“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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“Pretty Container, But Poisonous Content!”

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My girlfriend Caroline absolutely loves the country, hiking, and camping! She loves animals of every kind, and always has a story to tell from her adventures. Well, the last time she saw a frog, she was with one of her grandchildren. She loved it when her grandson Jake picked up a little bug-eyed green fellow and held him close so she could get a better look at him. It was one of Kermit’s cousins, you know. Now, Jake didn’t have any second thoughts about picking up a frog. They’re harmless, after all! Well, most of the time – unless that’s if it’s what they call a poisonous dart frog! No worries though, I’m pretty sure we don’t have those, but they’re about one and one-half inches long, and they live in tropical rain forests in Central and South America. And they are the good-lookers of the frog kingdom family. You see, they’re not a boring, plain ol’ green color. They are quite diverse in color, and can come in multiple colors at the same time. The dart frog is extremely brightly colored. He looks very interesting, but he can be carrying enough poison to kill 20,000 mice! Or more important to you and me – enough poison to kill ten people!

Here’s a creature who looks so good and yet kills so dead! Just like sin; maybe the sin that’s been looking pretty good to you lately. So many people have reached out and touched what they should have never touched, and they paid a painful price that they could have never imagined. Sin may appear pretty at times, but it’s pretty poison!

James 1:13-15. “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)

Those are some sledgehammer verses! It traces a moral disaster from the first desire for something that’s wrong to the sinful choice to get what looks so good, to its final result. When that “baby” called sin finally is born, what you get is death because sin always kills. It kills families, it kills marriages, it kills character and reputations, and it kills ministries and churches. Sin kills your self-respect, people’s trust in you and even your closeness to the God that you can’t live without.

The story of this attractive killer goes all the way back to the very first humans God ever created, Adam and Eve. With all the beauty of the Garden of Eden available for his enjoyment, God gave Adam this one prohibition: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Satan came to Eve and told her the exact opposite: “You will not surely die.” And “when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it” (Genesis 2:17; 3:4, 6). And they learned the hard way that no matter how much you think you have to gain from going outside God’s boundaries, you have so much more to lose! They lost Eden, they lost walking with God, they lost intimacy with God, and instead they gained so much pain and even death!

It may be that the same devil is lying to you right now about the sin that looks so good to you. “It won’t hurt,” “Everybody’s doing it,” “Hey, you deserve it,” “You need this,” “Only a little,” “Ah, just this once.” Anything to get you to bite! Anything to get you to take the deadly poison of sin. It looks like you have so much to gain if you’ll just lie a little, cheat a little, flirt a little, try a little, or take just one look. But you have so much to lose! However, you won’t know that until it’s too late, unless you listen to what God says.

Wisdom Nugget: First sin fascinates you, and then it assassinates you!

However, I, in God’s love, have come to you TODAY to wave you away from a choice that will take you where you never wanted to go, it will keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and it will cost you more than you ever wanted to pay. Don’t walk away from that sin – RUN away from it! Sin looks so good yet it kills so dead! Much like the pretty, yet POISONOUS dart frog!

Let’s take a look at a few facts about this little terror, and see what Spiritual truths we can gather from their Natural world:

FOR ONE, THE BRIGHTER THE DART FROG IS, THE MORE TOXIC IT IS! And isn’t that a lot like sin? After all, it’s always the APPEARANCE of something that gets us in trouble every time! Our EYES fall in love with what we ‘SEE’, not knowing that what we can ‘SEE’ is just on the Surface! For example, we SEE someone else’s marriage and it LOOKS like it’s absolutely perfect; we SEE someone else’s children and they LOOK ideal; we SEE someone else’s home and we become dissatisfied with the apartment we live in; we SEE what someone else is driving and then we’re mad that we’re still taking the bus; we SEE the job someone else has and all of a sudden we’re ready to change careers; we SEE the position someone holds in church and overnight God has called us to a new office, title and position! But what we don’t know is all that lies underneath the SURFACE of all of that stuff we covet. You see, underneath all that brightly covered stuff, their marriage LOOKS perfect, but he beats her daily; their children LOOK ideal, but their son is in a gang and their daughter is on cocaine; their home LOOKS beautiful, but neither of them can get any sleep at night worrying about making the payments they can’t afford; their car is in a class all by itself, and yet their children have to take out loans because the car loan emptied their college funds; they have a well-paid job, and little do you know they hate it every day because of all the compromising they have to do to maintain it; they sit in a big chair at church, but possess so little character in the comfort of their own home! Be careful of allowing your EYES to LURE you into lusting after ‘SHINY, BRIGHT’ things. You just may discover that it’s nothing more than poison gift wrapped in pretty paper! 2 Corinthians 11:12-15, “And I’m not changing my position on this. I’d die before taking your money. I’m giving nobody grounds for lumping me in with those money-grubbing “preachers,” vaunting themselves as something special. They’re a sorry bunch—pseudo-apostles, lying preachers, crooked workers—POSING as Christ’s agents but sham to the core. And no wonder! SATAN DOES IT ALL THE TIME, DRESSING UP AS A BEAUTIFUL ANGEL OF LIGHT. So it shouldn’t surprise us when his servants MASQUERADE as servants of God. But they’re not getting by with anything. They’ll pay for it in the end.” (MSG)

GUARD YOUR EYES AGAINST THE APPEARANCE OF PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS! LOOKS CAN STILL BE DECEIVING AND THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE!

SECONDLY, THE DART FROG IS SMALL, BUT DEADLY! As believers, we’re quick to jump on those who commit adultery, fornicate, drink, smoke, curse, lie, and steal, but I’m often amazed by how we alter the definition of sin when it comes to our OWN! We like to categorize it and give it a size, when it becomes personal. You see, adultery is a “big sin”, oh but sister girl in the corner slandering her sister in Christ with gossip, now that’s a “little sin.” But the bible does not differentiate! Sin, is Sin, no matter who does it or what kind of sin it is! The dart frog can be as SMALL as a paperclip, and still it is DEADLY! And whether they get caught drunk driving while you’re sowing discord among the brethren, sin is still sin! It is still deadly, no matter how ‘small and insignificant’ you may think it is! Proverbs 6:16-19, “These six things the Lord hates; Indeed, seven are repulsive to Him: A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others], a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that creates wicked plans, Feet that run swiftly to evil, A false witness who breathes out lies [even half-truths], And one who spreads discord (rumors) among brothers.” (AMP) But most don’t pay these things any mind, because clearly the “bigger” sins, are adultery and drunkenness! LISTEN, anything that God deems a sin, is a sin! And sin has no size, no category, just the consequence of death! Today, is a great day, to get rid of ALL sin! Just as the ‘little foxes’ spoil the vine, even the sins in your life that you deem ‘little’ will spoil you! Song of Solomon 2:15, “Our vineyards are in blossom; we must catch the LITTLE foxes that DESTROY the vineyards.” (CEV) What You Deem a SMALL SIN Can Bring You BIG DESTRUCTION!  James 3:3-12, “Now if we put bits into the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we guide their whole body as well.  And look at the ships. Even though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are still directed by a very SMALL rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines.  In the same sense, the TONGUE is a SMALL part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See [by comparison] how great a forest is set on fire by a SMALL spark!  And the tongue is [in a sense] a fire, the very world of injustice and unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our members as that which contaminates the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life [the cycle of man’s existence], and is itself set on fire by hell (Gehenna).  For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and sea creatures, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.  But no one can tame the human tongue; it is a restless evil [undisciplined, unstable], FULL OF DEADLY POISON.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers, should not be this way [for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts].  Does a spring send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.” (AMP)

