“You’re Too Close to Lose Focus Now!”

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“LET’S KEEP FOCUSED…those of us who want everything God has for us” (Philippians 3:15 MSG)

My mama always said, “You Become Effective By Being Selective!”

It’s human nature to get distracted! Many of us are like gyroscopes, spinning around at a frantic pace but not getting anywhere! Without a clear purpose you keep changing directions, jobs, relationships, churches, etc., hoping each change will settle the confusion or fill the emptiness in your heart. You think, “This time will be different,” but it’s not because it doesn’t solve your real problem—Lack of Focus!

The power of focusing can be seen for instance in LIGHT. With a magnifying glass the rays of the sun can set paper on fire! But when light is FOCUSED even more as a laser beam, it can cut through steel! Just as it is with Light, so it is with LIFE, nothing is as Potent as a Focus! The men and women who make the greatest difference in life are the most Focused! For instance, the Apostle Paul said,I am bringing all my energies to bear on this ONE THING.” (Philippians 3:13 TLB). Paul’s obsession was to make Christ known, and maintaining a Focused Life, allowed him to do just that. So if you want your life to have impact, FOCUS it! Remember: “You Become Effective By Being Selective!” Which means in a nutshell: Stop Dabbling! Stop trying to do it all! Do less in fact. Turn away from even good activities and do only that which matters most. I learned a hard lesson that I hope you’ll learn easy: Never Confuse ACTIVITY With PRODUCTIVITY!

Poet William Matthews wrote, “One well-cultivated talent, deepened and enlarged, is worth a hundred shallow faculties. The first law of success in this day when so many things are clamoring for attention is Concentration—to bend our energies to One point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right nor to the left.

Focus doesn’t come easily or naturally, it’s a Discipline that must be practiced Daily!

Paul told Timothy to Focus on his strengths:That special gift…you were given…keep that dusted off and in use.” (1 Timothy 4:14 MSG). Focused people don’t hide their weaknesses or excuse them; instead they focus on their strengths!

There’s a story about a couple who decided to build a farm. Then they began to argue. The wife wanted to build the house first. The husband wanted to build the barn first to house the animals. They went back and forth until finally the man said, “Look, we have to build the barn first—because the barn will enable us to build the house, the garage, the silo, the kid’s swing set, and everything else!” In other words, When You Focus on Putting FIRST Things FIRST, Everything Else Falls Into Its Proper Place Automatically!

Anthony Campolo says, “What you commit yourself to, will change what you are and make you into a completely different person. The future conditions you, not the past. What you commit yourself to become, determines what you are—more than anything that ever happened to you yesterday. Therefore, I ask you, ‘What are your commitments? Where are you going? What are you going to be? Show me somebody who hasn’t decided, and I’ll show you somebody who has no identity, no personality, and no direction.

Focusing on weaknesses instead of strengths is like having a handful of coins, a few made of gold, the rest of tarnished copper, and setting aside the gold coins to spend your time shining the copper ones in hopes of making them more valuable. Think about it: No matter how long you spend polishing tarnished copper coins, they’ll never be worth what the gold ones are! So, Stay Focused on your God-given strengths! That is an investment that will yield great dividends!

Another way to look at it is this: Why focus on the many that were called, instead of the important few that are chosen?! Remember: “You’ll Become Effective By Being Selective!” So make sure your selections today are those Few things and people that Matter Most!

“Do not swerve to the right or the left.” Proverbs 4:27 NIV

Bear this in mind, Focus does 3 things for you:

(1) IT KEEPS YOU ON TARGET: We find ourselves pulled in a dozen different directions, spending much of our time and energy on things we don’t really care about. Author Don Marquis put it this way: “Ours is a world where people don’t know what they want, and are willing to go through hell to get it.” The Bible says: “Let your eyes look straight ahead…Do not swerve to the right or the left.” (Proverbs 4:25-27 NIV) Focused People Develop a Discipline that helps them to Stay On Target Without Swerving to the Right or the Left! Distractions Invite Detours From Your God-Given Destination! So, Stay Focused!

(2) IT INCREASES YOUR ENERGY: Attempting everything, like attempting nothing, will suck the life right out of you! Focus gives you energy. Admiral Richard Byrd, the Polar explorer, said, “Few men come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used.One of the reasons those wells go untapped is Lack of Focus. The mind doesn’t reach toward achievement until it has clear objectives. Focused People have Learned to Focus All of Their Efforts Into One Thing or One Direction, which in Return Replenishes the Energy and Strength that was Zapped from Multiple Activities that didn’t Produce an Ounce of Productivity! All you desire will come together once you stop letting everyone and everything pull you apart!

(3) IT LIFTS YOU: It’s been said thatthe world stands aside to let anyone pass, who knows where he or she is going.In a sea of mediocrity, just knowing what you want to do and making an effort to pursue it, distinguishes you from almost everybody else. Henry David Thoreau asked, “Do you ever hear of a man who had striven all his life faithfully and singly toward an object, and in no measure obtained it? If a man constantly aspires, is he not elevated?Just by striving to become better than you are, you become elevated—even if you don’t accomplish all of what you desire, and even if others don’t step aside for you. By trusting God and aiming higher, you move to a higher level—Regardless. Staying Focused Isn’t All About Elevating to Another Level, Another Position, Another Title. Staying Focused Gives You The Best and Highest Level of Elevation There Is…Which is Simply Becoming a Better You Today Than You Were Yesterday, and a Better You Tomorrow Than You Were Today! Now That’s What You Call a Worthy Elevation!

Acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:6).

When it comes to staying focused, keep in mind these 3 additional notes:

(1) FOCUSED PEOPLE ALWAYS LOOK FOR A BETTER WAY: What got you where you are, won’t necessarily get you where you need to be. A family who moved into a new neighborhood got a late start one morning. As a result their 6-year-old missed her school bus. Though it would make him late for work her father agreed to take her to school if she gave him directions. After 20 minutes of going in circles they finally arrived at the school, which turned out to be only a few blocks away from where they lived. Steaming, her dad asked why she drove him all over the place when the school was so close to home. “We went the way the school bus does,” she said. “That’s the only way I know.” Focused People Don’t Get In a Rut, Nor Do They Get Stuck and Stagnant! They Continuously Reinvent Themselves and How They Do Things. They Grow and Change Constantly! They Don’t Regress, They Progress! They’re Forever Moving Forward Looking to Do Better In 2020 Than They Did in 2010! If Everything You Do Is Still Done the Same Way and The People You Are Around Are Still the Same People, You My Friend Are In Serious Danger of Never Becoming Better!

(2) FOCUSED PEOPLE CONCENTRATE A LITTLE HARDER AND A LITTLE LONGER: Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron said, “What separates a superstar from the average ballplayer is that he concentrates just a little bit longer.Focused thinking is the ability to remove distractions and mental clutter so that you can concentrate with clarity. Examine Your Thoughts, Examine Your Emotions, Examine Your Speech, Examine Your Attitude, Examine Your Heart, Examine Your Habits and Certainly Examine Your Associations and Immediately Remove Anything or Anyone That Clutters Your Clarity or Breaks Your Concentration! Keep In Mind: Folly and Focus Can’t Dwell In the Same Place!

(3) FOCUSED PEOPLE MAKE COMMITMENTS, NOT EXCUSES: A sign on the desk of an officer at the Pentagon read: The secrecy of my job does not permit me to know what I’m doing.It’s a cute joke, but not so cute when it’s true. When you don’t know what you’re doing, you become frustrated and end up failing. That’s why praying and getting direction from God, is critical for every area and aspect of your life.Do not swerve to the right or the left”, says the Scripture.  To ’Swerve’ means ‘to make an erratic deflection from an intended course.In other words, your lack of focus, when heading in the direction of your destiny will cause you to ’swerve– or stray from the intended course God has set for your life. Which is why you must always remember: In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (NIV). And when He does—STAY FOCUSED!

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I FOCUS on this ONE THING: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13 NLT)

The poorest man in the world is not the one without money, he’s the one without a vision for his life. But Vision requires Focus. When you’re spread too thin you become mediocre at everything and excellent at nothing! Failure always results from saying yes to too many things. Because something is good doesn’t mean it’s right for you. When your plate’s full doing what God has given you to do, learn to say no to everything else! “No” doesn’t mean never, it just means “not now.” If you try to fight on every front you’ll wear yourself out and fail to win where it counts most. Fighting a battle without spoils is like pouring water on a burning shack. Unless somebody’s life’s in danger it’s probably not worth fighting for. Conserve your energy for when something important is at stake!

Know that you’ll always lose when you: Fight the wrong battle; Fight at the wrong time; Fight when you shouldn’t be involved; Fight because you need to win in order to feel good about yourself; Fight, though the battle has been lost, but your pride won’t let you swallow it! Learn to Stay Focused on your goals. Keep your eyes on the prize that God has set before you. And be warned: If the enemy can’t defeat you, he’ll distract you with side issues or disqualify you by getting you to make bad decisions. Either way, he wins and you lose! 

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I FOCUS on this ONE THING: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.Notice 3 more things about Focused people:

(1) FOCUSED PEOPLE DON’T LIVE IN THE PAST: Too many of us yearn for the past and get stuck in it! Instead, we should learn from the past and let go of it. Elbert Hubbard wrote, “A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is a token of greatness. Successful people forget. They’re running a race. They can’t afford to look behind. Their eye is on the finish line. They’re too big to let little things disturb them. If anyone does them wrong, they consider the source and keep cool. It’s only the small people who cherish revenge. Be a good forgetter…success demands it.

(2) FOCUSED PEOPLE DON’T THINK ABOUT THE DIFFICULTIES, BUT THE REWARDS: If you dwell on the difficulties too long you’ll start to develop self-pity instead of self-discipline. As a result you’ll accomplish less and less. By focusing on results you’ll stay encouraged. Make Christ your example.He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross BECAUSE OF THE JOY HE KNEW WOULD BE HIS AFTERWARDS.” (Hebrews 12:2 TLB).

(3) FOCUSED PEOPLE CHOOSE THEIR FRIENDS CAREFULLY: Here are 5 types of people you’ll encounter: 1) REFRESHERS—who strengthen your faith and energize you; 2) REFINERS—who sharpen you and clarify your vision; 3) REFLECTORS—who mirror your energy, neither adding to nor subtracting from it; 4) REDUCERS—who try to diminish your goals and efforts to their comfort level; and 5) REJECTERS—who don’t understand you or what God’s called you to do. At some point in time you will have to encounter all five of these people! So, remain Focused and you’ll stay grounded; the praise of others is less likely to go to your head, and the negative impact of your critics will be minimized!

“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” (Genesis 12:1 NLT)

I use to wonder why God would take people like Moses, or Abraham away from their familiar environments, after He called them. Uprooting them from family and friends to use them for greater works. But the more I look at where I was, where I’m at, and where I’m going, the more I understand why God does such a thing as this. The harsh reality is, there are many limits put on us By Our Very Own Loved Ones! Especially those that have watched us come up and fall down many times before. Often, their perception of us distorts our vision and causes us to doubt ourselves, God, and even the planned purpose He has for us. But what we must remember is, whenever someone says you can’t do it or be it, they are a liar! Because the Bible Clearly Declares,I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” {Philippians 4:13} Understand that too often people will speak into your life, according to what THEY were able or NOT able to accomplish for their own. They will judge you based on what they could or Moreso, what they couldn’t do themselves. But Listen: A vision is only seen by the bearer of it and because you were selected to bear it, it is therefore invisible to others. In actuality, they only get to see the back of it, after the glory of it has passed by, (Exodus 33:12-21) That’s why folks get mad with you, because they want to see the personal face-to-face of your vision, but have to settle for the hind parts instead! So prepare yourself, because when you’re chosen by God to carry out a vision, not everyone’s going to understand what you’re doing or why.  So they’ll label you based on the outside, because they don’t have inside access! Don’t let them shift your focus because they can only see the container and not the contents! 

And they said one to another…this dreamer cometh…let us slay him…and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” {Genesis 37:19-20} Listen: Don’t feel bad when you don’t have a lot of friends and family around, or when people abandon you and walk away. Count it all joy, because those that God wants in your life will never leave and those that are from Him will never lead you astray. Friends and family are good to have, but many times God removes them so prepare yourself for it. Don’t fight it. Stop holding folks hostage in your life that need to be set free! Allow God to add and subtract what’s best for your multiplication! There’s so much more to you than meets the eye, so surround yourself with people that can see past your appearance. If you just Stay Focused, you’ll say like Joseph,…Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” {Genesis 50:20} Need I remind you, Joseph didn’t say that to enemies, or even friends, but to FAMILY!

Isn’t this the carpenter?” {Mark 6:3} Please be careful around those who love to say, “I knew you when…” in an attempt to label or limit you. When David volunteered to fight Goliath his faith was an embarrassment to his big brother Eliab, an officer in King Saul’s army. Think of Eliab’s position, “If my little brother wins, everybody will ask, ‘How come you couldn’t do it—big brother?’” Beware: your decision to step out and follow God will put pressure on others around you! And the first place you’ll feel it will be amongst those closest to you, especially if your calling sets you apart, and takes you higher than them! The Bible records that Eliabburned with anger at [David] and asked, ‘Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is” (1 Samuel 17:28). Take Note: Before David could overcome Goliath, he had to overcome the thoughts and opinions of those around him, especially his family. And you will too! Look at the life of Jesus. When He went back to His hometown they said,What’s this wisdom…given him,…he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son…they took offence at him. Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them…he was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mark 6:2-6)

Bottom line: Don’t allow those “who knew you when”, to hinder where you’re going! Neither friend, family or foe! STAY FOCUSED!

“…Stay close to the king wherever he goes.” (2 Chronicles 23:7 NIV)

Commercial flying can be a real adventure. Like the day Pastor Ron booked a last-minute flight to the Northwest to support some Native American friends who had just lost their young son. He was supposed to fly into Spokane, Washington, but fog shut it down and he was diverted to another airport for the night. So, the airline put him up in a hotel overnight and promised they’d do their best to get him to Spokane the next morning. Pastor Ron knew if he didn’t get to the reservation that next day, he would have missed what he was going for. He really needed the real scoop on whether or not his plane was going to get into Spokane. Thankfully, from a casual conversation at the hotel, he knew who the captain was. So that next morning, as he waited around trying to get some word on the fate of his flight, he saw the captain headed for a pay phone in the airport. He made sure he got close to the captain; he was calling to check the current Spokane weather. Then, as he walked over to the gate agents in charge of his flight, Pastor Ron overheard him say, “Well, we’ll try Spokane, but I think there’s only a 20% chance we’ll get in. We’ll probably end up back in Denver where we started.” Well, that inside information helped Pastor Ron pursue alternatives – one of which got him where he needed to be, when he needed to be there.

There was one reason Pastor Ron knew where to go – He Stayed Close to the Captain. Actually, that’s how all of us are going to know what we’re supposed to do and where we’re supposed to go – and that’s by Staying Close to the Captain of our flight; Staying Close to Captain Jesus!

There are eight words in 2 Chronicles 23:7 that I’ve actually typed out and posted on my wall at work. These eight words remind me of the secret of knowing and doing what God has planned in any given situation. In this chapter, a coalition of military and spiritual leaders is working to put the rightful king on the throne in Judah – even though he’s only a boy. The temple staff, the Levites, are given a straightforward assignment, and here are those eight words,Stay close to the king wherever he goes.That’s our assignment, too. And when we fulfill this assignment, we’ll be led naturally and supernaturally – into the next steps we’re supposed to take. Just like that day at the airport when Pastor Ron got his direction just by staying close to the captain. He had the information Pastor Ron needed, but he never would’ve known that information Except For His Proximity to the One Who Knew. It’s like that with knowing God’s Will for our lives. It’s not your cleverness in figuring it out; It’s Your Closeness to the God Whose Will You’re Looking For! That’s actually the Focus of John 10, which describes us as sheep following our Shepherd. Jesus said,My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27) NIV. See, it’s about being where you can hear His voice – not figuring out some spiritual jigsaw puzzle called “The Will of God.”

If you’re needing to know God’s direction right now, don’t focus so much on figuring out The Plan. Focus on staying close to the Man, to Jesus, whose plan it is. Living in God’s Will isn’t supposed to be this stressful spiritual mystery game. Relax and do the things that get you really close to the person Who is the Pilot of your earth-journey. Or in the words of the Bible, “Stay close to the King … wherever He goes!“ Unfortunate in this day and time of the church, too much attention is being Focused on Fleshly Leadership! But God’s Word still declares:You can’t depend on anyone, not even a great leader. Once they die and are buried, that will be the end of all their plans. The LORD God of Jacob blesses everyone who trusts Him. God made heaven and earth; He created the sea and everything else. God always keeps His word. {Psalm 146:3-6 CEV}. Stop focusing on the arm of flesh, for it will fail you every time. Instead, Stay Focused on Your Captain, Your Leader, Your King, Whose Word Never Fails! Knowing With Assurance that Once He Gives You Direction, You Are Guaranteed to Make it to Your Intended Destination!

It is indeed my prayer that you will now set your heart, mind and spirit to the things of God and the Will of God for your life, and that you will allow nothing and no one to distract you or deter you from destiny, Not Even You! People of God, Stay Focused and Finish Strong! Because You’re Too Close to Manifestation to Lose Sight of the Vision Now!

