“Carry God Correctly!”

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2 Samuel 6:3, “And they set the ark of God upon a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abindab, drove the new cart.” (AMP)                     

For those of you desiring to be a True Soul Winner for God, then the First Key you must remember is to Carry God Correctly!  

God cannot be sprayed on like cologne, used as a scent to cover up our sinful stench! Nor can He be used like a credit card, hidden, and taken out only when needed to be used! No, God Must Live IN You and Through You! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who LIVES WITHIN YOU, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him IN your body.” (AMP).

Truth is, it’s getting really hard for the people of God to be Effective in reaching out to the world because the world is starting to believe in their own Form of Righteousness and even though they have No Commitment to God, they believe that they are heaven bound! This is going to step on some Sanctified Toes, but the Truth of the Matter Is: This is the Churches Fault! 2 Timothy 3:5, For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].” (AMP).

Church, We have made So Many Excuses For Ourselves, And Them, going after Money Instead of Deliverance or Preaching Feel Good Messages Instead of Preaching the Total Truth, that Now, the World is Walking Alongside the Church As If They Are Okay! However, the Word of God Has Commanded Us: “So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor.” (2 Corinthians 6:17 AMP). 

When we Hide the Truth, We Give No Reason For Change To The World! We have to remember at all times, Believers Don’t Blend!

Again the Church Is Commanded: 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers [do not make mismated alliances with them or come under a different yoke with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light have fellowship with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial [the devil]? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement [can there be between] a temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (AMP). 

Understand This: When We Are “Of” The World, Then We Promote It And Cause the World to Accept a Form of Godliness, Instead of a Godly Lifestyle! It’s All About How WE (THE CHURCH) Carry God In Our Daily Lives, PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY! The World Should See a Distinctive Difference Between Us and Them. Our Homes, Families, Character, Integrity, Work Ethics, Dress Attire, Habits, Lifestyle, Should All Send a Clear Message Between Light and Dark, Clean and Unclean, Holy and Unholy, Saved and Unsaved, Believer, and Unbeliever! Church, Let’s Come Out of Acting Like the World, So We Can Bring the World Into the Church! We Can’t Help Them When Our Behavior is No Different From Them.

Listen: In this passage of Scripture, we find a group of people that are Trying to Carry God’s Ark (Which Represents His Presence), BUT They Did Not Follow His Commandments!

Let me say it like this: These guys Decided to Put God on a Vehicle and Carry Him to a Certain Place. HOWEVER, God Commanded that They Carry Him By the Hands of the Sanctified Levites and that They Carry Him By the Handles that were Attached to it! BUT, They Came Up With the Bright Idea to Place Him On a Cart and Drive Him By Oxen! Well, when the cart hit a bump, the Ark Got Off Balance and Uzzah Reached Out to Stabilize it. When He Touched It, He Was Struck Dead On the Spot! But the Moral of This Story Is Not that Uzzah Touched the Ark of God, BUT the Whole PROCESS of Carrying the Ark was WRONG!

Church, in case you didn’t know, Disobedience Leads to Death and Dethroning! Just Ask Saul! Then Samuel said, Do you think all GOD wants are sacrifices—empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. Not doing what GOD tells you is far worse than following around in the occult. Getting self-important around GOD is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors. Because you said No to GOD’s command, he says No to your kingship.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23 MSG).

Amazing, You Can Either Have It All Or Lose It All And It All Simply Depends On Obedience!

God Did Not Want Them to Carry Him Like That! Uzzah reached out and tried to Help God, BUT He Shouldn’t Have Been Carrying God Like That In the First Place! Even Though Their Motives Were Good, the Process of Getting God to the People Was Wrong! And That’s What We Must Remember Today! If We Are Going to Reach the Lost, We Have to Carry God Correctly!

2 Corinthians 5:16-20, “Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s Representatives. God Uses Us to Persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re Speaking For Christ Himself Now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” (MSG).

In A Neat Little Nutshell: You Can’t Convert Them Into a Right Relationship With God, Carrying God Wrong!

Listen: As Christ’s Representatives, We Can’t Afford to Mix God Up in Our Selfish Agendas, BUT We Must Stick to the Bible and Understand How He Wants Us to Walk in This World!

“See then that ye Walk Circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” (Ephesians 5:15). The Word “Circumspectly” means to be “Cautious and Prudent” Its Latin Origin “Circumspectus”, from “Circumspicere” literally means to “Look Around”. In other words, whether it be in your thoughts, words, actions, motives, intentions, or attitude, Be Cautious and Prudent, Take the Time to Look Around You, there is a Whole World Watching How You Walk! And Many will either stay the same, change for the better, or change for the worse, Simply and Literally By Watching How You Walk!

“Prudent” means “Acting with or showing care and thought for the future”; Its Latin Origin “Prudens”, from “Providens” literally means “Forseeing” As a part of witnessing, it is our job as the church not to see people (unbelievers) as they are Currently, but as they Can Be In Christ! We have the ability to Forsee Them Being Saved, Sanctified, Healed, Delivered and Changed! Therefore, we walk in such a manner as not to foolishly hinder what could be a fruitful future for them in the Kingdom! Which means, we must take such care in our walk because they are watching and will thereby imitate…For Better Or For Worse!

Think of it this way: A small child learning how to put their shoes on needs assistance, teaching, direction and an example shown because of their lack of knowledge in how this is to be done. And looking to an adult, who they believe knows all about this stuff, obviously, they come to us to show them how to do it. Can you imagine if we told them the left shoe goes on the right foot, and the right shoe goes on the left foot? Sounds comical, but do you know that they’re going to do it! Why? Because they trust that what We Tell Them and Show Them Is Correct! After all, why would we, who supposedly love them, want to tell and show them something that is not only wrong, but painful, and which can eventually lead to a difficult walk and deformity?

However, the truth is, that’s exactly what we, the church, has been doing to the world! We’ve been telling them one thing and doing another! And in confusion, they’re doing both…what we say and what we do, and then we’re wondering why are they so screwed up and confused…BUT WE CAUSED IT!

And while we’re talking about teaching people to walk right, there’s another little thing to keep in mind. As parents, we often check our children’s feet and shoes as they grow older because we always want them to be in the Appropriate Size! Likewise, don’t just get the “glad glads” when someone comes to Christ and then just leave them at the altar! Babes in Christ are no different than Babies, to Children, To Teens, To Young Adults, To Adults. They need help throughout all their stages of life and growth! Teach them throughout each Transition! Listen, you can’t get mad when they’re 16 and still struggling trying to walk in the same size shoe as when they were 6, when you never helped them out of it! You see, the danger is that once a person does something consistently (be it right or wrong), it develops into a habit, and that habit (be it good or bad) will become their normal way of life. So, if we tell the world to put out their cigarettes, get rid of the bottle, flush the drugs, we better make sure those things have already been delivered from us first! Because when we compromise before the world, we compromise the eternity of the world. We can’t tell them to start a new way of life, when we haven’t stopped our old way of living. In addition, we can’t set low standards that say you can cuss (just not on Sundays); you can drink, get high, and smoke 2 packs a day (just not on Bible Study nights); you can fornicate, commit adultery, lie, steal, cheat, be unforgiving and spiteful (just not when you see other believers around). We have to stand out so distinctively it makes the world come to us asking questions! Which is why you don’t see an influx of unbelievers visiting churches. For what? When what’s going on within the 4 walls of the church is the same thing going on within the 4 walls of the club! Why would they come to church to learn how to live right, when we’re comfortable living wrong? Church, we have to do and be better. We have to set the bar as high as God’s character and integrity, especially since we’re going around using His Name (Christ) to describe ourselves (Christians)! My former pastor used to say, ‘bring no shame to the family name.’ Well, if you were charged for bringing shame to the Kingdom of God family name, would you be found innocent or guilty? And yes, that includes your public AND private life!

It’s our job to make sure that unbelievers come to Christ, and it’s our job to continue walking with them along their journey! However, that is difficult to do when we keep changing up the rules of Salvation depending on the Circumstance of Life we find ourselves in! We can’t call what they do sin on Saturday, when we do the same thing on Monday. We Can’t Compromise the Characteristics of Christ that Should Be Evident in Every Believers Life and Lifestyle. Remember This: Carrying Christ Requires Consistency!

We must learn to consistently walk in such a manner that our testimony is the same as Enoch’s: “And Enoch walked [in Habitual Fellowship] With God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him].” (Genesis 5:24 AMP).  And this isn’t a Sunday Walk either! Enoch’s Walk With God Was “Habitual”, meaning it was “Done Constantly as a Habit; It was his usual or his regular, daily, consistently unbroken routine”! Now that’s a walk, in the words of the Apostle Paul, that is “worthy to be imitated”!

Church, To Carry God Correctly, We Must Walk Circumspectly! God Wants Us to Walk With Him and Carry Him Within Ourselves So that He May Be Shown Mighty In Our Own Lives! God Wants Us So Full of Him that We Can Just Walk Up to a Sinner and he will See God’s Glory Shining Through Us!

After All, If We’re Really Spending Quality Time Walking With God, Talking With God and Carrying God, There Should Be Manifested Evidence of the Fact, Shouldn’t It? It was for Moses:When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of The Testimony, he didn’t know that the SKIN OF HIS FACE GLOWED BECAUSE HE HAD BEEN SPEAKING WITH GOD. Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, SAW HIS RADIANT FACE, and held back, afraid to get close to him. Moses called out to them. Aaron and the leaders in the community came back and Moses talked with them. Later all the Israelites came up to him and he passed on the commands, everything that GOD had told him on Mount Sinai. When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face, but when he went into the Presence of GOD to Speak with Him, he removed the veil until he came out. When he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, THEY WOULD SEE MOSES’ FACE, ITS SKIN GLOWING, and then he would again put the veil on his face until he went back to Speak With GOD.” (Exodus 34:29-35 MSG). 

People of God, the World is looking to see the Glow of His Glory on Us, NOT the Form of Godliness Through Us! Therefore, Today Determine To Carry God And His Glory Correctly!

God Is Tired of Us Hiding In the Church or Using Our “Ministry” as a Cart to Carry Him Instead of Us Carrying Him Personally! The Day of Trying to Get Sinners to Church to get them Saved Is Over! We Must Be Full of God’s Spirit and Reach the Lost at Our Jobs, in our Homes, at the Supermarket, in the Laundromat, on line at the Bank, Walking through Park and our Neighborhoods, Just Because He Is Shown Mighty in Our Personal Lives! If We Walk Right Before Them, They Will Know the True and Living God! If Signs and Wonders Really Follow Us (Healing, Miracles, Deliverance, etc.) then They Will Know the Power of God and Desire It! Our Man-Made Schemes of Reaching the World are Not Important! God Will Reach the Lost If We Just Lend Him Our Members and Show Him In Our Daily Walk! Don’t Get Caught Up In a Man-Made Plan to Carry God in Any Method Other Than the Way the Word of God Tells Us To!

After all, what will it Profit the World to See Us Carrying God the Way They Do?

Saints, There Must Be a Difference Between Us and Them! A Clear Distinction! Exodus 8:20-23, “God said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes down to the water. Tell him, ‘God’s Message: Release my people so they can worship me. If you don’t release my people, I’ll release swarms of flies on you, your servants, your people, and your homes. The houses of the Egyptians and even the ground under their feet will be thick with flies. BUT WHEN IT HAPPENS, I’LL SET GOSHEN WHERE MY PEOPLE LIVE ASIDE AS A SANCTUARY – NO FLIES IN GOSHEN. THAT WILL SHOW YOU THAT I AM GOD IN THIS LAND. I’LL MAKE A SHARP DISTINCTION BETWEEN YOUR PEOPLE AND MINE. This sign will occur tomorrow.’” (MSG)

IT IS MY BELIEF THAT GOD STILL WANTS HIS PEOPLE DISTINCT FROM THE WORLD AROUND THEM! SO THE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ASK AND ANSWER IS: “IS MY CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE DISTINCT FROM THE WORLD OR HARD TO DIFFERENTIATE FROM IT?!”

2 Samuel 6:6-7, “When they came to Nacon’s threshing floor, Uzzah reached out [with his hand] to the ark of God and took hold of it, because the oxen [stumbled and] nearly overturned it.  And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.” (AMP) Trying to help cost him his life. And all because he put his hands on the ark he wasn’t supposed to touch. An ark that was being carried incorrectly. Can you imagine if that was God’s response to us every time we carried Him incorrectly or represented Him in a manner inconsistent with His Character? How much of the Church would be left alive? Sadly, Uzzah would never have lost his life had the ark been carried correctly in the first place. Saints, we have to remember that there are always consequences to our choices. And if we choose to haphazardly carry God incorrectly, He will chastise the children in whom He loves. But who’s to say what that chastisement might be? And do you really want to compromise and chance it? Truthfully, we’ve all missed out on much due to our disobedience. Not to mention, this side of heaven, we’ll never know how many people we led astray by our contrary behavior.

