great Brand Goes Back to a Courageous Individual Who Dared to Say ‘No’ to the Status Quo, to the Ordinary, and to Complacency.” (David Brier)

“Of All the Possible Avenues of Life There Are to Live For, Complacency Should Be Viewed as the Switch That Killed the Will to Build.” (Gillis Triplett)

“Do Not Let Complacency Settle Into Your Life, It Will Ruin Your Physical and Mental Well-Being.” (Scottie Somers)

“Complacency is the Enemy of Security and Progress.” (Author Unknown)

“I Hate to See Complacency Prevail in Our Lives When It’s So Directly Contrary to the Teaching of Christ.” (Jimmy Carter)

“The tragedy of life is not found in failure but complacency. Not in you doing too much, but doing too little. Not in you living above your means, but below your capacity. It’s not failure but aiming too low, that is life’s greatest tragedy.” (Benjamin E. Mays)

“Any form of complacency is the kiss of death for any professional.” (Joan Rivers)

“Complacency is the forerunner of mediocrity. You can never work too hard on attitudes, effort and technique.” (Don Meyer)

“Why hide your talent in the closet of complacency when you have greatness within you?” (Robin Sharma)

“The moment you start reducing expectations you risk introducing complacency.” (Peter Mandelson)

“Familiarity breeds complacency.” (Rick Warren)

“We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into complacency and dependence.” (Paul Ryan)

“Of all the things a leader should fear, complacency heads the list.” (John C. Maxwell)

“There are three things we can’t have. We can’t have complacency, we can’t have selfishness, and we can’t lose our accountability.” (Nick Saban)

“Complacency is man’s biggest weakness. It creeps upon us when we least expect it.” (Jay Mullings)

“Change happens when we take massive and specific action. It rarely happens by easing our way into the process. Either we risk it or we don’t. Either we go 100% or 0%. Gradual and timid change will lead us to drawback to our comfort zone. It’s nearly impossible to move forward without a committed and courageous leap.” (Author Unknown)

“Don’t be seduced by complacency.” (Jeremy Gutsche)

“Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us, He waits so long, so very long, in vain.” (A. W. Tozer)

“May your hunger for change be greater than your complacency to stay the same.” (Author Unknown)

“There’s no limit to what you can accomplish, if you will just learn to shake off complacency and keep stretching into the next level.” (Joel Osteen)

“Complacency is the greatest enemy of all.” (Bruno Gralpois)

“The complacency of Christians is the scandal of Christianity.” (Aiden Wilson Tozer)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “The 7-Minute Workout”

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“Bulldog or Poodle, What’s Your Approach?”

Hebrews 11:5-6, “By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because ANYONE WHO WANTS TO APPROACH GOD must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” (MSG)

The story’s told of a bulldog and a poodle who were arguing one day (don’t laugh). The bulldog was making fun of the poodle, calling him a weak little runt who couldn’t do anything. The bulldog said, “I challenge you to a contest. Let’s see who can open the back door of their house the fastest and get inside.” The bulldog was thinking he would turn the doorknob with his powerful jaws, while the poodle was too small to even reach the knob of his back door. But to the bulldog’s surprise the poodle said, “I can get inside my house faster than you can. I accept the challenge.” So with the poodle watching, the bulldog ran to the back door of his house and jumped up to the doorknob. He got his teeth and paws around it and tried with tremendous effort, force and strength, to turn it, but he couldn’t get enough grip on the knob to do it, so he finally quit in exhaustion. Now it was the poodle’s turn. But his APPROACH to the challenge was a little different. You see, he just did what he’d been doing every day consistently for the last several years. He went up to the door and scratched a few of times, then waited patiently. Within a few seconds his master not only opened the door, but picked him up in his arms, patted him on the head affectionately, carried him inside AND gave him a treat!

Moral of the Story: The Difference in APPROACH is Based on Relationship!

Truth is, some of us are ‘Bulldog Christians’. It’s all grunting and growling in our attempts to access God. We want to prove we’re more anointed, gifted, blessed, strong and powerful. We want to show our titles, positions, rings, robes and crosses. We want to be elaborate in worship; loud in prayer; creative in praise; complicated in teaching; and theatrical in preaching. But the problem is that you can’t access God through such futile methods. In fact, getting to God has nothing to do with methods at all, just the right approach. And the right approach is laid out Clear, Plain and Simple in James: “… Come close to God and He will come close to you…” (James 4:8 NLV). Not all that complicated and dramatic now is it? In fact, as comical as it sounds, this approach is much like our poodle friend’s approach to his master. All he did was approach the door where he knew the access to his master could be found. He scratched a few times (as he had done every day, consistently over the years, which made it easy for his master to know who was at the door). After he did what he’s always done (that clearly worked for his master), he sat back and patiently waited knowing that his part of the relationship had been accomplished. And what happens next? His master (in a few seconds), not only opens the door to give the poodle access, but he also picks him up in his arms, pats him approvingly and affectionately on the head, carries him inside AND gives him a treat! This poodle knew how to access his master with the right approach that works, but do we?

Listen, when you take the time to develop your relationship with the Lord you’ll be amazed at how easily it is to have access to Him. You see, contrary to what we now see in many churches, God never requires favors, tricks, productions and performances. In fact, His Word says, “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.” (Matthew 6:1 MSG). God seeks for you to Embrace Him, not Entertain Him. Which means we can finally put a stop to turning the Church into a Circus! We don’t have to have clowns dressed in silly get-ups, theatrics, high-flying-acrobats, tricks, folks setting themselves on fire (and not with the Holy Ghost!) Neither do we need to have eloquence of speech, lofty words, long prayers, impressive resumes and extensive credentials. God’s presence is for believers, not Broadway performers. We do not need to put on a show trying to get God’s attention. Getting His attention is nowhere near this entertaining. We need only to humble ourselves and …Come close to God and He will come close to you…No fireworks, no confetti, no horns, bells and whistles! God simply requires faith walkers in His church, not tight-rope walkers to entertain a Circus! Approach Him Correctly to Access Him Thoroughly!