“If your parents ever measured you as a child, they had you stand against a wall, and made a little pencil mark on the wall to show your growth. They did not measure you against your brother, or the neighbor’s kids, or kids on TV. When you measure your growth, make sure to only measure your today self by your past self. If you compare your relationships, your success, or your anything against anyone else, you are not being fair to you. Everyone has a different path, a different pace, and different challenges to face along the way.” (Doe Zantamata)

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

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“The Gift of Being Hidden”

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Isaiah 49:2-3, “… in the shadow of His hand He HID ME; He made me into a POLISHED arrow and CONCEALED me in His quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant…in whom I will DISPLAY my splendor.” (NIV).

Isaiah says four notable things about how God works in our lives, let’s take a look:

1…“…IN THE SHADOW OF HIS HAND HE HID ME…” The wordShadow is defined asa dark area, a position of relative inferiority or obscurity, sadness, gloom or weakness.And yet, the Prophet Isaiah is excited about being in theShadow”! Why? As they would say in real estate, LOCATION IS EVERYTHING! The Scripture says,…In the Shadow OF HIS HAND He hid me…Isaiah understood a few Powerful Principles about the Hand of God that we need to learn! He understood that SALVATION is found IN THE HANDS OF GOD!Behold, the LORD’S HAND is not shortened, That it cannot SAVE…” (Isaiah 59:1 NKJV). “For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, Nor did their own arm SAVE THEM; But it was YOUR RIGHT HAND, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, Because You favored them.” (Psalm 44:3 NKJV). Isaiah understood that DELIVERANCE is found in the Hands of God!So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty HAND and with an outstretched arm…” (Deuteronomy 26:8 NKJV). “The great trials which your eyes saw, the signs and the wonders, the mighty HAND and outstretched arm, by which the LORD your God BROUGHT YOU OUT…” (Deuteronomy 7:19 NKJV). “You have BROUGHT YOUR PEOPLE…OUT…with signs and wonders, with a strong HAND and an outstretched arm…” (Jeremiah 32:21 NKJV). Isaiah understood WHO SAT AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD!Whereas this ONE [CHRIST], after He had offered a single sacrifice for our sins [that shall avail] for all time, sat down at the RIGHT HAND OF GOD.” (Hebrews 10:12 AMP). Isaiah understood that CHRIST INTERCEDES for us while seated at the Right Hand of God!Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—IS AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD AND IS ALSO INTERCEDING FOR US.” (Romans 8:34 NIV). Isaiah understood that the AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH was Seated at the Right Hand of God!Looking unto JESUS the AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH…is set down at the RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD.” (Hebrews 12:2). Isaiah understood the DEPTH OF LOVE Found in God’s Hands!See, I have WRITTEN YOUR NAME on the PALMS of MY HANDS. Always in my mind…” (Isaiah 49:16 NLT). Isaiah understood the PROTECTIVE HEDGE found in the Father’s Hands!My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater and mightier than all [else]; and NO ONE IS ABLE TO SNATCH [THEM] OUT OF THE FATHER’S HAND.” (John 10:29 AMP). Maybe it’s just me, but being found “…In the Shadow of HIS HAND…sounds like a pretty good place to be, even when I’m feeling dark, inferior, obscure, sad, gloomy and weak! And that’s not all, in addition to the Right Hand of the Father, even before the Prophet Elijah called down fire from heaven at Mount Carmel, God instructed him to go and HIDE HIMSELF at the brook Cherith where he would be supernaturally fed and strengthened (“Go from here and turn east and HIDE YOURSELF…1 Kings 17:3 AMP). People of God, you must understand that before every “SHOWING” there’s always first a “HIDING”! God gets us alone and does a work in us that cannot be accomplished any other way! SO THE NEXT TIME YOU’RE DREADING THE SHADOW, REMEMBER THAT THE SHADOW IS FOUND IN THE HANDS OF GOD, THE ABSOLUTE BEST AND SAFEST PLACE TO BE HIDDEN! Psalm 91:1, “HE WHO DWELLS IN THE SHELTER OF THE MOST HIGH WILL REMAIN SECURE AND REST IN THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY [WHOSE POWER NO ENEMY CAN WITHSTAND].” (AMP) So, yes, you’ll come forth, in due season, and do great works, but never forget, there’s always a “HIDING” before a “SHOWING”! Therefore, Don’t try to Shine, just Stay in the Shadow!

2…“…HE MADE ME INTO A POLISHED ARROW…” The archer takes a rough tree branch, cuts it down and makes it into a highly polished arrow capable of hitting the mark! Many people see you as they saw David, hanging in the back, unnoticed, overlooked, underestimated and undervalued! (1 Samuel 16:11, “Then he asked Jesse, “Is this it? Are there no more sons?” WELL, YES, THERE’S THE RUNT. But he’s out tending the sheep…” MSG) But that’s alright, because just like David, in due season, the Prophet assigned to your life, will come looking for you in the HIDDEN places of the backyard, to bring your anointing to the FOREFRONT! And he’ll do it before the eyes of all those who didn’t see much in you! But keep this in mind, you don’t have to do anything to help this process along! The Bible says in Isaiah, “…HE MADE ME…So stop seeking validations, confirmations, applause, accolades, encouragement, pats on the back, support and assistance! Stop waiting for someone to sign their name to a certificate granting you elevation that only God need give! This is not the season to put your focus on people, but you need to get your focus back on God! When you desire for people to lift you, you also grant them the opportunity to let you down! That’s why it’s always best to wait for God to do it, so no one can take credit for who you become in God! Instead, be like Abraham, “…I’ll take nothing from you, not so much as a thread or a shoestring. I’M NOT GOING TO HAVE YOU GO AROUND SAYING, ‘I MADE ABRAM RICH’” (Genesis 14:22-23 MSG). Stop allowing people to rub your ears and ego with flattery, and wait for GOD TO POLISH YOU TO PERFECTION! You may be a rough tree branch right now, but over time you will reflect the Psalmist, “…he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit IN ITS SEASON; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].” (Psalm 1:3 AMP). That’s what happens when you let God do it and not man! Remember: “…HE MADE ME…SO NO SELF-PROMOTION IS NEEDED OR NECESSARY! You don’t have to go around informing everyone about what God is about to do in your life; you don’t have to post it, tweet it or scope it! You don’t have to upload the website, you don’t have to design the business cards! You don’t need flyers and self-promoting advertisements; you don’t need to live stream what God hasn’t allowed to flow out of you yet! YOU, don’t have to do anything but wait on God, hear God, serve God, and respect God’s process and timing! Remember: “…HE MADE ME INTO A POLISHED ARROW…” That word “Polish” is defined as “to make smooth and shiny by rubbing; to improve or refine.” And with that said, know this: Pearls come forth after constant rubbing against or irritation of sand; Diamonds come forth through pressure; and Gold and Silver come forth through the refining of Fire. In other words, your polishing will not always be a wonderful experience, because you will be irritated at times, have to endure pressure at times and will have to be challenged through some fiery situations, but when it’s all said and done, you’ll be able to say with Job, “But He knows the way that I take [and He pays attention to it]. When He has TRIED ME, I will come forth as [REFINED] GOLD [PURE AND LUMINOUS]” (Job 23:10 AMP). Therefore, Let God Polish You Into the Arrow That Will Hit It’s Mark…In Due Season!

3…“…HE……CONCEALED ME IN HIS QUIVER…” Once you allow God to HIDE you…then…POLISH you, next He’ll put you into His QUIVER. A “Quiver” is “an archer’s portable case for his arrows, that he keeps Tied Securely to Him”. WHAT A WONDERFUL PLACE TO BE, TIED SECURELY TO HIM, WITHIN EASY REACH WHEN THE MOMENT TO USE YOU COMES! That’s why you don’t need to run all around town begging and pleading with folks to encourage, validate or support you! You don’t need to tap dance and perform for the praise or opportunities of man! If you simply practice the art of Patience and allow God the Time it takes in the Process to Hide You, then Polish You, then Secure You In His Quiver, when the Kingdom Assignment comes up with Your Name On It, You’re Already at the Fingertips of God, Ready to be Used at the Most Opportune Moment! You want to be used? THEN DON’T STICK CLOSE TO MAN, STICK CLOSE TO GOD! That word “Conceal” is defined as, “to prevent from being seen or known.” Its Latin ‘concelare’, from ‘celare’ literally means “to hide.” And clearly that’s the problem with God’s children today, we want to be Seen and Known…not Hidden and Concealed! We’re so unlike Jesus who always sought out a solitary place to be with God and pray. Now, He’s the Son of God, and yet He didn’t seek notoriety! Matthew 20:28, “…Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. THAT IS WHAT THE SON OF MAN HAS DONE: HE CAME TO SERVE, NOT BE SERVED…” (MSG) He came to seek and to save that which was lost…not to find those who would be able to help Him put His name up in lights! People of God, being hidden and concealed is for your own protection! Do not try to go ahead of God or to do things your own way and in your own timing. God has you concealed in His quiver to keep you tied securely to Him. So when it’s your time, your close enough to God to be ready for immediate use. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” (AMPC) The Message Bible says it like this: “Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” (vss. 7-10 MSG) Saints, stay tied to Him in prayer, praise and worship; stay tied to Him in discipline, obedience and sacrifice; stay tied to Him so close that like John you can rest on His breast; stay tied to Him where if the enemy ever tried to come for you…he’d have to come through Him first! God is not concealing you for punishment, He’s concealing you for protection. And not just from the enemy, but from people who see your gifts and anointing and want to push you to a place God has not permitted you to go yet! That’s why we have so many ineffective churches open today, someone saw a gift and anointing, spoke about it, and off folks went to get anybody to lay hands on them and hand them a piece of paper that has nothing to do with the Will of God for their lives! Don’t let that happen to you! Stay quietly concealed in the Masters quiver, until HE says it’s now time for you to be released!

4…“…YOU ARE MY SERVANT…IN WHOM I WILL DISPLAY MY SPLENDOR” After visiting the Balkans, Canadian reporter James Creelman wrote, “I learned that the world’s supply of rose oil comes from the Balkan Mountains. The thing that interested me was that the ROSES HAD TO BE GATHERED DURING THE DARKEST HOURS. Initially this seemed to be a relic of superstition. But as I investigated I learned that A FULL 40 PERCENT OF THE FRAGRANCE DISAPPEARS IN THE LIGHT OF DAY. Saints, if you’re not too prideful to be HIDDEN, not too impatient to wait on POLISHING, not too quick to be attached to people instead of attached to God’s QUIVER, you’ll eventually reach the destination of DISPLAY! But like the roses on the Balkan Mountains, DON’T DOWNPLAY YOUR DARKNESS! Just as the roses are gathered at the darkest hours, GOD WILL COME FOR YOU IN YOUR DARKEST HOUR! GOD KNOWS THAT YOUR BEST FRAGRANCE IS IN THE DARK! HE KNOWS YOUR MOST POTENT PRIOR TO DAYBREAK! AND JUST AS MOST OILS ARE PRODUCED IN THE DARKEST OF PLACES, THE ANOINTING ON YOUR LIFE IS NO DIFFERENT! SO DON’T DISCOUNT YOUR DARKNESS, IT ALWAYS LEADS TO DISPLAYING HIS SPLENDOR! Isaiah 45:3, “And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness, secret riches; and you will know that I am doing this – I, the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by your name.” (TLB). There’s great treasures in store in dark places, if only you’ll remain close enough to God (not people) so you can attain it. You my friend are likewise a hidden treasure in the darkness, and God will display your value when it’s time so that it’s not misused, mishandled, squandered or taken advantage of. So, what do you do in the meantime? Remember what He said: “…You Are My Servant…”, therefore, do what Servants do…Serve! Stop waiting for your moment; your 15 minutes of fame; stop waiting to be the next gospel super-star; stop waiting for the church, the ministry the elevation and promotion; stop waiting for the title, the position, the acknowledgements and celebrations. No, just remain Hidden, while God Polishes you. Stay Concealed in His Quiver, Tied Securely to Him and Within Reach at all times. And when He deems the time has arrived, He’ll find His Servant…Serving and then you’ll have the testimony, “…IN WHOM I WILL DISPLAY MY SPLENDOR…” Just remember, even when it’s your time to be Displayed, it’s not about you, but about Him! “…I WILL DISPLAY MY SPLENDOR…” Being used of God has nothing to do with making your name or yourself great! 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the UNADORNED CLAY POTS OF OUR ORDINARY LIVES. THAT’S TO PREVENT ANYONE FROM CONFUSING GOD’S INCOMPARABLE POWER WITH US. AS IT IS, THERE’S NOT MUCH CHANCE OF THAT. YOU KNOW FOR YOURSELVES THAT WE’RE NOT MUCH TO LOOK AT…” (MSG) This needs to be our attitude! The importance, the significance, the focus should always be on His Treasure Within Us That We’ve Been Privileged to Carry…NOT ON US, THE UNADORNED CLAY POTS! When it’s time for your Display, just remember WHO you are to Display!

People of God, whether it’s getting married, having children, going back to school, relocating, ministry, employment, starting a business, etc. RESPECT GOD’S PROCESS! When you go from point A to point B, there’s no story to tell! But when you have to patiently start at point A and travel all the way to point Z, there’s a whole lot of story between all those letters! Sad to say, but so many people are in such a rush to get to the next thing, that they’re missing out on the current thing. So, enjoy your NOW and stop missing out on life pursuing NEXT! God does all things well, and in His perfect timing, so be patient, trust Him, and wait.

Look at it like this: Can you imagine the sadness of a parent if all they had was the birth of their child, and then the next moment the kid’s graduating college?! No first steps, first words, recitals, try-outs, holidays, birthday’s etc…just birth then college graduation! What parent would dare want to miss out on all the pictures, memories, moments etc…of all that falls in between? Well it’s time you learn to treat your life the same way. There’s a lot of story to tell, so stop trying to peek at the next chapter, and live in this one! Stop trying to get to the end of your story! Enjoy the characters, the story line, all the drama, comedy, romance and action of what life is all about! Trust Me, You’ll Be So Glad You Did in the End!

Respect God’s Process, Because There’s a Gift in Being Hidden!

Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful and appropriate IN ITS TIME. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.” (AMP);

Jeremiah 29:10-11, “This is God’s Word on the subject…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (MSG);

Psalm 62:5-6, “God, the one and only – I’ll wait as long as He says. Everything I hope for comes from Him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life.” (MSG)

Psalm 27:14, “Wait for and confidently expect the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the LORD.” (AMP)

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

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“A Shout of Faith”

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“Then, when they give one long, loud blast, all the people are to give a mighty SHOUT, and the walls of the city WILL fall down; then move in upon the city from every direction.” (Joshua 6:5 TLB)

Are you fighting a battle you’re afraid you won’t win? Well, truth is, in one form or another we all are. Be it a battle over health, finance, family, employment, school, bills, church, etc…we are all battling some form of attack in hopes that we will be the victors in the outcome. However, a key question we need to ask ourselves is, who are we depending on to gain us the victory in our battles? Is it God or is it Ourselves?

When faced with the combined armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, God told His people Israel, “…Don’t be afraid! Don’t be paralyzed by this mighty army! For the battle is not yours, but God’s!” (2 Chronicles 20:15 TLB). And last I checked, God has NEVER lost a battle! He is in fact the Greatest Warrior I know! Don’t believe it, read Jeremiah 50:21-26, “Go up, O my warriors, against the land of Merathaim and against the people of Pekod. Yes, march against Babylon, the land of rebels, a land that I will judge! Annihilate them, as I have commanded you.  Let there be the shout of battle in the land, a shout of great destruction.  Babylon, the mightiest hammer in all the earth, lies broken and shattered. Babylon is desolate among the nations! O Babylon, I have set a trap for you and you are caught, for you have fought against the Lord. The Lord has opened his armory and brought out weapons to explode his wrath upon his enemies. The terror that befalls Babylon will be the work of the Lord God.  Yes, come against her from distant lands; break open her granaries; knock down her walls and houses into heaps of ruins and utterly destroy her; let nothing be left.” (TLB).

When God Goes Into Battle, Victory Is Guaranteed! So, before you dare to doubt that you are well equipped and well able to win your every battle with God on your side, remember that the Battle is HIS, and HE has NEVER lost, and NEVER will!

God told Joshua, “…See, I HAVE delivered Jericho into your hands…” (Joshua 6:2 NIV). Notice, He didn’t say, “I will soon deliver”; “I hope to deliver”; “Prayerfully I will be able to deliver”; “If all goes well, I will deliver” or “I might deliver”. NO, He said “…I HAVE DELIVERED JERICHO INTO YOUR HANDS…”  One of the definitions of the word “have” means “past tense, already done; already in possession”. And the word “already” is defined as “before the time in question; and as surprisingly soon or early as this.In other words, before Israel even went into battle, before there was ever a question of will they win, and even surprisingly before time, God had Already declared Israel the victor in battle. This wasn’t about hoping and believing and praying that God would do something, it was walking by faith in what God had Already done!