I REITERATE, WHAT YOU DEEM A SMALL SIN CAN BRING YOU BIG DESTRUCTION! DON’T COMPROMISE YOUR CHARACTER! ALL SATAN NEEDS IS A SMALL OPENING TO GIVE HIM OPPORTUNITY TO OVERCOME YOU! Ephesians 4:27, “Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].” (AMPC) A “foothold” is defined as “a place where one can lodge a foot to give secure support while climbing; to secure a position from which further progress may be made.” You may not think a ‘little sin’ can cause much damage, but the Bible disagrees with you! You see, all the devil needs is a foothold, enough room just to get his toes in, and as soon as you allow him that little wiggle room, it will become the place where he can lodge his foot to give him secure support while climbing into your life, making further progress until total takeover and destruction has been accomplished! So…do you still think ‘little’ isn’t such a BIG deal?!

THIRDLY, THE FOOD THE DART FROG EATS IS WHAT MAKES IT POISONOUS! Which is why you have to be so careful about what you DIGEST! The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, so clearly he’s not digesting anything good! Therefore, nothing to do with sin can be good! I don’t care what it looks like, feels like, or the lies it promises, sin is still a deadly killer! Everything out of the enemy and sin is ugly, damaging, and life threatening. It’s fear, discouragement, jealously, anger, maliciousness. And when you partake of sin, that’s the poison you digest! Stop coming into contact with people, places and things that will kill you! Don’t play around it, don’t flirt around it, don’t go near it, avoid it at all costs! Because nothing from it can ever produce anything good, just further destruction! People of God, Let’s Use the Wisdom of Scripture! Proverbs 4:10-15, “Dear friend, take my advice; it will add years to your life. I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way, I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road. I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys, or wasting time making wrong turns. Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip. Guard it well—your life is at stake! Don’t take Wicked Bypass; don’t so much as set foot on that road. Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth. Make a detour and be on your way.” (MSG) THE MORE WORD YOU DIGEST THE LESS CHANCE YOU HAVE OF SIPPING ON SIN AS YOUR CHOICE SUBSTANCE ABUSE! FOLLOW THE ADMONISHMENT OF THE PSALMIST: “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)

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DIGEST, IT CAN VERY WELL MEAN LIFE OR DEATH TO YOU!

FOURTH, AS COLORFUL AS DART FROGS ARE, THEY ALWAYS HAVE BLACK ON THEM TO MAKE THEM EASIER TO CAMOUFLAGE! And that’s just like sin! It can camouflage as something good and fulfilling. But no matter how well it camouflages itself, sin is still sin, and sin still kills! You can dress it up all you like, the poison it possesses still remains intact! The Dart Frog is the Epitome of Hypocrisy…and Unfortunately, So are Many of God’s Children! 2 Timothy 3:5, “holding to a FORM of [OUTWARD] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [FOR THEIR CONDUCT NULLIFIES THEIR CLAIM OF FAITH]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.” (AMP). The Message Bible reads like this: “Don’t be naïve. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a SHOW of religion, but BEHIND THE SCENES they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.” (vss. 1-5 MSG) Which is why today is a good day to re-exam the company you keep! Why? 1 Corinthians 15:30-33, “…But don’t fool yourselves. Don’t let yourselves be POISONED…BAD COMPANY RUINS GOOD MANNERS.” (MSG); Matthew 7:15, “Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [APPEARING GENTLE AND INNOCENT], BUT INWARDLY ARE RAVENOUS WOLVES.” (AMP). Some people are nothing more than pretty containers with poisonous content! A form of godliness; a show of religion; wolves in sheep’s clothing! Nothing more than the appearance of godliness. Therefore, use wisdom when selecting your circle so you don’t end up boxed into a circus full of clowns!

Now, there are so many more facts about the dart frog that could be shared, but I’ll close with this last one:

POISONOUS DART FROGS DO NOT LIVE IN THE WATER AS THEY LACK TOE WEBBING AND ARE POOR SWIMMERS. However, like all frogs they begin life in the water as tadpoles. They live in small pools found in the leaves of bromeliads and other tree dwelling plants until they emerge as tiny frogs. And why is this my favorite fact? Because of Ephesians 5. A portion of it reads like this: “Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], JUST AS CHRIST ALSO LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER,  SO THAT HE MIGHT SANCTIFY THE CHURCH, HAVING CLEANSED HER BY THE WASHING OF WATER WITH THE WORD [OF GOD],  so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless.  Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.” (5:25-28 AMP)

Focal Point: “…SO THAT HE MIGHT SANCTIFY THE CHURCH, HAVING CLEANSED HER BY THE WASHING OF WATER WITH THE WORD [OF GOD]…”  

I’ve learned that to keep myself from sin, I need to position myself where the enemy can’t get to me! You see, the dart frog is full of poison and can kill 20,000 mice or ten people, yet it has to be able to get to them first! And if I dare to stay with Christ, and allow Him to sanctify me by washing me with the water of the Word of God (the enemy), that pretty, poisonous dart frog, can’t get to me, BECAUSE IT CAN’T SWIM! Reminds me of Moses and the Red Sea! They went through, while their enemies went under! Or like the unclean spirits that came out of the man and asked Jesus if they could enter the pigs. They were granted their request, and rushed down the steep bank into the sea; and they were drowned [one after the other] in the sea, says the Scripture! How awesome is that! If I keep myself out of the enemies reach, he can’t touch me! But family, that means that we actively do what we must to stay out of harms way! You can’t play with sin and the devil, and then get mad when you get hurt! You can’t play with hell then cry when the heat burns you! A safe place for you is to dwell in the presence of God, in the Word of God, in prayer with God! Allow Him to be the Rivers of Living Water flowing out of you (more water that the enemy can’t swim in!)

People of God, don’t be tricked, or fooled, it (and they) may look real good, and may promise to make you feel even better. However, don’t fall for it! It may be pretty, but it (and they) can be quite poisonous! Stay clean, stay holy, stay drenched in God, and stay alive!

Remember: Just as God has plans for our lives (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); so does Satan have plans for our lives! 2 Corinthians 2:11, “I did this so that Satan would not win anything from us, because we know very well what Satan’s plans are.” (NCV) And what are his plans for our lives? “…TO STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY!” (John 10:10) Let’s Not Be the Ones Who Supply Him With the Ammunition to Take Us Out! Instead, Let’s Obey Christ’s Orders: Matthew 10:16, “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.” (MSG)

The enemy is playing for keeps, so keep yourselves alert in this hazardous kingdom assignment! Don’t compromise and don’t live contrary to Christ’s commands:

Ephesians 5:11-16, “Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!” (MSG);

Romans 12:1-2, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (MSG)

Hebrews 12:1-3, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (MSG)

2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way: “I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people. So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,” says God. “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself. I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to me.”  The Word of the Master, God.” (MSG)

We will not lose our crown, nor silence His ‘well done good and faithful servant!’

