“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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“Are You FOLLOWING the Right LEADER?”

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John 3:30, “He must increase [in prominence], but I must decrease.” (AMP); The Message Bible reads like this: “This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.” (MSG)

I am definitely one of those people that has to check and double-check everything I buy at the supermarket. Especially when it comes to dairy, meats, fresh fruit and vegetables. After all, when you’re raised in a house of two great cooks as parents, you come to believe that there really is an art to shopping for food. Some may not know any better, but truth is you can’t just grab the first apple or tomato you see! You have to learn to smell and squeeze the produce. And where did I get that from? My mom. She taught me how to do that as well as the importance of doing that. She taught me that you have to learn how to check for holes and dents in apples and peaches; you don’t just take the first one off the pile. You have to check to see how yellow those bananas are, or how green, or how black. In other words, there are ways to tell whether a fruit or vegetable is one you should buy. However, it’s much tougher to shop for a spiritual leader that’s a good one you can trust. Oh, but there is a way to tell!

Now if we are to be brutally honest, it’s getting tougher and tougher to know which spiritual leaders you can actually trust. After all, we’re living in a time when a lot of Christian heroes have let us down, right? People who say spiritual things, lead spiritual causes, give spiritual counsel, and then all of a sudden something happens that exposes their fleshy hypocrisy. In a way, it kind of makes a lot of us hold back and wonder who can we trust to govern, keep and protect our soul and that of our families?

Now, another truth we need to keep in mind is this, we’re not supposed to have our eyes on man in the first place! Jeremiah 17:5-6, “God’s Message: “Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight. He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.” (MSG). Surely you don’t want that to be your testimony!

The Bible makes it clear that our focus should never be on flesh! 1 Samuel 16:7, “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.” (MSG). That word ‘eliminate’ is defined as: ‘to completely remove or get rid of; to reject or exclude from consideration or further participation.’ Its Latin Origin ‘eliminare’ literally means ‘to turn out of doors.’ You see, this man wasn’t just rejected, but he was completely removed, God got rid of him, He made sure he was excluded from any consideration or participation; he was in essence kicked out his own house, turned outdoors! Therefore, if God doesn’t entertain ‘flesh; looks and stature’, why should we?

So, our focus on spiritual leadership shouldn’t be on the flesh, but on the spirit! God does give His people leadership; He does raise up leadership for the benefit of the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13,And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct],  [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church];  until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity].” (MSG)

In other words, there are authentic spiritual leaders who are doing their job. God does want us to be able to get His teachings and see His love coming through people, but so many have let us down. How can you tell whether a pastor is a leader from God or a person who’s simply doing his own thing in God’s name?

Well, there’s one person that Jesus really held up as a model leader. It was John the Baptist. He said, “There has been no greater man born among women.” (Matthew 11:11) Now I cannot think of a stronger endorsement than that. Jesus said John the Baptist was the real deal; a real spiritual leader, worthy of following. And why was John the Baptist an ideal leader? In John 3:30, speaking of Jesus, John said this, “He must become greater; I must become less.The King James Version says, “He must increase; I must decrease.” 2 other translations read like this:

“Jesus must become more important, while I become less important.” (CEV);

“He must increase in importance, while I must decrease in importance.” (GWT);

You know how to test a spiritual leader? Well, one of the tests is this: Does he/she leave you thinking more about him/her or more about Jesus? Where is the spotlight focusing most and shining brightest, on him/herself, or God? Is it more about his organization, his goals, his ministry, his programs, or more about Jesus and the Great Commission He assigned for us to fulfill? An authentic man or woman of God, like John the Baptist, puts himself or herself in the background, on the sidelines, making sure that JESUS is the one who’s made to be Greater and More Important, in the very center. However, the leader doing his own thing is heavy on sentences that have: “I”, “me”, and “mine” in them, but rarely, “HIM”.

Is this the only test? No, but it’s a pretty good start. If you’re in leadership, measure yourself that way. Who is getting the attention, you the leader or the Savior? The real spiritual leaders, the ones you can trust, are the ones who put Jesus in the spotlight and make you think about Him and forget about them. They’re not seeking accolades and applause and amen’s. They don’t need their names called for everything, anything and nothing. They don’t need their picture posted on every wall nor do they need their name written on every piece of paper. They don’t need a chair the size of the Throne of God. Their main focus is that you focus mainly on Jesus! If that’s not the type of leader you are under, get out now!

Years ago I read about a man who maybe a hundred years ago had lived in the countryside in England. He traveled to London and wrote to his wife and said, “Honey, today I went to two of the great churches of London. This morning I heard Dr. Cartwright and he is a great preacher. Tonight I went to Metropolitan Tabernacle and I heard Mr. Charles Spurgeon.” He said, “Mr. Spurgeon has a great Savior.Leaders, after you’re done speaking, teaching or preaching, do you want them to remember a great preacher, or do you leave them thinking about a great Savior? I never like to leave a church or service feeling like I was just greatly entertained by an outstanding cast of performers. I don’t want to remember the songs, the dances, the praise breaks, the garments, the titles, the beauty of the sanctuary. But what I want to leave with is conviction that I can be a better believer than I have been. It’s rare these days that I actually hear sermons that speak on holiness, sanctification, repentance, sin, hell, consequences of bad choices, or even chastisement. Instead, messages focus more on houses, cars, land, spouses, promotions, increase, harvest, blessings, abundance, and the like. But what happened to using the Word to do what it was originally designed to do? And what’s that you ask? Well, 2 Timothy informs us:

2 Timothy 3:14-17, “But as for you, continue in the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced [holding tightly to the truths], knowing from whom you learned them, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings (Hebrew Scriptures) which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus [surrendering your entire self to Him and having absolute confidence in His wisdom, power and goodness].  All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (AMP)

The Message Bible says it like this: “But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (MSG)

For some reason I don’t think the Word is being preached or taught in this manner anymore. Because everyone is happy, over-joyed and excited to leave church when the Word is done. However, the Word says when the Word comes forth it will instruct, convict, correct, train, and exposeSo if that’s how the Word is coming forth, why are we so happy after every sermon, every week? We should leave after the Word feeling as though we’ve received instructions since we’ve been convicted and corrected of wrongs, and now we’re being trained to be better since our worst has been exposed. We should leave with pad and pen in hand and a list of what we need to make our own lives better.

Now, I certainly don’t believe you should spend Sunday after Sunday being busted upside the head with the Bible. But shouldn’t something be said week after week that makes you better week after week? And not “feel” better, but “be and do better.” There is indeed a difference.

Maybe you’ve been burned by Christians, by a Christian leader, many of us have. I’ve certainly had the experience of being hurt by spiritual leadership. But don’t let them cause you to miss Jesus in the midst of it all. Sometimes I think we get so lost in “Following Them”, that we forget Jesus said, “Follow Me.” Does that mean we ignore spiritual leadership? Absolutely not! Romans 13:1-7, “Every person must obey the leaders of the land. There is no power given but from God, and all leaders are allowed by God. The person who does not obey the leaders of the land is working against what God has done. Anyone who does that will be punished. Those who do right do not have to be afraid of the leaders. Those who do wrong are afraid of them. Do you want to be free from fear of them? Then do what is right. You will be respected instead. Leaders are God’s servants to help you. If you do wrong, you should be afraid. They have the power to punish you. They work for God. They do what God wants done to those who do wrong. You must obey the leaders of the land, not only to keep from God’s anger, but so your own heart will have peace.  It is right for you to pay taxes because the leaders of the land are servants for God who care for these things.  Pay taxes to whom taxes are to be paid. Be afraid of those you should fear. Respect those you should respect.” (NLV);

Hebrews 13:17, “Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?” (MSG).

