“Has Your Appetite Matured Yet?”

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Hebrews 5:11-14, “I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—BABY’S MILK, when you should have been on SOLID FOOD LONG AGO! MILK IS FOR BEGINNERS, INEXPERIENCED IN GOD’S WAYS; SOLID FOOD IS FOR THE MATURE, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.” (MSG)

Two of the greatest days of my life happened when I gave birth to my daughters. They are now 31 and 28 years old, and have grown into beautiful women. As their mother, I am extremely proud of them. And as much as they’ve accomplished over the last 3 decades, I think the funniest accomplishment of them all was when they were babies learning how to walk. Watching them transition from the stage of crawling to walking was indeed some of the funniest moments of my life.

Now, both of these young women came from the same mother, but they most definitely had two very different levels of motivation.

My oldest daughter Mo’Nae was not at all, whatsoever, fond of this whole walking thing. She didn’t get it and wasn’t trying to. She found no excitement in it at all. She’s a size 2 today, but then she was a chunky, chubby baby who acted as though her weight hindered her from doing much of anything. She wasn’t one of those children who pulled up on the furniture, or crawled out of the crib, or one who would make effort to stand on shaky legs and give this whole walking thing a shot. In fact, I thought I’d help her get motivated. Now, as my disclaimer, for many of you, you are going to consider this some form of child abuse. You see I walked to the store, and on the way back, I decided to sit her down on the ground and start walking away. My stupid assumption was that she would cry a little but then try to get up and come after me. Needless to say, that chubby, stubborn kid sat right there, unfazed in the least. She didn’t move, didn’t even try to, didn’t cry, didn’t reach, made absolutely zero attempts to walk. She just sat there, waiting for me to come back and pick her up and keep on carrying her. And sadly, I most certainly did.

However, my youngest daughter Ashley, was a different story altogether! I thought this kid had super-natural powers! She would pull up on anything, crawl out of anywhere. She wouldn’t sit still! She learned to walk so early, and so fast, it was amazing. I even took her to the doctor to make sure this was normal baby activity. She refused to stay in one spot. If you blinked, she would be attempting to get up the stairs! She was such a handful, because she was always so motivated to try the next thing. And it never mattered whether she fell or not, hurt herself or not, she wouldn’t let anything stop her. She would just keep going to whatever she deemed the next phenomenal life discovery!

And if you think the difference in these two stopped there, you are mistaken. Because the next thing was baby food. My oldest daughter Mo’Nae, could wait, the youngest Ashley, never could! Oh, and neither was she content with baby food for long. No, she kept following our forks as we put real food into our mouths. She was determined to have some of that right there, right now. And she wasn’t the type of kid that you could trick and give a chicken bone to. If you gave that to her, she would throw it on the ground. She was always looking for meat. She refused to settle for an empty, non-filling bone. She would not be fooled.

Now, the oldest could wait for you to sit with her and feed her. But oh boy that youngest one, she wasn’t even content for long with depending on someone else to feed her. Early on, she was reaching out for food and insisting on feeding herself. She would have food on the floor, in her hair, down her clothes, in her shoes. It didn’t matter, as long as some of it landed into her mouth, and she did it on her own, she was alright!

You see, our oldest could wait, she could be patient, she was in no hurry for anything at all. She has always done her own thing, at her own pace, in her own time. And even if it was different from the rest, she didn’t care, she would never alter who she was or what she did for anyone. She could wait out anything, and has not changed in over three decades.

But that youngest one, oh she crawled for a while, waited to be fed for a while, but we could tell she was impatient with crawling being her only means of transportation and waiting for others as her only means to eat. She really wanted to walk and she did. She wanted to eat her food when she wanted to and she did.

And what does all of this have to do with anything? Simple: A healthy child is never content to stay at the same level, and neither should a healthy child of God! Amazing how our babies and children motivate themselves to the next level, but we bible-toting, bible-believing, bible-quoting children of the Father are always stuck at a stagnant, stunted growth stage!

Unfortunately, too many of God’s children have reached a particular level of growing up in Jesus and they have just settled down there. You see, they don’t feed themselves much spiritually. They depend largely on others feeding them. They have no personal devotion time, no time in which they read the Word of God for themselves. No, instead they wait around for the latest fad-preacher to spoon-feed them sugar instead of handing them a knife and fork for some meat! So many children of God don’t even attend Sunday School (which I never understand how you skip foundational teaching); nor do they attend Bible Study (how do you stay healthy if you’re not eating the Word of God, in a consistent, private and public setting?)

Then, you have those children of God who think spiritual crawling is just fine, maybe because most of the Christians they know are stuck in the crawling stage themselves. You know, those who’ve been saved 40 years, in leadership 30 years, yet still going around in the same immature circles for 20?! At what point to realize you’ve been in this same place, with these same people, doing all the same stuff for years, and nothing has made a bit of difference in your life yet?!

Makes me think of my youngest daughter, because as her parent, just like any other parent; I was happy my daughter wasn’t content to stay where she was. She was always restless for more. Once she out-grew something, there had to be something else, and she’s still like that to this very day.

Truth is, I would have every reason to be very concerned if she was content to stay at a level that was below where she was meant to live! Could that be how your Heavenly Father feels about you?

Imagine how ridiculous it would look if at the age of 30, I’m still tying her shoes, spoon-feeding her, picking out her clothes and dressing her, carrying her around, pulling out baby wipes to clean her face, changing her diaper, heating her bottles. Are you seeing how foolish this imagery is? Now, if she suffered from some disorder or disability, we could all understand this type of behavior, dependence, helplessness, and neediness. But since she doesn’t have any, this would be utter insanity on her part and mine! And before you agree, make sure that this imagery isn’t descriptive of you!

Come on now, let’s be real about it: Are people still carrying you, babying you, spoon-feeding you, supporting you, wiping your tears and snot, and trying to protect you from every known danger in all of the world, because clearly you don’t know how to defend yourself? If that is you, this is your personal devotional, STOP CRAWLING, GET UP AND WALK!

The writer of Hebrews challenged believers who he said “ought to be teachers” by this time but instead were still needing someone to “teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again.” He told them to “leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity” (Hebrews 5:12; 6:1). The Message Bible says it like this: “So come on, LET’S LEAVE THE PRESCHOOL FINGER-PAINTING EXERCISES ON CHRIST AND GET ON WITH THE GRAND WORK OF ART. GROW UP IN CHRIST! The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE. LET’S GET ON WITH IT!” (Hebrews 6:1-3 MSG)

My favorite part? “…BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE. LET’S GET ON WITH IT!” I Agree! Let’s be real, who wants to be in the exact same place August 13, 2020, that they were in on August 13, 2019? Or for many of us, August 13, 1999; 1989; 1979; 1969; 1959; 1949, for that matter?! People of God, There’s So Much More! More to Mature Into! Our prayer lives should be more, our bible study should be more, our faith, hope and trust in God should be more. We should have more stability by now. More strength by now. More courage by now. More forgiveness by now. More bounce back ability by now. More focus by now. In the words of Paul, “…BY NOW YOU SHOULD BE…”

So, maybe the question you need to ask yourself today is, “BY NOW, WHERE SHOULD I BE…THAT I’M NOT?” And your follow-up question? “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT…STARTING TODAY?!”

And how about we take our honesty just a little further? When are you going to stop complaining about your marriage, and do more to fix it? When are you going to stop fussing about your children, and do more to help them get on with life (even if that’s a swift kick in the behind, and right out the nest?!) When are you going to stop talking about your leaders and do more praying for them instead? When are you going to stop gossiping about that auxiliary and do more to make it better? When are you going to stop begging people for money and do more interviewing to simply get a job and save your own money? When are you going to stop nagging about that house, that apartment, that car, that tuition, those bills, and do more to improve them? Complaining, fault-finding, blaming, pointing fingers, whining, nagging, even crying will not help the situation. It’s time to “…GET ON WITH IT!”

Learn to cook, clean, do laundry and pay bills on time. Get out of debt. Finish school. Get a job. Take better care of your own health. Move. Relocate. Change your conduct, speech, and attitude. In other words, stop crawling around crying and get up and walk! Walk to the interview, walk to the bank, walk to the counselor, walk to the gym, walk to the real estate. Get up and actively do something more to make your life better! You’ve been crawling around in this crib of life long enough. Even babies grow out and grow up, what’s your excuse?

You’ve been at this stage long enough. Challenge yourself, stretch yourself, and most of all, be honest with yourself, that you are not doing your very best. Today is a great day to give it everything you’ve got! Get up, get out, get on with it and get more!

In Philippians 3, beginning with verse 12, we hear what a healthy child of God wants. Remember, this was written by the Apostle Paul, maybe the most powerful Christian of all time. But still he says, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: 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.The Message Bible says it like this: I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (MSG)

Maybe you’ve been coasting at the same spiritual speed for a while; you’ve been content with mediocrity – still crawling, still on milk. But now it’s time for you to get restless with remaining the same. Paul said, “I press on to TAKE HOLD…” It’s time for you take hold and get a handle on your life, and start making some gear shifts! It’s time for you to say with Paul “…I’M OFF AND RUNNING, AND I’M NOT TURNING BACK.” No more diapers, milk, pacifiers, bibs, bottles, formula, and crawling. No, it’s time for Maturity not Mediocrity! And by no means wait until January 1, 2021 to determine you’re going to shift gears from crawling to walking, no, adhere to the Bible’s admonishment: Proverbs 27:1, “Never boast about tomorrow. You don’t know what will happen between now and then.” (GNT). The Easy Read Version says it like this: “Never brag about what you will do in the future; you have no idea what tomorrow will bring.” (ERV) And then over in James 4:13-15 we read: “Look here, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to such and such a town, stay there a year, and open up a profitable business.” How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your lives is as uncertain as the morning fog – now you see it; soon it is gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we shall live and do this or that.” (TLB). Therefore, stop making the same empty promises and resolutions to yourself and everybody else about the change you’re going to make at the stroke of midnight on December 31! Instead, start NOW, this moment! You have no idea how much time you have left, but you do know how much time you’ve already wasted that you can’t get back! So no more procrastination; no hesitating; no straddling the fence; no waiting until the New Year. No you’ve been waiting around long enough, get up now and start walking in it for real, right now! This is NOW the Moment for you to finally Walk Into Maturity!

That word “Maturity” is defined as “fully grown or developed”. Its Latin Origin “maturus” literally means “timely, ripe.” And that should describe you, by now, don’t you think?! When something is “ripe” it means it’s “fully matured; having reached a fitting time; advanced; full”. If that doesn’t describe you, edit your life so you can edit your description. You are no longer a babe in Christ, so stop crawling and crying and get up and walk in maturity!

The word “Mediocrity” is defined as “of only average or fairly low quality”. Which reminds me of Colossians 3:22-25, “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. DO YOUR BEST. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does SHODDY WORK will be held responsible. BEING A FOLLOWER OF JESUS DOESN’T COVER UP BAD WORK.” (MSG) As believers, we don’t do shoddy or bad work, everything we do, we do to our Best ability! And that includes the life and lifestyle in which we live. Be it public or private our life and lifestyle should always exemplify excellence! Mediocrity should never even be found in our vocabulary!

When complacency, procrastination, familiarity, laziness, slothfulness, mediocrity and anything stagnant presents itself to you, remember who you are: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9 AMP)

Did you catch that? “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you…”

Nothing About That Sounds Like Mediocrity! You Have a Responsibility to Your Royalty!

Today, this devotional was sent to remind you that you’ve been living far beneath your rights and privileges as a Child of God. And now that you know better, do better! James 4:17, “So any person who KNOWS what is right to DO but does NOT do it, to him it is SIN.” (AMP) So, stop begging, bargaining, pleading, and crawling. Get up and walk! Whatever you don’t have, get up and go get it! No excuses! Today is your day of motivation to make changes in your life for the better. And if that means you have to change some people, places and things, do so. If it or they are not making you better, get rid of them before they make you worse! Keep a circle of people who push you, pull you, charge and challenge you. You need those who refuse to accept that where you are is as far as you can go. You need people who put their foot in your back and propel you out of your comfort zone. You need people who make you pick up tools and start building instead of just looking at the blueprint. You need people who act like a nightmare to wake you from your daydream to get you to live your actual dream! You need those who call you on the carpet no matter what. You need those who will tell you, to your face, enough is enough. Get up, grow up and get on with life! Don’t settle for flattery of speech, don’t settle for those who say they understand your short-comings, struggles, and strongholds. Don’t settle for those who will carry you so long they actually cripple you. Don’t settle for those spoon-feeding you riches, when they should motivate you to feed on repentance. You’ve been at this stage, on this level, for far too long! Enough is indeed enough. Stop leaning, and walk; stop crawling, and walk; stop letting people carry you, and walk; stop being propped up and walk, stop waiting for everybody else to do it for you, and do it yourself. How much more of your time, ability and life are you really willing to waste?

Today is your day to move from Mediocre to More! Remember the Word of God: “So come on, LET’S LEAVE THE PRESCHOOL FINGER-PAINTING EXERCISES ON CHRIST AND GET ON WITH THE GRAND WORK OF ART. GROW UP IN CHRIST. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE. LET’S GET ON WITH IT!” (Hebrews 6:1-3 MSG)

By the end of this year, don’t let your resolutions be the same unfilled ones you made last year. Don’t get stuck!

HERE May Be Comfortable, But THERE Is Calling You!

If you want to Walk into More, you have to Crawl out of Less!

Today, Get Up, and Get There! STOP CRAWLING, GET UP AND WALK!

Today, Shift Your Appetite From Milk to Meat! It’s Time to Mature to a New Level!

“Spiritual maturity isn’t measured by how high you jump in praise, but how straight you walk in obedience.” (Author Unknown)

“Spiritual maturity is not reached by the passing of the years, but by obedience to the Will of God.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Maturity in the Christian life is measured by only one test: how much closer to His character have we become?” (Elyse Fitzpatrick)

“Every season of your life is valuable because God does not waste anyone’s time. Every season is necessary for our growth, our pruning, our maturity and preparation for our calling.” (Lisa Osteen Comes)

“We shouldn’t focus on the doors that God closes. Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Change means growth.” (Author Unknown)

“When God Wants You to Grow, He Makes You Uncomfortable.” (Author Unknown)

“Growing closer to God is not the result of trying harder, but of surrendering more.” (Author Unknown)

“Change is a part of life. Be open to change, because that’s God opening the door to growth in your life.” (Author Unknown)

“God allows difficulties, inconveniences, trials, and even suffering to come our way for a specific purpose. They help develop the right attitude for the growth of patience.” (Billy Graham)

“Spiritual maturity is a lifelong pursuit. We grow in spiritual maturity moment by moment, day by day, year by year.” (Jim George)

“Spiritual maturity is not a matter of years or time, it’s just a matter of your connection with the Lord and His Word, and your obedience and your humility.” (Author Unknown)

“Maturity is the ability to think, speak and act your feelings within the bounds of dignity. The measure of your maturity is how spiritual you become during the midst of your frustrations.” (Samuel Ullman)

“One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others.” (David A. Bednar)

“God’s Word is the living seed that brings new birth. It is the milk that nurtures the new life of a young Christian and the meat that builds the muscle of a mature believer.” (Colin S. Smith)

“Bible study is the metal that makes a Christian. This is the strong meat on which holy men are nourished. This is that which makes the bone and sinew of men who keep God’s way in defiance of every adversary.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Our spiritual maturity will never exceed our knowledge of the Bible.” (Albert Mohler)

“Biblical convictions are essential for spiritual growth and maturity. What is ironic today is that people often have strong convictions about weak issues (football, fashion, etc.) while having weak convictions about major issues (what is right and what is wrong)?” (Rick Warren)

“A spiritual mature person prioritizes work before play, love over lust, and character over charm.” (Pastor Paul Sheppard)

“Maturity comes when you stop making excuses and start making changes.” (Author Unknown)

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

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“Don’t Let a Dark Past Dim Your Bright Future!”

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1 John 1:5-7, “This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in Him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with Him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth – we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God Himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” (MSG)

So, anyone that really knows me knows, I Hate Scary Movies! It’s just not my thing! And truth is, the reason I hate them, is my own fault! You see, there were some pretty scary (in my opinion) movies when I was younger (there was, Friday the 13th; the Exorcist; Carrie; the Shining; Halloween; the Lost Boys, the Omen, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre; Child’s Play; Nightmare on Elm Street; Hellraiser, to name a few). But what got me in trouble was the first scary movie I watched (that I was told by my parents specifically NOT to watch, and that was Cujo!) Now, in my little head, I didn’t get the big deal, after all, it was just a crazy movie about dog, right? I mean how bad could it be?! Well, can I tell you, I swore off all dogs after that movie! In fact, I watched it and refused to go anywhere near my own dog anymore! In the end, I was grounded and sent to bed. Oh sure, Mom and Dad thought I could watch that kind of movie and drift right off to sleep in la la land. But that was NOT my sweet, peaceful night at all! The problem is, adults don’t believe what kids know to be the awful truth – that there are monsters in your closet at night! And in my case, the monster was on four legs, named Cujo and was waiting in my closet for me to go to sleep! But my parents expected me to close my eyes and just start having sweet dreams? Come on!

Actually, I really had nothing to fear from those monsters that lived in my overactive imagination. But then there are real monsters that a lot of us have locked in a closet somewhere in our heart: the secret pain, the secret sin, the secret darkness of that unforgiving heart. They’re like vampires. They live in the darkness. But as I came of age, I discovered that they start to lose their power when you drag them into the light.