Let’s exam our lives saints, and get back to raising the standard bar of a Spirit of Excellence among God’s Children. Let’s not be fooled again by Satan’s Pretty Containers With Poisonous Content, We Have Too Much to Lose! Holiness Will Always Keep Us Safe From What’s Hellish!

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: “The Earliest Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Water”

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“Uncompromised Faith”

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“If we are thrown into the flaming furnace, our God is able to deliver us; and he will deliver us out of your hand, Your Majesty.  BUT IF HE DOESN’T, PLEASE UNDERSTAND, SIR, THAT EVEN THEN WE WILL NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have erected.” (Daniel 3:17-18 TLB).

Facing the fiery furnace, the three Hebrew children refused to compromise their BELIEFS or change their BEHAVIOR. In other words, regardless to what others Say, it will in no way alter what HE has Said; and regardless to how you may ACT, my CONDUCT as a CHRISTIAN will remain UNCOMPROMISED! Can you imagine the effectiveness the Church would have today if this was a Daily Standard for Living? Reminds us of the admonishment found in: Romans 12:1-2: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (MSG).

How different might we be if we stopped compromising just so we can be the same as everybody else? Remember that’s how Israel got in trouble with Saul, wanting to be like everybody else! 1 Samuel 8:4-9, “Fed up, all the elders of Israel got together and confronted Samuel at Ramah. They presented their case: “Look, you’re an old man, and your sons aren’t following in your footsteps. Here’s what we want you to do: Appoint a king to rule us, JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. When Samuel heard their demand—“Give us a king to rule us!”—he was crushed. How awful! Samuel prayed to God. God answered Samuel, “Go ahead and do what they’re asking. They are not rejecting you. They’ve rejected me as their King. From the day I brought them out of Egypt until this very day they’ve been behaving like this, leaving me for other gods. And now they’re doing it to you. So let them have their own way. But warn them of what they’re in for. Tell them the way kings operate, just what they’re likely to get from a king.”” (MSG)

You have to be real careful with blending in, and compromising your character and integrity. It’s dangerous to want to be like everybody else! Israel wanted a king and got one, but they had no idea that the king they desired would behave in such a manner as to lose the kingdom. And when you attempt to be the world’s missing piece to their puzzle, you will always have a distorted image, a blurred vision, and ultimately you will forfeit becoming the masterpiece of workmanship that God had desired of you from the beginning of time! Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” (AMP).

Are you really willing to compromise and make the bad mistake of missing out on the good life that God has prearranged for you, just so you can fit in and be like everybody else? I think not!

Which is why I love the Hebrew boys so much. They were Unbending, Unyielding, and Uncompromising! Are You?

Listen to what they told the king, “…Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18 MSG)

With the words, “…EVEN IF HE DOESN’T…”, they took their faith to a higher level! You see, they knew God COULD prevent it, but not that His plan called for it in this instance. However, their CONVICTION was so powerful that they would still rather DIE than Deny or Disappoint their God! Is your conviction that steady, strong and secure? Are you in a position of faith that you refuse to possess the faltering faith found in the book of James 1:5-7: “If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. ONLY IT MUST BE IN FAITH THAT HE ASKS WITH NO WAVERING (NO HESITATING, NO DOUBTING). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. FOR TRULY, LET NOT SUCH A PERSON IMAGINE THAT HE WILL RECEIVE ANYTHING [HE ASKS FOR] FROM THE LORD.” (AMP)

So, is your Faith Firm or Faltering?

Truth is, faith does not guarantee that God will bring you OUT of everything you’re IN! I know believers don’t want to hear that, but it is the truth. Think about it: Many of us have had our faith strengthened by watching someone else go through, even when they didn’t come out!

Listen: One of the things I cherish most is pastoral counseling. However, some of the hardest times I’ve experienced at it have been in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabs, and hospices. Places where holding on to hope is often a difficult task. After all, who wants to sing when the doctor just amputated their leg? Who wants to dance when the Oncologist says its cancer? Who wants to rejoice when the surgeon says their heart is beyond repair? Who wants to praise God when they’ve come home to an eviction notice? Who wants to bow down in worship when you have a mortgage, car note, and tuition and yet you received a pink slip right after lunch? Wouldn’t you agree that these aren’t exactly the ideal situations that make us want to sing, dance, rejoice, praise and worship?

But believe it or not, ministering in these places I’ve come across some serious faith fire starters! Like Mama Cane in hospice who said she refused to die before her 90th birthday, so she made her family give her a birthday celebration in hospice. And when did she die? When she was 90 years old by 3 days. She never wavered. She said both her parents died too soon, and she was determined to make it to 90! I asked her why 90? She said simply, “I don’t know really, I just feel like you’re really old when you get into triple digit birthdays?I couldn’t laugh with her then, but I laughed later when I realized she was teaching me how to GO THROUGH, even if I don’t COME OUT!

Ms. Michelle who had diabetes so bad they amputated both her legs would say to me every Saturday, “when you get to church tomorrow you make sure you run a lap for me, I would hate to come in there and embarrass you by outrunning you on my hands.” Again, I couldn’t laugh then, because what she was going through was so harsh, but somehow she still managed to make me smile and encourage my heart by strengthening my faith. I learned from her as well that every GO THROUGH doesn’t guarantee a COMING OUT!

Mr. Mobley was another animal altogether! He Over-Enjoyed his sponge baths at the hospital! LOL! But he would always say “there are no angels who will do this for me in heaven, so I have to get it where I can get it”. Mr. Mobley had more health issues than all the doctor books with all the diagnosis in all the world! And yet, he always managed to make people laugh by twirling his cane, or juggling his pills, or telling the doctors that since there was no hope left for him, his hospital bills should be deleted! No change in his health, no charge to his Medicare! Hilarious! And once again, I learned the valuable lesson that your GO THROUGH doesn’t grant you an automatic GET OUT!

However, I think my most memorable lesson was taught to me by little Cheyenne. Born with Leukemia, and yet had a smile that literally lit up the world! Every time I visited with her I would walk in ready to share God’s love, a Scripture, Prayer or to just Give Her My Shoulder so She Could Lean and Cry. BUT, little Cheyenne had different plans for me in every visit! I would walk in and she would be ready to play cards, checkers, watch a scary movie, dance to some crazy country song, or even finger paint! She would drive me absolutely nuts! By the time I left, I was ready to go to bed and take a nap, and she was sitting up waiting for the next victim to enter her room thinking she was going out without a fight or without some fun! She transitioned at the tender age of 12, and even days before she was on her way to heaven, she would charge anyone coming to visit her $5 per tear, if you came in crying! Her statement? “I’m going to spend eternity with God, you guys are the ones who should be crying because you have to stay here in the world” LOL! I’m sure you’ll catch on to the lesson I learned from her as well…GO THROUGH, doesn’t mean COME OUT!