In other words, leadership be it in the church or in the land is to be respected. Now, you don’t have much say so in the leaders of the land, but you have a lot of say so under which leader you submit to in any given church. You are not their by force but by choice, so choose your place of worship wisely. Don’t make a selection as though it were an arena, museum, palace, stage or theater. But ask God for godly wisdom that you make the right choice to serve in the right house of worship under the right leader.

And what are some signs that you have the right leader? Just listen to Scripture:

Matthew 17:6-8, “When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. “Don’t be afraid.” When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.” (MSG) You need to be submitted under a leader that makes you see Only Jesus. Not them, their accomplishments, titles, positions, vestments, rings, robes, initials, degrees, collars, etc…But Only Jesus!

1 Corinthians 2:2, “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.” (MSG) You need to be submitted under a leader whose preaching and teaching is about who Jesus is and what Jesus did. Not who they are (or think they are) not on what they’ve done (or think they’ve done). But a leader who keeps the name of Jesus on his/her lips when preaching or teaching. Not someone using Greek, Latin, and Hebrew in every other sentence, and certainly not someone who you need to keep the Webster’s Dictionary on hand every other 2 lines to know what 23 letter words they keep using every 5 minutes to be verbally impressive! A good leader keeps it “plain and simple.” And to those of my preacher friends who stand flat foot and preach and teach the ‘plain and simple’ Gospel, without hoop and holler, please do not compare yourselves to those who do. A hoop and holler are not the equivalent or evidence of the Holy Ghost, it is but a person’s preferred style of execution. It’s apart of their personality in how they choose to deliver. So, never feel as though you are not making the same, or even a greater impact on the lives of your hearers, just because your delivery is packaged differently. You don’t have to yell, scream, sweat, do back-flips, bang the podium, spin around in circles with fancy footwork, flying hands and spit spreading everywhere. You can still, speak what God gave you and go sit down without breaking a sweat, and still watch souls be added to the Kingdom of God. Remember, whatever your ‘preferred style’, the importance is on the Message being delivered in its most plain and simple form. Look at it like this: If a person who’s diabetic has their glucose levels shoot up through the roof, do you really think at a time like that, they want someone to hand them a pen of insulin and teach a 2 hour, detailed tutorial on the history of insulin, before they use it? No, they need a straight shot! Stick pen now! And truthfully there are a lot of people coming to our churches that are leaving empty because we’ve over-complicated the message. You can’t properly apply what you don’t clearly understand. Therefore, I reiterate, what your ‘preferred style’ is, for the sake of the people’s soul and eternity, keep it ‘plain and simple.’

Galatians 1:10-12, “Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ.” (MSG) You need to be submitted to a leader that is void of intimidation and manipulation. A leader that doesn’t need and seek applause and popularity. A leader that doesn’t attempt to impress with 9 titles and 14 initials (half of which were bought, not earned). A leader that hears from God and speaks the unadulterated Word of God to His people. A leader who is not into people pleasing, is sure to help you grow to your full potential.

Colossians 3:23-25, “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” (MSG) You need to be submitted to a leader that knows who the real Master is (and that it clearly is not them). Working in the church they pastor, still means you are working for God! Avoid leaders who make you feel as though you work personally for them. The work of the ministry has nothing to do with mere man. The work of the ministry is adding souls to the Kingdom. And even in this work, we are to put forth our best effort, remembering WHO it is we’re working for. Avoid leaders who act as though the Church is their personal incorporation. A leader of humility and servanthood is who you sit under submissively. A leader that does his/her best which brings out the very same in you! That’s the leader you follow.

2 Timothy 4:3-4, “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.” (MSG) You need to be submitted to a leader that will feed you the unadulterated Word of God. I love the word “unadulterated” because it’s simply defined as “having no inferior added substance.” In other words, you need a leader that will call it “Adultery”, not “An Affair”; “Sin” and not “An Issue”. You need a leader that possesses the wisdom of when to cover you and when to expose you. You need the bread of life, not a cake of compromise. A leader that will tell you when you’re wrong, not help you try to justify it as right. You need a leader that will continue to serve you the Solid Meat of the Word even when your flesh only wants to Digest Spiritual Junk Food!

Galatians 2:19-21, “What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.” (MSG) You need a leader just like that!

If you see a leader who leaves you thinking about Jesus, in the crowded spiritual supermarket that you and I shop in, you’ll know that’s one worth buying into. So, after this little lesson, it is my prayer that you will carefully, thoroughly, honestly re-evaluate your spiritual leadership. Make sure you are in the right house with the right head. The loss of your soul is too costly!

Remember our opening text:

John 3:30, “He must increase [in prominence], but I must decrease.”; (AMP);

“This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.” (MSG);

“Jesus must become more important, while I become less important.” (CEV);

“He must increase in importance, while I must decrease in importance.” (GWT).

There are many things you can use to measure good leadership, but why not follow the ruler Jesus Himself used? He used John the Baptist because He wasn’t out to compete with Him, he was out to make Jesus the most prominent; the center; and the most important, even if that meant he was to decrease; slip off to the sidelines and become less important. If you dare find a leader like that, follow him/her closely, you’ve indeed found the right one!

Charles H. Spurgeon Quotes:

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

“That very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors.”

“Satan, he can make men dance upon the brink of hell as though they were on the verge of heaven.”

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

“The preaching of Christ is the whip that flogs the devil. The preaching of Christ is the thunderbolt, the sound of which makes hell shake.”

“The Word of God is like a Lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose and the lion will defend itself”

“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible”

“If you are idle in Christ’s work, you are active in the devil’s work”

“If sinners be damned at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped around their knees. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let no one go unwarned or unprayed for.”