My parents were indeed upset that I disobeyed them and watched a movie they forbade me to see. But they also loved me too much to let me have nightmares. And so, they took a flashlight from the garage and turned it on (in my closet). Believe it or not, but knowing that as long as that light was on, the dark monsters couldn’t get me, gave me a pretty good night’s rest!

However, when it comes to life’s experiences with pain, I’ve found that getting rid of my ‘monsters’ wasn’t as easy or as simple as turning on a flashlight. The monsters of molestation, rape, domestic violence, health battles, homelessness, and the like didn’t exactly go away as quickly as the flip of a light switch for me. Nor did they for my friend Tynelle.

Tynelle, was abandoned, often physically abused by a drunken father, and cocaine addicted mother. Then she was horribly betrayed by her sister’s boyfriend. She trusted him so much as the brother she never had, and yet he sexually violated her. It was the final chapter in a story that told her a cruel lie, “Tynelle, you are worthless.” A story line that brought her to the brink of suicide not once, but three times. She took pills the first time, slit her wrists the second, and the third time she held a gun to her own head literally.

Thank God, Tynelle came across some wonderful people who led her to Jesus who did what no one and nothing else could do, He saved her! However, there was a few ‘monsters’ left living in her closet; bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear of rejection, not to mention, hatred that she harbored in her heart. Now, all of her feelings and emotions were understandable. But unforgiveness never hurts the person we refuse to forgive. No, instead it eats us alive and, strangely, it ties us to the very person we can’t stand!

Like so many of us who have had to endure mistreatment in whatever form, many of us did like Tynelle and stuffed it in the closet. But there is where it grows into a monster of ungrieved grief, unrepented sin, and unforgiven hurt; a monster that morphs into all kinds of anger, rage, depression and self-loathing.

SIDEBAR: I love plants as much as my mom did (okay, maybe not quite as much as she did), but I do love them. I have one in my office that my boss gave me years ago. At that time, it was the only plant I had in my office. I would water it, and make sure it was placed in a safe location where no one could cause any damage to it. It was absolutely a beautiful plant. But as the weeks went by I noticed it started to look as if it were dying, and it was. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and so I asked my boss to take a look at it. I told him I was doing everything you’re supposed to do to keep a plant alive. What he said still helps me today, he said: “If you want it to grow, you have to move it from that dark corner and bring it into the light.” Sounds simple enough. But the way it helped me besides helping my plant, was I’ve learned that if I’m going to heal from hurt, I can’t keep hurt tucked away in a dark corner somewhere. I have to physically bring it out of a dark place and bring it into the light. When I brought my plant into the light it began to heal and grow. When I brought my hurt, pain, discouragement, disappointment, and past into the light it healed and I grew. But it took me to physically move my plant, and to physically move my pain. And it’s going to require you to likewise physically move what’s hurting you to a place where it can heal. Those monsters of yours need to be brought out of the dark and into the light, it’s the only way to get rid of them. Now, before you think my plant was an easy task, let me be the first to tell you, it was not. From the floor to about my shoulder was its height (and I’m only 5 foot 2 inches by the way) so that gives you an idea of how big my ‘little’ potted plant was! Moving it took hard work, and moving my hurt was even harder work. But it needed light, and so did I, so a move had to take place!

Remember This: “Nothing Happens Until Something Moves!” (Albert Einstein)

Listen to our text again:

1 John 1:5-7, “This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in Him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with Him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth – we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God Himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” (MSG)

Once you’ve made the decision to make Jesus Lord of your life, you have LIGHT! And in Him there’s not a trace of darkness! But in us, oh yes indeed there is. That’s why it’s so important to take our darkness to Him. After all, why should we keep stumbling around in the darkness of hurt, heartache, let-downs and disappointments when we can simply come to Him so that His light can outshine our darkness? Why dwell in the darkness of sin, when we can dwell in the light of our Savior?

And just as moving my plant required work, so does walking in the light of God requires work. The Scripture says, “…But if we WALK in the light…”Walk” is present tense. Meaning, this is a daily requirement! In order for this to work, I have to walk, every day. I have to make a deliberate decision to come out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Be warned, this will not be easy, and you’re not going to feel like doing it all the time. But if you are to grow and heal, it is a necessity. When you look at 1 John, it reveals to us that walking in the light brings us out of darkness; brings us into admittance and acceptance; it brings us into a wonderful shared bright light of life with other believers not to mention it grants us a clean slate by purging all our sins. And all we have to do is bring our darkness to His light.

John 8:12, “Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows Me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” (MSG) Therefore, I must ask, why are you living in darkness when you can live in perpetual light? That word “perpetual” is defined as “never ending or changing; occurring repeatedly; seemingly continual.” Its’ Latin Origin ‘perpetualis’, from ‘perpetuus’ literally means “continuing throughout.That’s what you could have if you’d simply bring your darkness to His Light! He Himself is LIGHT! And therefore He promises that if you follow Him, you won’t stumble around any longer in the darkness. And aren’t you finally tired of stumbling around in the darkness? Every time you hear a particular song; see a specific scene in a movie; or hear someone’s voice that sounds like theirs, you return to that dark place, when you could live in the perpetual, never ending, light of the Lord!

NOTE: Once You Start Living in the Light, You’ll Stop Letting Darkness Visit!

Jesus provides plenty of light to live in, what better motivation than that to move out of darkness?

My pastor said something one Sunday that blessed me tremendously. He said, “if the dark cloud you’re under doesn’t move, then YOU move.” And that’s something I’m encouraging you to do today. YOU MOVE! Remember: “Nothing Happens Until Something Moves” (Albert Einstein). And oftentimes that ‘something’ is YOU! So, why live in that darkness a moment longer than you have to? Remember the hard truth is, sometimes you can move IT, and sometimes you simply have to move YOU! Which may require a great deal of separation! Like, moving from those contacts, connections, phone calls, text messages, pictures and emails. Move from that place, from that thing, from that person. Move from re-imagining memories in a prettier light than they actually were. Move from those feelings, that conversation, move from repetitive bad decisions and choices. Move your dark into His light.

Today: Take all of your Monsters out of your Past Closet, and put them in your Prayer Closet instead! Take the regret, the remorse, the bitterness, the anger, the hatred, the revenge, the unforgiveness. Take the broken heart and the broken spirit. Take the fractured mind and the bruised ego. Take what they said and what they did. Even take the part you played in your own self-inflicted pain. Take it all to Him. There is no greater Light than the Lord!

1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him WHO CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT. Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (AMP). God Himself Called You Out of Darkness, So Why Are You Still Trying to Live There?

Don’t you see that inspite of where you’ve been, what you’ve done and what was done to you, He yet calls you Chosen; a Royal Priesthood; a Consecrated Nation; a Special People; His Own Possession. As dark as you were, He still called you out of darkness!

People of God, He Called You OUT…So Why Are You Allowing Your Past to Keep You IN?!

Despite the Mess, you have since received Mercy, so why not live in it?

That same text in the Message Bible reads like this: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you – from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (MSG) That’s talking about YOU! The night-and-day difference that God desires to make in your life if only you’ll simply move your feet! Walk out of darkness and into His marvelous light…and all of this awaits YOU! No More Rejection, Just Acceptance. And All You Have to Do is WALK!

And just in case you need DIRECTIONS for your walk, here they are: “BY YOUR WORDS I CAN SEE WHERE I’M GOING; THEY THROW A BEAM OF LIGHT ON MY DARK PATH. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by Your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again WITH YOUR WORD. Festoon me with Your FINEST SAYINGS, God; teach me YOUR HOLY RULES. My life as close as my own hands, but I don’t forget what you have REVEALED. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, BUT I DON’T SWERVE AN INCH FROM YOUR COURSE. I inherited YOUR BOOK ON LIVING; it’s mine forever – what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAY – I always have and always will.” (Psalm 119:105-112 MSG) That’s how you govern your walk in the light, you use the Word of God as your lamp! It’s your map, your GPS to guide you out of darkness and into light!

Listen, you’ve been under that dark cloud long enough! You’ve been scared of those monsters in that dark closet long enough! Today is a new day, and one in which you need not give old days the opportunity to rob you of. Whatever happened, happened. You can’t undo it; you can’t change it; you can’t go back and alter some of the details of it. But you can decide today, that I’m not going to give another moment to those monsters. My body, soul, spirit, heart, mind and emotions deserve to live in light. I deserve peace, joy, laughter, unconditional love and complete healing and wholeness, and I’ve decided it will start today!

Now, remember, sometimes that will require you to delete the photos, messages and contact information. It may require you to stop talking to that person, or going back to that place. Because you can’t ask God to bring you into the light while you bring darkness with you, still clutched tightly in your hands! No, you have to make the deliberate decision to loose your grip on darkness and let it go! 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “…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?…” (MSG) The answer, NO! So you cannot ask God to bring you out of darkness, when you refuse to let darkness go! Know today that you can’t take that dark past with you into a bright future!

Whatever your ‘monsters’ are, bring them out of your past closet of darkness and into your present prayer closet of light. You’ve dealt with enough torment, torture, self-doubt and self-pity. You’ve been under that dark cloud far too long. You’ve cried long enough; been depressed and discouraged long enough; you’ve been lonely, angry and bitter long enough; you’ve replayed their role in your drama long enough; you’ve renewed the issues to your past publications long enough. You’ve complained and talked about it long enough. Do some spring cleaning during this summer season! Clean all that old junk out of your closet! Stop allowing hurt to hang around in your closet! Those skeletons in your closet don’t pay rent, and yet you’ve been paying a great price for them to live there, free of cost to them, hefty cost for you! Today serve them their eviction notice, pack them up and put them out!

Bigger, better and greater are waiting for you, just around the bend! Today, determine to make it your turn to change direction! Stop going backwards and start moving forward! Don’t allow that dark past to dim your bright future! Shine His Light on Your Dark Monsters and Finally Be Free From What’s Hiding in the Closet!

John 8:32, “And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].” (AMP)

1 John 1:9-10, “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His Will and purpose]. If we say that we have not sinned [refusing to admit acts of sin], we make Him [out to be] a liar [by contradicting Him] and His Word is not in us.” (AMP)

“Don’t get stuck in your past, use it to fuel your future.” (Pinterest)

“The only way to get over the past is to leave it behind. If you spend your time re-living moments that are gone forever, you might miss out on the special moments that are yet to come.” (Pinterest)

“Don’t let past relationships and old mistakes ruin your future. Don’t let someone or something that didn’t make it in your life continue to hurt you. If you do, you’re still giving a portion of your life to something that no longer exists – it’s like letting your happiness slip into a black hole. Learn the lesson, release the pain, and move on. Scars remind us of where we have been, not where we are headed.” (LessonsLearnedInLife)

“Being stuck in the past is like walking forward with your back facing the front. You’ll always miss out on what’s in front of you.” (Pinterest)

“You can get over a broken past if you decide to believe that there’s nothing in your past that can keep you from having a great future.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could’ve been any different.” (Oprah)

“If you want to get over a problem, stop thinking about it. Your mind affects your mouth and your mouth affects your mind. It’s difficult to stop talking about a situation until you stop thinking about it.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Sometimes you have to make peace with your past in order to keep your future from becoming a constant battle.” (Susan Gale)

“Sometimes we get so addicted to murmuring about the past and blaming the past for everything that we miss our whole future. You’re not going to enjoy your future, and you’re not going to enjoy your right now, if all you can do is be guilty and ashamed and afraid of your past.” (Joyce Meyer)

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

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“The Purpose of Ministry is to Equip, Not Entertain”

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John 6:30, “What sign (miracle, wonderwork) will You PERFORM then, so that we may see it and believe and rely on and adhere to You? What [supernatural] work have You [to show what You can do]?” (AMP).

Okay, so try to picture this. Here’s a group of maybe a hundred teenagers in a seminar for two hours, sitting on concrete the whole time, taking notes the whole time, and asking for more when the seminar is dismissed! Naturally, your response would be, “What planet were you on?” But that was actually in Haiti when a Pastor friend (Pastor Toonee) was there a few years ago, teaching in a workshop in a gymnasium. You see, the only place to sit was in the balcony, and in the balcony of that gym it was all concrete. And yet they still told him to take two hours to teach! “Wow”! He said, “I could talk here all the time!” He thought, Okay, I could probably figure out something to say for two hours, and he did. Believe it or not, when he was finished, after two hours of teaching, they quickly ran to the next seminar to get some more! These students remind me of the mind-set of those in Acts 17:11, “Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (AMP).

If only the Church, as a Whole, would develop this same mind-set!

Unfortunately, for many of today’s churches, you’d better be done in 20 minutes or you’ll be talking to yourself! Unless, of course, you’re funny enough to be like a Christian comedian! I call it a Disease that’s been afflicted on the whole American church! And the name of it isEntertainitis.”

Our Scripture follows the feeding of the 5,000, where it says in John 6:14, “When the people saw the sign (miracle) that Jesus had performed, they began saying, Surely and beyond a doubt this is the Prophet Who is to come into the world.’” (AMP). Another translation says it like this: “The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!” (MSG).

Well, they chased Him all the way across the lake of Galilee, and when they found Him on the other side of the lake, it says they asked Him, “‘Rabbi! When did You come here?’ Jesus answered, ‘I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, you have been searching for Me, not because you saw the miracles and signs, but because you were fed with the loaves and were filled and satisfied.’” (vss. 25-26 AMP).  Another translation states it like this: “When they found him back across the sea, they said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free.” (MSG).

Then, in verse 30 they asked Him, “What sign (miracle, wonderwork) will You PERFORM then, so that we may see it and believe and rely on and adhere to You? What [supernatural] work have You [to SHOW what You can do]?” (AMP). Another translation reads: “…Why don’t you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what’s going on? When we see what’s up, we’ll commit ourselves. SHOW us what you can do.” (MSG).

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!

They Were Looking For Jesus to PERFORM and Give Them a SHOW! Mere Entertainment! But When Jesus Attempts to Equip Them Instead, Watch What Happens:

Finally, after Jesus begins to talk to them about the SHEDDING OF BLOOD AND A CROSS, verse 66 says, “AFTER THIS, MANY OF HIS DISCIPLES DREW BACK (RETURNED TO THEIR OLD ASSOCIATIONS) AND NO LONGER ACCOMPANIED HIM” (AMP). Another translation states: “AFTER THIS A LOT OF HIS DISCIPLES LEFT. THEY NO LONGER WANTED TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH HIM” (MSG).

Now, here’s a crowd, and they are ready to follow Jesus AS LONG AS THERE WAS A GOOD SHOW: Miracles, Excited Crowds, Cheers, Surprises, Songs, Good Feelings! BUT AS SOON AS IT GOT SERIOUS OR DEMANDING, AS SOON AS IT COST SOMETHING, AS SOON AS A HINT OF SACRIFICE WAS SMELT IN THE AIR, THEY CHECKED OUT – This Is The First Known Case of “Entertainitis”!

Interested In Spiritual Input AS LONG AS IT’S EASY TO TAKE!

And what does the Bible say about folks like this? “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Hebrews 5:12 NIV). Another translation reads like this:  “I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.” (MSG).

I didn’t realize how shallow our faith here (in the States) is until I met Christians in other countries! They Know How to Pray Powerfully, and Extensively! They’re Hungry, Not For Jokes and Stories, BUT For Solid, Biblical Teaching! They believe wholeheartedly in what the Word of God Commands: “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP).

Unlike many of us, they’re interested in the Substance of Christianity, NOT the Style of the Speaker! Therefore, while we’re having Church Gathering Socials, they’re having Revolutionized Revivals! While we Accept Ministry Mediocrity, they’re Expecting and Experiencing Miracles!

Unfortunate for today’s church, we’re a product of a Media Culture; kind of a Sesame Street, Internet Pop-Up Approach that changes the subject every 60 seconds! Compared to believers in the rest of the world, we have a Sesame Street faith! Many will follow as long as its ENTERTAINING, but as soon as it Gets SERIOUS, They Change the Topic, Bring out the Puppets, and Act a Fool all for the purpose of Keeping Church Folks ENTERTAINED!

Listen: Both Adults and Children can watch Sesame Street. But ONLY the Children should be Learning From It! As an Adult you may find portions that ENTERTAIN You, but there should be Absolutely No Moments Where You Seek It To Help You Grow! Why? BECAUSE IT’S A STAGE YOU SHOULD’VE OUTGROWN BY NOW!

Children learn their Basic Necessities there (abc’s, 123’s, colors, shapes, sizes etc.) You on the other hand should NOT be learning anything! It’s Basic, For Children, For Those Who Know No Better, For The Immature! It Can Only ENTERTAIN You!

Likewise, stop sitting under teachers and preachers, that LEAVE YOU ILL-EQUIPPED BUT WELL ENTERTAINED!

The Word of God has a Definite Purpose When It Goes Forth, and here it is: “Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and Profitable for Instruction, for Reproof and Conviction of Sin, for Correction of Error and Discipline in Obedience, [and] for Training in Righteousness (in Holy Living, in Conformity to God’s Will in Thought, Purpose, and Action), So that the Man of God May Be Complete and Proficient, Well Fitted and Thoroughly Equipped For Every Good Work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMP).

No Where In That Long Laundry List of Purpose For the Word of God Do You Find, “TO ENTERTAIN THE SAINTS!”

