“Answering the Caleb Calling”

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Numbers 13:30, “Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, “Let’s go up and take the land – now. WE CAN DO IT.” (MSG)

Looking over the course of my life I realized that just about everything I’ve done and accomplished, came through risk. Even my love of teaching came through risk. You see, I was a Minister-in-Training and one of the responsibilities was to teach. The problem? I wasn’t raised in church and had no experience teaching, especially of all things the Bible! Truth is, I was still trying to teach it to myself! But there was no way around this whole teaching thing, not if you were going to be in leadership. And it’s not the teaching alone that was terrifying, but the thought of the students not liking me or worse, not understanding what I was teaching. And to make matters worse, I was a bit self-conscious because I had horrible acne, a chipped tooth and the podium was almost as tall as I am (so, even if they could hear me and understand me, could they see me?)! I was worried, scared and quite insecure about my appearance, about my knowledge of what I was teaching etc. There was this one line that rang over and over in my head, ‘I don’t think this is a good idea.’ And if that wasn’t bad enough, the only advice my leader gave me was ‘there’s no reward without risk. Just give it a chance. You’ll never know if you never try.’ Needless to say, I’ve been teaching ever since! But how did that first session go? Absolutely horrible! LOL! I forgot everything but my name! But my leader kept pushing me week after week. ‘You can do this…you’ll stumble, fall, cry, get a badly bruised ego, but you’ll also dust off, get back up and keep walking…trust me, you’ll get there.’ Guess what? It worked! It was worth the risk! Because now, I have the limitless opportunity to travel anywhere and teach, train, develop, lead…to prepare curriculum’s, seminars and workshops. In church, at work, in schools. And all because the reward was worth the risk. I would never be able to do what I do now, if I didn’t take the risk then.

So, what rewards are you missing out on in life, because you’re too afraid to take the risk?  

Well, how about we start with the definition of ‘risk’? It’s defined as, “a situation involving exposure to danger, injury or harm; the possibility that something unpleasant will happen; the possibility of loss.” Its’ French Origin ‘risque’, from its Italian Origin ‘risco’ literally means ‘danger.’ And a few synonyms are ‘hazard; pitfall; threat; and trouble.’ Trust me, I hear you screaming, ‘that’s why I’m not risking it!’ Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong my friend.

Truth is, anything worth having is worth the risk to get! And yes, that risk will include putting you in situations that can be dangerous (after all, you may fall on your face in front of everybody); the risk can cause injury and harm (especially to your ego, conceit, arrogance, high-mindedness and pride); something unpleasant can happen (you can forget the words, freeze up, stutter, faint, be talked about, gossiped about); you may even encounter loss (especially of the security you had in your comfy, comfort zone); it may be hazardous (because you just may find out that those in your circle were the very ones keeping you boxed in); you may even come across a pitfall (which is defined as ‘a hidden or unsuspected danger or difficulty; a covered pit for use as a trap.’ Yep, the very ones who give you the opportunity may actually be setting you up for a great, unsuspected fall); you may actually experience threats (especially if you happen to become better than the others who just knew you’d try, fail and give up…but you didn’t! And so you will have to deal with the oppression that comes with every opportunity.); and lastly, you will have some trouble (after all, did you really think you’d achieve something great without it?)

Yes, my friend, you will have to risk it to get it, but once you do, you’ll realize it was worth it!

Remember this: You Can’t Attain What You Don’t Go After! And when what you’re going after is BIG, you’ll always be tempted to let small stumbles stop you dead in your tracks! Don’t You Dare Let It Happen!

You press forward no matter what! Even if the risk means you have to change your circle of friends; you have to try something new or do something different. It’s worth the risk to get all God has for you and to become all that God has called you to be!

There was this striking poster on the wall. It showed two mountain climbers near the peak of this Alpine mountain, straining to reach the top. But it was the inscription that impressed me most. It read: “Conquest without risk is a triumph without glory.” That’s pretty good.

Now, that doesn’t just apply to reaching the top of a mountain. In fact, it pretty much describes everything worth doing in life. No risk, no meaningful conquest – a triumph without glory. Low risk – low return. High risk – high return. It’s a principle that defines Spiritual Greatness or Spiritual Mediocrity.

Whether it’s a relationship, a job, a career, a ministry, a church, a business, you will encounter risk before reward! Which is what we learn from in our lesson today.

In Numbers 13, the conquest was not a mountain; it was the taking of the Promised Land that God had promised. And if you take a moment to think about that, you’ll realize just how ridiculous we can be when it comes to taking a risk. God Himself promised them the Promised Land. So, how could they allow risk to scare them from what God promised them?

Numbers 23:19, “God is not man, one given to lies, and not a son of man changing his mind. Does he speak and not do what he says? Does he promise and not come through?” (MSG)

Listen to varying translations of this Scripture:

“God isn’t a man that he would lie, or a human being that he would change his mind. Has he ever spoken and not done it, or promised and not fulfilled it?” (CEB);

“God is no mere human! He doesn’t tell lies or change his mind. God always keeps his promises.” (CEV);

“God is not a man; he will not lie. God is not a human being; his decisions will not change. If he says he will do something, then he will do it. If he makes a promise, then he will do what he promised.” (ERV);

“God is not like people, who lie; He is not a human who changes his mind. Whatever he promises, he does; He speaks, and it is done.” (GNT);

“God is not a human being, and he will not lie. He is not a human, and he does not change his mind. What he says he will do, he does. What he promises, he makes come true.” (NCV);

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

Now, how could anyone with this level of Character and Integrity be doubted? How can anyone who serves this God, be fearful enough to forfeit a fruitful future that was guaranteed to be theirs? But can we be honest? Are we really any different? That job would have been ours, if we didn’t talk ourselves out of going for it. Didn’t think we were qualified (and sometimes we weren’t, however, if God says go for it, not even that should stop you)! Who knows the house you would already own if you weren’t so sure that your credit score alone was the guaranteed deal breaker. God doesn’t need your credit score to get you to the goal! Who knows what you’d be driving if only you would have trusted God. Who knows who you would be married to, if you only trusted God, heard and heeded His voice, instead of the internal clock in your head telling you to grab Bubba over there because at 30 he’s the best shot you’ve got. Who knows the grants and scholarships that passed you by because you didn’t think you had what it took for them to come your way. Who knows how well that business would be doing today if only you would have trusted God with the blueprints instead of handing them over to your fears to redesign. Who knows where the church or ministry would be if only you would have believed God when the battle raged instead of retreating and running away.

People of God please commit this to memory: God doesn’t make promises He can’t keep! So if He said it’s yours, it’s yours! And that holds true no matter what you see, what you hear, or what they say or what they look like! God keeps His promises; He keeps His Word; He fulfills it and makes it come true, so why are you doubting? Why are you stagnant? Why are you fearful? Why are you not moving forward? Why are you not trying it? Why are you scared? Why are you not taking the risk?

Listen: They were guaranteed the promise of the Promised Land! Problem? It was currently inhabited by fierce people who, of course, didn’t plan to hand it over. And whether or not they would ever experience all God had for them depended on whether or not they would trust Him enough to take some big risks. Now whether or not you experience all God has for you may depend on that same thing.

So, are you willing to trust God with what He promised you even if you’ll have to take some big risks in the process? Are you willing to risk being talked about, walked away from, laughed at? Are you willing to risk having to endure the uncommon, the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable? Are you willing to take the risk that small minds will attempt to shake your confidence and faith in achieving the big dreams that God said can and will become your reality? Are you willing to risk having to go alone? Are you willing to risk going without the full insight to how God is going to make this thing happen? Are you willing to take the risk to go to the bank, to walk into the dealership, to meet with the loan officer, to apply to the school, to show up for the interview, to write the book, to buy that property or that land? Are you willing to take the risk of being misunderstood? Are you willing to take the risk of looking misplaced for the moment? Are you willing to take the risk?

Twelve scouts had explored the land of Canaan, and they reported back on the fabulous beauty and bounty they found there. But ten of those scouts chose to focus on the risks, two on the Lord who had promised them this land. It boiled down to an exchange like this, recorded in Numbers 13, beginning with verse 27, “This was their report: “We arrived in the land you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent country—a land ‘flowing with milk and honey.’ Here is some fruit we have brought as proof. But the people living there are powerful, and their cities are fortified and very large; and what’s more, we saw Anakim giants there!  The Amalekites live in the south, while in the hill country there are the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites; down along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and in the Jordan River Valley are the Canaanites.” But Caleb reassured the people as they stood before Moses. “Let us go up at once and possess it,” he said, “for we are well able to conquer it!” “Not against people as strong as they are!” the other spies said. “They would crush us!” So the majority report of the spies was negative: “The land is full of warriors, the people are powerfully built, and we saw some of the Anakim there, descendants of the ancient race of giants. We felt like grasshoppers before them, they were so tall!” (TLB)

Now, they brought back fruit (Proof) that the land (God Promised to be Theirs) was indeed Flowing With Milk and Honey. And still, in the face of all of this, the Scripture says, “…So the majority report of the spies was negative.” How do you hold the proof in your hand and still say with your mouth, we can’t handle it?! The Proof Was Already in Your Hand! It’s Prosperous and it’s Promised to Us! And yet they forfeit! That’s like receiving a paid in full mansion, your name only on the deed, nothing owed out of your pocket, the keys in your hands, but you spend 40 years standing on the stoop looking at a door you never open to fully possess what’s already yours!

Keep in mind, anytime you’re about to make a positive change, someone will come with a negative report! The choice is yours to believe it, or believe God. My suggestion? Believe God!

Isaiah 55:8-11, “…For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” (MSG)

When God sends His Word on Assignment it has no other option than to Fulfill the Assignment! Therefore, you have nothing and no one to worry about when God gives you a Promise! Not the naysayers, not the negative report, not the disapproving stares, or the discouraging words. Nothing can stop what God starts!

Philippians 1:6, “I’m convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus.” (GWT)

God has proven Himself trustworthy to Carry to Completion what He Began! In a nutshell: Nothing and No One Can Stop What God Starts! Now, all you need to do is be just as “Convinced”! The word “convince” means “to cause to believe firmly in the truth of something; to persuade to do something.” Its’ Latin Origin ‘convincere’ literally means ‘to overcome, to demonstrate’, from ‘vincere” which means “to conquer.” Listen, if you’re going to get what God’s got for you, it will take risk, but you will reap a reward! And all you’ve got to do is be convinced that what He promised will come to pass! You’ve got to believe firmly in the Truth, regardless of the Facts! Yes, there were Giants (Facts), but they could never be bigger than God (Truth)! That’s why we are to walk by FAITH, not by Sight! Let your Spirit lead you, not your Senses! Because often when God is about to do something BIG, your senses tell you to Shrink back! Don’t You Dare Do It!

Now, as for them, you probably know the result. The people followed the lead of the ten scouts who said, “The risks are too great.” And they never saw the Promised Land! Be careful who you listen to, who you trust, who you share your vision, hopes and dreams with. Everyone will want to reap the rewards with you, but very few will want you to take the risk, and even fewer will take the risk with you! Caleb says, “yes, let’s do this, we got this, we can do this, we can conquer this”, yet the naysayers respond like this:

“So those men gave a report that discouraged the people…” (ERV)

“So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report…” (ESV)

“So they spread a false report among the Israelites…” (GNT)

“So they began to spread lies among the Israelites…” (GWT)

“They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel…” (MSG)

“So they brought the people of Israel bad news…” (NLV)

When you’re getting ready to take a big risk and get what God’s got for you, look out for people like this! Those who will attempt to discourage you, give you a bad or false report, lie to you, spread rumors of fear and bring you bad news! These are dream killers, and destiny destroyers, avoid them at all costs, or you’ll pay a pretty penny in missing out on the Promises of God for your life!

Unfortunate as it may be, they chose what was safe, and they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. They could have had wonderful; instead, they lived and died in the wilderness! Many of God’s children over the years have made that same tragic miscalculation. And they have lived that same tragic result. Do you really want that to be descriptive of you?

Right now God may be asking you to follow Him into something risky. To obey Him is going to mean taking a financial risk, or a geographical risk, a social risk, doing something that’s way beyond your comfort zone. Something out of the norm and status quo. But when you get serious about obedience to God and the promises of God, usually such a thing involves risk. But the great danger is not in obeying God’s “risky” leading; it is in not obeying because you won’t risk it at all! You’ll miss the top of the mountain if you listen to every little molehill murmurer along the way. You’ll miss the best that God has for you. You’ll miss the Promised Land. Are you really willing to risk that?

Maybe you’re all settled in at your little base camp at the bottom of the mountain. You’re safe, but you’ll never see the view from the top if you stay where you’ve always been. You’ve been stuck there long enough, it’s time to move on before you miss out.

Dream big; broaden your vision; enlarge your territory; go further; reach higher! They’ve got Giants, but you’ve got God, it’s a Fixed Fight and you’ve got the Fruit in Hand to Prove it! Trust God and Take the Risk, the Reward Reaped Will be Well Worth it!