“People, like sheep, tend to follow a leader – occasionally in the right direction.” (Alexander Chase)

“According to Scripture, virtually everything that truly qualifies a person for leadership is directly related to character.” (John MacArthur)

“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” (Bill Bradley)

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” (Tom Peters)

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” (Max Lucado)

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” (John C. Maxwell)

“To become a leader worth following, you must give time and attention to the inner man. To leave a legacy that goes beyond accomplishments alone, a leader must devote himself to matters of the heart.” (Andy Stanley)

“Christian leadership is a privilege of being in the service of influencing God’s people to achieve divine vision and purpose.” (Tionge Matela Msiska)

“Most Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead. Many Christian empire-builders have been people unable to give and receive love.” (Henri Nouwen)

“A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.” (Leroy Eims)

“Leadership is not about positions and having people bow to you. It’s not about having titles conferred on you. Leadership is about service. It is about helping people fulfill their God-given purpose.” (Pastor Mensa Otabil)

“To keep the wrong leader in the wrong place prevents the right leader from being in the right place.” (Aubrey Malphurs)

“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“Those of us who have been privileged to receive education, skills and experiences and even power must be role models for the next generation of leadership.” (Wangar Maathai)

“Leadership is all about people. It is not about organizations. It is not about plans. It is not about strategies. It is all about people-motivating people to get the job done. You have to be people-centered.” (Colin Powell)

“Your gifts are not about you; leadership is not about you; your purpose is not about you. A life of significance is about serving those who need your gifts, your leadership, your purpose.” (Kevin Hall)

“A big part of leadership is recognizing that your fruit often grows on other people’s trees.” (Todd Adkins)

“True leadership is the authority given by the trust of the followers to use power for the benefit of all.” (Dr. Myles Munroe)

“Every local church has a leader, but it seems so few local churches are being led.” (Andy Stanley)

“Leadership in church is one of the biggest challenges that the church is facing because without strong leadership, the church rarely lives out its redemptive potentials.” (Bill Hybels)

“Spiritual leadership is knowing where God wants people to to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power.” (John Piper)

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” (John Maxwell)

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” (James C. Humes)

“The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis.” (Brian Tracy)

“The story of the church, as depicted in the book of Acts, is one of a community of faith directed by a team of leaders working together toward a common vision. Had the church relied upon a single, incredibly gifted, magnetic individual to replace Jesus, the church would surely have collapsed.” (George Barna)

“Integrity is the most valuable and respected quality of leadership. Always keep your word.” (Brian Tracy)

“If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you.” (Bishop Dale C. Bronner)

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

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“Pray For Your Pastor”

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(Ephesians 6:19 AMP), “AND [PRAY] ALSO FOR ME, that [freedom of] utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth to proclaim boldly the mystery of the good news (the Gospel)”

The Message Bible reads: “AND DON’T FORGET TO PRAY FOR ME. Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I, jailbird preacher that I am, am responsible for getting out” (Ephesians 6:19 MSG)

Paul is one of the most tried Pastors of all time! One of God’s most suffering servants! In his own words Paul declares: “I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches.“ (2 Corinthians 11:23-27 MSG).

Paul Was A Pastor Under Pressure! Truth Is, Paul Was Stressed! In essence, Paul started off killing church folks, and now church folks were trying to kill him! And yet, with all Paul’s pressure, problems, perplexities, and stress, all he asked for from the church was PRAYER!

He didn’t ask them to pay his mortgage, he didn’t ask for a down payment on a new car, he didn’t ask for a Pastoral Vacation in Hawaii, he didn’t ask for a bigger ring, a longer robe, or a platinum cross! He didn’t ask for another title, another office, another position! He didn’t ask for another church, another armor-bearer, or another entourage! He didn’t ask for a salary or a raise (and he was qualified and deserved both), he didn’t ask for a special offering, he didn’t ask for an appreciation service, banquet, awards ceremony, Christmas celebration, Birthday Explosion, or anniversary allotment! All the Pastor asked for was PRAYER! Church, the Pastor just asked for PRAYER!

Which Provokes Us To Question: What Was So Vital About Prayer, That With All His Pastoral Pressure, That’s All He Asked For?!

Listen: After Wilbur Chapman’s first sermon at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, a man said, “You’re pretty young to be Pastor of this great church. We’ve always had older men. I’m afraid you won’t succeed, but since you preach the gospel I’m going to help you all I can.” Chapman thought, “What a crank”. But the man continued, “I’m going to pray for you, and a few others have covenanted to join me.” Later, Chapman wrote, “I didn’t feel so bad when I learned that they were going to pray for me. Soon the three became fifty, and the fifty became two hundred who met before every service to pray for me. In another room eighteen Elders knelt so closely around me that I could put out my hand and touch them. I always went into my pulpit confident that I would have God’s anointing in answer to the prayers of those people. It was easy to preach – a real joy. And what was the result? Eleven hundred people were saved and joined the church in the next three years, and six hundred of them were men! It was the fruit of the Holy Spirit in answer to prayer. Church members have much more to do than go to church as curious, idle spectators to be amused and entertained. It is their business to pray mightily that the Holy Spirit will clothe the Preacher with Power and make his words like Dynamite!

However, it is unfortunate that the opposite is taking place in many churches today, with many congregants who would rather complain about their Pastor instead of coming into covenant as a church and interceding on their Pastors behalf. And, yes, believe it or not as anointed, gifted, talented, and powerful as your Man and Woman of God is…Even They Need, Require and Desire PRAYER!

It’s hard enough standing before the masses who want you to entertain them, dazzle them, inspire, impact, impart in and empower them!  They want the Pastor to pray, study, meditate, perform signs and wonders, flow in the five-fold ministry and possess all the gifts of the Spirit! They want the Pastor to pray they get a job tomorrow (while they remain stretched out in their bed today) They want the Pastor to pray their throbbing right toe is healed right now (while they yet stand with their hammer toes, bunions, corns, and calloused feet scrunched up in a shoe 2 sizes too small) Not to mention they’re also hopeful that God answers the Pastor’s prayer that they get a new house, new car, new money, new children, new job, new business, and new spouse all by noon…YESTERDAY…

And yet, they never once think to cover their Pastor in PRAYER!

And I’m not talking about that little prayer addendum you make at the end of your hour long prayer FOR YOURSELF! ‘and Lord, bless my pastor too, in Jesus Name, amen’ The devil’s a lie!

Statistically, today, we have Pastor’s walking away from their marriages, ministries, families and churches (they obviously need more than your bless ‘em Lord prayer). Pastor’s are sexting church members, having facebook affairs, tweeting tricks and treats, fondling children, cheating on spouses, absent from their children’s lives (clearly they need more than your touch ‘em Jesus); Pastor’s are depressed, stressed, drinking, on drugs, committing suicide, and going back into the world (surely they need more than your bless ‘em Lord, in Jesus name)! Pastors are trying to pastor through this Covid-19 pandemic, encourage members who have lost loved ones, those battling the illness themselves (besides other health ailments), those who have lost their jobs, those who have no idea where the next mortgage, rent, tuition, gas, light, or meal provisions are coming from, those struggling with depression, fear and suicidal thoughts, not to mention sheer confusion. Yes, your pastor needs more than ‘do it again Lord’ prayers!

SAINTS, PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR!

Clearly It’s Time To Stop Making Petitions OF Your Pastors, And Start Make Petitions FOR them Instead!

Truth is, Pastors are expected to cast out demons, mend messed up marriages, straighten out crooked children, be at the hospital, the morgue, hospice, nursing home, rehab center, the homeless shelter, soup kitchen, jailhouse and in the pulpit, with a smile on their face ready to preach you happy, all at the same time! And yet, nobody shows up for Prayer?!

SAINTS, PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR!

Pastors are expected to help finance congregants bills, the church bills, fix the boiler in winter, the air conditioner in summer, pray away allergies in spring, and clean out the gutters in the fall! They’re expected to donate money for the tuition scholarship fund for your children, cure your car, repair the roof and raise the dead! But dare the Pastor expect the church to PRAY!