I love the above story because the poodle also reminds me a lot of Isaiah’s description of the Messiah: “The servant grew up before God – a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum…” (Isaiah 53:2-6 MSG). Isn’t it amazing that the very ones we suspect have little or nothing to give, are usually the very ones God deliberately chooses to use to do great things!? Think about it: Just looking at the above description of Jesus, who would be excited to see Him? Who would look forward to anything He had to share, say, give or do? Who would be impressed by such a person? And yet, without Him, we’d have and would be absolutely nothing! John 15:4-8, “Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, NEITHER CAN YOU [BEAR FRUIT, PRODUCING EVIDENCE OF YOUR FAITH] UNLESS YOU REMAIN IN ME. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] APART FROM ME [THAT IS, CUT OFF FROM VITAL UNION WITH ME] YOU CAN DO NOTHING. If anyone DOES NOT REMAIN IN ME, HE IS THROWN OUT LIKE A [BROKEN OFF] BRANCH, AND WITHERS AND DIES; AND THEY GATHER SUCH BRANCHES AND THROW THEM INTO THE FIRE, AND THEY ARE BURNED. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are VITALLY UNITED and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.” (AMP) And how do we benefit from this blessing? Simply by remaining in covenant, remaining near, remaining vitally united, remaining attached, remaining connected, remaining in Relationship! However, if we only went by Jesus’ appearance described in Isaiah, many of us would’ve run away from Him, instead of remaining with Him. And what a loss that would’ve been! In a relationship with Him, there’s nothing we can’t do, without a relationship with Him, there is nothing we can do!

Appearance is Never as Important as Approach! For instance, I’ve preached in churches where there was no more than 20 people, and the offering was $20 plus a sandwich! Yet, those were the churches that I felt God’s glory weigh-in the heaviest! On the other-hand, I’ve also preached at larger churches, with a greater offering, even an elaborate lunch afterwards, and yet the house felt like Ichabod…1 Samuel 4:21-22, “The Chest of God gone, father-in-law dead, husband dead, she named the boy Ichabod (Glory’s-Gone), saying, “Glory is exiled from Israel since the Chest of God was taken.” (MSG) Sounds comical, and maybe even a little harsh, but sadly it’s the truth! I reiterate, Appearance is Never as Important as Approach!

I don’t know about you, but I’m so grateful that God doesn’t look at my outer appearance and pass judgment on me either: But GOD told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. GOD judges people differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; GOD looks into the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 MSG). Before you judge that little store-front church, be careful, it may very well be the dwelling place of God’s glory, a people with a heart of pure and true worship who know how to approach God and access heaven’s bounty!

Now, this is going to hurt some ego’s, but truth is, our looks and appearances don’t move God. Our haughtiness does not attract His attention. Humility is what gets to the heart of God:Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, BE HUMBLE. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless – that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth. GOD LOOKS ON ALL THIS WITH APPROVAL, LISTENING AND RESPONDING WELL TO WHAT HE’S ASKED; But he turns his back on those who do evil things.” (1 Peter 3:8-12 MSG). That’s how you get God’s attention, access and approval! Being agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble. Is this your approach to God? Are you the poodle who receives His bounty or the bulldog He turns His back on?

In a nutshell, you can’t force your way as a bulldog, you must instead humble your way as a poodle. Remember this: Your conduct says a lot about you, so make sure yours is saying something you would want everyone, including God, to hear and see.

Back to the opening story, even though the poodle didn’t look like much of a competitor, in the end, he still won! And he didn’t do it by force, but by relationship. His consistency got the attention of his master. You see, just seconds after scratching on the door, his master responded. With that said, maybe it’s a good time to re-exam our prayer life too while we’re at it. Are we going to God with a long to-do-list for Him to accomplish immediately? Or have we learned to enter into prayer with praise, worship, thanksgiving, and gratitude because of the continual kindness of our Master? Have we learned to lay at His feet just to hear His voice? Have we learned to enter into prayer without speech, just open ears, a softened heart and a ready spirit to receive? Do we spend so much time coming Boldly before the throne of Grace, that we don’t take the time to Listen to Grace speak?

Truth is, you can’t bully your way into heaven, or into the presence of the Lord. It’s a humble journey. Just look at the poodle, all he did was get his master’s attention and his master did the rest! He scratched and patiently waited. His master opened the door, picked him up, rubbed him affectionately as he carried him inside and gave him a treat! And when you look at the challenge, the poodle received more than the initial challenge! All he was to do was get inside the fastest. But when you take time to know your master, and your master learns you, through your consistent approach, you will always get more than you bargained for! Not only did the poodle get in the house first, but the master opened the door for him, picked him up, and embraced him affectionately with treats. Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly MORE than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely BEYOND our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us,” (AMP)

Look at it like this: No one in a healthy relationship forces romance or intimacy. It’s a smooth, slow process. Little step, by little step, small sentiments of affection are shown. And the more consistent it’s done, the closer you become. All God is looking for is for you to care for Him in a like manner. Come close to Him in prayer, and not only speak to Him, but be quiet and listen to Him. Come close to Him in praise, show Him that you love Him enough to celebrate Him. Come close to Him in worship, after all, nothing shows the value of His Worth to you like acts of worship. Come close to Him by reading and believing His Word. Like anybody in a relationship you want to be trusted, and the other person likewise wants to be trusted. And when we come to God like this do you know what it does to His heart to know His children come near to Him, not for stuff and things, but because they want to, they need to, they desire to. They want to be in His presence because they trust Him with everything that’s going on in their lives. And truthfully, there are many relationships that have love, but not trust! How wonderful it must make God to feel in knowing that His children trust Him?!

You see, to get the attention of the Master, and to enter His presence does not take force, just humility. A humility that says, I have nothing to worry about, because my Master’s got me covered! Wherever I need to get into, He’ll open the door; when I’ve fallen, He’ll pick me up; when I’ve been put out, He’ll bring me back in; when I feel abandoned and rejected, He’ll embrace me in His arms; and no matter what I could possibly ask Him for, He’s always going to supersede my request! How do you not love on a God like that?

Today, love on God by approaching Him in a loving manner. And when you’ve gotten His attention by coming near to Him, wait patiently. He’ll come the rest of the way to you. He’ll pick you up. He’ll embrace you affectionately and He will fulfill His own Word: …Come close to God AND HE WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU…

Remember: God does not require fireworks, pushing, shoving, or displays of grandeur. He’s not deaf and does not require you screaming, shouting, yelling and hollering! He doesn’t need tricks and treats. He doesn’t need to be entertained or performed for. He doesn’t need theatrics from the drama ministry. He doesn’t need flattery. He doesn’t need to be impressed. He doesn’t need a show. He doesn’t need you to approach Him as noisily as possible trying to garner His attention. NO, in fact, we can come to Him, just as He comes to us: “Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before GOD. GOD will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before GOD, but GOD wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but GOD wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but GOD wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.” (1 Kings 19:11-12 MSG). You do not need to bulldoze or bulldog your way into the presence of God. Simply humble yourself and quietly enter His presence. He’ll hear you and you’ll most certainly hear Him.