Understand this: God can take you out of your situation or simply bring you through it to build and rebuild the faith of others. So, when He leaves you in it longer than you’d like to stay, be encouraged, He’s only developing in you – Furnace Faith that will Keep You On Fire, and Cause You to Contagiously Ignite Others as Well! You see, this is the type of faith that refuses to fail no matter the intensity of the heated circumstances it finds itself in! It’s the faith the Hebrews boys possessed, “I Know He Can, But Even If He Doesn’t, I’m Still Good, Because He’s Still God!”

Furnace Faith is dead to doubt and blind to impossibility! It believes that God can do absolutely anything, but fail! It trusts Him even when it doesn’t understand Him. It follows His instructions even when they make absolutely no sense at all! It doesn’t waver even when it finds itself in circumstances that attempts to knock it off its feet! Furnace Faith Knows That If God Doesn’t Bring Me Out of the Fire, He’ll Still Make Sure I Don’t Get Burned!

Furnace Faith reaches up through the threatening clouds and lays hold of the One who has all power in heaven and on earth. It makes the circumstances bearable and the future hopeful. Furnace Faith believes that even if you do have to go through the fire, God will go with you! There’s something about going through, but not going through alone that makes a difference!

Prime example: Anyone who knows me knows I’m claustrophobic! I absolutely detest small, tight or confining spaces. In fact, I refuse to be positioned anywhere that I can’t see an immediate exit before I even enter. It’s so bad that I even hated playing ‘hide and go seek’, why? Because I was never hiding anywhere you couldn’t quickly find me! LOL! Well, a few years ago I was suffering with migraines really bad and I remember the doctor saying I’m sending you for an MRI. I got to the place and saw the machine, and instantly started sweating! I switched into panic mode quicker than you could bat an eyelash! But I tried to be a big girl and go through it anyhow! Did it work? Absolutely not! I wasn’t in that contraption 30 seconds before I was pressing the button for them to get me the heck out of there! For the life of me I couldn’t fathom what would make them think I would be distracted by them playing music, as if I wouldn’t realize they had my live body in a machine that looked like a coffin! Well, the technician was a smart man! Sam was my ace! He said “you don’t know me, but I’ve been doing this for years. I know what I’m doing and will not leave you or allow anything to hurt or harm you. Let’s try something that I’ve come to find helpful with patients who are claustrophobic. He said you’re going to go back in, and this time, I’m going to put my hand on your right ankle. I’ll keep patting it until you’re done. It will take about 10 minutes. And I promise to pat the whole ten!” To this day I still don’t know why that made the difference! But Sam may have given me a little clue. When I was done, I thanked Sam, and said I have no idea why something so simple made such a big difference. He said “It’s simple really. Most people don’t have a problem with going through, they just have a problem with going through alone. My pats let you know that I was in it with you.” For some reason, that’s how I feel about God. Even if He doesn’t bring me OUT, just knowing that He’s IN there with me, makes the difference!

Back to our text, listen to the words of a heathen king who watched it all happen: “But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!” (Daniel 3:25 MSG). How encouraging to know that our God never leaves us nor forsakes us? How wonderful to know that no matter what we’re in or what we may go through, He will never allow us to do it without His presence? And even when it doesn’t feel good, it does feel good to know that He’s Always a Very Present Help In Our Time of Need! Psalm 46:1, “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.” (MSG)

Know This: Furnace Faith makes you as free IN the fire of affliction as you are OUT of it!

“Dear friends, your faith is going to be tested as if it were going through fire. Do not be surprised at this.” (1 Peter 4:12 NLV);

“Nay, IN all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37).

This is going to be a hard truth to embrace, but not everyone is healed of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and the like. But does that mean our God is not able? Absolutely Not! Matthew 19:26 says, “But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but ALL things are possible with God.” (AMP)

However, God also admonishes us: Isaiah 55:8-9, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (NLT).

There are some things we will never understand, but there will never be anything GOD doesn’t understand. He has plans for us and He’s already declared that He’s with us always.

Matthew 28:20, “…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).

Jeremiah 29:10-11, “This is God’s Word on the subject…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised…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)

Hebrews 13:5, “…FOR HE HAS SAID, ‘I WILL NEVER [UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES] DESERT YOU [NOR GIVE YOU UP NOR LEAVE YOU WITHOUT SUPPORT, NOR WILL I IN ANY DEGREE LEAVE YOU HELPLESS], NOR WILL I FORSAKE OR LET YOU DOWN OR RELAX MY HOLD ON YOU [ASSUREDLY NOT]!” (AMP)

So even when the outcome isn’t what we wanted or expected, we must maintain consistent, uncompromised faith! Changing circumstances and uncomfortable situations do not in any way change our God! He sees, He hears, He knows what is best for His children! Trust Him No Matter What! And Let Your Testimony Be the Same as the Hebrew Boys, I Know He Can, But Even If He Doesn’t, It Will Not Alter My Faith In God! Someone Possessing That Kind of Faith Puts Even His Enemies in Awe of His God!

“If you can believe in gravity, electricity, Wi-Fi, body cells, and so many other INVISIBLE THINGS, then you can also believe in that dream of yours that only needs your unwavering faith to come into your life.” (Roxana Jones)

“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” (Saint Augustine)

“The river just flows, no matter the obstacles or the speed. It does not control, it simply flows. Do the same. Use your unwavering faith, and go with the flow.” (Author Unknown)

“Without faith it is impossible to please God,” and without faith it is impossible for you to become great. The distinguishing characteristic of all really great men and women is an unwavering faith.” (Wallace D. Wattles)

“The gift of faith is the ability to sustain unwavering confidence in the promises of God in the face of impossibility.” (Dr. Michael Youssef)

“Faith is a choice; not a feeling. It means choosing to trust God even when life doesn’t seem to make sense.” (Dave Willis)

“What seems impossible one minute becomes, through faith, possible the next.” (Norman Vincent Peale)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How to Start a Walking Program?”

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“What is Your Appetite Costing You?”

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Hebrews 12:16-17, “Watch out for the Esau-Syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a SHORT-TERM APPETITE. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing – but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” (MSG)

To be honest, I am not at all a television junkie. Well…maybe to clarify I should say I am not a television junkie, where today’s television shows are concerned. However, when it comes to old re-runs’, I promise you I should go down as the champion holding the world’s greatest record for watching old-school shows! I could binge watch them for hours…okay, possibly days is more like it. And one of my favorite’s believe it or not is…let’s see…there was Gilligan, the Skipper, too, the movie star, the millionaire and his wife. You know, it was the cast of that eternally rerunning sitcom, Gilligan’s Island. Maybe you remember the story. They boarded the S.S. Minnow that day to take a what? (I want to sing it so bad!) A “Three hour tour.” But little did they know a storm would come up and they’d end up shipwrecked on some desert island, and they’d have to stay there trapped forever in rerun-land!