We preach, teach and pray that these are the end times and the last days. Well, wouldn’t you say then that it’s vital that the church gets her act together? Lives and eternity are hanging in the balance. Our obedience can tip the scales in the Kingdom’s favor. People of God, We Must Stay Obedient to Him In Order to Win the Lost! For We Dare Not Carry God So Carelessly That the World Declares “…You ALMOST Persuaded Me…” (Acts 26:28) ‘Almost’ is defined as, ‘very nearly; borderline; partially; just about; within an inch of.’ And in these last days and end times, is that the report we intend to give to God? That our inconsistent lifestyles of straddling the fence, caused people to miss heaven by a borderline?! People who were very near to accepting You, they were partially there, just about, within an inch of making it in, until they saw how we act out! Listen, I can’t speak for you, but that is NOT the report I intend to give God!

Let’s not lose anymore Uzzahs!

Let’s Carry God the Way He’s Already Commanded Us to. Let’s be His clean, and honorable vessels that He can pour into and out of. Let’s make sure our habits, behavior, attitude, speech, attire, lifestyle choices all reflect a good representation of God. Let’s remember we’re created in His image and likeness, we’re His Ambassadors, we are Christians, called by His Name, we are Disciples of Christ, we are children of God, and representatives of heaven, we are the called out ones, we are the CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD! Now, let’s act like it!

Remember, the world is watching our walk, let’s make sure we don’t trip them up!

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

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“No Matter How Long It Takes, WAIT For God!”

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Micah 7:7, “BUT ME, I’M NOT GIVING UP. I’M STICKING AROUND TO SEE WHAT GOD WILL DO. I’M WAITING FOR GOD TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT. I’M COUNTING ON GOD TO LISTEN TO ME” (MSG)

I seem to vaguely remember this old nursery rhyme from when I was a kid. It went like this: “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” If you asked my niece that question, she’d probably say, “Real Slow!And maybe that’s why Mary was so contrary! You see, last spring, my niece worked with her Dad to clear a little area in the yard where she could have a vegetable garden. She was all excited about planting seeds in the ground: tomato seeds, green beans, carrots, and lettuce. But then she went out THE NEXT DAY to look at what she had planted. What did she see? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Then the NEXT WEEK, and the next week, and the week after that. She watered the garden when it didn’t rain. Helped pull up weeds. For the longest time, she went out to that garden to see what was happening and found out…NOTHING WAS HAPPENING – OR SO IT APPEARED! NOW, HAD SHE TRIED TO DIG UP THE SEEDS TO SEE IF ANYTHING WAS HAPPENING, SHE WOULD HAVE RUINED EVERYTHING! But you know the story. It finally happened: The tomatoes and beans and carrots and lettuce finally showed MANIFESTED EVIDENCE, that what LOOKED LIKE NOTHING, WAS ACTUALLY SOMETHING ALL ALONG…IT JUST TOOK TIME!

To everything there is a season, and a TIME for every matter or purpose under heaven…He has made everything beautiful in its TIME.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 AMP);

“This vision-message is a witness POINTING TO WHAT’S COMING. IT ACHES FOR THE COMING—IT CAN HARDLY WAIT! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, WAIT. IT’S ON ITS WAY. IT WILL COME RIGHT ON TIME.” (Habakkuk 2:3 MSG).

Listen: No Matter What It Looks Like NOW, Remember It Will Look Even Better LATER! “‘This Temple is going to END UP FAR BETTER THAN IT STARTED OUT, a glorious beginning but an even more GLORIOUS FINISH…” (Haggai 2:9 MSG) And YOU Will Enjoy the Same Awesome Testimony! You Just Have to WAIT For It! No Matter How You Started Out, You Will Have an EVEN MORE GLORIOUS FINISH! But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, PATIENCE (AN EVEN TEMPER, FORBEARANCE), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness.” (Galatians 5:22 AMP). Just Be PATIENT!

Something had been happening all along to those seeds in my nieces garden! AND SOMETHING HAS BEEN HAPPENING ALL ALONG TO THE SEEDS WE’VE PLANTED AS WELL! REMEMBER: JUST BECAUSE WE CAN’T SEE WHAT GOD IS DOING, DOESN’T MEAN HE’S NOT DOING ANYTHING! In fact, that may be something important for you to remember right now. You’ve been praying about that need, that situation, that person for a long time and it LOOKS LIKE NOTHING’S HAPPENING! But the key words to keep in mind are: LOOKS LIKE! When a seed’s been planted, it LOOKS LIKE there’s NOTHING going on for some time, until that plant breaks through and ultimately produces some wonderful fruit!

When a new life has begun in a woman’s body, it doesn’t LOOK LIKE anything’s happened for quite a while. BUT EVERY DAY, THAT LIFE IS GROWING EVEN WHEN WE CANNOT SEE ITS GROWTH, UNTIL IT FIRST RESHAPES THAT MOTHER’S BODY AND ULTIMATELY APPEARS AS THAT PRECIOUS LITTLE BABY BEING BORN! Reminds me of a quote I’ve learned to live by: “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is Patience.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). The Bible says it this way: “But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, WE WAIT FOR IT WITH PATIENCE AND COMPOSURE.” (Romans 8:25 AMP).

The problem is that when it LOOKS LIKE nothing’s happening, we tend to say, I’ve got to do something!AND MOST OFTEN, IT’S THE WRONG THING TO DO; MUCH LIKE DIGGING UP THE SEED TO SEE IF IT’S GROWING OR PLOWING UP THE GARDEN BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE NOTHING’S HAPPENING!

Example: In 1 Samuel 13, beginning with verse 7, we receive a sobering example of how much we have to lose when we can’t WAIT for God to do it His way! You see, Saul, Israel’s first king, has been told by God’s man Samuel, to go down ahead of him to Gilgal. Samuel assures him that he will surely come down to him to sacrifice burnt offerings…BUT Saul must WAIT seven days UNTIL Samuel comes to him and tells him what he must do. HOWEVER, with the Philistine forces massing against them, the Bible says this, “…Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter.” (vss. 7-8 NIV). SAUL PANICKED, AND HE DID WHAT NO KING WAS ALLOWED BY GOD TO DO: HE OFFERED THE BURNT OFFERING HIMSELF AND HE CROSSED A SACRED LINE! The Bible says, “Just as he finished making the offering…”, (hear this), “…Samuel arrived…” (vs. 10). And Samuel asks, “What have you done?…” (vs. 11). 

Saul answers by talking about what “…I SAW”…”I THOUGHT” …” I FELT…” (vss. 11-12 NIV).

Here’s the text in full: “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I SAW that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash,  I THOUGHT, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I FELT compelled to offer the burnt offering.” (NIV)

Three of the greatest keys to blocking God’s blessing that’s trying to spring forth in your life is: YOUR EYES (“I Saw”); YOUR MIND (“I Thought”); AND YOUR EMOTIONS (“I Felt”)!

When Your Something looks like Nothing the last thing you need to do is have BLURRED VISION, IMPURE THOUGHTS AND INTENTIONS AND UNCONTROLLABLE EMOTIONS!

When Your Something looks like Nothing and you’re tempted to do Something about it, Beware of the Dangers of YOUR EYES, MIND AND EMOTIONS and bring them under subjection quickly! 

Why? Look at what the Bible admonishes: 

1…CONTROL YOUR EYES: The Bible says, “For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] NOT BY SIGHT OR APPEARANCE” (2 Corinthians 5:7 AMP). “But GOD told Samuel, “LOOKS AREN’T EVERYTHING. DON’T BE IMPRESSED WITH HIS LOOKS and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. GOD judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women LOOK at the face; GOD LOOKS into the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 MSG). Wisdom Nugget: DON’T LET YOUR PHYSICAL SIGHT, DESTROY YOUR SPIRITUAL VISION

2…CONTROL YOUR MIND: The Bible says, “But whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what makes a man unclean and defiles [him]. For out of the heart come EVIL THOUGHTS (reasoning’s and disputing and designs) such as murder, adultery, sexual vice, theft, false witnessing, slander, and irreverent speech. These are what make a man unclean and defile [him]…” (Matthew 15:18-20 AMP). “Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the THOUGHTS OF THE MIND [our cravings dictated by our senses and our DARK IMAGININGS]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:3  AMP). Wisdom Nugget: CHOOSING BETWEEN A REPROBATE MIND (Romans 1:28, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient“) AND A RENEWED MIND (Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.“), WILL DETERMINE WHETHER YOU CONTINUE TO REIGN OR COME TO RUINS! Bear in MIND, THE CHOICE IS YOURS!

3…CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS: The Bible says, “A FOOL EXPRESSES ALL HIS EMOTIONS, BUT A WISE PERSON CONTROLS THEM” (Proverbs 29:11 GWT). “In the end they will be destroyed. THEIR OWN EMOTIONS ARE THEIR GOD, AND THEY TAKE PRIDE IN THE SHAMEFUL THINGS THEY DO…” (Philippians 3:19 GWT). Wisdom Nugget: FULFILLMENT COMES NOT FROM FEELING, BUT FROM FOLLOWING! Look at it like this: THE COAT OF A ROTTWEILER IS SOFT, BUT HAPHAZARDLY REACHING OUT TO FEEL IT, MIGHT RESULT IN YOUR GOING INTO YOUR FUTURE WITH A FEW LESS FINGERS! LIKEWISE, FOLLOWING YOUR FEELINGS IS JUST AS DANGEROUS! DON’T LET YOUR EMOTIONS MAIM YOU! “MAIM” MEANS: “TO WOUND OR INJURE (SOMEONE) SO THAT PART OF THE BODY IS PERMANENTLY DAMAGED!” IN A NUTSHELL: TEMPORARY EMOTIONS CAN PERMANENTLY MAIM YOU! 

Saul messed up with what he SAW, THOUGHT AND FELT, therefore, Samuel informs him, “You have done a foolish thing…You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure…because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” (vss. 13-14 NIV). SAUL FORFEITS THE MAJOR LEGACY OF HIS LIFE BECAUSE OF DISOBEDIENCE THAT DISQUALIFIED HIM; A DISOBEDIENCE THAT CAME BECAUSE HE COULDN’T WAIT FOR GOD TO DO IT HIS WAY! 

INSTEAD, HE OBEYED HIS EYES AND MISSED OUT ON SEEING HIS KINGDOM ENDURE! 

HE OBEYED HIS THOUGHTS INSTEAD OF RESPECTING THE FACT THAT GOD’S THOUGHTS ARE NOT OURS. Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Oftentimes your real sacrifice is in waiting the full seven days, and even when nothing seems to happen, even on the appointed day, WAITING, TRUSTING AND KNOWING THAT GOD DOES NOT FAIL AND DOES NOT LIE, HE WILL PERFORM IT AND I’M GOING TO CONTINUE TO SIT UNTIL HE DOES, is the best thing you could ever do!  

LASTLY, HE OBEYED HIS FEELINGS AND FORFEITED A PROMISED FUTURE! 

HOWEVER, BEFORE YOU POINT YOUR FINGERS AT HIM, KNOW THAT YOU AND I ARE PRONE TO MAKING THAT SAME KIND OF MISTAKE! Nothing seems to be happening, things are starting to fall apart, and it LOOKS LIKE we’re at the point of no return! So we take matters into our own hands and, in so doing, WE RUIN WHAT GOD WAS GOING TO DO! God is so often the God of the eleventh hour! He waits until the moment when everyone will know IT HAD TO BE HIM! He waits so our faith can stretch farther than its’ ever stretched before so He can do greater things for us than He’s ever done beforeGod is working in ways we can’t see, but ultimately something beautiful will be born for all to see! 

In the words of the Psalmist:Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and HE WILL DO THIS…be still before the Lord and WAIT PATIENTLY FOR HIM” (Psalm 37:5, 7). Let God Do It His Way and In His Timing! And no matter how long you have to wait, remember: “God is not a man, that He should tell or act a lie, neither the son of man, that He should feel repentance or compunction [for what He has promised]. Has He said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken and shall He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19 AMP). Yes He Will!

People of God, Regardless to what you See, Think or Feel, Your Nothing Has Something…You Just Have To Wait For It! SO WAIT! The Bible Admonishes Us: “WAIT and HOPE for and EXPECT the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, WAIT for and HOPE for and EXPECT the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14 AMP).

Some of the most exciting moments in sports are the touchdown or field goal that win the game, especially, when there’s no time left on the clock! That game-winning basket as the final buzzer sounds is unforgettable! The game-winning home run with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning is remarkable! I’ve come to find out that whatever the sport, there is nothing like a sudden victory when victory seemed out of reach! It makes the fans go absolutely ballistic! Which reminds me of a quote I love: I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man’s failures.” (Earl Warren). Truth be told, it can be real nerve-wracking when you’re behind and time is running out! But it’s an awesome moment when a hero pulls out an unexpected victory…at the last minute! And the longer I walk with this God of ours, the more I’ve come to appreciate Him as the God of the last-second victory, or the God of the eleventh hour, as I’ve called Him so often. The Bible reveals many names by which God wants us to know Him. One that has meant so much to so many for so long is “Jehovah-Jireh”. It means, “The Lord will provide or the Lord will see to my provision.

