“Keep Your Hand On Your Sword!”

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“But he stood his ground and fought the Philistines until his hand was weary and STUCK TO THE SWORD. But the Lord accomplished a great victory that day. The troops then returned to Eleazar, but only to plunder the dead.” (2 Samuel 23:10 CEB)

The Message Bible reads like this: “Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite was the next of the elite Three. He was with David when the Philistines poked fun at them at Pas Dammim. When the Philistines drew up for battle, Israel retreated. But Eleazar stood his ground and killed Philistines right and left until he was exhausted—BUT HE NEVER LET GO OF HIS SWORD! A big win for God that day. The army then rejoined Eleazar, but all there was left to do was the cleanup.” (2 Samuel 23:9-10 MSG)

Eleazar, one of David’s “…three mighty men…” was the kind of person who simply wouldn’t quit! When the Philistines attacked, we read, “he attacked and killed Philistines until his hand got tired and STUCK TO HIS SWORD…” What a tremendous picture of encouragement for those of us in the midst of battles right now! “…HIS HAND STUCK TO HIS SWORD…” In a nutshell: I simply want you to be encouraged to STICK WITH IT, EVEN IN BATTLE, AND WATCH GOD GIVE YOU A GREAT VICTORY!

However, if on the other hand you unfortunately decide to quit, walk away and throw in the towel, you must ask yourself what more can God do on your behalf? Because the truth is, you can’t Retreat and simultaneously expect Victory! And this is where many of us mess up!

Instead of sticking with it we give up on our children, discard marriages, throw away friendships, quit jobs, drop out of school, close businesses, change churches, etc… instead of being mature enough to stay in it and stick it out! Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. SO DON’T TRY TO GET OUT OF ANYTHING PREMATURELY. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG) And with Scripture validation, I feel it is within my right to inform you that many of us are Immature, Under-Developed and Lacking in Many areas for no other reason than that we got out of things PREMATURELY!

Imagine what your daughter might have done if you didn’t give up; what might your son have soared in if you hadn’t given up on him; what might your husband have accomplished if you would’ve stuck it out through the rough patches a little longer; what might your wife have become if you would’ve wiped her tears instead of throwing in the towel; what profits might the business have seen had you worked at it just a little harder; what degree would you have by now if you hung in there a few more semesters; what growth might the church have experienced had you stayed on your post instead of switching pews and pulpits?

Sadly, we give up, give out and give in far too quickly and certainly far too often!

We fail to understand that Progression not Perfection is the Ultimate Goal!

Let’s face it, you will experience conflict, crisis, trials, struggles, heartache and heart-break, financial difficulties, set-backs, and the like. That’s all just a part of life! But does that give you just cause and reason to quit? Absolutely Not! After all, look at what Jesus said in John 16:33 in the following translations:

“…In this godless world you will continue to experience DIFFICULTIES….” (MSG);

“…In the world you have TRIBULATION and TRIALS and DISTRESS and FRUSTRATION…” (AMP);

“…While you are in the world, you will have to SUFFER…” (CEV);

“…In the world you’ll have TROUBLE…” (GWT);

“…Here on earth you will have MANY TRIALS and SORROWS…” (TLB).

So where on Earth did we get the false impression and faulty idea that life for the believer is roses with no thorns?! Especially since Jesus Himself forewarned all of us that we would have “…Difficulties…Tribulation…Trials…Distress…Frustration…Suffering…Trouble…and Sorrows…” And yet even knowing this In Advance, we still give up as soon as it looks like the sky no longer has sun, moon, stars, rainbows, and silver linings, and instead it’s just dark, bleak, rainy, cloudy, gloom-filled nights! When did we become so weak, that the only thing we have the strength to do is give up and walk away?!

Can you imagine if you planted a seed today and then went to the garden tomorrow expecting to see growth and since there was none, you uprooted the seed and threw it away! Now imagine doing that every time you don’t See Immediate Manifested Growth in other areas of your life! The Result Would Be That You Would NEVER Produce Anything! Maybe that’s where you are right now…every area of your life is filled with stagnant water and stunted growth. Well, just maybe the problem isn’t it or them, but YOU! Maybe you should stop hindering Manifestation based off your Improper Expectations! Think about it: Even God Uses and Respects Waiting and Time!

“There’s an OPPORTUNE TIME to do things, a RIGHT TIME for everything on the earth: A RIGHT TIME for birth and another for death,
A RIGHT TIME to plant and another to reap,
A RIGHT TIME to kill and another to heal,
A RIGHT TIME to destroy and another to construct,
A RIGHT TIME to cry and another to laugh,
A RIGHT TIME to lament and another to cheer,
A RIGHT TIME to make love and another to abstain,
A RIGHT TIME to embrace and another to part,
A RIGHT TIME to search and another to count your losses,
A RIGHT TIME to hold on and another to let go,
A RIGHT TIME to rip out and another to mend,
A RIGHT TIME to shut up and another to speak up,
A RIGHT TIME to love and another to hate,
A RIGHT TIME to wage war and another to make peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 MSG)

There is an OPPORTUNE TIME for Everything Under the Sun! So why are you so Impatient?!

The word “opportune” is defined as “done or occurring at an especially convenient or appropriate time.” Its Latin Origin “opportunus” comes from “ob” meaning “in the direction of” and “portus” meaning “harbor”. It originally described the wind driving towards the harbor, at varying times, hence the meaning “seasonal”. And that’s what we fail to realize before we quit, give up, throw in the towel and walk away! Everything in life is “seasonal”. Good and bad days alike! And “seasonal” is defined as: “fluctuating characteristics depending on varying times of the year.” So, just as we don’t experience Summer all year long, neither do we Experience Winter, Spring or Fall, all year long. The seasons alternate! They do not remain the same. And if you dare learn to apply that principle to friendships and relationships you’ll stop washing your hands of people when all you needed to do was wait for the season to change! Who wants to be in Summer all year long?! And although I think I can find a few people that might like the idea, the rest of the world would hate to miss out on all that the other seasons bring. Winter is pretty cold, but it also brings Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentines Day, Gift Exchanges, Family Gatherings Over Large Dinners etc. Meaning even Winter has its’ burdens and blessings! And when you look at it like that, you’ll not seek a divorce because you’re in Winter, instead you’ll look for the blessings that even Winter carries. Then you’ll determine to endure it because there is Always a changing of the seasons! I hope you’re really getting this. Because as a counselor, it’s heart-breaking to listen to story after story of demolished friendships and relationships that only required more communication, openness, laughter, time and a bit more perseverance and patience.

Listen to this true story: Truett Cathy is not only a Committed Christian, but he’s also one of the world’s most successful businessmen. He started Chick-fil-A with one small diner and it grew to more than 1,450 restaurants, making it the second largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in America. As of September 2007, in Forbes Magazine’s listing of billionaires, Cathy was number 380 in the United States with a net worth of 1.3 billion dollars. And this was achieved even while remaining closed on Sunday’s which is one of the busiest sales days of the week. However, in his autobiography he tells of being so tongue-tied he could hardly put two words together. Then, three weeks after he opened his first store it burned to the ground. And if that’s not bad enough, when he finally got his second store, his brothers, who were his partners, were all killed in a plane crash. People advised him to quit. But instead he decided to trust God and keep trying! As a result his business employs thousands, and feeds millions every day! Truett Cathy took his setbacks and turned them into stepping stones!

And if he can endure THAT…you can endure THIS!

Now to our Scripture: “But he stood his ground and fought the Philistines until his hand was weary and STUCK TO THE SWORD. But the Lord accomplished a great victory that day. The troops then returned to Eleazar, but only to plunder the dead.” (2 Samuel 23:10 CEB); The Message Bible reads: “Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite was the next of the elite Three. He was with David when the Philistines poked fun at them at Pas Dammim. When the Philistines drew up for battle, Israel retreated. But Eleazar stood his ground and killed Philistines right and left until he was exhausted—BUT HE NEVER LET GO OF HIS SWORD! A big win for God that day. The army then rejoined Eleazar, but all there was left to do was the cleanup.” (2 Samuel 23:9-10 MSG)

The Scripture in varying translations say Eleazar kept fighting even though he was:

“…weary…” (CEB);

“…exhausted…” (MSG);

“…tired…” (ERV); and

“…cramped…” (GNT).

Yet, despite all of this, even in the midst of battle, HE NEVER LET HIS SWORD GO! In fact, the Scripture says it like this:

“…weary and clung to the sword…” (AMP);

“…weary and stuck to the sword…” (CEB);

“…cramped, yet couldn’t let go of his sword…” (CEV);

“…tired and stuck to his sword…”;

and my personal favorite, “…exhausted – but he never let go of his sword…” (MSG).

Imagine if we followed Eleazar’s example and even though in our friendships and relationships when we become “…weary…exhausted…tired…and even cramped…” we still refuse to “…let go…” instead we “…cling and stick…”

I love the way The Voice translation puts it: “but Eleazar stood his ground. He killed Philistine soldiers that day until his arm grew tired, but he never dropped his sword. The Eternal One gave them a decisive victory that day; and then the people came back, only to pillage the fallen.” (VOICE)

Despite how Eleazar FELT, he still “…stood his ground…” and “…never dropped his sword…” And what was the end result of his determination? Let’s see what the Scripture says:

“The Lord wrought a great deliverance and victory that day…” (AMP);

“…the Lord won an impressive victory that day…” (GWT);

“…the LORD wrought a great salvation that day…” (JUB);

“…the Lord gave him a great victory…” (TLB);

“…A big win for God that day….” (MSG);

“…The Lord saved many of His people that day…” (NLV);

Due to Eleazar’s persistence, determination, perseverance and fight, “…the Lord wrought DELIVERANCE…an IMPRESSIVE VICTORY…and SAVED MANY OF PEOPLE…” And all because one person decided I’m not giving up, giving out or giving in! I’m not quitting, throwing in the towel, or walking away. Instead I’m going to stand, cling, and stick it out despite how I feel, why? Because the Scripture says, “…The Lord won a great victory that day. AFTER IT WAS OVER…” (GNT)

Remind yourself that after this is over, me, my family, my children, my friends, my business, ministry and church will experience Deliverance, Victory and Salvation! And isn’t that worth it to hold on just a little while longer?

Today, Determine to Just Stick It Out! There Will Be Victory After This! But you have to keep your hand on your sword, and what is your sword? “…and the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD.” (Ephesians 6:17 AMP)

Now, Eleazar had a physical sword, however, ours is more powerful! It is the very Word of God! And why is it so important that we know that? Because, “…though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man.  The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 AMP)

We are not fighting flesh and blood, we are fighting principalities in the spirit! And that requires not a physical sword but a spiritual one, and one that we keep stuck to us like Eleazar’s sword! This is vital because as followers of Christ, we have to fight like He fought, and He fought using the Word of God! “Jesus replied to him, “IT IS WRITTEN AND FOREVER REMAINS WRITTEN, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE.” (Luke 4:4 AMP); “Jesus replied to him, “IT IS WRITTEN AND FOREVER REMAINS WRITTEN, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE ONLY HIM.’” (Luke 4:8 AMP); “for IT IS WRITTEN AND FOREVER REMAINS WRITTEN, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD AND PROTECT YOU,’ AND, ‘THEY WILL LIFT YOU UP ON THEIR HANDS, SO THAT YOU DO NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’” JESUS REPLIED TO HIM, “IT IS SAID [IN SCRIPTURE], ‘YOU SHALL NOT TEMPT THE LORD YOUR GOD [TO PROVE HIMSELF TO YOU’” (Luke 4:10-12 AMP) And then what happened? “When the devil had finished every temptation, he [temporarily] left Him until a more opportune time.” (Luke 4:13 AMP)

People of God, this is how we are to fight in the Spirit, with the Word / Sword of God!

However, how can you use a Sword you don’t use?! You can’t use the Word of God against the enemy if you don’t know the Word of God for yourself! Which is why we are admonished to remember: 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the WORD OF TRUTH.” (AMP)

What’s the best way to fight a liar? With the truth of course! And what does the Bible say about Satan? John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.” (AMP)

You can slay lying Satan with the truth, but you have to know the truth first in order to do so! And if you are not consistent in personal bible study time; Sunday school; and Bible study, how are you accomplishing this? You can’t wield a sword effectively if you don’t know how to! That’s like giving a baby a loaded gun, it doesn’t know how to use it effectively, but if he keeps picking and poking, eventually he’ll accidentally figure out how to pull the trigger which will be dangerous and deadly to himself and others, and all because he was given a weapon he wasn’t taught how to properly use! You know why? For a baby, it makes sense not to give a loaded weapon. But you’ve been saved how long now? Delivered how long now? Anointed how long now? Gifted how long now? Sitting under the Word of God for how long now? And you’re still haphazardly wielding a powerful sword?!

Please understand how powerful your Sword is: Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (AMP) This is a powerful weapon, and it’s at your disposal by your God, and you’re not using it?!

2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (AMP) God gave you such a powerful weapon to wield that it can be used to hurt your enemy and help you at the same time!

People of God, please hear me, you are already equipped for every battle you’ll ever face in this life, natural and spiritual, and all you have to do is read it, apply it, live it and use it!

The Word of God needs to be so engrafted to you that it seems like another member attached to your body! James 1:21, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” (KJV) “Engrafted” means, “to attach to, and become part of.” And doesn’t that sound a lot like Eleazar and his Sword?! He held it so long and tight that it may as well been a second layer of skin. And that’s how the Word of God has to be in your life! Never let your Sword go! Instead, grow with it, study how to use it, but whatever you do, don’t let it out of your hand!

And yes, that means when you’re tired, wearied, frustrated, attacked, treated unfairly, doesn’t matter, keep your sword in hand. Hold it tightly, because the more tightly you hold on to it, the more tightly it will teach you how to hold on to your loved ones, even in bad times, and yet, never let go!

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

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“When the Valley is Better Than the Mountain!”