“It is better to make a thousand failures than to be too cowardly to ever undertake anything.” (Clovis G. Chappell)

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” (Christopher Columbus)

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” (T.S. Eliot)

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” (John D. Rockefeller)

“If you are not willing to risk the Usual you will have to settle for the Ordinary.” (Jim Rohn)

“There can be no great accomplishment without risk.” (Neil Armstrong)

“If it’s still in your mind, it is still worth taking the risk.” (Paulo Coelho)

“I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk.” (Oprah Winfrey)

“If we walk away from risk to keep ourselves safe, we will waste our lives.” (John Piper)

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” (William Shedd)

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Anais Nin)

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” (Author Unknown)

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

“Risk more than others think is safe; Care more than others think is wise; Dream more than others think is practical; Expect more than others think is possible.” (Cadet Maxim)

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

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“Be YOU, Everyone Else is Taken”

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Psalm 51:16-17, “Going through the motions doesn’t please You, a flawless performance is nothing to You…” (MSG)

Me and my eldest daughter, Mo’Nae, absolutely love one particular movie that we’ve seen a million times. And yet, if it came on again tonight, we would both be crazy glued to the television as if we’ve never seen the movie before; have no idea of the plot and characters; as if we’re clueless as to how the movie ends. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. And what movie might you ask that has caused us such devoted repetition? Well, it’s called, “Catch Me If You Can”! And it’s based on a true story. You see, Frank Abagnale, Jr. lived a wild and crazy life as a doctor, airline pilot, banker, investor, attorney and celebrity. But before you assume that he must have been the most talented and gifted person to ever walk the face of the earth, listen to this: The Irony Is, He Was Never Authentically Any of Those! And even though he deserves an academy award for his portrayal of them, He Was a Fake, a Fraud, and a Pretender.

It all began early in his life when he realized he had the talent to convince people he was “somebody” through his sheer confidence and acting ability. However, he began to make money at his game and soon found himself addicted to role playing. And by the time it was all over, he’d helped perform surgery in an operating room, conned banks out of thousands of dollars, flown an airplane as a pilot, and gone to places most people only dream of going. The problem was – It Was All a Show!

Which reminds me of Psalm 51:16-17, “Going through the motions doesn’t please You, a flawless performance is nothing to You…” (MSG) At the end of the day, no matter how “flawless” you believe your performance was, it was still merely a performance. And no matter how awesome a Broadway show may be, at some point the actors bow, the curtains close, the audience leaves, and you have to lay down your costume-character and be the real you! That’s what happened to Frank.

A few years into it and he wanted out! The glamour was gone. He was desperate to come clean. But he had created such a web of deceit that it wasn’t easy. Which made me think of real actors, who have played a role for so long, people don’t know how to differentiate between the person and the part they play. For instance, I loved “Angie and Jessie” from All My Children. They were my all-time favorite soap opera couple. But I remember when I was younger, someone said to me, “you know you look a lot like Debbi Morgan”. I said, “really? Well who is she?” The person laughed and responded, “you don’t watch All My Children?” I said, “of course I do, that is when we have a day off from school”. She said “then how is it possible you don’t know who Debbi Morgan is?” I said, “I don’t remember a character on the show by that name.” The person laughed again, harder this time and said, “you know Angie, as in Jessie and Angie don’t you?” Well, of course I lost it by then. My response, “duh, who doesn’t know them, they’re my favorite. Angie is so pretty”. I reiterate, the person laughed…again…even harder than the last hard laugh! She said, “girl you do know Debbie is Angie? It’s her real name!” My jaw hit the floor. Truth is, I never thought of them as “characters”, Angie was really Angie! Well, what can I say, I only knew her as her “character”, I never knew the actual or real person behind the part being played.

And honestly, that’s a lot like many of us today, we’ve played our roles for so long, been in character for so long, read from the same script for so long, others (nor ourselves) can find the real us anymore. The danger in this is that we never live real and fulfilling lives. It’s always a show, a line always has to be remembered, we have to recall all the previous scenes and scripts. We pretend so long that we can’t find the real us under the layers of showmanship. That word “showmanship” is defined as “the manager or presenter of a circus or fair; a person skilled at entertaining, theatrical presentation, or performance.” And that’s what happens to us, we manage our lines, present a great show, we’re skilled at entertaining those we want to applaud us, we perform, no different than that of a circus act or fair! Such pretense is no different than imprisonment. And speaking of imprisonment, that’s exactly what happened to Frank. The FBI was onto him, and he ended up spending years in prison. Which makes me wonder, how many years of mental and emotional imprisonment have many of us suffered in because we never discovered the freedom of simply being ourselves. I agree wholeheartedly with Pastor Joel Osteen, “There’s a Freedom When You Can Be at Peace With NOT Being Perfect!” It is better to be Real, Imperfect You, than to be a Perfect Imitation of Someone You’re Not!

Another memory came to mind, and it’s when I was first saved. I wasn’t raised in church, and so all I had as examples were the women who were in my local church. They were older, and a lot more conservative. They wore conservative hairstyles, modest clothing and make-up, little heels but big hats. And little ole me trying to come from the streets to the other-side and “fit in”. And for many years, I was impressed with my own acting ability. I wore the long skirts, the wide-brim hats, the little touch of make-up, and of course I mastered the “church lingo”, knowing what to say, when to say it, how to say it, and who to say it around. And truth be told, those were the most miserable years of my entire life! I never felt like “me.” I was the young woman who loved to wear big hoop earrings, long box-braids, red fingernails, mini-skirts, black eyeliner (that I wore on my lips as well…lol!) Lord, I was a hot mess when I walked into that little church house. But if nothing else, I was authentically me. But then I came around people who were not like me and since I was the only “odd ball”, clearly I was the one who needed to change. I even remember the missionary that told me I had to stop wearing braids or I would never get a decent Christian husband. Don’t laugh, because I believed her! And so I stepped into character, and it took me well over a decade to step off the stage for the last time!

I look at a lot of my pictures from those days and very few have me smiling. I really wasn’t happy. I always felt trapped. I felt like a performing monkey. And no matter how horrible it made me feel, I lived by the motto, “the show must go on!”

Well, Frank had a great talent, but he wasted it pretending to be someone else. And I’m afraid, far too many of God’s children are doing the very same thing. We’re so busy performing for people who are performing themselves, that we never develop real character because we’re always playing one!

But listen to Paul’s words, “…I have finished the work I was to do…” Paul made it clear, my time-card is stamped with the time I actually put in to the work I was assigned to do! Not Timothy, not Barnabas, not John Mark, but I, Paul, have finished the work I was assigned to do! I wonder how many of us can claim that as our true testimony?

Listen, the reality is, you can only be yourself, because everyone else is taken! But the good news is, YOU are enough…as is!

Think about it, Paul wasn’t perfect! Listen to a portion of his life in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29: “I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches…” (MSG)

Paul was authentically himself, even if being authentically himself was painful and unattractive! Paul suffered, but he was himself. Paul worked harder, went to jail, was beaten up, at the door of death, flogged, had rocks thrown at him, he was shipwrecked, had a hard time in travel, struggled with robbers, friends, foes, in the city and the country, baked by the desert sun and about to drown in a sea storm. He was betrayed, endured hard labor, he was lonely, sleepy, hungry, cold and naked, and still none of that tops the fact that he also had to fight with the pressures and anxieties of All the churches! And still Paul says, “…I have finished the work I was assigned to do…”!

Paul didn’t have it easy, but he remained true to himself, to his God, to the people he was responsible to lead and to his faith. And he did it all without pretense! And so can you!

Maybe your life’s journey has been as unappealing as Paul’s. Maybe you’ve had to wait on the unemployment line, wait for food stamps, wait for Medicaid, wait at the homeless shelter for a cot, wait at the soup kitchen for some crackers. However, your story is still beautiful even with some ugly chapters included! Truth is, we all have chapters in our life story that we don’t read aloud, and we certainly don’t share with others. However, God wants to bless YOU, not your character-role! He has blessings for you with your name on it but just as you have to show authentic ID to claim property, you’ll need to show the real you to claim your blessings! Angie can’t claim Debbi’s blessing, even if so many believe she’s one in the same. No, only one is real, authentic and identified! So it is the same with you.

Don’t waste your life away as Frank did.

Can you imagine though, who and what he could have actually become had he simply been himself?! And you are no different. So, don’t throw away who you can become by pretending to be someone else now. Be You! All of you! Imperfect, flawed, cracked, crazy-hair, crooked teeth, acne-faced, stretch-marked, out of shape YOU! No matter your marital status, financial status, leader or laity, no matter your educational background, your ethnicity, how many children you have or don’t have, how many divorces you’ve gotten, none of it matters! What matters most is that your are the Real you and that you finish the work that was given to you to complete!

Sarah couldn’t be Rebekah; Leah couldn’t be Deborah; David couldn’t be Judas; Esther couldn’t be Ruth; Peter couldn’t be John; Abigail couldn’t be Anna; Samson couldn’t be Jacob; Eli couldn’t be Matthew. And yet all of them were significant in Scripture, and none of them had to pretend to be someone else in order to accomplish it.

You are significant to the world, and more importantly to the Kingdom of God just as you are, the real you. Don’t dilute you; don’t masquerade you; don’t alter you; don’t attempt to be anyone else but you!

There’s a work for you to complete and a reward for you to receive, however, your “character” can’t complete your work nor receive your reward, only YOU can. Don’t forfeit your future by being a fraud. Ask the Lord what you are to do, and then do it. Ask the Lord who you are to be, then become it. Without excuse, apology, blame, or reason. You my friend, are enough. Be YOU, after all, there’s no one in all the world that can be YOU, except YOU!

“The day I pulled off the mask of pretense, fake happiness and put it in the trash – was the day when I peeped inside my heart and met my true self.” (Shilpi Sood)

“No one can long hide behind a mask; the pretense soon lapses into the true character.” (Seneca the Younger)

“Do they love you, or the mask you put on everyday?” (Shimika Bowers)

“Behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story.” (Marty Rubin)

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

“If you want the great and mighty things God has for you, you must get to the root of anger and deal with it. Get rid of the masks and face the things that happened in your life that made you the way you are today. Admit that you can’t change by yourself. Until the root is removed, it’ll continue to produce one bad fruit after another.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Don’t be trapped behind a mask, acting out a life you don’t really want. Be honest with God and let Him remove your mask and replace it with a new you that doesn’t need to hide from the world.” (Author Unknown)

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” (Andre Gide)

“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.” (Mother Theresa)

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” (Brene Brown)

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.” (Jenny Garrett)

“By being yourself you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before.” (Edwin Elliot)

“Less Perfection, More Authenticity.” (Author Unknown)

“Don’t trade in your authenticity for approval.” (Author Unknown)

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” (Judy Garland)

“When you show up authentic, you create the space for others to do the same. Walk in your truth.” (Jenny Garrett)

“Remind yourself that you cannot fail at being yourself.” (Wayne W. Dyer)

“When you shine your own unique light in a way that only YOU can do, then, you are way beyond competition!” (Naralee)

“The real you is more interesting than the fake somebody else.” (Lauryn Hill)

“The most powerful lesson I’ve learned in life is to never act like someone you’re not. Not only will people know that you’re being fake, but you’re also fooling yourself by thinking that the REAL you isn’t good enough.” (Anthony Gucciardi)

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

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“You Can’t Be the SAME, and Make a DIFFERENCE”

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2 Corinthians 6:17-18, “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)

Years ago some friends who lived near a heavy industrial area where the mills filled the air with a shall we say very distinctive aroma; well, actually, smell would be a better word for it. It was sort of a sulfur-like, rotten eggs type of odor. When you first went there, you would sniff and you’d go, “What is that?” And the people who lived there would say, “What’s what?” See, they’d lived around the stink so long, it didn’t even register any more. Well, in my humble opinion, there are simply some smells you should never get used to!

Which brings us to Ezekiel 9:2-4. It’s where the prophet is receiving his instructions from the Lord in the form of a vision, and here’s what it says: “Six men appeared at his call, coming from the upper north gate, each one with his sword. One of them wore linen clothing and carried a writer’s case strapped to his side. They all went into the Temple and stood beside the bronze altar. And the glory of the God of Israel rose from between the Guardian Angels where it had rested and stood above the entrance to the Temple. And the Lord called to the man with the writer’s case and said to him, “Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who weep and sigh because of all the sins they see around them.”

God is saying here, “I’m looking for some people who don’t gloss over the sin around them; people who literally grieve over sin.” Well, they were hard to find then; and truth is, they’re hard to find now. Those kind of people were special then, and they’re special now. People who don’t get so used to being in the middle of sin that they don’t notice the ‘smell’ any more. Do you understand that it was so strange, odd, and unusual to find people who actually grieved over sin that God sent a vision to the prophet about sending out people to scout out the land and “mark” those who were indeed bothered by sin? Let’s look at verse 4 in a few translations to see the type of people God was looking for:

“The Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, throughout all of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who SIGH [IN DISTRESS] AND GRIEVE OVER ALL THE REPULSIVE ACTS WHICH ARE BEING COMMITTED IN IT” (AMP);

“Walk through the city of Jerusalem and mark the forehead of anyone who is TRULY UPSET AND SAD ABOUT THE DISGUSTING THINGS THAT ARE BEING DONE THERE.” (CEV);

“Go through the whole city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is DISTRESSED AND TROUBLED BECAUSE OF ALL THE DISGUSTING THINGS BEING DONE IN THE CITY.” (GNT);

“Go through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is IN ANGUISH OVER THE OUTRAGEOUS OBSCENITIES BEING DONE IN THE CITY.” (MSG);

“He said to the man, “Go through Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the people who GROAN AND CRY ABOUT ALL THE HATEFUL THINGS BEING DONE AMONG THEM.” (NCV);

“The Lord said to him, “Go through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who CRY INSIDE THEMSELVES OVER ALL THE HATED SINS WHICH ARE BEING DONE AMONG THEM.” (NLV)

God was looking for those who were lamenting, crying, groaning, in anguish, troubled, disgusted, repulsed, upset…ABOUT THE SINS OF THE CITY! I wonder if He looked for people like that today, in His church in particular, would He find anyone to mark?