You may be facing a need or situation right now where that is literally your only hope – that the Lord will provide. Maybe it’s a job, a friend, or much needed finances; maybe it’s the house, the healing, the breakthrough or soundness of mind you need. Well, if that’s the case, today you need to be reminded that we have a rock-solid promise in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (NIV). Understand that this Scripture lets us know that God’s supply has nothing to do with what’s happening in the economy, in the news, at work, or in what your limited resources can or can’t do! It’s all about His UnlimitedGlorious Riches in Christ Jesus account in Heaven, which transcends every limitation earth can provide!

People of God, You Need NOT Attempt to Understand God or His Ways or His Timing, or His Supply. You Need Only to Remember That He Is and Will Always Be…UNLIMITED! Which is why you should never fret over your LITTLE, when you serve such a BIG God! Another quote I love says, “If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshiped.” (Author Unknown) And the truth of the matter is, you may never understand how God supplies rivers in the desert, but when you’re thirsty, knowing that He can and He will is Enough!  So before you allow your fears to get the best of you, remember: “The Fear of God kills all other fears!

Now to be honest, I believe God often waits a while to meet our needs…On Purpose! Let’s look at Scripture: “A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany…the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so very much is sick.” When Jesus got the message, he said, “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.”…Then Jesus became explicit: “LAZARUS DIED. AND I AM GLAD FOR YOUR SAKES THAT I WASN’T THERE. YOU’RE ABOUT TO BE GIVEN NEW GROUNDS FOR BELIEVING. Now let’s go to him.” (John 11:1-4, 14 MSG). So before you panic, know that God always has a reason for allowing you to sit in the waiting room! And His reason is always the same: “…it will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son…and…You’re about to be given new grounds for believing…”. Your waiting, while wounded, gives God Glory and Increases Your Faith by giving you New Grounds or New Reasons to Trust Him even at the Eleventh Hour! That’s why you can’t get discouraged because “…it’s usually the last key in the bunch that opens the lock” (Author Unknown)! So, be patient, a door of opportunity is about to open just for you…all you have to do is WAIT!

Philippians 4:19 says He promises to meet all of our needs, But He does Not promise WHEN! See, most of us already know that He can do it, and that He’s promised to do it, but if only He’d share WHEN He’s going to do it, we’d be less likely to flip out when the last grain of sand is found in the hourglass! But then that wouldn’t be considered faith, now would it?! Ramona C. Carroll said it best: “Faith is putting all your eggs in God’s basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch.But unfortunately for many of us, when we get to that last grain of sand, we panic, and come up with desperate and oftentimes ridiculous ways to so-called meet our needs on our own!

Again, let’s look at Scripture: “Sarai, Abram’s wife, hadn’t yet produced a child. She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “GOD has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her.” Abram agreed to do what Sarai said.’ (Genesis 16:1-2 MSG). And believe it or not, nations are still paying for that ridiculous attempt at helping God out”! Too often we abandon our trust in God because, He’s – if we dare be honest—TAKING TOO LONG! Even the Psalmist knows what this feels like: “Please, God…Treat me nice for a change; I’m so starved for affection. Can’t you see I’m black-and-blue, beat up badly in bones and soul? GOD, HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR YOU TO LET UP? Break in, GOD, and break up this fight; if you love me at all, get me out of here. I’m no good to you dead, am I? I can’t sing in your choir if I’m buried in some tomb!” (6:1-5 MSG). See, you’re not the only one who wants to stamp “Federal Express” or “Overnight Delivery” on God! But such actions take us right out of the Will of God and aborts what God was going to birth on our behalf if we would’ve trusted Him enough to wait the full 9 months!  “But those who WAIT for the Lord [who EXPECT, look for, and HOPE in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” (Isaiah 40:31 AMP).

Now, it’s in Genesis 22, where we find that God is known as Jehovah-Jireh for the very first time. We can learn a lot from how He worked that day for Abraham. See, Abraham had, by faith, obeyed God’s direction to take the son God had once promised to him, climb Mt. Moriah with him, and sacrifice his son there; as God (the Father) would do Himself one day with Jesus (His Son). Believing that God will somehow provide something he can’t imagine, Abraham yet promises his servants that both he and his son Isaac will return from the mountain. Genesis 22:10 says his faith and obedience went so far that “he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” At that very LAST MOMENT, God stopped him and showed Abraham a ram, stuck in a thicket, who would be sacrificed instead of his son. And the Bible says, “So Abraham called that place, ‘The Lord Will Provide.’Remember: Jehovah-Jireh – often steps in right on time, which is usually—when there’s no time left! Which reminds me of a quote I love, “Faith isn’t faith until it’s all you’re holding on to.” (Author Unknown)

God loves to come through for us when there is absolutely no place else that answer could come from, and there is no time left on the clock. It’s 11:59! The buzzer is about to sound! But that’s when God shows up with His provision, at a time and in a way that will blow you away, give Him all the glory, and show people around you the greatness and faithfulness of your God! Then it’s only natural that you’ll experience a whole new level of faith in Him and worship for Him! God’s last-minute victories are some of the most awesome moments of your life! So don’t lose faith now! Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” (Oswald Chambers). Keep in mind: The greater the need, the later the hour, the more amazing God’s work on your behalf! That’s why you need to determine to be like your sports heroes and hang in there until the end of the game! And when God steps in and grants you a last-second victory, before the last grain of sand falls in the hourglass, remember, like the sports fans, go absolutely ballistic…in praise, worship and thanksgiving!

Will the wait be easy? Absolutely not, in fact it’s one of the hardest things to do! But remembering that God watches over His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12); remembering that God does not and cannot lie (Numbers 23:19); remembering that God keeps His Word and every promise He makes (Isaiah 55:11), certainly makes the wait a little easier! And yes, I understand that the mortgage is over-due; the tuition seems impossible to pay; the car note is about to turn into a bus pass; the doctors may as well sign your cause of death certificate; the marriage is on life-support; the job is strangling your sanity or the lack of one is strangling your empty bank account. And yet, I still say wait on God and watch Him work, even at the 11th hour! He’s done it before, and He can and will do it again! Don’t lose heart, patience, peace, joy or faith. God sits too high to let His people down! Hold on and hang in there, before the last grain of sand falls, God will step in with a last minute miracle!

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

“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” (Romans 8:22-25 MSG);

“Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.” (Psalm 37:7 AMP);

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG)

“How we handle the journey will determine the destination.” (Billy Cox)

“When it looks like nothing is happening, God is at work.” (Bishop James R. Chambers)

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on what we’re waiting for.” (Charles Stanley)

“Sometimes we don’t understand why we are waiting. Often it is because God has something great in store, it’s just not the right time.” (Joel Osteen)

“No matter how long it takes, when God works, it’s always worth the wait.” (Author Unknown)

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

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“6 Rules For Anger Management”

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

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

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

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

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

Observe the following tidbits on Anger: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep that in mind as you: 

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

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

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

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

Saints, dirty laundry gets aired in two ways: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“The Power of Influence”

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1 Corinthians 8:8-9, “But fortunately God doesn’t grade us on our diet. We’re neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can’t stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.” (MSG)

My girlfriend Charlene relocated from the big city to live in the South with her parents who inherited a huge family-owned country estate. Now, the estate, including a farm, doesn’t have any cows on it, but the place is surrounded by cows on all sides (after all, it is the country). Charlene would often say that it made her feel so peaceful when she could sit on the porch and see the cows inside the fence across the road, just quietly grazing or sitting in the shade. However, it didn’t make her feel peaceful when she got up one morning and saw one of her neighbor’s cows in her front yard grazing and leaving little ‘souvenirs’ of her visit.

You see, her neighbor left his pasture gate wide open, but that’s OK. The cattle guards are there in the ground; you know that little grate that cows are afraid to cross for fear of getting a hoof stuck. Well, they’re supposed to be afraid. But this one cow had somehow found her way to pick her way across the cattle guard, which left her free to wander all over the countryside! Charlene even named her – ‘Grazing Gloria’. But then, pretty soon, another cow saw what ‘Grazing Gloria’ did and managed to navigate that cattle guard too; this one she named ‘Copy-Cat Cathy’. After that, a little black calf followed ‘Copy-Cat Cathy’ out. In the end, several cows ended up wandering everywhere, even up toward the main highway, which is dangerous!

Moral of the story: As soon as one cow ignored the boundaries, others followed her, without question, where they were never meant to go (even into places that could’ve easily taken their lives)!

Now, it isn’t just cows that follow cows out of bounds. Which is why Paul issues this warning in 1 Corinthians 8 beginning with verse 9. “Be careful that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” As is my custom, let’s view this verse in a few translations:

“Only be careful that this liberty of yours [this power to choose] does not somehow become a stumbling block [that is, a temptation to sin] to the weak [in conscience].” (AMP);

“Only be careful that this power of choice (this permission and liberty to do as you please) which is yours, does not [somehow] become a hindrance (cause of stumbling) to the weak or overscrupulous [giving them an impulse to sin].” (AMPC);

“But watch out or else this freedom of yours might be a problem for those who are weak.” (CEB);

“But be careful that by using your freedom you don’t somehow make a believer who is weak in faith fall into sin.” (GWT);

“Be careful, however, not to let your freedom of action make those who are weak in the faith fall into sin.” (GNT);

“Since you are free to do as you please, be careful that this does not hurt a weak Christian.” (NLV)

You see, the danger for us is that we have the right of choice. We have freedom and we have liberty to choose as we please. But one of those translations reads, “…this POWER to choose…”, and where there’s power there’s responsibility. Because our power is influence (whether good or bad), and we are to be held accountable (especially as LEADERS) with how we exercise our rights, choices, power and influence, because others are watching, listening and following our lead. Yes, we can choose as we please, but we bear the responsibility to make choices that don’t cause catastrophic consequences to the lives of others who emulate our examples. We are to avoid tempting anyone to sin; influencing anyone to sin; or justifying others while they sin.

Our Strength of Choice should never Weaken a Fellow Believer!

Which is why Paul addresses a lifestyle choice he made, simply based on how a certain behavior would affect other believers. Now, that’s responsible leadership!

A little background: The issue back then had to do with whether or not Christians should eat meat that had been offered to idols in pagan ceremonies. Apparently, some felt they could eat that meat in good conscience – after all, it was just a piece of meat. But for others, it might be the first step backwards toward the darkness that Christ had delivered them from. So Paul says, “If what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” Paul says in essence, “I can’t make my choices based only on how it will affect me. If I go there, someone else may follow me…and worse, fall!”

Listen to Paul in, 1 Corinthians 8:10-13, “For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, SOMEONE WHO LOOKS UP TO YOU AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong. Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals IF THERE IS ANY CHANCE IT WILL TRIP UP ONE OF YOUR BROTHERS OR SISTERS.” (MSG)

This is the danger of being irresponsible with our power of choice and influence. There are people around us (some we know, some we’ll never know), that see us, according to the text, as, “…SOMEONE WHO LOOKS UP TO YOU AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE…”, which in a nutshell tells them, “if you hear them say that…you can repeat it, without question…if you see them do that…you can do the same, without question…” Why? Because we’re, “…SOMEONE TO LOOK UP TO AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE …” So, naturally we can be trusted, obeyed, followed, and imitated, because clearly with so much knowledge and maturity, we wouldn’t lead them astray now would we?

Now back to Charlene’s wandering neighbor, ‘Grazing Gloria’. I don’t think she ever thought about a calf or any other cows following her outside the fence. All she knew was there was something she wanted that was beyond the boundaries. Actually, she should never have crossed the cattle guard herself (remember, most cows are afraid to cross it because they know they can be hurt). But what made it worse was that her example emboldened other cows to go where they shouldn’t go; to go where they could get hurt! And all because one cow decided to graze beyond the boundaries.

There’s a term “out of bounds”, that’s often used particularly in sports. A portion of its definition reads like this, “to be outside of specified or prescribed limits; to enter forbidden territory; to cross a boundary line; something that is not allowed or approved; to go beyond established limits; to break rules; to do what is unreasonable; to violate or exceed acceptable rules or standards.”

People of God, we are to set standards, not step outside of them! And certainly we are not to leave footprints for others to follow us in our folly! Which is why we need the Word of God so desperately in our daily lives and lifestyles.

Psalm 119:105-112, “By Your Words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by Your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again with Your Word. Festoon me with Your finest sayings, God; teach me Your holy rules. My life is as close as my own hands, but I don’t forget what You have revealed. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, but I don’t swerve an inch from Your course. I inherited Your book on living; it’s mine forever – what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing exactly what You say – I always have and always will.” (MSG)

Listen, if we are to be living epistles, we have to know what the Word of God says. We have to read it, apply it, practice it, share it and above all, live it! If we are to lead those that follow us, we need to be sure that our feet don’t go out of bounds of what the Bible says! We need to live and lead in such a way that those who follow us will know that we obey the specified and prescribed limits of the Bible; we do not enter forbidden territory; we do not cross the boundary lines; we do not transgress what is allowed or approved; we do not go beyond established limits; we do not break the rules; we do nothing unreasonable; and we certainly do not violate or exceed the acceptable rules or standards of the Word of God! We Do Not Live Out of Bounds, We Do Not Lead Out of Bounds, and We Will Have No One to Follow Us Who Desires to Go Out of Bounds!