However, keep in mind, when they boarded that day, they had no idea how far they were going to go or for how long they were going to stay. Some three-hour tour that turned out to be!

Now, Gilligan’s Island was, of course, just a TV show. But three-hour tours that take you too far and keep you too long are very much Real Life. Just ask a man named Esau.

His story is found in Genesis 25, beginning at verse 31. In a nutshell, he’s the older brother in the family, which means in a Jewish family of that day he had the birthright. In other words, he would someday inherit the family leadership and a double portion of the inheritance, and a lot of other wonderful privileges. But before you get excited about all these great things that will happen for this brother, read on first. You see, one day he’s coming in from hunting and he’s really hungry, and his more domestic brother is cooking up his specialty, ‘Stew Ala Jacob’. Here’s what happened in detail: “Jacob had cooked [reddish-brown lentil] stew [one day], when Esau came from the field and was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, “Please, let me have a quick swallow of that red stuff there, because I am exhausted and famished.” For that reason Esau was [also] called Edom (Red). Jacob answered, “First sell me your birthright (the rights of a firstborn).” Esau said, “Look, I am about to die [if I do not eat soon]; so of what use is this birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:29-32 AMP)

Like I said in the opening, I’m not crazy about today’s television, but there is one show that I have watched that can glue me to the edge of my seat. And it’s “Deal or No Deal?” Why does that ring a bell right about now? Because as I read the text I’m ready to scream at the Bible, and yell at Esau, “Don’t do it, man! Deal or No Deal? NO DEAL! It’s a lousy trade!” But unfortunately, Esau can’t hear me. And so the Bible goes on to say, “Jacob said, “Swear [an oath] to me today [that you are selling it to me for this food]”; so he swore [an oath] to him, and sold him his birthright. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and got up and went on his way. In this way Esau scorned his birthright.” (Genesis 25:33-34 MSG)

Esau felt better, for a few hours. But because of that choice, he felt miserable for the rest of his life!

There’s even a tragic “P.S.” to Esau’s life in the New Testament in Hebrews 12:16-17. It says, “Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.” (NLT)

Two other translations read like this:

“None of you should fall into sex sins or forget God like Esau did. He had a right to get all Isaac had because he was the oldest son. But for one plate of food he sold this right to his brother. You know that later he would have received everything. But he did not get it even when he asked for it with tears. It was too late to make right the wrong he had done.” (NLV);

“Watch out for the Esau-syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing – but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” (MSG)

There’s so many lessons in just these few short lines of Scripture, but let’s take a glance at a few:

1…Esau had the right to inherit everything of his father’s, but he traded his prosperity for a plate of food! And before you get on Esau to railroad him, let’s self-exam first, shall we? What have you forfeited of your Father’s blessings and inheritance, because you traded it for a ‘plate of food’? Did you allow one more drink, one more smoke, one more hit, one more affair, one more night, one more slip, one more lie? What did you trade in the moment, assuming you would have another moment? Listen, I don’t care what the offer is, if it causes you to miss out on what God has purposely laid up for you, then the only thing that should come out of your mouth is, “No Deal!” You have too much to lose on a bad trade! Ephesians 1:3-6, “How blessed is God! And what a blessing He is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, AND TAKES US TO THE HIGH PLACES OF BLESSING IN HIM. Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, HE HAD US IN MIND, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to ADOPT US INTO HIS FAMILY through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of HIS LAVISH GIFT-GIVING BY THE HAND OF HIS BELOVED SON.” (MSG) People of God, I don’t know about you, but there is nothing the devil or this world has to offer me that would be deemed a fair or even trade for the Family of God’s Blessings and Inheritance! So the next time temptation rears its ugly head like it did with Eve and the Serpent, don’t hold a long conversation, just simply say, “No Deal”! I can’t afford to trade my Father’s Inheritance to me!”

2…Esau had it all, and didn’t lose it or have it taken or stolen, but he freely gave his rightful blessings away! Again, before you judge him too harshly, there are some blessings that your Father had in hand to bestow on you, and unfortunate as it is, you halted His hand. How? Willfully trading your spiritual prosperity for a plate of flesh! Listen, it’s one thing to go to the police and say my car was stolen (and it really was); however, it’s something altogether different when you go to the police and tell them, my car was stolen (but I gave them the keys, and permission to take it). Can you imagine what the officers’ face would look like? In fact, he would probably have you arrested for impersonating someone with common sense! People of God, your Father has blessings that He desires to bestow on you simply because you’re His sons and daughters. Don’t blow your benefits by getting caught up in a moment. It’s dangerous thinking you have one more moment, one more minute, or just a little, or just this one last time, or I’ve got time to make this right…and so you trade…only to never recover! Don’t think it can happen to you? Just listen to another of your brothers, who stepped out of line and lost it all in just one brief moment. The Bible reads: “That was stupid!” Samuel said. “You didn’t obey the Lord your God. If you had obeyed Him, someone from your family would always have been king of Israel. But no, you disobeyed, and so the Lord won’t choose anyone else from your family to be king. In fact, He has already chosen the one He wants to be the next leader of His people.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14 CEV). Can you imagine, once again, having it all, then giving it all away with just one foolish act? Or in the words of Samuel, one stupid act! And sadly, in Saul’s case, his foolish act didn’t just affect him, but no one else from his lineage would be able to be king. Even if they did absolutely nothing wrong, the family as a whole suffered from Saul’s moment of impulsiveness and disobedience. Children of God, let that also be a lesson for you, you have husbands and wives, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters and the last thing you want to do is put your whole family in a position of loss, because you couldn’t find a way to say “No Deal!” Don’t give away your Father’s blessings and inheritance! Don’t allow your appetite to be the liability that takes away your asset!

3…Esau couldn’t even make his wrong…right, because even with tears and repentance, he was already rejected, there was no more time left. And isn’t that like a lot of us, we willfully sin, and then assume we’ll have time to repent. Well, what happens when you find yourself walking in Esau’s shoes? “… afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.” (NLT) The term “too late” is defined as, “after the proper or available time; or when the time or opportunity is past” And that’s exactly what happened to Esau, he missed the opportunity to inherit his father’s blessing. And worse, he didn’t get to make his wrong, right. Don’t Let This Happen to You! Yes, repentance gives you the opportunity to turn, but sometimes time will cause you to miss your turn! So whatever you’re in today, if it would cause you to lose what you’ve found in God, turn now, while you still have time left!

4…Listen to this again, “Watch out for the Esau-syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing – but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” (MSG) The word “impulsive” is defined as “doing things or tending to do things suddenly and without careful thought; done suddenly and without planning; to be rash, quick or hasty.” Sounds just like Esau! “…and Esau said to Jacob, “Please, let me have a QUICK SWALLOW of that red stuff there, because I am exhausted and famished.” Saints, what’s important to know is this, Esau was not in the dark about his birthright and inheritance. He knew at a young age, because they are informed of it at a young age. And yet, even knowing what he would be trading (and ultimately losing), he did it anyway. Likewise, brothers and sisters, you already know the blessings God desires to give you, you know that because reading your Bible tells you that. So you are in no position to say “Oops, I didn’t know.” Yes, you did, and you went on and did that anyway. Be careful about picking up the “…Esau-Syndrome, of trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite…” You already know what you’ve gained, and therefore, what you stand to lose, so when the opportunity of trade comes up, turn it down fast! Don’t allow your impulsive flesh to cause you to miss out on your inheritance.