Be quiet and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10 NLV). There’s no need to be loud and shout; there’s no need for dramatics; there’s no need for lights, camera, action! I reiterate, God does not require a performance. So, no more bulldog mentality. Just be consistent in your relationship with the Lord. And as you continually come close to Him, He will continually come close to you. You don’t have to do back flips, scream, yell, perform or entertain. Just quietly come before the Lord, and He’ll meet you there.

Think about it: If He’s speaking in a “…quiet whisper…” how are you supposed to hear Him if you’re yelling, screaming, and hollering? His quiet whisper is low, so it serves you no purpose to be loud, especially if the whole point is to get His attention, His access, and His approval.

Hebrews 11:5-6, “By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because ANYONE WHO WANTS TO APPROACH GOD must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” (MSG)

So, now what are some ways we can ‘poodle-approach’ God? Clearly, by faith! If we want to please God, we have to do so, by faith! “…It’s impossible to please God apart from faith…” That’s how you approach God, knowing that He’s in full control and that there is absolutely nothing He cannot handle! Therefore Saints, approach God by faith; but also approach Him in praise! Psalm 22:3-4, “for You are holy. The praises of our fathers surrounded your throne; they trusted you and you delivered them.” (TLB) As big as God is, can you imagine a people offering Him praise so big that they could only describe it by “THE PRAISES OF OUR FATHERS SURROUNDED YOUR THRONE…” That’s how big our praise for God should be! God, we want our praises to You to be so big, that it’s described as surrounding Your throne! Talk about getting God’s attention! He inhabits (dwells in, lives in, abides in, resides in, occupies) the praises of His people! Come near to God in praise so that He can fully occupy the space you’ve set aside just for Him in your life!

Approach God using His Word! Jeremiah 1:12, “I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.” (AMPC) Another translation reads, “…I’ll make every word I give you come true.” (MSG) God grants us permission to bring back to Him every word He has spoken, for He alone promised to fulfill it; perform it; and make sure every word comes true! That’s why we can approach God with His Word, no matter what we’re going through. Father, this is what the doctor said, but YOU said, by Jesus’ stripes I am healed! Father, my bank account is empty, but YOU said you would supply my every need! Father, our marriage is in trouble, but YOU said You hate divorce. Father, our children aren’t living right, but YOU said train them up in the way they should go and they will not depart from it. Father, this situation has me fearful, but YOU said you did not give me the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. Father, sometimes I feel so unloved, but YOU said You loved me first and Your perfect love casts our all fear. Are you getting this folks? This is how we are to approach God using His Word!

Also, approach God in worship! John 4:23, “But a time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him.” (CEV) How amazing! When we seek God in spirit and in truth, in return, HE SEEKS FOR US! Sounds a lot like His, “come near Him, and He will come near you.” Now, we’ve talked about us approaching God, but when we worship, God approaches us! Yes, that’s the way to live!

Approach God in prayer according to His will! 1 John 5:14-15, “This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us. And if we know [for a fact, as indeed we do] that He hears and listens to us in whatever we ask, we [also] know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted to us] the requests which we have asked from Him.” (AMP)

People of God, Appearance Will Never Be as Important as Approach! Don’t worry about how you look or sound, just approach God with Humility! And do so with consistency. You can have all the access to God you desire, but you have to get your approach right first! No more bulldog, you don’t force a relationship with anyone and expect it to work! Poodle approach instead, a few scratches of faith, praise, worship, word, His Will and prayer, then wait patiently for your Master! He’s not only going to give you Access but He’s going to give you Abundance!

John 10:10, “… I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” (AMP)

“We can APPROACH God’s throne with boldness because we are confident in the power of what Jesus accomplished for us at the cross.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Jesus is not one of many ways to APPROACH God, nor is He the best of several ways; He is the only way.” (A. W. Tozer)

“Jesus is the God whom we can APPROACH without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.” (Blaise Pascal)

“The Bible teaches that faith is the only APPROACH that we have to God. No man has sins forgiven, no man goes to heaven, no man has assurance of peace and happiness, until he has faith in Jesus Christ.” (Billy Graham)

“Concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, we must also be aware that He is our advocate, and that without Him we cannot APPROACH God.” (John Calvin)

“Just as Jesus did, we can APPROACH the throne with “Father”…to make our requests to God.” (Chuck Swindoll)

“Go near to Him this hour. Go running from the distance and APPROACH His throne; thoughts shuffled, words scattered, fall at His feet broken, and in His love, be gathered, and be reminded that there is grace and truth for everything that has ever happened to you, and now that you have courageously APPROACHED His throne, He will make you new.” (Morgan Harper Nichols)

“Prayer is the nearest APPROACH to God.” (William Law)

“If you think you are unworthy to pray, that thought is not coming from Jesus Christ. More than anything, He wants us to APPROACH our Heavenly Father, to have our prayers heard and answered.” (Toni Sorenson)

“Let no person, no matter how well intentioned he may be, prevent anyone from APPROACHING the Mercy of God.” (Author Unknown)

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

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“Bible Study With the Birds”

Jesus spoke the following to a crowd suffering from anxiety: ‘…Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” (Matthew 6:25-26 MSG)

You say, ‘Yeah, but what can I learn from looking at a bunch of birds?’ Well, let’s just see what lessons the geese can teach us:

1.. GEESE FLY UNITED: They don’t fly separately, in random style, because no goose alone can go that distance. They’re designed to fly in their characteristic ‘V’ formation. When a bird flaps its wings the air movement created provides an uplift, easing the workload of the bird behind it. Together, their flight range increases by 71 percent. Even the youngest, weakest and oldest geese can make the trip. They accomplish together what they could never accomplish separately. With that said, the first Scripture the birds teach us is Hebrews 10:25: ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…‘ (NIV). Which means, ‘Stay in fellowship with one another, and enjoy the uplift it provides.‘ In other words, you’re not called to fly solo! The Bible says: ‘The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”‘ (1 Corinthians 12:21 NIV). Birds teach us how to work together and support one another, doing what is always in the best interest of one another. Now, occasionally a goose strays off on its own, but look what happens: it soon becomes exhausted, loses altitude and ultimately pulls wearily back into the formation. CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO WORK TOGETHER AND STAY TOGETHER!