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2 Chronicles 20:25-26, “When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder they found more loot than they could carry off—equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away! On the fourth day they came together at the VALLEY OF BLESSING (Beracah) and blessed God (that’s how it got the name, VALLEY OF BLESSING).” (MSG)

So often we talk about the great “mountain-top experiences” of life. And they are indeed wonderful! After all, with all the work, sweat, time and energy it takes to get to the top of the mountain, who wouldn’t want to celebrate the accomplishment and relish in their time at the top? It’s a beautiful view from the top, so much to see, to embrace, to celebrate and enjoy. However, I’ve found myself to have that same experience in some of my valleys as well. Unfortunately, we often view the valley as the dark, depressing, miserable, defeated place, but I’ve come today to tell you, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

You see, there’s a beautiful spot in Vermont that my friend Pastor Jonathan and his family has loved to visit for many years. Through working in ministry together, God introduced them to some wonderful friends who made it possible for them to stay at the place they own. Pastor Jonathan will be the first to tell you, even to get there is beautiful! First, they drive through the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. And then they enter the Champlain Valley of Vermont. And as they’re leaving the one range of mountains they’re immediately and sometimes simultaneously looking at the next range; the scenic green mountains of Vermont.

Now, the inn they stay in is in the Valley between the two. So when they arrive, they look West at those mountains they’ve just been through, and they look East at those mountains they plan to explore tomorrow. It’s a great place to be in the middle of the Valley.

You see, all they’re really doing is visiting the Valley between those two Mountains. From one side they can see the mountain they’ve already come over, and from the other side they can see the mountain that they will come over. I believe God intends for us all to live in a valley just like that!

Well, to see that kind of living in action, let’s go to a dramatic example of the history of God’s ancient people in 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat is the Jewish king, and it says, “Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army is coming against you’.” Well, frankly, this threat is overwhelming. But this godly king doesn’t get overwhelmed. Maybe nervous and scared, as many of us would, but certainly not overwhelmed. The Bible reads, “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord; and he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So [the people of] Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; indeed they came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord [longing for Him with all their heart].” (vss. 3-4 AMP).

Listen to some of his prayer to God: “Oh Lord,” he says, “God Are you not the God who is in heaven? Power and might are in your hand and no one can withstand you. Oh Lord God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham? They have lived in it and they have built in it a sanctuary for your name.” (vss. 6-8) Now, what he’s doing here is, LOOKING BACK AT THE MOUNTAINS OF YESTERDAY: the walled cities, the barbaric tribes the Jews had to conquer, the taking of a Promised Land they didn’t even have an inch of yet, and all the challenges of living since then and building an incredible temple to God. And Jehoshaphat is grateful to God for making all those mountains that once looked so big into monuments to His love, and His power, and His faithfulness.

BUT THEN THE KING LOOKS AHEAD AT THE MOUNTAIN OF TOMORROW; this vast army coming. He says, “Oh Lord God, we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.“(vs. 12) By the way, that feeling of powerlessness might be right where you are right now…but keep reading. “We do not know what to do (he says) but our eyes are upon You.” (vs. 12) Their eyes were not focused on the vast army…But, Our eyes are upon You.” And the Lord’s word to His servant, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” (vs. 15)

The king is now trusting God for the mountains of tomorrow! Right there is the picture of a victorious life of faith; a life in which nothing is really overwhelming. Living in the valley between what God has done and what God is going to do. To put it simply, God leads you in such a way that there is always something to thank Him for and always something to trust Him for!

First, you’ve got to look back at the amazing works God has already done, and specifically thank Him for them. Your confidence grows as you remember all He’s already done. Can you imagine if we did this every time a crisis in our lives appears? Think about it, He’s provided before; He’s healed before; He’s delivered before; He’s made ways out of no way before. And according to the Word of God, He has not changed! “Jesus Christ is [ETERNALLY CHANGELESS, ALWAYS] THE SAME YESTERDAY AND TODAY AND FOREVER.” (Hebrews 13:8 AMP). So if He did it then, what makes you doubt Him now? When you were unemployed, He was there; when you were lonely, He was there; when you were discouraged, He was there; when you were hurting, He was there. What makes you think anything has changed, since the Bible declares “JESUS CHRIST IS [ETERNALLY CHANGELESS…”? The rent, mortgage, car note, car insurance, tuition, utilities were all a struggle before, and still He came through, so why is your faith shaken now? Why are you wavering now? Why are you doubting now? Why are you second guessing now? You’ve needed food, shelter, and transportation, before, and He came through, why are you fearful now?

This is not your first time in the valley! “Even though I WALK THROUGH THE [SUNLESS] VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH…” (Psalm 23:4 AMP). Did you catch that? You’ve walked through the valley before! God never promised that you would stop visiting the valley, but the provision is still the same, “…I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.” (AMP). You’ve been here before, and He was there with you then, and He’ll be there with you now! Never forget His power neither ascends or descends because of the height of the mountain or the depth of the valley you experience. “JESUS CHRIST IS [ETERNALLY CHANGELESS]…” No matter your location, He knows where to find you, after all, there’s no where you can go and be without Him!

Psalm 139:7-16, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I run away from where You are?  If I go up to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in the place of the dead, You are there!  If I take the wings of the morning or live in the farthest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me and Your right hand will hold me.  If I say, “For sure the darkness will cover me and the light around me will be night,” even the darkness is not dark to You. And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to You. For You made the parts inside me. You put me together inside my mother.  I will give thanks to You, for the greatness of the way I was made brings fear. Your works are great and my soul knows it very well.  My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret and put together with care in the deep part of the earth.  Your eyes saw me before I was put together. And all the days of my life were written in Your book before any of them came to be.” (NLV).

If God doesn’t lose sight of you in heaven, hell, or the earth, what makes you think He will suddenly develop cataracts and not be able to see you in the valley?!

Be like Jehoshophat, remember the mountains you’ve overcome in the past and let them restore your faith to overcome the mountains before you! You look at the mountain behind you…THEN you look ahead and you see all those huge challenges in front of you! And you trust Him for those just the same. Why? Because the same God who brought you through all the mountains before, will bring you through these as well! Never be discouraged by the valley, it’s an awesome strategic place to be positioned when you look at it from the right perspective. Hear the word given to Jehoshophat: “Don’t be afraid; don’t pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God’s war, not yours. Tomorrow you’ll go after them; see, they’re already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you’ll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God’s saving work for you take shape. Don’t be afraid, don’t waver. March out boldly tomorrow—God is with you.” (vss. 16-17 MSG) That word “waver” is defined as “to move quiveringly; to flicker; to weaken; to falter; to be indecisive.” And that word “indecisive” means “not able to make decisions quickly and effectively.” But what is there for you to be indecisive about? God has already made the decision, “…This is God’s war, not yours… You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm… Don’t be afraid, don’t waver…” You have nothing to fear in the valley, because God’s got you!    

See, the battle is the Lord’s. Those five words say it all about this day and about each tomorrow in your life. It’s another day to trust Him. That’s what the valley does, it tests, exposes and builds your faith! “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG).

When looked at from the proper advantage point, the valley is a blessing, not a curse! The enemy wants you to believe that the valley is the place of discouragement, depression, and despair. A place of loneliness, dread, fear and worry. A place of doubt and guessing. A place void of God. And my friend, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

You see, in the valley you’re positioned between two mountains. You get to see where God has brought you and where He’s taking you at the same time. So when doubt and distress rear their ugly head, all you have to do is take a glance over your shoulder. Remember when God healed you, delivered you, protected you, provided for you, strengthened you. Remember when He restored your peace, joy, sanity, and life. Remember when you thought that last trial would take you out for good. When you thought that was it. That was the last straw. There’s no recovery from this…AND THEN…GOD! The valley tells your fears they have no power over you. The valley reminds you that you’ve conquered that, you got over that, you got past them. The rumors, lies, gossip, and backbiting that was designed to destroy you, fell apart at the seams! The valley is the place where you remind the devil that your God is walking with you while you walk your way through. The valley reminds you that what was supposed to kill you, ended up breathing new life into you!

“Joseph replied, “…Don’t you see, you planned evil against me BUT GOD USED THOSE SAME PLANS FOR MY GOOD, as you see all around you right now…” (Genesis 50:20 MSG). In this case, God didn’t get rid of Joseph’s enemies/haters/brothers, instead He kept them around so they would see that all they tried to do to ruin him, didn’t work. In fact, it all worked to his good and to his advantage. And to rub salt in the wound, God even positioned Joseph’s brothers to where what they needed could only come from the hands of Joseph! The one they hurt would be the only hand that could help them! God didn’t remove Joseph’s brothers from his life, and He won’t always remove your trials, challenges, haters, and valley’s from yours either. Because the greater blessing is that God can bless you while you’re still IN the valley! God doesn’t need you to come OUT of anything in order to bless you! He can bless you while you’re still IN it! “Nay, IN ALL THESE THINGS we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37). Did you catch that? “…IN ALL THESE THINGS…” God doesn’t need to bring you OUT, He can bless you, protect you, provide for you, go to battle on your behalf, and strengthen you, even while you’re still IN it! He proves His might and power by making us more than conquerors even while we’re still, “…IN ALL THESE THINGS…” Take heart, take courage! God will show OUT, while you’re still IN!

That’s the beauty of the valley. You get to look over your shoulder and remember what the Lord has done…and what should be your response? “Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!” (vss. 18-19 MSG). Praise and Worship was the response to what we’ve already made it over!

BUT THAT’S NOT EVEN THE BEST PART!

Now you get to turn your ahead around, look forward and smile! Why? Because God gives you a view/vision of what He’s about to do NEXT!

“They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Listen Judah and Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in your prophets and you’ll come out on top!” (vs. 20 MSG) We’ve made it over the last mountain-top, and now we’re about to conquer the next one! We’re about to “…COME OUT ON TOP!”

The valley now provides you with security that what God did before He’s able to do again! He defeated our enemies before, He’ll defeat them again. He healed, delivered, answered prayer, made provision and provided protection before, and He will do it again! And all we have to do is trust Him in the Valley for the next Mountain!

Jehoshophat and the people of God trusted their God so much in the VALLEY that they began to sing, praise and worship! And God’s response? “As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, AND ALL ENDED UP KILLED. AS JUDAH CAME UP OVER THE RISE, looking into the wilderness for the horde of barbarians, they looked on a killing field of dead bodies—NOT A LIVING SOUL AMONG THEM. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder THEY FOUND MORE LOOT THAN THEY COULD CARRY OFF—EQUIPMENT, CLOTHING, VALUABLES. IT TOOK THREE DAYS TO CART IT AWAY! On the fourth day they came together at the VALLEY OF BLESSING (Beracah) and blessed God (that’s how it got the name, VALLEY OF BLESSING).” (vss. 22-26 MSG)

AND YOU DIDN’T THINK THE VALLEY WAS A BLESSED PLACE TO BE!

People of God, all this was done, in the VALLEY, not on the Mountain! They sought God there, they received instructions there, they obeyed there, they prayed, praised and worshiped there, God placed ambushes against their enemies there, and it is there where they had their enemies cut off, and there that they carried off (equipment, clothing, valuables) so much so, that it took three days to carry it all away! But it’s there fourth day response that blessed me most, “…On the fourth day they came together at the VALLEY OF BLESSING (Beracah) AND BLESSED GOD (that’s how it got the name, VALLEY OF BLESSING).”

THEY BLESSED GOD IN THE VALLEY! WON’T YOU LET THAT BE YOUR RESPONSE TODAY IN THE MIDST OF YOUR VALLEY!

Remember: The valley is not a bad place to be positioned! It reminds you (and your faith) of what the Lord did before, and what He will do again! It’s a place of encouragement, empowerment, renewal, trust, hope and confidence. Truth is, Sometimes the VALLEY is Better Than the Mountain!

In closing, take some time to look at a few other VALLEY’S below, where the Blessings of the Lord prevailed!

Psalm 84:6, “Passing through the VALLEY of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also COVERS IT WITH BLESSINGS.” (AMP)

Numbers 13:21-25, “With that they were on their way. They scouted out the land from the Wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob toward Lebo Hamath. Their route went through the Negev Desert to the town of Hebron. Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, descendants of the giant Anak, lived there. Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt. When they arrived at the Eshcol VALLEY they cut off a branch with a single cluster of grapes—IT TOOK TWO MEN TO CARRY IT—slung on a pole. They also picked some pomegranates and figs. They named the place Eshcol VALLEY (GRAPE-CLUSTER-VALLEY) because of the huge cluster of grapes they had cut down there. After forty days of scouting out the land, they returned home.” (MSG)

Joshua 11:7-9, “Joshua, his entire army with him, took them by surprise, falling on them at the Waters of Merom. God gave them to Israel, who struck and chased them all the way to Greater Sidon, to Misrephoth Maim, and then to the VALLEY of Mizpah on the east. NO SURVIVORS. Joshua treated them following God’s instructions: he hamstrung their horses; he burned up their chariots.” (MSG)

Genesis 26:16-18, “Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from here, because you are far too powerful for us.” So Isaac left that region and camped in the VALLEY of Gerar, and settled there. Now Isaac again dug [and reopened] the wells of water which had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, because the Philistines had filled them up [with dirt] after the death of Abraham; and he gave the wells the same names that his father had given them.” (AMP)

BLESSINGS, PROVISION, FRUITFULNESS, VICTORY, RECOVERY AND RESTORATION ARE ALL FOUND IN THE VALLEY!

TODAY, THANK GOD FOR YOUR VALLEY OF BLESSING!

“As you walk through the Valley of the unknown, you will find the footprints of Jesus both in front of you and beside you.” (Charles Stanley)

“Sometimes you must learn to appreciate the view in the Valley.” (Annette Harrison)

“Mountaintops inspire leaders but Valleys mature them.” (Winston Churchill)

“All of life is peaks and Valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the Valleys too low.” (John Wooden)

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” (Andy Rooney)

“No one gets to the top of a mountain without first going through a Valley.” (Steve Harvey)

“If you feel you are in a Valley today, don’t despair. Just put one foot in front of the other and continue on. Count your blessings with each step. You will soon see that you are on top of the mountain!” (Pinterest)

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

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“Your Giant Will NEVER Be Bigger Than Your God!”