With one short-sighted decision, Esau entered the Gilligan Zone. Which is that place where you decide to do something that will feel good for a while, thinking it will only be a three-hour tour. But you end up in the Gilligan Zone, farther than you ever wanted to go, staying longer than you ever wanted to stay. And for you, that may be no TV plot! It’s happened to you. It all starts when we pull an Esau. We do something because it will get us through the moment. It will meet a need for us for now, only to hurt for years to come.

That’s the ugly secret about sin. It looks like it will get us through something. That deceit, that giving in to the pressure, that compromise of your integrity, that drink, that sexual sin, or cutting corners to get ahead or get accepted. Something appears in front of you that looks like it might meet a need, it might relieve the pain or help you get ahead. And you only mean for it to be just a little while, maybe just this once. Right? Just a three-hour tour.

But sin does not let you go once you let it out of the box. It will take you farther, it will keep you longer than you ever bargained for. Thus bringing out the truth of, James 1:15, “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” The Message Bible reads 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.” (vss. 13-15 MSG)

Too many people never make it back from sin’s three-hour tour! In the power of Jesus the Savior, you can resist sin, you can resist that compromise that looks so good but will cost you so much. James 4:7 says, “So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you.” (AMP) A moment of relief is not worth a lifetime of regret. Especially when you willingly made a bad trade!

Proverbs 5:21-23, “Mark well that God doesn’t miss a move you make; He’s aware of every step you take. The shadow of your sin will overtake you; you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark. Death is the reward of an undisciplined life; your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.” (MSG) Do you really want that to be descriptive of you? Sinful; Undisciplined and Foolish? Of course not. So today, determine that you will not suffer from the “…Esau-Syndrome, of trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite…” Because ultimately Esau was full, for the moment, but at the cost of being empty for a whole lot longer. And not only did he give his birthright away freely, but he also suffered later when he wanted the opportunity to make his wrong, right, but it was too late, repentance had run its course, and Esau was left in tears. Friends, can you honestly say that “him, her, them, or it” would be worth that as a trade-off for what God has to offer? Let me be the first to tell you, no it is not! So the next time the offer to sin, or accept anything that would hinder the Hand of God bestowing His blessings on your life shows up, I strongly suggest you remember Gilligan Island’s three hour tour…that was a whole lot longer! And then respond with “No Deal!”

Anything or anyone that would cause you to lose your Father’s Inheritance to You, is not a good trade, is not beneficial, is not promising, is not worth it!

Lastly, the word “appetite” is defined as “a natural desire to satisfy a bodily need, especially for food.” However, its’ Latin Origin “appetitus” means “desire for”, coming from “appetere” meaning “to seek after”. Listen, your appetite is what you desire when you’re seeking after something. Which is why it’s so important to be careful when you’re seeking comfort, love, friendship, marriage, money etc…because sin, according to James, comes from within us, our own lusts, enticements and desires. All things of the flesh, in which no good thing resides. Esau’s momentary appetite for food, caused him to lose his inheritance. Be mindful in the things/people/places you desire, you seek after and want for yourself…even if but for the moment. It will cost you, and cost you big. And sometimes, just like Esau, there is no recovery from the loss! Check your appetite, and make sure that you hunger more for the things of God than the things of your faulty flesh.

Galatians 5:16-18, “But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds IMPULSIVELY without regard for God and His precepts].  For the sinful nature has its DESIRE which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [DESIRE of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do.  But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.” (AMP)

Start to Walk Habitually in the Spirit, and You’ll Stop Impulsively Stepping Into Satan’s Traps for Your Flesh!

“You are free to make whatever choice you want, but you are not free from the consequences of the choice.” (Author Unknown)

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” (Author Unknown)

“What you feed your mind determines your appetite.” (Tom Ziglar)

“We must be careful not to let our Current Appetites steal away any chance we might have for a Future Feast.” (Jim Rohn)

“The key to Christian living is a thirst and hunger for God. And one of the main reasons people do not understand or experience the sovereignty of grace and the way it works through the awakening of sovereign joy is that their hunger and thirst for God is so small.” (John Piper)

“God releases more of His power and presence according to the measure of our hunger for Him.” (Mike Bickle)

“It’s abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible. It has been written into our spiritual DNA to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow at the name of Jesus.” (Bill Johnson)

“Worship and spiritual hunger make you so attractive to God that your circumstances cease to matter anymore. He will move heaven and earth to find a worshiper. When you begin to worship with all your being and desire, your heart turns Him toward you. You capture His attention and attract His affection.” (Tommy Tenney)

“Neglecting proper biblical nourishment spoils the spiritual appetite, and the result is theological malnutrition.” (Alistair Begg)

“When it comes to satisfying our spiritual appetites, there is no such thing as excess. There are no restraints placed on us by God. There are no rules of temperance or laws requiring moderation or boundaries beyond which we cannot go in seeking to enjoy Him. We need never pause to inquire whether we’ve crossed a line or become overindulgent. You need never fear feeling too good about God.” (Sam Storms)

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

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“It’s Time to Clean House!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “23 Best Foods For Fiber”

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“The Danger of Seeking Validation”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“You Are Yoke Free!”

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Leviticus 26:12-13, “I will walk you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves; and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk upright [with heads held high as free men].” (AMP)

Between my job, ministry and school, I do quite a bit of teaching, workshops, seminars and conferences. But I would definitely have to say one of my most memorable was in Albany, New York. You see, I had just finished up a leadership conference and one of my associates Juliet was there with me. We were walking back to our hotel rooms to pack up and leave. Truthfully, I was really tired and preoccupied when she handed me an envelope. I noticed the email message written on it, and I distinctly remember Juliet saying something when she handed it to me, but I was concentrating on the message that had been written on the envelope. I looked at who it was and I said to myself, “Oh, I already responded to this email.” And since I was finished with the message, after I got in my room, I threw the envelope away.

Well, when we got back to the office, somebody said, “Where is the check from the directors in Albany?” They were referring to the check for our teaching from the weekend. I said, “Juliet has it.” However, when they asked Juliet, she said, “I gave it to Shermaine already.” My response? “You did?” Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now, the envelope I threw away…It Held the Check! I don’t think I have ever thrown away a check in my entire life! So, in the end, they stopped payment and they re-issued it. But naturally, I was treated for acute embarrassment! See, I didn’t know what the envelope was worth on the inside, so I just threw it away. In essence, I read the container but took no time to review the contents. I wonder how often so many of us repeat this same mistake in varying areas of our lives!