2.. EVERY FORMATION HAS TO HAVE A ‘POINT GOOSE’ OUT FRONT WHO LEADS AND SETS THE PACE FOR THE OTHERS: It’s a tough position because the point goose cuts the headwinds, meets the changing weather conditions, and is first to feel the rain in his face, the snow in his eyes and the ice on his wings. He keeps the formation on target whatever the situation. It’s hard, exhausting and lonely at times because there’s nobody ahead of him to be the wind beneath his wings. The formation depends on him to persevere, stay on track and get the skein safely to its destination. Every church has its point goose: The Pastor. Each department has its point geese: youth, finance, evangelism, care ministries, and so on. They lead, set the pace and give direction to those who follow. There are always two common roles in the church: the under-employed and the over-functioning. Point ministries are the latter, so they tend to burn out frequently. However, just before the point goose is exhausted, a space opens in the formation and he slips back into it while another bird replaces him, seamlessly becoming the next point goose. Standing in for each other preserves the life of the formation. This is what Paul meant by: ‘from whom the whole body, fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.‘ (Ephesians 4:16 NASB). People of God, don’t be content to be a consumer; instead, be a producer! A great church isn’t about paid staff; rather, it’s about volunteers willing to stand in whenever and wherever needed. CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO LEAD, FOLLOW AND FILL IN!

3.. IN THE WORLD OF GEESE, THE AGED, VERY YOUNG, AND INFIRM ARE KEPT PROTECTED IN THE REAR OF THE FORMATION: But they aren’t isolated, discounted or considered useless; in fact they fulfill a vital role. They become the ‘honking section’ and cheer for the leaders. Inevitably, bad weather threatens the mission. The going gets tough and the tough are struggling. From the rear of the formation a lone honk sounds, initiating a geese chorus honking encouragement to the point goose. Paul understood this because he admonishes us: “Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 AMP). He knew we needed a ‘honking section’ supporting us with uplifting words and prayer. For instance, we need those who say, ‘We are behind you. We’ve got your back covered!’ Which is why the Bible further admonishes: “And as for you, brethren, do not become weary or lose heart in doing right [but continue in well-doing without weakening].” (2 Thessalonians 3:13 AMP). Many a servant of Christ has crossed their deepest valley on a wing, a prayer and a honk from some old-scarred, battle-hardened, straggle-feathered, half-bald honker of encouragement who was too stubborn to let a brother or sister quit on their watch! Occasionally, a strident, out-of-tune goose complains loudly and irritatingly. But within moments, the honking section kicks in, drowning out the grumbler, restoring order and unity. The church’s problem isn’t too many people speaking negatively, it’s too few speaking positively! When someone cries, ‘defeat’, honk back, ‘victory’ When they cry, ‘fear’, honk back, ‘faith’. A few words of encouragement can overpower a storm of complaints. So join the honking section and be known as a Barnabas, whose name means ‘Son of Encouragement‘ (Acts 4:36 NIV). CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO ENCOURAGE AND PROTECT ONE ANOTHER!

4.. WITH GEESE, THEIR RELATIONSHIP IS ‘TILL DEATH DO US PART’: They take it seriously. They’re fully committed. At the age of three years, a goose selects a mate for itself. Loyal bird as it is, a goose is known to live with its mate for a long part of its life. Even after the death of any one from the couple, the other one would live several years, alone, without engaging with a new partner. And many a times, they remain single for the rest of their life. There are few birds which do not split from their family after breeding season, geese are one of them (if only we would remember this in regards to marriage and family). When the ravages of time or circumstances make it impossible for a bird to continue the trip and it begins to lose altitude or fails to keep abreast of the formation, the gaggle provides it with comfort, nurture and protection. Two strong geese leave the formation, flying with the ‘patient’ safely between them, find a sheltered location with food and water and make a home for the needy bird. They’ll stay with their ward until it either recovers or dies, before joining another formation. For them, everything goes ‘on hold’ to care for another bird! What an example of Christ-like relationship and self-sacrificing love. Which is why the Bible says: ‘…God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.‘ (1 Corinthians 12:24-26 NIV). In today’s culture however, we discount and marginalize the needy, including those no longer functioning as they once did. But God demands that we ‘have equal concern for each other‘, especially with those suffering. If a gaggle of birds can do it, surely God’s family ought to do it too. ‘Look at the birds in the sky!’ Jesus directs. If they can do it for each other, ‘… Aren’t you worth more than birds?‘ (Matthew 6:26 CEV). One of the two greatest commandments (not suggestions) Christ gave us is, ‘…Love others as well as you love yourself. There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (Mark 12:31 MSG). When word circulates that we love each other in this way, they’ll beat down the doors of our church to get in! CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO KEEP OUR VOWS TO ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE, AND TO REMAIN IN COVENANT WITH ONE ANOTHER. ‘TILL DEATH DO US PART’ ISN’T JUST FOR MARRIAGE! JESUS KEPT HIS VOW TO US AND REMAINED IN COVENANT WITH US, BEFORE AND AFTER DEATH!

5.. LOST AND STRAYING GEESE ARE ALWAYS WELCOMED INTO THE FORMATION: It’s not an exclusive club for the elite. Geese separated from other formations, isolated by weather, accident or infirmity, are given full family status. The formation will alter its plans, reschedule its arrival time and inconvenience itself to accommodate any strangers seeking its acceptance. Many newcomers arrive dirty, bedraggled and ill-fed. However, they’re never turned away. In the same way, God’s church isn’t a museum for masterpieces – it’s a hospital for those who have been hurt by life, even self-inflicted hurt. Jesus said, ‘Come to me, ALL of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.‘ (Matthew 11:28 NLT). “ALL” are accepted! He also says: ‘I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.‘ (John 10:16 NIV). Christ has no higher agenda than to recruit, save and adopt the stranger into His flock. You say, ‘But they’re not my kind of people; they don’t look, talk or smell like me!’ So what? We don’t get to choose our biological or spiritual siblings; God does. If they rub us like sandpaper they’re helping rub off rough edges and polish us up. Want to see the material God builds the church with? Prepare yourself for a shock. ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators… idolaters… adulterers… homosexuals… sodomites, thieves… covetous… drunkards… revilers… extortioners…AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU. BUT YOU WERE SANCTIFIED, BUT YOU WERE JUSTIFIED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS AND BY THE SPIRIT OF OUR GOD‘ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV). We were taken into the formation, we were washed, sanctified, justified and given full family status! How dare we not extend the same grace and mercy to others! CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO ACCEPT “ALL” INTO THE FOLD AND FAMILY!