The First Step toward the Cure of Entertainitis is to Recognize the Disease and to Want a Cure! We need to begin to Re-Train Our Hearts to Look for the Treasurable Truth in a Message, Not the ENTERTAINMENT Value; to Look for the Bible in a Song, Not the Beat; to Quit Expecting Preachers to Do All the Study Work For Us; to Pack the Congregation for a Concise Word From the Lord, Not Just For a Concert or Special Event; to Understand this is a War, Not a Walk Through the Park!

Most Important, we need to Commit Ourselves to the Spiritual Discipline of a Personal Bible Study Time With Jesus that starts Every Day! That’s the Anchor of an Authentic Christian Life!

Maybe it’s time we simply say, “Lord, I’m SICK of Suffering in a Shallow, Entertaining Faith. I want to Get Rid of this DISEASE of Entertainitis….NOW. DELIVER ME!”

Special Note: Preachers/Teachers, Don’t Be Discouraged When You Switch From Being ENTERTAINING to IMPACTING! Like Jesus, Many Will Walk Away And Leave You! But That’s Quite Alright!

Those Who Really Want The Substance Will Stay With The One Effectively Wielding The Sword of the Spirit!  “After this, many of His disciples drew back (returned to their old associations) and no longer accompanied Him. Jesus said to the Twelve, Will you also go away? [And do you too desire to leave Me?] SIMON PETER ANSWERED, LORD, TO WHOM SHALL WE GO? YOU HAVE THE WORDS (THE MESSAGE) OF ETERNAL LIFE. AND WE HAVE LEARNED TO BELIEVE AND TRUST, AND [MORE] WE HAVE COME TO KNOW [SURELY] THAT YOU ARE THE HOLY ONE OF GOD, THE CHRIST (THE ANOINTED ONE), THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD” (John 6:66-69 AMP).

Only A Fool Would Walk Away From the Hand That Feeds Them!

Listen: We are to be Ministry Gifts that EQUIP the Body of Christ, Not Ministry Puppets that merely ENTERTAIN It!

“And His GIFTS were [varied; He Himself Appointed and Gave Men to Us] Some to be Apostles (Special Messengers), Some Prophets (Inspired Preachers and Expounders), Some Evangelists (Preachers of the Gospel, Traveling Missionaries), Some Pastors (Shepherds of His Flock) and Teachers. HIS INTENTION WAS THE PERFECTING AND THE FULL EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS (HIS CONSECRATED PEOPLE), [THAT THEY SHOULD DO] THE WORK OF MINISTERING TOWARD BUILDING UP CHRIST’S BODY (THE CHURCH)” (Ephesians 4:11-12 AMP).

The word “intention” is defined as “an aim or plan”. Therefore, God’s aim and plan for the five-fold ministry is to serve for the purpose of, “…THE PERFECTING AND THE FULL EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS (HIS CONSECRATED PEOPLE), [THAT THEY SHOULD DO] THE WORK OF MINISTERING TOWARD BUILDING UP CHRIST’S BODY (THE CHURCH)”

That’s the aim and plan: Equipping, NOT Entertaining!

The word “equip” is defined as “to supply with the items needed for a purpose; to prepare someone for a task; to furnish for service or action by appropriate provisioning; to make ready.” Its Old French Origin “équiper”, is from a modification of the Anglo-French “eskiper, eschiper” meaning “to load on board a ship, to embark, to man a ship.It is in essence, to provide a ship with everything it needs to embark on its journey successfully and efficiently. That is our responsibility, to provide people with what they need to carry, to accomplish their purpose and calling in God. It is not, however, to hear as many amen’s as possible; it’s not to see people run, jump, leap, clap, yell, spin, dance and fallout. It’s not to proclaim houses, cars, land, spouses, promotions, possessions and money. It is to prepare people for purpose! Whether it’s preaching or teaching, to 2,000, 200 or 2, we are to prepare them with what they need to produce God’s purpose in their lives. That’s our responsibility. Not to hit the right key, the right note, perfect the perfect moan. No, it’s to Equip the people, not Entertain them!

The word “entertain” is defined as “to provide with amusement or enjoyment.” Its Middle English “entertinen”, from Middle French “entretenir”, means “to hold”. It serves as a purpose of holding a person’s attention for no other reason than to “DISPORT (‘enjoy oneself unrestrainedly’), DIVERT (‘cause to change course or take a different route; distract; entertain’), AMUSE (‘cause someone to laugh; to entertain’. Its Old French ‘amuser’ means ‘to entertain or deceive’ from ‘muser’ which means ‘to stare stupidly’), REGALE (‘to entertain with conversation’) or SOLACE (‘to comfort’).” And what does that mean? “It means to pass or cause to pass the time pleasantly; to have one’s attention be engaged in humor; to distract the attention from worry or routine occupation especially by something funny.” And is that bad? No, not in and of itself. But when it comes to our responsibility of preaching, teaching, equipping and preparing people, yes, it is quite bad. Entertainment has its place, however, it is not our responsibility when it comes to the people, to ensure that they have a good laugh. No, we are to ensure that they have what they need to live a godly life.

When you look at the day and time we’re living in, you must agree that the times are dangerous and very serious. The devil is playing for keeps. He’s not playing with our lives, he’s looking to take our lives. And if we as the church, do not become more grounded in our responsibility, he won’t have to fight too hard to win. Our children need to know the importance of the Word of God, prayer, righteousness, holiness and proper leadership. How do they get that though, from perfecting praise breaks? No! We need to teach them how to feed their soul, not have fabulous fancy foot-work. We need to prepare the next generation to enter the government, heads of state, to make laws, to change laws, to serve in other areas, outside of the pulpit, if the world is to ever change for the better. And they will receive none of this equipping if we keep entertaining them, Sunday-after-Sunday. If marriages are to remain intact, we need to equip, not entertain. If singles are to remain holy, and set-apart, we need to equip, not entertain. If the disciples are to turn the world upside down, we need to equip, not entertain. If leadership is to be effective and efficient, we need to equip, not entertain. If the unbeliever is ever to become a believer, we need to equip, not entertain.

We are the Church, not Comedy Central. There has to be a distinction in what we do, say, believe and live. We are to be Salt and Light, not Sugar and a Dimmer.

People of God, we have to do better, and Leaders, it begins with us. 1 Peter 4:17, “For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God?” (AMPC)

Church, judgment will begin with US. Therefore, now, is the time to get this thing right. Remembering that we are Representatives of Heaven, Ambassadors of Christ, and Created in the Image and Likeness of the God-Head. Now, is the time to look like it, sound like it, act like it, and live like it.

Preachers, now is the time to follow the admonishment of the Apostle Paul: “And [pray] also for me, that [freedom of] utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth to proclaim boldly the mystery of the good news (the Gospel)” (Ephesians 6:19 AMPC)

Let the church-house resemble Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were assembled was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak the Word of God with freedom and boldness and courage.” (AMPC)

Not song and movie titles; not the latest celebrity in the news; not the latest slang or cliché. But to preach the Word of God, with boldness, freedom and courage. Not jokes, just the Word. We are not a circus, we are not performing puppets. We’ve done more than enough ACTING, now let us ACT OUT THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.

Leaders/Preachers/Teachers/Believers, Let’s Start Equipping and Stop Entertaining!

Now is the time to Soar towards being Fully Equipped instead of Foolishly Falling for being Merely Entertained!

“The Devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. Providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt that it sets men afire.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)

“A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)

“If you were God’s children you would loathe the very thought of the world’s evil joys, and your question would not be, “How far may we be like the world?” but your one cry would be, “How far can we get away from the world? How much can we come out from it?” (Charles Spurgeon)

“The Word of God will be to you a bulwark and a high tower, a castle of defense against the foe. Oh, see to it that the Word of God is in you, in your very soul, permeating your thoughts, and so operating upon your outward life, that all may know you to be a true Bible-Christian, for they perceive it in your words and deeds.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“For the church to turn aside from its divine work to furnish amusement and recreation is to pervert its true mission. It is to degrade its mission. Amusement and recreation should stem from the home or individuals rather than the church. The church, like Nehemiah, has a great work to do; and it should not come down to the plains of Ono to amuse and entertain.” (Goodpasture, Gospel Advocate)

“If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“A church is not a Fortune 500 company. It’s not simply another nonprofit organization, nor is it a social club. In fact, a healthy church is unlike any organization that man has ever devised, because man didn’t devise it.” (Mark Dever)

“God’s church is not a social club. It’s not a building, and it’s not an option. The church is life and death. The church is God’s strategy for reaching the world. What we do inside the church matters.” (Francis Chan)

“We have taken the command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations, and mutated it into a comfortable call to come, be baptized, and sit in one location.” (David Platt)

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

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“6 Rules For Anger Management”

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Ephesians 4:25-32 “What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. GO AHEAD AND BE ANGRY. YOU DO WELL TO BE ANGRY—BUT DON’T USE YOUR ANGER AS FUEL FOR REVENGE. AND DON’T STAY ANGRY. DON’T GO TO BED ANGRY. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life…Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (MSG)                                                                    

Two forceful personalities in a relationship are like two rivers flowing into one; there’s going to be a Strong Current! Anger can be instant like a flash of lightning, or prolonged like the rumble of thunder! Sometimes we clash painfully, other times we distance and silently abandon the relationship. But Anger Handled the Right Way Doesn’t Have to be Destructive!

IMPORTANT: “Anger is only one letter short of Danger.” (Author Unknown).

So let’s discuss some of God’s Rules for Anger Management.

RULE #1—KEEP IT HONEST: Our text says, …NO MORE LIES…When You’re Angry Don’t Deny It! Believe it or not, Anger Can Be Constructive! Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton said: “Anger ventilated often hurries toward forgiveness; and concealed often hardens into revenge.We’re right to get angry when people are mistreated and wrongs are not made right. Saying, ‘I’ve been feeling angry and because I value our relationship I’d like to talk about it,Is Honest, Non-Threatening and Invites Resolution

Observe the following tidbits on Anger: 

a)   IGNORING, STIFLING, SUPPRESSING, OR PRETENDING YOU’RE NOT ANGRY IS DISHONEST:Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry.” (Lyman Abbott).

b)   ANOTHER FORM OF LYING WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY IS EXAGGERATION: Phrases Like: ‘You NEVER listen to what I say.’ Or ‘You ALWAYS ignore my wishes.’ Or ‘NOBODY does anything around here except me.Such Generalizations Are Untrue and Serve Only to Aggravate and Polarize, Guaranteeing the Real Problem Gets Obscured and Goes Unsolved. The truth is, maybe they weren’t listening; maybe your wishes are ignored and maybe you do more than others; BUT CAN YOU HONESTLY SAY THAT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME?! Remember this: “If you add to the truth, you subtract from it.” (The Talmud). So, do your best to avoid such words as ‘NEVER’; ‘ALWAYS’ and ‘NOBODY’. Keeping in mind that: “An exaggeration is a truth that has lost its temper.” (Kahlil Gibran).

c)   ANOTHER WAY TO LIE WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY IS BLAMING: Phrases Like: ‘If you’d arrive on time I wouldn’t have to nag you,’ or ‘If you’d quit nagging so much, maybe I’d start being on time.’ BLAMING IS A WAY OF EVADING YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY WHILE POINTING THE FINGER AT OTHERS! It angers others, perpetuates your own anger and never produces the result you want! I believe the following quote will put things in proper perspective for you: “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” (Unknown Author)…I know that hurt, but if applied, it will help!

God’s rule is always right:  ‘…Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor…‘.

RULE #2—KEEP IT NON-LETHAL: Paul writes: ‘IN YOUR ANGER DO NOT SIN… ‘ (Ephesians 4:26 NIV). What do Paul’s words mean? DON’T LET YOUR ANGER ESCALATE TO THE POINT OF DOING DAMAGE! DON’T USE YOUR WORDS AS WEAPONS OR A CONTROL MECHANISM!Sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.” (Author Unknown). It’s okay to express your emotions in A HEALTHY WAY, BUT KEEP THEM IN CHECK! “Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger.” (Chinese Proverb). Your goal must be to resolve the problem and strengthen the relationship, not ‘sound off’ and wound the other person! “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” (Ambrose Bierce). The Bible says it best: “…a crushed spirit who can bear?‘ (Proverbs 18:14 NIV). Now, is all this easy to do? NO! BUT YOU HAVE TO BE MINDFUL: WORDS SPOKEN IN JEST, SARCASM, SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS OR ‘RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION’ WOUND PEOPLE, AND SOMETIMES THOSE WOUNDS ARE PERMANENT! Hear the Word of the Lord: ‘A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.‘ (Proverbs 15:4 NKJV). ‘ ‘The tongue can bring death… ‘ (Proverbs 18:21 NLT). Ungodly words, once unleashed, can: ‘…sink deep into one’s heart‘ (Proverbs 26:22 NLT). YOUR WORDS CAN LIVE IN THE HEART AND MEMORY OF A PERSON AND GO ALL THE WAY TO THE GRAVE WITH THEM! We say, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,BUT IT’S NOT TRUE! A PERSON CAN DIE OF A CRUSHED SPIRIT, AND THE ONE WHO SPOKE THE WORDS CAN LIVE TO REGRET THE DAMAGE THEY’VE INFLICTED AND NEVER GET A CHANCE TO UNDO IT! ON THE OTHER HAND, ANGER PROPERLY HANDLED NEVER NEEDS TO BE REPENTED OF! SO LEARN TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN THE ANGER YOU FEEL AND THE WORDS YOU SPEAK! ANGER CAREFULLY THOUGHT THROUGH, CAN REVEAL IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT NEEDED CHANGES!

RULE #3—KEEP IT CURRENT: Storing anger in your hard drive ONLY HURTS YOU! Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful TO US than the injury that provokes it.” (Seneca). When you rehearse old resentments YOU GROW BITTER! But remember the words of Malachy McCourt, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” The Bible says: ‘The good man brings good things OUT OF THE GOOD STORED UP IN HIS HEART, and the evil man brings evil things OUT OF THE EVIL STORED UP IN HIS HEART. FOR OUT OF THE OVERFLOW OF HIS HEART HIS MOUTH SPEAKS‘ (Luke 6:45 NIV) The Contemporary English Bible says it like this: “Good people do good things BECAUSE OF THE GOOD IN THEIR HEARTS. Bad people do bad things BECAUSE OF THE EVIL IN THEIR HEARTS. YOUR WORDS SHOW WHAT IS IN YOUR HEART.SO SILENCE ALL THOSE OLD ISSUES IN YOUR HEART BEFORE THEY GET TO TALKING AND REVEAL THE REAL YOU! “Anger dwells only in the bosom of FOOLS.” (Albert Einstein).

Therefore, when you’re angry, DEAL WITH IT QUICKLY! Don’t passively allow time to decide your options, or sit around hoping the other person will see the light and apologize! The Bible says: ‘If a fellow believer hurts you, GO AND TELL HIM—work it out between the two of you…confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.” (Matthew 18:15-17 MSG). Did you read those instructions clearly? “…GO AND TELL HIM…DON’T SIT BY IDLY WAITING FOR THEM TO COME TO YOU! GET UP AND GO TO THEM AND TRY TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM AND RESTORE THE RELATIONSHIP!Reconciliation is more beautiful than victory.” (Violeta Barrios de Chamorro).

When You Repress Reconciliation, You Add One More Skeleton to Your Closet! And Sooner or Later, Doctors Say, It’ll Eat at Your Stomach Lining, Attack Your Immune System, Predispose You to Heart Problems, Cancers and Other Physical, Social and Emotional Disorders! Meantime, It’ll Preoccupy You, Dissipate Your Energy, Cripple Your Creativity, Hinder Your Fellowship With God, Your Friends and Fellow Believers; Not to Mention That It Denies the Offender the Opportunity to Clear Their Conscience, Repent and Get Right With God and You! So Stop Dragging Up the Past, Trying to Blackmail the Guilty By Hauling Skeletons Out of Closets at ‘Auspicious’ Moments, Plotting Revenge, and Passing Down Resentments For the Next Generation to Carry!

Now, I don’t believe in Buddha, but I sure like his analogy: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; BUT INSTEAD, YOU’RE THE ONE WHO GETS BURNED.Tell me that’s not accurate! Therefore saints, ask God for the Humility and Courage to deal with Today’s Problems – TODAY! When your head hits the pillow tonight, know that your issues are Current, Up To Date with God and Everyone Else, and Sleep Well! “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust.” (Psalm 4:8 AMP).

RULE #4—KEEP IT SOLUTION-FOCUSED: Someone has said that fellowship is like two fellows in a ship: one can’t sink the other without sinking himself! In other words, by seeking to gain the upper hand you both lose! By seeking to save and strengthen the relationship you both win! So when you speak, be sure it’s ‘…helpful for building others up according to their needs…‘ (Ephesians 4:29 NIV). Maybe this Scripture would become clearer if you read it in the Amplified Bible, it states: “Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [EVER] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is GOOD and BENEFICIAL to the spiritual progress OF OTHERS, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) TO THOSE WHO HEAR IT.We Are Charged to Understand What the Other Person Needs! In doing so, YOU DO NOT BRING UP PREVIOUSLY CONFESSED OFFENSES; YOU DO NOT DRAG IN OTHER PEOPLE; You Do Not Use Wisecracks About People’s Weight, Height, Color, IQ, Physical, Mental and Emotional Limitations; and You Do Not Bring Up Unrelated Things or People That Cloud the Issue and Keep You From Finding a Solution! In addition, Don’t Raise the Volume In Order to Intimidate and Manipulate! God Made You With a Capacity For Anger Because When Handled the Right Way It’s the Fuel That Brings Needed Change and the Medicine That Heals. An unknown author stated: “You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.”   