One thing I can assure you, no matter how wonderful your Pastor is, your Pastor needs your Prayers! I know they may be so anointed that you can’t see it, but trust the experience of someone who has worked behind the scenes with several Pastors, They Get Tired, Frustrated, Lonely, Depressed, Discouraged, Overwhelmed, and Yes Believe It Or Not They Have Their Own Health, Family and Finance Issues Too! They experience broken hearts, bitter church folks, and dreams that seem as though they will never be birthed into the Land of the Living!

I believe we look at Pastors and only see their robe and forget that they are still very much Human!

Your Pastor cries, Your Pastor gets angry, Your Pastor wants to walk away! Yes, Even Your Pastor Is Human!

It Always Amazes Me That Flaw-Filled Parishioners Always Want a Flaw-Less Pastor!

I’ve watched many churches only shine the spotlight on their Pastor at his/her Anniversary Services and Celebrations! But trust me on this one, your Pastor’s face lights up knowing that he/she is being Prayed for By YOU! Their greatest encouragement comes without the Celebrations…but the quiet Pastor I just wanted to say be encouraged…”  That might not sound like much to you, but to the Pastor who’s expected to daily walk in the shoes of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Paul, and Jesus….It Means The World! An innocent hug, a scripture text, an inspirational card, all give your Pastor a booster shot of encouragement! But absolutely nothing touches the heart of a Pastor like a word of Prayer!

Your Pastor is spending Incalculable Time In Prayer Keeping the Hand, Tactics and Attacks of the Enemy at Bay In Your Life…Are You Doing the Same For Him/Her?

The Enemy Is After Your Pastor Too! He Attacks Your Pastor when he/she is lonely, discouraged, tired, frustrated…and even after a Major Victory…he comes Shooting Off Fiery Darts! And unfortunately, there’s no one standing before him/her with a Shield of Faithful Prayers!

And further still, Pastors are expected to out-preach, out-teach, out-pray, out-gift every other Pastor on planet Earth! Everyone wants their Pastor to be the Best of the Best of Pastors! And with such Expectations, Many Pastors battle with Competition, Comparisons, Self-Esteem and Self-Worth Issues! Yes, Your Pastors Are Human!

Truth is, Many Pastors don’t think they’re good enough, smart enough, gifted enough, anointed enough, or even financially well enough to walk in their gift as Pastor! And worse yet, Many are in debt now, and yes I mean at the Bankruptcy Court filing because of the car, house, church, or clothes they bought attempting to keep up with the appearance of what they perceive a real anointed Pastor’s life should look like”. Want to know how I know? I’ve helped them fill out the papers! 

Many churches have 50 ministries, the appearance of meeting needs and being great, only to look again and no new souls have been added to the church…just recycled members from someone else’s! 

Chapman had eleven hundred New members added to the church in three years and six-hundred of them were men, and it was all the product of what prayer produced! Imagine the schemes, themes, and dreams the church would no longer have to entertain if the focus was simply shifted back to Prayer!

Furthermore, Your Pastor has Gossip filtered in his/her ears while they try to hear clearly from God. They have to keep their mind, heart, emotions, and body under subjection even while battling with Various Temptations…That Are Accidental…But More Likely Deliberate! They have to keep their eyes full of love while looking at a group of sinful folks that he/she is expected to help make Heaven their home!

Much Is Expected of Pastors, And Believe It Or Not, Much Is Expected From You Too!

Here’s a Challenge For You (And I Want You To Keep Me Informed Of How It’s Progressing): Select One Day Out of the Week That Is Designated For Prayer For Your Pastor! Fast That Day, and Keep Him/Her Covered!

What Should You Pray For? You want to pray that your Pastor hears God clearly and follows His directions accurately; pray that your Pastor Walks Circumspectly in this world as the Bible admonishes; pray that your Pastor Lives a Life and Lifestyle that is above reproach (Consecrated, Holy, Righteous, Just, and Clean); Pray that all of your Pastors Gifts are in Full Manifestation; Pray that your Pastor remains in Prayer, and keeps his/her Faith from Faltering; Pray that your Pastor keeps their body under subjection, their will yielded to God, their Spirit fed by God’s Word, their Mind Renewed, their Heart and Hands Clean, their Motives and Intentions Pure, and their Vision Clear; Pray that they remain continuously clothed in Humility, the Garment of Praise and the Whole Armor of God; Pray that they Follow In the Footsteps of Jesus.

But also pray that Your Pastor always takes the way of escape that the Lord has provided for Temptation; pray they are faithful stewards over the family, job, career, ministry, church and finances that the Lord has entrusted to them; pray that their ears and mouth are kept from gossip, rumors, lies, falsehood, deceit, and flattery; pray that they are kept from the failure of favoritism; pray that they are honest when they’re hurting (far too many Pastors are attempting to “Fake It Until They Make ItHowever, God never gave us this as a principle to practice); pray that they take needed physical and mental breaks; pray that they have adequate help in their personal and private lives; even pray that they go to the doctor for annual physicals (you don’t want to know the statistics of Pastors dying under age 50 from poor health); pray that they maintain their joy and their peace of mind!

In other words, Every Part of Your Pastors Life Needs and Requires Prayer!

They endure the same struggles as the congregants, they’re just expected to slap a robe, a cross, a bible and a good sermon over it!

Saints, be your Pastors safe place where they can be honest about their hurts and frustrations (again, you don’t even want to know the statistics of Pastors who are going to Unsaved Psychologists and Psychiatrists because of the stresses of life and ministry).

Your Pastor Needs You and Your Prayers!

Today, Determine to Lighten Their Burden Simply By Bending a Knee In Prayer. You’ll Be Amazed At How Much Better Your Pastor Will Be!

Alarming Pastoral Statistics: 97% of Pastors Have Been Betrayed, Falsely Accused, or Hurt By Their Trusted Friends; 50% of Pastors Marriages End In Divorce; 70% of Pastors Battle Depression; 7,000 Churches Close Each Year; 1,700 Pastors Quit Each Month; 80% of Pastors Feel Discouraged; 94% of Pastors Families Feel the Pressure of the Ministry; 78% of Pastors Have No Close Friend; 90% of Pastors Report Working 55-75 Hours Per Week With Either No Salary, or No Salary Increase; and Only 10% Actually Retire a Pastor. (By Dr. Bill Purvis)

Which is All The More Reason To Pray For Your Pastor!

Prayer is the greatest support for any Pastor.

Your prayers are much like Aaron and Hur: Joshua led the attack as Moses had commanded, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur stood on the hilltop.  The Israelites out-fought the Amalekites as long as Moses held up his arms, but they started losing whenever he had to lower them. Finally, Moses was so tired that Aaron and Hur got a rock for him to sit on. THEN THEY STOOD BESIDE HIM AND SUPPORTED HIS ARMS IN THE SAME POSITION UNTIL SUNSET.  That’s how Joshua defeated the Amalekites.” (Exodus 17:10-13 CEV)

Remember, your Pastor is human, and gets tired too. And when he does, he should be able to count on you to uplift and support him. And that doesn’t mean on Sunday only. After all, Aaron and Hur supported their leader “…IN THE SAME POSITION UNTIL SUNSET.” As long as it takes, keep your leader uplifted, covered and supported in prayer, they need it!