6.. THEY LIVE TOGETHER AND BRING NEW GOSLING EVERY YEAR: Both of the parent geese take part in the upbringing of the goslings which is one of the reasons for high life expectancy in young ones. Geese produce a new generation every year, wouldn’t it be amazing if the church did the same? Selah…The Bible says this: “Jesus came to them and said: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20 CEV); in addition: “But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the right [the authority, the privilege] to become children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name” (John 1:12 AMP) Geese teach us the importance of consistent producing. We should not have, year after year, the same people, with no new faces filling the sanctuary. CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO DO WHAT GOD COMMANDED US TO DO…GO MAKE DISCIPLES!

7..THE MALE GEESE ARE EXTREMELY OVER-PROTECTIVE OF THE FEMALE GEESE: The male community of geese display a caring and protective nature towards their female counterparts and will even stand between danger and her. 1 Timothy 5:2, “…Reverently honor an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters.” (MSG). In a day when words like “gentlemen” and “chivalry” are alarmingly becoming extinct, Men of God, it should not be so among you. Male geese care for and protect the female geese. Now, does that mean you go around beating up people every time they say something cross to her? Absolutely not. But as men, you should always be a protective hedge to your sisters (and sisters in Christ). Protect them from wolves in sheep’s clothing; protect them from being belittled, overlooked, and bypassed due to their gender. Support your sisters, make them safe and secure and let the world know that you will stand between her and danger if need be. Think about it, if geese have enough sense to do this, what excuse can an intelligent man have for not doing it? CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO CARE FOR, GUARD AND PROTECT THE WOMEN IN OUR FAMILY (BOTH NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL).

8.. THE FEMALE GOOSE PRODUCES, THE MALE GOOSE PROTECTS: As a part of the reproduction cycle, the female goose lays an egg each day to reach the number to 5 eggs. Once all of the eggs are laid off, she incubates eggs in her nest for 30 days. When she goes far from the eggs, she covers them with sticks to make them feel cozy and protected. Meanwhile, the male parent goose keeps the nest protected from a distance so that predators don’t get a hint of the nest and eggs. As parents, both natural and spiritual, it’s vital that we produce and protect. Geese have enough sense to produce gosling (children) and then to cover and protect them until they’re prepared to go it on their own. As natural and spiritual parents, we need to follow their example. We are called to develop/train/produce disciples/followers for Christ (as well as natural children to carry on the family legacy), and at the same time to protect them. For some reason, in this day and age, children turn 18 and they’re considered “grown” (I beg to differ). In the same way, once someone comes to Christ, we disciple them (briefly) then put them on an auxiliary and move on to the next “to-do” on the agenda. Geese take the time to produce seed, but also to water, feed, nurture, protect, shield, and cover them. How is it possible that we don’t do the same? TODAY, CHURCH, LETS LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO BE PATIENT WITH OUR NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL CHILDREN. GIVE THEM TIME TO SIT AND BE STILL, TO LEARN, TO GROW, TO DEVELOP, TO BE PREPARED, TO BE GROOMED. IN A NUTSHELL: DON’T RUSH THEM UP OR OUT PREMATURELY!

9.. GEESE ARE GREAT COMMUNICATORS: They use approximately 10 different sounds to communicate, depending on the situation confronting them. Geese have enough sense to know what to communicate, when to communicate and how. Yet we the intelligent human beings that we are, get this wrong on every possible level. Now, I don’t believe we should walk around with multiple personalities depending on who we’re talking to at the moment. But I do believe that we need to learn to communicate better. Some people can take an ‘in your face method’, while others need more of a ‘can we talk privately to the side?’ Truth is, some of us have so much great wisdom to be shared, however, because we don’t choose our words wisely, the wisdom falls on deaf ears. It’s not always what you say, but more likely how you say it that gets you heard or ignored. If geese possess the wisdom to change up their communication depending on the circumstances, shouldn’t we possess the same? For instance, at home I am not “Dr. Sanders; Elder Sanders; Professor; or Counselor”, I’m just “Shermaine, Honey Bunch, Mom or Auntie”. I change clothes, and sit in front of my television and want to watch something non-spiritual, laugh and relax just like anybody else. I don’t communicate with my family at home as though I’m still a leader in the church or a trainer on the job. CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO USE APPROPRIATE COMMUNICATION.

10.. THE FEMALE GOOSE ALWAYS BUILDS THE NEST: Women, Wives, Mothers, Sisters, Aunties, God-Mommy’s etc…We play a vital role in the home! For the female goose, she literally builds the nest from sticks and branches, but she also includes for comfort, the feathers from her own body! Now that’s sacrifice! And that’s exactly what it takes to build a home. And that goes for both our natural and spiritual homes as well. We need to be the generous givers and nurturers, that we were designed to be both in our homes and in the church. We have children all around our lives, and it’s important that we deposit in them daily. Build them up daily. Encourage them, strengthen them, guide them, pray for them, point them in the right direction, all of this is building a house, building a home and building a generation that will carry on a lasting legacy. CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO BUILD OUR CHILDREN AND OUR LOVED ONES.

11.. THERE ARE AROUND 30 SPECIES OF GEESE IN THE WORLD: And yet none of them feel the need to attempt to compare, compete or clone. Wish this was the mentality of the church. People of God, we are all different and that is a good thing. We all bring a different perspective to the team and to the whole of the Body. Let’s not continue the discord of “my way or the highway”. Be open to the varying views of others. And by all means if the church is to grow it will have to come in contact with other people. And ‘other’ can mean piercings; tattoos; tri-colored hair; unwed mothers; criminal backgrounds; homeless; jobless; divorced etc…the church is to be multi-cultural and multi-faceted, not one-dimensional. We don’t need clones, copies, duplicates, or recyclables! There are 30 species of geese, meaning diversity is a good thing. CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, LIKE REFUSING TO BE THE SAME.