Keep that in mind as you: 

a) SEEK A SOLUTION, NOT A ‘VICTORY’: Name-calling and ‘diagnosing’ others only makes things worse. Your focus should not be on what they did, BUT ON WHAT YOU CAN DO TOGETHER TO RESOLVE IT.

b) ADMIT YOUR OWN FLAWS AND ASK FOR FORGIVENESS: Since it takes two to tango, acknowledging your OWN imperfections makes it easier for someone else to acknowledge theirs.

c) BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO TAKE A ‘SWING’ AT SOMEONE, MAKE SURE IT’S A POSITIVE ‘STROKE’: If you take the time to get your mind right, mere words will be no struggle! Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, THINK continually on these things [CENTER YOUR MIND ON THEM, AND IMPLANT THEM IN YOUR HEART]. (Philippians 4:8 AMP). For each of the difficulties you have to address, GIVE A COMPLIMENT ALSO. Example: ‘I’m sure this wasn’t easy for you to hear, but thanks for listening to me so graciously.CRITICISM DOESN’T CHANGE CHAOS TO CALM, BUT A COMPLIMENT SURE DOES!

RULE #5—KEEP IT IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM:Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).” (Ephesians 4:31 AMP). MALICIOUS TALK IS LIKE WILDFIRE, IT CONSUMES THOSE WHO SPREAD IT AND THOSE WHO LISTEN TO IT! As my auntie would say, “don’t display your dirty wash; keep it in the laundry room.

Saints, dirty laundry gets aired in two ways: 

1)   OPEN EMBARRASSMENT. YOU SAY IT WHERE YOU KNOW OTHERS ARE GOING TO HEAR IT!  But keep in mind: “A person’s character is revealed by their SPEECH.” (Greek Proverb). Solomon also gives us some wise advice to follow: “He who goes about as a talebearer REVEALS SECRETS, but he who is trustworthy and faithful in spirit KEEPS THE MATTER HIDDEN.” (Proverbs 11:13 AMP); “Prudent people don’t flaunt their knowledge; TALKATIVE FOOLS BROADCAST THEIR SILLINESS.” (Proverbs 12:23 MSG). SO WHETHER YOU REALIZE IT OR NOT, SPEAKING YOUR MIND, ONLY SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT YOUR LACK OF GOOD INTENTION AND INTEGRITY; YOUR LACK OF PROPER MOTIVE AND MATURITY AND YOUR LACK OF COMPASSION AND CHARACTER! “Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth.” (Aesop). 

2) SUBTLETY. You make jokes about their figure, family members and friends, etc., IN ORDER TO BELITTLE THEM! This results in EMBARRASSMENT for the person you’re angry at, widens the gap between you AND MAKES RECONCILIATION IMPOSSIBLE!  So the next time you decide to crack a joke, EMBARRASS someone or speak your mind REMEMBER WHAT GOD SAID: “Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, WHICH IS NOT FITTING OR BECOMING…” (Ephesians 5:4 AMP). In addition, the next time you go to acting “SUBTLEBE MINDFUL OF THE PERSON YOUR EMULATING:NOW THE SERPENT was more SUBTLE and crafty than any living creature of the field…” (Genesis 3:1 AMP). Need I say more?! Even Paul warns Timothy about avoiding “Subtleties”: “O Timothy, guard and keep the deposit entrusted [to you]! TURN AWAY FROM THE IRREVERENT BABBLE AND GODLESS CHATTER, WITH THE VAIN AND EMPTY AND WORLDLY PHRASES, AND THE SUBTLETIES AND THE CONTRADICTIONS IN WHAT IS FALSELY CALLED KNOWLEDGE AND SPIRITUAL ILLUMINATION.” (1 Timothy 6:20 AMP). Keep in mind: “Subtlety may deceive you; integrity never will.” (Oliver Cromwell).

Solomon writes: ‘He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter‘ (Proverbs 11:13 NASB). SO, NO MATTER WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT THEM, YOUR CHARACTER AS A CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO COMMISSION YOU TO CONCEAL THE MATTER! As believers, we possess “…the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18) NOT THE MESSAGE OF REVENGE! Keep in mind: “While you are meditating revenge, THE DEVIL IS MEDITATING A RECRUIT.” (Francois de Malherbe). So are you going to be SAVED OR SATANIC? DIVINE OR DEMONIC? LIGHT OR DARK? YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS! Paul makes that crystal clear: “…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?…” (2 Corinthians 6:13-17 MSG). You can’t be Loving and Hateful, you need to make a choice. And just in case you need a little help, the Bible says: “Hatred stirs up trouble; love overlooks the wrongs that others do.” (Proverbs 10:12 CEV).  THAT ALONE SHOULD’VE TAKEN THE DIFFICULTY OUT OF YOUR DECISION!

RULE #6—BE PART OF THE CLEAN UP CREW: We say, ‘They brought it on themselves. Let them get over it.They may have deserved it, but we can’t walk away and leave open wounds to become infected! We ‘Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.‘ (Ephesians 4:32 MSG). How did Christ forgive us? After we’d acknowledged, confessed and repented of our sins? No! The Bible says: ‘…when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son…‘ (Romans 5:10 NIV). God took the initiative, so forgive, before the other person asks for forgiveness! And if you want to really show maturity, forgive them even if they Never ask for forgiveness! God didn’t allow you to remain His enemy for life (and He had good reason to); so show forth the same grace and mercy you receive and forgive them. Only then are you yourself forgiven, the wounds inflicted healed, and all parties records before God are expunged! Manage your anger before it causes you to act real Asinine (defined as “extremely stupid or foolish”)!

IN A NUTSHELL: TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO OVERCOME ANGER!

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

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“The Marriage Triangle”

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Most men would call it a ‘chick flick’, but I’m definitely a sucker for a good romantic comedy! They are my absolute favorites! But then so are some of the crazy dramas too, which almost always have the same theme proving the old cliché true, “two’s company, three’s a crowd.” But that’s really true, especially when it comes to romance. Example: Guy meets girl, guy falls in love with girl, guy falls in love with another girl in addition to the first girl. Which ultimately is like putting a match in gasoline! That is a centuries-old formula for an explosion! It’s the infamous love triangle! Soap operas thrive on them; marriages are destroyed by them!

A love triangle is usually a prescription for broken hearts unless you have the kind of love triangle that keeps hearts from being broken.

Now, there’s a formula in Ecclesiastes 4. It’s a formula for lasting bonds between people. You could very well call it the arithmetic of love. Here’s what it says beginning at verse 9, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up. If two lie down together they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

That passage is a powerful statement about relationships, especially if you apply it to the ultimate relationship of marriage. It says two work together better than one, two walk together better than one, two stand together better than one, and then suddenly the number changes. Suddenly it’s talking about three strands. Wait…I thought we were talking about two…So enter the love triangle: a husband, a wife, and God. That’s the kind of love triangle that avoids broken hearts. Ephesians 5:21 alludes to it when it says; speaking to husbands and wives, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (NIV). It’s the Jesus factor in a marriage that always makes the difference. Now, the triangle is the strongest geometric figure there is, and a love triangle with Christ at the top is virtually indestructible! In other words, you’ve got the man and woman joined together by that line along the bottom, but they both have a line going up to Jesus at the top. That bond between the man and the woman will fray sometimes. There’s interference, there’s disappointment, there’s disillusionment, there’s hurt. But if both the man and woman are connected to Christ at the top of the triangle, that bond will hold them together when the bond of human compatibility is unraveling.

The problem with many of us as spouses is, we don’t always keep Christ at the top of the triangle. Often we fight to be in the top slot that we push Him down, or take Him out of the equation altogether. But the only way for the love triangle with Jesus to work effectively, is to always be certain that He maintains His top priority position. While we’re fighting to be heard, fighting to be right, fighting to prove the other wrong, fighting to get the upper-hand, we undermine His hand on our Covenant. Which makes you wonder: As soon as we think divorce is the answer, isn’t it amazing when you share that theory with others, most will always ask, “have you prayed about it first?” Why do they ask that? Well, genius, you can’t call yourself a Christian then make a decision to Crucify your Covenant, and think people aren’t going to ask if you consulted Christ! Even other people are under the impression that you have Christ in your marriage! And so they ask the obvious question of “have you prayed about it first?” And more often than not, we haven’t, we just want a quick fix for what we’ve allowed to slowly break down over the years. We want Jesus, in the beginning, to bless our covenant, but as soon as conflict and crisis hits along the journey, we pull the marriage over, kick Jesus out from behind the wheel, and then drive our marriages right over the cliff! After all, how can you possibly think you can reach your marital destination without the only One who has the directions? And remember, we kicked Him out! But when you take over the Wheel, you lose your Way from His Will!

So, the question is, “How much is Jesus Christ a real Person and Presence in your marriage?” Do you pray together about real life issues as if Jesus is right there with you? “Lord, we’ve got to talk to You about this together.” In fact, when was the last time you prayed With your spouse? And not for houses, cars, land, business, ministry, money, promotion, elevation, or personal gain. But prayed With your spouse: “Lord, teach us to be loving, faithful, supportive, encouraging, kind, generous, patient, forgiving. Teach us to acknowledge one another’s strength’s and be patient and understanding in one another’s weaknesses. Teach us to be a better man and woman; better husband and wife; better father and mother; better son and daughter; better disciples; better believers, better friends, better spouses, better lovers, better teammates. Teach us to walk by faith and not by sight. Teach us to trust You when our finances or health is failing. Teach us to be Your mirror to the world of what unconditional love really looks like.” When is the last time you prayed With your spouse, not for personal gain, but for personal growth?

Do you often ask together, “What would Jesus do?” Are you cultivating the habit of sharing what Christ has said to you from His Word that day with each other? Are you at church together? Do you sit together? Do you labor in ministry together? Do you get on your knees together and fight for your family and children?

And though most ‘super-saved Christian’s’ may call it ‘carnal’, but do you also laugh together, watch television together, travel together, go to the movies, out to dinner, go shopping, do you still date and court your spouse? Do you call and text your spouse as much as you do everybody else? Are you in your spouses’ face more than you’re on Facebook? Do you share as many pictures with your spouse as you do with Instagram? Do you text your spouse as much as you tweet? Do you send flowers? Do you enjoy engaging conversation from talking about Jesus, to the weather, to the government, to what you ate for lunch? Do you take walks? Do you still share dreams, or have you only become each other’s nightmares? Do you sit down to dinner, in your own home, at your own dinner table, without the intruding guest of your cellphone, internet or social media? Do you go for a long drive? Picnic in the park? Weekend get-a-way to no-where in particular? Have you planned your vacation? Have you passionately made love to your spouse or do you simply settle for watching such scenes on movies screens with actors portraying the roles of marital bliss? I know, sounds ‘carnal’ to some, but for those who know that it takes your body, soul and spirit to make a marriage work, you get it! We don’t spend all of our time in church, in the Word or in prayer! Those things are wonderful, those things are needful, especially when they’re done as couples, however, going to the beach won’t send you to hell either! If you’re finding it difficult to laugh with your spouse over something silly, then something is wrong! Even Jesus, slept, ate, prayed, and wept…in other words, Jesus expressed His natural as well as His spiritual. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with you doing the very same! As a couple you can preach the walls of Jericho down, but when you’re done, go to Olive Garden and eat some pasta! Are you getting this?! You cannot expect to have an Enjoyable marriage that has no Joy!

Maybe the marriage is rotting because you’ve both stopped eating the fruit of the Spirit! Imagine if you digested daily more love for your spouse, more joy and peace with your spouse, more forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness towards your spouse, and more self-control to keep yourself only for your spouse, you’d see a tremendous difference take place in your marriage. That’s the beauty of having Jesus not only in your marriage, or a part of your marriage, but having Him (His Spirit) as Head Over your marriage! Then, even on bad days, you could still be good to your spouse!

So, are you attempting to make marriage work with just the two of you, or have you considered a love triangle with Jesus? After all, who better to have in the midst of your marriage, and even in the midst of its’ problems then Jesus? Jesus saves, heals, delivers, forgives, understands, is patient, kind, loving, and generous. Who better to teach a couple such characteristics but the One who has exemplified such characteristics with the Godhead? Isn’t it amazing how they work together? And as a believer, you have the opportunity and privilege to invite them into your marriage to show you how to work together just like Them.

I’ve always said it, and always will, most often the issue in marriage isn’t ‘we’ve grown apart’, the issue is ‘we haven’t grown up.’ Marriage takes Maturity. It takes two people that will stop screaming ‘mine’ and start screaming ‘ours’. It takes two people that will stop trying to have their own way, and instead go in the way of God. It takes two people who learn to talk to each other and with each other not against each other and at each other. It takes two people who learn to attentively listen, even when they have so much they want to say. It takes sacrifice, and sacrifice is painful and bloody! No one has ever made a sacrifice and thought it was good or even felt good! It’s hard, it’s tough, it can be absolutely grueling, but when you remember the purpose and payoff of the sacrifice you’ll know it was worth it! But you have to ‘adult’ to get there! You can’t play the bully; you can’t be the whiner; you can’t pick the fight; you can’t run to your corner and call it quits; you can’t drag in reinforcements of the flesh, and think it will better anything! No! For this, you’ve got to grow up, mature, adult and fight to maintain the marriage you willfully made!

The good news? You don’t have to do it alone! If only we’d stop inviting and involving Jesus in the Wedding only…and start inviting and involving Jesus in the Marriage also, we’d be so much better! However, if truth be told, we have a bad tendency to invite everyone else into our marriages, Except Jesus. Oh, we’ll talk to family, friends, coworkers, and just people of interest that will lend an ear (some with pure motives and intentions, many without). But the One person we committed our vows before is the One person we overlook in marital trouble. We seek outside sources, when He’s waiting on the sidelines, ever so patient, for us to include Him back in the triangle. I mean, if it started with Him, shouldn’t we carry it all the way through with Him?

But sadly, we as a church live in a day and age where anyone, anything, everyone, everything is easily discarded. Can you imagine if we had to be perfect in order for Jesus to come? He would never have come because none of us are perfect. Instead, He came because our imperfections needed Him. He didn’t throw our sins in our face; He didn’t get joy out of our sorrows, pain or failures; He didn’t say that we weren’t good enough; He didn’t give us a laundry list of perfection to live up to before He came. And yet, we as believers, look for others, especially our spouses, to live up to an ideal that’s not ideal. We want them to cross every ‘T’ and dot every ‘I’, even though we don’t and we can’t. And so when we don’t get what we expected, imagined or wanted, we discard. Aren’t you grateful Jesus doesn’t work like that? Not even Judas’ betrayal; Peter’s denial; or Thomas’ doubts could make Him replace them. He loved them, embraced them, and accepted them as the flawed individuals they were. However, as spouses, we don’t always treat one another with the same unconditional love. We don’t extend the same grace, mercy, and forgiveness. We aren’t as patient, dedicated, or determined. No, we simply and quickly discard.

Which makes me wonder about many of us and our employment. So many of us work on jobs that we hate or with people we would much rather not even walk on the same sidewalk with. And yet, we never up and quit our jobs; we don’t leave; we don’t walk away; we don’t throw our hands up and throw the towel in. We can be frustrated, taken advantage of, misused, disrespected, treated unfairly and even poorly, and still, 30 years later, we’re on the same job. If only we treated marriages with the same commitment.

Oh, there will be days when you’ll want to file for divorce; days you’ll have no idea why you got married in the first place; days when you think ‘who is this person?’ There will be conflict, arguments and even misunderstandings. There will be days that are hard and nights that are long. But if you wouldn’t throw in the towel on a job with people you hate; how can you throw in the towel with the person you said you love? Know this: Eventually that job will have no need of you and will discard you (retirement). But you’re married to a person who’s in it ‘till death do we part’, and yet that’s the person you choose to resign from? Listen, marriage is hard, it’s work and there will be days when you feel like it’s more work than going to work! But is it still worth it? Absolutely. God still hates divorce; adultery is still a sin; and a vow made, should still be a vow maintained.

Let today be the day you re-exam your own marriage. Is Jesus still a part of it, or have the two of you given Him the boot? Is He still the first person you consult, or does He come in after you’ve called Tyrone; texted Sheila; emailed Leslie; or inboxed David? The Man who has given sight to the blind; speech to the mute; walking to the lame; and life to the dead can surely help your marriage, don’t you think?

As a kid, I remember playing all kinds of sports, I was a tom-boy after all. But one of the things everyone hated was to be picked last to be on a team. Is that what you’ve done to your spouse? Is that what you’ve done to your Jesus? Are they the last people you pick to play on your team? No one wants to feel as though they are in ‘add-on’. No one wants to feel like ‘I’ll get to you on my to-do-list when I can’. No one wants to feel unappreciated, undervalued, unwanted, unloved. So, make sure neither your spouse nor your Savior is feeling this way.

Lastly, when God is Love, how do you think you can manage a marriage without Him who is Love? The Father so full of love sent His very own Son to die just for us; Jesus so full of love laid down His own life, voluntarily, just for us; the Holy Spirit so full of love, has moved in and made His home in us, His temple. Now, just imagine if you invited and involved the Godhead into your marriage the level of love you both would be filled with?

Love triangles with people will destroy your marriage, but one with the Godhead ensures that it’s indestructible! Which will you choose today?

Before you get married, wait for someone who is joined to Jesus as you are, because it is worth the wait. And after you marry, practice His presence daily in your home. A love triangle with Jesus as that real third person is the strongest bond on earth!