“A pastor never gets to say ‘I’m off duty’. Never gets to punch out at 5. Never gets to have a normal schedule. We don’t know how many sleepless nights they spend on their knees praying for their church. How much opposition they face. How many family opportunities they miss to meet with hurting people. We can’t carry their burden for them but we can do what the Bible tells us to: Pray for them. Encourage them. Support them. By blessing them we will only be blessed in return.” (DaughterByDesign)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Checklist For Staying Healthy”

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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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“You’re Facing the Wrong Way!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Don’t Miss Your Turn”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Salt With No TOUCH Has No TASTE”

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Matthew 5:13, “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (MSG)

If it’s one thing I love to do its cook! However, one thing I hate to cook with is salt! You see, having parents who both suffered with high blood pressure and heart disease definitely had a huge impact on how I prepared food. To my credit, in my last two decades of life, I became a master at seasoning, so you would have no idea that salt was ever missing from my meal preparation. But prior to that, was a whole different story! I remember cooking dinner for my daughters and my friend Laurie came over to join us. She took one bite and screamed, “where the heck is the salt!?” I reminded her I didn’t cook with salt (as I laughed hysterically at the faces she made!) Well, even though I don’t cook with salt, I always have my trusted salt shaker full and ready for use for those who prefer it. So Laurie, jumps up and heads to the kitchen for the flavorful seasoning and comes back with the comment, “now we’re in business!” She did a few shakes then tasted the food again. She repeated the action three times! And yet, her facial expression let me know she was still not happy. By now, I’m a bit discouraged thinking, “I know I know how to cook, it can’t be that bad!” Laurie, always the candid one responded, “I’m telling you I don’t taste a difference.” Now I’m stressed because the amount of shakes she did with that salt will give her a heart-attack before dessert! But then my eldest daughter in all her wisdom, whom we all call grandma, because as my older relatives would say, ‘she’s been here before’, decided to enlighten us. Her comment, ‘are you sure the salt is coming out?’ Sure enough, we looked at the salt shaker, and as fancy as it was, you needed to move a little button from closed to open on the bottom of the salt shaker! Laurie was shaking her little heart out, and nothing changed, because nothing came out! Without TOUCH, there was no change to the TASTE!

In reading today’s Scripture for my morning devotional, the above memory is what immediately came to mind. Laurie had the salt in her hand, what she needed to put it on was right in front of her, within reach, and she even put in tremendous effort to get the salt out, and yet, because it stayed contained in its little bottle, nothing was affected, nothing was changed. Sounds a lot like Matthew 5:13 doesn’t it?

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (MSG)

The whole reason we’re here is to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. But if the salt never touches anything, how does it change anything? Which makes me think of the evangelism that has so greatly halted in our churches. Oh, we go to church week-after-week, Sunday School; Sunday worship; prayer; bible study; meetings; rehearsals; revivals; special services and the like, and we’re quite comfortable sitting in our sanctuaries (aka “salt shakers”), well contained! Problem? Salt is touching salt, but touching nothing else! Selah…

In order for you to TASTE salt, it has to TOUCH something! In order for salt to change something, it has to touch something. In order for us salty Christians to change something, or someone, we’ve got to touch it and them! We can’t remain in the salt-shaker, where we’re useless because we’re touchless and tasteless.

Therefore, we can’t sit in our churches and complain about the world and the way it is, while we sit in the salt-shaker sanctuary touching nothing and no one. Just imagine if we actually left the salt-shaker sanctuary and went to shake some salt in the nursing homes, in the hospitals, in the prisons, in the homeless shelters, at the soup kitchens. What change might we bring about if only we’d leave the salt-shaker sanctuary? If we shook some salt while standing in the grocery aisle, in the barbershop, or at the nail and hair salon? What if we shook some salt at our jobs, in our families and in our communities? What if we shook some salt on that drug-infested park, or gang-infested territory? What if we shook some salt as we walk the streets from day-to-day, passing countless ‘tasteless’ individuals on the way? I mean after all, the Bible says that’s what we’re here for, right? Isn’t that our purpose? Isn’t that our charge? Isn’t that our call?

Is it possible that people haven’t tasted God, because we haven’t touched them with Him? With His unconditional love, His sufficient grace and new mercies. With His forgiveness, kindness, compassion and encouragement. With His protection, provision, and presence. With His unspeakable joy and reassuring peace. I reiterate, is it possible that people haven’t tasted God, because we haven’t touched them with Him?

Psalm 34:8, “Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him.” (MSG)

How can people “taste” how good God is, if we’re His salt, but we never leave the salt-shaker?

I’m sure God would love to hear the sounds of His salt getting out of the shaker more often! After all, the work salt is supposed to do is not inside the salt shaker, all clustered together with the other salt. It’s supposed to get out and change the flavor of something!

The Scripture says, “Open your mouth and taste…”, now, can you imagine feeding your baby, and yet every time they open their mouth, you bring the spoon close enough, but then you pull it away. Do you know the noise that little rascal would make, especially if he/she is already hungry! But that’s what we do as a church. We have programs and services, and we invite “whosoever will let him come”, and then when they don’t come in, we don’t go out. And of course it’s not our fault, after all, we invited, we held the service, we put on the program…but honestly, all we’re doing is bringing the food on a spoon close enough for them to see it, but then we pull it away before they can taste it. Truth is, most unbelievers are not going to simply walk in the church on Sunday morning, cry out “how can I be saved”, and then shout to a praise break! Believe it or not, but that’s like being a police officer and waiting at the precinct for someone who is guilty to stroll in and ask to be held accountable for their wrong! Not gonna happen! Officers go out to bring them in! Someone did it for us, so why are we not doing it for others?

Matthew 28:18-20, “Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually – regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” (AMP)

Now, how are we to make disciples OF ALL NATIONS, if we never leave the pulpit or the pew? How is it God said GO, but we’ve YIELDED to the point that we’ve STOPPED? How can we MAKE something without ever touching it? How are people to LEARN of our God if we’re the TEACHERS who are never in CLASS with our STUDENTS? How can they BELIEVE Him if we don’t tell them ABOUT Him? How can they be expected to OBEY HIS WORD, when they haven’t HEARD HIS WORD?

Romans 10:14, “But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher (messenger)?” (AMP)

Furthermore, how are they to be BAPTIZED, without us touching them?

And how do we use anything as an excuse, when God Himself said, “…AND LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS [REMAINING WITH YOU PERPETUALLY – REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCE, AND ON EVERY OCCASION], EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE.” What can we possibly use as an excuse for why we have not done what He “COMMANDED”?

According to Jesus, “You are the salt of the earth…“, not of the sanctuary! But of the entire Earth! Which means we have to leave from within the church walls. We have to operate outside of our comfort zones, our pulpits and pews. We have to leave the meeting and the auxiliaries. We have to leave the Fellowship to go Fellow-Ship, before they all Drown!

Can you imagine the horror on the face of an individual who’s fighting with all their might, absolutely terrified that they may die any minute while trying to stay afloat in the troubling waters of life…and yet, we, the church, Jesus’ Life-Guards, are standing on the shore, watching…equipped to help…but just watching…knowing how to save…but choosing to just watch…having the Word that will deliver from destruction…and yet we remain, just watching.