Which means we need to alter our lifestyles accordingly! Why? Because people are listening, watching and emulating us. So when we (especially as LEADERS), are INVISIBLE in Sunday School, Bible Study, Prayer, Sunday Services, Meetings and Rehearsals, We Are Setting the Example For Others to Follow! When we lie, cheat, steal, gossip, hate, run the rumor mill…we are setting the example for others to follow! When we are stubborn, malicious, disobedient, contrary, jealous, envious, coveting and unkind, we are setting the example for others to follow! When we’re critical, negative, pessimistic, fearful, anxious, mean-spirited, condescending, belittling, backbiting and gossiping we are setting the example for others to follow! When we are argumentative, complaining, murmuring, bickering, divisive, temperamental, moody, and full of attitude, we are setting the example for others to follow! Are you getting this? We are not to become ‘Grazing Gloria’, guiding people to dangerous, out-of-bounds territories of sin!

Now hopefully, you and I are a little smarter than cows! We have to remember that when we do things, people are watching and even following us because of that invisible power called influence. And because we can’t see it, we forget we have it and that it’s affecting people around us. Your behavior? Your choices? You’re giving permission to someone who’s watching you to do the same thing. A child is watching, a younger and weaker Christian, a coworker, a friend, your spouse, your church. Even people in the supermarket, hair and nail salons, barbershop, mall, McDonalds, and the laundromat are all watching you. You step outside the boundaries a little, and they might follow you and end up where they never would have gone otherwise; going farther than even you would ever go. And it’s all because of your choice; your power; your influence.

The word “influence” is defined as “the power or ability to affect someone’s beliefs or actions; the power to produce physical change.” Its origin, ‘influx’; from Latin ‘influere’ literally means ‘to flow in.’ And, ‘to flow in’ is defined as ‘to be encompassed in moving along steadily and continuously.’ When we make choices, and our choices influence others to follow, they are encompassed and moving along steadily and continuously in the choice and consequence that we set as a proper example for them to follow. When we make choices, others can be entrapped by our decisions. They can suffer consequences because of choices we made without responsibility for them. Which is why we need to be very cautious when entering into LEADERSHIP positions. There are many people who will listen to us, and follow us, just because it’s Us! And God help us if we ‘appear’ to be sound, strong, mature and right, they will follow us right into enemy territory and not even know it!

Now, a further danger is this, ‘Grazing Gloria’ never thought about the consequences of her choice; nor did she think about all the old cows and young calf’s that would follow her lead; nor did she ever look back to see the irresponsible and poor choice she made. But since she’s a cow, we can excuse her behavior…but then, what justifies ours?

We must always take time to do self-examination, and inventory so we can make appropriate adjustments before anyone gets hurt by our words, actions, choices or LEADERSHIP. We have to evaluate ourselves:

  1. Am I in the right place?
  2. Am I doing the right thing?
  3. Am I with the right people?
  4. Am I fulfilling the right purpose?
  5. What am I saying?
  6. What am I doing?
  7. Am I helpful, hurtful, or hindering?
  8. Am I lazy, hesitant, or procrastinating?
  9. Am I bitter, angry, hurt, disappointed, or discouraged?
  10. Am I getting stronger?
  11. Am I getting weaker?
  12. Do I have the right vision?
  13. Am I functioning in my gifts, talents, and skill-set?
  14. Am I obedient?
  15. What kind of example am I setting?
  16. Who’s following me?
  17. Who am I following?
  18. Who’s watching me?
  19. Who’s listening to me?
  20. How am I leading?
  21. Who’s keeping me responsible and accountable?
  22. How do I dress?
  23. Am I faithful, committed, and dedicated?
  24. Am I loyal and dependable?
  25. Do I talk to people, or just talk about them?
  26. Do I resolve problems, or am I the problem?
  27. Am I a servant?
  28. Am I trustworthy?
  29. Am I an example worthy of emulating?
  30. If people were asked about my influence, would it be good or bad?

You see, the problem with many of us is that we don’t want anyone to correct us, and we certainly don’t want to self-exam ourselves, because no one knows us better than us, therefore, many tests we already know we’ve failed! But the Psalmist admonishes us by his example: Psalm 139:23-24, “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (MSG)

A Life Unexamined is Unhealthy…be it Leader or Laity!

You see, if we have no check-points, our blind-spots will cause us and others injury…and sometimes the damage is irreparable.

Like it or not, but we are responsible for our influence. We are responsible for the choices we make, even the ones we deem personal. People are watching, listening and following. And at the end of the day, we don’t want to be someone else’s excuse to watch or listen to something questionable. We don’t know where it might take them. So, don’t be someone else’s excuse to swear, or to cheat, to act selfish, to be disrespectful, maybe to flirt with sexual sin or a moral compromise, or just to shade the truth a bit. No, wear your character and integrity like a daily garment. Let people see it on display at all times. Be the example of godliness, holiness, order, obedience, discipline, and the fruit of the Spirit that they should seek to follow. Remember, there are people around you making choices, based on your choices, and they will suffer consequences one way or the other. Make your choices such that they reap gain and not loss.

Could it be that you’ve gotten a little careless, thinking you can wander just a little out of bounds, and you think you’ve found a way to do it where you won’t get hurt, you won’t get stuck, you won’t get caught. Even if that’s true, please look at what you’re doing to those who are watching you, who may follow you. Like ‘Grazing Gloria’s’ gang, you may inadvertently be leading someone down a road they should never be on. Your exercise of freedom could lead someone else into bondage or hurt. If it might cause a brother or sister to fall, don’t even go there! You are your brother and sisters keeper.

1 Corinthians 8:10-13, “For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, SOMEONE WHO LOOKS UP TO YOU AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong. Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals IF THERE’S ANY CHANCE IT WILL TRIP UP ONE OF YOUR BROTHERS OR SISTERS.” (MSG)

Never Be the Reason Someone’s Fall Happened Simply Because They Were Following You!

Job 31:12-31, “If I’ve ever used my strength and influence to take advantage of the unfortunate, Go ahead, break both my arms, cut off all my fingers! The fear of God has kept me from these things – how else could I ever face Him?” (MSG);

Proverbs 11:11, “By the blessing [of the influence] of the upright the city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.” (AMP)’

Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion].” (AMP);

Mark 12:14, “They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and have no personal bias toward anyone; for You are not influenced by outward appearances or social status, but in truth You teach the way of God…” (AMP)

“You don’t have to be a “person of influence” to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” (Scott Adams);

“Never underestimate the influence you have on others.” (Laurie Buchanan);

“Who and what we surround ourselves with directly influences our attitudes, goals and lifestyles.” (Pinterest);

“Attitude is greatly shaped by influence and association.” (Jim Rohn);

“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” (George Eliot);

“It would be difficult to exaggerate the degree to which we are influenced by those we influence.” (Eric Hoffer);

“Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.” (John Maxwell);

“The most important influence in my childhood was my father.” (DeForest Kelley);

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” (Henry Adams)

“As much as people refuse to believe it, the company you keep does have an impact and influence on your choices.” (Pinterest);

“Your circle of influence dictates your path.” (Jon Bielecki);

“Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.” (Billy Graham);

“God chose to introduce Himself to us in the first verse of Genesis as a Creator. And yet so few Christians really understand the power of creativity to influence the culture.” (Phil Cooke);

“Our generation is in need of Christian women who are willing to rise up and show the culture the powerful influence a God-Defined woman can have.” (GirlDefined);

“The schools, the courts, the media – all seem determined to erase Christian influence from public life and confine religion to the four walls of the church or home.” (Bruce L. Shelley)

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

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“The Danger of Shallow Roots”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church, what has happened to us?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Preparing the Next Generation”

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1 Peter 1:18-19, “You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold, but [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.” (AMPC)

Now, I don’t fly much at all, however I must say, if I’m ever on an airplane flight where the flight attendant becomes incapacitated, I still think I might be able to do the safety instructions. I mean, I’ve heard them so many times (not so much as on the actual plane, as to commercials and movies). But I’ve still heard the script often enough that I could repeat it word for word. It’s been a few years since I was last on a plane, and they’ve indeed changed a few things. Actually, many airlines have now video-ized (my word) the presentation. It used to be the attendants who did it, but now in our overwhelmingly quick-paced world of technology, machines have got it covered. Most of you will remember the part where that little yellow oxygen mask would drop down from above your seat in their demonstration. Well, in the videos they have now, everyone is wonderfully calm in this simulated oxygen problem. I’m sure that’s very true-to-life…NOT! Well, on one of the videos I’ve seen, it shows a mother putting the mask on herself, and then on her little girl. The instructions script goes like this: “If the cabin pressure drops, get the oxygen to your face first, and then to your child’s.

Listen: When it’s crunch time on an airplane flight, you have to first get for yourself the oxygen you need as a parent, then you can give your son or daughter what they need. And in these increasingly challenging days for parents and dangerous days for our children, we’ve got to (First) breathe deeply what our children need so we can then pass it on to them.

Over the years of youth and family work that I’ve been involved in, I have often been asked by a parent, “Can you help my son or daughter?” Often, the most helpful answer I would love to share is, “Can we get the oxygen to you First, Before we try to get it to them?

Think about it: How many times has our child’s weakness been a mirror of our own, their failure a mirror of our failure, their baggage, their needs? It’s kind of like my child, my mirror. Which means I have to get me fixed First before I can fix my son or daughter. But how in the world do we change things about ourselves that we haven’t been able to change all these years?

The answer can be found in 1 Peter 1:18-19 it says, “You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from your] forefathers…” (AMPC)

Believe it or not, but we have all gotten some very destructive hand-me-down ways of living from our parents who probably got those same hurting ways from their parents, and so on and so on. And even though we may have been determined not to reproduce some of those traits, (even the ones we’ve hated), truth is, many of us have still ended up duplicating instead of destroying harmful family traditions. There they are popping up in our generation; marking (or better yet scarring) another generation. And unless their hold can be stopped in our generation, we’ll pass on the bruises instead of the blessings to further future generations!

Until we can find the spiritual oxygen needed, we’ll never be able to help breathe new life into the next generation.

Admit it, or deny it, but we’ve all got ways of doing things we have long wanted to change, and for a long time: things like our temper, our negative attitude, our lack of discipline, our critical tongue, this addictive personality, this controlling personality, this lack of affection, this dishonesty. We’ve all inherited some family traditions that need not be passed down any further. Which is why we have to take into account what the Bible instructs us:

“You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from your] forefathers…”

This is the first thing we must be honest about, granddad and grandma didn’t pass the best of traditions to mom and dad, and mom and dad didn’t pass on the best traditions to us. And since we’re being honest, let’s be all the way honest, WE, have not passed down the best traditions to our children. Sure, we’ve passed on photos, family recipes or holiday traditions, but for many of us we’ve also passed on that cussing tongue; that resentment, bitterness, hate, anger, jealousy, competition, comparisons, and unforgiveness. We’ve taught our children (via our own speech and behavior) that it’s ‘okay’, when clearly it is not. They’ve listened to us gossiping about church folks, then going to church to pray, praise and worship! Or we’ll tell them the importance of going to Sunday School; Bible Study; Prayer and Morning Worship (while we’re shopping at Macy’s during Sunday School; at the Movies during Bible Study; watching our favorite Television show during Prayer or at IHop during Morning Worship).

People of God, we have to demonstrate better examples of Christian Conduct before our children if we want them to emulate the Right things about us (because trust me, whether we want them to or not, they will emulate much of what they see us do).

Warning: Our Children Will Embrace and Emulate What We Entertain!

Remember, the Scripture makes it clear, “…from the useless (fruitless) way of living INHERITED BY TRADITION FROM YOUR] FOREFATHERS…” We have taught them far too many lessons on failure; compromise; excuses; blame and the like. We have to reverse this or the next generation will produce more “…useless, fruitless…” ways of living. And after all, who wants that as their family legacy?

Do you honestly want to live in such a way that you pass on to your children (who will pass on to your grandchildren and so on) ways that are displeasing to God? Do you want them to spit out your verbal vomit of disrespect because that’s all you taught them to digest?

Listen, as much as we like to talk negatively about the next generation, let’s be real, some of that stuff they received from us. Many didn’t learn to smoke, drink, cuss, lie and steal from the streets, no, they learned that in the house! Many didn’t learn to be lazy, unaccountable, undependable, from the streets, no, they learned that in the house! Many are in insurmountable debt and owning absolutely nothing of substantial worth, because they learned such behavior in the house! Do you really want our children to live in such a manner that their future is useless and fruitless, and all because they learned such acceptable behavior in the house?!

And this goes far beyond just our personal homes. This addresses the House of God, which addresses us as leaders in God’s house. Are we setting proper examples for the youth in our ministries and churches? Are we correcting them, empowering them, instructing them, and encouraging them? Or do we simply give them a little something to do so they can stay out of our hair?

Are we teaching them to tithe, to give offering, to respect authority, to lead well, to be faithful, dedicated and committed? Are we teaching them how to handle conflict on an auxiliary so they’ll know how to handle conflict on a team? Are we coming to the house of God together, as a family, or are we teaching them that it’s okay if we worship in bits and pieces?

Saints, we have to DO better or they will never BE better! And that’s the goal, to make the next generation better than the previous one. To show growth, maturity, and fruitfulness. But to do so, we’ve got to put the oxygen masks on ourselves first!