“Determine to pray more words over your marriage than you speak about your marriage.” (Lysa TerKeurst)

“A husband and wife must function like two wings on the same bird. They must work together or the marriage will never get off the ground.” (Dave Willis)

“When you face a struggle in your marriage, remind yourself that the struggle will become a story someday. It will either be a story about why you divorced or a story about how you worked together to build a stronger marriage. You get to decide which story becomes true.” (Dave Willis)

“Marriage is not 50-50; divorce is 50-50. Marriage has to be 100-100. It’s not splitting everything in half, but giving everything you’ve got.” (Dave Willis)

“Love your spouse more than you love your career, hobbies and money. That other stuff can’t love you back.” (Dave Willis)

“Your children are learning about marriage by watching you. Treat your spouse the way you want your children’s future spouses to treat them someday.” (Dave Willis)

“When we get married, it is always helpful to remember that we are both sinners. Neither of us is perfect. We will mess up. We will at times hurt each other. And we will need to practice forgiveness.” (Simply One in Marriage)

“I want my life and my marriage to look less like the world and more like Christ.” (Marquis Clarke)

“Always strive to give your spouse the very best of yourself; not what’s left over after you have given your best to everyone else.” (Dave Willis)

“Great marriages don’t happen by luck or by accident. They are the result of a consistent investment of time, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, affection, prayer, mutual respect and a rock-solid commitment between a husband and wife.” (Dave Willis)

“Real Love is when you are completely committed to someone even when they are being completely unlovable.” (Dave Willis)

“In every disagreement with your spouse, remember that there is not a winner and a loser. You are united in everything, so you will either win together or lose together. Work together to find a solution where you both win.” (Dave Willis)

“Be the person you want to be married to.” (Author Unknown)

“Marriage is less about Perfection and more about Perseverance.” (Fierce Marriage)

“The more you Invest in your marriage, the more Valuable it becomes.” (Author Unknown)

“How to fight in a Christian Marriage: Shut Up; Back Up; Pray Up; Make Up.” (Matthew Jacobson)

“More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the Better comes after the Worse.” (Doug Larson)

“A strong marriage rarely has two strong people at the same time. It is a husband and wife who take turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak.” (Author Unknown)

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” (Author Unknown)

“There is no challenge strong enough to destroy your marriage as long as you are both willing to stop fighting against each other and start fighting for each other.” (Dave Willis)

“Your marriage will not be defined by the size of your struggles, but by the size of your commitment to overcome the struggles together.” (Dave Willis)

“Your marriage vows are most important in those moments when they are most difficult to keep.” (Dave Willis)

“We charge our cellphones daily but let our marriages die. If your smartphone receives more daily charging than your spouse, then you’re spending way too much time talking to the wrong people.” (Marriage365)

“Couples who make it aren’t the ones who never had a reason to divorce; they are simply the ones who decided early on that their commitment to each other was always going to be bigger than their differences and flaws.” (Dave Willis)

“When forced to choose between your career and your spouse, your friends and your spouse, or even your family and your spouse, you must always choose to put your spouse ahead of the rest. If your first loyalty isn’t to your spouse, then you don’t really understand the meaning of marriage.” (Dave Willis)

“The problem with marriage today isn’t marriage. The problem is the people going into it have no idea what they’re committing to. Marriage is more than two rings, and a pretty dress. It’s a covenant to be kept.” (Meaningful Marriages)

“Your spouse is the one person who has seen you at your worst; smelled your morning breath, put up with your crazy relatives; endured your quirky habits and still loves you more than anyone on earth.” (Dave Willis)

“Your spouse should never have to face any struggle without your full partnership, encouragement, and support.” (Dave Willis)

“If every couple quit when marriage got difficult, 100% of couples would be divorced. Challenges in your marriage are an opportunity to work together, not an excuse to give up on each other.” (Dave Willis)

“Lifelong love isn’t the result of Compatibility. It’s the result of Commitment.” (Dave Willis)

“In most cases, the only person who ‘wins’ in a divorce is the attorney. The husband and wife both suffer heavy losses financially, relationally, and emotionally.” (Dave Willis)

“Secrecy is the enemy of intimacy. Every healthy relationship is built on a foundation of honesty and trust.” (Dave Willis)

“Don’t just be physically monogamous; be mentally monogamous as well. True intimacy begins in the heart and the mind; not in the bedroom.” (Dave Willis)

“Never trade temporary pleasure for permanent regret.” (Dave Willis)

“Instead of nagging about your spouse, try bragging about your spouse. Build them up, don’t tear them down. Focus on what they are doing right instead of always pointing out what they are doing wrong.” (Dave Willis)

“Fight less, cuddle more. Demand less, serve more. Text less, talk more. Criticize less, compliment more. Stress less, laugh more. Worry less, pray more. With each new day, find new ways to love each other even more.” (Dave Willis)

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

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“The Stretching Is Strengthening Your Faith!”

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“…thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer” (Psalm 4:1)

When God wants to make you a bigger person, He does it through “Distress”! The word “Distress” has an Old French Origin “Destresce”, from Latin “Distringere” which literally means “To Stretch Apart”! And “Stretch” is defined as “To be made or able to be made longer; wider without tearing or breaking; to extend to full length; last longer than expected; extend over a period of time; be sufficient for a particular purpose; extended storage capacity; and to use the maximum of one’s resources”.

You see saints, when you look at “Distress” in its Proper Perspective it doesn’t seem all that bad at all now does it?!

The Psalmist was “…Enlarged…” when he was in “…Distress…”! Trust me, you’re going to want to remember that! To “Enlarge” is defined as “To Make Bigger”! So the Psalmist was Made Bigger By God’s Distressing Stretches which resulted in him being made longer, wider (without tearing or breaking apart), he now also has the ability to extend to his full length, and even last longer than others expected and over a good amount of time as well, not to mention being sufficient in his purpose and having more than enough in his storage capacity to use to the max all of his resources!

In other words, Stop Complaining About Your Distress…It’s the Place Where God Enlarges You! I Bet You’re Ready To Be Distressed Now Aren’t You?!

You see, the way to build a stronger muscle is to lift more weight! Now, when a muscle is put under stress, you groan. But if you persist, that muscle grows stronger and what you were groaning about last week you are smiling about this week, because you can now handle what you couldn’t get a hold of before! Which is why I’m still trying to figure out who said the Christian Life was supposed to be easy? Because It Certainly Was NOT God! His Word actually compares the Believers Life to a Battlefield, not a Bed of Roses! The Bible even declares: “…endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

Let’s look at how a few other translations word this text:

“Take [with me] YOUR SHARE of the hardships and suffering [which you are CALLED TO ENDURE] as a good (FIRST-CLASS) soldier of Christ Jesus” (AMP);

“Accept YOUR SHARE of suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (CEB);

“As a good solder of Christ Jesus YOU MUST endure your share of suffering” (CEV);

“Thou therefore suffer affliction as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (GNV);

“JOIN ME in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (GWT);

“TAKE YOUR PART in suffering, as a loyal soldier of Christ Jesus” (GNT);

Hopefully you noticed a few things:

1.       YOU SHOULD’VE NOTICED PHRASES LIKE: “YOUR SHARE” and “JOIN ME”, in the translations above. And why is that relevant? Because, believe it or not, you are not in your Distress ALONE! When God calls you to endure hardness, He does not send you as a lone soldier and call you an Army! So before you start complaining, realize that you are not the only one! Here’s a perfect Scriptural Example: Elijah said, “I am the ONLY ONE LEFT, and now they are trying to kill me, too” (1 Kings 19:10, 14) And God’s reply? “Yet I will preserve 7,000 OTHERS in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” (1 Kings 19:18). Right when you think you’re the ONLY ONE, God will show you He has 7,000 More, Just Like You! As hard and lonely as your distressing moment may feel, you are not alone! You have other brothers and sisters in distress with you! If you stop your self-made pity party, you could celebrate the presence of your comrades! You are not the only one struggling in marriage; you are not the only one praying the Lord has mercy on your children’s idiotic decisions; you are not the only one battling loneliness in the midnight hour; you are not the only one unemployed; taking medication; surviving an illness; dissatisfied with the reflection they see in the mirror; heartbroken or trying to figure out how do I get myself out of what I got myself into?! Listen, the military does not call one soldier an army! Neither does God! You have soldiers who are fighting day-to-day just like you to win the battles of life. And just like them, YOU must take YOUR SHARE and JOIN in the warfare with the rest of God’s Army! So no more murmuring and complaining, as the Word of God admonishes you, JOIN In the Suffering and TAKE YOUR SHARE As a Good Solider!

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” (Zig Ziglar);

“If you’re not going to put forth any effort to change it, don’t waste your efforts complaining about it.” (Author Unknown);

“Complaining is draining. Complaining only takes away energy from today and never solves the problems for tomorrow.” (James Altucher);

“If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” (Dr. Maya Angelou);

“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” (Teddy Roosevelt);

“If you’re not helping to make it right, then stop complaining about it being wrong.” (Author Unknown)

2.       DID YOU NOTICE THAT THOSE WHO “ENDURE” are “CALLED to Endure”? Read the text! “Take [with me] YOUR SHARE of the hardships and suffering [which you are CALLED TO ENDURE]…” (AMP) I find it absolutely Amazing that we don’t mind being called to preach, teach, prophesy, pray, preside, lay hands, lead the solo, sit in the pulpit, in the big, special chair, or on the front pew or to wear all sorts of titles, positions, offices, rings, robes and bedazzled crosses, but we Complain About Being Called To Endure! Oh, you can CALL us Apostle, Prophet, Bishop, Pastor, Elder, Evangelist, Minister, Deacon, Missionary, Director…Just Don’t CALL Us to Endure! Oh, you can CALL us blessed, anointed, gifted, talented, awesome, phenomenal, handsome, beautiful, smeared in blessed oil…Just Don’t CALL Us to Endure! Listen, “Endure” simply means “to suffer (something painful and prolonged) PATIENTLY; to TOLERATE; and to Remain in Existence” In other words, NO you’re not going to come out of it in 2 days, you are Called to Endure…Patiently! Tolerate it, Handle It, Remain in its Existence or in other words, Stop Trying to Outrun Suffering and Hardness That Is Your Share to Carry! Stand Still and Handle It, That’s What Good Soldiers Are Commanded To Do!

In addition, God Would Not Give You A Calling He Didn’t Equip You To Answer! Listen to the Word of God: “Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it).” (Hebrews 13:21 AMP); “ And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (Philippians 1:6 AMP); “And those whom He thus foreordained, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified (acquitted, made righteous, putting them into right standing with Himself). And those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity and condition or state of being].” (Romans 8:30 AMP) People of God, You Are Not In Your Distress Alone and God Called You to Endure It! And Last I Checked, Obedience Is Still Better Than Sacrifice!

“Without patient endurance, even the smallest thing becomes unbearable. A lot depends on our attitude.” (Dalai Lama);

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a difficult thing, but to turn it into glory.” (William Barclay);

“Don’t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” (Bruce Lee);

“Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen.” (Oswald Chambers);

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, Yet, I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” (Og Mandino);

“I’m a distance runner. I’ve been trained to keep going, even when it’s hard. When it hurts. When it sucks. When I don’t want to. I look past it. Relentless forward progress to the finish. Call it what you want; stubbornness, endurance, determination, guts. Deep down, I don’t know how to give up.” (Author Unknown)

3.       ONE OF THE TRANSLATIONS DECLARES, “…you MUST endure your share of suffering”(CEV)  The word “MUST” is defined as “To be obligated”. “Obligated” has a Latin Origin “Obligare”, from “Ligare” which literally means “To Bind”!  It’s root is found in the legal field and is called a “Binding Agreement/Contract”, and in a nutshell it is defined as: “An agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit known as consideration”. It also carries the definition, “An agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law”. If anyone in the Bible was the epitome of a “Binding Agreement/Contract”, it was the Apostle Paul! And even he was not alone, both Timothy and James were called Bondservants as well, and a Bondservants’ main purpose is to be Obedient To Their Master! When something is Binding Nothing Should Separate It! It’s an Agreement a Contract that Serves to Benefit Both Parties! You are indeed called to endure hardness and handle your place of distress, which means you are obligated to this also! This is not an option! This is a requirement! It’s a legal, written (the Bible) Law, Agreement and Contract between you and your God! So as Distressing as it may be, You MUST Endure It! Never Forget, Every Binding Agreement Comes With a Promise Attached!

“Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience.” (Steven Furtick);

“We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.” (Boyd K. Packer);

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

“Obedience doesn’t make God love you more, but it does show that you love God.” (Greg J. Barber);

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

“Obedience is a choice. It is a choice between our own limited knowledge and power and God’s unlimited wisdom and omnipotence.” (L. Tom Perry);

“Let the consequences of your obedience be left up to God.” (Oswald Chambers);

“God is awesome. He doesn’t need you to be awesome; He needs you to be obedient.” (Matt Chandler);

“There will be no peace in any soul until it is willing to obey the Voice of God.” (D.L. Moody);

“In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact.” (D. Todd Christofferson);

“Selective obedience brings selective blessings.” (Jorg Klebingat);

“When the Holy Spirit lays something in your heart, move without hesitation. You have no idea who may be depending on your immediate obedience.” (Author Unknown);

“He who refuses to obey, cannot command.” (Author Unknown)

4.       I’VE ALWAYS LOVED THE SAYING, “GOD DON’T MAKE NO JUNK!” And that’s the truth! One of the translations above even calls us, “…FIRST CLASS SOLDIERS…Even in Distress, We Are Still First-Class! We May Have to Endure Sitting In Distress, But At Least We Do It Sitting In First-Class! Listen, God Called You and Equipped You, Therefore, You Can Endure It! Yes, Your Uniform Has Been Beaten, Battered and, Torn, But Don’t You Dare Take It Off and Don’t You Dare Abandon It! You Are a First-Class Soldier and You Can Endure! So Act Like It!

“Don’t ever make the mistake of telling God that you have nothing to offer. That simply is not true. God does not create any junk.” (Dr. Myles Munroe);

“I am somebody cause God don’t make no junk.” (Ethel Waters);

“I am a Citizen of a Kingdom that Cannot be Shaken. A Child of a King with No Limitations.” (Author Unknown);

“You have something to offer that nobody else can offer. Nobody has your exact personality or your gifts. You are more than average. You are one-of-a-kind.” (Author Unknown)

And What Has All of That to do with Strengthening Your Faith? Well, Satan’s number one target is your FAITH! And if you don’t learn how to stand your ground in the midst of distressing seasons, he will aim at, and hit the target of your faith, piercing it through-and-through every time! Just ask Peter!

Jesus said to Peter, “…Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your FAITH should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32 NKJV). In the same way you separate wheat from chaff, Satan wants to separate you from your Faith!  Don’t Let It Happen! No Matter How Deep the Distress, No Matter How Far The Stretch, No Matter How Enormous The Endurance Must Be…Don’t Let Your Faith Fail!

Listen: Not only did Peter survive this attack, and strengthen his brothers, but he also grew through it and wrote: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12 NKJV). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

In other words, “There Will Be Glory After This!” And It’s Coming, Just Around the Corner! So remain steadfast on your journey! Fight, Endure, and While You’re Strengthening Your Faith, Strengthen Your Brothers, And Before You Know It, God Will Enlarge You IN Distress…And When It’s Done He Will Have Glory Waiting to Greet You…Just Around the Corner!

If Satan can destroy your confidence in God and His Word, he wins and you lose! So the Word for you today is to be encouraged because “The Stretching is Only to Strengthen Your Faith!

“You have to sweat for it. HE requires an investment from you. The miracle is in your discomfort. Stretch!” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“The circumstances of life will shrink or stretch your faith. Either way, the choice is always yours.” (James MacDonald)

“Sometimes God stirs us out of comfortable situations in order to stretch us and cause us to exercise our faith. We may not like it, and it may not always be comfortable, but God loves us too much to just leave us the way we are.” (Author Unknown)

“The stretching of your faith is an immediate pain that results in ultimate gain. It is in the waiting that we become who we are meant to be.” (Mandy Hale)

“This season, God is stretching you. You won’t pop, but you will stretch in your faith, dreams, vision, and goals. Trust God and stretch.” (Author Unknown)

“For God’s purpose to Spread, God’s people must Stretch.” (Steven Furtick)

“God doesn’t always take you out of the problem. Sometimes, He stretches your faith by taking you through the problem.” (Rick Warren)

“If God is stretching you, He’s transforming you.” (Author Unknown)

“You can’t grow without being stretched.” (Amy Gatliff)

“God’s plan is so big for you that it’ll require you to Stretch!” (Author Unknown)

“When God is stretching you, expect great things on the other side.” (Author Unknown)

“When God stretches you beyond your comfort zone, He’s preparing you for greater.” (Dianna Hobbs)

“God wants us to be constantly stretching and growing. There are new levels for you to rise up to. There are new treasures within you to discover. Explore what God has placed within you because He has purpose for everything within you.” (Victoria Osteen)

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

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“The Danger of Shallow Roots”

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Colossians 2:6-7, “As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. HAVE THE ROOTS [OF YOUR BEING] FIRMLY AND DEEPLY PLANTED [IN HIM, FIXED AND FOUNDED IN HIM], BEING CONTINUALLY BUILT UP IN HIM, BECOMING INCREASINGLY MORE CONFIRMED AND ESTABLISHED IN THE FAITH, JUST AS YOU WERE TAUGHT, AND ABOUNDING AND OVERFLOWING IN IT WITH THANKSGIVING.” (AMPC)

I must admit, I’m not exactly what you would call an outdoors kind of gal. Now, I love long walks (but taking them up mountains, in valleys or through the woods…not my cup of tea)! But as always I love talking about my wonderful friends from all over the world, and today I’ll introduce you to Madeline. I love her dearly (however, I will never travel anywhere on this earth with her!) Sounds a little harsh I know, but then you’ve got to know Madeline to understand why I feel the way I do. You see, Maddy (as we call her), loves hiking! She absolutely adores rock climbing, hanging from the mountains on wires, tracking through the forest in hopes of meeting Smokey the Bear or Yogi I presume. In other words, Maddy loves the great outdoors, and if she could hike 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she would!