Does the church lament, cry, groan, feel in anguish, troubled, disgusted, repulsed and upset about the sins of the city? Or have we sat amongst it so long that the scent of sin doesn’t even smell to us any longer? Does adultery still stink to us? Does lying still smell funky to us? Does backbiting still offend our nostrils? Does discord still smell foul in the sanctuary? Or have we learned to use religious behavior to act as Febreeze and attempt to mask the smell? Do we spray church lingo over stuff that only needs one word “sin” to describe its scent? Are we bothered, are we disturbed, are we convicted, or have we become so tolerant that we’re no longer even moved by the odor?

I spoke with a friend of mine who so happens to be a sanitation worker. And I asked him, “how in the world do you do a job that smells like this every-day?” He gave me a two-fold response. For one he said, “for the amount of money they pay me, the scent ain’t all that bad”. And then he added something that brought about today’s word, he said “once you’ve been around the stench so much, and so often, and for so long, you literally learn to block out the smell”. Now, I can’t lie to you, I’m still perplexed, because anytime I’ve passed a sanitation truck, I for the life of me can never just block out the scent! However, I’m only around such a stench every now and then, but sanitation workers are around it all the time. Which made me think of something my mother’s doctor said a few years ago. He said, “we have to change her medication because she’s been on it for so long that her body has built up an immune to it, and therefore it no longer works because its’ been in and apart of her make-up for so long now, that her body treats the medication as if it were just one of her vital organs functioning as it should as a part of the rest of her body.” I’m afraid that the church has become just like that! We’ve built up an immune to sin that it no longer looks or smells wrong because we’ve been in it for so long that it doesn’t bother us in the least. Its’ become a part of our make-up. It functions in us as though it were one of the vital organs in the Body of Christ. But this should not be so!

Chances are that you come in daily contact with a lot of sinful garbage; lying that’s considered just to be smart business, an acceptance of adultery (or do we call it “an affair, weakness, or indiscretion”? you know we like to use a prettier sounding term so it doesn’t seem so bad), or just a flippant attitude toward sexual purity. Like the two guys sitting next to me at the pizza place last year. One very casually said to the other one, and pardon my bluntness, but this is the way he stated it, “So, did you get laid yet?” See, that’s casual about something God calls sacred. It’s a flippant “who cares” approach to a sacred act of love, created by God for a lifetime bond. When did we, the church, become so accepting and tolerant of ALL things? What happened to the churches distinction?

Leviticus 10:8-11, “God instructed Aaron: “When you enter the Tent of Meeting, don’t drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons, lest you die. This is a fixed rule down through the generations. Distinguish between the holy and the common, between the ritually clean and unclean. Teach the People of Israel all the decrees that God has spoken to them through Moses.” (MSG);

Leviticus 20:24-26, “I’ve told you, remember, that you will possess their land that I’m giving to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am God, your God, who has distinguished you from the nations. So live like it: Distinguish between ritually clean and unclean animals and birds. Don’t pollute yourselves with any animal or bird or crawling thing which I have marked out as unclean for you. Live holy lives before me because I, God, am holy. I have distinguished you from the nations to be my very own.” (MSG)

From the priests to the people, God has always Distinguished His own! The word “distinguish” is defined as “to recognize, show, or treat as different; to have an identifying characteristic; to be dignified in appearance; to successfully command great respect.” Its Latin Origin “distinguere”, from “stinguere” literally means “to put out.” In other words, to stand out from anything else! Look at it like this: If you visit any jewelry store, you’ll see that the costume jewelry does not mix with the real jewelry! How it’s made, how it’s crafted, how it’s priced and valued, and even where it’s placed at in the store lets you know the difference between the two. And likewise, should be said of the church! The world should be able to see that we don’t mix, don’t match and distinction is why! However, as sad as it may be, you can’t seem to tell the difference anymore between the holy and unholy, the clean and unclean, the fragrant and the funky, because we’ve dwelt together so long in the same space that they all appear one in the same!

I remember buying a bag of mixed bagels. I had everything from plain, to poppy seed, to cinnamon raisin, to onion. But when I opened the bag, all I could smell on all of them was the onion. Because its scent was the most prominent and dominant among them all. Even the ones it didn’t physically touch, still carried its scent because of its closeness in proximity. Makes me wonder if that’s what’s happening with the church? Have we spent so much time marrying, dating, having children, going to church….WITH THE WORLD….that you can no longer tell the 2 worlds apart? Have we gotten so close and comfortable with the world, that you can no longer see the Kingdom in the Church?

What happened to obeying Scriptures like:

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

With all that said, I must then ask, how did we go from Distinguished and Distinct to Compromise and Conformity?

When did we lose our Sense of the Scent of Sin?

2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.” (MSG)

How did we go from the Exquisite Fragrance of Christ, the Sweet Smelling Scent of God, an Aroma of Life, to smelling like the scent of sin, the stench of a rotting corpse?

We as the church need to regain our Distinction!

The word “distinct” is defined as “to be recognizably different or individual; to be able to be perceived clearly by the senses; a marked difference or contrast; outstanding excellence; special honor or recognition; expressly different from others of its kind” Its Latin Origin “distinctus”, from “distinguere” literally means “distinguish”. Church, we need to be recognizably different from the world! We need a Peter experience!

The Bible says, “And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; FOR THY SPEECH BEWRAYETH THEE.” (Matthew 26:73) Listen to this verse in varying translations:

“…FOR EVEN YOUR [GALILEAN] ACCENT GIVES YOU AWAY.” (AMP);

“…FOR WE CAN TELL BY YOUR GALILEAN ACCENT.” (TLB);

“…WE CAN TELL IT BECAUSE YOU TALK LIKE SOMEONE FROM GALILEE” (CEV);

“…CERTAINLY YOU TOO ARE ONE OF THEM, FOR YOUR ACCENT BETRAYS YOU.” (ESV);

“…IT’S OBVIOUS YOU’RE ALSO ONE OF THEM. YOUR ACCENT GIVES YOU AWAY!” (GWT);

“…OF COURSE YOU ARE ONE OF THEM,” THEY SAID. “AFTER ALL, THE WAY YOU SPEAK GIVES YOU AWAY!” (GNT);

“…IT’S CLEAR FROM THE WAY YOU TALK.” (ERV);

“…THE WAY YOU TALK GIVES YOU AWAY.” (CEB);

“…YOU’VE GOT TO BE ONE OF THEM. YOUR ACCENT GIVES YOU AWAY.” (MSG);

“…FOR SURE, YOU ARE ONE OF THEM. YOU TALK LIKE THEY DO.” (NLV);

“…SURELY YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE WHO FOLLOWED JESUS. THE WAY YOU TALK SHOWS IT.” (NCV);

Peter couldn’t blend in because his distinction wouldn’t let him! Those who were not “with” him knew that something about him being here is simply out of place. They even went so far as to say “We can tell; certainly; it’s obvious; of course; it’s clear; you’ve got to be; and surely you are.” They had absolutely no doubt and no question about the fact that Peter was with Jesus. Therefore, him being there with them, was out place! They said “…surely you are one of those who followed Jesus. The way you talk shows it.” Peter’s distinctive speech betrayed him! He couldn’t blend, couldn’t hide, couldn’t join in, couldn’t go unnoticed, and all because who he really was couldn’t be camouflaged! Would people be able to see the evidence of your relationship to Jesus in your speech and conduct, in spite of where you are or who you’re around?

People of God, you can’t cover up distinction, its visible evidence! So much so, that even the senses can tell something is different!

See, the problem is, we’re around sin so much sometimes it doesn’t break our heart any more, but it breaks God’s heart all the time, and He’s looking for people whose heart it can still break. We hear people treat God’s name, Jesus’ name, like dirt. Jesus, the name at which every knee will bow. There are attitudes that amount to nothing less than idol worship, and we’re no longer bothered by it: living for money, living for a guy or a girl, living for music, careers, and entitlements, living for the next party, living for a ring, robe, positions and chairs. It’s time we prayed, “God, give me back my sense of spiritual smell.

Isaiah 65:1-7, “I’ve made myself available to those who haven’t bothered to ask. I’m here, ready to be found by those who haven’t bothered to look. I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’ to a nation that ignored me. I reached out day after day to a people who turned their backs on me, People who make wrong turns, who insist on doing things their own way. They get on my nerves, are rude to my face day after day, Make up their own kitchen religion, a potluck religious stew. They spend the night in tombs to get messages from the dead, Eat forbidden foods and drink a witch’s brew of potions and charms. They say, ‘Keep your distance. Don’t touch me. I’m holier than thou.’ These people gag me. I CAN’T STAND THEIR STENCH. Look at this! Their sins are all written out— I have the list before me. I’m not putting up with this any longer. I’ll pay them the wages. They have coming for their sins. And for the sins of their parents lumped in, a bonus.” God says so. “Because they’ve practiced their blasphemous worship, mocking me at their hillside shrines, I’ll let loose the consequences and pay them in full for their actions.” (MSG)

If this is how God feels about the stench of sin, why does the odor not bother the Body of Christ any longer?!

People of God, today is a good day to pray and ask God to deliver us, and give us back our distinction. Because the truth is, we can’t be the same as the world and make a difference. They should feel free to come into our church services, but they should feel something that makes them know that they can’t stay the same way they came. We can’t blend, compromise, conform, tolerate, and certainly not water down the Gospel. We have to stand up and stand out so that we might be able to bring them in. Today, determine to be the Fragrance of God, that abhors the Scent of Sin!

“The devil must be daily resisted. The world must be daily overcome. There is a warfare to be waged, and a battle to be fought.” (J.C. Ryle)

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

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“You’re Facing the Wrong Way!”

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Isaiah 43:18-19, “Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past. See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening now. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (NLV)

I have been to my fair share of amusement parks both as a child and as an adult. And honestly, I’ve enjoyed quite a few of the rides. However, I must admit, I am not a fan of the roller coaster! Oh, I’ll watch you on it, and will scream when you scream, and will laugh myself silly, but I will do every bit of that on the ground! You see, my rides on roller coasters are very few and really far in between! But there is this particular amusement park that I visited many years ago, and they had two roller coasters side by side and two lines to get to them. Over on one line was a sign that said, “Forward.” Over on the other line, a sign said – yeah, you guessed it – “Backward.” Either way, it was your choice. You could ride looking forward or looking backward. But you had to pick one!

The older I get, the more I realize there are two lines in life as well, and two cars you can ride in. One says, “Forward” and the other says, “Backward.” Either one you pick, it will be your choice. Frankly, I don’t want to ride looking back at where I’ve already been. No, I’d rather ride looking ahead to where I’m going. I hope you do, too.

And that’s what God wants for you. Don’t believe it? Just listen to the Bible: Isaiah 43:18-19, here’s what it says, “Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past. See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening now. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (NLV)

God wants today to be the first day of the rest of your life, not just another day of what your life has already been up until now. This can be page one of a whole new volume or just another page of the same old story. Either way, the choice will always be yours to make.

Maybe you’ve been riding too long looking backward. You keep rehearsing and reliving the hurt of your past, your failures, the painful losses you’ve experienced, and the regrets over what you’ve done or what you should have done or what was done to you. But that’s the past, and none of it can be changed. But if you don’t move beyond the pain, the anger, the bitterness, the self-pity, the grief, and the self-condemnation – if you keep dwelling on that, you’ll miss the part of your life that can be changed – the future.

Think about it: If you choose the roller coaster ride where you’re facing backwards, all you’ll ever see is where you’ve already been. And haven’t you been facing that way long enough? Every time you tell a story it’s always past tense, because instead of your past being a reference, you’ve allowed it to become a residence. My dear, that is not the purpose of your past. You are not to live in the prison of your past confined to all the people, places and things that didn’t go right. Living like that is wrong! You are at the amusement park, enjoying the ride, but with no new attractions to see, because you  continue to deliberately choose to face the wrong way. All you see is “been there, done that, got the t-shirt.” All you see is what they said and what they did and what you didn’t accomplish. But that was then, this is Now! And what does God say about Now? “…See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening NOW…” (NLV)

Just imagine what you’re missing because you’re facing the wrong way?! You see, when you ride the roller coaster ride and you’re facing forward, there is always something new to see! Whether you go up or down, and in life you will experience both, still you will see it in a new view. Imagine going low, but the anticipation and expectation of what you’ll see when you come up again! You’ll always be in a  constant excitement of what is next! Not, “oh, I saw that already, or I knew that was coming.”

One of God’s great representatives, Paul, said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christ-like] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching FORWARD to what lies ahead, I press on TOWARD the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the UPWARD call of God in Christ Jesus.” (AMP)

People of God, it’s time we stop facing BACKWARD, and instead start facing FORWARD, as we press TOWARD, the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the UPWARD call of God in Christ Jesus!

No more back peddling, no more staring in the rear-view mirror as if we can go back and undo what we’ve done or what’s been done to us. No, today is the day that we stop hesitating, stop procrastinating, stop remaining stuck and stagnant. Today is the day we move Forward, Toward and Upward! Today is the day we change direction and face the right way!

We don’t need faith for what has happened already, we need faith for what is about to happen. We have to prepare for what God is going to do, not what He has already done!

Stop treating your life like a hamster on a wheel, constantly moving, but going nowhere but in circles!

Which means you have to do quite a bit of self-examination. You need to test the people, places and things in your life and see what needs to be restored and what needs to be replaced! It’s time for new, not just the same old, that you keep slapping patches on in hopes it will ‘this time’ hold itself together.

Jesus is the Lord of new beginnings, of fresh starts, of clean slates. You need to come to Him and let Him release you from being tied to the people who’ve hurt you, by getting His grace to forgive them. You need to ask His help to begin to define your life, not by what has happened, but by what’s going to happen; what can happen because of Jesus in your life. Yes, it is Jesus alone that still makes the difference!