People are struggling at sea, because the saints are only concerned with their safety on shore. This should not be!

You don’t keep salt stored up together in the shaker any more than you stand as a lifeguard on shore and watch someone drown. No, you scatter salt around so it will be in contact with the things that need their flavor changed. No lifeguard just stands on the shore and yells, “see if you can make it over here to me, then I can help you”. No, it’s the lifeguard’s job to look out for those who may need him, and he goes out to them, he does not wait and hope they will come to him. And unfortunately, that’s what we’ve been doing as a church. We see people struggling to stay afloat in the troubling waters of life, and instead of going out to help them, we’re standing on shore, yelling, “see if you can make it over here to my church, my service, my program, then I can help you.” That’s not how this is supposed to work saints.

Listen, Jesus left Heaven to get to us, Satan left Hell to get to us, and yet we won’t even leave the church to make disciples?

As Christians we were never meant to be all clustered together in a spiritual salt shaker, just salting each other and soaking up more blessings, miracles and the like for ourselves. The salt’s got to be in direct contact with the meat or the vegetables that need it. So guess what? You and I have to be in meaningful contact with the people who really, really need our Jesus. We’re not supposed to be hiding out, playing defense all the time, trying to keep from being contaminated by avoiding the world that Jesus left us here to change! We need to have the world testify about us as they did about some of Jesus’ more effective disciples:

Acts 17:6, “But when they did not find them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the Lord’s followers. They took them to the city authorities and shouted, “PAUL AND SILAS HAVE BEEN UPSETTING THINGS EVERYWHERE. NOW THEY HAVE COME HERE.” (CEV). They took the gospel message “EVERYWHERE”! And we can’t get folks to leave the sanctuary or the community!

Listen to a few other translations:

“…THESE MEN HAVE MADE TROUBLE EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD…” (ERV);

“…THESE MEN WHO HAVE TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN HAVE COME HERE ALSO.” (ESV);

“…PAUL AND SILAS HAVE TURNED THE REST OF THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN, AND NOW THEY ARE HERE DISTURBING OUR CITY,” THEY SHOUTED.” (TLB) – Now, when is the last time you touched the world, and unbelievers, in such a way that you disturbed them? Disturbed their sin, their wickedness, their unbelief, their habits and addictions. When is the last time you disturbed the devil? When is the last time you turned the city upside down? When is the last time you gave someone a taste of God by giving them a touch from God?

The Message Bible says it like this, “…YELLING HYSTERICALLY, “THESE PEOPLE ARE OUT TO DESTROY THE WORLD, AND NOW THEY’VE SHOWN UP ON OUR DOORSTEP, ATTACKING EVERYTHING WE HOLD DEAR! AND JASON IS HIDING THEM, THESE TRAITORS AND TURNCOATS WHO SAY JESUS IS KING AND CAESAR IS NOTHING!” (MSG) When is the last time we’ve made an impact like this on the world as the church?! When is the last time we went door-to-door letting them know Jesus is King? When is the last time we’ve attacked sin, the very thing the unbeliever holds dear? When is the last time we touched the world in such a manner that they couldn’t deny the taste of God?!

People of God, we have to do more than rub shoulders with each other in the salt shaker sanctuary! Think about it, salt on top of salt is dangerous and deadly to our physical health…could be just as dangerous and deadly to our spiritual health as well?!

Saints, if the last days are really upon us, what are we doing sitting in salt shakers?

2 Timothy 4:3-5, “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you – keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.” (MSG)

This is what we should be doing in these last and evil days. Preaching the gospel truth message to the masses as God’s servants! Not to each other! But to others! If we don’t touch, they don’t taste, they’ll just settle for tickling! Do you really want to be held responsible for that?

Like it or not, but if your time is pretty much spent with Christians, well you’re missing your mission! We’ll do that in heaven! We’ll hang out together all the time, for all eternity! But right now we’ve got to be involved with some people who aren’t going to heaven yet! It’s time for you to take all that you’ve been storing up spiritually and start taking it to places and people where it’s really needed.

It’s time to be intentional about building relationships with that neighbor of yours, you know that lost co-worker, with some of your fellow students who need Jesus. It’s time to look around your community and find some human needs that you can be involved in meeting in Jesus’ name; to build some bridges into lives. They’re all around us waiting for a touch and a taste, let’s not let them down!

It’s time to look around your community for a place to volunteer so you can be in contact with some unreached people with some really deep needs. You need a community connection, not just a church connection; something that will put the salt of your life in contact with some of the lives that really need the flavor of Jesus! Remember: “…if you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?They can’t taste godliness without first touching your saltiness. So, are you within reach? Are you salty? Are you in use? Are you available? Are you touchable?

We need to be actively involved in the life of our church no doubt. God wants that. Hebrews 10:22-25, “So let’s do it – full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps His Word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” (MSG) See, we are to spend some time in the salt shaker together, but we can’t stay there indefinitely! There are people waiting to get a taste of God from a touch of us, we have to come out!

You need time together, but not to the exclusion of connecting with the world that God so loves. You are the spiritual salt where you live. Get out of that salt shaker! And what’s the danger if we don’t?

“… You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (MSG)

Surely you don’t want the testimony that you went from the Gospel to the Garbage…do you? I think not.

Luke 10:1-2, “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every city and place where He was about to go. He was saying to them, “The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few. Therefore, [prayerfully] ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (AMP)

Let today be the day that you challenge yourself, your family and friends, your community and certainly your church to come out the salt shaker and touch the world with a taste of God! Many are waiting, be counted in the number with the few, who are in fact available to proclaim the message of salvation to the masses!

Remember: Salt With No Touch Has No Taste! Reach Them Today!

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How to Feel Better in Less Than 15 Minutes”

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“BUT GOD!”

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

“…I MYSELF INTENDED…BUT GOD…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “12 Ways to Get Rid of a Headache, Besides Ibuprofen”

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LETS STAY CONNECTED!

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“3 Reasons You Keep Losing the Battle”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now Soldiers, FIGHT AND WIN!

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

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“Marriage RIGHTS For When Things Go WRONG”

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“Live joyfully with the wife whom you love…”  Ecclesiastes 9:9 (NKJV)

Sonja Ely writes, ‘I was watching my seven-year-old granddaughter play with her toys. At one point she staged a wedding, first playing the role of the mother who assigned specific duties, then suddenly becoming the bride with her “teddy bear” groom. She picked him up and said to the “minister” presiding, “Now you can read us our rights.” Without missing a beat, she became the minister who said, “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say may be held against you, you have the right to have an attorney present, you may now kiss the bride.”As comical as that is, you need to know what your marriage rights are! And to start you must know that, first and foremost, marriage is God’s idea!  

In Eden He said, ‘…It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him”‘ (Genesis 2:18 NKJV). The word ‘comparable’ means ‘compatible with his (or her) needs‘. In other words, the person you choose to marry will be Comparable, Not Perfect! They can be Perfect FOR You, but they are in no ways Perfect. That’s why it’s foolish for Imperfect YOU, to get so divorce-driven frustrated every time they don’t meet your cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ imaginary ideals that you also fall very short of attaining! So, before we start anything please know that it is vital to your marriage that you embrace the fact that your spouse will never be perfect this side of heaven and neither will you. Which means, we have two imperfect people who need to come up with marital frustration strategies that are comparable for them to keep their covenant intact.