Think about it: It would be foolish for a team to sit on the sidelines stressed, worried and frustrated with their fingers crossed in hopes that they will win the Superbowl, when in fact, they were already declared the winners! It would look silly for them to pace the field waiting to hear what has Already been said! Likewise, it’s just as foolish for believers to stress, fret, worry and panic over what God has Already done!

Matthew 6:30-33, “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (MSG)

Philippians 4:6-9, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (MSG)

Philippians 4:19-20, “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.” (MSG)

Romans 8:26-28, “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (MSG)

Saints, it makes no sense to pray you come out on top, when He’s Already declared you are Already out on top! So, why worry over a victory you’ve Already attained? Why stress over a battle that has Already been won in your favor? Why lose your mind, your sleep, your appetite and even your hair over what the doctor has said when Jesus has said that “By My Stripes You Are ALREADY Healed?” It is unbecoming behavior for a believer to walk in unbelief! So today declare to yourself, God Has Already Done It! I Believe It, I Receive It and It’s Already Mine!

Listen Further: Israel Already had the victory, now they were being called to ACT on it. But the question remained, how? God’s answer? “…SHOUT…”

Joshua told the Israelites, “When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud SHOUT; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” (Joshua 6:5 NIV).

Now no rational person would expect a shout, no matter how loud, to bring down the walls of a big city. After all, the word “Rational” is defined as “based on or in accordance with reason or logic; able to think sensibly or logically; having the capacity to reason.” And reason and logic have as much to do with faith as light has to do with darkness; love has to do with hate; and good has to do with evil! In other words, this battle will not be won by reason and logic, but by faith and obedience! So as ridiculous as it may sound…SHOUT!

You see, this was no Ordinary Shout; it was a Shout of FAITH based on a PROMISE God had made! And why does that make the difference? Because, the Word of God Encourages Us That God Keeps Every Last One of His Promises! He Does Not Go Back On His Word and Surely He Does Not Break His Covenant With His People!

“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is the faithful God who for a thousand generations keeps his promises and constantly loves those who love him and who obey his commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9 TLB);

“And by that same mighty power he has given us all the other rich and wonderful blessings he promised; for instance, the promise to save us from the lust and rottenness all around us, and to give us his own character.” (2 Peter 1:4 TLB);

“God is no mere human! He doesn’t tell lies or change his mind. God always keeps his promises.” (Numbers 23:19 CEV);

“So shall My Word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11 AMP);

“The Lord then said, “You are right, for I’m watching over My Word until it is fulfilled.” (Jeremiah 1:12 CEB)

In other words, when God says Victory is yours, there is absolutely no Opponent strong enough to overturn the Declaration of the Lord over Your Life! Which is why you have no excuse not to walk by faith, believing and trusting God that it is so!

Even though victory looked impossible, when Israel shouted God responded by bringing down the walls and opening the doors to the Promised Land! Hear His Word: “When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud SHOUT; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” (Joshua 6:5 NIV).

With this being reiterated, it’s vital that I give you an added admonishment: Make sure that everyone with you, is with you! This needs to be on one accord! “…HAVE THE WHOLE ARMY GIVE A LOUD SHOUT…” Look at it this way: You don’t need to be on the East “Shouting”; with some on the West “Complaining”; some in the South “Murmuring” and some up North “Whispering Defeat”! This is important because EVERYBODY GOES IN TOGETHER!

Listen: “…then the wall of the city will collapse and THE ARMY WILL GO UP, EVERYONE STRAIGHT IN.”

The last thing you need is to survive the battle, and enter the promise land with a multitude of doubters possessing a defeated attitude! EVERYBODY is going straight in, so make sure you’re not taking the wrong people right IN!

Whether it’s buying a house; a car; starting a business or ministry; beginning school; changing careers; Be Careful to Leave Pessimistic, Negative, Doubting, Fault-Finding, Complaining, Murmuring, Lazy People Behind! Because the reality is, this will not be your first, only, or last battle! Your faith will be stretched again! And there are some people who just barely made it by in this battle, but will be a bigger danger than your enemies in your next attack! It’s not enough to win the battle, but you have to make sure you have the right soldiers!

Listen: You are about to Celebrate Victory, so why would you want to Invite Party-Poopers to the Festivities?!

Take those who walk by faith, who depend on the Lord, who trust God, who believe in the Promises of His Word, those who actively open their mouths in a Shout of Faith knowing that God can’t lie and can’t fail! Take those who see what you see, because they will help you to seize what you see! Take those ready to fight, even if all they’ll have to do is Shout! Take those equipped to go the distance, even on days when the journey doesn’t look so victorious. Take those who don’t get stuck in the bumps along the path. Take those who Shout in advance over Promises fulfilled!

You need soldiers who are obedient, determined, those who know how to take orders (even when they make absolutely no sense). You need those who aren’t afraid to Advance, March, Blow Trumpets, Carry the Ark and Shout! God is giving you a Victory you don’t have to Work for, but that doesn’t mean you get Lazy Soldiers!

Remember the Text: “Then, when they give one long, loud blast, all the people are to give a mighty SHOUT, and the walls of the city WILL fall down; then move in upon the city from every direction.” (Joshua 6:5 TLB)

This is about to be an All-Consuming Victory! You will Defeat the Enemy in Every Direction! So, look around you today and see who you have in your company! You can’t afford blind-spots, and doubters, you can’t afford distracted and easily deterred soldiers! This is about to be an “On Every Side” Victory, make sure the folks you have on your side, are really On Your Side! And certainly make sure you have some noisy folks with you too! There is no such thing as a Silent Shout! Remember, prior to the walls falling, there is a Mighty Shout! Those who sit Sunday after Sunday just warming the pew, without opening their mouths with the fruit of thanksgiving and praise on their lips shouldn’t be on your pew or in your company!

Another note to bear in mind: Joshua had all kinds of people, and yet everyone knew their place and position! He had priests, and everyday people with no titles at all. Some people carried the ark, some shouted, some blew trumpets etc. Make sure you not only have the right people, but that they’re in the right place and position. Truth is we lose a lot of battles because those who were supposed to be blowing the horn were jealous of those carrying the ark, and so they get out of place attempting to accomplish what they were never assigned to do.

In addition, Joshua gave instructions on when to shout, because there was a period of Working in Silence. And if you have people in your company that just have to be seen and heard, you will miss your victory!

AND, Joshua had priests carrying the ark, but he also had Armed Men ready and equipped to do battle! You need your praisers and worshipers, but you are after all, still in battle! Don’t get so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good! Everybody plays a part, so don’t let your story end prematurely because you didn’t give all the characters their proper roles!

AND, they went around seven times! In other words, not every victory comes when you spin around 3 times and then you’re out of it! You need soldiers who are persistent and determined. Those who are tenacious and have stamina. Those who are not easily intimidated by the length of the battle or the level of the attack! You need soldiers who will hang in there till the end!

AND, they still made time to bless Rahab and make sure that all the valuables went to the house of the Lord. Some of us get real mean in battle. Our go through causes us to put others through unnecessarily. Listen, even in the midst of battle there will be people for you to bless and sacrifices to be given to God, don’t miss this!

So, how does it all end?

“So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.” (Joshua 6:20).

Everyone played their part, and God took the lead and gave the city to the people who were smart enough to listen and brave enough to act.

And the conclusion of the matter?

“So the Lord was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.” (Joshua 6:27).

It’s amazing what faith and obedience can accomplish!

Today, determine to put yours to the test!

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: “Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Vitamin B6”

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

LETS STAY CONNECTED!

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“How to Establish Quiet Time With God?”

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“O GOD, YOU ARE MY GOD, EARNESTLY I SEEK YOU.” (PSALM 63:1 NIV)

When you come to meet with God you should have an Attitude of:

1…EXPECTANCY: Expect to ‘give and get’ from your time together. And make it a time of Intimacy. Now, intimacy wasn’t designed to be found in a crowd or a public place; intimacy calls for being alone with the one you love. The Bible speaks about Christ as the groom and us (the church) as His bride. Therefore, the groom has an Expectancy when it comes to His bride. He Expects us to go out of our way to be with Him, to spend valuable time with Him, to talk with Him, to share with Him, to love Him. He Expects us to show and prove our love for Him. He Expects words of appreciation, adoration and admiration from His bride. Without a doubt, He as our groom, has already given us this and much more, so don’t you think by now He deserves to really be loved by us in return? Th Bible says: “And, behold, a woman…brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:36-38) Intimacy with God is Important!

2…REVERENCE: Don’t clumsily rush into God’s presence! Prepare your heart by being Still before Him and letting the Quietness clear away the thoughts of the world. Remind yourself Who it is you’re meeting with – GOD! Once me and my husband took an evening and went out to dinner, for no other reason than just to spend some quiet, quality time together. You would’ve thought we were going to a 5-star restaurant by how we were carrying on trying to make sure we picked out just the right outfits and shoes. We almost choked our children to death with cologne and perfume spraying all over the place. And we only went to the restaurant ‘BBQ’s’! In other words, this wasn’t a “Special Event”, but it was Special. We loved each other enough to take the time to look especially nice, for no-one else but one another. And likewise, when you enter the presence of God, that set aside time for just you and Him, take the time to Prepare Yourself.You are Worthy…to receive Glory and Honor” (Revelation 4:11 NIV). Make sure you have enough praise and worship; enough thank you Jesus’; enough I love you Lord. Remember, He’s Worthy! Take the time to present Him with a clean and a pure heart. Present Him with a mind that is focused on Him alone. Truth is, we’ve been giving God a lot of Entertainment, but not enough true, heartfelt Endearment. “Worship the Lord in Holy Clothing. May all the earth shake in fear before Him” (Psalm 96:9 NLV). “Bravo, GOD, bravo! Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!” In awe before the glory, in awe before God’s visible power. Stand at attention! Dress your best to honor Him!” (Psalm 29:1-2 MSG). If He means what you say He means to you, love Him enough to enter His presence at your Best! You can’t Rush Reverence!

3…ALERTNESS: Get to bed early so you’ll be in good shape to meet God in the morning! He deserves your Full Attention. Give God the Best part of your Day – when you are the Freshest. Follow the example of Christ:VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING…Jesus…went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV). Hudson Taylor said, “You don’t tune up the instruments after the concert is over…you tune them up before you start.I don’t know about you, but when I was single and dating, I made sure my make-up was flawless, no bags under my eyes, breath-mints in my bag, changing my outfit ten times to get just the right look. I wanted my date to see me at my Peak, at my Best. I made sure, when I enter and when I leave your presence, You Will Remember Me! Well, I’ve learned to give God even Better than that! I’ve learned to be Alert to His presence. When I know I’m going to meet Him in morning prayer I get to the bathroom and get myself together! Why? Because if I gave flesh that much, surely I should give Spirit that and much more! If you really think about it, we cost God too much to short-change Him now!Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be Alert servants of the Master, cheerfully Expectant…” (Romans 12:11) Don’t give God your Aloofness when He deserves your Alertness.

4…WILLINGNESS: This Attitude is Crucial: Because you don’t come to your quiet time to choose what you will or won’t do, but with the purpose of doing anything and everything God wants you to do. So come to meet with the Lord, possessing a mindset to do His will—no matter what! Determine that I’m not just going to enter His presence and laugh, and jump, and shout, but He has something Vital to tell me. Therefore, I’ve got to be ready to receive and willing to fulfill whatever the day’s assignment might be.Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. BUT PLEASE, NOT WHAT I WANT. YOU, WHAT DO YOU WANT?” (Matthew 26:39 MSG). One of the questions that should always be on your lips when you enter your quiet time with God is, “What Do You Want From Me God?

Take special time to increase your Expectancy, Reverence, Alertness and Willingness to God. Go out of your way for Him, like you’ve never done before. Make a sacrifice to spend quality time with Him. Seek Him with all you’ve got. Pursue Him as if it’s your last time to grasp Him. Love Him enough to be quiet before Him and hear what He has to say.

Remember: There is no greater Return, than Investing in Quiet Time With God.

Stephen Olford said, “I want to hear God’s voice before anyone else’s in the morning. And His is the last voice I want to hear at night.

David and Daniel met with the Lord three times daily: EVENING, and MORNING, and at NOON, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” [Psalm 55:17] “Now… Daniel… kneeled upon his knees THREE TIMES A DAY, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aftoretime.” [Daniel 6:10].

So does that mean the rule of thumb is to meet with God three times daily? No. What it does mean is whatever time you set, Simply Be Consistent! Put it on your calendar if need be! In honesty, we put far less important stuff on our calendars (hair, nail and feet appointments, lunch dates, sales at Macy’s etc.) Therefore, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to make an appointment with God, certainly our Daily Protector is more important than a Perm! And just like you’ll rearrange your schedule to keep all your other appointments, do what you need to, to keep this one! You didn’t stand up Tyrone or Tasha, so whatever you do, Don’t Stand God Up!

As women, we keep better hair and nail appointments than we keep God appointments. As men, you keep better barber and basketball appointments than God appointments. As youth, you keep better girlfriend/boyfriend appointments than God appointments. In other words, we’ve ALL messed up our appointments with God, whether it be through cancellations, lateness, fatigue, change in plans etc… But if the truth be told, even if you are the President and CEO, you will Never have a more important appointment than the one you schedule with God! 

Make a firm commitment like the Psalmist. He said,My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” [Psalm 5:3]. That word “shalt” is the same as “shall” and the word “shall” means “expressing a strong assertion or intention” more importantly its Origin is Old English meaning “Owe“. The word “Owe” means to “Be Required to Pay (money or goods) to (someone) in Return for Something Received“. And the word “Required” means “To Expect Someone to Do SomethingAnd all of that sums up to mean the Psalmist Expressed a Strong Intention to Give God What He Owes Him (His Time), Because He is Required To Pay God In Return For all the Goodness, Blessings, Miracles, Provision, Protection…He Has Received. And Most Important God is Expecting Him to do It! And the Psalmist Has Vowed that it Shall be Done! My Voice SHALT Thou Hear In the Morning, O LORD; In the Morning Will I Direct My Prayer Unto Thee, And Will Look Up” Does meeting with God in Quiet Prayer Time Mean that Much to You?!  Do you realize you OWE God? Do you realize just how much you OWE God? Do you realize that God is REQUIRING this of you? Do you realize that God EXPECTS this from you? The Amplified Bible reads that same verse like this, “In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart.]There’s a few things I want to point out here:

(a) The Psalmist makes an Appointment with God:My voice SHALT thou hear In The Morning, O LORD…

(b) The Psalmist takes the time to Prepare Himself and what he wants to Offer God: …I PREPARE [a Prayer, a Sacrifice]…

(c) The Psalmist makes it clear that it’s not about himself: …For YOU…

(d) The Psalmist knows that his Appointment with God is not just about what he has to give to God, But What God Has to Give to Him Also: …watch and wait [For You to SPEAK to My Heart.]

I cannot stress enough the Importance of making and keeping your Quiet Time Appointments With God! If David could do this, certainly you can do the very same! Remember You OWE God That Much! You Are REQUIRED to Pay Up and He’s Waiting In EXPECTATION!

Now, let’s look at a few ‘TIME’ tips for our Quality Time With God:

1…DON’T START WITH A TWO-HOUR QUIET TIME: You’ll quickly get discouraged. You’ll create memories of failure rather than memories of success. You must grow in this relationship as you do in any other. So begin with a few minutes and let it grow. You don’t plant your seed Monday and look for a harvest on Tuesday. It takes time. So be patient and pace yourself. The more faithful you are in keeping your Quiet Time Appointments With God the more appointments you’ll want to make and the longer you’ll want to stay.

2…DON’T CLOCK-WATCH: That’ll ruin your quiet time faster than anything else. Decide what you can do in God’s Word and prayer during the time you’ve selected; then do just that! Sometimes it’ll take more time than you have set aside, sometimes less. But don’t clock-watch! When on a date with that special somebody that you’re enjoying spending time with, you don’t watch the clock waiting for it to be over. No, you enjoy every minute. In fact, if it’s really good, the first things you say are: ‘Where did the time go?’ ‘And I wish this night didn’t have to end.’ God is simply looking for the same attention. The more quiet, intimate time you spend with God, the more in love with Him you’ll become. Therefore, you’ll automatically want to increase that time. It’s a process. So enjoy each stage.

3…QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY: It’s what you do during your quiet time – whether 15 minutes or 2 hours – that’s important. Whatever time frame you set, simply give your full attention to Him. My husband knows not to talk to me while I’m watching TV. I’ll nod my head the whole conversation through, but I guarantee you when I’m asked later about it, I have no idea what he’s talking about. Why? Because I Wasn’t Paying Attention! So don’t try to be super-deep and lay in prayer for 4 hours when you don’t do 4 minutes consistently. It’s unrealistic, and what’s unrealistic goes unmet. So whatever time frame you set, just give God your full attention and when it’s done, it’s done, until the next time. There’s nothing worse than to read ten chapters and not even retain ten verses. Why not commit to one chapter and let it minister to you? Remember, QUALITY will always over-ride QUANTITY when it comes to spending time with God.