12.. GEESE HAVE A STRONG URGE TO RETURN TO THEIR PLACE OF BIRTH: Having a good instinct for places, geese return to their general area of living where they lived most after their birth. It has even been observed that geese fly 2,000-3,000 miles to return to the exact place of their dwelling to mate and nest. In other words, foundation is vital to anything you build. And that includes our families and churches. Geese return to their foundation. Which reminds me of many “church kids” who get older and stray. Some of them return and some never do. It’s important from birth to set a firm foundation of faith in our children, that even when they stray and mess up, something on the inside (as the old song goes) will start back to working. Something will remind them of who they are and Whose they are, and they will return back on the road of reconciliation. But that’s difficult to do if they never received a road map in the first place! Yes, we need to teach our children that God loves them, protects them, sees and hears them. But we must also avoid assuming that our “little angels” will never get into any “devilment”. They are saved, not perfect. And they battle with seduction and temptation just like the next kid, and many of them fall prey. We need to teach them both how to avoid the trap, and also when they get trapped there’s always a way of escape: 1 Corinthians 10:13, “For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [ALWAYS] also provide the way out (THE MEANS OF ESCAPE TO A LANDING PLACE), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.” (AMPC); Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The Good New Translation reads: “Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life.” (GNT); and the Message Bible reads: “Point your kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost.” (MSG) CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO LAY A FIRM FOUNDATION OF FAITH, SO EVEN WHEN OUR CHILDREN STUMBLE AND FALL ON THE WRONG PATH, THEIR KNEES WILL RECALL THE PRAYER TO GET THEM BACK UP AND ON THE RIGHT TRACK AGAIN.

13.. THE OLD AND YOUNG GO THROUGH CHANGES TOGETHER: While the gosling (young geese) are Maturing (gaining), the adult geese are Molting (losing). During the maturing time for the goslings, the adult geese do not leave the area. The maturing period of the goslings overlaps with the molting season for the adults. Molting season runs from early June to late July. Adult geese lose wing feathers during this time and are unable to fly. Geese can fly again approximately 6 weeks after molting. The key? Maturing for the Young and Molting for the Old Happen at the Same Time. We need to learn to embrace change, transition, development and growth, for all ages in our families as well as our churches. The young are gaining, while the older are losing. The young are getting stronger while the older are weakening. However, this will not be a problem if it’s understood, acknowledged and embraced by both parties. Which requires patience and love. The young should never become prideful and the older should never feel discarded or threatened. CHURCH, LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO EMBRACE ONE ANOTHER AS WE ALL CHANGE IN DIFFERENT WAYS THAT WILL MAKE US AS A WHOLE BETTER.

Who knew Birds could be one of the Best Bible Study Teachers?! Hope You Learned as Much as I Did!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “The Facts About Belly Fat”

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“The Spider: LARGE Lessons From a little Creature”

The Spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in kings’ palaces” (Proverbs 30:28 NKJV)

Everything a Spider needs to survive and succeed in life, God put WITHIN IT! Swipe it with a broom and before it hits the ground, its fall is broken! It just reaches inside, releases another protein-filled silk-like thread, slides down, finds a safe place, then comes back stronger than ever and builds a new web! What’s the Message of the Spider? EVERYTHING YOU NEED, GOD HAS ALREADY PLACED WITHIN YOU! Ephesians 1:3, “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer.” (GWT) You are not waiting to be blessed, hoping to be blessed, praying to be blessed, you my friend already have, “EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING THAT HEAVEN HAS TO OFFER.” You Already Have EVERYTHING YOU NEED!

The Bible further says, “His divine power has given us EVERYTHING WE NEED for life and godliness…he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature…” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV). What has God given us? “…EVERYTHING WE NEED…” What has God made us participants in? “…HIS DIVINE NATURE…” How Awesome Is That?!! Saints, we lack absolutely NOTHING, for our God has already supplied us with, “…EVERYTHING WE NEED FOR LIFE…” Which means, you don’t have to look a certain way, act a certain way, find the right people, style yourself a particular way, beg or plead with people for favors, opportunities and chances, no, you already have everything you need! How? Because you were created in His image and likeness, His divine nature! Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in HIS OWN IMAGE, IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD HE CREATED HIM; MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM.” (AMP) And what does that say of us? Well our God is powerful, mighty, awesome, can speak something out of nothing, and that lets us know that we have His traits, His genetics, His make-up, His characteristics, His DNA! We are created in His image and likeness, everything He needs is already in Him, and because we have Him, everything we need He’s already put within us! So from this day forward, you will never again walk with your head held down, your shoulders bowed, your back bent, your eyes downcast! No that’s not the posture of God’s children! He places our feet on high places, and He is the lifter up of our head! We walk like we know who we belong to! Psalm 18:33, “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly and tread safely on paths of testing and trouble]; He sets me [securely] upon my high places.” (AMP) Even in times of testing and trouble, we stand straight and walk tall, because we know Who’s image and likeness we represent! Psalm 3:3, “But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory [and my honor], and the One who lifts my head.” (AMP) Walk like you know who you belong to! Another thing to be mindful of from 2 Peter too is to stop waiting for the promises of God, you already have them! The Bible says, …HE HAS GIVEN US HIS VERY GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature…” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV). The tense is Past tense! “…HE HAS GIVEN US…” We’re not waiting on the promises of God, as His children, we already have them! Walk like you know that everything you need God has already put it within you and that includes blessings and promises!

Your future is not determined by who you know and who you don’t, who likes you and who doesn’t! The power to fulfill your destiny is found WITHIN YOU! The warfare over your life and the struggle you’re in, is about what you were born, called and gifted to do! So, “…stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God [the INNER FIRE] that is IN YOU…” (2 Timothy 1:6 AMP) In other words…START PRODUCING! When a woman finds out that she’s pregnant, she immediately starts to make changes in her life because of what she’s got going on, on the INSIDE! And this is your confirmation today that you’ve got something growing and going on, on the inside of you, and one of those things is your gifts! God did not give you gifts to sit stagnantly on the inside until they die! No, it’s time for you to go to work and stir up, rekindle, fan, and keep burning the gift of God, “…the INNER FIRE…” in you! You’re not waiting for something to be deposited, it’s already been deposited, now grow God’s investment!