But even though I will never go hiking with Maddy, the nerdy, curious kid in me who’s always ready to learn something strange and new, always listens to Maddy’s discoveries. Mostly so I can find a way to weave them into an analogy for the devotionals (which her last hiking expedition has allowed me to do today).

So, Maddy on one of her many ‘see the world’ journey’s, found out a tidbit that of course she shared with my teachers brain. She learned about two kinds of trees: First, there were the beautiful White Alder trees. They grow lushly by the river bed and they wave their leaves. And she said what’s most interesting about them is that they can evaporate up to 400 gallons of water a day!

However, even with that amount of daily water as its’ intake, the roots of the White Alder are still very shallow. They get plenty of water, but have shallow roots. So, when the floods come in, they’ve got a serious problem! We’ll talk more about that problem in a minute.

Next, Maddy said she also learned about the desert zone trees. Now, these trees are ones in the desert that survive on only 40 gallons of water…a year! What happens is, they use everything they get, so their roots are deep! They don’t allow the water they receive to evaporate like the White Alder trees do, no, they use theirs instead! The White Alder allows what it receives to be evaporated (even though what it receives is more than enough)! Which leaves it with shallow roots. The desert zone trees, use every drop of water it receives, therefore it has strong roots!

With that said, guess which one is still standing after a violent storm? Yep, you guessed it, the one with strong and deep roots!

Our text today is also about roots. Not so much the roots of trees in the desert or trees by the river bed, but God’s trees–that would be you and me! Let’s take a look at our text: Colossians 2:6-7, “As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.” (AMPC)

The first important thing to note is this: “As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord…” In other words, church, disciples, children of God, believers, this is speaking to US! To those who have received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, this message is to US! And what message is that? “…walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.”

This speaks of what we are to look like and live like. This speaks of our conduct, behavior, character, growth and development. This speaks of the examples and standards that we are to set. This speaks of the image, likeness, reflection and representation we are to show forth. We are to walk as one with Him. Conform to Him. Look, think and act like Him. And how do we do this? We do so by having our roots (the core of who and what we are) being firmly and deeply planted in Him, fixed and founded in Him. That sounds like we need to put some serious work in! Which means this is not for the lazy, or the weak. To make something firm or to give something depth or to ensure something is planted, fixed and founded, requires work! This doesn’t happen overnight. Nor can you snap your finger and have growth, maturity, and development appear. As believers, this will take the consistency of bible study, Sunday school, prayer, fasting, devotional time, and consecration to the Lord to attain. You cannot however, get this by showing up part-time on the most celebratory services of the church. You can’t get this by the position or title you hold, or the chair that happens to hold you. You don’t get this via popularity or electoral vote. You don’t get this because of how long you’ve been there, who you’re connected to, or who you are (or think you are) in your own high-minded imagination. No, this comes through servanthood, humility, obedience, discipline, diligence, perseverance and faithfulness!

And by no means, think that once you’ve gotten a little growth under your belt that you are allowed to become stagnant. No, the Bible goes on to say: “…BEING CONTINUALLY BUILT UP IN HIM, BECOMING INCREASINGLY MORE CONFIRMED AND ESTABLISHED IN THE FAITH, just as you were taught, and ABOUNDING and OVERFLOWING in it with thanksgiving.” In other words, our work of growth, maturity and development never stop this side of heaven! We then have to “CONTINUALLY” which is defined as, “NON-STOP and TIME WITHOUT END”, be built up in Him.

Think about this: Have you ever seen a clean construction worker, sitting on the sides of a site? No, in order to build, they have to work, sweat and get dirty! This is not a walk in the park or a bed of roses. This is work! This is construction! And the importance of building it correctly is found in the wording: “…confirmed and established.” Ponder this: would you want to live in a house where the staircase, floor, walls, plumbing, wiring, and roof are all a hit or miss, if they will remain confirmed and established? Of course not, so why are you asking God to live in you if you are not going to put in the work to be a home of residence where He can dwell in that is “built, confirmed, and established”?

Furthermore, it is to be “…increasingly…abounding…overflowing…” Does anything about those words sound stagnant to you? Of course not!

Increase” is defined as “to make or become greater in size, amount, or degree.” Its Latin Origin “increscere”, from ‘crescere’ literally means “TO GROW.

Abound” is defined as “to exist in large numbers or amounts.” Its Latin Origin ‘abundare’ literally means “TO OVERFLOW.

Overflow” is defined as “to flow over the brim of a receptacle; to be excessively full or crowded; to be very full; to have an excess not able to be accommodated by a space.

This all describes how we the church are to be built up in HIM! This all describes how we the church are to be built up in our FAITH! This all describes how we the church are to be built up in THANKSGIVING! Continually being built, confirmed and established; continually increasing, abounding and overflowing, in Him, in Faith and in Thanksgiving! And we can’t even use the lame, repetitive, excuse of ‘I didn’t know’, because the Scripture clearly states, “…JUST AS YOU WERE TAUGHT…”! In a nutshell: We KNOW Better, So Why Aren’t We Doing, Growing, Being and Living Better?! We Can’t Say We Didn’t KNOW! And what does the Bible say about KNOWING what to do and NOT doing it? James 4:17, “REMEMBER, IT IS SIN TO KNOW WHAT YOU OUGHT TO DO AND THEN NOT DO IT.” (NLT) Disobedience is Still Sin! Selah…

Do you remember when you opened your life to Christ how dependent you were on Him; how hungry you were to get into His Word; how boldly and frequently you prayed; how trusting you were? Well, you see, these verses are necessary to talk to us about our roots because we have a tendency to get lazy about those spiritual roots! There was a time when you couldn’t kick us out of the church; we left school, work and anywhere else to be in the House of the Lord…and now people don’t even know if we’re still members because they rarely, if ever, see us in attendance. Many believers today behave like unbelievers, we’ve become annual holiday visitors to church! But when we first believed, we lived to be in the church. We were at every meeting; every rehearsal; every lesson; every sermon; every outreach program. We had a hunger and thirst to be in the House of the Lord, building the House of the Lord! There was a desperation that has since evaporated! What happened? There was a time when we were so close to the Living Waters, digesting every drop, flourishing and waving our leaves of victory…and then all of a sudden everything evaporated!

One of the definitions for the word “evaporate” is “TO CEASE TO EXIST.” But with so much Living Water supposedly flowing in us, how did we get to the place of the White Alder tree, we’re by the water, taking in the water, but when a storm hits, we go under because we’ve developed such shallow roots. Much about believers today has become shallow with no depth. Nothing to steady and keep us rooted, grounded and planted. How did we get here?

See, in many ways, we American Christians, are the White Alder tree that was described earlier–the one that has all that nourishment that evaporates up to 400 gallons of water a day, lives by the river bed, saturated with water, yet maintaining weak roots. And that’s the part that makes absolutely no sense because, we’re saturated with Christian resources on every hand! We’ve got Christian radio, and websites, and books and blogs, and TV, and Bible studies, and seminars, and conferences and convocations, we’re live streaming all over the world. Like the White Alder tree, we’re waving leaves and we’re celebrating. But we’re depending on temporary emotions and momentary good feelings, and popular events, and hopeful ‘just for me’ miracles, and experiences with the prophetic. Yet, with all of that, we’ve still got weak, shallow roots and we’re vulnerable to every life storm, because when we get in over our head, we’re guaranteed to drown since there’s no depth to anchor us.

Now, you talk to Christians in the desert places like China, for example, and they know where their roots are: consistent, personal Bible study every day; fervent prayer; deep roots in the church; always learning…always growing…inspite of the dangers they face for doing so. But we get lazy here in our spiritual rain forest. It takes a heavy hit to show us that what we have is broad, but not very deep, and maybe by then it’s gravely too late.

Oh, we know how to run, jump, spin, leap, dance, speak in tongues, hit the right cord, hoop on the perfect spot in the text. We know how to lay hands, fall out at the altar, pray loud enough to be seen, and perform well enough to be retweeted, liked and tagged. We know how to dress to impress (although I wonder if Jesus ever wore such elaborate ‘civics; vestments and garments’ in order to ‘do ministry’?) We know how to do protocol, programs and praise. We know how to sit in the right chair, and to stand in ovation for the official offices and officers. We have fancy footwork, loud clapping, and man we can holler! We can high-five, nudge, tag, tap and tell ya neighbor from the opening invocation to the closing benediction! Let us tell it, we are the most wonderful, awesome, great, famous, anointed, gifted, powerful, miracle-working, signs and wonders saints of all time!

And yet, our attitudes haven’t improved; our dress attire looks no different than it did when we were unsaved in the club; we still cuss, drink, smoke (you know, all those things we like to call our ‘struggles and strongholds’, when in fact they’re more like our comfortable habits and addictions that we have no intentions on changing (especially if no one else finds out about them). We can’t reflect the image and likeness of Christ, but we can sure selfie. We can text in church, but can’t properly expound on a sermon text. We have thousands of friends in our social media circles, but can’t count 10 people in our church circle that can confirm our character. We can network on the web, but not meet the needs of the needy in our neighborhoods. We have more saints on ‘facebook live’ then we have ‘living epistles’ in the church.

Church, what has happened to us?

Makes me think of 2 Corinthians 11:1-3, “…The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you so much—this is the passion of God burning inside me! I promised your hand in marriage to Christ, presented you as a pure virgin to her husband. And now I’m afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ.” (MSG) How did we go from being presented to Christ as a pure virgin to her husband, to being beguiled and tricked into having an adulterous affair with Satan via his ‘smooth patter’? And what does ‘patter’ means? It’s defined as, “rapid continuous talk, such as used by a salesman; trivial jargon.” Satan pitched us a quick line of flattery about all he can offer us in this world, and just like that we traded the Kingdom for a cheap earthly thrill! How unfortunate that Christians aren’t more like their Christ when tricks of temptation rear their ugly head?! Because the Bible reads: “Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights HE WAS TESTED BY THE DEVIL. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry. The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.” JESUS ANSWERED BY QUOTING DEUTERONOMY: “It takes more than bread to really live.” For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.” JESUS REFUSED, AGAIN BACKING HIS REFUSAL WITH DEUTERONOMY: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.” For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?” “YES,” SAID JESUS, “AND IT’S ALSO WRITTEN, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’” That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.” (Luke 4:1-11 MSG)

JESUS WASN’T LURED BY THE SMOOTH PATTER OF THE DEVIL’S TONGUE…SO WHY ARE WE (WHO HAVE HIS POWER WITHIN) SO EASILY BEGUILED?

Which is why I reiterate, how did we get here Church? How did we reach such heights, with no depth? How did we get to this place of importance that we traded it for significance? When did we become so engrossed in becoming the same, that we’ve forfeited making a difference? When did entertainment supersede education, encouragement and empowerment? When did our calendars becoming busier than our calling? When did our fruit began rotting?

I find this most terrifying because in the same breath, we can look around us at what’s happening, and listen to the radio and see all that’s going on in the news and in our government and still we’ll say ‘we’re living in the end times.’ But if in fact we are, is this what the church should look and live like? Is this what we as believers should reflect in our public and private lives and lifestyles?  Makes you wonder, when the trumpet sounds, can we honestly say that we’ve made the people aware, and that we’ve lived in a state of readiness? When He returns, are we really sure that we’ll return with Him?

The White Alder trees, live by the waters, take in 400 gallons of water daily, they wave their leaves…they have the very appearance of health, height and depth. They look as if when the storm hits, we’ll remain standing. But sadly, what they take in they don’t use, so when the storm hits, the beautiful rain forest that they’ve imagined themselves to be in, will become a desolate swamp. Why? They had a whole lot of height, but no depth at all.

You know, maybe it’s time now for us to see that our roots need to be growing, and not just our leaves. You see, the White Alder tree, has leaves that are constantly waving, though on the inside they’re wilting. The word “wilt” is defined as “to become limp through loss of water; to droop; to lose energy.” Its Origin ‘welk’ means ‘TO LOSE FRESHNESS.’ And that’s what’s happening to us church. We’re wilting. We have all the resources at our fingertips, and still we’ve lost our green-thumb. Do you know some things about the Lord that you didn’t know a month ago? Have you given Him some new ground that He didn’t have a month ago? Are you praying in fresh, new ways? Is your relationship with God mostly vertical…not horizontal, just when you’re with His people? In the right social settings and circles. Can you say that you’re growing in God daily and not just giving the appearance of growth?

Well, you could be saturated all day, every day, and still not be strong enough to withstand the storms of life. Which is why I stopped by today to admonish, you and me, to build our roots. So when the storm or the drought comes, we’ll stand tall through it all. Today, is a great day for us to begin again. A day to repent, turn and change. A day to restore, revive, renew, and redeem the remainder of our days that we will have made an impact on the world, instead of just an impression. Let today be the day that you go deeper in God. Not just Sunday services, but personal devotional services with just you and God in your prayer closet. I know in this day and age, everything has to be seen. But sometimes you need a moment away from the limelight and spotlight, and simply spend quiet time with God in your dim prayer closet. Ask Him to develop your negatives in the darkroom so you can become the light of the world that you should have been all along.

Instead of being a show for the world, let’s show the world Him. No personal glory, just God. Let’s show them what humility looks like. What servanthood looks like. What discipleship looks like. What growth, maturity and development looks like. What faith, hope, trust, and obedience looks like. What unconditional love looks like. What accountability and responsibility looks like. What change looks like. What depth and roots look like. Today, Let’s Not Worry About Going Higher, But Going Deeper!

Ephesians 4:13-15, “[That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead. Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).” (AMPC);

1 Corinthians 3:1-2, “However, brethren, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to nonspiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [unable to talk yet!] I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]; but even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it]” (AMPC);

1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.” (AMPC);

1 Corinthians 14:20, “Brethren, do not be children [immature] in your thinking; continue to be babes in [matters of] evil, but in your minds be mature [men].” (AMPC);

2 Thessalonians 1:3, “We ought and indeed are obligated [as those in debt] to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing exceedingly and the love of every one of you each toward the others is increasing and abounds.” (AMPC);

Proverbs 1:5, “The wise also will hear and increase in learning, and the person of understanding will acquire skill and attain to sound counsel [so that he may be able to steer his course rightly]” (AMPC);

Acts 12:24, “But the Word of the Lord [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] continued to grow and spread.” (AMPC);

Hebrews 5:12-14, “For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food. For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]! But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.” (AMPC);

1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation,” (AMPC);

Luke 8:14-15, “And as for what fell among the thorns, these are [the people] who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked and suffocated with the anxieties and cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not ripen (come to maturity and perfection). But as for that [seed] in the good soil, these are [the people] who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in a just (noble, virtuous) and worthy heart, and steadily bring forth fruit with patience.” (AMPC);

Colossians 1:10, “That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition].” (AMPC)

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

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“No More Shallow Living For You!”

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I have quite a few social media sites. With that said, unfortunately, it gives people the misconception that I’m Ms. Technology, when that couldn’t be further from the truth! For instance, as much as I use my cellphone, I know very little about how it really functions, or how to use it to its full capacity. And the reason why? Because outside of making a call, receiving a call, or sending a text, I really don’t care to know much else! However, I’ve come to find out that is to my own loss. You see, there are so many buttons and gadgets that I really don’t want to take the time to figure out. I look at them and ignore them. And what makes matters worse is that my phone wasn’t just handed to me. It came in a box with a Manual for Maximum Usage! Have I read the manual? Absolutely not!

Finally, I got tired of everybody telling me how awesome my phone is and all the great things it’s capable of doing. So I enlisted the help of one of my IT guys to pick his brain. And to my amazement, I could not believe all the things I was able to do, that I wasn’t doing, only because I didn’t know I could! I was so comfortable with what I knew, that I didn’t want to put in the work to find out what I really needed to know. And that was that my comfort was crippling my capability!

However, now, at the click of one button I can access all of my schedules (and finally avoid so many scheduling conflicts because who knew my phone could organize my dates in priority without my help?). With one button I can check all of my email accounts. With one button I could have all of my social media sites on one page. I could even control what goes on in my house, while I’m away, by my phone! And all of this was at my fingertips, but I was too complacent to grab a hold of its full capability!

Now, let’s see what the Bible has to say about this.

Matthew 14:25-29, “And in the fourth watch of the night (3:00-6:00 a.m.) Jesus came to them, walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately He spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!” Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.”  He said, “Come!” So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” (AMP).

All the other disciples were just trying to ride out the storm. But Peter suddenly got a glimpse of the power of his Master and of something supernatural he could do if he risked everything on Jesus. And suddenly Peter was doing what people don’t do. He was walking on water!

The fact is that Jesus may be preparing you to step up to something far more supernatural than you’ve ever been or you’ve ever done before. In fact, if you’re anything like me, He’s made your heart restless for more so you would get out of the boat and start walking toward Him in an exciting new way. Truth is, there are quite a few endeavors that I’ve had my heart set on for quite a while. And fear and nervousness about stepping into something new, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar is honestly terrifying! BUT I don’t want to miss a moment because of a minute of insecurity.