4…CHOOSE A SPECIAL PLACE: Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to THE PLACE where he had stood before the Lord.” [Genesis 19:27 NIV]. Your special place ought to be a place where: (a) You can pray aloud without embarrassment; (b) You’re comfortable. But for some of us I must stress the point: Don’t have your quiet time in bed – that’s far too comfortable! Trust me, I’ve tried it! Now, as for me, my special place is in my living-room at 5am. I anoint myself and walk the floor of my living-room in prayer while the house is asleep. And even when the house wakes up, no one disturbs my special place of prayer until I’m done. As the days go by your special place will come to mean everything to you, because it will become your meeting place with God. It will become your sacred, set aside, consecrated, personal holy ground. Now, don’t think this place has to be perfect, it just has to be a place where you can enjoy your Quiet Time in the Presence of the Lord.

All of that sounds wonderful preacher, but what happens When Noise Interrupts Your Quiet Time With God?!

“O GOD, You Are My GOD, Earnestly I Seek YOU.” PSALM 63:1 NIV

Let’s address some “Quiet Time Problems/Interruptions.”

The Problem of Discipline is a Major one! This is better known as “The Battle of the Blankets.” It faces you the moment you wake up! The devil will Exaggerate just how tired you really are. And when he and your flesh team up, it’s a battle to just get out of bed! So here are some tips on Overcoming this problem:

(1) GO TO BED ON TIME! Too many of us stay up late watching TV, therefore we have a hard time getting up in the morning. (I confess, Law & Order at 11pm has gotten me in a lot of prayer time trouble). But Dawson Trotman lived by the Scripture,Early will I seek thee.You see, even if he had company the night before, he would excuse himself and go to bed because his top priority was meeting with God each morning.  Ask yourself, is meeting with God that important to me?

(2) GET UP IMMEDIATELY UPON WAKING! If you wait to think about it, you’ve already lost the days battle! Furthermore, when you wake up in the morning it’s not the time to pray that you’ll have willpower to do it. In other words, Plan It! Be Intentional! Resolve like the Psalmist,In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice.” (Psalm 5:3 NIV). Make it a Mandatory Meeting!

(3) GO TO BED WITH THOUGHTS OF SCRIPTURE! Fall asleep with the attitude of, ‘See you in the morning, Lord.’ Ask Him to wake you up with thoughts of Him. One of the best ways to do that is to go to sleep with a Scripture verse on your mind. Remember You’ve Been Commanded:Do not let this Book…depart from your mouth; meditate on it DAY AND NIGHT.” (Joshua 1:8 NIV).

You say you’re not getting much out of your quiet time? Well, Rick Warren refers to this as “The Battle of the Blahs.” He writes: “You can never judge your quiet time by your emotions. Emotions may lie; feelings may come and go. If you only have a quiet time when you ‘feel’ like it, the devil will make sure you never feel like it. Some days will seem bland. On other days you’ll think heaven has opened up to you. So don’t expect a glorious ‘experience’ every morning. Not having goose-bumps doesn’t mean God is not present.

However, dry spells can be caused by a few things:

(a) DISOBEDIENCE:  Because God won’t bless you beyond your last act of disobedience. And He won’t reveal step two until you’ve effectively climbed past step one. So repent and get it right.

(b) BEING IN A HURRY: Samuel Chadwick said, “Hurry is the death of prayer.So go for meaningfulness, not mileage!

(c) BEING IN A RUT: When your quiet time becomes a Ritual instead of a Relationship, it dies! So be flexible; change your routine, keep it interesting. Now men you would do it for your woman; and women you know you would do it for your man. So learn how to do it for your God. Besides, you’ll never have a better or more lasting relationship than that you have with God. So don’t you think it’s worth it to do whatever it takes to make your relationship work?

Sorry, it’s not over yet! Because once you’ve wonThe Battle of the BlanketsandThe Battle of the Blahs,you’ll have to fightThe Battle of the Brain.” Your mind will wander off in 101 directions during your quiet time! The devil will make sure of it! You’ll find yourself distracted by noises, lack of sleep, tensions with others, work, things you ‘just can’t forget,’ and even things you haven’t thought about all day. So here are some helpful suggestions:

1…BE SURE YOU’RE THOROUGHLY AWAKE! Take a shower, splash cold water on your face, or do some exercises. Get the Adrenalin flowing! The Psalmist writes,As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1 NIV). A deer being pursued by a hunter has only one thing in mind; getting to the stream where its wounds can be healed, its thirst quenched, and its strength renewed. Therefore, panting does not mean entering your quiet time dragging in, mumbling half a scripture, and dozing back off to sleep. There is a hunger and a thirst an urgency to get to God. So Wake Up and get to Panting and Pursuing after Him!

2…USE A MEMO PAD: When you decide to spend time with God you’ll suddenly ‘remember’ everything you have to do, or have left undone. So write things down as they come to you, then tell yourself, “I’ll get to that later,” and go back to prayer. Don’t let the devil distract you!

3…WALK WHILE YOU’RE PRAYING: You won’t fall asleep while standing up, (at least I hope not), so move around. And while you’re moving quote scriptures like,…I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised…” (Joshua 1:3 MSG) You’ll pray more purposeful and powerful then won’t you?

4…PERSONALIZE THE SCRIPTURES: Pray them back to God. Since God’s Word is always in line with God’s Will, your prayers will be answered. For example, use Psalm 23: “Lord, You are my Shepherd, therefore I shall not want for anything. Thank You for leading me in paths that are right when I don’t know which way to go.” It reminds you that you’re talking to SOMEONE who loves you and protects you and wants the best for you.

Who wouldn’t want to spend more quiet time with a Person like that?

If truth be told, nothing is more difficult to maintain than your quiet time with God. When pressures mount, what’s the first thing you’re tempted to drop? Time With God! Satan knows if he can keep you from it, he’s already won the battle, because he’ll have no opposition from you. Many of us who have messed up and missed the mark can honestly say, “It all started when I began to neglect my time with God.” So let’s look at some more ways to Overcome this problem.

1…MAKE A COVENANT WITH GOD! And be serious about it:When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it…It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 NIV). In the end, you need to remember that you’re in a relationship with a Covenant-Keeping God. Therefore, it’s not enough to make the vow, You’ve Got To Keep It!

2…PUT IT ON YOUR SCHEDULE: Block out time to meet with God each day, just like you plan a doctor’s appointment or a business luncheon. Think about it: We will run for a bus, jump on a train, chase down a taxi just to make it on time for an appointment with man. But we can’t roll over out of bed to meet with God in our own house? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that to be my track record with God. Being known more for my cancellations than actual kept appointments with Him.The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any who…sought after God, inquiring for and of Him…requiring Him [of vital necessity].” (Psalm 14:2 AMP) God is Seeking for those who are Seeking for Him! Are you seeking?

3…BE READY FOR THE DEVIL’S EXCUSES AND ATTACKS: To be forewarned is to be forearmed! So follow the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared!Dr. Robert G. Lee used to say,If you wake up in the morning and don’t meet the devil face on, it means you’re headed in the same direction!So don’t wake up with the mentality that the heavens are going to open up, and the angels are going to descend and lead praise and worship while you enter your Quiet Time with God! If this is what you’re looking for when you open your eyes, then you are in for a very Rude Awakening! Often times you’ve got to fight for your Quiet Time With God! But the rewards you receive for winning the fight are invaluable! So let the boxer in you rise up and let the devil know you’ve still got another round in you!I praise you, LORD! I prayed, and you rescued me from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:3 CEV).

4…LEAVE YOUR BIBLE OPEN THE NIGHT BEFORE AT THE PASSAGE YOU INTEND TO READ IN THE MORNING: When you wake up it will serve as a reminder to have your Quiet Time With God. Believe it or not, I used to sit my open Bible on top of my alarm clock, this way I had to pick up my Bible, to shut off my alarm clock. And it takes a pretty crazy person to pick up their Bible and throw it to the side, unread, when you realize God’s Grace and Mercy gave you another day to open your eyes! So whatever it takes… don’t miss out on your Quiet Time With God!…I have treasured the Words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12 NIV).

But what if I miss a day?Don’t worry about it, and don’t go on a guilt trip over it! If you miss a meal it doesn’t mean you gave up eating, does it? You’ll simply be a bit more hungry, so eat a little more at the next meal. Just don’t make a molehill a mountain! You can trip over a molehill and get some scrapes, dust yourself off and keep going. But a mountain will kill you! So stop treating your missed time with God as if you’ve fallen from Mt. Everest!The LORD’s kindness never fails! If He had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 CEV).

Listen: Psychologists say it takes up to three weeks to get familiar with a new habit; then another three weeks before it takes root. So the goal is to get beyond that six-week barrier!

Here’s a simple formula for developing a habit:

(1) MAKE A STRONG RESOLUTION: If you begin half-heartedly you’ll never succeed. The Bible says,Encourage one another daily.” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV). So become accountable to someone. Ask them to encourage you, and to remind you of the promise you made to God. I’m a witness, I have some Covenant Friendships that don’t let me get away with nothing! It works!

(2) NEVER ALLOW AN EXCEPTION: A habit is like a ball of twine: every time you drop it some of the strands unwind. So never allow ‘just this once’ to occur. Each act of yielding weakens your will and causes you to lose ground!

(3) SEIZE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICE YOUR NEW HABIT: Whenever you get the slightest urge to practice it, do it right then. Don’t wait, use that moment to reinforce it. It doesn’t hurt to overdo a new, and good, habit.

(4) RELY ON THE POWER OF GOD: When all is said and done, you must realize you’re in a spiritual battle and that you can only succeed by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. So pray that God will strengthen you. Depend on Him to help you develop Quiet Time habits for His Glory.Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (Jeremiah 33:3 MSG).

No Matter How Noisy Life May Become, Prepare And Equip Yourself To Allow Nothing And No One To Disturb Your Quiet Time With Your God!

“O GOD, You Are My GOD, Earnestly I Seek YOU.” (PSALM 63:1 NIV)

In closing, the word ‘Earnest’ says a lot. In fact, David wasn’t the only one who was ‘Earnest.’ James 5:17 says, “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed EARNESTLY that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.” Now when you study how Elijah prayed, the Bible says he prayed ‘earnestly’ that rain should not fall and God answered his prayer. The Scripture also says he was ‘subject’ to like passions as we are. The term ‘subject’ means ‘likely or prone to be effected by’. In other words, Elijah had some of the same pressures, temptations and conditions of life that we suffer today, and yet, when he prayed, he did it in an earnest, heartfelt manner, regardless to circumstance. Therefore, we have no excuse for our fast food prayer delivery! This isn’t a ‘bless the dinner rolls’ type of prayer. Elijah didn’t simply pray, “Lord, let there be no rain”. The word ‘Earnest’ is defined as ‘with sincere and serious intention’. Therefore, earnest prayer is Continued, Fervent and with Deep Conviction. It’s prayer that pulls on the very heart strings of God. This is the kind of prayer Jesus talked about in Matthew 6:6, …when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.Earnest prayer is Concentrated, Focused, and Deliberate. This kind of prayer is Serious Business! It’s more than saying, “Lord, bless all Christians; bless my family and bless me, in Jesus Name,” and then you’re off to work or to bed! No, it’s Sustained Prayer over a period of time. Earnest prayer, possesses the power to change even the most hopeless of situations. Isaac prayed hard to God for his wife because she was barren. God answered his prayer and Rebekah became pregnant.” (Genesis 25:21 MSG). Even Jesus prayed earnestly, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail.Luke 22:31 (NLT).

When you engage in this kind of prayer, You Don’t Give Up!

Every time I enter a new struggle and it gets long and hard, to the point it wearies me, I read Luke 18:1-5. Also [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up). He said, In a certain city there was a judge who neither reverenced and feared God nor respected or considered man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary. And for a time he would not; but later he said to himself, Though I have neither reverence or fear for God nor respect or consideration for man, YET BECAUSE THIS WIDOW CONTINUES TO BOTHER ME, I WILL DEFEND AND PROTECT AND AVENGE HER, LEST SHE GIVE ME INTOLERABLE ANNOYANCE AND WEAR ME OUT BY HER CONTINUAL COMING…” (AMP).

My prayer for you today, is that God will mold you into Disciples of Earnest Prayer. I pray that you will develop the characteristic of persistence and tenacity. And regardless to the situation or circumstance, you will not give up, give in or give out!

Now, just as earnest as Elijah, Isaac, Jesus, and even the widow were, particularly in prayer and petition, David was just as earnest in ‘seeking’ God. David does not use past tense, as an sought for the Lord. But the present tense, of I’m still seeking Him. Whether it’s to enter Quiet Time With God, or to enter into your closet of prayer with God, do it earnestly! Seek for Him with diligence.

Listen to David in full, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” The Message Bible says it like this, “God-you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts.”

You’ll know when you’re Earnestly Praying and Earnestly seeking, when your pursuit of God’s presence makes you feel trapped in a desert, hungry and thirsty and He’s your Only source of satisfaction and fulfillment! Unfortunately, somehow the church, the bride, has lost her hunger and thirst, her passion, her desire and longing for God, her bridegroom. Therefore, it is my prayer that this extensive devotional has stirred up a refreshing in your soul for Him. A new hunger and thirst that only He can feed and quench. I pray you will change your schedule in whatever way needed just so you can spend Quality, Quiet Time With God. I pray for a burning fire to be ignited within you that has to reach Him, has to see Him, has to hear from Him. From this day forward, I pray you will open your eyes each morning and say with David, “O God, you are my God, EARNESTLY I seek you…”

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

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“Winning Sides, But Losing Souls”

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Now, those of us living in New York City especially, have heard of ‘turf wars’ at some time or another. And more often than not, it’s usually found to be most often between rival gangs. Many of us can say, ‘well, I can see that; or I can understand that; or I’ve heard of that.’ But what do you do when the turf war isn’t between the gangs, but instead it’s between the police department and the fire department? I know, sounds absolutely insane doesn’t it? But truth is, there was an incident when the two departments clashed over whose job was whose. And it caused major damage!

You see, a while back there was a commuter helicopter that crashed in the East River. I’ve never forgotten this incident, it was haunting. The passengers were trapped in that helicopter under water. And here’s what the news reported, “Some police divers arrived on the scene first, and they went right to work. Minutes later, nine divers arrived from the fire department all suited up ready to go, and the police supervisor said, ‘We got it covered. It’s our territory; don’t worry about it.’Well, five passengers were rescued that day, but one man died. He was strapped in under water for an hour and a half while nine possible rescuers stood on the dock and watched, apparently because of a turf battle!

Which immediately brings to mind 1 Corinthians chapter 1. The Apostle Paul says this in, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, “I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common. I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—THAT YOU’RE FIGHTING AMONG YOURSELVES! I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: YOU’RE ALL PICKING SIDES, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.” I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?” I was not involved with any of your baptisms—except for Crispus and Gaius—and on getting this report, I’m sure glad I wasn’t. At least no one can go around saying he was baptized in my name. (Come to think of it, I also baptized Stephanas’s family, but as far as I can recall, that’s it.) GOD DIDN’T SEND ME OUT TO COLLECT A FOLLOWING FOR MYSELF, BUT TO PREACH THE MESSAGE OF WHAT HE HAS DONE, COLLECTING A FOLLOWING FOR HIM. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—CHRIST ON THE CROSS—be trivialized into mere words.” (MSG)

The church sounds a lot like the turf war in the above story, doesn’t it? And sad to say, I’m afraid nothing has changed. Today our turf is denomination, or our organization, or committees, or auxiliaries, or my church. “We’re charismatic.” “We’re not. We’re against that.” Or even a personal empire that someone is building…in Jesus’ name. Or, “Who will get the credit?” “Is my name next to that in the bulletin?” “Are you going to announce who did this?” Much like the Corinthians, all we’re doing is fighting over turf and territory. Who will get the glory? Who will get the recognition? Whose name will be called and acknowledged? Who will receive praise and accolades? Just like the Corinthians, we’re fighting among ourselves and picking sides. Who gets to sit where? Who gets to carry the Pastors whatever? Who gets to oversee the project or ministry? And then we have the pettiness of “but I’ve been here longer; I’m more qualified; I did that before; I started that…I’m the Pastor’s wife…” and the list goes on and on! Then to make matters worse, we have our favorites. We’ll stand and clap for him, but not for him. We’ll support her, but not her. And yet, while all of this transpires, people are dying without the Message of Christ because Christians are too busy being Messy in Church! Why do you think Paul says this is an “urgent matter”? Because people’s lives are at stake. While we’re picking sides, we’re losing souls. We’re worrying about elections and elevations while people are lost for an eternity without Christ.

And I love the way Paul always handles his leadership with love and rebuke. This is an urgent matter indeed, and yet he still gives them encouragement. “…You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common…” But such a relationship is impossible with people who are too busy with being on top, out front, connected to the right people or fighting for the most following.

Paul also gives us some insight into a leader’s heart. He says he’s received “…a disturbing report…” Which makes me wonder, is the reason the church is in the poor state it’s in is because the leaders aren’t disturbed by the reports they receive? Has leadership become so complacent? Accepting? Tolerant? Passive? Lazy? Unaffected? Have we become so calloused that as long as it doesn’t personally affect us, it doesn’t personally affect us? Shouldn’t we as leaders be disturbed by all the discord, division, fighting, competing, comparing, and the like in the church? When cliques are formed shouldn’t this be disturbing? When leaders aren’t talking to leaders, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When preachers can sit next to preachers in the pulpit and not once part their lips to speak to one another all service long, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When you can smell the alcohol, weed and cigarettes on the breath of your leaders, shouldn’t this be disturbing? While leaders are sexting parishioners, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When fornication, adultery, lying, gossip, rumors, spite, hatred, vengefulness, jealousy, anger and malicious intent are sitting comfortable in the pulpit and the pews, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When our youth are living in such a way that they look ten years our senior, shouldn’t this be disturbing? To answer, yes, this should disturb us tremendously. And disturb us so much that it compels us to take a stand from where we’ve been sitting so acceptingly for all this time.