Think about it: The lame walked because of Him; the deaf heard because of Him; the blind was able to see because of Him; the adulterous were forgiven because of Him; a 12 year old girl was brought back to life because of Him; the woman with the issue of blood was healed because of Him; the four friends were able to get their friend delivered off that mat because of Him! The testimonies are endless regarding the change that Jesus makes in the lives of people! And if you dare to allow Him to help you get past your past, He can do some wondrous things in your life too! But you can’t stay stuck in the same place! You can’t keep turning backwards. You have to move forward. You have to change direction. You have to do something different.

Can you imagine if the woman at the well stayed there; can you imagine if Lazarus would’ve ignored Jesus call; can you imagine if Mary said, ‘sorry God, but this is just too outrageous for me to be a part of’; can you imagine if Ruth said, ‘nope, I’m going back to what’s familiar’; can you imagine if Abraham said, ‘leave my family and go somewhere without a destination in mind, I don’t think so?’; can you imagine if Esther said, ‘oh well, at least I made it to the palace, hope the rest of yall survive somehow’; can you imagine if Deborah said, ‘Barack I don’t have to go with you so I’m not’; Can you imagine if Gideon didn’t listen to God but kept all the useless people he had with him? All of these people had to do something unfamiliar, uncommon, and uncomfortable to see something new and different. And my friend you will have to be put in the very same position!

Yes, that means you may have to work on an auxiliary you never have before; yes, that means you’ll have to finally go back to school and finish your education; yes, that means you may have to accept that, that particular friendship and relationship has run their course; yes, that means you may have to take a job in a field you know nothing about; yes, that means you may have to take this next journey alone; yes, that means you may have to break out the box by reshaping your inner-circle; yes, that may even mean a change in the most simple of things (a change in hairstyle or hair color; a different style of dress; a different restaurant; different foods; learning about different cultures or a different language; taking up yoga, Zumba or Pilates). In other words, you can’t expect to see something new if you keep staring at something old. You can’t expect to experience something new when you keep hanging around something old.

You have to force yourself to face the challenge of doing new things, so you don’t die with the same ole, same ole.

“Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past. See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening NOW. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (NLV)

Your new thing is trying to happen NOW, but do you see it? No! Do you know it? No! Because the old has your undivided attention! And the most expensive thing in the world is paying attention to people who don’t value you! Enough is enough!

God is trying to do such remarkable things that you’ve never seen or heard before, and you’re missing out on all of it because your eyes have a distorted vision of the past only, and no insight of the future that can’t wait to be revealed!

2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (MSG)

As hard as your past may have been, it is but small potatoes compared to the coming good times! There’s so much greater ahead of you if only you’d stop focusing behind you!

Listen, if that bad relationship was enough to take you out you wouldn’t be alive today. Maybe the reason you haven’t seen the right person for you is because all you can see is the person who was wrong for you! Forgive them, forgive you, and face forward! You have no idea what and who you’re missing out on! Stop reliving, stop rehearsing, stop rehashing. Your life is a great ride, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you’ll face the right way! Stop complaining about your former church, you haven’t been there in years! Focus on where you are now, and where you’re on your way to, it’s a much more exciting view! Stop retelling the stories of coworkers that betrayed you in 1990, you do know it’s 2020 right? Yes, dad left (when you were 6) and if you’re not careful, you’ll be 60 and still telling the story of when he was supposed to come back with your bag of chips and never did. Yes, that person broke your heart, and believe it or not, but your heart is still beating! Who knew someone could break your heart and still not stop your pulse?! They picked her over you for the promotion. I get it, you’re more qualified. But at the end of the day, you still have a job, a paycheck, and you can still pay your bills, you my friend are still ahead of the game!

I’ll even go so far as to tell you to stop talking down to yourself and about yourself. Very few of us are the same size we were in high school, and guess what? We’re still here, so what exactly do we have to complain about? If you don’t like your weight, change your eating habits, diet, go to the gym, see your doctor. But don’t keep taking out the family photos from 1970 to compare yourself to who you are in 2020!

The dog you loved when you were 10 is dead. You do know you can get another dog right?

Are you getting this? You don’t have to stay stuck, you don’t have to be complacent, you don’t have to live in your comfort zone or your past. You are free to change, to move and to do something different and new, so do it! Don’t let yet another year come and go and you find yourself at December 31, 2020 with the same old story of what you’re going to do different in 2021!

No! Today is your day to change position and direction! We’re not going over that old history any longer!

Listen, when you can start your story and anybody can finish it at the drop of a hat, it’s been told too often! Enough! Take a pen, get a new book, and start a new chapter! Preferably, one no one has heard of before! Let people see things in your life now and wonder when did you do that, when did you go there, when did you finish that? Instead of, ‘yeah, I remember you told me, quite a few times before.’

Saints, no more settling for what you SAW, it’s time to SEE!

Get out of your Past, into your Present and preparing for your Future! You’ve been focusing behind you long enough, today, decide to Face Forward and enjoy a Better Ride with a Better View of the Better Things Coming Just for You!

“If you think your best days are behind you, they are. If you think your best days are ahead of you, they are.” (Jon Gordon)

“How you see your future is much more important than what happened in your past.” (Zig Ziglar)

“As years and experiences add up and life begins to wear us down, it’s easy for the vibrancy of our passion and purpose to fade…never let your best days be behind you. In my mind, they’re always ahead.” (Shawn Anderson)

“Get your hopes up. Raise your expectations. Your best days are still in front of you.” (Joel Osteen)

“Your life isn’t behind you; your memories are behind you. Your life is always ahead of you. Today is a new day – seize it!” (Steve Maraboli)

“The only way you may correct the bad things in your past is to add better things to your future.” (Shiloh Morrison)

“Don’t fall in love with what God did for you yesterday.” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“To reach up for the new, you must let go of the old. What lies behind you is not nearly as important as what lies in front of you.” (Joel Osteen)

“The past is like using your rear-view mirror in the car, it’s good to glance back and see how far you’ve come, but if you stare too long, you’ll miss what’s right in front of you.” (Author Unknown)

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” (Author Unknown)

“Even though there are days I wish I could change some things that happened in the past, there’s a reason the rear-view mirror is so small and the windshield is so big, where you’re headed is much more important than what you’ve left behind.” (Author Unknown)

“Every morning, we get a chance to be different. A chance to change. A chance to be better. Your past is your past. Leave it there!” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes you just have to turn the page to realize there is more to your book of life than the page you’re stuck on. Stop being afraid to move on. Close this chapter of hurt, and never re-read it again. It’s time to get what your life deserves, and move on from the things that don’t deserve you. Don’t spend your days trying to correct your past, instead, let go and let God create something better for your future.” (Author Unknown)

“When your past calls, do not pick up! It has nothing new to say!” (Author Unknown)

“The best way to stop stumbling over the past is to walk boldly into the future.” (Author Unknown)

“God put your eyes in front of your head for a reason, now stop looking back!” (Author Unknown)

“Progress is made by moving forward not looking backward!” (Author Unknown)

“No matter how much you revisit the past, there’s nothing new to see.” (Author Unknown)

“There comes a time to stop looking back and trying to figure out ‘why’? At some point, we need to shift our attention to ‘what’s next’?” (Author Unknown)

“Just because the past taps you on the shoulder, doesn’t mean you have to turn around and look back! It simply means you’re not moving forward fast or far enough!” (Author Unknown)

“It is not possible to go forward while looking back.” (Author Unknown)

“Once you make the decision to move on, don’t look back. Your destiny will never be found in the rear-view mirror!” (Mandy Hale)

“It’s okay to look back at the past, just don’t stare!” (Author Unknown)

“Lord, remove anybody out of my life that means me no good, serves me no good purpose, and is not real and loyal in my presence and absence. Bless me with the discernment to realize and give me the strength to let go and don’t look back!” (Author Unknown)

“Stop crying over spilt milk and start looking for the next cow!” (Author Unknown)

“You’ll never see all the awesome things ahead of you if you keep looking at all the bad things behind you. Sometimes you just have to turn around and give a little smile, throw the match and burn that bridge! Live, learn and don’t look back!” (Author Unknown)

“Never look back. If Cinderella went to pick up her shoe, she would not have become a Princess!” (Author Unknown)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Supplement Smarts: Best Ways to Take Different Vitamins”

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“Don’t Miss Your Turn”

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“You have stayed here long enough. TURN…” (Deuteronomy 2:3 TLB)

God’s plan for your life always involves your gifts, His timing, and being in the right place. But three things can keep that from happening:

1…Fear of Failing: (For some reason we’re under the impression that failures are final and fatal, and that is far from the truth. When you read the Bible from cover-to-cover you will quickly discover that all of God’s children failed at some point in time. Absolutely none of them were perfect. They failed as Kings, Priests, Prophets, Judges, Leaders, Fathers, Mothers, Sons, Daughters, Male, Female, Married, Single, Young and Old Alike. No one that is flesh and blood is exempt from failure! However, failure is not to be feared, it’s to be learned from so that you better appreciate the success when it does come)!

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” (Thomas A. Edison)

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” (Michael Jordan)

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” (Henry Ford)

“Never Quit! If you stumble, get back up. What happened yesterday no longer matters. Today is another day, so get on track and move closer to your dreams. You can do it.” (Author Unknown)

LESSON TO LEARN: NEVER FEAR FAILURE BECAUSE IT’S NEVER FINAL OR FATAL!

2…Unwillingness to Leave Your Comfort Zone: (Sadly many people have not failed because of where they’ve gone, but because of where they’ve chosen to stay. Truth is, you can’t get THERE, remaining HERE! Which means daily you have to challenge yourself to do, try and experience new, different, uncomfortable and unfamiliar things. You have to learn to broaden your circle by getting out of the box! No one fulfills their Calling in a Comfort Zone. Jesus walked the world over healing and delivering, but it was the shedding of blood that brought salvation. Last I checked, the cross was not the most comfortable way to the crown, but He endured it, and whatever your cross is, endure it! Get out of your comfort zone, so you can finally fulfill your calling)!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. You won’t find glory at the center of safety, but at its edge. You won’t find love at a place where you are covered, but in the space where you are exposed. You gotta take some risks. You have to not only pick up the dice, but roll ’em. So go ahead, take the gamble. You have nothing to lose except the chance to win. Life is not long enough to spend it on the sidelines.” (Neale Donald Walsch)

“Step so far outside your comfort zone that you forget how to get back!” (Author Unknown)

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” (Author Unknown)

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” (Brian Tracey)

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” (John Maxwell)

“Sometimes it takes us traveling outside our comfort zone, to discover the abilities we never knew we had.” (Robert M. Hensel)

Lesson to Learn: Your Calling Will Not Be Fulfilled in Your Comfort Zone!

3…Being Swayed By the Opinions of Others: (Another sad commentary is that many people accomplish only minimal greatness because they’re so busy ignoring Christ and listening to Critics! If you are to do great things, you have to get past the opinions of people. And it doesn’t matter whether those opinions are good or bad. Even Jesus had Hosanna’s turn to Crucify by the same mouths! So likewise, you have to learn to do what God has called you to do, and be who He has called you to be, without the need for people opinions, validations, confirmations, seal of approval and pat on the back. When God gives the go ahead, only a fool allows others to stop him!

“I used to care about what people thought about me until one day I tried to pay my bills with their opinions and quickly realized how worthless their opinions really are.” (Author Unknown)

“Your opinion is not my reality.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Don’t let the noise of other peoples opinions drown out your inner voice.” (Steve Jobs)

“Don’t worry about other people’s opinions of you. God never told you to impress people; only to love them.” (Dave Willis)

“Leave people to their opinions and judgements. They cannot harm you; it is their understanding that is faulty, Not Yours.” (Leon Brown)

“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.” (Plato)

“The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.” (Osho)

Lesson to Learn: Don’t Allow the Opinions of Others to Hinder Your Obedience to God!

Remember This: Use Your Gifts, Move in God’s Timing, and Make Sure You Are Always in the Right Place! Never Allow Fear of Failure, The Crippling of Your Comfort Zone or the Opinions of Others to Stop Your Forward Progression!

In focusing on our text, there came a point where in order to enter the Promised Land, God said to Israel, “You have traveled around this mountain long enough. Now TURN…” (NLV). Please understand, that when you reach this point it’s crucial that you say yes to God and be willing to step out in faith! Whether God is directing you, or redirecting you, listen, heed and immediately obey!

Think about it, and let’s be honest, we can all admit that we’ve stayed in places longer than we should have. And to be even more brutally honest, many of us have stayed in stuff we should’ve never been in, in the first place! But how much longer do you intend to miss God? God said to them, “You have traveled around this mountain long enough…” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a “small mountain”. In other words, mountains are by definition Big! In fact, it’s defined as, “a mass of land rising abruptly and to a large height from the surrounding level.” That doesn’t sound too tiny to me! Can you imagine traveling around “a mass of land rising abruptly and to a large height from the surrounding level”? A mountain is massive! And the word “massive” means “large and heavy; solid; exceptionally large, intense, or severe.” So, people of God, I say to you, as God said to them, “You have traveled around this mountain long enough…” Or better yet, you’ve traveled around this massive, large, heavy, intense and severe situation long enough…WHEN DO YOU PLAN TO HEED GOD’S DIRECTION AND TURN?! It’s been a burden, it’s weighed you down, it has caused you to lose sleep, weight, hair, and peace. How much longer are you going to endure self-inflicted-suffering? God Himself is giving you permission to go in another direction, so what are you waiting for? Why are you still facing a dead-end? Why are you still standing by the cliff? Why are you stuck in park? MOVE! Better Yet…TURN!