The good thing about this whole fiasco is that yet another devotional was birthed out of my many blunders in life. Which brings us to our text in Leviticus 26:12-13. It’s an important passage for a lot of us who don’t realize how valuable we are. See, the people here, the ancient Jews, had been mistreated in Egypt, they’d been used, they’d been hurt, and they’d been belittled (sounds like the testimony of a lot of us.) And so the awful result is, they started to believe that being treated like cheap labor was what they were worth. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Listen in to what God said to them, and to you and me as well. “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves; and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk upright [with heads held high as free men].” (AMP)

See, they were out of Egypt, but Egypt wasn’t out of them. They were out of bondage, but the bondage wasn’t out of them. And I’m afraid that’s the very description of many of us today. God has brought us out of domestic violence; addictions; bad habits; bad decisions, and still we act as though we are still where we were! There’s nothing worse than being a prisoner for so long, that even when the bars open, you remain in bondage!

Which reminds me of an old story I’m sure you’ve heard of: “One day a farmer’s donkey fell into an abandoned well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway; so it just wasn’t worth it to him to try to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbor’s to come over and help him. They each grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. Realizing what was happening, the donkey at first cried and wailed horribly (I mean, after all, how would you respond if someone were trying to bury you alive?) Then, a few shovelfuls later, he quieted down completely. The farmer peered down into the well, and was astounded by what he saw. With every shovelful of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up on the new layer of dirt. As the farmer’s neighbor’s continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off, to the shock and astonishment of all the neighbor’s.

Moral of the Story: Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to not let it bury you, but to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, and never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!”

Every time I read that story I’m amazed by how much it encourages me. Because truth is, some of us fall and we just determine that the fall was too great to recover from and so we give up. But then we also experience times when others see how great our fall was, and they round up the neighbors, everyone gets their shovels, and throws dirt in our pit because they simply cannot see a way for us to recover and come up out of what we’ve gotten ourselves into. All they see for us an ending. Which makes me wonder, if all the neighbors in the story could all gather their shovels, and come together for the sole purpose of throwing dirt on the donkey, burying him alive, couldn’t they all have very well come together and find a way to get him out instead? Isn’t that just like some messy folks, they would rather throw dirt on you than help you get clean from a messy situation.

Well, today is your day of encouragement, because I refuse to allow you to wallow, wilt and die! Neither will you allow yourself or anyone else to bury you before you die! If we are all to be brutally honest, we all sin, daily (and for the rest of us really unrefined church folks, we sin by the nano second)! Now, I know there are some super-spiritual folks who have a tendency to act like they sit next to Jesus every day, but then if that were true, why did they need a Savior in the first place? We may not commit the same sin, but we’re just as guilty as the next for a crime of sin! And in case there are some folks who are under the impression that sin comes in ‘sizes’, let me help you…Sin Has Not Size! One Size Fits All! There are no ‘big and little sins’. God does not grade our sins by measures and levels! Whether one person takes a person’s life, and another sows discord among the brethren, God has concluded that both come under His judgment! So whatever your sin was, be it deliberate and willful, accidental or even unknown, when you take it to God and repent and ask for forgiveness, it is done in that very instant, and you need not prove levels of righteousness to mere man! Those who you have wronged, you sincerely apologize, make it right in whatever way you can, ask for forgiveness and walk in newness going forward determined to be better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you’ll be today!

Stop allowing dusty people to throw dirt on you while you bow your head in the ditch and die! I don’t care how you got there nor how long you’ve been in there, you can get up, get out and go on! And you need no one’s permission or approval to do so! Stop accepting invitations to pity parties celebrating what you could have done, and who you could have been. Do it today, become it today! Shake off the dirt they’ve thrown on you and at you, use it as a foundation to step on, step up, and step out!

Remember This: John 8:3-11, “The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?” “No one, Master.” “Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” (MSG)

Moral of the Scripture: Until You’re SIN-LESS, Remain STONE-LESS! Even Jesus set the record straight. He wrote in dirt, He didn’t throw it! So if anyone approaches you with shovels in hand, don’t argue, fuss or fight. Just shake it off, step up, step out and step off! You are no longer under condemnation, nor are you bound in bondage! God has broken the bars of your yoke and you are now free, so talk, walk, act and live like it!

Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now NO condemnation [NO guilty verdict, NO punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior].” (AMP)

Romans 6:4, “We have therefore been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, WE TOO MIGHT WALK HABITUALLY IN NEWNESS OF LIFE [ABANDONING OUR OLD WAYS].” (AMP)

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], HE IS A NEW CREATURE [REBORN AND RENEWED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT]; THE OLD THINGS [THE PREVIOUS MORAL AND SPIRITUAL CONDITION] HAVE PASSED AWAY. BEHOLD, NEW THINGS HAVE COME [BECAUSE SPIRITUAL AWAKENING BRINGS A NEW LIFE].” (AMP)

Psalm 103:12, “He has REMOVED our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west.” (TLB)

1 John 1:9, “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will FORGIVE our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].” (AMP)

In other words, you may have gotten yourself down in a dirty ditch, but you don’t have to stay there! Therefore, once you’re out, let no one treat you like you’re still in, not even YOU!

Back to our text, God was telling them what royalty they really were, and that it was about time they started living like the treasure they were. Maybe that’s what God is trying to tell you today. You’ve been making the same mistake about your worth that I did with that valuable envelope; you think it’s trash, but it’s not and neither are you, no matter what you’ve done, how many times, with who, when, where or why!

Deuteronomy 7:6, “For you are a holy people [set apart] to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be a people for His own possession [that is, His very special treasure].” (AMP)

1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (AMP)

My friends, you are more valuable than you give yourself credit for!

But, maybe you’ve felt like a loser, a reject, a victim. So you’ve been throwing yourself away, and there are a lot of ways to do that. You can throw yourself away academically by not trying, not working very hard, by getting sexually involved, maybe throwing yourself away chemically or alcoholically. You could be trashing yourself by what you do for pleasure, what you listen to, or watch, by putting yourself down, by settling for bad relationships. Maybe you’ve even thought about suicide. It could be you just don’t try because you don’t think you’re worth it.

Well, I’ve stopped by to drop off a vital message to you today: YOU’RE WRONG!

God is saying to you today: You are My handmade creation! My people, that are no longer slaves to their enemies; you can now walk with your head held high! And yet, so many of you are still making a mistake that breaks the heart of your Creator. You believe you are trash because some people treated you like trash. But no, you are who your Creator says you are. You were created by God. You are loved by God. You’re purchased by God through the death of His Son. You belong to God. You are not trash!

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” (AMP)

THAT’S WHO YOU ARE!

Listen: I looked at a valuable envelope. I thought it was trash; I threw it away. I was wrong. It was worth a lot. Maybe some people have looked at you and thought you weren’t worth much, and they treated you like trash. Well, they didn’t know who you are. They had no idea of the value you carry within. 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this precious treasure [the good news about salvation] in [unworthy] earthen vessels [of human frailty], so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be [shown to be] from God [His sufficiency] and not from ourselves.” (AMP) You carry treasure and you are God’s treasure! And just because they didn’t know it, doesn’t mean anything. You need to know it! Don’t break God’s heart any more by throwing away what He thinks is worth so much He would die for you. He would die for the very wrong things you have done, for every rebellion against Him in your life. You were worth the life of Jesus Christ, His Son.