Well, the report of the fighting in the church disturbed Paul and it has certainly disturbed me.

And what was all the fighting about? The Bible says, “…I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: YOU’RE ALL PICKING SIDES, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.” I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?”

Now, we have been saved, cleaned, justified, healed, delivered, and yet our focus after all of that is to pick sides of which leader to be found linked to? With all the gifts in this church, the fight was over who to be found in association with. Really? But truthfully, have we changed much from the Corinthian church? Certainly not. We’re still picking pastors, and churches, choirs, praise teams and praise breaks, to determine which we find most favorable. Oh, and the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we’ll get around to that once we’ve settled this (because clearly this is a matter of high importance in the Kingdom, in these last and evil days)!

Saints, this ought not to be so!

Sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ should always be our Primary Purpose. And one in which we carry out together, not divided. It’s not about who preaches or teaches or prays better. It’s not about us at all. We’ve simply been given an assignment to carry out and that is to carry the Cross of Christ to a world that needs to know what unconditional love and sacrifice really look like. It’s not for our vainglory, not for our popularity status, not for our Facebook ‘likes’ quota to be met, no it’s about Him not us, His Kingdom not our little ‘it’s all about me’ world!

Listen to what Paul says: “…GOD DIDN’T SEND ME OUT TO COLLECT A FOLLOWING FOR MYSELF, BUT TO PREACH THE MESSAGE OF WHAT HE HAS DONE, COLLECTING A FOLLOWING FOR HIM. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—CHRIST ON THE CROSS—be trivialized into mere words.” (MSG)

Paul says in essence, “Church, people are dying because they don’t understand what happened on the cross. How can you waste time arguing among yourselves?”

This is not about us personally! This is about HIM! His Message, His Cross, His Life, His Death, His Burial, His Resurrection, His Power, His Glory, His Name! NOT US! And so Paul lets them know there’s no need to fight among yourselves and pick sides, because this is not a popularity contest! I’m not running for office and this is not about who has the most votes! I’m not collecting followers for me, I’m collecting followers for Him! I’m not trying to be seen, I’m not shining my light so others can see me, but so they can see Him in me!

While the church is fighting for turf, the church is losing ground! Satan needs no new weapons, in fact he needs none at all since we’re handing souls to him freely! We’re so focused on who’s right up ahead, that we’re missing whose getting left behind!

Listen, a man died there in New York in the East River while the rescuers argued over territory. But don’t we do that? We’re so concerned about losing our members, or our contributions, or our credit, or our status. And all that really matters is that we’re losing the people around us to a Christ-less eternity. The two factors that really matter are number one, the lost-ness of our neighbors, and number two, the message of the cross whereby they can be found. Those two essentials are bigger than any of our differences, or any of our labels, positions, titles, degrees, initials, robes, rings, crosses, chairs, or any of our personal empires or egos! While we’re trying to find popularity, we’re losing people!

Maybe you and I have cared too much about our group, or our glory. And while we’re building our little kingdoms and our walls, people are dying. We need to get together to make a greater difference. It’s time for the church to stop acting like those officers who were sent to rescue people and save lives, but instead they were found standing on the dock arguing about turf, territory, and who was in charge. Saints, are we all in the river together, rescuing every person we can find, or are we too busy being distracted by turf and territory, fighting and picking sides? Because the truth is, time is running out! Turf is for now; lost is forever! And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to be rerouted back to my place of purpose. Preaching and teaching about the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And doing so without fancy words to entice the educated with eloquence of speech.

Listen again to Paul: “The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It is written, I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head, I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots. So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in His wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb – preaching, of all things! To bring those who trust Him into the way of salvation.” (vss. 18-21 MSG)

This is what we’re called to do, preach the gospel, preach Jesus, preach the cross, preach salvation, and to do so without attempting to sound impressive. Remember, it’s not about us, it’s about Him!

2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “But we have this precious treasure [the good news about salvation] in [unworthy] earthen vessels [of human frailty], so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be [shown to be] from God [His sufficiency] and not from ourselves.  We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed; always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown in our body.  For we who live are constantly [experiencing the threat of] being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be evidenced in our mortal body [which is subject to death]. So physical death is [actively] at work in us, but [spiritual] life [is actively at work] in you.” (AMP)

Church, this is our assignment! Not attempting to look, seem or be grand, but just humble servants diverting the unsaved from hell, no matter how “hellbent” they are. We’re unworthy, earthen vessels of human frailty, nothing impressive, just available to be used by God. And even though we’ll suffer for sharing the Gospel, the suffering is worth it to snatch souls from the devils grasp. Isn’t this why we were saved in the first place?

1 Peter 2:9-10, “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 our assignment! We were brought from dark to light to shine, but not for our own personal glow… but for His glory! People should be able to see the night-and-day difference He made for us, so they can desire the same thing and we can lead them into the salvation that makes it possible. And all of this can easily be accomplished if only we’d stop fighting for turf and losing ground.

People of God, this Journey with God is not about us, it’s about Him. And as soon as we can stop fighting in church we can get back to fighting for the Kingdom. Believe it or not, but there are still souls out there drowning that desperately need rescuing. So, are we going to help save them or watch them drown while we fight over differences on the dock?

Let’s refocus on what we’ve been called to do. Let’s go back to being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  And not so people can get a taste of our favor-flavored life, but that they can “Taste and See, (for themselves), that the Lord is Good.” Let us not shine so people can see us, but so they can see that in our dark lives “He’s still the Light of the World”, that has so graciously desired to live in us (and desires likewise to live in them. Let’s go back to the Great Commission and Fulfill it instead of wasting time becoming Full of ourselves.

Our Master is returning, and He’s going to want an account of what we’ve done. Question is, will we pass His audit or fail?

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let’s determine today that we’ll stop fighting for turf so we can finally stop losing ground. Because according to Acts 1:8, as His Witnesses, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover in sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so, let’s not lose it to the devil through division and distraction.

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

Acts 13:47, “For that is what the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring [the message of eternal] salvation to the end of the earth.” (AMP);

Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (AMP);

Acts 1:8, “But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about Me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.” (CEV);

Acts 20:24, “But I do not consider my life as something of value or dear to me, so that I may [with joy] finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify faithfully of the good news of God’s [precious, undeserved] grace [which makes us free of the guilt of sin and grants us eternal life].” (AMP);

Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation [from His wrath and punishment] to everyone who believes [in Christ as Savior], to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (AMP);

2 Timothy 1:8-10, “So don’t be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner. Take your share of suffering for the Message along with the rest of us. We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus.” (MSG)

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

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“Small…BUT…Significant”

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Proverbs 30:24-28, “Four things are among the SMALLEST on earth, BUT they are extremely wise: Ants as creatures aren’t strong, BUT they store away their food in the summer. Badgers as creatures aren’t powerful, BUT they make their homes in the rocks. Locusts don’t have a king, BUT they march together in ranks. You can catch lizards in your hand, BUT they are in kings’ palaces.” (CEB)

As a kid, and as an adult, I’ve always loved cartoons! And particularly as a tomboy, I loved “The Transformers”, and my favorite was Bumblebee! Bumblebee (one of the Transformers main characters) was SMALL, BUT, eager and brave! You see, Bumblebee acts as a messenger and a spy. And due to his small size, he dares to go where others can’t and won’t. He idolizes the bigger Autobots, especially Optimus Prime and Prowl, and strives to be accepted. He is the most energy efficient and has the best vision of all the Autobots. He can go underwater for reconnaissance and salvage missions. Although physically the weakest Autobot, his stealth more than compensates for this inadequacy. This battle-tested robot was the first autobot to forge an alliance with the humans. He is a very close ally to human Spike Witwicky, often seen as an underdog and not the biggest bot he has more courage than any soldier from Cybertron. As the most trusted lieutenant of Optimus Prime, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect earth and its’ people.

Now, for someone like me who is 5 foot 2 inches, you may understand why I love Bumblebee so much! Yes, he’s SMALL, looks for acceptance from his bigger bots, he’s often seen as the underdog, and has some inadequate moments. BUT, he’s one of the most effective because of what others may deem as his disadvantage, actually works for him. Because he’s so SMALL, he can be the messenger who’s always on a mission, with the sharpest vision, to go undetected in enemy territory, places where others can’t or won’t go! He’s SMALL yes, BUT also brave, eager and stealth! I love that word “stealth”, it has various definitions, but the one I like most states, “intended not to attract attention.” Some of its synonyms are, “behind-the-scenes; hush; private; secret; undercover; confidential; classified; unadvertised; and unexposed”. Can you imagine if we had believers today who could complete their mission and assignment for God, “behind-the-scenes; privately; in a confidential, unexposed, unadvertised manner that doesn’t need to attract attention to itself?” But that’s Bumblebee, completing the mission is the main thing, not becoming the main thing!

Which reminds us a lot of our small friends in Proverbs 30:24-28:

First thing that is addressed is their size, “SMALLEST on earth”. And the word “small” is defined as “lacking in strength; minor in influence, power or rank; operating on a limited scale; little or close to zero in an objectively measurable aspect (as quantity); made up of few or little units; of little consequence; limited in degree; and reduced to a humiliating position.” How would you like to be defined and described in such a manner? Truth is, many of us are defined and described just like that, by varying people, for varying reasons, and many of those have nothing to do with our height, just how people in their opinions view us. Listen to some of its synonyms, “dwarfish; half-pint (actually, I’ve been called that); little; pint-size; shrimpy; subnormal; toylike; undersized; runtish; runty; stunted; inappreciable; little bitty; microscopic; mini; minuscule; teensy-weensy; meager; poor; scant; scarce; deficient inadequate; insufficient; lacking; and wanting.” Well, aren’t we off to a fine start? Doesn’t this just make your confidence shoot through the roof? Okay, so maybe not! But it does bring to mind someone…David. Samuel is sent to anoint the next king, and he comes to Jesse’s boys. Take a listen, “When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, ‘Here he is! God’s anointed! But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart…Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel. Samuel was blunt with Jesse, ‘God hasn’t chosen any of these.” Then he asked Jesse, ‘Is this it? Are there no more sons?’ ‘Well, yes, THERE’S THE RUNT. But he’s out tending the sheep.’ Samuel ordered Jesse, ‘Go get him. We’re not moving from this spot until he’s here.’ Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health – bright-eyed, good-looking. God said, ‘Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.” Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life…” (1 Samuel 16:6-13 MSG)

Well, there’s that wonderful description again, “RUNT”, after all who wouldn’t want to be defined in such a way? In fact, “Runt” is defined as “an animal unusually small of its kind; the smallest of a litter of pigs; small in stature.” Yep, that sounds as attractive as they come! And yet, I love this story of David, because the very ones that were first choice among people, were not even considered an option with God! He didn’t care what any of them looked like, nor their stature. It was His heart he was looking for, and He found it in the chest of a RUNT! David wasn’t the people’s choice, but he was indeed God’s ONLY choice. And before you start beating up on yourself, or if you’ve already started, you will stop today! Stop worrying about what people think, say or feel about you! Even if you had bald patches, acne, over or under weight, missing teeth, cross-eyes, big ears, small stature with long arms, a limp and a stutter, if you dare to have a heart that beats for God, You are His ONLY Choice no matter how many options present themselves! You may not be in the in-crowd; the inner-circle; or the clique. You may actually live in a one room, take the bus and flip burgers and still I tell you, if you dare to have a heart that beats for God, You are still God’s ONLY Choice! And His Choice Without Any Comparison or Competition! People have popularity contests, Not God! People care about positions, Not God! People care about appearance, Not God! You can be the smallest thing in the back looking after the sheep, and all will go on pause until your presence has arrived upfront! Don’t allow people’s opinions to make you think you are not God’s Best Option! “Opinion” is defined as “a general view, an appraisal formed in the mind of another about a particular matter, a feeling, a sentiment, perception, assumption, presumption, idea, thought, observation, guess hunch, theory, suggestion, angle, outlook, perspective, a point of view that’s not necessarily based on fact or knowledge; and an estimation of quality of worth.” Now, did you find anywhere in that thesis of opinion, anything that states Fact or Truth? Absolutely Not! Know why? Because people’s opinions are not Proof of what is Fact or Truth! It’s nothing more than their estimated guess! Only What God Says, Thinks and Feels Concerning You Matters and Counts as Proof of What is Fact and Truth!

So, today, you will stop viewing yourself through the distorted vision of people who can’t see your true worth and value! Think about it, if David had to base his worth and value on the opinions of Samuel, his brothers, his daddy Jesse, his wife Michal or even Goliath, he would’ve become a human groundhog, and dug himself in a hole never to appear without permission! You are not bound by public opinion!

Now, back to our little friends…

“Four things are among the SMALLEST on earth, BUT they are extremely wise: Ants as creatures aren’t strong, BUT they store away their food in the summer. Badgers as creatures aren’t powerful, BUT they make their homes in the rocks. Locusts don’t have a king, BUT they march together in ranks. You can catch lizards in your hand, BUT they are in kings’ palaces.” (CEB)

Now, grant it, our little friends are the “…the SMALLEST on earth…” However, they are also, “extremely wise…” So wise in fact that the ants aren’t strong, the badgers aren’t powerful, the locust have no king and the lizard is small enough to hold in your own hand! Let’s be honest, nothing about our little friends makes us feel that great! I mean, would you want to be described as not strong; not powerful; having no leader and small enough to squish in someone’s hand?! And yet, even with characteristics such as these, the Bible says the ant is still wise enough to store his food in summer, knowing that winter is coming (he’s not strong, but he’s wise). The badgers aren’t powerful (and yet they have the wisdom to build their homes in rocks, so when they are under attack, if they can’t fight, they can hide well). The locust have no leader, no king, no one to give them direction and order, and yet they march together in ranks (we can’t even get preachers to work together in the pulpit, nor the saints in the pews). And then there’s the lizards, small enough to be found in the palm of a hand, but instead they are wise enough to make their way into king’s palaces. They may not sound like bears, lions and tigers, oh my, but they will not be robbed of what they do possess! SMALL, yes, BUT still they build, they have structure and strategy, they can function without having any one particular ruler in charge, they aren’t slumming it in shacks, they’re in palaces, they know how to work around changing seasons, and yet, we can’t get a group of 5 believers to function to this degree!

As God isn’t moved by public opinion, appearance, stature, or even low self-esteem, neither should you be! Listen to Saul, “Pardon me, sir,” Saul replied. “I’m from the tribe of Benjamin, the SMALLEST in Israel, and my family is the LEAST important of all the families of the tribe! You must have the wrong man!” (1 Samuel 9:21 TLB) Have you ever felt like that? I know I have…and sometimes I still have my moments. God, you do know you’re talking to Shermaine right? You want me to work on what? Be a part of what? With who? God, you do realize I’ve battled addictions, I was molested and raped, I had 2 children out of wedlock, oh by the way, did I mention the multiple suicide attempts, being kept in the psych ward and the abortion? God, you do know I wasn’t raised in church right? You do remember the times I’ve cussed, drank, smoked, partied, fought, and lied? God, you do realize I’ve committed sins today, known, unknown, deliberate, accidental? And you still want me to put on a robe, attach a collar, grab a bible, stand before Your people in a pulpit and preach a gospel about You!? God, you do know you’re talking to Shermaine right?

You may laugh, and it is indeed quite comical at times, but it’s my truthful conversations with God. There are days when I feel like He’s got amnesia and doesn’t remember who He’s talking to when He sends Me of all people on an assignment about Him and for Him! It’s then that I have my “Saul Selah’s”, I pause and unfortunately think about all my wrongs, habits, addictions, sins, mistakes, failures and the like. I recall where I come from and what I did and still do and again feel compelled to ask, “God, you do know you’re talking to Shermaine right?”

Therefore, please believe me, I know what it feels like to have those moments of inadequacy, insignificance, insufficiency and inability. And it certainly doesn’t help to have people give their uninvited opinions about God’s choice in you. However, I’ve also learned lessons from Zaccheus that have encouraged me over the years, and I hope they encourage you likewise.

Luke 19:1-10, “Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a SHORT man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by. When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?” Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.” Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.” (MSG)

This man wanted to desperately see Jesus, however, he was too SHORT, and couldn’t see over the crowd. He devices a plan to climb a tree, he’s noticed by Jesus, Jesus is to be his guest in his home. And you would think all of this is absolutely phenomenal, until public opinion starts talking out of turn again… ““What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?” There will always be people that have distorted vision when it comes to you. They can see your past crystal clear, your present is blurry, and when it comes to your future, they have a combination of cataract and glaucoma in their natural and spiritual eyes! They can see nothing good, even in the fact that Jesus invited Himself to YOUR house! Now, if you think about it, Jesus had a lot of options, after all, there was a crowd present, and one so large in size that Zacchaeus had to climb in a tree just to see Him! But Jesus CHOSE Zacchaeus over anyone else! He CHOSE a SHORT, rich, tax man, sitting in a tree, over “…EVERYONE WHO SAW THE INCIDENT…” God will Deliberately Choose Underqualified You, Over Someone Else’s Overqualified Ego! They may not like it, but Zacchaeus was deliberately chosen by Jesus to receive salvation and restoration. And likewise, He’s still choosing the underdogs to overachieve! Don’t assume He will pass you by because of public opinion. He may simply be waiting for you to distinguish yourself from the crowd! 