I love the definitions of the word “Turn”: “to move into a different position; to go in the opposite direction of where you are currently; to change in nature, state or form.” However, my favorite is: “a place where a road meets or branches off into another; a turning point.” Another favorite: “a time when one period of time ends and another begins.” And that phrase “turning-point” is another favorite of mine: It’s defined as “a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.” Now, please tell me with all of that said, why have you yet to TURN?! People of God, it’s time for you to stop blaming, pointing fingers, complaining, having good intentions with no plans, a long list of “one day I’m going to…” and “I promise…” and finally you make a deliberate decision to do something! Based on the above definitions, it’s time for you to move into a different position, go in the opposite direction of where you’ve been traveling, make a change! In a nutshell: TURN!

The word “reposition” is a good one, it means “a strategic move to alter and adjust to a different position.” In other words, no I am by no means saying this will be easy, but I am definitely saying it will be worth it for you to deliberately make a strategic move and alter and adjust to different people, places and things! After all, the people, places and things that you’ve become accustomed to, have obviously not worked for you, so why not quit and get work elsewhere?! You’ve been doing this long enough, putting up with this long enough, tolerating this long enough, suffering because of this long enough! Now is the time to Reposition and Turn! Remember: “turn” is also “a place where a road meets or branches off into another; a turning point.” And a “turning-point” is “a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.”

In a nutshell: This Turn Is To Your Benefit, So What Are You Waiting For…TURN!

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the TURN” (Helen Keller)

During a famine God said to the prophet Elijah, “And the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Leave here and TURN east. Hide yourself by the river Cherith, east of the Jordan.  You will drink from the river. And I have told the ravens to bring food to you THERE.” So he went and did what he was told by the Word of the Lord. He went and lived by the river Cherith, east of the Jordan.  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and in the evening. And he drank from the river.” (1 Kings 17:2-6 NLV).

God’s PLAN for your life is always connected to a PLACE!

“…Leave here and TURN EAST…”; (1 Kings 17:2-6 NLV);

“You have traveled around this mountain long enough. Now TURN NORTH”; (Deuteronomy 2:3 TLB);

“The Lord said, “Ezekiel, son of man, TURN TOWARD THE SOUTH…” (Ezekiel 20:45-46 CEV);

“Moses…led the flock to the WEST…The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire…” (Exodus 3:1-2 MSG)

Are You Getting This? From all 4 corners of the Earth, God’s people are charged and challenged to make a TURN! EAST, NORTH, SOUTH, WEST! Likewise, it’s vital for your life and calling that you are always in the Right Place at the Right Time! This week is a good time to take a look around at the people, places and things in your life, and see where you need to make a Beneficial TURN for yourself!

Think about it: Elijah would’ve missed his provision in the EAST if he didn’t TURN; Israel would’ve missed the Promised Land if they didn’t TURN to the NORTH; Ezekiel would’ve missed his ministry opportunity to deliver a prophetic word if he didn’t TURN to the SOUTH; and Moses would’ve missed the burning bush if he didn’t TURN to the WEST! What are you missing out on because you have yet to TURN in the direction God has commanded?!

Listen, Even Jesus “…HAD to go through Samaria…” (John 4:4 NIV). The Message Bible says it like this, “TO GET THERE, HE HAD TO PASS THROUGH SAMARIA…” (MSG). In order to get THERE, you have to leave HERE! And why did Jesus have to go through Samaria? To meet a woman who was destined to reach that city with the Gospel. Can you imagine, a whole city would’ve missed out on hearing the Good News of the Gospel, if Jesus didn’t go through Samaria?! Believe it or not, but you being in the right place at the right time, is not just about you! There are some people who won’t receive what they need to until you get there! Some people won’t make a turn for the better until you’ve finally decided to make a turn from the worse! Some won’t get a turn, until you make you a turn! And do you really want to be held responsible for a whole city missing God because you missed your turn?!

And will all of your turns feel good? Absolutely not! However, you can’t just go where you like, God honors you when you’re where HE wants you to be! “Tell me,” Samuel said. “Does the Lord really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey Him.” (1 Samuel 15:22 CEV). So whether you’re being sent to the North, South, East or West is irrelevant! What’s important is that you obey the direction of the Lord when He tells you it’s time to make a TURN!

God has promised to bless you, but sometimes He has to reposition you in order for you to receive His blessing! Just ask Peter. He went from I’ll live and die with you Jesus, to being warmed by strange fire, with strange people, and lying about his identity to Jesus. However, it’s never too late to make a TURN, because he’s later restored, repositioned, and preaching redemption to thousands! Paul went from killing Christians to speaking life and resurrecting them! It’s amazing what just a little TURN in the right direction can accomplish! In other words, it’s not too late for you either! So, MAKE THE TURN…BEFORE YOU MISS YOUR TURN!

Think about this as well: It was when Ruth moved to Bethlehem that she met Boaz and married him; it was when Bartimaeus went to where Jesus was that he received his sight! In a nutshell: You Don’t Want to Miss Your Turn Because You Missed Your Turn! Make sure you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, doing the right thing! After all, to miss God, is just wrong!

In closing, can you imagine how Abraham’s story would’ve read had he missed his TURN in Genesis 12:1? “Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.The Living Bible says it like this, “God told Abram, “Leave your own country behind you…” (TLB). And the Amplified Bible reads, “…Go for yourself [for your own advantage] away from your country…” (AMP). Abram had to leave some people, places and things BEHIND HIM and FOR HIS OWN ADVANTAGE, AND TURN IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION ALTOGETHER! And what was the blessing for his obedient TURN? “If you do, I will cause you to become the father of a great nation; I will bless you and make your name famous, and you will be a blessing to many others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; and the entire world will be blessed because of you.” (Genesis 12:2-3 TLB).  And All Because He Refused to Miss His Turn By Missing His Turn! Verse 4, is the bonus, “SO ABRAM LEFT JUST AS GOD SAID…” (MSG). What Blessings Are You Missing Out On Because You’re Still In the Same Place?! What Blessings Are You Missing Out On Because You Didn’t Listen When God Spoke?!

And was this the only time Abram would have to make a TURN? Absolutely Not! He would eventually have to TURN away from Lot, who was originally granted permission by Abram to go with him! However, Once Again, Do to Making Another Timely TURN, the Word of God Declares: “After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, “Open your eyes, look around. Look NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, AND WEST. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever. I’ll make your descendants like dust—counting your descendants will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. So—on your feet, GET MOVING! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17 MSG)

Abram Made a Timely TURN, and God Made Abram a Timeless Promise! If You Don’t Want to Miss Yours As Well, Today, Determine to MAKE A TURN!

“No matter how far you go in the wrong direction, there’s always a chance to TURN your life around.”  (Author Unknown)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Women’s Hair Loss: Thinning Hair, Causes and Solutions”

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“Drowning Christians in a Thirsty World”

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Psalm 42:1-3, “ A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I’M THIRSTY for God-alive. I wonder, “Will I ever make it—arrive and drink in God’s presence?” I’m on a diet of tears—tears for breakfast, tears for supper. All day long people knock at my door, Pestering, “Where is this God of yours?” (MSG)           

You know, after about a week of rain, you start to forget what the sun looks like. And we experienced something just like that a few Spring seasons ago, that we had no other choice but to endure! I mean it got to the point where you didn’t even have to listen for the weather forecast any longer; I think they just had “duh, it’s going to be rainy today” on repeat tape! After a consistent rainy forecast day-after-day, you simply knew what it was going to be like the very next day.  

Well, I glanced at these stretch of hotels that were along the road on the way home. And what to my wondering eye should appear, but Sprinklers! Yeah, all their lawn sprinklers were out and going Full Blast, Watering a NOT so Thirsty Lawn! I couldn’t believe it, after a week of torrential rain, and on a day when the rain was still pouring down, these companies had the Sprinklers On Full Blast! In essence, they were Saturating What Was Already Saturated!

According to the Powerful Word of God: “Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who Needs a Doctor: the Healthy or the Sick? Go figure out what the Scripture means: “I’m After Mercy, Not Religion.’ I’m Here to Invite OUTSIDERS, Not Coddle Insiders.” (Matthew 9:12 MSG). In other words, I came as the Living Water for those who are Spiritually and Eternally Dying of Thirst, not those who Already Have a Well of Water Bubbling Up On the Inside! There’s no need to water a lawn that’s already drowning in water! What then is a better use of the water? To water what’s dry and dying of thirst!              

In Romans chapter 15, we read about the Magnificent Obsession of the Apostle Paul. Beginning with the 17th verse, Looking back over what has been accomplished and what I have observed, I must say I am most pleased—in the context of Jesus, I’d even say proud, but only in that context. I have no interest in giving you a chatty account of my adventures, Only the Wondrously Powerful and Transformingly Present Words and Deeds of Christ in Me that Triggered a Believing Response AMONG THE OUTSIDERS. In Such Ways I Have Trailblazed a Preaching of the Message of Jesus All the Way From Jerusalem Far Into Northwestern Greece. This Has All Been Pioneer Work, Bringing the Message Only Into Those Places WHERE JESUS WAS NOT YET KNOWN AND WORSHIPED. My Text Has Been, THOSE WHO WERE NEVER TOLD OF HIM—They’ll See Him! THOSE WHO’VE NEVER HEARD OF HIM—They’ll Get the Message!” (vss. 17-21 MSG).  

Paul Obviously here has a Magnet Inside of Him that is Drawing Him to a Particular People. It’s Pulling Him Toward a People Who Do Not Yet Know His Christ! You see, he’s not traveling from church to church to only preach the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to church folk! He’s going where the people have not known nor heard of Jesus! These are the people who need to hear the message! Which is why the Bible reads: “But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One Who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?” (Romans 10:14-17 MSG). Church, we are the Sent Ones with a message to deliver to those who have yet to hear that our Jesus is still alive and is still saving, healing, delivering, forgiving, restoring and redeeming! Saints, we’re spending far too much time feeding the Word to those who eat it daily already! But what about those who have never had a Crumb from the Master’s Table?! Man cannot LIVE by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God! But how can we expect a people to live for God who are dying because of the church?! They don’t know to trust Him, unless we tell them. They don’t know who to call for help, unless we tell them. They will never hear, unless we tell me! But the problem is, unfortunately, we’re only talking to those who have already heard and believed! 

Paul continues to not only be called to a people who don’t yet Know Jesus, but also to PLACES where Christ is not yet Known! The Bible says, “He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What You’ll Get Is the Holy Spirit. And When the Holy Spirit Comes On You, You Will Be Able to Be My Witnesses In Jerusalem, All Over Judea and Samaria, Even To the Ends of the World.” (Acts 1:8 MSG). The disciples were sent as far as to the ends of the world with the message of Jesus Christ, and we can’t get folks to go into their own neighborhoods! Listen, Jesus is not expecting us to hop on a plane and travel to every city, state and country, but He does expect us to share the message where we can! Believe it or not, but there’s people in the supermarket you go to that don’t know your Jesus; when you dropped off your car to the mechanic, there are people there who don’t know your Jesus; when you go to the doctor’s office, there are people there who don’t know your Jesus; when you go to work and spend some 8-12 hours daily, there are people there who don’t know your Jesus; when you go to the gym and talk to everybody about everything except your Jesus, you do know that there are people there who don’t know your Jesus; when you get in the cab, board the plane, hop on the bus or train, you do know that they are filled with people who don’t know your Jesus; in the prisons, at the hospitals, in the nursing homes, sitting at the dialysis center, laying in chemo therapy, struggling in rehab, waiting in line at the unemployment office, social services office, the homeless shelter, the soup kitchens, in the mall, at the movies, in the deli, at the cleaners, are all places filled with people who do not yet know your Jesus, how then can you afford to be silent…until Sunday…in Church…with people who Already know your Jesus!              

You know, these days you don’t have to go very far to find the places where Christ Is Not Known: the dry places, the un-rained on places, the un-watered places, the unsaturated places. I mean, our society has basically been divided like a river over recent years. On one side of that river, are Christians Who’ve Got More Christian Stuff Than Christians Have Ever Had: Christian TV, Radio, and Internet, Books, Blogs, Seminars, Magazines and Concerts! There’s so much going on Spiritually! In a way we’re the Most Spiritually Saturated Believers In All of History!              

But now, far across that river, On the Opposite Bank, Are People Who Don’t Know Christ – which in honesty is the Majority of People Around Us! There Have Probably Never Been So Many Lost People In This Country Who Have Known So Little About Jesus As People Today; Who’ve Cared So Little About the Bible, Who’ve Lived So Totally Oblivious to God! In a sense, They Are Dying of Spiritual Thirst! The Bibles says, “Jesus answered her, All who drink of this water will be thirsty again. But Whoever Takes a Drink of the Water that I Will Give Him Shall Never, No Never, Be Thirsty Any More. But the Water that I Will Give Him Shall Become a Spring of Water Welling Up (Flowing, Bubbling) [Continually] Within Him Unto (Into, For) Eternal Life. The Woman said to Him, Sir, Give Me This Water, So That I May Never Get Thirsty…” (John 4:13-15 AMP).              

So, the people with the water, and the people with the thirst, Have Unfortunately Never Been Farther Apart! And what I love about the text in John is the woman is not resistant but ready to receive! How many people are around us day-to-day, ready to receive Jesus, the living water, yet our sprinklers are only turned on, on Sunday, to saturate the already saturated, as others die of thirst! 

Martin Marty, the church historian, said in the Wall Street Journal, If you’re part of the evangelical subculture, it’s your whole life. You go to church, buy the religious books, watch the television programs.But he says,If You’re Not Part of the Subculture, You Don’t Even Know it Exists.              

Well, one reason is that All The Sprinklers Are Being Aimed At The Already Saturated!  