Let’s see, we’ve already discovered that you have everything you will ever need already placed within you by God, you have every blessing and promise and now you have a gift on fire, so how dare you sit and cry as though you are less than the great masterpiece and workmanship that Jesus died for, just so He could design you! Therefore, no more pity parties, it’s time for you to celebrate the greatness that’s already within you!

Listen: Life may have knocked you down, but it hasn’t knocked you out!

What’s at work WITHIN YOU will Triumph Over What’s At Work Around or Against You Any day!

Just Stand on God’s Word, Draw On Your Faith, Hold On, and When the Smoke Clears, Rise Up and Announce, “BY THE GRACE OF GOD, I’M BACK!”

You say, “But I’ve lost so much…” However, as long as you still have what God PUT WITHIN YOU, YOU’VE STILL GOT MUCH MORE TO GAIN!

REMEMBER THE MESSAGE OF THE SPIDER: YOU ALREADY HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED WITHIN YOU!

Now, when it’s time to lay eggs the Spider produces a particular type of silk thread and spins it into a protective sac, then deposits them. When an enemy comes to steal the spider’s offspring, it gets trapped on the sticky fluids that line the silk. Then the spider wraps the enemy in another kind of thread, and turns it into food!

What’s the Message of the Spider? THE BATTLE IS OVER YOUR FUTURE!

Don’t let the enemy have your children! Don’t let him rob you of your potential! Don’t let him steal your destiny! When those with weak wills, weak knees and weak faith saw the giants in the Promised Land they wanted to go back to Egypt! BUT NOT CALEB! He said, “Neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are BREAD FOR US!” (Numbers 14:9). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Only do not rebel against the Lord, neither fear the people of the land, for they are BREAD FOR US. Their defense and the shadow [of protection] is removed from over them, but the Lord is with us. Fear them not!” When you understand what the battle in your life is about, you actually begin to Feed Off the Stuff the Enemy Throws at You and say, “BRING IT ON, WHAT DOES NOT DESTROY ME, WILL ONLY MAKE ME STRONGER!”

Which is why you need to be like Shammah, The Bible says, “When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled…But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory” (2 Samuel 23:11-12 NIV). Shammah knew what he was fighting for! That lentil patch put food on his table! It represented his family’s substance and future! It was his legacy! And when Shammah stood up to the enemy, “The Lord brought about a great victory” And He’ll Do The Same For You! So Fight For Your Future!

When the spider lays its eggs, predators immediately come on the scene to steal his eggs and devour them, so nothing comes of them. Sounds a lot like Satan doesn’t it? John 10:10, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy…” (AMP); 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.” (AMP). And who is the thief, lion and the devil looking to devour? US! But more than that, he’s after our seed! Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity (open hostility) between you and the woman, and between your seed (offspring) and her Seed; He shall [fatally] bruise your head, and you shall [only] bruise His heel.” (AMP) The devil knows how this ends for him, HER SEED FATALLY BRUISES HIS HEAD, but his seed will only bruise His heel. Even when we forget who we are, the devil never forgets! He’s not just after us, he’s after our seed, the generations to come, because he knows if we continue to teach them how to war in the spirit, he doesn’t stand a chance! If we continue to teach generation after generation that Satan belongs under their feet and that they have the authority and power to crush his head, there will be generations of warriors and victors, and his kingdom will be demolished! Therefore, church, let’s protect our children! Satan is coming to devour them, but we will stand as the strong soldiers God called, commanded and commissioned us to be, and we will make Satan and his imps, “…bread for us!”

REMEMBER THE MESSAGE OF THE SPIDER: PROTECT OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS!

Let’s dig a little deeper shall we? The spider has EIGHT EYES, YET IT CAN BARELY SEE! What makes it an avid hunter is that the hair follicles on its legs are full of sensitivity and it can Discern Everything That’s Going On Around It!

What’s the Message of the Spider? USE YOUR GOD-GIVEN SENSE OF DISCERNMENT!

You can discern more with your Spirit than You Can See With Your Eyes! “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (1 John 2:20). God will let you know things you can neither prove nor explain! Jesus said that He would show us “things to come” (John 16:13). But He won’t do it so that we can ego trip, or run around acting arrogant, super religious, and excessively deep. No the Scripture continues: “He shall glorify ME: he shall receive of Mine, and shall [show] it unto you” (John 16:14). God gives “Inside Information” to those who seek to GLORIFY HIM! So stop living beneath your spiritual privilege!

The old country church folks used to sing, “The Holy Ghost done told me, everything’s gonna be all right!” That may not be good grammar, but it’s sound Bible Truth! Can’t you remember a time when your Eyes Told You, “You’re not gonna make it,” but your Spirit kept telling you, “Everything’s gonna be all right?” A time when you met somebody who Looked good, too good, and your Spirit warned you that something was bad with them! “His anointing teaches you about all things…that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him” (1 John 2:27 NIV).

The way to walk in Discernment is to Stay in the Word of God, Use the Wisdom of God, Stay Close To God Himself and His Voice! The more you become engrafted in His word, wisdom, presence and voice, the more familiar it will become to you, so that whenever something or someone is off, you can pick it up before you make a fleshly error in judgment! Listen: You Can Afford For Your Eyes To Fail You, But Not Your Discernment! 2 Corinthians 5:7, “for we walk by faith, NOT BY SIGHT…” (AMP); 2 Kings 4:9, “And she said to her husband, Behold now, I PERCEIVE that this is a holy man of God who passes by continually.” (AMPC) Can you imagine how many ‘unequally yoked’ relationships would’ve never happened had we functioned in this discernment?! I perceive, I know, I discern, this is (or is not in some cases) a woman or man of God?! Psalm 119:125, “I am Your servant; give me understanding (DISCERNMENT and comprehension), that I may know (DISCERN and be familiar with the character of) Your testimonies.” (AMPC) Don’t just ask God for Vision, ask Him for Discernment!

REMEMBER THE MESSAGE OF THE SPIDER: USE YOUR DISCERNMENT!

We’ve come this far, we may as well keep going! How is it possible that a Spider can walk across the sticky threads of its own web and not get stuck, yet those same threads will trap every predator that enters? The secret is – OIL!

It’s tiny suction cup shaped feet exude FRESH OIL WITH EVERY STEP, SO IT GLIDES THROUGH STUFF OTHERS GET STUCK IN AND CAN’T SURVIVE THROUGH!