God cares about All of us, the Least, the Last, the Lonely and the Left Out! (Thanks Bishop James R. Chambers). And He’s not in the least bit intimidated or concerned about our misfitted selves: Jacob was a cheater; Peter had a tempter; David had an affair; Noah got drunk; Jonah ran from God; Paul was a murderer; Gideon was insecure; Miriam was a gossip; Martha was a worrier; Thomas was doubtful; Sarai was impatient; Elijah was moody; Moses stuttered; Zacchaeus was short; Abraham was old; Lazarus was dead; Rahab was a prostitute; Timothy had stomach troubles; Isaiah preached naked; Leah had weak eyes; Joseph was abused; Samson was a womanizer; Naomi loss 2 sons and a husband; Job went bankrupt; the Disciples fell asleep in prayer; Judas betrayed Jesus for some change; Saul was mentally unstable; the Samaritan woman had far too many men!

And still, God used every last one of them! And with all your issues, He has yet to unsubscribe! In fact, He renews day by day! You are no exception, no matter where you come from, where you are, what you did, who you did it with, how many times you’ve repented, God still loves you! Even in those moments when you feel small, inadequate, insufficient, insignificant, or unimportant. God sees you when you see nothing good in yourself!

Genesis 16:13 says, “The Lord talked to Hagar. She began to use a new name for God. She said to Him, “You are ‘God Who Sees Me.’” She said this because she thought,’ “I see that even in this place God sees me and cares for me!” (ERV)

Believe it or not, as SMALL as you think you are, God still sees you and cares about you! Hagar at the moment wasn’t in a good place, but even she was able to say, “…even in this place God sees me and cares for me”. No matter where you are in life in this moment in time, God sees you and cares for you. Others may overlook you, under-estimate you, devalue you, but to God, you mean much! And the next time you don’t think so, remember the price His Son paid Just for You! Remember the Gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, where even the ones deemed the least, the lowly and the insignificant, were actually among the most prized and valued! And so are you! Like my friend Bumblebee, you may lack in some areas, after all, we ALL do, no matter how perfect we attempt to appear! Yet, God can still use you; God has need of you; you are important and visible to God. Don’t short-change yourself! You are still His disciple, His Son, His Daughter, His Temple, His Love, His Craftsmanship, His Workmanship. And above All, You were Worth Saving, Healing, Delivering, Redeeming, Justifying, and even Worth a Round-Trip Ticket For Jesus to Come Again, Just For You! Sounds like you’re pretty significant to me!

You’ve spent enough time talking down to yourself; talking yourself out of stuff, even the very things God desires you to do; you’ve looked in the mirror and picked yourself apart over and over again. You talked about dropping out of school, losing the car, the house and the spouse, you’ve talked enough about not being good enough. You’ve taunted and provoked yourself to bitterness. Today, Enough is Enough! You are Valuable, Important, Significant and Necessary! There’s a place in the Kingdom that no one can take because it’s yours! Own your worth! And even if you’re a little short-stack like me, God still sees you. You never go unnoticed by Him! Every moment of your life, even before your life began, has been visible in the eyes of God, and valuable to the heart of God.

Psalm 139, “God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to You; even from a distance, You know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’M NEVER OUT OF YOUR SIGHT. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and YOU’RE THERE, then up ahead and YOU’RE THERE, TOO—Your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in! Is there anyplace I can go to avoid Your Spirit? TO BE OUT OF YOUR SIGHT? If I climb to the sky, YOU’RE THERE! If I go underground, YOU’RE THERE! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, YOU’D FIND ME IN A MINUTE—You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “OH, HE EVEN SEES ME IN THE DARK! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You. Oh yes, You shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank You, High God—You’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, YOU WATCHED ME grow from conception to birth; ALL THE STAGES OF MY LIFE were spread out before You, The days of my life all prepared BEFORE I’D EVEN LIVED ONE DAY. Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them—any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with You!…” (MSG)

Little itty-bitty you are so significant to God that He Always Sees You! He raises and lowers the sun, moon and stars, rotates the earth, sets boundaries for waters, seas, and oceans, He keeps His breath in every being and His air filling the atmosphere always…and still…it’s YOU He Keeps a Watchful Eye On Always! Remember that the next time you feel you’re too small to be significant!

One of my favorite quotes says, “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.” (Anita Roddick) 🙂

Be Encouraged Today, You May Be Small…BUT…You Are Still Significant!

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

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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

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“Sometimes, You Just Don’t Feel Like It”

dose

Every one of us has at least one (or truthfully many) strange friends! And I my friend am no different. You see, I have a friend who oddly enough, feels the need to remind me, every winter, “January is a bad month for me.” I thought, maybe she gets the credit card slips from Christmas, or something. But before I could ponder it too long, she says, “My biorhythms are always down in January. I feel unmotivated; everything just simply goes wrong for me in January.” Needless to say, I don’t spend a lot of time with her in January.

Well, I’m not sure about the biorhythms being the reason for a bad January, but there is an interesting new area that scientists have explored. The biorhythm idea is that our lives are significantly affected by predictable, physical cycles, intellectual cycles, emotional cycles etc. Actually, a biorhythm could be just a fancy new word for a condition that’s as old as mankind. It goes like this, “I just don’t feel like it.” Maybe that’s what we’re really talking about here. Because truth is, that’s the reason for a lot of things we do or fail to do. Simply Put, With No Scientific Babble Attached: “I Just Don’t Feel Like It.

I guess that’s why couples promise to keep their marriage vows: “as long as we both shall live“, instead of “as long as I feel like it.” Because in honesty, “feelings change” and can you imagine if marriages ended in divorce every time a spouse no longer “felt like it?” After all, I’ve been married almost 20 years, and truthfully, there have been times when I didn’t “feel like it” 20 times in one hour, one day, one week, one month and one year! Maybe that’s the reason why so many marriages, especially and unfortunately, but Christian Marriages are ending in divorce at the rapid pace they are. You see, over the years we simply alter our vows from, “till death” to “till I no longer feel like it.

Listen, your life depends greatly on what you do on those days when you simply feel flat and fatigued. Think about it: Who would have a job if they quit every time they no longer “felt like it?” Who would Pastor the church if every minister of the Gospel closed the church doors every day they simply “didn’t feel like it anymore?” What would we do with our children if all the teachers decided not to show up at school because they “no longer felt like it?Where would our public transportation be if all the transit workers decided, “today is just not a good day for me. My biorhythms are off this month. I’m staying home for a while, because I just don’t feel like it”. And dare we even imagine what the hospitals and clinics would be like with all the doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and nurses out for a 3 month long “I just don’t feel like it” break?! How about if all the lawyers, police, fire department, correction officers, judges, janitors, and government officials, all decided “I need a break” and stay home on the couch for the next 6 months, because “I just don’t feel like it”?! In other words, if left unchecked, that “I don’t feel like it” can grow into a terminal disease that kills you and everything and everyone attached to you!

In 1 Corinthians chapter 4, if biorhythms are accurate, I would have to suggest that Paul’s biorhythms were extremely low at the time of this letter. I don’t know whether it was a bad month in his life or a bad time, but listen to this and think about how he must have been feeling. He says, “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.” (vs. 11 NIV). Now, it may just be me, but Paul doesn’t sound like he’s feeling the greatest at this moment. I don’t think he was necessarily feeling like treating people gently and kindly…wanting to work on what needed to be done. You ever feel like that? “I just don’t feel like doing what I have to do. I don’t feel like praying. I don’t feel like being very unselfish right now. I don’t feel particularly ‘churchy’ at this moment.” And could we honestly blame him? After all, at that very moment he was hungry, thirsty, dressed in raggedy clothes, brutally treated and homeless! Now if anybody had a right to a bad day and a bad attitude it was Paul!

However, here’s how he operated. It says in verse 12, “We work hard with our own hands…” (NIV) even though he was experiencing all of that, he continued to work and the Bible continues to read, “…When we are cursed, we bless. When we are persecuted, we endure it. When we are slandered, we answer kindly…” (NIV). You say, “What in the world has kept Paul functioning so victoriously when he probably doesn’t feel like it?” Because truthfully, we’ve all had days that were no-where near this bad, and yet if we could’ve thrown in the towel and walked away we would have. And many of us can be brutally honest, and admit that we did just that. But in the midst of how Paul may have justifiably been feeling, he didn’t curse, he blessed, when persecuted, he endured it, and when slandered he yet answered kindly.  I don’t know about you, but the question in my mind when I read this was “How In The World Can You Respond Like This, After Dealing With All Of That?!

Well, I learned just a few verses up the vital key. It’s found in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (NIV). There is the word that takes over where your feelings leave off – FAITHFUL. When you don’t feel like it, you must remain faithful to the call you answered. 

Look at this same verse in a few translations:

“Now the most important thing about a servant is that he does just what his master tells him to” (TLB)

“A servant must be faithful to his owner. This is expected of him.” (NLV)

“Moreover, it is [essentially] required of stewards that a man should be found faithful [proving himself worthy of trust].” (AMP)

“In this kind of situation, what is expected of a manager is that they prove to be faithful.” (CEB).

“The one thing required of such servants is that they be faithful to their master.” (GNT).

Are you getting it? Regardless to feelings, you are charged to remain faithful!

Maybe you’re in a time right now where you just don’t feel like doing what you’re supposed to do. You started when the feeling was there, but now you feel flat; you just don’t feel like following through on your school work, or your job, or that ministry or marriage that you were once so excited about. You’ve lost your enthusiasm, your zeal, your momentum. You don’t feel like reaching out to the people in your family or your community. Maybe you feel more like withdrawing into a cave somewhere. You simply don’t feel like finishing what you started. You don’t feel like keeping your commitment or you don’t feel like taking your time away with Jesus.

You’re at a crossroads right now, and that crossroads will determine whether you’re a roller coaster Christian or a solid rock Christian. See, the difference in the people God can trust and can’t trust is that word FAITHFUL. You’ve been given a trust. Will you be faithful to that trust even when the feeling isn’t there and depend on His resources because now you don’t have any?

And what’s the big whoop about being faithful even when you don’t feel like it? God’s reward will be these words, “…Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I’ll make you ruler over many…” (NKJV) Another version says it like this: “…His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.” (Matthew 25:23 MSG). Can you imagine GOD of all people wanting to partner up with YOU and all because you were FAITHFUL when you didn’t FEEL like it?! If that’s not incentive, I don’t know what is!

You see, whether the feelings come back or not, you keep moving faithfully toward your goal. Finish the project, hang in there at the job, keep pressing on in the ministry, keep praying over your marriage. No matter what you feel like, remember the fruit of faithfulness is hearing His well done and becoming His partner!

And please believe me, this is not just encouragement nonsense, but I’ve had to force this lesson on myself many of times. It’s not easy receiving a diagnosis from the doctor that turns your world upside down; it’s stressful trying to maintain a marriage, with two spouses in leadership and raising 6 kids, and still go to church, work and school and find two seconds to say hi to each other. Working for the government is no picnic in the park, I have one job title and description and yet I have 10-20 things that have to be completed by the close of each business day. I’m proud of my education and degrees, but they did not come without price (and that has nothing to do with the tuition), the long nights, and longer papers can take an extreme toll on your body, mind and spirit. Having sickly parents was hard. Having six children grow to adulthood and go in 12 different directions in life, none of which even slightly resemble what you’ve taught them, can rack the last of your brain cells! Then you have family members and friends who need counsel, advice, prayer, guidance, not to mention the church that expects you to teach them happy and preach them happier, week after week without fail! And truth is, if I listened to my biorhythms, I would have thrown in the towel on all of it years ago! Why? Because there are times when I JUST DON’T FEEL LIKE IT!

But like you, I don’t get to negotiate my faithfulness to God. I expect Him to do what He’s promised He’d do, and likewise, He expects me to do what I promised I’d do. And sometimes that requires being faithful even when I don’t feel like it. It means going to prayer when I’d rather go to bed; it means reading my Bible when I’d rather watch ‘Scandal’; it means talking to God when I’d rather get on the phone and play catch up with my girlfriends; it means working on my marriage when I’d rather pack my tools away and quit the project; it means continuing to advise my children even when it seems like the advice goes in one ear and immediately falls out the other one. It means going to work when I’d rather go to the airport and hop on a plane to ANYWHERE ELSE! It means going to the gym when I’d rather go to Baskin & Robbin! It means paying my bills when I’d rather go get those shoes I saw in Macy’s window! It means being obedient when I’d rather seek out another option!

Are you getting this? None of us are exempt! We all have moments when we don’t feel like it, yet, God requires of us His children AND His stewards to be found faithful always!

I mean truthfully where in Scripture does it say Jesus went skipping up to Golgotha? Where does it say He was laughing while carrying His cross? Where does it say His obedience and faithfulness were not painful? Where does it say He sung praise and worship songs all the way to the grave? Where does it say He stretched out His arm on the cross and loved every minute of it? Jesus had it harder than any of us ever have or ever will, YET, He remained as much human as divine. He wept; slept; ate; drank; got hungry; was thirsty; had to pray; got frustrated with the people He led; laid hands on people no one else would; restored folks; healed folks; forgave folks; delivered folks; saved folks, and still He never discarded His humanity. And neither should you!

Press on in your faithfulness to your assignment even when you don’t feel like it in your flesh! HOWEVER, you still need to know when to slow down; when to rest; when to sleep and eat, and certainly when to say no, without excuses, apologies or reasons. But even when you take a break, your break shouldn’t be so long that the Holy Ghost has to come and reset a brand new fire under you to get you back up and back to work in the Kingdom!

People of God, no matter what readings you may be receiving from your biorhythms, you remember to be faithful, even when you don’t feel like it. Faithfulness will always be rewarded! Don’t you dare come this far in God only to miss reaping your reward now! Even when your flesh feels weak, make sure your spirit stays willing!

“To that one soul reading this. I know you’re tired. You’re fed up. You’re so close to breaking but there’s strength within you even when you feel weak. Keep fighting.” (Author Unknown)

“If you’re tired, learn to rest, not quit!” (Author Unknown)

“In place of our exhaustion and spiritual fatigue, God will give us rest. All He asks is that we come to Him…that we spend a while thinking about Him, meditating on Him, talking to Him, listening in silence, occupying ourselves with Him – totally and thoroughly lost in the hiding place of His presence.” (Charles R. Swindoll)

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

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“BUT GOD!”

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1 Chronicles 28:2-3, “Then David the king rose to his feet and said, Hear me, my brethren and my people. I MYSELF INTENDED to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as a footstool for our God, and I prepared materials for the building. BUT GOD said to me, You shall not build a house for My Name [and Presence], because you have been a man of war and have shed blood” (AMP).

“…I MYSELF INTENDED…BUT GOD…”

Vincent’s passion for ministry led him to the Belgian coalfields where he preached to miners, tended the injured, fed the hungry and earned a place in the people’s hearts. His church was filled to capacity with those eager to learn about Jesus. But his superiors weren’t happy because Vincent wore cast-offs, lived in a shack and gave his salary to the people. You look worse than the people you came to teach,” they said. “Wouldn’t Jesus have done the same?” Vincent asked. His bosses disagreed and he was dismissed from the ministry. He was hurt and angry; his only desire had been to build a church that glorified God, so why hadn’t God let it happen? Then one day he watched an old miner struggling beneath a load of coal. Moved by the sight he began to sketch the bowed figure. And although he didn’t realize it at the time, he’d discovered his Real calling. The young preacher who was rejected by his denomination eventually became an artist the world will long remember: Vincent van Gogh!

With that thought, how do you react to the “…BUT GOD…” interruptions in your life? Do you fuss and fume, or do you look for His hand in them? Understandably, Vincent was not happy at all that the one thing he desired to do, he could no longer do. Why? Because God had a different set of plans! And can you imagine what the world of art would be like without Vincent van Gogh? Can you imagine the void from his absence in artistry? There’s a quote I’ve recently come across that states: “Sometimes, the Interruption is the Assignment.” But let’s be honest, who do you know of that gets excited about interruptions? After all, its very definition states: “to stop the continuous progress of; to break the continuity of something.” Its Latin Origin ‘interrumpere’ literally means, ‘to break.’ And if it’s two things we do not like, it’s to be interrupted and to be broken! But oftentimes that’s when God does His best work in our lives. One, when we’re interrupted, because we have a tendency to be busy little beavers working on dam’s God never assigned us to build! And two, we also have a tendency to be arrogant when we have it supposedly altogether! So God interrupts and breaks us so He can get our hands on the right blueprints for building and so we can be made humble before He honors us! Saints, I encourage you to learn how to embrace both interruptions and brokenness, for in them lies God’s greatest plans, purpose and direction!