Which means, we can’t tell them to pull up their sagging pants when the panty-lines of the preachers are exposed; the cleavage of the worship leaders are hanging out and the youth leaders need someone to wrap a tablecloth around their legs before the whole congregation can see where babies come from! How can we tell them not to lie, cuss, steal and gossip, when we do? How can we tell them to go to church, while we stay home and send them with grandma or auntie? How can we tell them not to drink, smoke, or have sex or babies out of wedlock, when we do? How do we tell them to grow up, but we as leaders can roll our eyes, suck our teeth and walk all the way on the other side of the church just so we don’t have to walk past Brother “I Can’t Stand Him”, or Sister “She Makes Me Sick?” How do we tell them the importance of giving to God, when they see us purchase more at the mall in one day than we’ve put in the offering plate all year long?

In a nutshell, we’ve got to do and be better, so they can as well! 

Let’s change us and we won’t have to worry about changing them (they’ll simply follow the examples we’ve set) and this time, it will be worth the imitation.

Let’s prepare the next generation by making the necessary changes in ourselves, first. Let’s show them the fruit they are to produce: Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit].” (AMP)

This is the fruit we want them to reap and reproduce! And they can, if only we would begin planting the proper seeds.

Our children (both biological, spiritual, and all those we come into influential contact with) need to see in us what they will one day see in themselves. Let’s start reflecting now faith, hope, trust, holiness, kindness, goodness…let’s show them what it means to be the Image and Likeness of God. Let’s expose them to the Christ-Like Character and Conduct that Every Believer Should Possess.

If we love them, let’s help them.

1 Timothy 4:11-14, “Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.” (MSG)

This is the example we want to set for them. Let’s teach them, by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. And in teaching them in this manner, they will one day emulate us and teach us in the same manner. And we will have started a cycle of blessing instead of a cycle of cursing. Let’s share the reading of the Word with them, give them wise counsel and teach them. And let us also be so active in the gifts God has granted us, that our children will be inspired to do the same. Let’s show them the excitement of ministry, so that we fan their inner flame into a blaze, and they beat us to the house of God!

Our children need to see us reading, studying, applying and living the Bible, so they copy our character as they build their own. They need to see and hear us praying (often), (publicly and privately), so they can emulate. They need to see us visible and active and happy in the house of God, so that they will not view it as a place you have to go, instead of it being the place you want to go to most. Let them see us behave as believers so they’ll know what it looks like, sounds like, and should be like.

Let’s prepare the next generation by getting the baton of blessings (and behavior) ready to pass on to them. Let’s give them what we desire them to give to the generation after them. Let’s help them to do and be better than we ever were, and let’s teach them to do it quickly, young, and authentically. Let’s expose them to the joy of living for God.

We’ve passed on enough poor examples to the next generation, now let’s change us so we can help change them. Let’s get our oxygen masks on, get what we need to get so we’re prepared to give them what they need to receive. Our youth are not a lost cause, we simply need to care enough to reflect to them what they should mirror!

Today, let’s prepare them for bigger, better and greater, and that has nothing to do with money! But let’s prepare them instead to have bigger hearts, better attitudes, and greater integrity.

And if God were ever to ask us what we did to help the next generation, let us be able to rejoice…and not regret!

Psalm 145:4, “Generation after generation stands in awe of Your work; each one tells stories of Your mighty acts.” (MSG)

Matthew 19:13-15, “One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that He would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to Me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, He left.” (MSG)

 “God put us here to prepare this place for the next generation. That’s our job. Raising children and helping the community, that’s preparing for the next generation.” (Dikembe Mutombo)

“The most important business of one generation is the raising of the next generation. Nothing else you do in life will be as deeply satisfying.” (George Will)

“What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” (John Wesley)

“The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

“Both man and woman have their own parts to play in bringing faith to the next generation.” (William Wilberforce)

“Try to do for the next generation of church leaders what the previous generation of church leaders has not done for you.” (Andy Stanley)

“If the church marries herself to the spirit of the times, she will find herself a widow in the next generation.” (Charles Stanley)

“Pass the truth to the next generation. Teach them early what we learned late.” (Emily’s Quotes)

“The more we idealize the past and refuse to acknowledge our childhood sufferings, the more we pass them on unconsciously to the next generation.” (Alice Miller)

“The empty nest comes quickly. Do not squander your most precious privilege of participating in the lives of your children.” (Dr. James Dobson)

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” (C. Everett Koop)

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

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“Don’t Miss Your Mentor’s Mantle”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflection Questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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“7 Practical Life-Application Lessons From the Cross”

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Jesus prayed, Father, Forgive Them; They Don’t Know What They’re Doing…” (Luke 23:34 MSG)

LESSON 1: FORGIVE THOSE WHO HURT YOU! Two kids were playing when one accidentally hit the other with a stick. That night the injured boy’s Mom said, “Son, you must forgive Harry before you go to sleep.” Grudgingly he replied, “Okay, but unless I die before I wake up, he’d better watch out tomorrow morning!” Hello! When people hurt us it’s hard to believe it could’ve been unintentional or done in ignorance. Yet amazingly, after being flogged, humiliated and nailed to the cross, Jesus said, “Father, Forgive Them; They Don’t Know What They’re Doing”. Forgiving means Refusing to Remain a Victim. By not holding grudges or retaliating you free yourself from the control of those who offend you. Remember: Jesus said, “…love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you” (CEV). Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was persecuted by the Nazis, said, “God doesn’t promise that when we bless our enemies they’ll not despitefully use us. They Will. But that can’t hurt or overcome us, so long as we pray for them. By praying for them, we are doing for them what they can’t do for themselves.Professor Tony Campolo routinely asks his secular college students what they know about the teachings of Jesus. The response is always the same: “Love your enemies”. More than anything else this command stands out as the thing that differentiates Christians from non-Christians. Jesus said, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!” (Matthew 10:8 NLT). Practicing forgiveness stems from a deep gratitude to God for wiping out a debt so great, we could Never have repaid it! Therefore, when forgiving, remember: “…Give As Freely As You Have Received!

And Jesus Said To Him, “Assuredly, I Say to You, Today You Will Be With Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43 NKJV).

LESSON 2: REACH OUT TO OTHERS! When Jesus was hanging on the cross the Bible says, “One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: “Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!” But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.” He said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43 MSG) While one man mocked, the other acknowledged his sins and received mercy. The truth is, as much as it galls judgmental people, God said, “If you hide your sins, you will not succeed. If you confess and reject them, you will receive mercy” (Proverbs 28:13 NCV). And that Promise is for the Lost, the Least, and the Lowest among us! Think about it: Jesus could have been so focused on His OWN pain that He failed to see the suffering of those around Him. But instead He Reached Out in love as a fellow-sufferer. In the depth of His own agony He not only Promised the thief on the cross Eternal Life, He Comforted him with these Amazing Words: “…Today you will be with Me in Paradise!” There’s a Lesson here for you – one that Job the patriarch learned. Job lost all his children and his fortune in a single day – how did he stay sane? How did he go on to greater things? How? “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” “After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation” (Job 42:10, 16 NIV). It’s in Reaching Out to others, that we ourselves become restored and whole!

Woman, Here Is Your Son.” (John 19:26 MSG)

LESSON 3: TAKE CARE OF THE PEOPLE WHO DEPEND ON YOU!  In addition to losing her son, Mary was also losing His protective “Covering” in a society where women were often treated as second-class citizens after the family males died. So as well as coping with her grief as a mother, Mary may have been wondering what the future held for her. Certainly that would be in our thoughts. Jesus recognized that. And in the midst of the chaos, when He saw her and “the disciple he loved standing near…He said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’” When the other disciples fled in fear, John followed Jesus all the way to Calvary. Then he went even further. The Bible tells us (and history confirms it) that once Jesus committed Mary to his care, John fulfilled that charge, and “From that moment…accepted her as his own mother” (John  19:26-27 MSG). Here’s what we learn from this: Never Let Your Own Suffering Blind You To the Needs of Those Who Depend On You! When you’re enmeshed in your own problems it’s easy to assume that your loved ones automatically understand where you’re coming from. Not Necessarily! While it’s okay to let them help, never “dump your stuff” on them, or expect them to suffer because you’re suffering. The Bible says, “When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NCV). Jesus was always more concerned with other people’s needs than His own – and we should take our cue from Him!

And About the Ninth Hour Jesus Cried Out With a Loud Voice, Saying, “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 NKJV).

LESSON 4: DIRECT THE HARD QUESTIONS TO GOD! At Calvary Jesus asks one of the most heart-wrenching questions ever recorded, “God, why have you forsaken Me?” These words are also found in Psalm 22:1-3 where David poured out his soul in despair, asking God, “God, God . . . my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere? Doubled up with pain, I call to God all the day long. No answer. Nothing. I keep at it all night, tossing and turning…Are you indifferent” (MSG). Did you hear David? “Why did you dump me…are you indifferent?…” Ever felt like that? I have! The Bible says that at Calvary God made Jesus “…who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB). In order to break sin’s hold on us and make salvation possible, Jesus underwent a pain, so great with His Father that it made Him cry out “…My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” Some of us have at some point in time used the phrase “God-Forsaken”, but can you imagine actually feeling “God-Forsaken”? Or have you ever felt “God-Forsaken”? I have! If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed and abandoned, you know from experience that there’s not another living soul who has a satisfactory answer to your “WHY?” With the best of intentions our loved ones can only go but so far in giving an answer. However, God Alone can pour His Healing Balm Into Your Breaking Heart and Help You Make Sense of (or at least accept His Will) for what’s happening. That’s why you need to go to HIM ALONE for your answers! But here’s the flip side to directing the tough questions to God – You Must Also Be Willing to ACCEPT His Answer and Do What He Says! The Bible says: “So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.” (Hebrews 6:18 AMP). Did you catch that? “…God has given both His PROMISE AND His OATH…”, so even if you don’t get the answer you want, you can rest assured that if nothing else, He Hears You! You have His Promise and Oath that He will be Your Refuge and in that You Can Have Great Confidence! That’s Comforting Even When the Answer Isn’t! You can also be Certain of something else: The One Who Makes “Everything…Work Together For…Good” (Romans 8:28 NLT) Always Sends the Answer That’s In Your Best Interest! So You Can Trust Him! Therefore, No Matter How Painful the Hurt or How Heart-Wrenching the Loss, Take Your “My God…WHY???…” to HIM!

Jesus…Then Said, “I’m Thirsty” (John 19:28 MSG)

LESSON 5: ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR HUMANITY!  Combine the torment of being Crucified in the Intense Judean Heat, with the Loss of Bodily Fluids, and You Can Vaguely Understand Why Jesus Was Thirsty! However, the Bible says that when they offered Him water containing “…a mild painkiller (wine mixed with myrrh)…He wouldn’t take it” (Mark 15:23 MSG). Why? Because it would have dulled His senses and He wanted to stay alert! Make no mistake about it, Jesus could have summoned a host of angels to deliver Him at any second! But instead He CHOSE to die for our sins…fully alert! HE SAID, “No one takes my life from Me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as My Father commanded Me to do” (John 10:18 CEV). This also explains why John wrote: “Jesus, seeing…everything had been completed” (He fulfilled every Old Testament prophesy concerning His crucifixion) said “I’m thirsty!” And yet, not taking anything to drink, He boldly proclaims in a parched voice, the words that every believer holds dear…”It Is Finished!” Listen: When you’re in a dark valley like Jesus was that day it can cloud your thinking and make you lose perspective, unless you voice your needs to those around you. By acknowledging His Physical Thirst, Jesus reminded each of us that there are times when we’re not self-sufficient, when we need help from others. Why else would Paul write: “Bear one another’s burdens, and …fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NASB). I understand you’re gifted, anointed, powerful, holy-ghost filled, fire baptized…etc…I get all the “church lingo”. But sooner or later you will be confronted with something that makes you cry out “I’m thirsty”. Or the translation for us, “Something I’m battling with is physically and painfully assaulting my body (be it sickness, depression, stress, worry, fear etc…)” Understand this: You my friend are no less Spiritually anointed because you cry out Physically! As Hard As It Is For You To Grasp, You Are Still Human With Your Anointed Self! Never Be So Afraid of Being Human that You Masquerade Being Super-Human! Those around Jesus may not have meant Him well, but surely you’re surrounded by some folks that are holding out to you…a mild painkiller…” be it through a prayer, comfort, a hug, a word of encouragement…But you’ll never receive it if you don’t open your mouth and be honest and sayI’m Thirsty”. Saints, Be Human…It’s Okay! David writes: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14 NIV). GOD Remembers We Are Just Human – WE Are the Ones Who Forget! The bottom line is, Jesus was humble enough to acknowledge His humanity, and we need to learn to do the very same.