What’s the Message of the Spider? YOU NEED TO BE CONTINUALLY ANOINTED WITH THE FRESH OIL OF GOD’S SPIRIT!

Looking back, you realize that’s what kept you sane when you thought you were going to lose your natural mind! It’s why you made it when others didn’t! And it’s why you need to stay filled with God’s Spirit Every Day! The Psalmist said it best: “I shall be Anointed With Fresh Oil!” (Psalm 92:10).

But there are four truths in Exodus, chapter 30, concerning the anointing oil, that we need to keep in mind if we’re going to live an anointed life:

  1. Without It, Our Ministry Is Non-Existent! “Thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, THAT THEY MAY MINISTER UNTO ME IN THE PRIEST’S OFFICE” (Exodus 30:30).
  2. Our Children Need to Experience It! “And thou shalt speak unto the CHILDREN of Israel, saying, This shall be an HOLY ANOINTING OIL unto me throughout your GENERATIONS” (Exodus 30:31).
  3. God Won’t Anoint Our Fleshly Efforts and Agendas! “Upon man’s FLESH shall it NOT BE POURED, neither shall ye make any other like it…” (Exodus 30:32).
  4. We Are In Danger When We Try to Substitute It With Other Things! “Whoever makes ANY LIKE IT…MUST BE CUT OFF…” (Exodus 30:38 NIV).

BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME EVERY MORNING GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND PRAY, “LORD, ANOINT ME WITH FRESH OIL”! I need it to minister effectively; I need it so I can pass it down throughout the generations; I need it so my flesh doesn’t interfere with my spiritual assignment; I need it so that I don’t attempt to use my gifts, talents and skills to substitute for it! I need it so I don’t get stuck in what stagnated others!

REMEMBER THE MESSAGE OF THE SPIDER: YOU NEED CONSISTENT FRESH OIL!

Got another point for you! Some Spiders have so much Venom in them that they can KILL ANYTHING they come in contact with, SIMPLY BY RELEASING WHAT’S IN THEIR MOUTH!

What’s the Message of the Spider? GUARD WHAT COMES OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!

Paul writes, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). What are taking in? What are you giving out? Faith or fear, hope or discouragement, joy or sadness, truth or error, love or bitterness, compassion or judgment? The Bible says, “Death and Life are in the Power of the Tongue: and they that love it shall Eat the Fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21)

Notice Two Things In This Scripture:

  1. Your Mouth is a Life and Death Issue;
  2. Your Words Are Like Seeds; They Always Produce Fruit (Good or Bad)!

You can’t believe God for His Best, then go around expecting and expressing the Worst! When what you say consistently, contradicts what God’s Word says, you’re Sabotaging Yourself! The Words You Speak Have Power – and Consequences! So begin to correct yourself! Instead of saying, “I can’t change,” or “I’ll never get out of this mess,” start saying what God’s Word says. Do what Jesus did in the wilderness: Open Your Mouth and Declare, “IT IS WRITTEN” Jesus in essence lets Satan know: “IT IS WRITTEN THAT I DON’T HAVE TO BOW TO YOU. IT IS WRITTEN THAT I DON’T HAVE TO COME TO YOU FOR WHAT I NEED.” And what was the result? “THE DEVIL LEFT HIM AND ANGELS CAME AND ATTENDED HIM” (Matthew 4:11 NIV). So, when you’re under attack, open your mouth, declare God’s Word, and the forces of heaven will come to your aid! In addition, don’t retaliate, don’t spread vicious rumors, lies, gossip and slander as a means for revenge. Don’t curse, don’t demean, don’t belittle, don’t be condescending. Use your words to speak life even when you’re under a deadly attack!

SET A GUARD OVER YOUR MOUTH AND WATCH WHAT’S COMING OUT OF IT! YOUR VENOM MAYBE KILLING A LOT OF FOLKS…INCLUDING YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY AND YOUR OWN FUTURE!

2 additional tidbit bonus lessons from the Spider:

  1. YOUR SIZE DOESN’T DETERMINE YOUR POTENTIAL! Please hear me, you do not have to have a title, position, or degree to be favored by God and accomplish great things! You don’t have to be the people pick, their favorite, their preferred. You don’t have to sit in the pulpit, you don’t have to have 10 initials and 20 degrees! You don’t have to be in the right circles! You just need to use whatever God placed within you! No need to be impressive, seek to be impactful by using what’s in you, no matter the size, or how insignificant others may think it to be!
  2. NO MATTER WHERE YOU START, YOU CAN ALWAYS END UP IN THE KING’S PALACE! It doesn’t matter what your finances look like, your education, or where you’ve been. God doesn’t look at the chronology of your life for a good reason to bless you or use you. You can have an ugly start in life and end it beautifully! Where you’ve been has absolutely nothing to do with where God is taking you! Trust that!

Believe it or not, but there’s still another lesson to learn. And what’s the last Message the Spider is teaching today?

AS LONG AS YOU LIVE, KEEP PRODUCING!

A Spider is always Producing Something! Whether it’s Oil or Silk Threads or Eggs, the Spider is Always Producing Something! Now, you might not produce as much as somebody else, but you’ve got to keep producing something! You might not be able to produce what you used to, but keep producing something! Jesus taught that some of us produce thirtyfold, others sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold (Matthew 13:8) In other words, we don’t all produce at the same level, but we must all produce at some level! Now, don’t get intimidated because the other guy is producing a hundredfold and you’re only producing sixtyfold. You’re only accountable for what God gave you to Produce!

The Bible further says, “They shall bring forth fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:14). Seasoned Senior Saints, Look Out; retirement can be dangerous to your health! Therefore, keep your mind alert, your dreams alive, and your body moving! You might be old and even feeble, but you have to have a reason to get out of bed every morning, because if you don’t, after a while you won’t be able to get out of bed at all! So, get up and get dressed, even if you’re not going anywhere in particular! And if you can’t fly, get in the car. If you can’t get in the car, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, rock back and forth! If you’re lying down, sit up and if you can’t sit up, wiggle your toes but whatever you can do, let the Devil know YOU’RE STILL IN THE GAME AND YOU’RE STILL PRODUCING FRUIT…YES, EVEN IN OLD AGE!

Learn From the Spider, They Have LARGE Lessons to Teach Us, Even When Their But little Creatures!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “The Spider: LARGE Lessons From a little Creature”

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