Which is Why Our Great Commission was not to SIT (in the pews and pulpit) but it was to GO (to the people and places)! “Jesus, Undeterred, Went Right Ahead and Gave His Charge: God Authorized and Commanded me to Commission You: GO Out and Train Everyone You Meet, Far and Near, In This Way of Life, Marking Them By Baptism in the Threefold Name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then Instruct Them In the Practice of All I Have Commanded You. I’ll Be With You As You Do This, Day After Day After Day, Right Up to the End of the Age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 MSG). You do realize that we are Charged, Commanded and Commissioned to GO?! It was not an idea, it was not negotiable, it was not a suggestion! We are Charged (which is a Demand); We are Commanded (which is to be given an Authoritative Order); and We are Commissioned (which is to be Issued and Entrusted to Fulfill a Duty)! Does any of that sound like, do this if you feel like it; do this when you feel like it; do this if you should have a little spare time? NO! This is GO RIGHT NOW! Why? Because people’s eternal lives are hanging in the balance, and if we reach them with the message of life, it will tip the scale in the favor of Heaven on their behalf! I mean do you really want someone to lift their eyes in Hell because you were too focused on getting Only You and Yours to Heaven?! No, we are Called to Combat, not Comfort! There’s Thirsty Souls That are Waiting for Us to Show Up With the Living Water, Will We Be Present or Absent?!              

Listen, we can sit in the comfort of our Sunday School Sessions, Bible Study Lessons, and our Christian Websites, and Recordings, and Videos, and Drink It All In and Feel Like We’re Winning the Battle! But the People We’re Next To Every Day Are Dying Right In Front Of Our Eyes! All We’ve Soaked Up Just Drowns Us Unless We Lay It On The Line, Take Some Risks, And Get Involved With Lost People Where They Are, Like Our Lord Did! “Indeed, the Son of Man Has Come to Seek and to Save People Who Are Lost.” (Luke 19:10 GWT). What good does it do the Kingdom for all those who have been Found already, to only Find themselves in church every Sunday, while the Lost wanders their way to Hell all week long! 

Imagine you’re at the mall with your son or daughter and they get lost. How would that make you feel? I know as a parent I would be scared, terrified, worried, telling everybody to help me find them, I would be calling 911, trying to locate the mall security officers so they can review the cameras, the doors, the stores. I would more than likely be in tears and praying and screaming out for them, and God! A million thoughts would attack my mind, did someone take them, are they scared, are they crying, are they hurt. You know why all of this would be happening? Because they’re my children and I love them and want them to always be safe. That’s the kind of unconditional love we need to have for the lost. Because truth is, many of them have no idea of the dangerous games the devil plays. They have no idea that their eternity is at stake. They may yell at people to ‘go to hell’, but do they really know what Hell holds for them? Do they know that Satan is waiting for another notch on his belt? No, but we know! And we didn’t escape his grasp because we’re perfect and wonderful and good, it was only by grace and mercy that we got by and got out! Someone, somewhere, at some point in time told us about Jesus and saved our lives! How can we not love the lost the same way and help save theirs?              

Where are the Christians who will say with Jesus and Paul Alike, I’m Here For Lost People, Not Just to Sit In My Comfort Zone Among Those Who are Already Found?Where are the Churches who will Not Just Aim Their Resources at Watering God’s People, But Who Will Risk Their Buildings and Their Reputations, and Even Their Budgets and Lives to Build a Bridge to Their Lost Community? Not Just to be a Place to Take Care of the Already Rescued, But To Be a Life Saving Station For Their Community!  

It’s Time to Stop Beautifying Our Buildings and Take Our “Beautiful Feet” (Isaiah 52:7), to the Homeless Shelters and Give Them a Makeover With the Message of Love From Our Savior Who Has Promised to “Beautify the Meek With Salvation” (Psalm 149:4).  

Instead of Fish/Chicken Dinners to Purchase a Church Van, why not take the Dinners free of charge to the Park Bench where a man sleeps on an empty stomach because there’s nowhere else to go?!  

Instead of Another Fashion Show, why not a Coat Drive?!  

Instead of praising God for the Healing that has taken place In Your House of Worship, why not take that Testimony to the Hospital and Hospice where all Hope has Vanished that God can still Heal?!   

Instead of rejoicing over God curbing your shoe shopping fetish, why not take the deliverance testimony to the  ones who have no strength left to continue the battle against their addictions?!               

People of God, let’s move past the Sprinklers We Receive from Within Our Local Assemblies, and Go Out Into the Desert Places Where Many Are Both Naturally and Spiritually Dying!  Let’s Supply Natural Food and Quench Spiritual Thirst at the Same Time! After All, It’s the Expectation Our Savior Has for His Sheep! 

When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will Sort The People Out, much as a Shepherd Sorts Out Sheep and Goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, “Enter, You Who Are Blessed By My Father! Take What’s Coming to You in this kingdom. It’s Been Ready For You Since the World’s Foundation. And here’s why: I Was Hungry and You Fed Me, I Was Thirsty and You Gave Me a Drink, I Was Homeless and You Gave Me a Room, I Was Shivering and You Gave me Clothes, I Was Sick and You Stopped to Visit, I Was In Prison and You Came to Me.’ “Then those ‘Sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, What Are You Talking About? When Did We Ever See You Hungry and Feed You, Thirsty and Give You a Drink? And When did We Ever See You Sick or in Prison and Come to You?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m Telling the Solemn Truth: Whenever You Did One of These Things to Someone Overlooked or Ignored, That Was Me—You Did It To me.’ “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get Out, Worthless Goats! You’re Good For Nothing But the Fires of Hell. And why? Because—I Was Hungry and You Gave Me NO Meal, I Was Thirsty and You Gave Me NO Drink, I Was Homeless and You Gave Me NO Bed, I Was Shivering and You Gave me No Clothes, Sick and in Prison, and You NEVER Visited.’ “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, “Master, What Are You Talking About? When Did We Ever See You Hungry or Thirsty or Homeless or Shivering or Sick or in Prison and Didn’t Help?’ “He will answer them, “I’m Telling the Solemn Truth: Whenever You Failed To Do One of These Things to Someone Who Was Being Overlooked or Ignored, That Was Me.’ “Then Those ‘Goats’ Will Be Herded To Their Eternal Doom, But the ‘Sheep’ To Their Eternal Reward.” (Matthew 25:31-46 MSG).               

Saints, We’ve Saturated Ourselves Long Enough! Today Let’s Determine to Leave From Within the Four-Walls of the Church, and Saturate the Dry Places of a Dying People in the Four-Corners of the Earth!  

I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.” (John 10:16 CEV). 

Enough of Drowning Christians in a Thirsty World! Let’s go find the rest of our Shepherd’s sheep and bring them into the safety of the family fold. 

John 3:16-18, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” (MSG) 

Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the [consistently] righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise captures and wins souls [for God—he gathers them for eternity].” (AMP)

Acts 13:46-47, “But Paul and Barnabas didn’t back down. Standing their ground they said, “It was required that God’s Word be spoken first of all to you, the Jews. But seeing that you want no part of it—you’ve made it quite clear that you have no taste or inclination for eternal life—the door is open to all the outsiders. And we’re on our way through it, following orders, doing what God commanded when he said, I’ve set you up as light to all nations. You’ll proclaim salvation to the four winds and seven seas!” (MSG)

1 Corinthians 9:19-23, “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (MSG) 

Acts 3:19-23, “Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you the Messiah he prepared for you, namely, Jesus. For the time being he must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of his holy prophets of old, said it would be. Moses, for instance, said, ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet just like me from your family. Listen to every word he speaks to you. Every last living soul who refuses to listen to that prophet will be wiped out from the people.’” (MSG)

Matthew 9:35-38, “Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” (MSG)

Luke 10:1-2, “Later the Master selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go. He gave them this charge: “What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands.” (MSG)

“The mark of a great church is not its Seating Capacity, but its Sending Capacity.” (Mike Stachura)

“If you are more concerned about politics than saving souls, then you may be a Citizen of the wrong Kingdom.” (Joby Martin)

“At the end of the day, the biggest obstacle to evangelism is Christians who don’t share the Gospel.” (Albert Mohler)

“Whatever we do, we must not treat the Great Commission like it’s the Great Suggestion.” (Charles R. Swindoll)

“Evangelism is not so much about reminding people about how lost they are. But how loved they are.” (Randall Worley)

“Emergency vehicles demand access because human lives are at stake. Evangelism demands the same priority, for the same reason.” (Ray Comfort)

“Everyone has a pulpit to speak from. A pulpit is your sphere of influence. Your platform. Use it and proclaim Jesus.” (Greg Laurie)

“We Christians sometimes think we need a plan for evangelism. I don’t think Jesus had an evangelism plan. I think He just interacted with the people He came in contact with.” (Matt Diaz)

“If you had the cure to cancer wouldn’t you share it? You have the cure to death, get out there and share it.” (Kirk Cameron)

“The way you store up treasure in heaven is by investing in getting people there.” (Rick Warren)

“Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” (D.T. Niles)

“We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.” (John Stott)

“I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ than unravel all the mysteries of the divine Word, for salvation is the one thing we are to live for.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Evangelism is not a professional job for a few trained men, but is instead the unrelenting responsibility of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus.” (D. Elton Trueblood)

“Evangelism is hard, but watching people you love go to Hell is harder!” (Author Unknown)

“Discipleship is a lifestyle filled with relationships; a life of pouring yourself out for others.” (Author Unknown)

“Any method of evangelism will work – if God is in it.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

“Someone asked will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved? It is more a question with me whether we…who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not…can be saved.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“Effective Evangelism depends on faithful proclamation of the Word. God will prepare the soil and bring forth the fruit. We must be faithful to plant the seed.” (John MacArthur)

“Every Christian is either a Missionary or an Imposter.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Our responsibility is to get God’s Word to their ears. Only God can get the Word from their ears to their heart.” (Albert Mohler)

“We are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing.” (Billy Graham)

“I have never known a man who received Christ and ever regretted it.” (Billy Graham)

“Evangelism is not an option for the Christian life.” (Luis Palau)

“Evangelism is not salesmanship. It is not urging people, pressing them, coercing them, overwhelming them, or subduing them. Evangelism is telling a message. Evangelism is reporting good news.” (Richard Halverson)

“It is clear you don’t like my way of doing evangelism. You raise some good points. Frankly, I sometimes do not like my way of doing evangelism. But I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.” (D.L. Moody)

“Spend more time in study and prayer. That’s the secret of successful evangelism.” (Billy Graham)

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

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“I’d Rather Be Different, Than Die!”

dose (2)

Numbers 14:24, 26-32, “But My servant Caleb, because he has a DIFFERENT spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his DESCENDANTS shall possess it…And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, How long will this evil congregation murmur against Me? I have heard the complaints the Israelites murmur against Me. Tell them, As I live, says the Lord, what you have said in My hearing I will do to you: Your DEAD BODIES shall fall in this wilderness—of all who were numbered of you, from TWENTY YEARS OLD AND UPWARD, who have murmured against Me, Surely NONE shall come into the land in which I swore to make you dwell, EXCEPT CALEB son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. But your LITTLE ONES whom you said would be a prey, THEM WILL I BRING IN and they shall know the land which you have despised and rejected. But as for you, your DEAD BODIES shall fall in this wilderness.” (AMP).

Earlier in Numbers 13 Caleb said to Moses: “…Let us go up at once and take possession [of the Promised Land] for we are well able to overcome it” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we” And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out…” (Numbers 13:30-33 NKJV).

Notice two attitudes at work:

1…AN ATTITUDE OF DOUBT: Ten of twelve spies came back saying, “It CAN’T be done!” But the majority isn’t necessarily right! Here this, if God promises you something, it’s yours even if you’re in the minority! Don’t let a few foolish, faithless folks who are clothed in fear cause you to forfeit a fruitful future in the land of promise! If it’s only two people out of two-hundred, GO FOR IT ANYHOW! I would rather look silly on the way to obtaining my inheritance, than to look ridiculous walking away from my wealthy place, because of a few fools with a whole lot of Sight, but No Vision, Courage or Tenacity!  The majority report terrified God’s people; which caused them spiritual amnesia. Because, they forgot the last forty years of His Super Natural Provision! But How Is That Even Possible?! How do you forget what the Lord has Already Done?! In other words, how do you panic when you have to go for a physical when God has already healed you in the past? Look at it like this: If nothing is there, You’re Healed! If something is there, He’s Healed You Before, And He’ll Surely Heal You Again! Either Way, How Do You Justify Fear of the Future When He’s Already Fulfilled Promises In Your Past?! Church, Get Your Faith Together! Be People of Courage and Go For It Inspite of the Circumstances, Conditions and even the Company surrounding you! Now, I know that’s a little different than what most people are doing today, but I’d rather be different than die! You see, Fear Will Make You Look Foolish! I’ll Prove It! They were so fearful that they even talked themselves into believing that Egypt (of all places) was actually the land of milk and honey! Listen to what they said: “Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness…” (Numbers 16:13 NKJV) Do you know how stupid that sounds? Fools, Egypt was a land of straw and slavery, masters, whips, beatings and bricks, not milk and honey! Never allow your fear of the future to cause you to reconstruct a faulty view of your past! For your greatest blessing is before you, not behind you! And what’s coming will always be better than what’s been! For the Latter house shall be Greater than the Former house! So, what was their problem? They allowed their surroundings to influence them more than what God said! Saints, Don’t Let It Happen To You! Don’t You Ever Allow Intimidation or Imagination To Cause You To Miss Out On God’s Promises For Your Future?! Never Allow What People Say to Alter What God Has Already Said! There Is No Problem That Can Stop the Process of God’s Promises From Coming to Pass In Your Life! I Challenge You to Be Different Than the Doubters! You never want doubt and fear to cause you to say stupid stuff like: “God may have worked miracles in the past, but He doesn’t do it anymore.” Which as a result of this kind of thinking and talking and unbelief, not one of them entered the Promised Land except Joshua and Caleb! So, Which Company Do You Belong To? The ten or the two, the fearful majority or the faithful minority? Think about it: Twelve were sent, and only Two had a good report! Therefore, Your Challenge For The Week Is To Examine The People In Your Circle That Box You In! And When You Locate Them…Break Out The Box! Understand that when you allow people’s distorted thinking to box you in, it will eventually reshape your faith in God! And you’ll find yourself like Israel, going around in the same circles for 40 years going absolutely nowhere! And you know why? Because a box is a coffin, and I’m not ready to die! I Rather Be Different Than Die! Get Out The Box! I know this isn’t the status quo, but like Facebook I have the authority to change my status as often as I want to! Therefore, every day, you  should have a different status! On Monday My Money Is Coming to Me; On Tuesday My Tuition Is Paid In Full; On Wednesday I’m Walking In Wealthy Places of Favor; On Thursday I’m Triumphant Over Every Trick, Trouble and Trial, On Friday My Future Is Fruitful, On Saturday Every Full Scholarship Available Is Hunting Me Down, and On Sunday I’m Shouting Because All Week Long I Broke the Status Quo! Daily Remind Yourself, Get Out the Box! If you have a company of twelve friends and only one has faith, kick the rest to the curb, and drive full force into your fruitful future! Besides, the passenger seat is made for Only One Person anyhow! Therefore, that one person might as well be a person of Faith!  I Warn You: Be Different Or Die!