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1 Samuel 17:48-51, “That roused the Philistine, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply. The Philistine crashed, facedown in the dirt. That’s how David beat the Philistine—with a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. No sword for David! Then David ran up to the Philistine and stood over him, pulled the giant’s sword from its sheath, and finished the job by cutting off his head. When the Philistines saw that their great champion was dead, they scattered, running for their lives.” (MSG)

One of the funniest things in the world to me is listening to a child’s perspective. After all, the world looks a little different through five-year-old eyes. Chase was five and he was the grandson of one of my dear friends. One day little Chase was out with his Mom, and they drove past this construction site and saw one of those giant cranes. Well, Chase got completely wide-eyed as he watched the humongous mechanized monster moving things around so powerfully! And then finally, in total amazement, he tried to find a way to express how big that crane looked to him. Here’s what he said: “Mommy, it’s bigger than God!

Which is the thought that brings us to 1 Samuel 17:33. Here, we’re watching the army of Israel being totally intimidated by Goliath, the Philistine giant/bully. Yet David, is this little guy who wants to go out and fight him! But Saul, the king, replies in verse 33, “…You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight him. For you are [only] a young man and he has been a warrior since his youth.” (AMP). And then in Verse 37, David says, “…The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.” (AMP)

So by the time we get to verses 45-47, David Charges the Giant! David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give all of you into our hands.” (NIV).

Now, the Israeli army looked at Goliath and said like Chase, “He’s bigger than God!” And therefore, they retreated!

David seemed like the least likely person to take on the giant, but he was the only person there who believed that God was bigger than the giant!

So David, it says, “…ran quickly toward the battle lines to meet him.” (NIV).

The Jews of Moses’ day and Joshua’s day? Well, they made the same mistake when they measured the challenge in front of them. They looked at the Promised Land and they saw walls, and cities, and warriors that were bigger than they were. Listen to Numbers 13:31-33,But the others said, “We can’t attack those people; they’re way stronger than we are.” They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, “We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants (the Anak giants come from the Nephilim). Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.” (MSG).

The Contemporary English Version reads: “But the other men replied, “Those people are much too strong for us.”  Then they started spreading rumors and saying, “We won’t be able to grow anything in that soil. And the people are like giants.  In fact, we saw the Nephilim who are the ancestors of the Anakim. They were so big that we felt as small as grasshoppers.” (CEV)

They had men say in essence, “God’s Bigger Than Giants!” But unbelief won the day, and so the people got to spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness as a result! Listen to Numbers 32:10-13, “The Lord became very angry.  And he said that no one who was twenty years or older when they left Egypt would enter the land he had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE BELIEVED IN THE LORD’S POWER, EXCEPT CALEB AND JOSHUA. They remained faithful to the Lord, but he was so angry with the others that he forced them to wander around in the desert forty years. By that time everyone who had sinned against him had died.” (CEV)

“It’s bigger than God!” That’s what unbelief says. It’s what worry is saying. It’s what fear is saying. It’s what discouragement is saying. We don’t really believe that theologically, but practically we seem to. We get beaten by the walls, beaten by the giants and the obstacles, because we think, “This one’s pretty big, maybe too big for God!”

But do you really want to miss the Promise because you doubt God’s Power? Do you really want to die in fear, because you didn’t live in faith? I think not!

So, what’s the big thing that’s making you afraid, making you discouraged? “These bills are bigger than God.” Really? “This crisis is bigger than God.” Is it? Really? “This pain, this illness, this family problem; it’s bigger than….” Oh, forget it! It’s nowhere near bigger than God! Nothing is! Compared to YOU, the challenge or the obstacle is huge. But what are you going to compare to GOD, who created and controls a hundred billion galaxies and everything in them? Why don’t you measure your monster next to Him? You’ll find your fear turning to faith and your stress melting into peace!

Where is your child-like faith, to replace your child-like fear? Why are you responding like little Chase, who doesn’t know any better? To him, everything is huge, even a machine compared to God, appeared (in his little mind) as bigger than God. However, you know better, so why is this your response and reaction?

You’ve seen God heal, you’ve seen God deliver, you’ve seen God save, you’ve seen God do the impossible, you’ve seen God turn it around in your favor. So why do you doubt Him now? You’ve seen God keep a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food on the table, clothes in the closet. So why do you doubt Him now? You’ve seen God protect you and provide for you. So why do you doubt Him now? What the doctors said before didn’t stop God from being God…what stops Him now? You’ve seen God grant you a job, a paycheck, insurance, transportation. So why do you doubt Him now?

People of God, we need to learn how to measure our giants by the size of our God, not our God by the size of our giants! After all, what can be measured against God?

Psalm 146 reads, “Hallelujah! O my soul, praise God! All my life long I’ll praise God, singing songs to my God as long as I live. Don’t put your life in the hands of experts who know nothing of life, of salvation life. Mere humans don’t have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them. Instead, get help from the God of Jacob, put your hope in God and know real blessing! God made sky and soil, sea and all the fish in it. He always does what he says – he defends the wronged, he feeds the hungry. God frees prisoners – he gives sight to the blind, he lifts up the fallen. God loves good people, protects strangers, takes the side of orphans and widows, but makes short work of the wicked. God’s in charge – always. Zion’s God is God for good! Hallelujah!” (MSG)

Now, that’s how we need to view our God! Bigger Than All Things! Always in Charge no matter what becomes out of Control in our lives! Listen, there is absolutely nothing that God can’t do except lie and fail! So why are you allowing circumstances to crush your faith?

And I’ll be the first to tell you, this is not what I’ve read, but what I’ve lived. I know what it feels like to feel as though your marriage struggles are bigger than God; bills are bigger; the diagnosis is bigger; the pain is bigger; the enemies attack is bigger; the lack of employment is bigger; the lack of money is bigger; the lack of food and shelter is bigger. Been there! And I know first-hand the response on both sides. I know what it feels like to experience all of those things and feel as if God has forgotten you or that your situation is so big that God has to figure out a solution to your problem. And I can tell you personally, thoughts like that only bring about fear, worry, lack of sleep, loss of hair, loss of peace and joy, high blood pressure and the like. In other words, it does not help, it only hurts! But, I’ve also grown, matured and developed into a woman of faith. I learned to trust God to handle what I can’t get a grip on. And I’ve watched Him supersede even what I asked of Him in prayer. I learned how to look at obstacles, trials and struggles as only another means of increasing my faith, challenging my hope, and building my trust, dependence and reliance on Him. I learned that my hardships and hard times were only teaching me to do more than read the Scriptures, but to apply them, live them and walk in them. You can’t walk by faith while standing still in comfort. Stretched faith comes from uncomfortability and unfamiliarity! Listen to James:

James 1:2-4, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (MSG)

Tests, Challenges, and Pressures, Work FOR You, Not AGAINST You!

Truth is, if many of us weren’t tested or challenged to endure hardship and pressure, our faith would remain the size of a mustard seed for the entirety of our Christian Walk! And is mustard seed faith bad? Absolutely not! Listen to Matthew 17:20, “Because you’re not taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.” (MSG) How awesome is that?!

But, should we stay at the same mustard seed size of faith? I think not!

Romans 1:16-17, “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 the Greek. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, both springing from FAITH AND LEADING TO FAITH [DISCLOSED IN A WAY THAT AWAKENS MORE FAITH]. As it is written and forever remains written, “THE JUST AND UPRIGHT SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (AMP)

Mustard seed faith is awesome! However, it’s a SEED for a reason! The word “seed” is defined as “a flowering plant’s unit of reproduction, capable of developing into another such plant; the beginning or process of something which continues to develop and grow; to stimulate growth and development; designed to produce and reproduce; to stimulate more of; offspring.” Some of its related words are: “fountain; spring; well; beginning; birth; genesis; inception; launch; onset; outset; start; threshold; creation; permeate.” And that last word “permeate” is defined as “to spread throughout; to pervade.” Its Latin Origin “permeare” means to “pass through.” In other words, your mustard seed faith should never remain stagnant as just a mustard seed. It’s a seed for a reason. It’s supposed to reproduce; develop; grow; continue; permeate and spread throughout! It’s supposed to pass through from one capacity to another. And if the Scripture says, “…there’s nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle”, and that’s just with mustard seed faith, imagine what else you would be able to handle with increased faith? In addition, what else would you believe God for if you increased in faith? Maybe then when the bills come in you won’t lose your mind; maybe then when the doctor gives you a report, you’ll still believe the report of the Lord; maybe then when your marriage looks like it’s going down for the last time, it will go another round; maybe then when your children look as if their leaving the faith you’ve taught them, you’ll trust that what you’ve trained them, will not be forgotten; maybe then a layoff will cause you to take a leap of faith instead of lagging behind in fear.

So, are you encountering something really big right now? Well, be awed, but not by what’s big, but by your God who’s bigger! That’s what our little friend saw, something that was bigger than he was so he thought it was bigger than God is. Not So! Nothing and No One is, nor will ever be! That’s where we take heart and courage! Even when something is bigger than you, it’s never bigger than God (who is also IN you!) 1 John 4:4, “Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because HE WHO LIVES IN YOU IS GREATER (MIGHTIER) THAN HE WHO IS IN THE WORLD.” (AMPC)

No matter what you face today, it cannot defeat you! Like David, no matter how Goliath came at him, nor what he came at him with mattered. David knew he had the upper hand, because He had the Hand of God to hand him his enemies Head! 1 Samuel 17:48-51, “That roused the Philistine, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply. The Philistine crashed, facedown in the dirt. That’s how David beat the Philistine—with a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. No sword for David! Then David ran up to the Philistine and stood over him, pulled the giant’s sword from its sheath, and finished the job by cutting off his head. When the Philistines saw that their great champion was dead, they scattered, running for their lives.” (MSG)

People of God, You Serve a Big God, No Matter How Big the Battle is You’re Facing! Like David, You Will Win! But You Have to Remember to Increase Your Faith and Believe That When God Says I Got You, He’s Got You! Hebrews 13:5-6, “…God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?” (MSG)

How dare we ever fear anything when God is bigger than everything, AND, He’s Promised to NEVER let us down or walk off and leave us?! God is ready to help you, so you need to live fearless, after all with God in you and with you, “Who Or What Can Get to You?!”

Don’t make the mistake of missing a miracle because you let something loom larger in your heart than the awesome God of the creation, the awesome God of the cross, the awesome God of an empty tomb, the awesome God of second chances; the awesome God of the universe; the awesome God that’s living in you and coming back for you! After all, if the cross, nails, thorns, spear, death, hell and the grave couldn’t stop or hinder God, what makes you think the gas and water bill that you can’t pay right now can?!

People of God, be encouraged today knowing that there is nothing too Big or too Hard or too Impossible for Your God to Handle! It Is Well, Because With God, We Win, No Matter What!

Romans 8:31-39, “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? AND WHO WOULD DARE TANGLE WITH GOD BY MESSING WITH ONE OF GOD’S CHOSEN? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CAN GET BETWEEN US AND GOD’S LOVE BECAUSE OF THE WAY THAT JESUS OUR MASTER HAS EMBRACED US.” (MSG)

FRIENDS, BE ENCOURAGED! YOUR GIANT WILL NEVER BE BIGGER THAN YOUR GOD!

Jeremiah 32:17, “O Lord God! You have made the heavens and earth by your great power; nothing is too hard for you!” (TLB)

“The giant in front of you is never bigger than God who lives in you.” (Christine Caine)

“Focus on giants, you stumble. Focus on God, your giants stumble.” (DayStar)

“God will not allow any person to keep you from your destiny. They may be bigger, stronger and more powerful, but God knows how to get you to where you’re supposed to be.” (Spiritual Inspiration)

“Start calling yourself healed, happy, whole, blessed, and prosperous. Stop talking to God about how big your mountains are, and start talking to your mountains about how big your God is.” (Spiritual Inspiration)

“Make God bigger than your ‘what-if’s” (Christine Caine)

“Face the giants in your life, slay them and move on. Do not be daunted by the mistakes and failures in your life.” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“All David had was faith and a rock and he defeated a giant. All you need is faith in the Rock to defeat yours!” (Daystar)

“Sometimes God will put a Goliath in your life, for you to find the David within you.” (Author Unknown)

“King Saul thought Goliath was too big to fight, David thought he was too big to miss!” (Author Unknown)

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

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“The Stretching Is Strengthening Your Faith!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully you noticed a few things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “8 Secrets of People Who Never Miss a Workout”

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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”

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“How to Get UP When You’re DOWN”

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“Elijah was…just like us…” (James 5:17 NIV)

There are times in life when we ALL feel down. Today, we’ll take notice of how Elijah got Down, but more importantly, HOW HE GOT BACK UP:

1…IT HAPPENED ON THE HEELS OF A GREAT VICTORY: He didn’t start out in Doldrums (which is defined as a state of stagnation or depression), and he didn’t fall into sin (as most saints like to analyze and assume that’s the cause to every downcast spirit). NO, ON THE CONTRARY, he’d just called down fire from heaven and slain 450 false prophets (1 Kings 18:22-39)! So he went from Exhilaration to Exhaustion IN AN INSTANT! Ever been there? I know I have. Elijah was weary, with his defenses down and vulnerability up, so he fell into a natural depression, because fatigue always strips us of focus and fight! And to tell the truth, we could really be a blessing to others if we’d all simply learned to be honest enough to share with folks thatI’ve been there.” When everything was going right, and then out of nowhere, in the midst of the battle you had to cry out, “I’ve been hit!In my own personal life, I went from shouting Sunday, to rushed to the hospital Wednesday, to have my dad pass away Friday. My body, soul and spirit all shut completely down! And I even began to feel guilty, as though my title didn’t entitle me to breakdown (PEOPLE OF GOD, DON’T EVER BELIEVE SUCH A LIE!) But I thank God for a nucleus of honest folks that simply said, ‘the preacher in you may not want to cry, but the daughter in you has too. Be real, be free, and do what you got to do to get through.‘ Will that be an easy task to accomplish? Absolutely not! Because before I knew it, I ended up crying out yet again, “I’ve been hit!” My mom became ill and I became her guardian in more ways than I could count. It was first some complications due to diabetes, then over the course of five years added to her health struggles was a toe amputation; breast cancer (which led to a loss of hair); her skin started to breakout in acne, sores and rashes, kidney failure and dialysis; over 20 pills a day; a cane; then a walker; then surgeries. She ended up having to retire from work, and could no longer do her own laundry or groceries, or go to her doctor appointments or pharmacy alone. She could no longer even bathe herself. Then cooking and cleaning became a hardship. She ended up on a portable oxygen machine that she hated with a passion. Finally, she went one day to have her vein port checked, she didn’t feel well at the doctor after the procedure and yet went home anyway. A few minutes after being home, she collapsed and stopped breathing. By the time she arrived at the hospital, she had gone too long without oxygen to the brain. She was comatose from March 16th to the day before the plug was pulled on April 1st and she passed away. I share this all with you, because we all suffer hurt, depression, struggle, confusion, dismay, anger and the like. And the most dangerous thing you can do for your body, soul, spirit, heart and mind, is to pretend like you’re unaffected, especially when you have a title, and therefore, don’t feel entitled to breakdown. I didn’t cry during her service, funeral, or even burial. It actually took me a few days before it really hit, that she’s gone. And that’s when I broke. More than her loss of life was the guilt of knowing that this was the one and only doctor’s appointment that I didn’t take her to personally. So the what if’s became like daily daggers to my body, soul and spirit. And can I tell you I’m over it all, honestly? No, that would not be the full truth. I still struggle, especially during holidays, or if my mind wanders to a particular memory. What I’m saying folks is it’s okay to be hit, and to hurt and even to cry and bleed. But don’t stop there. Keep moving towards healing. Just know that you’ll never get to healing with honesty. So even if you were just promoted, got the house, got the car, got the clean bill of health, had the baby, got married, passed the test, graduated school…know that for every high, lows come on their heels. It’s not sinful to want to throw in the towel after being so high, only to be hit so low. Which is why you have to learn to guard yourself when you’re walking through your bed of roses…thorns are still ever present! Elijah went from high to low in an instant, and so have many of us. So don’t feel guilty! Leader and laity alike, we all get dealt some very harsh life blows. And yet I encourage you to keep going (even if you have to make some pit stops along the way to catch your second wind), still keep going. Never stop moving towards healing! Just Remember: The Best Way To Get Up…Is To Get Honest…Especially With Yourself, Than Others!

2…FEAR CAUSED HIM TO LOSE PERSPECTIVE: The man of God who’d just faced down an evil MULTITUDE, ended up running from ONE WOMAN (1 Kings 19)! Fear made him forget God’s power; it skewed (distorted) his perspective and left him feeling suicidal! Exhaustion coupled with Fear is Dangerous! It invites feelings of hopelessness, wrongful thinking, and creates the illusion that your options are all gone! I’ve been there too, when fear gripped me so badly that I felt like it had a choke-hold on me! To an extent it crippled my perspective! Everything was going wrong AT THE SAME TIME! Within the span of a few months I had 3 back-to-back health issues, surgery, marriage challenges, a dead father, a sick mother and 2 unemployed, struggling family members, depending on me to carry them through! All I wanted to do was crawl in a hole and never resurface again! It was as if multiple gunshots were piercing me and I was losing too much blood to hold on any longer! Fear had a vice-grip on me. 1 John 4:18 says it like this, “fear hath torment“ And that’s how I felt, and I’m sure how Elijah felt… “tormented”. But bear in mind, that same text declares, “…perfect love casteth out fear.“ Holding on to the perfect, unconditional love of God will refocus your fearful perspective every time, no matter what or who you’re facing! Here’s another personal testimony: I went to have a mammogram done the first week of 2019. The results came to my primary doctor that the left breast was fine, but the right one needed to have further mammogram imaging and a possible ultrasound, since the mammogram was obscured. I received that letter and please let me share my complete honesty with you. My first reaction was I cried. I was nervous and fearful. I immediately thought of all the worst case scenarios. The first thing that popped in my mind was that my mom had breast cancer (she didn’t die from it, and was a year later cleared, but in my mind, she still had it, and possibly I did too). Fear immediately shifted my focus and perspective to death instead of life. It actually wasn’t until I went into my daily prayer in my living-room one morning when it hit me. The letter did not say I had breast cancer, it didn’t even suggest that. All it really said was that my mammogram was inconclusive and needed further testing. However, in that moment on that previous night, that’s not how the letter read in my mind at least. But being in prayer, and sharing my heart with God and having Him share His with me, brought a calm that I gave away to fear, freely. I needed to make another appointment, get the tests done, wait for the results, walk by faith, believe the report of the Lord that by His stripes I am healed. And when my doctor does call, we’ll go from there. I reiterate, I share this with you because sometimes we can feel like we lose a portion of our calling, anointing, gifts and ministry because we’re honest that life dealt us a blow that we weren’t prepared to receive. However, that is not the case at all. Let no one and nothing make you feel as if you are ever doing life alone. Your God is an ever present God. There’s nowhere you can go and He not already be there. You can cry, pace, and even get on the verge of throwing in the towel, and still God will be right there saying, ‘as soon as you’re done, I’ll be right here for you to talk to.’ Being saved does not in any way exempt us from trials, struggles, pain, hurt, loss, and the like. It doesn’t even exempt us from moments of human feelings of being nervous, panicked, fearful, scared or worried. The great thing for us however, is that we have a loving Father that we can take all of that too. He’s ready and willing to catch anything we cast on Him! Therefore, People of God, no matter what’s going on, what’s going wrong or what’s going nowhereREFOCUS! GOD WILL ALWAYS USE HIS PERFECT LOVE TO SHIFT YOUR FOCUS FROM FEAR BACK TO FAITH!

3…HE BECAME ISOLATED: Elijah left his servant at Beersheba and journeyed into the wilderness ALONE (1 Kings 19:3-4). When you most need support, anxiety, a sense of inadequacy and fear of failure, will push you into isolation every time! At that point you’re in the worst possible company – YOUR OWN! Elijah thought, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me” (vs 10, 14). Translated: “It’s bad and I can’t see it getting any better!Note that WHEN YOU’RE DOWN, THAT’S THE WRONG TIME TO ISOLATE YOURSELF! That’s when you need to reach for God, and the people who love you and can help you back up! Here’s some more honesty for you, I’m a loner by nature. I don’t like crowds, and sometimes even one other person is a crowd to me, especially if I’m going through something. The worse part for me is that when I’m hurting I don’t want anyone to see it, hear it or know it. So I often go into isolation. Family and friends don’t hear from me. I become very closed off and distant. If you get two words out of me in an hour that’s a lot. I don’t answer my phone. And for some this will be a system shocker, but the one place I have a bad tendency to avoid is church. As a leader, I came up under the ‘fake it till you make it’ era; show no signs of weakness or fear; hide everything and share nothing; dress up and show up no matter what. Such training however, causes you to have a very skewed mindset. I would began to feel like, ‘I’m in Elder, they can’t see me crying; I’m a Doctor of Christian Education with a second doctorate in Pastoral Care and Leadership; I have 10 degrees under my belt; I’ve overcome some crazy physical, mental, emotional and spiritual attacks; people can’t see me have a weak moment, what would they think? I’m married to an Elder; we’ve raised our children by faith to believe God for any and everything, how can I let anyone see my vessel has cracks? People come to me for wisdom, counsel, advice and direction, what do I look like going to them for the same things? I travel and teach and preach the Power of God, His Word, His Will and His Way, I can’t let anyone see that I’m now struggling to pray, avoiding His Word, not sure if I’m all the way in His Will and feel as lost as if I were never found.’ Please hear my heart when I tell you, do not isolate yourself with only yourself, when you’re down and out! As a matter of fact, today is a good day to re-exam your circle and the company you keep. Do you have people who know how to wipe your tears, who can hear your silence, who are genuine shoulders to lean on and trusted ears? Do you have people that know when to let you cry, and then when to tell you that’s the last tear I better see fall! Do you have people that will call you out of your isolation? Do you have faith infusers when your fears are draining your faith of substance? You need people in your circle that refuse to allow you to ball up in the corner and die! Pay Attention to the Admonishment of Scripture: “How can two walk together accept they agree?” “Jesus sent them out two-by-two.” “One will chase a thousand, and two will put ten thousand to flight.” So never isolate yourself when going through! Galatians 6 says, “…Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens…” If you’ll take a brief moment to lift your bowed down head, you may be surprised at how many are, “Stooped down and reaching out willing to help you bear your burdens…” You my friend are not in this life journey alone! There are people all around you who will be there with you during the u-turns; wrong turns; dead-ends; cliffs ahead; slippery roads; caution paths; steep valley’s and seemingly immovable mountains. You are not alone! We are one church with many members, but most importantly we are ONE UNITED CHURCH! Don’t separate yourself in times of struggle!

SO, after all of that, what was God’s prescription for getting Elijah back on his feet? A lecture on the Prophet’s faltering faith? NO! JUST REST AND NOURISHMENT! I know you thought it would be something really deep right (as church folks, we always do)?! But God recognizes our limitations, even when we don’t. His Word declares, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3). The Message Bible says it like this, “He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and He won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but He’ll steadily and firmly set things right.”  

Therefore, People of God, WHEN YOU’RE DOWN, DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF! GET AROUND THOSE WHO WILL HELP YOU REST AND AID YOU WITH NOURISHMENT! SPIRITUAL ANOINTING SHOULD NEVER RESULT IN NATURAL ABUSE! YOU ARE NEVER SO ANOINTED THAT YOU IGNORE THE SIGNS THAT YOU’RE BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT HAVE TAKEN ON TOO MUCH BURDEN AND TOO MUCH BAGGAGE! MATURITY IS A GOOD BALANCE OF SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL WELL BEING!

When we neglect our own LEGITIMATE NEEDS, it shows up in our Attitude!

And God understands that being down is a “Perspective” problem, and getting back up simply requires an Adjustment in four crucial areas:

(a) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S GOD-PERSPECTIVE: “Get in the presence of God and he’ll meet with you“ (1 Kings 19:11). The One who gave Elijah victory on Mount Carmel, could also sustain him in the desert of Jezreel! But first Elijah had to spend time with Him, otherwise he was stalled on an emptying tank! People of God, Before You Can Deal With Your Problem, You’ve Got to Dwell In His Presence!

(b) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S WORLD-PERSPECTIVE: Elijah said, “God’s covenant is broken, His altar destroyed, His prophet’s murdered, and I’m the only one left.” (vs. 14) But God showed Elijah that He still had the necessary resources and strategies to accomplish His purposes, even in a hostile environment! So, People of God, stop allowing your limitations to limit God! You Are Not All God Has Left! So when you need to sit out a few games, don’t feel as though you’ve lost your position, you’re just being repositioned to regain new strength in order to win!

(c ) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S SELF-PERSPECTIVE: The Prophet saw himself as helpless and inadequate: “Lord, let me die…I am no better than those who preceded me.” (vs. 4). But God showed him there were still kings to anoint, battles to win, and He “…knew the plans He had…” for Elijah, and the important role he was to play in all of it (vs. 16). You May Want to Throw in the Towel, But There’s Far Too Much More God Has For You To Do! So, People of God, Take That Same Towel, Wipe Your Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Weep From the Pain, Wrap Your Wounds, and Keep On Fighting!

(d) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S FRIENDSHIP-PERSPECTIVE: He sent Elisha to minister to him (vs. 21). You’re not supposed to carry it alone! No matter how big and bad you think you are! Allow yourself to need help, and watch who God sends! Church, Check Your Friendship Circle and Make Sure Your Elisha Is Present! If He Is, Lean On Him, If He’s Not Locate Him!

Today, ask God to Adjust Your Perspectives and Help You to Refocus!

Truth is, You’ve Been Down Long Enough…It’s Time You Finally Get Back Up, the Kingdom and the World Has Need of YOU!

“A person who falls and gets back up, is much stronger than a person who never fell.” (Author Unknown)

“In life, many things don’t go according to plan. If you fall, get back up. If you stumble, regain your balance. Never give up.” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you have ever been, to stand up taller than you ever were.” (Author Unknown)

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

“Never let a stumble be the end of your journey.” (Author Unknown)

“The true measure of success is how many times you can bounce back from failure.” (Stephen Richards)

“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs, but how high he bounces back when he hits bottom.” (George S. Patton, Jr.)