…Jesus…said…”It Is Finished!…” (John 19:30 NKJV)

LESSON 6: YOU CAN ADD NOTHING TO A FINISHED WORK! In the Old Testament tabernacle there were different items of furniture such as the table of showbread representing our need for fellowship, the lamp stand representing our need for light and understanding, etc. But there were no chairs! Why? The Priest’s Work Was Never Finished! He Couldn’t Sit Down! But after Jesus cried, “It Is Finished!He Returned to Heaven and SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF HIS FATHER – THE WORK OF REDEMPTION WAS COMPLETE! The Greek words for “It Is Finished” Literally means “PAID IN FULL!” It’s what folks in those days wrote across a receipt when the bill was PAID IN FULL! Christ’s death covers your EVERY SIN – FROM THE CRADLE TO THE GRAVE! And to offer your “good works” as partial payment, INSULTS GOD! You Can’t Add To a Finished Work! Look at it this way: Imagine seeing a finely crafted coffee table sitting in a carpentry shop ready for delivery. You reach for a wood plane and say, “It’s good, but not good enough, let me show you how it should look since I’ve taken a few classes.” The master carpenter immediately steps in and says, “No, you’ll ruin it!” Likewise, imagine receiving a very expensive gift from a loved one. Immediately you pull out a $5 bill and say, “Here, let me help you with the cost”! It’s an Offense, an Insult! You’re robbing the giver of his joy and the sacrifice of its worth! Listen: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;  Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]” Lastly, The Message Bible says it like this: “Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and ALL HIS WORK. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift FROM START TO FINISH! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him IN THE WORK HE DOES, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” Saints, saving faith requires – trusting only in a Finished Work of Christ! And You Can’t Add To A Finished Work!

“…Jesus…Cried Out With A Loud Voice…”Father, ‘Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit…” (Luke 23:46 NKJV).

LESSON 7: RELEASE IT TO GOD! Some of the issues we struggle with seem to be never-ending, like money worries, family problems and health concerns. Even when we get a break and should be resting, we sit up anticipating the worst, wondering, “How long, Lord?Well, the only way to have Real Peace is to Commit the Outcome to God! When Jesus cried, “…Father, Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit…It Was a Cry of Release! It was an Act of Trust that meant Surrendering Control to the Father (something we’ve Yet to learn to do!) The atoning blood had been shed, salvation’s work was finally complete! But before Jesus could pray That Prayer, He FIRST had to pray,Father, If You Are Willing, Take This Cup From Me; Yet Not My Will, But Yours Be Done” (Luke 22:42 NIV) And that’s a prayer we must each learn to pray! In Philippians 3:10-11 Paul wrote: “All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised Him to life. I want to suffer and die as He did, so that somehow I also may be raised to life” (CEV). We all want to rule and reign with Christ Someday, we just don’t want to submit our will to His Today! But it doesn’t work like that! Jack Hayford writes: “The charted course…always has been…the way of the cross.’ The cross not only calls us to Jesus, it also calls us to a life, to the wisdom of God’s ways in all our relationships and pursuits…to the pattern of Jesus…in the face of our deepest struggles.” So whatever you’re wrestling with today, Release it to God once and for all! When you do, you’ll experience His peace, and you won’t be disappointed with the outcome!

Practical Life Applications:

  1. FORGIVE THOSE WHO’VE HURT YOU;
  2. REACH OUT TO OTHERS;
  3. TAKE CARE OF THE PEOPLE WHO DEPEND ON YOU;
  4. DIRECT THE HARD QUESTIONS TO GOD;
  5. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR HUMANITY;
  6. YOU CAN ADD NOTHING TO A FINISHED WORK; AND
  7. RELEASE IT TO GOD!

I know many, especially around this time and season, look for “Deep” messages with thought provoking insight that has never been heard of this side of Heaven. But it is in injustice to the Message of Christ not to make the Word of God Practical and Applicable to the People. A Word that can help us in church, but hurt us at home because it lacks clear, simplistic understanding and application is of no value. Therefore, throughout the remainder of the week/weekend, when listening to varying messages, make sure you do not seek to be impressed or entertained, but that you seek to be enlightened, encouraged, inspired and challenged to change your life (your whole life “body, soul and spirit”) for the better.

In a Nutshell: Never Applaud a Message You Can’t Apply!

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

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“It’s Time to Clean House!”

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John 2:13-17, “When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem. He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves. The loan sharks were also there in full strength. Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. He told the dove merchants, “Get your things out of here! STOP TURNING MY FATHER’S HOUSE INTO A SHOPPING MALL!” That’s when His disciples remembered the Scripture, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE CONSUMES ME.” (MSG)

Growing up, one of the most disorganized rooms in the entire house was the garage. You see, that was my dad’s domain. Truly the original man cave. Everywhere you turned, there was evidence, without a shadow of a doubt that proved this garage belongs solely to the man of the house. It was filled (or better yet cluttered and congested) with tools (after all he was a mechanic); wood (since we had a fireplace in the living-room) so dad chopped wood at 4am and stacked them (in no particular order) in the garage. There were oil cans, gas cans, beer cans, soaked rags with who knows what that should have caused the house to explode at any given moment. There was dad’s work boots and work clothes. A raggedy black and white little television, and a beat up little radio that I believe only had 3 stations. In other words, the garage was a nightmare! Now, if it stayed just dad’s nightmare that would have been fine. However, the day I got in trouble at school, dad’s nightmare…became mine.

You see, me and some friends had the bright idea that each of us would stand at a different fire drill alarm post in school and at a certain time, we would all pull the alarms at the same time (no idea why we thought having all of us pulling a different alarm was supposed to do something completely different than setting off the same alarm system…guess you could call it the stupidity of youth – sounds like a pretty good diagnosis!). But needless to say, I didn’t think through where I chose to stand to pull my alarm. Why do I say that? Because I picked the alarm right next to detention! A tad-bit prophetic don’t you think? You see, that’s what you call pure brilliance at its best! So, as if I have to tell you how this ended, the dean caught me, brought me to the principal’s office and called dad! Detention would’ve been a blessing compared to dad’s genius idea of a punishment. Allow me to explain: Mom was driving dad nuts about straightening up the garage before the holidays when family and friends would be visiting, and finally (due to my mental disorder called stupidity of youth), he had just the person to get her off his back. You guessed it, ME!

Now, I must admit, it took me a good while to get up the courage to clean up dad’s garage. But, it might have taken you time to do it too, if you had seen what shape it was in! I mean, there was the general accumulated “mess” that hadn’t been touched for a while. And then there was the mess left from his friends that asked him if they could store their stuff there. On top of that, different members of our family had been going, and borrowing and returning, and borrowing and returning, and oh my goodness the mess was everywhere from everyone! Rakes, garbage bags, lawnmowers (broken and fixed alike), radiators, wires, dog chains (and a few dogs), chairs with 3 legs, tables with 1, it was a wreck!

If I had to give it a name it would be “Mount Mess”! And there it was right in front of me (and only me). So, since, unlike my dad, I had no one I could delegate this assignment to, I go and get on my “work” clothes, go downstairs, take a deep breath and I almost turned around and gave up at the first sight of it. Truthfully, my first thought was, “How about I just torch it?” But no, I figured that would indeed get me into more trouble. So, the only solution was to suck it up and clean it up. But the question that depressed me even more was one that you’ve probably asked while facing a “Mount Mess” of your own, “Where Do I Start?

That’s usually the first question that comes to mind. And if we would dare look at the Mount Mess that the House of God has become, we would have to ask ourselves that very same question. I mean, how did we allow so much of the world to get into our worship? What happened to our pure motives and intentions? What happened to living right, clean, godly and holy? What happened to sacred garments and sacred music? When did pollution enter our praise and repentance exit our prayers? When did it become acceptable to dress any kind of way, talk any kind of way, act any kind of way and live any kind of way? When did it become okay to curse, steal and lie in the House of God? When did we start justifying fornication and adultery as “strongholds and struggles”? When did pride, arrogance, conceit, comparisons and competition become the order of the day? When did slander, mockery, rumors, gossip, belittling, and backbiting get approved in the House? When did taking money out of the House become more important than sowing tithe and offering in it? Who gave the green light for the preachers to be posted and propped up on pedestals, with cushioned strategically placed seating? When did God become a visitor in His own House, while pomp and circumstance moved permanently in? When did the House of God become so filthy? And who will be the ones to clean it up?

Since we learn by repetition, let’s take a look at our text again shall we? John 2:13-17, “When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem. He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves. The loan sharks were also there in full strength. Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. He told the dove merchants, “Get your things out of here! STOP TURNING MY FATHER’S HOUSE INTO A SHOPPING MALL!” That’s when His disciples remembered the Scripture, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE CONSUMES ME.” (MSG)

I’ll tell you what’s incredible about this text. This is Jesus’ first appearance in Jerusalem. And yet, people love to say first impressions say a lot. Well, Jesus made a pretty good first impression, didn’t He? He’s going to the big city. So, you’d think He’d want to make a nice, positive impact there when He arrives, right? Come on, you know how we do, we love to be impressive. We don’t want to ruffle any feathers. We want to look good, show off our good side with our good clothes and good looks. We want to put our best foot forward. We want to say the right things, do the right things, and act the right way. But notice what Jesus first act is. It’s not a miracle, it’s not a healing, and it’s not a sermon. It’s an indignity – an attack – against sin in God’s House!

Now, you and I are living in a world that morally resembles my dad’s un-cleaned garage – it’s a spiritual mess. Sex has been divorced from love and commitment. Speaking of divorce, it’s the most common “answer” for marital problems today. Lying is so common you pretty much expect people not to be telling the truth. There’s the garbage permeating our media input, and it just goes on and on. So, when do we start cleaning, and where are we going to start cleaning?

Well, being that Jesus’ reaction was so extreme, might I suggest we START BY CLEANING UP OUR FATHER’S HOUSE FIRST? After all, that’s where Jesus started! And according to the Word of God, that’s where it will always start!

Listen to 1 Peter 4:17, “For the time has come for judgment to BEGIN at THE HOUSE OF GOD…” (NKJV)

Listen: I didn’t go to my neighbor’s house to clean their garage. No, I was assigned to clean the garage IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE! Now, does that mean I couldn’t help my neighbor with his/her garage? Absolutely not. However, it must BEGIN WITH MY FATHER’S HOUSE.

Now, I know there’s a great deal we as believers can do to help to improve this world and make it a better place. But we can’t clean the outside of the cup and leave the inside dirty; nor can we clean up the world while the House of God is filthy! Our God has Set the Standard, and the Standard is ORDER! 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For…God is NOT a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and ORDER. AS [IS THE PRACTICE] IN ALL THE CHURCHES OF THE SAINTS (GOD’S PEOPLE)” (AMPC) His Standard is Order, Therefore, Our Standard is Order! And Cleaning House Begins With His House! We Need to Clean From the INSIDE…Out! Matthew 23:25-26, “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the INSIDES are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the INSIDES, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.” (MSG)

People of God, it’s not enough to “look good”, or “look clean; look holy; look righteous; look godly.After All, Looks and Appearance Mean Nothing! 2 Timothy 3:5, “holding to a FORM of [OUTWARD] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.” (AMP) Haven’t we been holding on to this “form” long enough? Looking regal on the outside while rotting on the inside. Trying to build up the world while the House of God is demolished by our own hands. Propping up the world, while the Standards of the House of God fall down. Saints, we need to begin with us! Cleaning Our Father’s House! Cleaning from the INSIDE…Out! And brothers, Jesus is your example, because HE Started Cleaning the Father’s House First!

See, we’ve become amazingly casual about sin. Oh, we’re against it, but we flirt with it and we see how close we can get to it. We read about it, we watch it being portrayed, we laugh about it, and we allow creeping compromise to erode what was once a much higher standard in our lives just a short time ago. But Jesus however, takes a whip to sin when it’s tolerated in His Father’s House, and guess what? Just as the physical building we go to, to attend church; WE are also the Temple of God! We are also His House! So while we’re cleaning up the building, let us not forget to also clean our temple! 1 Corinthians 6:16-20, “There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. OR DIDN’T YOU REALIZE THAT YOUR BODY IS A SACRED PLACE, THE PLACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT? DON’T YOU SEE THAT YOU CAN’T LIVE HOWEVER YOU PLEASE, SQUANDERING WHAT GOD PAID SUCH A HIGH PRICE FOR? THE PHYSICAL PART OF YOU IS NOT SOME PIECE OF PROPERTY BELONGING TO THE SPIRITUAL PART OF YOU. GOD OWNS THE WHOLE WORKS. SO LET PEOPLE SEE GOD IN AND THROUGH YOUR BODY.” (MSG)

Sounds like we’ve got a lot of cleaning to do! The House of God (the building) and the Temple of God (us) both need some serious cleaning up and out!

The performance needs to be whipped out of the House of God and the perverseness needs to be whipped out of the Temple of God! Bad attitudes; poor communication; vengefulness; spitefulness; anger; deceit; bitterness; resentment and the like all need to be whipped out of the House of God! Bad decisions; unholiness; addictions; habits; unhealthy thoughts; disrespectful speech; dishonoring conduct; wrongful emotions; unforgiveness; illicit sexual behavior all need to be whipped out of the Temple of God…Us!

See, the Bible says we’re the temple of the Holy Spirit; He lives in us. Now, you may look righteous compared to the rest of the people around you, but your standard isn’t them. It’s the personal holiness standard of Jesus Christ Himself. Oh, sure, we should fight the decay in our lost world, but we should turn most of our guns on our own sin – our own compromise. Truth be told, many people are not considering Christ because they’ve never seen an alternative in someone who is really living for Christ demonstrating the difference.