Peter found out that day that if Jesus wants you to do it – no matter how beyond your capability it may be – He will give you whatever it takes to do it.

A lot of our Christian lives are like my multi-faceted cellphone. We’re settling for a level that is far below where we could be living. We’re looking at all those spiritual buttons. Maybe we know some other people who have tapped into those capabilities, but we’re settling for a powerless life when Christ in us wants to make our life really powerful. We’re settling for the mediocre when we’re wired for the miraculous.

Look at it like this: Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and apply for the mortgage, the business, student or car loan? Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and head that ministry or start a new one? Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and try that, or go there? Truth is, being inside the boat, especially during a storm, seems like the safest, best and most comfortable, and sensible place to be. But if Jesus isn’t in the boat, do you really think it’s the best place to be? If He’s outside the boat, even in the storm, don’t you think it’s better to be where Christ is than where your cushion is?

You have the Holy Spirit of the Almighty God living in you. You have backing you up the authority that Jesus has over everything in this universe. You have Jesus’ resurrection power in your life. Question is: So why aren’t you living like it?

Are you settling for only pushing a couple of God’s buttons when there are so many more that could open up a whole new frontier for you?

You need to be reading the Manual. You know that’s the Bible, and you need to be reading it every single day. Not just for theology, not just for a lesson to teach or a Word to preach. But looking for the keys to powerful faith and then using them to unlock your bound-up greatness. Tell the Lord, Lord, I want the “something more” you’ve made my heart hungry for. Then surrender yourself in a new, fresh way to Him. With all the things that are going on in your life now, update that old surrender. Let go of those areas that you’ve insisted on controlling. Get out of that safe little boat and dare to walk where you’ve never walked before!

In a nutshell: You will never get THERE staying HERE! Yes, this requires chance, risks, the probability that it won’t work, even failure. And yet I challenge you to try it anyway!

Think about it: Can you imagine how David’s story would’ve turned out if he stayed in the field with the sheep because he’d become comfortable in what he’s used to doing? What if Abraham decided not to leave his people and country? What if Noah decided he didn’t want to chance looking silly building an ark? What if Moses’ stutter held him captive? What if Esther thought that she wasn’t good enough since she was an orphan? What if Deborah said ‘no thanks, I’ll just stay in the back since men go in the front’? What if Paul thought his past was too bad for him to have a better future? What if Peter thought his denial would lead to the Lord’s ultimate denial? What if Hannah decided to accept her barrenness as this is just the cards I’ve been dealt? What if Joshua and Caleb agreed that the majority is always right? What if Rahab thought my profession will hinder me from protection? What if Mary said the public scandal would be too much for me to bear, kindly use someone else?

Can you imagine the tragedy of having their stories re-written with the pen of fear?

Listen to what your manual is telling you:

Matthew 19:26, “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible.” (AMP);

Matthew 17:20, “… for I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have [living] faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and [if it is God’s will] it will move; and NOTHING will be impossible for you.” (AMP); (Question: Do you know how silly it sounds that you can have enough faith to move a mountain, and yet you allow a little fear to keep you immobile?) Selah…

Mark 11:23, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s UNLIMITED POWER], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with God’s will].” (AMP);

Philippians 4:13, “I CAN DO ALL THINGS [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” (AMP)

Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us,” (AMP).

Like my cellphone, when you read the manual, you’ll be amazed at all you’re capable of doing!

So stop allowing your comfort to cripple your capability!

The word “cripple” is defined as “unable to walk or move properly through disability or injury; to make someone unable to move or walk properly; to cause severe and disabling damage to something”. And that’s exactly what your comfort is doing! It’s crippling your spiritual walk! When something or someone is cripple, their walk is unsteady and unstable. Reminds me of James 1:8, “being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides]” (AMP). Which is why you never want fear and comfort to cause you to be unstable, because that will cause you to think ‘I can’t do this’; to feel like ‘I’m not strong enough to accomplish this’; and then to make poor decisions like ‘let someone else who is more qualified attempt this.’

However, that’s not how your story is going to end! Today is the day you find your courage, your strength and your faith. Today is the day you deliberately decide I’m not staying in this comfort zone any longer. I may fall, I may fail, I may get it wrong, but I won’t get stuck in this place of mediocre any longer. Today, I’m getting out of the boat! Yes, I know no one has ever done it before; yes, I know it’s safer in the boat during the storm; yes, I know I’m taking a big risk and chance; yes, I know those who are in the boat are probably talking about me making the dumb decision to do something new, uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and different; yes, I know they’re sitting in the boat thinking I’m crazy for even trying this; yes, I know they’re waiting for me to sink so they can say I told you so; yes, I know getting out of the boat to walk on water is strange, nuts, odd, and even dangerous. AND YES, I’M STILL GOING TO DO IT ANYWAY!

For a minute, just think of all the inventors and inventions. Can you imagine if they allowed the ridiculousness of doing something different to stop them from trying? We wouldn’t have lights, trains, planes, cars, computers, medicine, washing machines, or cellphones! People on transplant lists would just have to die because who’s crazy enough to try and replace a heart or kidney?

Saints, it’s a new day, a new month and a new year! Don’t you want better this year than last year? Well then, do something better! Do something different! Do something new!

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” (Albert Einstein) Therefore, for the remainder of this year, stretch yourself; challenge yourself; dare yourself; compete with yourself; push yourself; encourage yourself; motivate yourself!

Remember this: There Is No GROWTH In Comfort Zones; Only Stagnation!

Ronald E. Osborn said, “Undertake something difficult; it will do you good. Unless you try something beyond what you have already mastered, you’ll never grow.

In closing, let’s look briefly at Luke 5:4:

“…Now GO out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” (NLT); “…PUSH out into deep water, and lower your nets for a catch.” (ISV)

The word “Go” in its simplest form means “To Move To Or From a Place” And that’s what you need to do if you are going to get what you’ve never gotten before! You’re going to have to Move From Where You Are and Move Towards Where You Need To Be! You Can’t Get It Standing Still or Staying Where You Are! Your Destiny Is Not On The Shore, It’s Out In The Deep, So Get Up Off Your Hind Parts and GO! Move Out Into the Deep!

The word “Push” in its simplest form means “To Exert Force So As To Move From and Move To.” Listen, You Are Not Going to Get This Passively! You are going to have to Exert Force! Which is why Comfort Zones are so Dangerous! They make you Complacent! And worse yet, they make you Stagnant! The word “Complacent” means “Smug and uncritically satisfied with oneself or one’s achievements” Which is why so many miss out on greater blessings because they’ve become so satisfied with where they are currently and what they’ve achieved and attained thus far! It’s Latin Origin “Complacere” means “To Please”. And that’s all they did, was reach a certain goal, and sit back pleased with the 3rd place ribbon in their hands and never getting back in the next race to try for the number one slot!  Don’t Do It! Don’t Become Complacent! There Is Far MORE For You To Attain, But You’ve Got to Believe You Can and Then Exert Force to Attain It!

The word “Stagnant” means “Motionless and often having an unpleasant smell as a consequence”. Don’t Let This Happen To You! Stagnant Water Stinks because it goes No Where! So animals in particular, go to the bathroom in Stagnant Water! And any waste just lying around gets stuck in Stagnant Water furthering its Awful Smell! Warning: Gossip Garbage Is Dumped In the Lives of Stagnant People! After All, They’re Going No Where and Doing Nothing and So Everyone with Everything and Anything Just Dumps and Deposits! On the other hand, When You’re Moving You Have No Time For Mess! So Don’t Just Stand There…MOVE…AND LAUNCH OUT INTO THE DEEP!

You’ve been HERE too long, today we’re moving over THERE!

The word “shallow” is defined as “of little depth; not going far; small distance; having little extension inward or backward; to be superficial; surface-focused.” Do you really want that to be descriptive of you, your life and dreams? That there’s little depth; you’re not going far, only small distances, you have little in you or behind you, your superficial and only focused on the simple, small, things that are easily attained. Surely you want more for yourself than that! Peter walked on the ocean, not the shallow end of the pool, and it’s time you did the same! If you are to attain depth, you have to go out into the deep! No more shallow living for you!

TODAY, WE DARE TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, NEW AND EVEN UNCOMFORTABLE AND UNFAMILIAR, SO THAT WE CAN FINALLY WAKE UP AND LIVE OUR DREAMS!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” (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 you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” (Thomas Jefferson)

“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” (Thomas Edison)

“God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, He will increase our capability.” (Neal A. Maxwell)

“Don’t limit yourself to someone else’s opinion of your capabilities. Be you. Dream, plan, execute!” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“The only permission, the only validation, and the only opinion that matters in our quest for greatness is our own.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Don’t you dare shrink yourself for someone else’s comfort – Do not become small for people who refuse to grow.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

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: “What is Situational Depression?”

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“Don’t Let OLD Destroy NEW”

dose

Mark 2:21-22, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk (new) cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear becomes worse. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the wineskins. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (AMP)

I absolutely love documentaries and history, simply because I love finding out the origin of things, where they began, why and how. But more importantly, I love to see if there’s been any change from the start of the thing to the present. Sometimes it’s good to see that things are now, just as they were when they began. However, that’s not in all cases.

I watched a documentary on the Revolution, and I learned something I didn’t know before. Question: Why did the American colonists win the Revolution? Well, it wouldn’t surprise you if you saw how the redcoats fought. You see, they fought battles in the OLD FASHIONED European way. They lined up in straight rows. The front row shoots. The next row rotates in while the others reload. Now, the colonists on the other hand, didn’t believe in lining up. They just came from everywhere! So those red uniforms all lined up in a rigid row…well, that’s like target practice, don’t you think? In other words, they were easy to see, easy to aim for, and easy to hit! Their old, outdated, rigid, well-organized, structurally sound way of fighting, didn’t work…any longer! But even though the colonists looked like they were disorganized, their NEW WAY of fighting won the battle!

Let’s listen in on Matthew 5:29-30. This is where the religious leaders are criticizing how Jesus is going about reaching people. The Pharisees and the people who followed them, they’re complaining to Jesus’ disciples: “Levi gave a large dinner at his home for Jesus. Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. The Pharisees and their religion scholars came to his disciples greatly offended. “What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and ‘sinners’?” (MSG). Then the Bible goes on to say, “And Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but [only] those who are sick. I did not come to call the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to repent], but sinners to repentance [to change their old way of thinking, to turn from sin and to seek God and His righteousness].” (vss. 31-32 AMP).

Then later the Bible goes on to further say, “He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old one; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.  And no one, after drinking old wine, wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is fine.’” (vss. 36-39 AMP)

See, Jesus broke out of the religious mold to reach people that no one else was touching – in a nutshell, new wine skins. Now, in those days the bottles in Palestine were really animal skins. And the wine would ferment and it would give off this gas. And if the bottle was new and it had elasticity in the skin, then it gave with the pressure. If it was an old wine skin, it was dry and hard, and of course it burst. And such is the issue with the church! We keep attempting to reach new believers with old behaviors, and it’s no wonder, it’s not working! New wine needs a new bottle to be poured into. If poured into the old, the old is no longer designed to handle the growth of expansion (that’s why it bursts!). It’s become hardened over the years, predictable, unyielding, unbending. It no longer handles the challenge of stress and pressure. So it bursts! And the result? The old is destroyed and the new is wasted!

Sometimes you have to replace an old idea with a new idea if you want God to do a new thing; if you want to reach people no one’s been reaching you have to let go of the old and get a good grip on something new. Like those Revolutionary War soldiers. The redcoats? They were rigid and they lost. The ones who were flexible won the battle. If we want new believers, we have to stop trying to reach them with old, outdated, rigid ways, that clearly no longer work!

Isaiah 43:16-21, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands…I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.” (MSG)

First things first, “FORGET ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENED…It doesn’t matter how your grandma did it, your mama or your daddy, your first church or your third pastor. You will always get the same old results, doing things the same old way. Forget about it! That was then, this is now. We have an entirely different generation in 2020, and the only reason we can’t reach them is because we won’t leave the methods of 1960, in 1960! It doesn’t make the old bad, but we have an opportunity for new, and we need to embrace the necessary change in order to get them.

Secondly, “…DON’T KEEP GOING OVER OLD HISTORY…It’s irrelevant how your Sunday school was taught in 1960; or how the ushers marched in 1970; or how the outreach witnessed in 1980; or how the choir sang in 1990; or how the anointing flowed in 2010! It’s even irrelevant how many souls were added to the kingdom in January, 2016! It’s May, 2020, and we need to constantly be evolving as a church! There’s bigger, better and greater waiting for us, as soon as we finally make the deliberate decision to leave the same, old, comfort zones alone!

Thought: Maybe God is trying to do a new thing in your life, in your church, in your ministry. But could it be that you’re unwilling to go with His flow? Maybe God is trying to do something new in your marriage, on your job, in your career, in your health, in your children, with your finances, in your family…but He can’t, because you can’t let go of what it was before! Which is why I bring the Word to you today, and admonish you, “FORGET ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENED…”; “…DON’T KEEP GOING OVER OLD HISTORY…

Let God Do Something Brand New!

Thirdly, “…BE ALERT, BE PRESENT…” Maybe today’s relationship would work out a bit better for you if you’d finally stop treating Paul like he’s Peter, and Tina like she’s Tracy! Stop reliving your past, and dragging your present into old bondage. You need to be PRESENTLY ALERT! Maybe that’s why you keep missing so much, because you’re focus is so ill-placed. All you see is the past, and God is already done there. Listen to what He says next: 

“…I’M ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING BRAND-NEW. IT’S BURSTING OUT! DON’T YOU SEE IT? THERE IT IS!…” How is it even possible for you not to see something BRAND-NEW, that’s BURSTING OUT?! That’s like standing right next to an erupting volcano, but not being able to see the lava! How can you miss it?! God is screaming, “…THERE IT IS!” But if you’re still stuck on THAT, you most certainly will never see THIS when it comes! And please hear me, you can’t afford to miss THIS!

He then says, “…I’M MAKING A ROAD THROUGH THE DESERT, RIVERS IN THE BADLANDS…” God is now telling you that He’s Providing For You and Making New Ways For You!

But, He even goes further, “…I PROVIDED WATER IN THE DESERT, RIVERS THROUGH THE SUN-BAKED EARTH…” That new thing He’s doing for you, is literally Brand-New! He’s doing things unseen and unheard of! 1 Corinthians 2:9 says it best, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” He’s doing things that don’t even make sense! And all of these things He’s doing just for you, if only you’d stop focusing on the old, you’ll finally see the new!

Isaiah goes on to say: “…DRINKING WATER FOR THE PEOPLE I CHOSE, THE PEOPLE I MADE ESPECIALLY FOR MYSELF, A PEOPLE CUSTOM-MADE TO PRAISE ME.” (MSG) The term “custom-made” is defined as “made to fit the needs or requirements of a particular person.” God has customized all of us, neither of us (even identical twins) are the same. God is constantly doing something new, and something different, and something out the box. And if we are indeed His children, why are we so opposite our Father? Why are we stuck, complacent, ordinary, the same, comfortable? If the God we serve can make a donkey talk, have a coin found in the mouth of a fish, have a man sit (alive) inside of a great fish, raise a dead man back to life (after 4 days), and birth His son through a virgin woman, why are we trying so hard to be ordinary? Why are we doing the same things, getting the same ineffective results? We are a custom-made people, and we need to start acting like the priceless, designer originals we are! 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

Why do you think people go to these annual fashion week shows? They can’t wait to see what’s NEW and what’s NEXT! And I am fully persuaded that the world is looking to the church for the same things! Something different, something new, something next!

Now, as a disclaimer, there are some things that never change and must never change; the product so to speak, which is the Gospel, the Message, the Doctrine of Jesus Christ. That must never change! It must never be watered-down, altered, customized, changed, added to or taken away from! But the packaging of it? That can change! Never the message, but often the method can and will change. After all, God went from the 12 He selected Himself to preach His Gospel, to someone like Paul! The Message Never Changes, But the Messengers Can and So Can Their Delivery!

If you think about it: The world of lost people and the world of the church have never been so far apart. I call them the new unbelievers, America’s first post-Christians. They’re biblically illiterate. They don’t ever plan to go to a religious meeting to hear a religious speaker talk on a religious subject. It takes new things to reach them. Or else we could just leave them lost like we have been.

In other words saints, we’ve got to leave the church building! We’ll never find the lost, hanging around those who are already found! Truth is, they’re probably not going to come in, so we need to take the initiative and go out! We need to have our outreaches on neutral ground. Am I telling you to go into the crack house, in the club or in the bar? Absolutely not! But we can’t keep sitting at the altar, in the pulpit, in the pews, in Sunday school, bible study, prayer and rehearsals, waiting for them to come in! We have to learn to express Christ without all our religious language, in our religious location. Remember, it’s the language of the natives we’re trying to reach. And all missionaries know that you do it in the language of the person you’re trying to reach. Can you imagine trying to reach the lost in China talking Russian? Can you imagine trying to reach the lost in Africa while speaking Chinese? Can you imagine trying to reach the lost in a homeless shelter, when you arrive in a BMW and dressed in a fur and diamonds? You have to meet on neutral grounds, at their level and in their language, and as hard as it will be for some to do, that has to be done with new ways, not old!