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” (Author Unknown)

“Everyone gets knocked down in life, but not everyone bounces back. Victory belongs to those who manage to get back on their feet every time.” (Author Unknown)

“Get your fire back. It’s not over until God says it’s over. Start believing again. Start dreaming again. Start pursuing what God put in your heart.” (Author Unknown)

“No matter how many steps you take away from God, it still only takes one to get back.” (Author Unknown)

“God didn’t give you the strength to get back on your feet so that you can run back to the same things that knocked you down.” (Marvin Sapp)

“For every set back, God has a major come back.” (Author Unknown)

“No matter how many times you get knocked down, keep getting back up. He sees your determination. And when you do everything you can do, that’s when God will step in and do what you can’t do.” (Joel Osteen)

“Don’t forget you’re human. It’s okay to have a meltdown. Just don’t unpack and live there. Cry it out and then refocus on where you’re headed.” (Author Unknown)

“God will give you new pictures. Instead of going back into your memory, let God move you into your future through your imagination. Your memory replays your past; your imagination pre-plays your future.” (Mike Murdock)

“It’s time for you to get back up again! It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve fallen or how many times you’ve messed up. God still has a plan for your life and He’s telling you to get back up again!” (Matthew Johnson)

“There is no setback you can face in life that God doesn’t already have a comeback plan for.” (Author Unknown)

“Don’t let setbacks set you back; turn them into challenges and get back on track.” (Patrick Manifold)

“The circumstances and events that we see as setbacks are oftentimes the very things that launch us into periods of intense spiritual growth.” (Charles Stanley)

“The comeback is always stronger than the setback.” (Author Unknown)

“Failure: it can destroy you or it can make you so freakin’ mad that you work even harder to become the winner you know you are.” (Author Unknown)

“Making a comeback is one of the most difficult things to do with dignity.” (Greg Lake)

“Try to avoid complaints. Self-pity, even when legitimate, never fails to undermine your strength.” (Mariane Pearl)

“One must not let oneself be overwhelmed by sadness.” (Jackie Onasis)

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

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“3 Reasons You Keep Losing the Battle”

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Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” The Amplified Bible says it like this, “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].” (AMP)

Listen to some history: In 1917 Aqaba seemed impregnable. And the word “impregnable” literally means “unable to overcome.” You see, any army approaching its port would have to face huge naval guns. Behind it in every direction lay barren, waterless, inhospitable desert. To the EAST lay the deadly “anvil of the sun”, the hot sands along what is now the border between Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The Turks believed Aqaba to be immune to attack, But They Were Wrong! Lawrence of Arabia led a force of irregular Arab cavalry across the “anvil of the sun.” Together they rallied support among the local people. On July 6, 1917, they swept into Aqaba FROM THE NORTH, FROM THE BLIND SIDE! A climactic moment of the film “Lawrence of Arabia” is the long, panning shot of the Arabs, their camels and horses, with Lawrence at their head, galloping past the gigantic naval guns That Were Completely Powerless to Stop Them! And why were their powerful naval guns powerless to stop them? BECAUSE THE GUNS WERE FACING THE WRONG WAY! Aqaba fell and the Turkish hold on Palestine was broken, to be replaced by British mandate and eventually by the nation of Israel. The Turks failed to defend Aqaba because they made Three Fatal Mistakes:

  1. THEY DID NOT KNOW THEIR ENEMY;
  2. THEY DID NOT KNOW THEIR WEAKEST POINTS; and
  3. THEY DID NOT HAVE THE RIGHT WEAPONS!

The lesson we need to learn from this is that like the Turks there are three reasons we keep losing the battle and the reasons are the same as theirs:

1…WE DO NOT KNOW OUR ENEMY! You see, the Turks would’ve expected to be attacked by a powerful army since they were powerful and had powerful weapons themselves. From their perspective, if anyone would attack them it would be someone equivalent to their battle status. They would be prepared for someone coming against them with guns blazing. But they were not however prepared for an enemy that looked so harmless as they galloped along on camels and horses. Sad as it may be, but the truth is, we spend more time fighting one another than we do fighting our Real Enemy! And Jesus Himself makes it crystal clear who our Real Enemy is! “Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that ENEMY OF YOURS, THE DEVIL, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 AMP). Believe it or not but the brother who lied on you or the sister who talked about you, IS NOT YOUR REAL ENEMY! The Word of God is Clear, YOUR REAL ENEMY IS THE DEVIL! And with his description in 1 Peter 5:8 as being like a roaring lion in fierce hunger ready to seize upon you and devour you, do you really think you have the time to waste in fighting People over what they may or may not have said?! The Devil is out to DEVOUR You, not take your position in the church, not to replace you, not to break up your clique, not to make people not like you…THE DEVIL IS OUT TO DEVOUR YOU! That word “Devour” is defined as “to eat greedily and to consume destructively.” Its Latin Origin “Devorare”, from “Vorare” literally means “to swallow whole”! Your enemy is not trying to ruin your reputation, attack your character, under estimate the ability of your gifts, give your Sunday morning assignment to someone else, or steal your anointing! People of God, your Real Enemy, THE DEVIL, is out to greedily eat and destructively consume you in one swallow! The enemy is not here to play games, he’s here on a mission to Seek, Capture, Consume and Destroy! He’s out to steal and snuff out your very LIFE! “The THIEF comes ONLY in order to STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY…” (John 10:10 AMP) In other words, the THIEF’S ONLY ORDER OF THE DAY IS TO DEVOUR YOUR LIFE! So why are you wasting so much valuable time, efforts and energy fighting the wrong enemy?! Let me help you, people rolling their eyes at you, are not your real enemy. People who don’t pat you on the back, are not your real enemy. The people you are jealous and envious of, are not your real enemy. The people you compare yourself to and compete with, are not your real enemy. The person being elevated instead of you, is not your real enemy. The pastor’s favorite, is not your real enemy. Saints, regain your focus and clarify your vision so you can see clearly who your enemy really is so you can fight and win instead of becoming distracted and losing! There is of course a time when you are to simply resist the devil and he will flee from you according to James 4:7, “…Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” But there are also times when you need to gear up and fight! Why? Because you are in a war! The battle is real, so why aren’t you ready to fight?! “Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that THE ENEMY [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.” (Luke 10:19 AMP) You have Weapons, Power and Authority, so why are you fighting people instead of your Real Enemy…THE DEVIL?! No more church as usual, let’s refocus on who we’re really supposed to be fighting here…THE DEVIL! The Turks didn’t know their enemy, you know yours, therefore, no more excuses for losing the battle!

2…WE DO NOT KNOW OUR WEAKEST POINTS! You need to know your blind spots, temptations, enticements and triggers if you’re going to win the war! And contrary to popular belief, Your Enemy, the Devil, will not show up dressed in a red jumpsuit with horns and a pitchfork! In fact, your “Devil” will show up tall, dark and handsome or slim, light and gorgeous. In other words, your “Devil” is going to show up ready to Entrap you with what Entices you! “Let no man say when he is TEMPTED, I am TEMPTED of God: for God cannot be TEMPTED with evil, neither TEMPTETH he any man: But EVERY MAN is TEMPTED, when he is DRAWN AWAY OF HIS OWN LUST, AND ENTICED. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:13-15). The Message Bible says it like this: “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The TEMPTATION TO GIVE IN TO EVIL COMES FROM US AND ONLY US. WE HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT THE LEERING, SEDUCING FLARE-UP OF OUR OWN LUST. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (MSG). The Turks lost the battle because they didn’t see their blind spot, are you losing the battle for the same reason? Remember this: If You Entertain What Entices You, It Will Eventually Entrap, Enslave and End You! Think about it, the ONE area the Turks didn’t think needed coverage was the very area that gave the enemy entry! Which is why Scripture admonishes us: “LEAVE NO [SUCH] ROOM OR FOOTHOLD FOR THE DEVIL [GIVE NO OPPORTUNITY TO HIM].” (Ephesians 4:27 AMP). That word “foothold” is defined as “a place where a person’s foot can be lodged to support them securely.” However, the second definition is the one I want to highlight, it means: “a secure position from which further progress may be made.” Do you not understand that the enemy doesn’t need to come in and invade your ENTIRE life? All he needs is an ENTRYWAY. Just a small space big enough to put his foot, so he can step in your life and instead of you trampling him underfoot, he now has the opportunity, invite and advantage to trample you, and to continue making progress in your life as he does! Family, you cannot afford to ignore your weaknesses! David, Solomon, and Samson all were distracted by their weakness for women. And dare we talk about Gomer (Hosea’s wife), surely she wasn’t invited to any of the Minister’s Wives meetings. There’s the woman caught in adultery, and the woman at the well with 5 husbands (none of which were her own). HOWEVER, let me insert something here before you get overly excited about the sexual sin you didn’t commit! We need to be certain that Weaknesses aren’t always Sexual Sin! “But when you follow your own wrong inclinations, your lives will produce these evil results: impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, spiritism (that is, encouraging the activity of demons), hatred and fighting, jealously and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group- and there will be wrong doctrine, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, and all that sort of thing. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21 TLB). So before you focus all your sight on the Weakness of Sexual Sin, please be mindful that the Word of God indeed lists a lot more sins than that! It doesn’t minimize it, but it certainly broadens our scope to see the many sources for our blind spot distractions! Therefore, WHATEVER your blind spot is, today, discover it, and get rid of it, because it WILL cost you the war! Remember this: Saul lost his entire kingship simply because he didn’t utterly destroy his enemy! The Bible reads: “Samuel said to Saul, “God sent me to anoint you king over his people, Israel. Now, listen again to what God says. This is the God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaking: “I’m about to get even with Amalek for ambushing Israel when Israel came up out of Egypt. Here’s what you are to do: Go to war against Amalek. Put EVERYTHING connected with Amalek under a holy ban. And NO EXCEPTIONS! This is to be TOTAL DESTRUCTION – men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys – the works.” (1 Samuel 15:1-3 MSG). However, as we read further look what Saul did, “Then Saul went after Amalek…He captured Agag, king of Amalek, ALIVE. Everyone else was killed under the terms of the holy ban. Saul and the army MADE AN EXCEPTION for Agag, and for the choice sheep and cattle. They didn’t include them under the terms of the holy ban. But all the rest, which nobody wanted anyway, they destroyed as decreed by the holy ban. Then God spoke to Samuel: “I’m sorry I ever made Saul king. He’s turned his back on me. He refused to do what I tell him.” (1 Samuel 15:7-10 MSG) Then after multiple bad (and deliberate) choices, finally God has had enough! “You rejected God’s command. Now God has rejected you as king over Israel.” (1 Samuel 15:26 MSG). And it all stemmed from the same source, when God says to DESTROY the Enemy, He means DESTROY the Enemy! Leave nothing alive, and make no exceptions! If not, just a little foothold into your weakness will grant the enemy the room he needs to come in and DEVOUR YOU! Don’t put yourself in the position where God has to take Everything from you because you wouldn’t give up Anything for Him! Know your weaknesses and utterly destroy them!

3…WE DO NOT KNOW OUR WEAPONS! Which is sad because they are clearly listed in the Bible! “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies – the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world. So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up. But to do this, you will need the strong belt of truth and the breastplate of God’s approval. Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God. Pray all the time…” (Ephesians 6:11-18 TLB). And the Bible doesn’t stop there, it goes on to share with us: “It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds. These weapons can break down every proud argument against God and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding him. With these weapons I can capture rebels and bring them back to God and change them into men whose heart’s desire is obedience to Christ. I will use these weapons against every rebel who remains after I have first used them on you yourselves and you surrender to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6 TLB). God loves us enough to not only make sure we are well equipped for battle, but He gives us weapons, tells us how to effectively use them, who to use them on, and how to win the warfare! So why are we still walking around ignorantly fighting the wrong enemy with faulty weapons? Honestly, we’re spending far too much time using our words to fight against our brothers and sisters instead of using the Word of God to fight against our real enemy, the Devil!  2 Timothy 2:15, “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.” (AMPC) After all, what’s the best way to defeat the father of lies, but by wielding the weapon of truth?! In fact it’s his weapon of truth that trains and equips us! 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (AMPC) People of God, use your sword against Satan! Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” (AMPC) You are NOT unequipped! Use the sword of the Spirit, use the Word of God, and not just your own words talking battle strategies over with other soldiers, yet not implementing any!

Listen: Going to a friend to tell them about your struggle is fine. We are to be our brothers/sisters keeper and we are certainly to share one another’s pain and aid in the lifting of one another’s burdens. However, you are girded with weaponry to destroy the enemy! Having a chit-chat won’t accomplish that goal! Remember: you are in a war with an enemy that wants to steal, kill, destroy and devour you, now is not the time to hold hands, in tears, singing kum-ba-yah my Lord. Sometimes you have to stop ‘touching and agreeing’ and get a weapon and go to war! “God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an Empowered Life.” (1 Corinthians 4:20 MSG) So, use every weapon the Lord has given you and FIGHT! 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses.” (AMPC) This is no bed of roses, this is not a stroll through the park, this is not a lightweight fight, this is war with a determined assassin and YOU are his assignment! You need to get ready and fight, this means war, the devil knows it, why don’t you?

Listen: Jesus has always made sure that His disciples knew they were in a battle and needed to be ready and equipped to fight and win! “And he called his twelve disciples together and sent them out two by two, with POWER TO CAST OUT DEMONS…And they CAST OUT MANY DEMONS…” (Mark 6:7, 13 TLB); “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them AUTHORITY TO CAST OUT EVIL SPIRITS…” (Matthew 10:1 TLB). Just as His disciples then, were equipped and sent, so He does no different with His disciples today! Therefore, take your Power and Authority and start Casting Out Demons!

Not to mention all the varying Scriptures that empower us to overcome the enemy:

“Through You shall we push down our enemies; through Your name shall we tread them under who rise up against us.” (Psalm 44:5 AMP);

“But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17 AMP);

“Blessed be God, my mountain, who trains me to fight fair and well. He’s the bedrock on which I stand, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight, The high crag where I run for dear life, while he lays my enemies low.” (Psalm 144:1-2 MSG);

“He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]” (Isaiah 40:29 AMP);

“Yet the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen [you] and set you on a firm foundation and guard you from the evil [one]” (2 Thessalonians 3:3 AMP);

“The good man does not escape all troubles – he has them too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one.” (Psalm 34:19 TLB)

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]” (AMP)

Now how can you possibly read all of that and not be encouraged to fight and win?! 2 Corinthians 2:14, “But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere” (AMPC)

People of God, today is the day you stop losing and start winning your spiritual warfare! Which Means, You Need to Know Your Real Enemy; Know Your Weakest Points That Need to Be Protected and Certainly You Must Know Your Weaponry!

Now Soldiers, FIGHT AND WIN!

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

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“Daniel’s Praise Elevator!”