And how does this tie in to Men cleaning house? Well, Jesus, Fully Man, was the one who started cleaning up and out our Father’s House, and therefore, I believe it’s high-time that Men take their rightful place and do the same. Oh, we’ll call on the men to fix something, move something, lift something, open something, but what about having men reset the Order of the House? Does that mean women have nothing to do? Absolutely not. However, I believe in our Father’s Order, and Men should still sit at the Head of the Table in the House. I believe a great movement in the House would take place should men start moving. And know this, Jesus didn’t gather the disciples, no, He went in and cleaned house Himself. And likewise brothers, you don’t need a crew, squad or team. Just make your commitment to Christ personal and refuse to allow anyone to trash your Father’s House. Clean up the ugly and untrue image that men are just sagging and hanging on corners slinging drugs and shooting guns. That they’re all dead beat dads, unfaithful husbands, and trifling boyfriends. Some say not all men are dogs, but I say no man is one. Dogs are animals on four legs, men are imperfect humans on two. It’s behavior that needs changing and standards that need raising.

Men of God, you are needed in the House of God to Reset its Order. To show our daughters what to look for and look up to; to show women that there are men who protect their women; to show the community that you care about its well-being; to show laity you know how to be humble as leader and show leadership that you know how to follow. Be the example of a praiser and worshiper. Lead out prayer. Expose sin; shut down gossip; kill jealousy; and prove that there are some Men in the House of God that will not allow the House to become Dirty!

And this will require work on your behalf. Read the text: “…Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and CHASED them out the Temple, STAMPEDING the sheep and cattle, UPENDING the tables of the loan sharks, SPILLING coins left and right…” Jesus did not take this lightly! He “…CHASED…CAUSED A STAMPEDE, UPENDED TABLES AND SPILLED COINS LEFT AND RIGHT…” In other words, this is not a polite, “please stop doing these things in my father’s house, thank you.” Uh, nope! He had a whip and a mission to clean up and clean out His Father’s House! Men, you need to be on the same Mission! It’s not going to be easy to do, but it still needs to be done and done by you. The House of God needs to look like the House of God, and not one that Rents out Rooms to the World to live in! No, Be Men Who Clean House!

Jesus didn’t tell them to just stop what they were doing, but listen: “…He told the dove merchants, “Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall!” They Were Put Out the House! And men, you need to be just as diligent about your Father’s House. Don’t let anyone come in the House of God and think they can do anything they please. Let them know as soon as they cross over the threshold, you can come as you are, but you can’t stay that way! Lift the standards in the House that compromise will not be tolerated; disrespect will not be tolerated; dressing any kind of way will not be tolerated; talking and acting any kind of way will not be tolerated.

But at the same time, you can’t set a standard that you’re not living up to yourself! Therefore, you have to be the example on display of what Men of God look, sound, and act like. You lead the way. Give them something to emulate. Show them how it’s done in the House, then show them how to carry that outside of the House and into their own. When you lead them well in the House, it will be a double blessing that teaches them how order ought to be set in their own.

Jesus did not sit on the sidelines murmuring and complaining and pointing fingers about what was going on in His Father’s House. No, He took action and did something about it and you are charged and challenged today to do the very same. As the disciples discovered, “…Zeal for Your house consumes me” (MSG), that needs to be the passion of the Men of God in the House of God today.

We have enough men desiring to be Ordained in the House of God, but not enough desiring to set and maintain the Order of the House!

Will you take on the responsibility for raising the standards in the House of God, and making sure that no one comes in to lower them? Will you be the one to set the example of proper leadership in the House (even if you don’t receive a title)? Will you be the one to call sin, sin? Will you be the one to address those who are out of order in the House? Will you be bold enough to confront, correct, and chastise? Will you be the Body of Christ that lends its Members to the Housework of Cleaning Up the House of God?

Remember, He’s coming back for ONE Body, ONE House, ONE Church, and anything or anyone Unclean and Unholy Will Not Be in the Number!

Before I close, there’s one other thing that caught my attention, and that’s where the Scripture says, “…Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall!” Sadly, that is quite descriptive of the House of God today. Some of everything is on Display…except the Glory of God. Which is why Jesus Himself stepped in. Think about it, the Scripture says, “…When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem. He found the Temple TEEMING with people…” The word “teeming” is defined as, “to be full of or swarming with; to be of great numbers or amounts of something.” Its synonyms are: “abounding, abundant, bursting, crowded, filled, full, jam-packed, loaded, saturated, stuffed, clogged, congested, overcrowded, and over-flowing.” My question then becomes, how could there be this many people in the temple, during the Passover Feast, and no one but Jesus noticed, cared or addressed the filth in the Father’s House? And many of us go to churches with a good number of seats filled, and yet no one is addressing the filth in the Father’s House. We no longer have any more room to even contain the elevated, promoted, entitled, weekly ordained to some new position preachers, teachers and leaders, and yet, the house is still unclean. Vestments are Spotless While the Vestibule is Sinful! No one is bothered, no one is upset, no one thinks anything needs to be done? Have we become so comfortable and content, even in sin, that it doesn’t prick our heart or conscious any longer? Have we become so hard-hearted (and hard-headed) that anything goes in the Father’s House? We’re supposed to render to God a Sweet Smelling Sacrifice of Praise, and yet we’ve allowed both Pulpit and Pew to become  Putrid instead! And what does that mean? ‘Putrid’ is defined as ‘decaying or rotting and emitting a fetid smell; very unpleasant.’ Its Latin Origin ‘putridus’, from ‘putrere’ literally means ‘to rot.’ That’s what the House of God smells like when disobedience, sin, compromise, unholiness, and uncleanliness are allowed to sit week after week in the Sanctuary.

Men of God, let today be the day that you throw on your overalls and your work-boots and get to work in cleaning up and out the House of God. Jesus did, and certainly you are men after God’s own heart aren’t you? Find your zeal for the House of God, and let it consume you to the point you have no room left for compromise (not from yourself or anyone else)!

Let today be the day that Men Clean House, and watch what happens when Order becomes the Order of the Day again!

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

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“The Danger of Seeking Validation”

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I know for a fact that I’m really going to date myself when I share this, but oh well! You see, when I was a teenager, you could often tell a girl was going “steady” with a boy by the jacket she wore. And when my cousin started going “steady” with a girl, she couldn’t wait to get into his jacket; his football jacket that is – the one he earned with blood, sweat, tears, and my aunt’s hard earned money. You could tell this girl was “going with” my cousin. How? The jacket she wore had his name on it. I have to tell you though, it was slightly amusing to me to watch her wear it. You see, my cousin was a big lineman! He was over 6 feet tall and over 300 pounds! His girlfriend on the other hand, was lucky to ever break a hundred on the scale! In other words, she swam in that coat! It completely drowned her! And she wasn’t the only one. We had a lot of girls in our school who were dating athletes, (including myself) and we all wore their jackets as a symbol that stated, “Hey, I belong to him. He’s mine.But the truth is, most of us didn’t look that great in those guy’s jackets. You see, I discovered that wearing what a man gives you for security may not be the best fit for you after all! Keep that in mind as we journey forward!

We’re going to take a look at Genesis chapter 29. But first let me give you a brief background. Jacob has worked seven years to earn Rachel’s hand. However, he didn’t realize until he lifted the veil on his wedding night that he had been deceived. He had married the sister, Leah, who was not Miss America or Miss Israel for that matter. So he had to work seven more years to get Rachel, the one he really wanted. Now he’s got two wives. The Bible says, “Rachel he loved. Leah was unloved by him.” 

Leah, like many women, had a very deep love hunger that was slowly starving to death.

Genesis 29:31-32,When God realized that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb. But Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and had a son. She named him Reuben (Look-It’s-a-Boy!). “This is a sign,” she said, “that God has seen my misery; and a sign that now my husband will love me.” (MSG) Interesting isn’t it? She’s looking to this man for the love and the identity she needs and she’s coming up empty.

Well, then, she finally has another baby…and another… It says in Genesis 29:33-34,She became pregnant again and had another son. “God heard,” she said, “that I was unloved and so he gave me this son also.” She named this one Simeon (God-Heard). She became pregnant yet again—another son. She said, “Now maybe my husband will connect with me—I’ve given him three sons!” That’s why she named him Levi (Connect)” (MSG). Again the man does not give her what she needs. 

I’ve always found this story absolutely amazing because it opens up with Leah knowing that this man doesn’t love her, and never has. He has always wanted and loved her sister Rachel. Can you imagine a woman knowing full well that a man does not love her, from the very beginning, and even after he sleeps with her, his only response is, how do I get Rachel your sister instead? And her response to that? I’ll get pregnant and give him sons. You see, it was a big deal in their culture to have the firstborn be a son. So to Leah, it was a sign that Jacob would indeed finally love her (even though he’s given her absolutely no reason to believe he’d changed his mind, or that he ever would). After all, Rachel (no matter how much you love her), is barren. I, on the other hand have given you your firstborn son. Surely, “…my husband will love me…” (MSG). And when that doesn’t happen, Leah continues on her love-deprived search and quest. She gives him 2 more sons, Simeon and Levi. Now she believes God has heard of her unloved misery and that now her husband will connect with her. However, Leah is in for more discouragement and disappointment.

Leah, wanted the love of her husband, she wanted God to hear of her misery and intervene and then she wanted to connect with her husband. Son after son after son…Leah is let down over and over again. She keeps trying to give a man what she thinks he wants so she can finally get what she needs. However, Leah remains unloved and let down.

In truth, Leah reminds me a lot of the young girls/women that I counsel. I just recently had a teenager in my office who just turned 17 and she’s currently pregnant with her third child! (Yes, I said third!) All of them are by the same boy. The same boy in fact, who has told her repetitively that he does not love her or want her. Yet, she’s under the impression that if he didn’t love or want her he wouldn’t keep sleeping with her. One of her last statements to me was: “we have 3 children together so we’ll always be together.” I must admit, I sat in total amazement. But that wasn’t what pushed me over the edge. It was her next statement that did that. She said: “I just pray this baby is finally a boy, he’s always wanted a son, and I just know if I can give him his junior, he’ll love me too much to ever leave me again.” Sadly, this is the mindset of many teenagers, young adult and even adult women. If I just give him what he wants, he’ll give me what I need. This my sisters is a grave mistake! Reminds me a lot of my cousin’s girlfriend wearing his football jacket. The jacket was leather and heavy! Then to add on its size due to his size made her look ridiculous. She couldn’t even walk right wearing that thing. Not to mention she had her own book bag, pocketbook etc…she was weighted down with something she thought gave her validation, identity and a since of security, entitlement and belonging. No matter how foolish it made her look!

The word “Validation” is defined as “to check or prove the validity of; to make or declare legally valid; to confirm; to grant official sanction; to recognize; to establish; to illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of.”

The word “Value” is defined as “the regard that something is held to deserve; importance or worth; to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness or importance; considered beneficial; assigned worth; to regard or esteem highly; to calculate, assess or appraise”

Women, looking for a man to give you what only God can will always leave you empty, deprived and longing. No man, no matter who he is, where he comes from, what he has, what he does, what he looks like, can validate your value! Your worth and worthiness come from God alone. The sooner women grasp this, the better! I don’t care how fine you look, how shapely your figure, how wonderful you may be in the kitchen and in the bedroom, no man can validate your value. You are the sole property of God alone. Therefore, it is He alone that proves your worthiness, importance, significance, and usefulness. No man has the right to do this. You can wear all the name-brands in the world, wear the most stylish of hairstyles, have flawless skin (or flawless makeup), and still your worth cannot be validated by a man. So, stop attempting to prove your worth to a man. Stop giving him what you need to keep for yourself. Stop lowering your standards, self-respect and self-esteem. Stop compromising your convictions. Stop waiting by the phone for it to ring. Stop sitting on the sofa staring at the door hoping he comes knocking. Stop jumping and running every time he opens his mouth. Stop crying, begging, pleading, and degrading yourself in hopes that he will love you, want you, need you, or value you. Stop getting in that bed over and over again, only to leave with sex, not love. Stop depleting your bank account in hopes of making him happy. Stop buying him stuff. Stop trying to prove your worth so he deems you worthy. No man can validate your value! Giving him what he wants sexually, giving him children, giving him stuff, will never prove your worth! 

Leah had son after son after son, and each time it had nothing to do with her, she did it all for a man. Grant it, it was her husband, but a husband she knew never loved her. She kept trying to prove she was worthy of his love, and yet he continued to overlook her because his sight was on Rachel alone. She didn’t have children because she wanted to be a mother, she had them because she wanted the love of a man. And before you judge her too harshly, might I ask you to self-exam and see what have you done down through years for the love and attention of a man? What bed did you enter for a man? How much money did you waste for a man? How much of your self-respect went out the window for a man? How much of your future have you lost focus on for a man? How many of your gifts, talents and abilities are still lying dormant, because you’re still laying like a doormat for a man? 