Maybe we need to learn to wrap this gospel that is unfamiliar to so many people in a familiar need that they do know about. We talk about marriage, or parenting, or handling stress, or sex, or singleness. And you move from those things that they do know about into the story of Jesus to show the difference that a Savior like Jesus can make in those areas and others.

In Jesus’ day the religious people totally missed what God was doing because they could not accept a new approach. The British soldiers in Revolutionary War times lost because they were rigid. We’re in a battle for our town, our neighbors, the ever-living, never-dying souls of people. Their eternities are at stake. Therefore, if God says, “I’m doing a new thing”, let’s not lose the battle by insisting on the same old formation!

Listen: I never cared much for seafood as a kid or adult for that matter. I didn’t eat any of it for the majority of my life. I love chicken, steak, hamburgers, ribs and the like. But I could certainly pass on the seafood side of any menu. But then it happened! Somewhere along the way, someone encouraged me to try some fish (Tilapia), and I don’t know why I took the risk, but I tried it, and I liked it. After all those years I could have been eating it and I didn’t know. Now you can’t get me to stop eating it. Then, someone encouraged me to try shrimp (Fried and Grilled). I had avoided seafood for so long, but now, I love them! I could eat grilled shrimp every-day of the week! Then a friend really pushed me to branch out, and they took me to a restaurant and for the very first time, I tried a California Roll! I couldn’t believe what I was missing all those years because I was sure food meant chicken, steak, hamburgers, and ribs. I can’t believe what I missed because I was such a creature of habit. That term “creature of habit” is defined as “a person who follows an unvarying routine; someone who always wants to do the same things in the same way”. Sounds a lot like us church folks, in our old, set ways, that we refuse to alter…even if it means something new, exciting, different, and great! Let’s listen to our text:

Mark 2:21-22, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk (new) cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear becomes worse. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the wineskins. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (AMP)

Here, Jesus is talking to religious folks; Pharisees, scribes, people who had ways in which they thought God would always work. They couldn’t accept the fact that there might be some new things God wanted to try. Now, Jesus came along and blew the walls off the narrow box that they had God in. He wasn’t working in any of the ways that they were used to, they were in essence saying,I don’t know about this, God never did it this way before. I’m not sure this is even God.” But Jesus had a whole new way of doing things, and like it or not, but they were about to experience it!

And that’s exactly what we need to do with our churches, ministries, families, workplaces, we need to be open for new things! Ineffectiveness becomes our casualty, because we’re too comfortable to change. Methods and approaches that once were the new wine skins are now brittle, tired and irrelevant. It’s time we uproot the old, and sow seeds in the new. However, you must be prepared, because most often the gift of new is presented in a surprisingly new package! Don’t become so focused on the formula, that you mess up the fruit! Don’t let your religious habits inhibit the exciting new thing God wants to do in every area and aspect of your life.

You’ll never taste God’s Gourmet Meals if you keep limiting God to the same old Fast-Food Choices on the same old menu.

In this new month, challenge yourself to try something new. Whether it’s a new outfit, new color, new witnessing technique, new food, new activity, new route to work etc… And please know that it doesn’t have to be big and grand. But it does have to be different, if you’re tired of the same!

Matthew 9:17, “Nor is new wine put into old wineskins [that have lost their elasticity]; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the [fermenting] wine spills and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, so both are preserved.” (AMP)

“After a while, the same old song and dance gets a little off key and a little out of step.” (Susan Gale)

“Life is full and overflowing with the new. But it is necessary to empty out the old to make room for the new to enter.” (Eileen Caddy)

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

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: “How to Keep Your Lungs Healthy, According to Pulmonologist”

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“Let OUT What’s Locked IN!”

digital visualization of a chain

Ephesians 1:11 “IT’S IN CHRIST THAT WE FIND OUT WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE ARE LIVING FOR. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.” (MSG)

One day a boy climbing in the mountains found an eagle’s nest with an egg in it. When he got home he put it under a hen along with her other eggs. When the eagle hatched he THOUGHT he was a chicken. He LEARNED chicken BEHAVIOR and scratched in the chicken yard with his “siblings.” HE DIDN’T KNOW ANY BETTER! Sometimes he felt strange stirrings WITHIN HIMSELF, but he didn’t know what to do with them, SO HE IGNORED OR SUPPRESSED THEM. After all, if he was a chicken he should BEHAVE like a chicken. Well, one day an eagle flew over the chicken yard and the eagle looked up and saw him. In that moment he realized he wanted to be like that eagle, to fly high, and to go to the mountain peaks he saw in the distance. As he spread his wings he suddenly understood that he was in fact just like that eagle. Though he’d never flown before, HE POSSESSED THE INNATE, INSTINCT AND CAPABILITIES to do so. At first he flew unsteadily, then with greater power and control. Finally, as he soared HE KNEW HE’D DISCOVERED HIS TRUE SELF—THE CREATURE GOD MADE HIM TO BE!

Phillip Brooks remarked, “When you discover you’ve been leading only half a life, the other half is going to haunt you until you develop it.

People of God, whether you know it or not, you were made BY God and FOR God. And until you understand that, your life won’t ever make sense. Because it’s “IN CHRIST” that we DISCOVER our purpose, our significance and our destiny. In other words, “IN CHRIST” we DISCOVER what’s ‘IN US’! Which means, you will never discover what’s in you while comparing yourself with others, competing with others or imitating others. You discover what’s in you through your relationship with Jesus Christ. If you never have one or develop and strengthen one with Him, you will forever wander aimlessly, never reaching your goal or fulfilling your calling. Truth is, potential is not enough, if it merely remains potential. Eventually you have to put in the work to develop your potential into purpose! For example, to know you’re called to ministry, but never entering ministry serves no purpose. Called to be an author and yet never publishing anything serves no purpose. Your potential has to produce purpose. Which it will never do if you don’t develop your relationship with Jesus so you can discover what He’s put in you! Having potential that never produces anything is the same as having a to-do-list where nothing gets done…it’s pointless! You can’t hope forever, wish forever, day-dream forever.  You have to discover what’s in you, so you can bring it out!

The word ‘potential’ is defined as, ‘having the capacity to develop into something in the future; qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.’ Its Latin origin ‘potentialis’, from ‘potentia’ literally means ‘power.’ A few definitions of the word ‘power’ are, ‘the ability to do something; the capacity to influence; a right or authority given or delegated to a person or body.’ Its Old French origin, ‘poeir’, from Latin ‘posse’ literally means ‘to be able.’ Which means: your POTENTIAL (your capacity, qualities and abilities to develop into something in the future and lead to success or usefulness) has POWER (the ability to do something; the capacity to influence, which is your right and authority delegated to you by your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ), proves you ARE WELL ABLE to discover what’s in you and bring it out!

Now, ‘potential’ is for the future because it’s something you develop over time. And ‘develop’ means ‘something that becomes clearer, larger and more advanced over time.’ Its origin literally means ‘to gradually unfold’. And ‘unfold’ means ‘to reveal.’ So, you are not going to become all that God has designed you to be overnight! Your potential takes time to develop. But it does eventually develop! Over time it should become clearer, larger and more advanced. It should gradually unfold and be revealed to you! Potential was never designed to remain potential! After all, you can’t have something that has power and it not perform and produce! That would be a waste of potential, power, productivity and purpose! And there’s absolutely no way Jesus went through all He did for you, for you to live in such a way that reflects no potential, power, productivity or purpose!

Keep in mind: “Haven’t you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that He lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you. For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God because He owns it.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 TLB). To discover what’s in you, all you have to do is build a relationship with the One who lives in you? And it’s not like you have to go through great lengths to talk to Him either. Remember: He Lives IN You! You may never talk to the President, but the Sovereign God of ALL you can talk to anytime at all! So what are you waiting for? He paid a great price to live in you!

Think about it, you have IN you…GOD! How much more inspiration do you need to birth what you’ve been pregnant with? God Himself is in you as a midwife trying to get you to push, so why are you pulling back instead?! He paid a great price for you and what He’s placed in you, do you really think He’s going to allow all of that value and worth to turn to naught?! “…use every part of your body to give glory back to God because He owns it.”

The Bible further states: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV) Did you know you have TREASURE WITHIN YOU? God put it there. It’s in your unique qualities, talents, skill-set, anointing, gifts, abilities plus the fire in your soul. Now, life may have thrown cold water on that fire, BUT GOD CAN REKINDLE ANYTHING! The word ‘rekindle’ is defined as, ‘to relight (a fire); to revive (something lapsed or lost)’. This is your season to relight your fire and revive what you’ve allowed to lapse and be lost! Therefore, it’s time you do as Paul admonished: “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” (2 Timothy 1:6 NLT). I don’t care how long it’s been since your gift has been on fire, but now is the time to fan it into flames again! I know depression, discouragement, and the like may have doused your fire, but the Holy Ghost can rekindle it! However, you have a part to play as well, you have to “fan into flames” which is a present tense verb that requires action. Meaning you can’t sit on the sidelines doing absolutely nothing thinking you’re coming home with the MVP! You want it, you have to work at it and for it! No more excuses or complaints and certainly no more blaming others, no more laziness, complacency, comfort zones or procrastination. Today, take charge and take courage and fan your gifts back into a flaming fire! Everything God placed in you has value, it all has treasure even in your little old jar of clay! So don’t depreciate its value by letting it rust, rot and come to ruin. Note, this treasure within you “IS FROM GOD” And what He OWNS He PROTECTS, He NURTURES, and USES to HIS GLORY! But know that God is a wise businessman; when He invests, HE EXPECTS A RETURN! So you’re not waiting for something great and grand to drop out of the sky and into your belly, it’s already there! Fan your gifts into flame and rekindle your fire for ministry so that you can turn your potential into purpose and fulfill your entrusted destiny and calling! God put it there, but it is your responsibility to get it out! Find your fire, find your passion, find your empowerment, find your encouragement, find your inspiration and determine to become all that God has destined you to be and do all that the Lord has assigned your hands to do!

Think About This: It’s said that the WEALTHIEST spot on this planet is not the oilfields of Kuwait or the diamond mines of South Africa. NO, THE RICHEST DEPOSITS LIE IN YOUR LOCAL CEMETERY! BURIED BENEATH THOSE SACRED GROUNDS ARE RICH DREAMS THAT NEVER CAME TO PASS, PROSPEROUS SONGS THAT WERE NEVER SUNG, A WEALTH OF SERMONS THAT WERE NEVER PREACHED, VALUABLE LESSONS THAT WERE NEVER TAUGHT, A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS THAT NEVER BEGAN, #1 BEST SELLER BOOKS THAT WERE NEVER WRITTEN, BREAK-THROUGH IDEAS THAT WERE NEVER SHARED, AN ABUNDANCE OF VISIONS THAT WERE NEVER SEEN, EXPENSIVE INVENTIONS THAT WERE NEVER DESIGNED, HIGH-PRICED PLANS THAT NEVER GOT BEYOND THE DRAWING BOARD OF THE MIND, and PRICELESS PURPOSES THAT WERE NEVER FULFILLED!

SADLY, ONLY A TINY PERCENTAGE OF THOSE WHO LIVE ON THIS PLANET WILL DISCOVER AND FULFILL THEIR TRUE PURPOSE AND POTENTIAL! Do you want to be one of them? Then ask yourself: “Who am I? Why did God put me here? How much potential do I have? How can I maximize my ability for His Glory?” WITHIN THE ANSWERS OF THESE QUESTIONS LIE THE KEYS TO UNLOCK A FULFILLING LIFE!

Listen, life is far too short to leave it undone, incomplete and unfulfilled. So today is your wake-up call challenge to write the book, produce the play, preach the sermon, teach the lesson, start the business, open the church, purchase the house, go back to school, change careers, buy the car, take the vacation, board the cruise, face your fears and go for it! If you never really LIVE what LEGACY will there be to leave behind? Stop delaying, stop procrastinating, stop hesitating, stop blaming others, stop pointing fingers, stop making excuses. Get to work on fulfilling all that’s within You!  After all, you can’t keep saying “I’ll do it tomorrow”, eventually you will run out of tomorrow’s! So discover what’s in you today and began birthing it out of you TODAY!

And if you haven’t found your life’s purpose yet, TALK TO GOD! “EVERYTHING…FINDS ITS PURPOSE IN HIM” (Colossians 1:16 MSG). Literally Everything! Whatever the purpose, it’s found in Him so it’s fulfilled through Him!

Listen: Before you spoke your first word or took your first step, GOD HAD A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE! “BEFORE I FORMED YOU IN THE WOMB I KNEW YOU [AND APPROVED OF YOU AS MY CHOSEN INSTRUMENT], AND BEFORE YOU WERE BORN I CONSECRATED YOU [TO MYSELF AS MY OWN]; I HAVE APPOINTED YOU AS A PROPHET TO THE NATIONS.” (Jeremiah 1:5 AMP); “FOR I KNOW THE PLANS AND THOUGHTS THAT I HAVE FOR YOU’, SAYS THE LORD, ‘PLANS FOR PEACE AND WELL-BEING AND NOT FOR DISASTER, TO GIVE YOU A FUTURE AND A HOPE.” (Jeremiah 29:11 AMP)

God Has Both a Plan and Purpose For Your Life, Talk to Him So You Can Find Out What They Are, So You Can Fulfill Them! You Do Not Get to Delegate Your Destiny! No One But YOU Can Accomplish Your Assignment, So Get to Work!

You say, “But I have failed so badly.” Maybe that’s true, BUT YOU’D BE AMAZED AT WHAT GOD CAN DO WITH A BROKEN LIFE—WHEN YOU GIVE HIM ALL THE PIECES! As poorly put together as you think you are, your Purpose is found in God, and He will not allow you to lose it! Your mistakes, missteps, errors, and even deliberate sins, transgressions and iniquities still cannot stop God from producing what He’s placed in you! Repent, Turn, Change, Be Restored so You Can Finally Become! Let no one make you think it’s harder than that! I mean have you read through the Bible? If God can use all of those, His misfit children, HE CAN CERTAINLY USE YOU!

Let’s be honest, you’ve been comfortable in your complacency long enough! And when you get too comfortable, God has a way of stirring things up! Just like a mother eagle who teaches her little ones to fly by MAKING THEIR NEST SO UNCOMFORTABLE THAT THEY’RE FORCED OUT OF IT! Next, THEY ARE PUSHED OFF A CLIFF EDGE! SO ONE WAY OR ANOTHER THEY MUST SOAR, BECAUSE IT’S WHAT’S “IN THEM” AND LIKEWISE YOU ARE THE VERY SAME! “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” (Isaiah 40:31 AMP)

People of God, there’s so much more to you than you’ve settled for! In other words, you’ve scratched around in that hen house long enough! However, you are nobody’s chicken! So, realize who and what you are and all the possibilities and potential of what you WILL become and then simply determine to BECOME IT! In a nutshell: It’s time to flap your wings and fly!

The last thing we need is another VALUABLE ASSET TURNED INTO A CHEAP LOSS-LADEN LIABILITY, STUFFED IN THE COFFIN OF UNFILLED PURPOSE AND POTENTIAL!

SO, DISCOVER WHAT’S IN YOU, THEN DETERMINE TO BRING IT OUT!

“The wealthiest place in the world are not the gold mines of South America or the oil fields of Iraq or Iran. They are not the diamond mines of South Africa or the banks of the world. The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road. It is the cemetery. There lies buried companies that were never started, inventions that were never made, best selling books that were never written, and masterpieces that were never painted. In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.” (Dr. Myles Munroe)

“Greatness is more than potential. It is the execution of that potential. Beyond the raw talent. You need the appropriate training. You need the discipline. You need the inspiration. You need the drive.” (Eric A. Burns)

“When you catch a glimpse of your potential, that’s when passion is born.” (Zig Ziglar)

“Look past the exterior, and see that there is so much more within. Then decide to unleash that potential to the fullest.” (Lincoln Patz)

“You cannot afford to live in potential for the rest of your life; at some point, you have to unleash the potential and make your move.” (Eric Thomas)

“It’s not enough to just have potential. You also need to know what to do with it.” (Susan Gale)

“Potential is priceless treasure, like gold. All of us have gold hidden within, but we have to dig to get it out.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.” (Winston Churchill)

“I have too much greatness awaiting me on the other side of this challenge to allow my fears to serve as a road block.” (Carmen Polk)

“If you are always trying to be NORMAL, you will never know how AMAZING you can be.” (Dr. Maya Angelou)

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” (Wilma Rudolph)

“People who repeatedly attack your confidence and self-esteem are quite aware of your potential, even if you are not.” (Author Unknown)

“God never loses sight of our eternal potential, even when we do.” (Carole M. Stephens)

“The obsession with instant gratification blinds us from our long-term potential.” (Michael Dooley)

“When you are not willing to be challenged, disturbed or offended, you are not willing to explore your weaknesses or ever reach your highest potential.” (Bryant McGill)

“To reach your greatest potential, you’ll have to fight your greatest fears.” (Author Unknown)

“You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential.” (Steve Garvey)

“You were born with wings, you are not meant for crawling. So Don’t!” (Rumi)

“Each person has the potential of making a positive impact on the world. It all depends on what you do with what you have.” (Gary Chapman)

“How far you can go in life is yet to be seen. Don’t let other people’s limited beliefs about what’s possible diminish your potential.” (Kevin Ngo)

“Desire and imagination have the potential to position a person for greatness.” (Eric Thomas)

“Inside every seed is the potential for an incredible harvest.” (Farrah Gray)

“Don’t squander your potential living a life that amounts to far less than the one you are capable of living.” (Zero Dean)

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: “High-Antioxidant Foods to Try”

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