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Daniel 2:19, “…and then Daniel praised the God of heaven…” (TLB)

Now, if you were to ask my husband or children they would be the first to say I am the biggest kid in the entire house! And truth be told, I unapologetically admit, they’re absolutely right! And one of the things that bring out the kid in me most is riding those glass elevators that are found in some hotels. Now, as a person who is claustrophobic, it sounds crazy that I would love being in this little box. But for some reason, when it’s a glass elevator, I don’t feel quite so restricted or confined because I can see beyond where I am currently. You know how it goes, you get in on the main floor and then you ascend to the top floor, all the time you’re watching the big things in the lobby become the small things in the lobby. And the limited view you had down there, suddenly turns into a panoramic view up here. I mean we’re talking about going from the lobby to the observation deck in a matter of seconds; rising scores of floors in less time than it takes to place some phone calls! For instance at 9:32, you’re down in the lobby or even the basement, but by 9:33, you’re looking out over the entire city – and all because of an elevator! You see, elevators have a funny way of changing your perspective (which is the particular way you view something, the height, width, depth, length and distance of it), your prospective (which is what is expected or likely to happen or be in the future) and even your posture (which is the particular way a body is positioned, the way in which a person holds their body, to look down, to look up and most importantly to look out, over and beyond)! Elevators Change Your Perspective, Your Prospective and Your Posture.

And not that we don’t know it, but the word “elevator” is defined as “a platform or compartment housed in a shaft for raising and lowering people or things.” And in Daniel’s case, his praise elevator raised him up!

But before we get to Daniel, let’s face it, we all have some days when we feel like we’re stuck in the basement, right? The view isn’t very inspiring and neither is the situation we’re in. It’s dark, it’s lonely, it’s gloomy, it’s hard, it’s depressing. We’re low in funds, low in joy, low in peace, low in confidence, low in health, low in marriage, low in singlehood, low in dealing with the battles of raising children, low in dealing with coworkers and even low while sitting in the pew next to our brothers and sisters in Christ, Sunday after Sunday! There are simply some moments in life when we’re held in bondage in the basement, instead of breaking through the ceiling!

Well, the good news is that there is no basement so deep or so gloomy that you have to stay there, because there’s an elevator just waiting to take you up and out!

In essence, it’s the spiritual elevator many of God’s leaders in the Bible knew about – like Daniel, for example. He’s a top advisor to the most powerful man in the world, King Nebuchadnezzar. All of the king’s pagan advisors have been unable to meet his demand, and they tell him they don’t know what his disturbing dream meant. Of course, he’d also asked them to tell him what the dream was. But nobody could do that either. So he sentences them to death – a sentence that applies even to Daniel, even though he wasn’t there! So Daniel is literally staring at being executed for no reason at all! Talk about a dark basement!

However, he doesn’t become weary, he doesn’t panic, he doesn’t freak-out, he doesn’t start crying. So what does he do? Well, as any wise man (or woman) would, he recruits his spiritual brothers!

Daniel 2:16-17, “So Daniel went in to see the king. “Give me a little time,” he said, “and I will tell you the dream and what it means.” Then he went home and told Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions” (TLB).

First things first, he lets the king know, oh it won’t end like this, at least not for me! And sometimes you need to speak to the very person, place or thing that is attempting to snuff out your life, that it won’t go down like that, not today, and not for me! I know what I’m facing is tough, but I refuse to just lay down and die! Just give me a little time, I’m about to put a strategy in place that can’t fail! This is designed to take me down, but I’m coming up and out!

Listen: Don’t you dare just accept situations or attacks for their face value. Hit it head on! Don’t cower, don’t run, don’t give up, don’t get depressed…Strategize! That’s what Daniel did! It was time for a step of faith, not a stumble in fear! 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].” (AMP). I reiterate, this is a time to take a step of faith, not a stumble in fear!

Daniel responds, ‘Just give me a little time…’ And what does Daniel do in that little time? He gets Reinforcements! However, it’s important to note, that he only called three of them. Sounds a lot like Jesus with His inner circle of Peter, James and John. Which means we really need to be careful when going into spiritual battle (even battles we face in the natural) in making sure that we call for the right troops. We need to make sure that when we call in reinforcements, we call the right people! Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.” (AMP). Know that everybody who says they’re praying for you, are not! Not everyone asking about your situation cares that you get out of it, some just want to make sure you’re still in it! That’s why discernment and wisdom are necessities, not options when you’re gathering troops to go into battle!

Listen: You only need to take those IN, who can help bring you OUT! But how do you know you’ve selected the right people? Let’s continue reading: “They asked the God of heaven to show them His mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not die with the others. And that night in a vision God told Daniel what the king had dreamed.” (vss. 18-19)

Daniel didn’t just call any group of men, he called the ones he knew would immediately intercede! The Bible says, “They asked the God of heaven…” Are those the first people you call? If it’s not, you need to change your strategy if you plan to win! Notice, they don’t hold a long conversation with Daniel, they don’t offer him options or their opinions. They don’t find some other brothers to talk about the mess involving Daniel and the king. No, they go straight into intercession, talking to no one but God! They don’t ask Daniel how he feels about it, they don’t question him at all. He called for them, they came to him, then they went to God! If you don’t have reinforcements like this, find them, today!

Something else to note, the 3 men asked God to show “THEM” His mercy by telling “THEM” the secret. But the answer to what they asked goes like this: “…And that night in a vision GOD TOLD DANIEL what the king had dreamed…” They asked for God to show “THEM” but God told “DANIEL”. Note: You need intercessors that can intercede without jealousy or competition! They could have responded, “God WE came to you in intercession so you would reveal it to US”…but they were just fine with Daniel receiving the answer…ALONE. Some people pose as your teammates, when they’re really your opponents! Choose these people wisely!

People of God, surround yourself with people who will not be so busy competing with you that they can’t help you win. It didn’t matter if it was revealed to Daniel alone, as long as the revelation came, the inner circle was fine! And when it did, listen to Daniel’s response: “…Then Daniel praised the God of heaven…”

Before Daniel even goes to the king, remember, his life as well as the lives of others were already at stake, so if you think anything like me, you may respond with, “Daniel, now may not be the most opportune time to go into a praise break…maybe you should talk to the king first” But, in Daniel’s case, that’s exactly what he did first, he talked to the KING!

See, the problem with us is that we let fear supersede our faith! But even in the midst of having his life at risk, Daniel stops to praise God first! He has a problem, God provides the solution, but before Daniel applies the solution, he praises God first! If that’s not how you’ve handled it in the past, handle it like that in the present and in the future!

Truth is, we have to reach a place of trust, reliance, dependence, and faith in God where our circumstances don’t alter our praise! We need to allow our praise to be the evidence that we trust God’s outcome, before we even come out! We need our situations, trials and struggles to see that we walk by faith, even when that walk takes us through the valley’s of the shadows of death! And so Daniel is our example of celebrating God for Victory before the Battle is even over!

‘Don’t Wait Till the Battle is Over, Shout Now!’

Listen to the rest of the text: “…saying, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for He alone has all wisdom and all power. World events are under His control. He removes kings and sets others on their thrones. He gives wise men their wisdom and scholars their intelligence. He reveals profound mysteries beyond man’s understanding. He knows all hidden things, for He is light, and darkness is no obstacle to Him. I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers, for You have given me wisdom and glowing health, and now even this vision of the king’s dream and the understanding of what it means.” (TLB)

Daniel steps into the spiritual elevator that takes him from the basement of his circumstances to the penthouse of his awesome God! That elevator is called “Praise!” Now, you would think that finally receiving a solution to his problem would make him run to the king, but he had to praise his King first! And people of God, so do you!

In Daniel 2, beginning with verse 19, the Bible declares, “Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes the times and seasons and sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise…He reveals deep and hidden things…and light dwells with Him…”

See, Daniel rises from the basement of a dangerous and impossible situation to the penthouse view from the Throne Room of the Most High God! And everything looks different from there! Please know that as you rise higher on an elevator, what seemed so close and so big and so overwhelming (when you were on the same level as it), starts to shrink in size the higher you go up! The higher you go up, the smaller it gets, the higher you go up the further away from you it gets! Which is why it’s so vital that you learn how to rise from low places! Yes, it hurts, yes it’s confusing, yes it’s aggravating and frustrating, yes it’s caused you some night’s sleep, yes you’ve even worried, fretted and had panic attacks because of it, but that’s only because you stayed on the same level as it for far too long! When life’s attacks come at you and attempt to snuff out your life, start elevating! You don’t stay on the same level as your issues. Leave them right where they are and you shift your perspective, prospective and posture! Walk by faith and not by sight; began singing, dancing, clapping, praising and worshiping God! Sink into the depths of His Word where you will be reminded of His power, providence, sovereignty, provision, promises and protection! Began to speak His Words of Life, no matter the danger of death that is near! Walk like you know He is still the lifter up of your head and that He’s placed your feet like hinds’ feet on high places! Straighten your back and square off your shoulders. Put on the whole armor of God and get ready to do battle and win! Even when your situation and circumstances don’t change, you have to! You never stay on levels beneath the privilege of a Child of God!

Now, one of the secrets of peace in the midst of great stress, of poise when everything is up for grabs, of perspective when you could be flippin’ out – the secret is to start celebrating the kind of God you have! Remember, you enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, not just with prayer requests. The great prayers of the Bible are like two-thirds about the greatness of God and maybe one-third about the need. When you start telling God the things about Him that you love, the things He’s done that you’re grateful for, that anxiety in your heart starts to ebb and the peace in your heart starts to grow. You realize that the size of the situation and the size of the need don’t change the size of your God at all! The size of your situation will never change the dimensions of your God! What may be too big for you, will never be too big for Him! With Him all things are possible, and they are likewise possible for you too because He’s already told you that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! So stop listening to the words of your adversary, and start listening to the words of your Advocate! He’s fighting with you and for you, you will not lose! He ALWAYS Causes Us to Triumph!

In the midst of danger, Daniel still paused to take a praise and thank break! And so should you! Daniel could have complained, started to stress out, flip out and worry. Or do like many of us do, and try to design back-up plans just in case God doesn’t show up on our timetable! But no! His very life is in danger, and yet he doesn’t panic, he simply presses pause so he can give God praise!

And how does such a response end for Daniel? Listen to what happens after Daniel praises God, then shares the dream and revelation with the king:

Daniel 2:46-49, “When Daniel finished, King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face in awe before Daniel. He ordered the offering of sacrifices and burning of incense in Daniel’s honor. He said to Daniel, “Your God is beyond question the God of all gods, the Master of all kings. And he solves all mysteries, I know, because you’ve solved this mystery.” Then the king promoted Daniel to a high position in the kingdom, lavished him with gifts, and made him governor over the entire province of Babylon and the chief in charge of all the Babylonian wise men. At Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to administrative posts throughout Babylon, while Daniel governed from the royal headquarters.” (MSG)

How’s that for taking a praise elevator from the basement to the penthouse?! Everyone in your situation, everything in your situation looks different from God’s penthouse perspective. You’ll see the people differently. You’ll see possibilities you haven’t seen before. You’ll have ideas you haven’t had before. You’ll have the peace that you couldn’t have otherwise.

That is the power of praise – the elevator that takes you from the “basement” of earth-stuff to the “penthouse” of your awesome God! Daniel and his reinforcements, go from having their lives in danger to governing and administrating in the royal headquarters!

Brothers and Sisters, in spite of what you face as a struggle, it’s important that you learn how to put your praise in place so your problem doesn’t knock you out of position, but promotes you in it!

Another added bonus, when you praise God in the midst of your problems, even what came up against you, will eventually bow before you! The Bible says, “When Daniel finished, King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face in awe before Daniel. He ordered the offering of sacrifices and burning of incense in Daniel’s honor. He said to Daniel, “Your God is beyond question the God of all gods, the Master of all kings…”

Listen: What hurt you will end up honoring you! And what had your back up against the wall, will bow down before you!

Which means, going forward, when you face an uphill battle, fight like Daniel! Seek out the right men (and women) (those with a prayer life that know how to use their mouth to intercede to God as opposed to gossiping to other people); and when God reveals the solution to the problem, don’t panic and run to the problem as if you don’t get to it quick enough, God’s plan will fail. No, when you have enough sense to go to God in the first place, you don’t have to fear anything afterwards. Which is why you can then walk by faith, walk in favor, and walk away from fear! And then watch God do for you as he did for Daniel and even as He did for Joseph (God Will Use the Very Same Plans That Were Meant to Hurt You, to Help You Instead! What Was Meant For Your Evil, Will Be For Your Good!) Before you know it, your problem, turned into a praise, will turn into a position of promotion for you and those attached to you!

People of God, no matter how low life may take you, never allow it to lower your praise! It was the elevator that raised Daniel up, and it’s the same elevator that will do the same for you!

“When You Complain You Remain, When You Praise You Get Raised.” (Joyce Meyer)

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

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“Sisters, Don’t Miss Your Boomerang Blessing!”