Listen, when you marry someone, you marry everything they’ve been through! Each of you brings your own baggage. And unless you sort out what to keep and what to discard, things can quickly erode. You must also understand that when you leave God out, you create bigger problems for your marriage than who forgot to take out the garbage or wash the dishes! Keep in mind, Satan has made marriage one of his prime targets! He loves to promote strife.  

Which is why when it comes to marriage we must learn to quickly and completely forgive: The Bible says it like this: 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 4:31-32 MSG). Why is this so important? Because unforgiveness gives Satan an advantage to tear your marriage apart which is why we are further admonished: ‘If you forgive anyone anything, I too forgive that one; and what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sakes in the presence [and with the approval] of Christ (the Messiah), TO KEEP SATAN FROM GETTING THE ADVANTAGE OVER US; FOR WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF HIS WILES AND INTENTIONS‘ (2 Corinthians 2:10-11 AMP). You see, the whole purpose of forgiveness is: “…To Keep Satan From Getting The Advantage Over Us…So forgive your Imperfect Spouse, with Your Imperfect Self, and Keep Satan at bay! God’s plan for your relationship is strength and harmony, not strife and confusion. He wants to help you build a strong, loving union that glorifies Him. To do that, you must show grace, forgiveness and resolve to make Jesus Lord of your relationship! Remember, your marriage was God’s Idea, therefore, let Him Control it and it won’t Veer off the Divorce Cliff!              

In discussing marriage on his TV sitcom, Jerry Seinfeld tells his friend why he’s not married: ‘No healthy person would want the neglect I have to offer.Let’s face it, even the ‘best’ marriages are made up of two imperfect people who sometimes neglect each other. And when you’ve been hurt it’s easy to react in the flesh instead of responding in the Spirit. Because truthfully, some hurts go really deep and grow really strong roots over time. At this point we must remember that regardless, forgiveness is a decision, however, trust is a process and when it’s been torn down, it takes time to rebuild it. Men and women often perceive trust differently. When a spouse has been hurt, her husband or his wife may think an apology should immediately enable them to trust them again, move on, and not talk about it again. That’s not so; because there are two things that need to happen. First, the offending partner needs to acknowledge what they’ve done. Don’t just tell your partner to get over it‘. Validate their feelings, even if they act like they don’t want you to. Acknowledge their pain. You see, when others rationalize or trivialize what’s hurting us, it only makes us angrier. Only when we feel validated do our wounds begin to heal. Second, the offended partner needs to make sure that bitterness doesn’t creep in.How can I do that?you ask. By refusing to stay hurt any longer than is absolutely necessary, and by allowing God to heal your heart and restore your love. The Bible says, ‘… “If you hear his voice today, don’t be STUBBORN!”‘ (Hebrews 4:7 CEV). When God gives you the grace to forgive and release the hurt, you need to seize it not be stubborn about it! Holding your spouse in unforgiveness prison, means you’re locked up in bondage right along with them! You do remember the Scripture says:  “And the two shall become ONE Flesh, so that they are No Longer TWO, BUT ONE FLESH.” (Mark 10:8 AMP). If you don’t free them, you don’t free you either! Selah…              

After the death of the child David fathered with Bathsheba, we read, ‘Then David got up… washed himself… changed his clothes… went to the Tabernacle and worshipped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and… ate. His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again”‘ (2 Samuel 12:20-21 NLT). Why did David mourn more intensely before the baby died than he did after? Because according to many research studies across the countries, men grieve hard, but not necessarily as long. Once something’s over, they’ve a tendency to move on. However, in marriage, this can cause problems. You see, according to the studies, men often genuinely don’t understand why their wives can’t accept that ‘what’s done is done’, and move on too. But listen to David’s logic: ‘… I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, “Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.” But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me‘ (2 Samuel 12:22-23 NLT). Stay with me, the Bible says that God ‘… comforts us… so that… When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort… ‘ (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT). Therefore, David’s next move was crucial. And what was it you ask? He ‘… Comforted Bathsheba, his wife… ‘ (2 Samuel 12:24 NLT). Notice, David didn’t ask, ‘What’s wrong with you? When are you going to get over this? I’ve moved on what’s taking you so long?No, he recognized that even though he was beginning to heal, his wife was still hurting. The healing process accelerates once you begin to empathize with, and comfort your mate. And this is advised for both husband and wife, no matter who caused the hurt. Healing always takes time and that timing is different for both parties. Therefore, you need to learn to heal, and whichever gets to the healing finish line first, don’t leave the finish line until your spouse has crossed over it, no matter how long it takes them to get there. It’s important that you both finish, what’s unimportant is who finishes first.              

Sometimes the loss won’t even be a person, but a thing. For instance, when your mate loses their job and you find yourself suddenly going through a season of financial uncertainty, here are three things you need to keep in mind. First, remember it’s just a season. The important thing is to guard your attitude while you’re waiting for things to turn around. For example: Unless he’s lazy or an outright freeloader, your husband already feels bad because he can’t provide. He knows the children need shoes, the bills are piling up and that you’re tired of eating noodles or beans on toast, so don’t keep reminding him! Second, now is the time to get behind him and strengthen his ego, not deflate it. How?‘ you ask. By asking yourself, ‘Am I always complaining? Do I highlight the things we don’t have? Do I covet stuff that’s beyond our budget right now? Am I doing my part to cut back and make ends meet, or am I splurging on non-essentials, going shopping every day and wanting to eat out every night?Remember, responsibility and accountability for your marriage survival falls on Both of your shoulders! Finally, never forget, ‘this too shall pass’. Now is not a good time to remind your husband (or your wife if she’s the breadwinner) about the new car your brother bought or the great house your friend just exchanged on. Now is the time to practice saying with Paul, ‘... I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.‘ (Philippians 4:11-13 NCV). Has God ever failed you? No, and He won’t now, so make up your mind to trust Him. How you handle this season may well determine whether your relationship emerges weaker or stronger.              

So know your Marital Rights! You have the right to Forgive;  when you are offensive you have the right to Acknowledge What You’ve Done; when you’ve been offended you have the right to Keep Bitterness at Bay, Forgive and Release the Hurt; You have the right to Comfort, You have the right to remember that Financial Droughts Are Seasonal, they do not last; you have the right to Build Your Mates Ego, Not Break It; you have the right to remember that no matter how bad it may seem now, This Too Shall Pass! Remember Your Marital Rights and You’ll Both Be Able to Properly Handle When Things Go Wrong! 

“…you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted…your first love.]”  (Revelation 2:4 AMP)

Nobody plans it, it just seems to happen. Romance runs headlong into Reality! Something gives, and it’s usually romance! At first it’s just two love-birds with no higher earthly priority than each other’s happiness. Then comes the patter of tiny feet, and our well-ordered world gets turned upside down. Children don’t fit neatly into our schedules and agendas. They can’t and won’t wait. Three kids, two jobs, one mortgage later, and romance seems to be a distant memory. Two overworked people wonder where they lost that romantic feeling and whether it will ever return. I agree with G.K. Chesterton, “The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.” 