Jeremiah 29:10-11, “This is God’s Word on the subject…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (MSG)

Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your works to the Lord [submit and trust them to Him], And your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance].” (AMP)

Our plans will always work, when they’re rightly aligned with His Plans and Purpose!

Proverbs 19:21, “Many plans are in a man’s mind, But it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand (be carried out).” (AMP)

Truth is, all of us will experience “…BUT GOD…” moments in life. I wanted to marry that man/woman…BUT GOD! I wanted to go to that school…BUT GOD! I wanted to accept that job…BUT GOD! I wanted to purchase that house…BUT GOD! I wanted to start that business…BUT GOD! I wanted to have a baby…BUT GOD! I wanted to start a church…BUT GOD! I wanted to relocate…BUT GOD! I wanted to throw in the towel and call it quits…BUT GOD! So, how do you handle the “…BUT GOD…” interruptions in life?

Let’s take a listen in and see if David has some advice for us: David said, “I…intended to build a…home for the ark…BUT GOD said…’ Your son Solomon…shall build My house” (1 Chronicles 28:2-6 NASB). Now, I can’t speak for you, but if I were David, I would’ve been a bit upset. Can I be truthful with you?! God, this is me, David, King David at that! I’m Your friend! I’m the Anointed One! I’m the one You sought after and declared to all that I Have a Heart After You! How can You skip over me and give this assignment to someone ‘less qualified than’ me? And for Solomon? He’s my son and all, and that’s wonderful, but he’s young and inexperienced, and You’ve never said about him the things You’ve said about me. Surely, I’m more qualified than he, surely I would make a better architect than he? Why am I, of all people receiving a “…BUT GOD…”?

However, when God nixed his plans, David didn’t respond as I may have, instead, he immediately followed his “…BUT GOD…” with a “…YET GOD…” and declared, “YET, the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever. For He has chosen Judah to be a leader; and in the house of Judah, my father’s house, and among the sons of my father He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel” (1 Chronicles 28:4 NASB)

You see, instead of complaining about what he DIDN’T get to do, David rejoiced in how God had ALREADY blessed him by promoting him from herding sheep to leading the Israelite nation! Amazing! But isn’t perspective and gratitude two things that can make all the difference?! It’s not about how we see it, it’s about looking at everything through God’s Perspective!

I wonder if we were asked would we be able to say we respond to our “…BUT GOD…” moments with a “…YET GOD…” declaration? Instead of murmuring and complaining, comparing and competing, David celebrates what the Lord has already granted him. Going forward, will you mature to David’s level of leadership and trust God’s plan, even when it differs from the one you intended? You see, the word ‘intended’ means ‘planned.’ Therefore, it’s not like David was sitting on his hands and just making wishes, goals, aims and hopes. When he says ‘he intended’, it means he already made plans. Listen to the text again: “…I MYSELF INTENDED to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as a footstool for our God, and I PREPARED MATERIALS FOR THE BUILDING. BUT GOD…” This wasn’t a let’s see what happens, this was a watch and see what happens. David wasn’t passive or lazy or procrastinating, no, he intended for his plans to come to pass for he already started making preparations! So, what do you do when you’re not simply sharing a good idea moment, but your BUT GOD, steps in when you’ve calculated all the numbers, you’ve assembled the team, you’ve drawn up the blueprints, you already know what it’s going to be named and the completion date is already scheduled in ink in your mind. Until God Steps In And Interrupts Your Process, Progress and Plans with a BUT GOD moment! How do you handle it?!

Well, while you think that over, let’s look at another “…BUT GOD…” Interruption:

Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [BUT] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered verbally to the holy people of God].” (Jude 1:3 AMP).

Jude’s WHOLE CONCERN was to write one thing, BUT he found it more necessary and impelling to write urgently about something else. You see, BUT GOD moments aren’t just from God. When you learn to align your faith and hearing and godly wisdom with God, there are some thing’s where your spirit will put a pause on your plans! When you learn how to move according to God’s purpose and plans you can stop yourself and say, ‘I know I desired to do that, and there was nothing wrong with it, but there is an urgency in my spirit to do this instead.’ You’ll learn how to sharpen your perspective to such a degree that you’ll input BUT GOD moments in the middle of your own plans!

Max Lucado writes, “I awoke early one morning for a meeting…[and] spotted a bag of cookies. Our daughter had attended a bake sale so I thought she must’ve set them out for me. I ate one…interesting texture…I ate a second…with coffee it made an interesting option. I grabbed a third for the road, and would have grabbed the fourth but only one remained. Later my wife phoned, ‘Looks like someone’s been in the bag.’ ‘It was me,’ I admitted. ‘I’ve had better breakfast cookies but those weren’t bad.’ ‘Those weren’t breakfast cookies,’ she replied, ‘they were homemade dog biscuits!’ His response? ‘All day when I scratched my belly, my leg kicked…not to mention my new found interest in fire hydrants!’ Moral of the Story: I SHOULD’VE CONSULTED THE MAKER FIRST BEFORE BECOMING A PARTAKER!

As comical as that may sound, it is actually the truth for many of us. We just make choices without ever considering the consequences. And honestly the consequences wouldn’t be so harsh if we first consulted God before making our choices!

James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.” (AMP)

In Max Lucado’s story, could you imagine how different this scenario could’ve gone, had he FIRST asked permission to take what didn’t belong to him in the FIRST place? And even if he thought it was for him, how bad could it have hurt to simply ask “are these for me”? Because the Bible does not lie: “There is a way which SEEMS right to a man and APPEARS straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 AMP). Often many of us suffer because we chose what SEEMED and APPEARED right! But had we asked God for clarity, we would have SEEN it for what it really was, a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing! God alone can see clearly behind the mask, the makeup and the materials! You simply cannot hide behind the disguise of someone who is the creator of Discernment! So why not ask Him first?! Which is why the Bible says, “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight” (Philippians 2:13 AMP). It’s not your work, it’s His Work In You that brings Him Good Pleasure and Satisfaction and Delight! We have a bad tendency to get this backwards!

When you sense “A Hold” in your spirit, it’s more than likely God Himself trying to get your attention! Remember: He promised to, “…guide you along the BEST pathway for your life…advise you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8 NLT). Did you catch that? When God guides you, you will always be found traveling down the BEST pathway for your life! Not so-so, not alright, not pretty good, but when God guides, you only go down the BEST road! Who would be foolish enough to go at it alone when this is the promise from God Himself? The Worse Thing You Can Do Is Ignore The Best Advice, Which Is Following God’s Guidance!

Remember: Jude said, “I wanted very much to write you about salvation…BUT I felt the need to write…about something else.Jude wanted to dedicate his epistle to one topic, BUT GOD had other plans! And as you well know, you cannot alter God’s Plan! And as great as His plans are, who would want to?This is God’s Word on the subject:…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:10-11 MSG). I reiterate, who would dare mess up plans like those?

A century ago F.B. Meyer wrote, “Are you in difficulty about your way? Go to God…get direction from the light of his smile or the cloud of his refusal…wait there silent and expectant, though all around you insist on immediate decision or action – the Will of God will be made clear; and you’ll have a new conception of God.If only we’d finally learn the benefit and blessing of going to God for direction, and sitting quietly and patiently until we receive it…

Which reminds us a lot of Proverbs 16:9, “You may make your plans, BUT GOD directs your actions” (GNT). Those “…BUT GOD…” moments are everywhere! That’s why it’s so important that you don’t take a step in ANY direction without FIRST receiving God’s DIRECTIONS!

It’s said when Columbus set out he didn’t know where he was GOING, when he arrived he didn’t know where he WAS, and when he returned he didn’t know where he’d BEEN! Truth is, from time to time we all need help knowing which direction to go; such as whether or not to relocate, take a certain job, or commit to a particular relationship. Which is why the Scripture says, “We should make plans – counting on God to direct us” (Proverbs 16:9 TLB).

Proverbs 3:5-12, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God…” (MSG)

Here’s an example, BEFORE making his decision, the Bible says, “…David ASKED THE LORD, “SHOULD I GO UP…” (2 Samuel 2:1 NLV). Now, that’s what you call a Wise Man! Might I ask, do you do the same? Do you ask or “Inquire” of the Lord? That word “Inquire” means “to ask for information.” Its Latin Origin “Inquirere”, from “Quaerere” literally means “Seek”. And what does the Bible say about “Seeking”? “BUT SEEK (AIM AT AND STRIVE AFTER) FIRST OF ALL HIS KINGDOM AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS (HIS WAY OF DOING AND BEING RIGHT), AND THEN ALL THESE THINGS TAKEN TOGETHER WILL BE GIVEN YOU BESIDES” (Matthew 6:33 AMP) I would definitely, without a doubt, say that often we go wrong because we don’t First Seek God for the Right way to go!

And why is it so important that we go to God first for direction? Because, truth is, you never know what God will do, say or think because the Scripture holds true: This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours! For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts than yours.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 TLB).

Which is why we should further follow the advice found in the book of Jeremiah: “ASK ME and I will tell you some remarkable secrets about what is going to happen here” (Jeremiah 33:3 TLB). And what’s the benefit of ASKING? The Bible says, “ASK, AND YOU WILL BE GIVEN WHAT YOU ASK FOR. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7 AMP)

People of God, if you would simply ASK GOD, you may better understand the BUT GOD and therefore render to Him a YET GOD trust that has no room for fear, doubt, panic, worry, fret, unbelief or hurry!

Ask God so He can direct you! And how does He direct us? In a variety of ways, but here’s 3 in a nutshell:

1…HIS WORD: “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. LET THE WORD OF CHRIST—THE MESSAGE—HAVE THE RUN OF THE HOUSE. GIVE IT PLENTY OF ROOM IN YOUR LIVES. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” (Colossians 3:15-17 MSG). One author writes: “The Bible is to God what a surgical glove is to a surgeon. He reaches through it to touch deep within you.” But that requires reading it, personalizing it, and acting on it. And often the reason we stay in the stuff we’re in so long is because we don’t turn to the Word of God which is the instrument He uses to get us out! “He sends forth His Word and heals them and rescues them from the pit and destruction” (Psalm 107:20 AMP). We could get out of a world of trouble, if only we’d get into the Word of God!

2…PRAYER AND LISTENING FOR HIS VOICE: Jesus said, “My sheep listen to My voice. I know them and they follow Me.” (John 10:27 CEB). And Isaiah adds, “And if you leave God’s paths and go astray, you will hear a voice behind you say, “No, this is the way; walk here.” (TLB). Can you imagine being so loved by God that He watches everywhere you go, and even when you go wrong, His voice is right there telling you how to get right back on track? Psalm 119:9-16, “How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of Your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of You; don’t let me miss the road signs You’ve posted. I’ve banked Your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in Your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from Your mouth; I delight far more in what You tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from You, I attentively watch how You’ve done it. I relish everything You’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.” (MSG). If you want to stay on Track, Follow carefully the Directions of the Map of God’s Word! I would even dare say that we often travel down the wrong path so long, not because God isn’t speaking and giving us direction, but because we’re simply not listening! James 1:19, “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];” (AMP). And what’s the best way to listen for His voice, PRAYER! “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG).

3…WISE COUNSEL: “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances” (Proverbs 11:14 MSG); “Where there is no counsel, purposes are frustrated, but with many counselors they are accomplished” (Proverbs 15:22 AMP). Believe it or not, but others have sat where you are currently seated: “Remember your leaders who taught you the Word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith” (Hebrews 13:7 NLT). In other words, is your business floundering? Then talk to a successful businessperson. Are you experiencing a mid-life crisis? Before doing something you’ll regret, ask for help. Is your marriage failing? Then talk to a couple who’ve sat where you’re sitting, but they are standing strong now. Are your kids straying? Then talk to someone who knows what it feels like to see your kids go astray, and then return back to the path in which they were trained upon. Are your finances a mess? Then talk to someone who has managed to become financially secure and debt free. Are you insecure? Then talk to someone who can teach you about self-confidence. Believe it or not, but you are not the first one, the only one, or the last one! God has done it before and He will do it again. But you’ll never know that if you don’t talk to Wise Counselors!Fools are headstrong and do what they like; wise people take advice” (Proverbs 12:15 MSG).

Remember: Life comes with a lot of “…BUT GOD…” moments, but when you grow in God, increase your prayer life, maintain your faith, refresh your hope, diligently study the Word of God, obey the voice of God, seek God for direction, trust and follow the plan, purpose and Will of God and surround yourself with wise counselors, you’ll become just like David, and find a “…YET GOD…” and be greatly encouraged even through your “…BUT GOD…” moments!

Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, BUT GOD is the rock and strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (AMP)

Romans 5:8, “BUT GOD clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (AMP)

2 Chronicles 20:15, “He said, “Listen carefully, all [you people of] Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. The Lord says this to you: ‘Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, BUT GOD’S.” (AMP)

 “You may feel lost and alone, BUT GOD knows exactly where you are, and He has a good plan for your life.” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes my plans fail, BUT GOD always gives me a better option.” (Author Unknown)

“You may have weaknesses, BUT GOD has strength. You may have sin, BUT GOD has grace. You may fail, BUT GOD remains faithful.” (Author Unknown)

“When we have nothing left, BUT GOD, we discover that God is enough.” (Author Unknown)

“The Bible is not man’s word about God, BUT GOD’S Word about man.” (John Barth)

“Sin does not stop God’s grace from flowing, BUT GOD’S grace will stop sin.” (Joseph Prince)

“My philosophy is: Life is hard, BUT GOD is good. Try not to confuse the two.” (Anne F. Beiler)

“People may do you wrong, BUT GOD will be your vindicator. Situations may look impossible, BUT GOD will do the impossible.” (Joel Osteen)

“Man gives you the award, BUT GOD gives you the reward.” (Denzel Washington)

“BUT, GOD knows best, I concluded.” (Anne Bronte)

“You may not understand it. It may not seem fair, BUT GOD knows what He’s doing.” (Author Unknown)

“BUT GOD is when God backspaces over a period and makes it a comma.” (Author Unknown)

“Things change, people change, places change, careers change, BUT GOD will never change!” (Author Unknown)

“The enemy will try to label you with everything you’ve done wrong. BUT GOD labels you forgiven, redeemed, and restored.” (Joel Osteen)

“Evil may have its hour, BUT GOD will have His day.” (Fulton J. Sheen)

“The devil is busy BUT GOD is busier. Always remember that God is in control.” (Lynette Lewis)

“It may look impossible, BUT GOD can do the impossible. Just because you don’t see anything happening doesn’t mean God is not working.” (Joel Osteen)

“The world changes constantly and dramatically, BUT GOD, His commandments, and promised blessings do not change. They are immutable and unchanging.” (Elder L. Tom Perry)

“When you have nothing left BUT GOD, you have more than enough to start over again.” (Mother Teresa)

“I’ve been let down, and knocked down, BUT GOD has never failed to help me up again.” (Author Unknown)

“The stars may fall, BUT GOD’S promises will stand and be fulfilled.” (J.I. Packer)

“Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, BUT GOD is not helpless among the ruins. God’s love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out His wonderful plan of love.” (Eric Liddell)

“It’s true my father abused me and didn’t love and protect me the way he should have, and at times it seemed no one would ever help me and it would never end. BUT GOD always had a plan for my life, and He has redeemed me.” (Joyce Meyer)

“The facts may tell you one thing. BUT GOD is not limited by the facts. Choose faith in spite of the facts.” (Joel Osteen)

“Good is not always God’s Will, but God’s Will is always good.” (Watchman Nee)

“You don’t have to respond to those who attack, belittle, or insult you. You may not see it, BUT GOD is dealing with them. If they persist, He will arrange their harvest in such a way that they’ll know it’s because of what they did to you.” (Hart Ramsey)

“Life may not be fair, BUT GOD is always faithful.” (Toby Mac)

“I got to that desperate place where nobody could help me BUT GOD.” (Cheryl James)

“People are fickle. They’ll love you today, and leave you tomorrow. BUT GOD made you a promise that He’ll never leave you or forsake you. That you can bank on!” (Marvin Sapp)

“Man plans, BUT GOD arranges.” (Thomas A. Kempis)

“No matter what may be happening today, God has good things in store for your future! It may not be easy to see now, BUT GOD has already lined up a new beginning, new friendships and new opportunities just for you.” (Joel Osteen)

“When our deepest desire is not the things of God, or a favor from God, BUT GOD Himself, we cross a threshold.” (Max Lucado)

“God loves you simply because He has chosen to do so. He loves you when you don’t feel lovely. He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, BUT GOD will love you always. No matter what!” (Max Lucado)

“We can’t always see where the road leads, BUT GOD promises there’s something better up ahead we just have to trust Him.” (Author Unknown)

“Bottom Line: God will not allow any person to keep you from your destiny. They may be bigger, stronger, or more powerful, BUT GOD knows how to shift things around and get you to where you’re supposed to be.” (Joel Osteen)

“Your miracle may be taking a long time. BUT GOD did not bring you this far to leave you.” (Toby Mac)

“Trust God to make a way. Sometimes we can only see what’s in front of us, BUT GOD sees the big picture.” (Author Unknown)

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

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“Don’t Miss Your Mentor’s Mantle”

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2 Kings 2:1-15, “Just before God took Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on a walk out of Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Bethel.” Elisha said, “Not on your life! I’m not letting you out of my sight!” So they both went to Bethel. The guild of prophets at Bethel met Elisha and said, “Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?” “Yes,” he said, “I know it. But keep it quiet.” Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Jericho.” Elisha said, “Not on your life! I’m not letting you out of my sight!” So they both went to Jericho. The guild of prophets at Jericho came to Elisha and said, “Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?” “Yes,” he said, “I know it. But keep it quiet.” Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to the Jordan.” Elisha said, “Not on your life! I’m not letting you out of my sight!” AND SO THE TWO OF THEM WENT THEIR WAY TOGETHER. Meanwhile, fifty men from the guild of prophets gathered some distance away while the two of them stood at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up, and hit the water with it. The river divided and the two men walked through on dry land. When they reached the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you before I’m taken from you? Ask anything.” Elisha said, “YOUR LIFE REPEATED IN MY LIFE. I WANT TO BE A HOLY MAN JUST LIKE YOU.” “That’s a hard one!” said Elijah. “BUT IF YOU’RE WATCHING WHEN I’M TAKEN FROM YOU, YOU’LL GET WHAT YOU’VE ASKED FOR. BUT ONLY IF YOU’RE WATCHING.” And so it happened. They were walking along and talking. Suddenly a chariot and horses of fire came between them and Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven. ELISHA SAW IT ALL and shouted, “My father, my father! You—the chariot and cavalry of Israel!” When he could no longer see anything, he grabbed his robe and ripped it to pieces. THEN HE PICKED UP ELIJAH’S CLOAK THAT HAD FALLEN FROM HIM, returned to the shore of the Jordan, and stood there. He took Elijah’s cloak—all that was left of Elijah!—and hit the river with it, saying, “Now where is the God of Elijah? Where is he?” WHEN HE STRUCK THE WATER, THE RIVER DIVIDED AND ELISHA WALKED THROUGH. The guild of prophets from Jericho saw the whole thing from where they were standing. They said, “THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH LIVES IN ELISHA!” They welcomed and honored him.” (MSG)

Question: Where have all the Mentors gone? And since I’m a woman, let me talk from a woman’s perspective today (brothers, please don’t be offended, I’ll get back to you next week, ALTHOUGH, if you pay close attention, I’m sure you’ll still be able to glean something of encouragement from today’s devotional too).