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Exodus 1:15-21, “Finally, the king called in Shiphrah and Puah, the two women who helped the Hebrew mothers when they gave birth. He told them, “If a Hebrew woman gives birth to a girl, let the child live. If the baby is a boy, kill him!” BUT THE TWO WOMEN WERE FAITHFUL TO GOD AND DID NOT KILL THE BOYS, even though the king had told them to. The king called them in again and asked, “Why are you letting those baby boys live?” They answered, “Hebrew women have their babies much quicker than Egyptian women. By the time we arrive, their babies are already born.” GOD WAS GOOD TO THE TWO WOMEN BECAUSE THEY TRULY RESPECTED HIM, AND HE BLESSED THEM WITH CHILDREN OF THEIR OWN. The Hebrews kept increasing.” (CEV)

A paraphrase of the story goes like this:

Come Quickly! It’s almost time!Gathering the folds of her long robe in her well-worn hands, Shiphrah hurried through the door. Her eyes narrowed and adjusted to the relative darkness inside the home. Light from a small oil lantern cast the shadow of two women on the wall. One squatted in a corner, knees bent, as another woman hunched beside her. “A fresh cloth, Shiphrah!” one of the shadows barked. “I can see the head!” Puah always was the bossier of the two women. You see, they were midwives by training and friends by choice. So, Shiphrah obediently brought the strips of cloth to Puah. It was an ordinary day, or so you would think. After all, women birthed babies into the world all the time. But, come to find out, today was different. This baby was different; it was a boy. And the king of Egypt made his order crystal clear: If it is a girl, let her live. If it is a boy, kill him. The problem in a nutshell was this, the strength of the Hebrews threatened Pharaoh and intimidated him. Therefore, he would quell their numbers with his murderous plot and keep their supposed rebellion at bay. But, if the women had obeyed him, what would that make them? Murderers too? Shiphrah and Puah did not discuss Pharaoh’s orders openly. Silently, they worked alongside each other, except for the routine bedside manner required at each birth. However, every time, when it became clear they would have to make a decision, their minds raced through their options. To disobey the highest authority meant certain death. After all, Pharaoh was willing to slaughter innocent children; certainly two midwives meant nothing to him. If they did their job, someone would die, but they would live another day. The dilemma tugged at their hearts each time they pondered their duties. The God of the Hebrews had made Himself real to them in ways they could not explain. They feared Pharaoh, but they revered God. And just then, right in the middle of their pondering, an agonized scream, followed by a loud sigh, snapped both women to attention. It was time! “Push! Push!” they responded in unison. Their final decision obviously being made.

These two women absolutely amaze me because of the deadly decision they made in helping out another woman to birth a child; and then the follow-up deadly decision of allowing what that woman birthed, to live! And yet, sadly to say, you can’t find women today in the church willing to help each other out, and in this case, there is no life or death decision that needs to be made. The only decision is, do I help my sister? And the obvious answer is, YES! These women put their very lives on the line to help this woman birth what was inside of her. I wonder how many great things have yet to be birthed because we as women have sat on the sidelines refusing to help our sisters birth their purpose because of our own feelings of competition, comparison, jealousy, envy, intimidation and the like. How many businesses have yet to be birthed because she’s waiting for us to help her; how many gifts are remaining stagnant and under-developed because she’s waiting for us to help her; how many opportunities have passed her by while she was waiting for us to help her; how many ministries are halted because she’s waiting for us to help her? How many books are left unwritten; songs left unsung; dances left unperformed; higher education left unreached; growth left stunted; sermons left unpreached; lessons left untaught, and all because our sisters are simply waiting for us to help her. How many women have their purposes unfulfilled because their waiting for their sisters to lend them a helping hand?

But instead, we allow our own inadequacies and deficiencies to cause us to keep to ourselves, focusing solely on accomplishing our own goals and agendas, and finishing our own to-do-lists.

We have no idea of the awesome things locked up inside of our sisters, because we’re more concerned for our own welfare then hers. So many are too afraid that if we help her, she’ll take my position, my place, my favor, my praises from the people, my chair, my role, my title. But that’s not to be our concern. Our concern is to turn this world upside down while simultaneously building the Kingdom of God up! And that means using every part in the Body of Christ. Using every skill, every talent, every gifting, and every ounce of anointing. We are to benefit others, not ourselves.

These two women had a choice to make with grave consequences. Do we obey Pharaoh or God? And in the end, they decided their fear of Pharaoh would not hinder their faithfulness to God. I wonder as women, are we more focused on Pharaoh or God? Have we become so fearful of what others will say or do, that we’ve allowed that to supersede what God has said we are to do? We are to be helpers one to another, yet in the time when our sisters need us most, we clock out and leave for the day.

Exodus 17:10-13, “Joshua led the attack as Moses had commanded, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur stood on the hilltop. The Israelites out-fought the Amalekites as long as Moses held up his arms, but they started losing whenever he had to lower them.  Finally, Moses was so tired that Aaron and Hur got a rock for him to sit on. Then THEY STOOD BESIDE HIM AND SUPPORTED his arms in the same position until sunset.  That’s how Joshua defeated the Amalekites.” (CEV) Can you imagine the tremendous victories our sisters would attain if we simply stood beside her and supported her the same as Aaron and Hur did for Moses? Not standing beside her to be seen when she’s doing something awesome, so our face can get in the picture or our name on the same line of accolade as hers. But I’m talking about showing up when she’s in the heat of battle, worn, bruised, weary, tired, and about to drop her hands…and then you step beside her and offer her the support she so desperately needs. You see, they were able to defeat the Amalekites, because when their brother became tired, they stepped in to support him. Likewise, don’t allow Satan to have victory over your sister, when you’re close enough to step in beside her and support her, even in the midst of battle.

Galatians 6:2, “Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].” (AMP) When you help your sister to carry her burdens, you fulfill the requirement of the law, and become the evidence of Christian love. Help is a sign of Love. Don’t tell your sister you love her, but don’t help her, because then you’re a liar.

1 John 4:19-21, “We, though, are going to love – love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” (MSG) Don’t put yourself in a position to have God Himself call you a liar! You can’t say you love Him, but won’t help and love Her!

Hebrews 13:16, But don’t forget to help others and to share your possessions with them. This too is like offering a sacrifice that pleases God.” (CEV) Now many of us ladies, will (even in our highest of heels) run around the church offering God a sacrifice of praise (and that’s wonderful). But what about helping your sisters, which is also a sacrifice to God, and one that pleases Him. Believe it or not, but you don’t please God by hooping, hollering, running, leaping, jumping, spinning, or singing the best or dancing the most choreographed. No, you please God by faith and help. So if asked, could you honestly say that you’ve been pleasing God by your service and sacrifice for your sisters?

John 15:13, The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them.” (CEV) Now, this is interesting because the two midwives weren’t even friends of this dear sister, and yet they laid their lives on the line for this woman. And some of us have ate, praised, worshiped, prayed, and even went to school and shopping with the women sitting next to us week after week, and still we won’t lay down a muffin to call her and see if she’s okay. Yet, the two midwives risked their lives. Can you really say you love your sisters when you don’t even help them?

Proverbs 3:27-29, “Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. Don’t tell your neighbor “Maybe some other time” or “Try me tomorrow” when the money’s right there in your pocket. Don’t figure ways of taking advantage of your neighbor when he’s sitting there trusting and unsuspecting.” (MSG) Do you see just how vital your helping hand is? It is the equivalent to being God’s Hand! And last I checked, God has never made excuses for not helping us, so why are we (made in His image and likeness) making excuses for not helping our sisters out? We’re not supposed to tell her some other time, or maybe tomorrow, after all, God doesn’t do that to us when we need help. When your sister needs you, be there, no excuses!

Romans 15:1-2, “Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” (MSG) Your strength is not for you…it’s for her! It’s for service, not for status! We have to reach a place where we stop asking “How can this help ME?” and instead ask “How can this help HER?”

1 John 3:17, “This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed His life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.” (MSG) Can you imagine having a Heavenly Father who loves us so much that He would sacrifice the life of His Only Begotten Son…and then WE turn our backs on our sisters in need? The Bible says we make God’s love disappear by such an action. Do you really want to be found guilty of such a horrendous act?

Philippians 2:1-4, “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” (MSG) There simply is no clearer Scripture for us to get it through our thick skulls that it is not about us! We are to remember our sisters by forgetting ourselves long enough to help her out! The two midwives did it! And what did God do for them? The Bible says, “…God was good to the two women because they truly respected Him, AND HE BLESSED THEM with children of their own…” (CEV)

This was the boomerang effect! These two women helped a woman to birth her child, and in the end, God gave them children of their own! Maybe the very thing that you’re waiting for God to do for you, He’s waiting for you to do for someone else…First!

“Boomerang” has often been defined in a negative sense. However, it is also defined as “a curved club that can be thrown so as to return to the thrower; to come back or return.” It is in essence to throw something out that comes back to you. And that doesn’t always have to be a bad thing! For example, if you want love to be returned to you, send it; if you want help to be returned to you, send it; if you want kindness, forgiveness, and encouragement to return to you, send it! Send out what you want to be returned, that’s what happened to these midwives. They helped a woman birth her child and in return God gave them their own children! They sowed good seed, and therefore reaped a great harvest! The Bible don’t lie: Galatians 6:7-8, “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.” (MSG)

They helped to sow a life, and they reaped a life!

“…And because the midwives honored God, God gave them families of their own.” (MSG);

“…And because the midwives feared God [with profound reverence], He established families and households for them.” (AMP);

“…And because the midwives revered God, He gave them children of their own.” (TLB)

These women helped one woman birth one child, and in return, God gave them Families (Plural) and Children (Plural) of their own. You can’t out-give or out-do God! The boomerang effect hit these women’s lives and not only did the child live, not only did they receive children and families of their own, but the Israelites continued to Increase and Grow Stronger! That’s what happens when you help someone else, without regard for a selfish hidden agenda!

Therefore, today ladies, let’s make a deliberate decision to look out for our sisters. Let’s not be and do as the world does. But let’s set the standard for dignity, grace, elegance, character and integrity. Let’s show the world what Women of God look like, sound like, and act like. Let’s help our sisters where their families are concerned, where their health is concerned, where their finances are concerned, where their mental, emotional and spiritual needs are a concern. Let’s be there to not only pray FOR but to pray WITH our sisters. Let our presence make an impact in such a tremendous way that our sisters look forward to seeing us (especially in battle, because she knows she has a ride-or-die sister by her side). Let’s talk up our sisters instead of talking them down. Let’s not be the owners of the gossip and rumor mill, and instead be the newspaper journalist that shares daily articles about our sister’s goodness, greatness and effectiveness. When others close a door in her face, let’s be the women who open the window and let down a rope! When others throw bricks at her, let’s be the women who show up on the construction site and help her build bridges to get over it and go on! Let’s pat her on the back, without stabbing her in it. Let’s sit behind her, instead of trying to sit in front of her. Let’s be her cheerleading corner when others want her to lose. While others may push her down, let’s be the women who pull her up! While others may try to burn her at the stake, let’s be sacrificial sisters who lay across the fire and put it out. When others attempt to say something negative about her, let’s say something positive. Let’s be the Cover-Girls who Cover Her!

And what happens when we do all of this? The Boomerang Effect Returns to US!

Focus on Looking out for your sister, and you’ll See bigger, better and greater blessings coming your way in return!

“I’m obsessed with seeing women encourage, support, and empower other women. It’s my favorite. We need more of it.” (Author Unknown)

“One woman can make a difference, but together we can rock the world.” (Author Unknown)

“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.” (Author Unknown)

“There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.” (Madeline Albright)

“You can always tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building one another up, instead of tearing each other down.” (Author Unknown)

“I always believed that one woman’s success can only help another woman’s success.” (Gloria Vanderbilt)

“And one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong, and full of fire. And that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.” (Mark Anthony)

“Think like a Queen. A Queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” (Oprah Winfrey)

“Little girls with dreams become women with vision.” (Author Unknown)

“Supporting another woman’s success will never dampen your own.” (Author Unknown)

“It’s about women helping women and women doing things together and supporting each other.” (Diana Burch)

“When women support each other, incredible things happen.” (Author Unknown)

“Amazing things happen when women help other women.” (Kasia Gospos)

“No matter where you are in life, inspire and empower the women around you. Success is sweeter when shared.” (Author Unknown)

“Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.” (Hillary Clinton)

“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.” (Gina Carey)

“A woman who walks in purpose doesn’t have to chase people or opportunities. Her light causes people and opportunities to pursue her.” (Author Unknown)

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.” (Michelle Obama)

“Women are the real architects of society.” (Harriet Beecher Stowe)

“A woman is like tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” (Dr. Maya Angelou)

“You can break down a woman temporarily but a real woman will always pick up the pieces, rebuild herself and come back stronger than ever.” (Author Unknown)

“The most common way women give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” (Alice Walker)

“Real Queens Fix Each Other’s Crowns.” (Author Unknown)

“Being powerful is like being a lady, if you have to tell people that you are, you aren’t.” (Margaret Thatcher)

“She Believed She Could, So She Did!” (Author Unknown)

“Strong women wear their pain like they do stilettos. No matter how much it hurts, all you see is the beauty of it.” (Author Unknown)

“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous; be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.” (Serena Williams)

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

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“The Benefit and Blessing of Circumcision!”

dose

Joshua 5:8, “And after the whole nation had been Circumcised, they remained where they were in camp Until They Were Healed.” (NIV)

BEFORE the nation of Israel could go into the Promised Land…THEY HAD TO BE CIRCUMCISED FIRST! 

Circumcision is Painful, Bloody, and Personal…However, For the BELIEVER…SPIRITUAL CIRCUMCISION IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! 

God REQUIRES each of us to be Circumcised IN HEART BEFORE we are allowed to enter and receive the blessings that await each believer in the Promised Land!

Circumcision can often be very Painful But it’s always Purposeful! 

Circumcision requires cutting off our old way of life! 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” (AMP); Romans 6:4, “We have therefore been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways].” (AMP) I reiterate, circumcision requires cutting off our old way of life! And when you look at circumcision in the Natural, what is Cut Away is neither Kept, Reused, or Put Back In Place! IT’S COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY DISCARDED…NEVER TO BE REATTACHED AGAIN!

Can you imagine if we had our LIFESTYLES CIRCUMCISED…TO THE EXTENT THAT NOTHING THAT WAS CUT AWAY EVER REATTACHES AGAIN??!!

CAN YOU IMAGINE HAVING THAT NASTY ATTITUDE CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN?! THAT DISOBEDIENT NATURE CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? THAT LUSTFUL SPIRIT CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? THAT PERVERSE MOUTH CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? THAT BOASTFUL, PRIDEFUL, ARROGANT, CONCEITED, ENTITLED DEMEANOR CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN?! THOSE CORRUPT COMPANIONS, ASSOCIATES AND FRIENDS CIRCUMCISED THAT THEY NEVER REATTACH AGAIN? THAT JUDGMENTAL, CRITICIZING, CONDESCENDING, BELITTLING BEHAVIOR CIRCUMCISED THAT THEY NEVER REATTACH AGAIN?! THAT HABIT/ADDICTION CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? WHAT WOULD THE CHURCH LOOK LIKE IF THAT BACKBITING, SLANDERING, GOSSIPING, LYING, RUMOR FILLED TONGUE WAS CIRCUMCISED, NEVER TO REATTACH AGAIN?! WHAT IF JEALOUSY, COVETING, ENVY, COMPARING, AND COMPETING WERE CIRCUMCISED, NEVER TO REATTACH AGAIN?! WHAT IF BITTERNESS, ANGER, SPITE, MALICIOUSNESS, UNFORGIVENESS, AND HATRED WERE CIRCUMCISED, NEVER TO REATTACH AGAIN?!