2…AN ATTITUDE OF FAITH: God said, “But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land…and his descendants shall inherit it” Do you realize that the company you keep can even hinder the blessings of your household and your posterity?! Read the text: God said, “…AND HIS DESCENDANTS SHALL INHERIT IT” Now, I can’t speak for anybody else, but as for ME, as a wife, oh I will help my husband exam and exonerate (release) some friends! Why? Because My Inheritance Is At Stake! You see, if he hangs around doubtful, faith-faltering, negative, pessimistic, fearful men, that attitude is contagious! And His Infection Can Kill My Inheritance! The Devil Is A Liar! His Present Inner Circle Will Not Choke Out My Future Blessings! Therefore, You Need to Search the Company You Keep Then Hire, Fire, Promote and Demote Accordingly, for You Alone Are The CEO of Your Life and Future! In this day and time everybody’s trying to fit into a mold! But I need to hear you say, “You Didn’t Make Me, You Can’t Mold Me!” I’ve decided to dare to be different! No, I’m not doing what you doing, and going where you going! Why? Because I’ve got a wealthy future of fulfilled promises STANDING before me, and I won’t allow the company I SIT amongst to rob me and leave me for dead in the wilderness, all because I was too fearful to be different! Boxes are coffins, and I’ve got too much to live for to die now! “I Rather Be Different Than Die!” And if So, Then Get Out The Box!

Church, When God Commands You to Go Forth…GO! You are not spineless, nervous, panic-stricken, fearful, timid, nail-biting, anxiety driven cowards! This is the Generation of Courage! Therefore, Possess the Land, Possess Your Promises, and Bless Your Posterity! And what’s “Posterity”? It means “All Future Generations Of People!” It’s Old French Origin “Posterite”, from Latin “Posterus” Simply Means “Following!” All Future Generations Are Depending On You To Get This Thing Right So That They Are Literally Birthed Into Blessings that Are Already Awaiting Their Arrival! So Don’t Let Them Down! There’s a Fruitful Future Following Behind You, Make Sure You Lead Them Straight Into The Promised Land! However, bear in mind: Anytime there’s a Promise Lingering In Your Future this Great, You Better Believe Folks Will Come From Near and Far to Discourage Your Possession! Especially those who are about to die! Don’t Let Them Do It! God Promised It To You And Your God Cannot Lie! “God is not like people. He tells no lies. He is not like humans. He doesn’t change His mind. When He says something, He does it. When He makes a promise, He keeps it” (Numbers 23:19 GWT). So Let Them Talk While You Walk Into the Land of Promise! Listen: When you made the deliberate decision to be different than the rest, God made a decision to deliberately bless you better than the rest! Unfortunately, however, today people so easily flow with the “norm”; they easily “fit in”; they easily “follow the crowd”; they easily stick with the same ole bunch of knuckleheads doing the same ole stupid knucklehead stuff day in and day out. Romans 12:1-2, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. DON’T BECOME SO WELL-ADJUSTED TO YOUR CULTURE THAT YOU FIT INTO IT WITHOUT EVEN THINKING. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. UNLIKE THE CULTURE AROUND YOU, ALWAYS DRAGGING YOU DOWN TO ITS LEVEL OF IMMATURITY, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (MSG) Listen: if you’re going to attain this great promise from God than you’re going to have to do something different! And Your Something Different Will Be Something New!” Why? Because It’s A New Day, A New Year, A New Decade, A New Thing And A New Move of God!

 “Behold, I am doing a NEW THING! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert?” (Isaiah 43:19 AMP) God says He wants to “…do a NEW THING…” For YOU, so disregard the circumstances and believe the God who cannot lie! “So shall My Word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 AMP) So If God Said He’s About To Do Something New For You, You Better Believe It and Get Ready! The 10 spies who thought the same, died the same! They thought the same thing, they died the same way in the same place! But Caleb, who had a different spirit, thought differently, acted differently, Lived and Attained The Promised Land! All because he dared to be different!

I like the word “different” because it means “not the same as anything else; or to produce and perform something new!” “Then said the Lord to me…I am alert and active, watching over My Word to PERFORM IT” (Jeremiah 1:12 AMP) People of God, Get Your Tickets Quick and Arrive Early For the Show Because the Lord Is About to PERFORM His Word In Your Life Today! Are You Ready For It?

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall SPRING forth…After feeling like you’ve waited forever, Get Ready, God will move Suddenly and Shift You From Egypt to the Promise Land of Exceeding Abundantly Above All That You Could Ever Ask or Think According to the Power at Work In You! Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall SPRING forth… You’re Heading Into The Right Season! It’s Your Season To SPRING Forth! Therefore, Don’t You Dare FALL Back Into the Wrong Crowd! Remember Anything In The Box Is Dead! And I’d Rather Be Different Than Die!

If you’re not ready you’ll miss the next open door or the next great idea that God has RESERVED just for you! And do you know what the word “Reserved” means? It means “To keep for future use” or my personal favorite “To make pre-determined arrangements to be kept for the use of a particular person”. “Reserved” also means “To retain or hold for an individual who has the right or entitlement to something”! It further means “Funds kept available by a bank, company, or government” not to mention, “An area of land set aside for the access of a particular person”! “Reserved” has a Latin Origin “Reservare” which literally means “To Keep Back”! And what does all that mean? Glad you asked! I don’t care how rough it’s been, how bleak it looks or how discouraged you are! The reality is, God Has a New Thing In Reserve Just For You! You are NOT the same as the rest, you will not die stuck in the box, you will not live by the same status quo, You Are Different! And Because You’re Different, There’s a Blessing Reserved and Waiting for Particular YOU and it Includes Funds and Land That Can Only Be Accessed By YOU Because As A Child of the King, It Is Your Right and Entitlement! I don’t care how many died in the wilderness, this is your new day to do something different so you can live and inherit the promises that you are entitled to because of who you are and who you’re attached to! The Bible says, “…since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” HEIRS according to the covenant promises” (Galatians 3:29 AMP) Do you know what an “Heir” is? An “Heir” means “A Person Legally Entitled to the Property or Rank of Another Upon that Person’s Death” It also means “A Person Who Continues the Work of a Predecessor”. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly determined to continue the work of my Predecessor Abraham! He Was Continually Blessed and that’s My Job Too…To Be Continually Blessed! Listen: Truth Is, Abraham Is Dead! However, His Covenant Promises to His Heirs Is Very Much Alive! And what Covenanted Promises Are We Inheriting? Glad you asked! “And I (God) will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others] And I will bless those who bless you [who confer prosperity or happiness upon you] and curse him who curses or uses insolent language toward you; in you will all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed [and by you they will bless themselves]” (Genesis 12:2-3 AMP)

Is that all the blessing you get? NO! The Bible goes on to say, Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, I will give this land to your posterity…” (Genesis 12:7 AMP) There’s that word again! And what’s “Posterity”? “To All Future Generations”! Literally meaning  your “Following”! In other words, Every Generation That Follows After You Will Reap The Abrahamic Covenant, Promises, Blessings and Favor! But you got to be different to get it!

Now, if you think that’s awesome, you ain’t seen nothing yet, because your inheritance continues to increase! The Bible further states: …Abram was extremely rich…” (Genesis 13:2 AMP) In Case You Forgot…Caleb, You Are Abraham’s Heirs! And you have no need to be selfish either, because God isn’t going to just bless YOU, but even your “Posterity” (All Future Generations Following)! Listen, If You’re Smart, You’ll Do Something Different and Follow Me! And what does the Bible say about Abraham and His “Posterity” Nephew Lot? Glad you asked! “Now the land was not able to nourish and support them so they could dwell together, for their possessions were too great for them to live together” (Genesis 13:6 AMP) Can you even wrap your brain around the fact that God will so favor you that you have to move because where you are can no longer hold you?! Saints, Pack Your Stuff and Get Ready For a New Move Of God! But remember, you got to be different to get it!

By now you must certainly be thinking “that has to be it?!Well, once again…, NOPE! Believe it or not, YOUR INHERITANCE GAINS EVEN MORE INTERESTS! The Bible says: The Lord said to Abram…Lift up now your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; For all the land which you see I will give to you and to your posterity forever. And I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth, so that if a man could count the dust of the earth, then could your descendants also be counted. Arise, walk through the land, the length of it and the breadth of it, for I will give it to you…” (Genesis 13:14-18 AMP)

Did you pay close attention to the text? Of course you didn’t, because if you did, you would be shouting right NOW!

1…No matter where Abram looked (“…northward…southward…eastward…westward…” God declared “…all the land which you see I will give to you…” Go Ahead…It’s Okay, You Can Shout! And If Anybody Says Anything To You, Just Send Them To Me And I’ll Explain Your Unspeakable Joy! Seriously, Can You Imagine Being So Blessed That No Matter Which Way You Turn You Bump Right Into a Blessing?! Here’s Yet Another Warning Saints: GET READY! Or Should I Say Brace Yourself, Because You’re About To Bump Into A Blessing!

2…Not only will Abram receive a “anywhere you look the land is yours” blessing, but God declares, “…I will give to you and to your posterity forever…” Do You Know How Long Forever Is?! It’s defined as “For All Future Time!” and “Continually Without Ever Ceasing”! In other words, you AND all your future generations following you will Forever…For all the time into the Future of Eternity Be Abundantly Blessed, Continually, Without Ever Ceasing! Now, I’ve heard of a Big Blessing, But Only God Can Give You A Blessing So Big That It Outlives You and All Your Future Generations That Aren’t Even Born Yet! That’s What You Call A Radically, Ridiculous, Make No Kinda Sense, I’ll Never Be Able to Explain It Kind of Blessing! Listen, You Are So Favored By God That Not Even TIME Can Stop Your Blessing! Now That’s What You Call a Crazy Blessing! How Can You Be In Time, And Yet Have a Blessing Outside of Time, At the Same Time! Your Blessings Are Absolutely Ridiculous! Your Blessings Are So Big That They Defy Logic! Don’t Make No Sense No Kinda Way! Let folks know, If You Want the Same, Just Do Something Different! Want What I Got, Then Do What I Did, And All I Did, Was Do Something Different!  Go Ahead, It’s Okay…You Can Run Again I’ll Try To Explain To Folks Who Don’t Quite Understand That You’re Being Bombarded With a Blessing That’s Hitting You From Every Direction and Angle! And Believe It Or Not, But That’s Not All! On Top of that “Your Every Direction I Turn” Blessing Is Also Going to Last FOREVER! “For You, O my God, have told Your servant that You will build for him a house (a blessed posterity); therefore Your servant has found courage and confidence to pray before You. And now, Lord, You are God, and have promised this good thing to Your servant. Therefore may it please You to bless the house (posterity) OF Your servant, that it may continue before You forever; FOR WHAT YOU BLESS, O LORD, IS BLESSED FOREVER!” (1 Chronicles 17:25-27 AMP). From Now On You Need to Wake Up In the Morning With This Declaration On Your Tongue: “I’M BLESSED FOREVER!” Yep, with my purple hair, 10 piercings, 20 tattoos, green lipstick, orange shirt, blue pants, red shoes and rainbow socks! Yep, I’m Still Blessed Forever! Don’t judge me, I might be different, BUT I’M BLESSED FOREVER! I may look different from the norm, but I’m blessed forever, I may talk funny, but I’m blessed forever, my friends may look a little quirky, but I’m blessed forever, I may have come from the wrong side of town, but I’m blessed forever, I may be divorced, I may live in the projects, my brother may be jail and my sister on welfare, but here me when I tell you, I’m blessed forever! Remind Yourself: different is the new norm! Because I’m different, I’m blessed FOREVER! But you can only get this type of blessing when you dare to be different, when you break out the box, when you stand away from the crowd, when you break the status quo, when you move from the murmurers, when you follow God fully, when you trust and believe His promises! You Can’t Get Something Different Doing the Same Thing!