If women could only see their worth and value, the fashion, hair and makeup industry would literally dry up. We wouldn’t have so many Barbie dolls trying to look “ideal” for a man that’s not “ideal” himself. No matter how sexy you look or how sexual you are, your value and worth have nothing to do with either. I’ve never seen an age with so many “sex symbols” at such young and tender ages. Cleavage is hanging out of everywhere. Panty-lines are visible. Skirts are the width of belts. Clothes are being worn 3 times too small. Boots are coming up to the thighs. Lace used to be considered an undergarment, and now it’s the only garment. Now, I know the world believes that sex sells, but as women of God that has absolutely nothing to do with us! We are indeed more than lips, hips and fingertips. We are more than eye-candy, a trophy wife or notch on a man’s belt. As women, our Significance isn’t founded on Sex!

1 Corinthians 6:16-20: There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” (MSG)

Daughters, you are of high value and worth. Neither sex, or looking sexy is validation of value. You don’t “look” valuable, you simply are!

1 Peter 3:1-4, “The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.” (MSG)

1 Timothy 2:8-10, “Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” (MSG)

Titus 2:1-6, “Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine…Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior…” (MSG)

Women, are you getting this? It’s not about your hair, clothes, style, looks, or sexiness. It’s about the beautiful woman you are on the inside that knows her value and worth are established by God, and none other. It’s about maintaining your character, integrity, dignity, elegance, and class. It’s about letting a man know your worth, not proving your worthiness to a man.

Which reminds of the following poem: “Women are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the top of the tree. The men don’t want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they just get the rotten apples from the ground that aren’t as good, but easy. So the apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, THEY’RE amazing. They just have to wait for the right man to come along, the one who’s brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.” 

 Sisters, stay at the top of the tree! Make him climb, exert effort, pursue you (not the other way around!) Take the signs off your back that read: “for sale; bargain; discount; great deal; thrift; inexpensive; used; hand me down; negotiable; disposable; clearance” Daughter, you are worthy, valuable and priceless! Walk like it, talk like it, think like it, dress like it, act like it, live like it!

Back to Leah…yes, she indeed wanted the love of Jacob. She had 3 sons to prove that’s what her heart’s desire was. She wanted to be loved, she wanted to be heard, she wanted to be connected to. But all of those things were to a mere man. However, that is not the ending of Leah’s story. In verse 35, “She became pregnant a final time and had a fourth son. She said, “This time I’ll praise God.” So she named him Judah (Praise-God). Then she stopped having children'” (MSG). 

Leah had hoped to find her identity in Jacob’s love. She didn’t get it. But finally, after three times of counting on a baby to secure her man’s attention, she refocuses her love hunger from Jacob to Jehovah; from her husband to her Heavenly Father. There’s many of women who have been disappointed by a man; hurt by a man. There’s frustration, there’s bitterness. There’s a distorted view of real love. There’s been hurt by the lack of love or approval that you could never seem to win, or maybe a boyfriend or a husband has let you down like Jacob did Leah. You feel betrayed, abandoned, unloved, unnoticed and unworthy. Leah, like so many women, was looking in the wrong place for identity. No woman was ever meant to derive her identity and worth from the approval of a man. And so, Leah said, “I’m going to turn to the Lord.Maybe it’s time you do the same. 

The jacket that reflected some of my cousin’s identity didn’t fit the woman in his life. She was never meant to find her identity in being his girl. Every woman is headed for disappointment and chronic insecurity if she’s trying to define herself by some man in her world. It’s a liberating day when you discover that no man could do for your worth what the Lord can do. He loved Leah; even when her man didn’t. He gave her His divine blessing when her man wouldn’t give his. Don’t waste time trying to find your identity in the fickle, fragile love or approval of a man. Look beyond them to the Lord. Start drawing on Him for all you need. Remember, the Scripture does not say, “A man is my Shepherd. I shall not want.”…NO! It states, “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” Remember That!

Your identity is that you are a unique, masterpiece creation of a loving God: Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” (AMP). You are the Masterpiece of the Master, not that of a mere man! You were created to be Used By God…Not Used By a Man! You are a Daughter of the King! He thought you were worth dying for! And loved you too much to even stay dead! Then loved you even greater, because He refuses to leave you here…He’s coming back just for YOU! What man can possibly love you like that?

Women, be sure that you bring your love hunger to the only One who will never disappoint you – your Savior, your Shepherd, Jesus Christ. 

Now, in closing, I would love to end this on a good note, however, let’s read a little further into the Life of Leah: Genesis 30:16-21,When Jacob came home that evening from the fields, Leah was there to meet him: “Sleep with me tonight; I’ve bartered my son’s mandrakes for a night with you.” So he slept with her that night. God listened to Leah; she became pregnant and gave Jacob a fifth son. She said, “God rewarded me for giving my maid to my husband.” She named him Issachar (Bartered). Leah became pregnant yet again and gave Jacob a sixth son, saying, “God has given me a great gift. This time my husband will honor me with gifts—I’ve given him six sons!” She named him Zebulun (Honor). Last of all she had a daughter and named her Dinah.” (MSG)

Leah unfortunately continues her journey of unrequited love. She’s still looking for validation of value from Jacob. Two more sons and a daughter, and still she’s in the same place of saying, “…This time my husband will honor me with gifts—I’ve given him six sons!”  

Women, please do not make Leah’s mistake of spending an entire lifetime seeking for a man to give you what he has no right to give you. Your value is never validated by a man, only by your Master.

As a last “Selah”…remember this, Leah had 6 sons, and then lastly a daughter. Daughters were supposed to stick close to their mothers and learn from them. They were taught by their mothers how to be wives. They were to emulate their mothers teaching, behavior and conduct. Makes you wonder, what could Leah possibly teach Dinah about a healthy relationship with a man or a husband? Our children often imitate us to, especially our daughters. And the last thing this world needs, is more young girls watching older women chase after desperate and deprived love, approval, acceptance and validation from a man.

Sadly enough, Leah desperately, but willfully and legally,  gave herself to Jacob (a man she knew from the very beginning never loved her). However, Dinah, you’ll discover in Genesis 34, was raped, and then had her rapist ask for her hand in marriage. And people think watching reality shows is something! Read Genesis 34!

“Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out [unescorted] to visit the girls of the land. When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince (sheik) of the land, saw her, he kidnapped her and lay [intimately] with her by force [humbling and offending her]. But his soul longed for and clung to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke comfortingly to her young heart’s wishes. So Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this young woman as a wife.” Now Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled (violated) Dinah his daughter; but his sons were in the field with his livestock, so Jacob said nothing until they came in. But Shechem’s father Hamor went to Jacob to talk with him. Now when Jacob’s sons heard of it they came in from the field; they were deeply grieved, and they were very angry, for Shechem had done a disgraceful thing to Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing is not to be done. But Hamor conferred with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem [deeply] longs for your daughter [and sister]. Please give her to him as his wife. And [beyond that] intermarry with us; give your daughters to us [as wives] and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 In this way you shall live with us; the country will be open to you; live and do business in it and acquire property and possessions in it.” 11 Shechem also said to Dinah’s father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor in your sight, and I will give you whatever you ask of me. 12 Demand of me a very large bridal payment and gift [as compensation for giving up your daughter and sister], and I will give you whatever you tell me; only give me the girl to be my wife.” 13 Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, because Shechem had defiled and disgraced their sister Dinah. 14 They said to them, “We cannot do this thing and give our sister [in marriage] to one who is not circumcised, because that would be a disgrace to us. 15 But we will consent to you only on this condition: if you will become like us, in that every male among you consents to be circumcised, 16 then we will give our daughters to you [in marriage], and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live with you and become one people. 17 But if you do not listen to us and refuse to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter [Dinah] and go.” 18 Their words seemed reasonable to Hamor and his son Shechem, 19 and the young man did not hesitate to do the [required] thing, for he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. Now he was more respected and honored than all [others] in the household of his father. 20 Then Hamor and Shechem his son came to the gate of their [walled] city [where the leading men would meet] and spoke with the men of the city, saying, 21 “These men are peaceful and friendly with us; so let them live in the land and do business in it, for the land is large enough [for us and] for them; let us take their daughters for wives and let us give them our daughters [in marriage]. 22 But only on this condition will the men consent to our request that they live among us and become one people: that every male among us become circumcised just as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their cattle and their possessions and all their animals be ours [if we do this]? Let us consent [to do as they ask], and they will live here with us.” 24 And every [Canaanite] man who went out of the city gate listened and considered what Hamor and Shechem said; and every male who was a resident of that city was circumcised. 25 Now on the third day [after the circumcision], when all the men were [terribly] sore and in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s [full] brothers, took their swords, boldly entered the city [without anyone suspecting them of evil intent], and they killed every male. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house [where she was staying], and left. 27 Then Jacob’s [other] sons came upon those who were killed and looted the town, because their sister had been defiled and disgraced. 28 They took the Canaanites’ flocks and their herds and their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field; 29 they looted all their wealth, and [took captive] all their children and their wives, even everything that was in the houses. 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have ruined me, making me a stench to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites! My men are few in number, and the men of the land will band together against me and attack me; I shall be destroyed, I and my household.” 31 But they said, “Should he [be permitted to] treat our sister as a prostitute?” (AMP)

Leah made a deliberate desperate decision regarding her body, Dinah unfortunately was made subject to a man that made a decision on behalf of her body. Women, we cannot debase ourselves any longer over the flawed desire for having a flawed man’s validation, which proves and approves nothing. Dinah couldn’t stop what happened to her, but the whole ugly story line that involves two families, neighboring communities and even death are harsh realities that come with choices and consequences relating to sex. Sisters, let’s make better decisions for ourselves, our bodies and our lives and be better examples for our daughters as well. Ladies, remember, they’re watching us. So, let’s make sure we set good examples for them to model.

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

“Self-esteem comes from within. No amount of validation or approval ‘out there’ will ever give it to you.” (Pinterest)

“The woman who does not require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.” (Mohadesa Najumi)

“A vibrant and independent woman is much more beautiful than a woman who waits for people to validate her existence.” (Kelly McNelis Senegor)

“It takes a strong person to do their own thing and not wait for anybody else to validate their existence.” (Steven Aitchison)

“Live life in such a way that someone else’s validation means absolutely nothing to you.” (Pinterest)

“An amazing thing happens when you stop seeking approval and validation: You find it. People are naturally drawn like magnets to those who know who they are and cannot be shaken!” (Mandy Hale)

“The more you begin to love yourself, the less you’ll look to others to validate, approve of, or complete you.” (Mandy Hale)

“The dream is yours…why are you asking others to validate or nourish it? Your journey must be self-propelled. It must be fueled from within.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“If you persistently seek validation from others you will inadvertently invalidate your own self-worth.” (Dodinsky)

“Stop allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions. Stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Your self-worth is determined by YOU. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.” (Beyonce)

“There’s a difference between caring about what others think and worrying about it. When you care about what other people think, you respect and value their opinion. When you worry about it, you depend on their validation for your worth. So keep caring. Keep treating people like they matter. Just know that you matter too, whether they confirm it or not.” (Lori Deschene)

“Stop validating your victim mentality. Shake off your self-defeating drama and embrace your innate ability to recover and achieve.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Women have to learn where their true source of validation is.” (Maureen Murdock)

“If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection.” (Lecrae)

“When you depend on people to build you up, they’ll have the same power to break you down. You don’t need their validation to know your worth.” (Pinterest)

“I’m secure in who I am. I don’t need the validation of those that would say, you have to be a certain way in order to be accepted. I’m comfortable going against the grain. I’m walking my path and I will always walk the direction my heart tells me to go, even if I must walk alone…all fired up!” (Collective Evolution)

“No effective guidance will ever be achieved by seeking approval of others.” (Pinterest)

“It doesn’t matter what other people think. If you make the choice to create positive changes for yourself, that is all that matters. You don’t need anyone’s approval, validation or support…and a lot of the time, you really should avoid it.” (Stephanie Zamora)

“Happiness is discovering that the most worthwhile and powerful validation is the one you give to yourself.” (Dodinsky)

“When I accept myself, I am freed from the burden of needing you to accept me.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“In a relationship, one must not seek validation from the other, it should come naturally. If it’s not there, the worst thing you can do is beg for it.” (Dodinsky)

“Never get your sense of worth from outside yourself. Don’t let other people tell you how much you’re worth, decide for yourself. It’s called SELF-Worth not other’s worth.” (Pinterest)

“True confidence is knowing who you are in Christ, and that your validation, approval and acceptance comes from Him.” (Kim Brooks)

“I want to be in a relationship where you telling me you love me is just a ceremonious validation of what you already show me.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“The more I fill myself with God’s Truth, the less I need validation from others.” (Lysa Terkeurst)

“You don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough. When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, it isn’t actually about you. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs, and you don’t have to internalize that. Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you – it’s something inherent. You exist, and therefore, you matter. You’re allowed to voice your thoughts and feelings. You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space. You’re allowed to hold onto the truth that who you are is exactly enough. And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who makes you feel otherwise.” (Daniell Koepke)

“Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.” (Pinterest)

“Stress, anxiety, and depression are caused when we are living to please others.” (Paulo Coelho)

“Once you know your worth, you’ll never feel compelled to give another discount again.” (Pinterest)

“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” (Mark Twain)

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

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