Now, when I ask where are all the Mentors, I mean where are the older, wiser women who once taught younger women to bake bread, sew clothing and keep their kitchens spotless? Where are the women who once gathered in homes for coffee and encouragement? Where are the women who taught other women how to be good mothers, supportive wives, and holy single women? Where are the women who taught you how a godly woman ought to dress, behave and speak? Where have all the Mentors gone?

Well, truth is, they haven’t disappeared entirely. They can be found in the church, in homes, offices, neighborhoods and schools. Their focus may have changed a bit in this day and time, but they are still there for the younger women who have much to learn from them!

I often share with people that I wasn’t raised in a “Christian household”, nor was I raised in church. For some who’ve known me for the last 20 years or so, would be shocked to hear that (and I indeed count it as a humbling honor), but truth is I wasn’t on the choir, I was in the club; I wasn’t taking communion, I was taking shots at the bar; I wasn’t preaching, I was partying! 

However, when I turned 25, and was homeless with 2 children on my own with nothing more than a high school diploma and no job or money, Jesus started to look pretty good to me! Seriously! 

Well, I eventually made it to a little underground, Baptist church and if you saw what I looked like you would be amazed that the mother board didn’t attempt to take me and drown me in the baptismal pool, with or without salvation! LOL! You see, I walked in with braids down to my behind; a face full of cheap make-up amateurishly applied; a mouth worse than the worse cussing sailor on the high seas in the midst of a disastrous storm; a sheer tank top, colored bra and a skirt the size of belts I wear now (and it still had two splits on the side…LOL) Talk about a hot mess! I’m so grateful ‘selfies’ and the like were not around! However, a true fun fact is, in 1997 (the exact same year of my 25 birthday and the year I received Christ, while looking a hot mess), the first recognizable social media site, Six Degrees, was created! Talk about being grateful! God got me before social media could! LOL! THANK YOU JESUS! And people are running around thanking God for houses, cars, and jobs! I was thanking God that He called me before social media caught me! I reiterate, a Hot Mess!  

And yet, it’s the older women I remember and cherish most about my early days of salvation.  They were indeed the epitome of love, encouragement, support and help (in addition to rebuke, reprove, correction and instruction)! I will never forget a single one of them! And here’s a few reasons why:

I had one mother that said, “baby go in the bathroom and wash that makeup off your pretty face! You know how many ugly women need those products that you’re wasting on your face?” That’s Old School though, (she didn’t care two cents about how she delivered her message, nor how I felt when I received it!) LOL! I laugh now, and I certainly laughed then! And believe it or not, I went straight in that bathroom and did what mother said do!  Truth is, I loved the church mothers because at least they were too busy talking to my Face to talk behind my Back! FACTS! They were a bold Baptist bunch who were determined to make me a believer, voluntarily or involuntarily! One way or another, they were going to make me right with God no matter how wrong I was!

Another one of the mothers came up to me and explained what a “lap cloth” is and why I needed one…desperately…again, I laugh now, and I certainly laughed then! You see, mother said, “why buy the cow when they can get the milk for free? And baby you’ve already let 2 men dabble in your milk, no sense in letting them take your cheese too” LOL! Honey, I thought I would hit the floor on that one! I was like “WHAT?!” What the heck does that even mean? LOL! What does milk and cheese have to do with sex, babies and salvation?! LOL! But mother didn’t play! So, trust when I tell you, grown or not, I learned to wear my skirts covering my shoes with my legs tightly crossed and still had on a “lap scarf“! Good times I tell you the truth! Oh, I was determined to stay saved, and mother was more determined to keep me saved!

Not to mention the mothers who helped my mouth get delivered!  One mother said “ignorant women curse, intelligent women either use wise words, or utilize the strength of restraint and be quiet. Fools argue with fools, wise women know the wealth of their words (and their silence) and simply walk away”. I must admit, I cussed a few more folks out after that, but I eventually got better…a little better…LOL!

Serious Moment: I tell you, I was blessed to be surrounded by older women who invested in me. Not my gifts, ministry, anointing, calling, purpose, destiny etc…but Me…Personally! They helped me dress better, speak wiser, act appropriately, behave more becoming, and they certainly were not shy at all about calling me on the carpet about anything that reappeared from my pre-saved days! LOL!

These same women helped me to go to school, get a job, an apartment, and to raise my daughters in the admonition of the Lord. They taught me about saving money, about tithing, about dating appropriately and dating appropriate men, since I was single at the time. With that said, I’ll never forget the first time a mother said to me “not him baby, that’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing“.  Now, that may make sense to you who have been saved all your little life. But imagine someone saying that to someone not raised in church at all?! Now, I’ve heard of men being equated to dogs (‘all men are dogs’, as the saying goes), but never had I in all my days heard of a man being equated with a wolf and a sheep! And just how did the wolf shear the sheep to get its wool and make clothes out of it?! And where was all of this found in the Bible?! What exactly was the lesson I was supposed to walk away with here?! I was like, mothers what are you doing to my sanity! What in the world did dating, sex, men, sheep and wolves have to do with being saved?! LOL!!!!! I couldn’t figure out if the man was bad because he was a dangerous wolf, or bad because he was a punk sheep! Yall laugh, but church folks, you can’t use “church lingo” on everybody! If nothing else, develop a Church Dictionary and give it to unbelievers when they cross over so we all know what yall talking about! You can go ahead and laugh, by now you know I laughed then…and I’m certainly laughing now!

These same women invited me to their homes for cooking lessons and sewing lessons (and yet I still hate to sew to this day!)

And these women were smart too! I had one mother who was the mother of all mothers say, “you are so pretty with your cute little figure, now this is what you’re going to do in the church to keep your pretty little cute figure…SAVED!” Next thing I knew, I was a Missionary, Choir and Praise Team Member, Usher, and First Lady’s Assistant! LOL! Not to mention I was at church every Sunday before anybody, standing on the steps with my 2 babies waiting for Pastor to open the church house! LOL! Those were the days! Honey, those mothers had me in prayer and bible study (every Tuesday); missionary meetings (every Wednesday); usher meetings (every Thursday); rehearsals (every Friday); and Monday nights I met with one of the Sunday School Teachers, who taught me at her house how to read and understand the bible! And Saturdays were no longer party day’s, they became the day I had to study for my missionary class, usher class, Sunday School, and back then our choir had homework….literally….homework! Like, here’s the paper with the words to the song, now go home and find at least 5 scriptures to support this song being sung in church…LOL! First Lady Was Crazy! LOL!  

Those mothers/women were determined! I was a real life Christian Frankenstein project! They didn’t care how I came in there, but they certainly refused to let me stay that way! LOL!

Well, sisters, I share all of this with you because we need this kind of support and love in the church today (especially for our younger women, and our babes in Christ). We have more than enough criticism and judgments, we need those who look past all of the outer exterior and help people from the inside…out! It works, I’m a witness!

Listen, my youngest daughter Ashley, if she walked in your church today you more than likely would think she knows absolutely nothing about Jesus! She has around 30 tattoos, 20 piercings, red, green, silver, pink, purple, multicolored hair and contacts (depending on the mood of the  day), her finger nails are long and pointy, she wears open-toe sandals in winter and leather jackets in summer! Everything about her outer appearance is questionable, and I’m her mama! LOL! But little do people know she’s been in church since she was four and singing on the choir and praise teams since then as well. She’s never missed Sunday school or bible study, or prayer meetings or rehearsals, and she still had to memorize a Scripture every Sunday to stand before the congregation to recite. She worked with the youth and dancers, and at home had to do devotional service in the morning before I took them to school and at night before they went to bed. But by her outer appearance many would assume she knew nothing about Jesus and was raised in the streets! But that’s why mentors are so vitally needed in church. I didn’t have to raise her by myself, she had a whole church that became grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and they helped her to grow into a phenomenal young woman! Still strange, but phenomenal nonetheless! LOL! She loves God and to see her get lost in praise and worship has brought this mother to tears many of days. Mentors, there are a whole lot of ‘Shermaine’s” and ‘Ashley’s’ out there that look different than you’re accustomed to for a ‘church lady‘, but she needs God and you can get her to Him, regardless of what she looks like in the process! Don’t judge, just help! Don’t criticize, just help! Don’t gossip, just help! Don’t try to make them change, just help! Many of us look quite different on the outside, but we have a David’s heart for God on the inside, don’t be the one that gets in the way of that development and growth!

Now, I was far from perfect then and now, but I promise you I would’ve easily been in a grave and had my children taken from me, had those women not stepped into my life and turn it completely upside down! I will forever be grateful for all of my awesome motherly mentors!

You see, some Mentors are much like Elijah, who was faithfully carrying on his role as God’s prophet when he saw Elisha working in his father’s fields. He saw the potential in this young man, so he threw his mantle on Elisha’s shoulders, symbolically passing the leadership to the next generation.  (1 Kings 19:19, “So Elijah left there and found Elisha son of Shaphat, whose plowing was being done with twelve yoke of oxen, and he drove the twelfth. Elijah crossed over to him and cast his mantle upon him.” AMPC) Elisha then said good-bye to his old life and moved forward, following Elijah and learning from the older man. I’m so grateful that I had mentors/women/mothers, who looked past all of my problems and still saw some potential.  Elisha was busy in the fields, but I was busy having fun. And still my Elijah’s found me, saw my potential, and they went to work to make sure that my potential produced something!

Eventually we find the prophetic pair at Bethel, the house of God. Elisha had steadfastly, faithfully and consistently stayed with his Mentor Elijah. Even when Elijah commanded Elisha to remain in Bethel, Elisha refused, saying he would never leave the older prophet’s side. You see they left Gilgal together and Elijah told him to stay put as he would go forth on his assignment. But for Elisha he followed Elijah to Bethel, to Jericho and then on to Jordan. Thus, Elisha expressed his love and faithfulness not only to Elijah, but also to God. Elisha vowed never to leave Elijah, and he didn’t until he had gleaned everything he needed to know from this godly man, until he received the blessing of his Mentor, until he watched his Mentor vanish in a heavenly whirlwind. I love the way Elisha stuck like glue to Elijah, because I certainly did the same with my mentors/mother’s! I watched everything they did; I listened to how they talked; I mimicked how they would sit as ladies, back straight and head held high with shoulders squared! I would dress as they dressed, tone down my makeup, clean up my speech, whatever they did, I did. I was determined to be better, and they were determined to make me better!

Truth is, we all need Mentors like Elijah: women who have faced challenges and overcome them; women who have grown through struggle and perseverance; women who have seen God perform miracles; women who have gone through hard times and experienced God’s presence with them. 

We all need Mentors who make us better physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, academically, socially, spiritually, etc…We All Need Mentors!

We all need Mentors/Women who can pass on the news that God’s Word is still active and dynamic among us. Those who will teach us how to pray instead of having pity parties; teach us to search the scriptures instead of seeking out a girlfriend to get bad advice from; to teach us to fast instead of fall apart over every failure! We all need Mentors to correct our speech; our dress attire; our attitude; our behavior; our laziness etc…We need Mentors to sayno honey, you not ready for marriage, motherhood or ministryWe all need Mentors!

Why? Because these are the very ones who can place the mantle on our shoulders and confirm that we’re ready to move on to greater tasks, or withhold that mantle until they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we’ve matured enough to carry it!

Mentors, we need your insight; knowledge; understanding; wisdom; discernment; guidance; counsel; experience. We even need to know your failures, mistakes, missteps, mishaps and the like too. In essence, we need you to help us to walk around the pitfalls you fell into!

So…Who are the godly women walking along the roads in your life, willing to pass on the knowledge they’ve gained? Who has watched you as you’ve worked in your Bible study, your volunteer position or at your job? Who has seen your gifts and your potential? Who stands by waiting to knock you down a few pegs when you get arrogant, conceited, prideful and entitled; or lifts you up when you feel low? Who corrects you, rebukes you, trains you instead of just tolerating you? 

Find Your Elijah! And while you’re at it, try being like Elisha. Follow your Elijah and glean from her knowledge of the living God concerning how to best serve Him and live for Him. 

Remember Elijah’s words to Elisha,if you see me, you’ll get from me what you asked”. Elisha Kept His Eyes On His Mentor, Stayed In Close Proximity and Obeyed Him and Thus He Received Elijah’s Mantle! But the key is, he watched his mentor! Unfortunately, too many of us are trying to be seen, that we’re not watching, and thus we’re missing the mantle! Selah…

Get a Mentor, Stay Close, Be Obedient, Remain Watchful, So You Don’t Miss Your Mantle!

“…And so it happened. They were walking along and talking. Suddenly a chariot and horses of fire came between them and Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven. ELISHA SAW IT ALL and shouted, “My father, my father! You—the chariot and cavalry of Israel!” When he could no longer see anything, he grabbed his robe and ripped it to pieces. THEN HE PICKED UP ELIJAH’S CLOAK THAT HAD FALLEN FROM HIM, returned to the shore of the Jordan, and stood there. He took Elijah’s cloak—all that was left of Elijah!—and hit the river with it, saying, “Now where is the God of Elijah? Where is he?” WHEN HE STRUCK THE WATER, THE RIVER DIVIDED AND ELISHA WALKED THROUGH. The guild of prophets from Jericho saw the whole thing from where they were standing. They said, “THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH LIVES IN ELISHA!” They welcomed and honored him.” (MSG)

There will always be evidence that you are carrying your mentor’s mantle! Elisha was able to do what his mentor did, and not out of comparison or competition either! And the other prophets saw him, and their collective testimony was, “THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH LIVES IN ELISHA!” THEY WELCOMED AND HONORED HIM.” Would people be able to say the same about you? Do they see the reflections of your mentor in your life, speech, behavior and actions? Can they see the evidence that you’ve been a good student and follower?

Remember to do as Elisha did, stay close, obey and be watchful!

Reflection Questions:

  1. Who do you see as an Elijah, faithfully serving God in your community/church/life? Have you reached out to them for mentoring?
  1. What do you need to do to become more available to learn from a godly Mentor?
  1. Who do you trust to tell it like it is?
  1. Who pat’s you on the back and simultaneously kicks you in the butt?
  1. Who teaches you; trains you; instructs you?
  1. Who invests time into developing and maturing you?
  1. If you have a mentor, how well do you think they’re doing? How well do you think they would say you’re doing?
  1. Name 1 woman who has mentored you the greatest and why?
  1. What is the best mentor advice you’ve ever received?
  1. In what ways could you become a Mentor to another woman?

1 Kings 19:19-21, “Elijah went straight out and found Elisha son of Shaphat in a field where there were twelve pairs of yoked oxen at work plowing; Elisha was in charge of the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha deserted the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please! Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye—then I’ll follow you.” “Go ahead,” said Elijah, “but, mind you, don’t forget what I’ve just done to you.” So Elisha left; he took his yoke of oxen and butchered them. He made a fire with the plow and tackle and then boiled the meat—a true farewell meal for the family. Then he left and followed Elijah, becoming his right-hand man.” (MSG)

Titus 2:1-5, “Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.” (MSG)

Elijah’s, Find Your Elisha’s, They Have Need of You!

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

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