Unfortunately, some settle for marriage without the sizzle; some stay till the kids are older, then look for greener, more romantic pastures. But God offers a third, more exciting alternative: God’s alternative – Do What It Takes to Restore Your ‘…FIRST LOVE…(This Scripture was written to the church at Ephesus, but the principle also applies to building a good marriage). Therefore: 

  • RE-EXAMINE YOUR PERCEPTIONS: We think our current sizzle-free status is proof that romantic love is dead and the dream forever lost. That’s because we confuse romance with love. Romance brings people together, but love keeps them together. People who love each other can make romance live again – at any age or stage. “Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat.” (Joanne Woodward). Romance can come and go, but Love has a Stability that Remains Standing even when all else is Falling Apart! Therefore, water your marriage’s seeds of love and fresh romance will sprout forth!
  • REALIZE THAT THE SIZZLE WASN’T LOST, IT WAS ‘LEFT’:’ You have LEFT [behind] your first love.It didn’t leave you. It didn’t die. And a new partner is not the solution! You Left It and Only You Can Make It Right Again By Your Return To It! Remember this: “Warm hugs are better than cold shoulders.” (Author Unknown)
  • RETRACE YOUR STEPS: You’ll find romance where you left it: Undernourished, Crowded Out, Over-Looked and Seriously Oxygen-Deprived, But Not Dead! God created marriage! Talk to Him! Follow His instructions and your romance can live again! REMEMBER: And here’s a second offense: You fill the place of worship with your whining and sniveling because you don’t get what you want from God. Do you know why? Simple. Because God was there as a witness when you spoke your marriage vows to your young bride, and now you’ve broken those vows, broken the faith-bond with your vowed companion, your covenant wife. God, Not You, Made Marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the Smallest Details of Marriage…So Guard the Spirit of Marriage Within You…” (Malachi 2:13-15 MSG). If Only We’d Protect and Guard Our Marriages to the Same Degree We Do Our Cellphones! Selah…

Here are three ‘R’s’ that work in our walk with God – and in our marriages:            

First: REMEMBER. REMEMBER the height from which you have fallen!…” (Revelation 2:5 NIV). Not the depth, but the height. Not how bad it’s become, but how great it once was! Not the worst of times, but the best! Recall when just being together was the highlight of your whole day! What were you doing then that you’re not doing now? Do you remember when you phoned just to hear his voice? The gifts you couldn’t afford, but bought her anyway? The love notes you slipped into his pocket? Remember opening doors for her, pulling out chairs, holding her coat for her while she puts her arms through the sleeves or flowers on Tuesday, just because it was Tuesday? Remember cooking his favorite dish although you were exhausted from working late, or reading ‘1001 Ways to be Romantic’ and trying them all…twice? Remember quiet candlelit dinners when you shaved again and wore her favorite cologne, you know the one you hated? Remember when intimacy wasn’t all about me? Remember the special places, times, smells, looks, songs, poems? Remember a rose on her tray with breakfast in bed because she had cried when she heard the song, ‘You don’t bring me flowers anymore,’ and you vowed you’d never forget the flowers again?REMEMBER!Remember what you did for love! The magic may seem to have appeared by accident, but it actually grew by action! You were the magic! What you did fueled the romance, then you stopped doing it and the flame subsided! But the pilot light still burns, and remembering the heightsreleases positive, faith-inspiring chemistry that can move you to actions that will fan the flame into a fire again! “To keep the fire burning brightly there’s one easy rule: Keep the Two Logs Together, near enough to keep each other warm and far enough apart—about a finger’s breadth—for breathing room. Good fire, good marriage, same rule.” (Marnie Reed Crowell).            

The second ‘R’ for renewing your first love is REPENT; which in its simplistic form means, to change your mind, direction, and actions. You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking and behaviors that created it; new thinking and actions are required. If your relationship once sizzled, you still have what’s needed to make it sizzle again. You’ve been remembering what you were doing at ‘the height’ of the relationship. You’ve acknowledged that those actions made the relationship exciting and fulfilling, than you stopped doing them, and that youleft [behind] your first love.” Now you’re ready to repent (which means to turn around) and go in a different and better direction so you can once again cause the flame of love to burn brightly in your marriage. “More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse.” (Doug Larson). “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” (Mignon McLaughlin).              

The third ‘R’ of renewal is RE-ENACT; Do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5 NIV). List the things you used to do when the relationship was great. Each of you should prayerfully and privately commit to doing a couple of the listed items, without telling your partner which ones you chose. Try to ‘catch’ your partner re-enacting the things you did at firstand let them know how much it means to you that they cared enough to do it. You’ll get more of what you reinforce by gratitude! “In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.” (Robert Anderson). But a word to the wise: at first it may feel strange, even unreal, when you begin to re-enact those early behaviors. So be patient, that will change. Just keep doing it. And don’t wait till you feel like it. You can act your way into new ways of feeling, even when you can’t feel your way into new ways of acting. Do it till you feel it, till the joy of your first love reignites!              

You further have the marital right to remember the good times of your marriage instead of ruminating over the bad; you have the marital right to repent of any wrongs you have committed against your spouse; you have the marital right to retrace your steps and find the romance that your neglect caused you to loss; you have the marital right to reenact every good memory of your marriage and if you’re real smart, you’ll create some new memories too!

Now to help you ease your way back into ‘the heights of your first love”, I’ve learned that laughter is a Huge and Valuable Asset! With that said, share some of these funny marriage quotes with your spouse tonight and have a good laugh! Especially if you can identify with any of them! 

“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” (Rita Rudner). 

“Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” (Phyllis Diller). 

“Valentine’s Day is when a lot of married men are reminded what a poor shot Cupid really is.” (Author Unknown). 

“Any intelligent woman who reads the marriage contract, and then goes into it, deserves all the consequences.” (Isadora Duncan). 

“Three rings of marriage are the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering.” (Author Unknown). 

“Marriage means commitment. Of course, so does insanity.” (Author Unknown). 

“I never knew what real happiness was until I got married. And by then it was too late.” (Max Kauffman). 

“Wedding rings: the world’s smallest handcuffs for those who are sentenced to do life! I suggest you choose your cellmate wisely.” (Author Unknown). 

“There is so little difference between husbands you might as well keep the first.” (Adela Rogers St. Johns). 

“Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.” (Marlene Dietrich). 

“It’s easy to understand love at first sight, but how do we explain love after two people have been looking at each other for years?” (Author Unknown) 

“Women hope men will change after marriage but they don’t; men hope women won’t change but they do.” (Bettina Arndt). 

“I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy. First, let her think she’s having her own way. And second, let her have it.” (Lyndon B. Johnson). 

“My husband and I divorced over religious differences He thought he was God, and I didn’t.” (Author Unknown). 

“The reason they’re called the opposite sex is because every time you think you have your wife fooled—it’s just the opposite.” (Walter Winchell) 

“The best way to remember your wife’s birthday is to forget it once.” (H.V. Prochnow). 

Have a good laugh as you Rekindle Romance and Exceed New Levels of Love By Remembering, Repenting and Re-Enacting! 

YOU NOW HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN HAPPILY MARRIED TIL DEATH DO YOU PART!

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

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