PEOPLE OF GOD, THAT’S THE PURPOSE OF CIRCUMCISION (SPIRITUALLY AND NATURALLY)…IT IS PURPOSED TO CUT AWAY WHAT’S NOT NECESSARY SO THAT IT’S NEVER ALLOWED TO REATTACH AGAIN!

And Despite What You’ve Heard, Circumcision, Both Natural and Spiritual, Is NOT Gender Specific! Both Males and Females Have Been Circumcised (HOWEVER, I BELIEVE THE LORD’S PREFERENCE (According to the Word of God) IS MEN NATURALLY, AND MEN AND WOMEN SPIRITUALLY …READ YOUR BIBLE SAINTS!)

SO, HAS YOUR LIFE BEEN CIRCUMCISED YET?! Have you finally made the decision to get rid of some UNNECESSARY Stuff (WHICH INCLUDES PEOPLE, PLACES, THINGS, CONDUCT, BEHAVIOR, THOUGHTS, DEEDS, SPEECH ETC…)? Have You Matured Enough To Go Without the Stuff You Should Be Without In the First Place!?  

And bear in mind, just as a natural circumcision takes time to heal, so does a spiritual one! Truth is it’s not easy having God cut away some stuff and people that have been attached to us for a very long time. And it doesn’t even matter if we already know they’re poisonous, toxic and infectious, they’ve been attached to us too long for them to easily be detached without wound or pain! So, when you’re ready to reap the promises of God for your life, and you finally make the decision to be circumcised, you will need time to heal. Which is why like the children of Israel, we must WAIT UNTIL WE ARE HEALED BEFORE WE GO FORTH INTO THE PROMISED LAND! 

If we launch out too early, we will not only be Ineffective but we may Risk Infection and Disease and will not be at our Full Capacity! You see, Circumcision opens you up to Vulnerability and Pain, two things none of us like to be in! And when you think about (I pray you can handle this) but Circumcision is in a very Private Area, and not just Private, But Vital to Life! It’s an Organ Where LIFE Itself Is Produced! It All Starts Right There! Yep, I Said It…Nicely! This Very Place Will Release a Seed for Something to Be Birthed (9 Months Later) So It Is Indeed the LAST Place You Want Infected! Hello! 

Remember what the Bible says about the Israelites: “And after the whole nation had been Circumcised, THEY REMAINED WHERE THEY WERE IN CAMP UNTIL THEY WERE HEALED” – Joshua 5:8 (NIV) You Can’t Go Forth Until You’ve Been Circumcised and Healed! You Have to Stay Right Where You Are! Yes they had the place of promise before them, but they couldn’t attain it: “…UNTIL THEY WERE HEALED”! And You Are No Different! Yes, God has Great Things To Be Produced From Your Loins, but BEFORE He Does, You Will Be Circumcised, Then Made to Wait Right Where You Are (In a Vulnerable and Painful Place) Until You Are Healed!

When a Circumcision takes place, the doctors give clear instructions on what to wash with, how often, what cream to use, what to do for the pain etc…and if you’re smart, You Will Follow the Doctors Orders! The very same with a Spiritual Circumcision, Yes It Is Going to Hurt, Some of the Things and People He’s Going to Cut Away Have Been Attached For a Very Long Time And Many of Those Attachments Have Been Private, So When He Removes Them, It Is Going to Hurt, But It Won’t Hurt Always! However, In the Meantime, After He Cuts Things/People Away (That You Don’t Need Anyway) and you Follow His Instructions on How to Recover, Your Painful Experience Will Be But a Memory As You Enjoy the Promised Land!

BUT…YOU HAVE TO BE CIRCUMCISED, STAY WHERE YOU ARE, AND HEAL…FIRST!

Pay attention to the text: “And after the whole nation had been Circumcised, THEY REMAINED WHERE THEY WERE IN CAMP UNTIL THEY WERE HEALED” – Joshua 5:8  (NIV) You don’t get to say, ‘Lord I’ve been Circumcised and all is well! I’m better now, I’m delivered now.’ NO! You have to remain right where you are UNTIL YOU ARE HEALED!

In other words, you don’t get PROMOTED WHEN CIRCUMCISED! YOU REMAIN RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE! GOD IS NOT TAKING ANYMORE LIP SERVICE FROM HIS PEOPLE! THIS TIME, TO ATTAIN THE PROMISE YOU ARE GOING TO GO THROUGH THE PAIN OF CIRCUMCISION…AND THEN YOU’RE GOING TO SIT RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE UNTIL YOU’RE HEALED AND COMPLETELY DELIVERED! Can you imagine if as Leaders we endured this, and made sure others endured it as well?! Remain Where You Are Until You Are Healed! Do You Know How Many Compassionate, Humble Folks Would Then Make Up the Church Body?! Instead of the Highly Decorated Peacocks We Have Poised In the Pews and Pulpit?!

Here’s another reason why waiting until you are completely healed and delivered is so important: The people of Israel fought ONLY 2 BATTLES when they were coming out of Egypt. However, in the Promised Land they fought 39 BATTLES! Wait For It…

You see, far too many in the church believe once we get to the promise or promised land that we get the glad, glads, and it’s happy go lucky every day! We’ll have no more problems, no more headaches, no more struggles, no more trials! ALL OF THAT IS A LIE THAT SHOULD NEVER BE TOLD…NO MORE!

TRUTH IS: ISRAEL FOUGHT MORE AND TOUGHER BATTLES IN THE PROMISED LAND THEN THE ONES GETTING TO IT! THAT’S WHY YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE CIRCUMCISED…FIRST! AND THEN WAIT AND MAKE SURE YOU ARE COMPLETELY HEALED AND DELIVERED (REATTACHING NOTHING THAT WAS SEVERED!) BECAUSE YOU WILL NEED YOUR FULL STRENGTH FOR THE BATTLES THAT LIE AHEAD IN YOUR PROMISED LAND!

Each of us must be Prepared to enjoy the benefits of living in the Promised Land. And that Preparation Is Spiritual Circumcision! However, we must also be Prepared to wage war against the enemy of our souls. Therefore, make sure the Lord has provided the needed healing to your circumcision experience before you enter the Promised Land!

I find it so amazing that Natural Circumcision Meant So Much In the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, For Believers, Paul Pays Natural Circumcision No Mind and Instead He Talks About the Circumcision of the Heart! He Goes Through Colossians, Galatians and Romans talking about the Pointless Need of Natural Circumcision but of the Value and Importance of Spiritual Circumcision of the Heart. There has to be something to it don’t you think?!

“Look out for those dogs [Judaizers, legalists], look out for those mischief-makers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances—…” (Philippians 3:2-4 AMP)

“In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but in a [spiritual] circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts). [Thus you were circumcised when] you were buried with Him in [your] baptism, in which you were also raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God [as displayed] when He raised Him up from the dead.” (Colossians 2:10-12 AMP)

Today, ask God to perform a Spiritual Circumcision on Your Heart! Ask Him to Remove Anything and Anyone that Serves No Purpose to Your Growth In Him! And When He Removes It and Them, Don’t Attempt to Reattach Either One!

You Have a Promise Land and Bigger Battles Ahead of You, You Can’t Afford to be Unprepared! So Be Brave and Ask God to Use the Sword of His Word and Cut You…TODAY!

“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 AMP)

The Message Bible reads like this: “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.” (Hebrews 4:12-13 MSG)

People of God, it is Vital that you have your Heart Circumcised. God has so much in store for you that will only benefit and bless you once you’ve detached unnecessary people, places and things. Let nothing and no one come between you and what God has already gotten ready for you. Remember: God is only removing people, places and things that are non-essential to your journey, life, ministry, calling, promise and purpose.  So make absolutely no attempts to hold onto what God’s hands have already determined you do not need. He has a plan and a promise just for you, but you’ve got to be prepared to receive it, and the only way that will happen, is through circumcision. Don’t miss your blessing, don’t miss your promise! Let it and them go, today, and let neither one return!

Joshua 5:8, “When they had completed the circumcising of the WHOLE NATION, they stayed where they were in camp until they were healed.” (MSG)

Something else that’s important to note is that the WHOLE NATION was circumcised. It’s not enough for you alone to endure this process, but everyone attached to you must as well. Which means it’s important to make sure that your home and your church family are all walking through the process of circumcision. Since all with you are going into the promise and promised land with you, you need to make sure that the Whole House has been Cut, Healed, Ready to Enter the Promised Land and Ready to Fight Even Greater Battles! Mom and Dad, it’s not enough that only you have been delivered, but your children need deliverance too! Pastor and Leaders, it’s not enough that only you have been cut, made to wait, endure healing and get ready to enter the promised land! No, the Whole House needs to be on the same page!

Joshua 24:15, “…but as for me AND MY HOUSE, WE will serve the Lord.” That’s not singular, that’s plural! Meaning everybody in the house will have to follow the same house rules! We all get circumcised, we all have to stay right where we are until we are healed, then we all will go into the promised land, fight and win! This is a collective effort, not an individualized event! And so your prayer life will change. Because it has to shift from ‘me, my, mine, and I’ to ‘us, we, and the whole house!’

Joshua 5:8-9, “And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have ended your shame of not being circumcised.” So the place where this was done was called Gilgal (meaning, “to end”), and is still called that today. After the ceremony the entire nation rested in camp until the raw flesh of their wounds had been healed.” (TLB) Another good thing to note, is that regardless to who you were, or what you did, or where you were, the shame is gone after the process of circumcision has been completed! They were circumcised in Gilgal! It was the circumcision to end the shame of their painful past! Gilgal means to end, or roll away! As painful as your circumcision will be, it serves a greater purpose than just pain! It closes the door on the past! It ends the shame of what was, and prepares you for what is to come! So, don’t under-estimate your process of circumcision! It is a good thing that shall work in your favor!

And don’t rush the process either! Yes it’s a painful time, place and process, but it’s also a place where God grants you rest until your wounds have healed! Which means, when your circumcision is complete, don’t rush to start the business, open a new church, buy a house or car, and seek to enter ministry or elevate in it! This is not about any of that! This is your time to let the people, places and things God severed from you, heal. You can’t cut away from flesh and not give it time to heal! You need the memories to heal, you need the what if’s to heal, you need the regrets to heal, you need the pain to heal. So don’t rush the process, let God do the cutting, and you do the waiting while healing.

And please don’t think of your process of circumcision as a horrible place either! In Gilgal, yes, there was the pain of circumcision. However, don’t forget some of the other things that transpired in Gilgal. It was also the place of the first encampment of the Israelites west of the Jordan River where a monument was erected to commemorate their passage across the Jordan River! Joshua 4:19-24, “This miracle occurred on the 25th of March. That day the entire nation crossed the Jordan River and camped in Gilgal at the eastern edge of the city of Jericho; and there the twelve stones from the Jordan were piled up as a monument. Then Joshua explained again the purpose of the stones: “In the future,” he said, “when your children ask you why these stones are here and what they mean, you are to tell them that these stones are a reminder of this amazing miracle—that the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry ground!  Tell them how the Lord our God dried up the river right before our eyes and then kept it dry until we were all across! It is the same thing the Lord did forty years ago at the Red Sea!  He did this so that all the nations of the earth will realize that Jehovah is the mighty God, and so that all of you will worship him forever.” (TLB). It was also the place where the Passover was kept: Joshua 5:10, “While they were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated the Passover during the evening of April first.” (TLB); it was also the place where their first king was crowned and altars were built and sacrifices offered 1 Samuel 11:15, “So they went to Gilgal and in a solemn ceremony before the Lord they crowned him king. Then they offered peace offerings to the Lord, and Saul and all Israel were very happy.” (TLB); it was also the place of the school of the prophets: 2 Kings 4:38-40, “Elisha now returned to Gilgal, but there was a famine in the land. One day as he was teaching the young prophets…” (TLB); in addition, it was the place where the Tribe of Judah escorted King David and the very place Joshua conquered!

In other words, don’t get stuck in this temporary place! You are not going to stay here forever! But also, know that God has done some amazing things even in painful places! Don’t despise your place of Gilgal, it’s painful, but it’s purposeful! It won’t last forever, it’s the place of your healing, it’s the place of your resting, it’s the place where your past shame comes to an end, and most important, it’s the place that will lead you into your promised land and victorious battles! There are benefits and blessings to the process of circumcision, you just have to endure the painful waiting period of healing in order to get them! My suggestion? Endure Your Process of Circumcision!

Jeremiah 4:4, “Circumcise (dedicate, sanctify) yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskin [sins] of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Or else My wrath will go forth like fire [consuming all that gets in its way] And burn and there will be no one to quench it, Because of the evil of your acts.” (AMP)

Deuteronomy 30:6, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants [that is, He will remove the desire to sin from your heart], so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, so that you may live [as a recipient of His blessing].” (AMP)

“Without this heart attitude it is exceedingly difficult for us to accept the circumcision of the flesh. Every affection, desire, thought, knowledge, intent, worship, and work of the flesh must go to the cross.” (Watchman Nee)

People of God, Do Not Despise Your Painful Process of Circumcision in the Place of Gilgal (the Place Where You Get Cut, You Wait, You Heal, and the Pain Comes to an End Before You Enter Your Promise Land!) Don’t Despise Gilgal, Embrace it, it’s the Place That Will Lead You to Your Promised Land!

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

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