3…Then God tells Abram, “Arise, walk through the land, the length of it and the breadth of it, for I will give it to you…” Can You Imagine a “Anywhere I Place My Foot It’s Mine” Blessing?! That sounds a lot like Deuteronomy 11:22-25, “That’s right. If you diligently keep all this commandment that I command you to obey – love GOD, your God, do what He tells you, stick close to Him – GOD on His part will drive out all these nations that stand in your way. Yes, He’ll drive out nations much bigger and stronger than you. Every square inch on which you place your foot will be yours. Your borders will stretch from the wilderness to the mountains of Lebanon, from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. No one will be able to stand in your way. Everywhere you go, GOD-sent fear and trembling will precede you, just as He promised” (MSG). Saints, I Challenge You: “Put Your Foot On It!” No Matter How Long or Wide You Walk…The Land Is Yours…Forever! You Better Go To “Sport’s Authority”, “Models”, “Payless”, “Foot Locker”…Somewhere/Anywhere, And Get You A Good Pair a Sneakers And Get To Stepping! Where? IT DON’T EVEN MATTER! THE LAND, IN ALL IT’S LENGTH, IT’S DEPTH, AND WIDTH…ARE YOURS…FOREVER! NOW RUN TELL YOUR HATERS THAT! God Is Giving Me Mountains, Rivers, Seas and Land…FOREVER! No matter what state, city, town, country, it’s mine forever! Deuteronomy 11:24, says: “Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours…” The word “sole” is defined as the “underside of a person’s foot”. But more importantly, its secondary definition means “One And Only; Belonging or Restricted to One Person or Group” It’s Latin Origin “Sola” Literally Means “Alone”! If I was preaching this, I would tell you to tell somebody, don’t get mad, but this ones for me, alone! If you want the same, be different! Caleb was blessed for having Abraham as his predecessor, he could claim the Abrahamic Covenant Promises and Blessings, which is why Caleb didn’t care about the giants in the land, the promise from Abraham’s posterity that he is attached to as an heir said, One: “Wherever the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours” and Two: “…GOD on His part will drive out all these nations that stand in your way. Yes, He’ll drive out nations much bigger and stronger than you.” When You’re Different It Don’t Matter! It don’t matter who comes against you, don’t matter who they are, don’t matter what they said, don’t matter what they do, where they come from, what their size is, or who they bring with them to the fight! Just by being different, I don’t even have to fight. I can sit back relax, and enjoy the ride, because God promised me and my posterity, that He alone will drive out all the nations that stand in my way, and He’ll drive out nations much bigger and stronger than me! But You Got To Be Different To Get It! Knowing the promises that were given to your predecessors in the past, is what keeps you focused as you move forward into your future, even when problems arise!

Saints, don’t be like the doubters and die in the wilderness, when you can simply follow God, be different and live in the Promised Land!

Caleb’s…Your Abrahamic Covenant of Generational Promises, Blessings and Favor are Awaiting You! Don’t Die, Be Different and LIVE!

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

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“You Can’t Travel With WIDE Friends on a NARROW Road!”

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Matthew 7:14-15, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.” (AMP)

Personally, I’ve never hitchhiked before, but I’ve seen many hitchhikers along the road and I’ve certainly seen them in movies (especially scary ones). But the one thing that’s almost always certain is, you’ll find them usually holding a sign. And more often than not, the sign is usually crudely lettered, and doesn’t have the name or the license plate of the car they want to ride in. No, but what it normally does have on it is the name of a place they want to go. Believe it or not, but in most places, hitchhiking is a way of life. One woman shared her hitchhiking experience, when she said she asked only one question before she got in a car. She didn’t care about the make of the car, the driver’s IQ, or where the driver was from. She had one question only, “Where are you headed?

You see, hitchhikers have a simple basis for deciding who they will travel with and it’s this: “Is this person going where I want to end up?And that’s exactly the question we all should have in mind when we’re deciding who we’re going to travel with.

Which is why Proverbs 13:20 is a great admonishment to all of us. It’s God’s counsel concerning the people we hang out with, people we spend time with, make friends with, people we start business ventures with, people we date, people we marry. And it says this: “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Check out a few other translations:

“He who walks [as a companion] with wise men will be wise, But the companions of [conceited, dull-witted] fools [are fools themselves and] will experience harm.” (AMP);

“Walk with wise people and become wise; befriend fools and get in trouble.” (CEB);

“Wise friends make you wise, but you hurt yourself by going around with fools.” (CEV);

“Whoever walks with wise people will be wise, but whoever associates with fools will suffer.” (GWT);

“Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined.” (GNT);

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the one who walks with fools will be destroyed.” (NLV);

“Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.” (MSG)

I don’t know about you, but after reading all of that, I’m ready to re-exam every friend attached to my life! And my simple response will be to keep the wise and kick to the curb the fools! Why? Because the wrong foolish friends, according to the Bible, will cause you to “experience harm; get in to trouble; hurt yourself; suffer; be ruined; be destroyed and have your life fall to pieces”! Says the Scripture! Now you tell me, are foolish friends really worth all of that? I think NOT!

Furthermore, you tend to become like the people you spend time with. Like a hitchhiker, you end up where the people you are traveling with end up. Which is why God loves us so much that He reinforces this point in 1 Corinthians 15:33. He just simply says, “Do not be misled. “Bad company corrupts good character.” (NIV) Yet another Scripture we need to look at a bit closer:

“Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you.” (CEV);

“Don’t be fooled: “Bad friends will ruin good habits.” (ERV);

“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (ESV);

“Do not let anyone fool you. Bad people can make those who want to live good become bad.” (NLV);

“Don’t be fooled by those who say such things. If you listen to them you will start acting like them.” (TLB)

Once again we’re faced with the challenge of re-examining our friendships. Are we in good or bad company? Because bad friends will “destroy you; ruin your good habits and morals; and will encourage you to do and be just as bad.” Not to mention, if we hang with bad friends “we’ll start to act just like them”! Which brings about the question, that only you can ask and answer: With the friends I have in my life, would I be encouraged or embarrassed to reflect their thoughts, speech, actions, habits and lifestyle? Do I have friends who I would want to emulate? Do I have friends that help me turn my good habits into bad ones, or cause my morals to come up MIA?

Listen, if you’re going to make good decisions about who to travel with at your school, at your workplace, in your social life, in business, at church, or even who you’ll date and marry, you first need to decide what kind of person you want to become; what kind of goals you want to achieve. And I for one certainly hope you want to end up being a positive person, and not a negative one. After all, who needs any more of those? You probably want to end up being caring, not self-centered, encouraging, not tearing people down, living for what really matters instead of just some attractive, meaningless junk.

Decide what kind of person you want to be; what kind of attitudes you want to have. And then look for some people who have the same “destination sign” as you do. Now, when it comes to driving, the purpose of “destination signs” is “to direct travelers to their destinations by the best route.And before you befriend anyone else, you need to hold up the destination sign of where it is you’re going so others who want you to hop in and take a ride with them will know, you already know your destination and you will not be detoured! People need to know, in advance, where you’re heading, and likewise you need to know, in advance, where they’re heading. And if you find that you’re heading to pleasing God, then you don’t ride with those heading to play with God. If you’re heading to use your talent, you don’t ride with those heading to hide their talent. If you’re heading to be used by God, you don’t ride with those who only want to use God. If you’re heading to a monogamous relationship, you don’t ride with those who already have a backseat full of passengers to play with. If you’re heading to becoming debt-free, you don’t ride with those who have no financial discipline. If you’re heading to becoming physically fit, you don’t ride with those who just left McDonalds, at Applebee’s now, and heading to Red Lobster next.

Are you getting this?

As soon as they pull up, they should already know where you’re heading to because you’ve already clearly displayed your destination sign, in advance! And before you hop in to ride, you need to likewise ask, “where you heading to?” And if you’re heading to holiness, righteousness, godliness, peace, joy, love, happiness, and the like, then you know already you can’t ride with someone who is unholy, unrighteous, ungodly, chaotic, miserable, hateful, and sad!

Note: Why would two people ride in the same car going in two different directions?!

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

I reiterate, why would two people ride in the same car going in two different directions?!

Like it or not, you have to take time to re-exam your friendships. Are you traveling with the right people? Are you heading in the same direction? Do you share the same vision, purpose, aim and goals? Because if not, you could be heading in a direction God never set as your destination! Or building from blueprints that have nothing to do with who you are to become! And what’s the danger of that?

1 Corinthians 3:9-15, “For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building. According to the [remarkable] grace of God which was given to me [to prepare me for my task], like a skillful master builder I laid a foundation, and now another is building on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  each one’s work will be clearly shown [for what it is]; for the day [of judgment] will disclose it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality and character and worth of each person’s work.  If any person’s work which he has built [on this foundation, that is, any outcome of his effort] remains [and survives this test], he will receive a reward.  But if any person’s work is burned up [by the test], he will suffer the loss [of his reward]; yet he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has barely escaped] through fire.” (AMP)

Do you really want to take the risk of bad friendships?! Remember, you’re not just working here, but one day there will be an inspection of your work. Do you really want to find out that after a lifetime of building for God, you were using the wrong blueprints all along? Listen: Whether it’s marriage, business or church, you need to make sure that the people you’re traveling with are driving you towards your destiny and not away from it. You need people in your life who are working on the same building and driving in the same direction!

Your selection of friends, associates, romantic prospects may well be one of the most important choices you will ever make because you will probably end up on the same road as they do. If you’re with people who are spiritually careless, or just don’t care, you’ll probably end up there, too. If you’re with people who just simply settle for mediocrity as a Christian, you will live that grey life like they do. But if you are connected with some people who are going in the “make a difference” direction, the “live to help other people” direction, the “live for Jesus” direction, chances are that’s where you’re going to end up – going in the direction where your life can mean the most and matter the most, and count for something lasting.

You can ask any hitchhiker, it really does matter who you decide to travel with. You don’t decide who you’re going to go with on the basis of how cool they are, or how well-connected they are, or how exciting their lifestyle looks – or even how they treat you. You ask that all-important, deciding question about who you’re going to spend your time around, “Where are you headed?”

You only travel with someone who’s going to a destination that you’re not ever going to regret!

Now, something else to keep in mind is this. You can hold your sign up with your intended destination on it, and have someone pull over and offer you a ride. However, sometimes they’ll say, “I’m only going as far as…..so I can get you at least close to where you’re going.” NOPE! Don’t You Dare Settle for Satisfactory! Don’t You Dare Settle For Less! Know where you’re heading in God, and only travel with those heading to that same destination! Far too many people have already settled for getting close, only to find out that they will spend the rest of their lives just like that…they got close… Not where they’re supposed to be, but close; almost there; near; just about; within reach and yet…that’s all they get is close to where they were destined to end up!

Know where God is sending you and don’t settle for traveling with people who will only get you close. In the end, no one wants to hear God say, “you almost made it in”! No, you want Heaven to be your home, you don’t want to find out that you can live somewhere near Heaven as a neighbor! NO! I want to make it all the way IN! And that’s how you have to think about your talents, gifts, skills, ministry, calling, purpose, and life! I don’t want to get within reach only to let it slip through my fingers! And that’s precisely what happens when you travel with people who are not going in your direction!

Therefore, this is your challenge, Re-Exam Your Friendships!

Make sure they’re not just attached, but assigned!

Some people are only around you to get your attention, not give you assistance. Make sure you’re not traveling with people that cause you to break out a map and compass because nothing about the journey looks anything like where God told you to go.

I’ll close with our opening text Matthew 7:14-15, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.” (AMP)

When traveling this Christian life, you have a choice between the wide and narrow gate. When you choose to travel with ‘wide’ friends, you choose to go down a road that is indeed broad and easy (and of course that’s appealing to many), but that path is also the way to destruction and eternal loss and MANY are on it! That’s the danger of having a crowd of friends all going in the wrong direction, because you choose to travel with them, you end up at the same destination of destruction and eternal loss. And surely you haven’t lived this long to miss Heaven with such a short trip! Saints, you don’t need a car load of people! You need ‘narrow’ friends with a ‘narrow’ mindset. They’re the ones that keep you focused and on the right path because they know just how difficult traveling down the journey can be, especially with so many temptation signs trying to entice you to take a detour from destiny. But ‘narrow’ friends remind you of your everlasting life that you can’t afford to lose! And how many ‘narrow’ friends do you need? The bible reads, “…there are FEW who find it.” And that’s all you need is a few ‘narrow’ focused friends who refuse to get distracted and thrown off track, so they keep you just as focused! They are the ones that remind you what God told you to do and where God told you to go. They don’t go astray and they don’t let you go astray either. ‘Narrow’ friends keep you responsible and accountable. They’re concerned about your salvation remaining intact. They’re concerned that you’re using the gifts God gave you the way God told you. They’re concerned that you take no risks that cost you your life, calling, family, or purpose in God.

There will always be MANY that will want to lead you down the WIDE road; but if you want to see Jesus in peace; follow the FEW who are focused on staying safely on the NARROW road!

People of God, think twice before accepting a friendship ride! You don’t want to travel with anyone who will be detrimental to your destination here on earth or thereafter!

“Keep your head and your heart going in the right direction, and you will not have to worry about your feet.” (Myles Munroe)

“If you don’t change the direction you are going, then you’re likely to end up where you’re heading.” (John C. Maxwell)

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” (Henry David Thoreau)

“It’s better to go slowly in the right direction than go speeding off in the wrong direction.” (Simon Sinek)

“Far too many people spend a lifetime headed in the wrong direction. They go not only from the cradle to the cubicle, but then to the casket, without uncovering their greatest talents and potential.” (Tom Roth)

“Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.” (Kenichi Ohmae)

“If you think down, you will go down. If you think up, you will go up. You’ll always travel in the direction of your thinking.” (T.D. Jakes)

“As I get older, I am becoming more selective of who I consider a friend. I find that I would rather have 4 quarters, than 100 pennies.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going. Rather than always focusing on what’s urgent, learn to focus on what is really important.” (Stephen Covey)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “25 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be a Happier Person”

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“That Container is Lying About Its Content”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Tools For Christian Singles”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Admonishment, Let the Maker Match You:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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