John 3:16-17, “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him.” (AMP)

Isaiah 43:2-4, “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to Me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” (MSG)

Philippians 2:5-8, “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” (MSG)

Romans 8:31-39, “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (MSG)

So, I don’t care what you’ve done, how many times you’ve done it, where you were, who you were with, how long you were there, there is absolutely nothing that can stop God from loving you, protecting you, providing for you, claiming you, forgiving you and redeeming you! Absolutely Nothing, Not Even YOU!

There’s another short story you may have heard of, it goes like this: “As my friend was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they did not. My friend saw a trainer nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size of rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” My friend was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were. Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before? How many of us are being held back by old, outdated beliefs that no longer serve us? How many of us have avoided trying something new because of a limiting belief? Worse, how many of us are being held back by someone else’s limiting beliefs? Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve! CHOOSE not to accept the false boundaries and limitations created by the past.”

My friends, that’s your encouragement today as well! And when you look at that story you have to realize something significant. The elephant had the power to break free at anytime from his bondage. However, God loves you so much that He didn’t even wait for you to break free, nor did He depend or even expect you to break free, no, the Scripture says, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD, WHO BROUGHT YOU OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT SO THAT YOU WOULD NOT BE THEIR SLAVES; AND I BROKE THE BARS OF YOUR YOKE AND MADE YOU WALK UPRIGHT [WITH HEADS HELD HIGH AS FREE MEN].” (AMP)

Did you notice how many times God said “I”? He said He will walk among you; He brought you out of the land of Egypt; He made sure you would no longer be a slave; He broke the bars of your yoke; He made you to walk upright, even with your head held high as FREE! Brothers and Sisters, don’t let your sin nor your past keep your head down, your shoulders slumped, your back bent, your eyes downward and your spirit downcast! You are no longer bound, you are free! John 8:36, “So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.” (AMP)

You have One God who is your Only judge! And He determined that you are Redeemable! You have value, you have worth, you have a fresh start, you have a second chance! If God had no more use or need of you, then the breath of life that He’s loaned you, would default and you would die, but instead you’ve opened your eyes to a brand new day! A new day of new mercies! Last night was not your Last night, because your Lord still has need of you! Don’t under-value and under-estimate yourself, and let no one else do it to you either!

Now, I’ll be the first to confess that I’ve messed up more times than I care to count! And I’ve even beat myself up with more bruises than I should have. I even allowed other people to see me in the ditch, and as they threw the dirt on, I was content because I felt it was what I deserved. It took me a long time to stop thinking I needed to be restored by man. I learned the hard way to take my every sin (deliberate, accidental, unknown), to God. I learned to repent, I learned to turn and change, I learned to receive His forgiveness. For a long time that was an uphill battle, because I didn’t think I deserved it, so I didn’t know how to receive it.  And maybe you’re walking in the same shoes I did. And if you are, it’s time to go shoe shopping and change your style!

You will not stay here any longer. You have been set free from the bondage of others, and more importantly, the bondage of yourself. God loves us so much that He didn’t wait for us to get ourselves out of the yoke, no, He broke it for us! And so today we are free, no more limitations; no more self-doubt; no more low self-esteem; no more questioning God’s love for you; no more assuming that God can do this for everybody else but you. No More! God has changed both your position and posture, and today is the day you live, talk and act like it!

Leviticus 26:12-13, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves; and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk upright [with heads held high as free men].” (AMP)

YOU MY FRIENDS ARE YOKE FREE BECAUSE GOD HIMSELF BROKE THE BARS OF YOUR YOKE!

Isaiah 9:4, “For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.” (NLT)

Isaiah 10:27, “On that day God will end the bondage of his people. He will break the yoke of slavery off their necks and destroy it as decreed.” (TLB)

Galatians 5:1, “It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].” (AMP)

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

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“You Need Free-Throw Focus”

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Philippians 3:15-16, “So let’s keep FOCUSED on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, GOD WILL CLEAR YOUR BLURRED VISION—YOU’LL SEE IT YET! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.” (MSG)

My dad was indeed crazy about sports, particularly baseball, football and basketball. He had his favorite teams, and you could hear him from miles away as he rooted for his best! And truth is, much like my dad, just about all American’s are pretty passionate about their sports too. Now, if my dad had to pick just one sport as a favorite, he would hands down choose baseball. However, my nephew would, without a doubt, vote for basketball as the most exciting sport of all time. And basketball action is pretty physical. It’s constantly changing, it’s intense, it’s unpredictable. And even though I know little of nothing about the sport, I’ve watched enough to know about this one thing. You see, there’s this one point where it does slow down a little, much to the relief of the players I’m sure. But if a player is fouled by someone from the other team, he gets to shoot one or two FREE THROWS.

And that down time is a time when nobody on the court is bothering you or trying to defend against you, no one is touching you, bumping you, or blocking you. Actually I really shouldn’t say no one’s bothering you, especially if you’re the visiting team. Because when you’re facing that basket trying to make your free throw, you’re also facing all the local fans who, of course, want you to miss! They’re jumping up and down, they’re making noise, they’re waving their arms, and they’re waving signs in your face. Which means, if you’re going to try to score some points with this free throw, you’ve got to seriously CONCENTRATE. The word “Concentrate” is defined as “to focus all one’s attention or mental effort on an object or activity.” Its Latin Origin comes from “Con” (meaning ‘together’) and “Centrum” (meaning ‘center’). To concentrate is therefore to bring all of your mental effort together to focus on the one thing that is necessary, that which is the center of your attention. Sounds a lot like David and Paul doesn’t it? Psalm 27:4, “I’m asking God for ONE THING, ONLY ONE THING: To live with Him in His house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate His beauty; I’ll study at this feet” (MSG); Philippians 3:13, “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). Can you imagine being that single-minded? Better yet, can you imagine trying to be that single-minded when attempting to make a free throw shot while everyone is attempting to do whatever it takes to throw you off your game?!

In fact, I didn’t know there’s even an actual name for it in basketball, they call it “FREE THROW DISTRACTIONS.” And it’s pretty big and sometimes very hilarious and other times quite disturbing. You see, it’s when you have fans that will wear weird and outrageous outfits, make faces, scream, taunt, provoke, make crazy sounds, even take off their clothes, and all of it just to make you lose your CONCENTRATION! Their only goal is to make sure you don’t make yours!

Now, let’s be honest. Many of us have distractions we face daily, but can you imagine having a whole stadium of people attempting everything in their power to distract you? And all of this effort just because they want to see you lose!

This thought brought to mind Hebrews 10:32-38, here’s what it says: “But remember the earlier days, when, after being [spiritually] enlightened, you [patiently] endured a great conflict of sufferings,  sometimes by being made a spectacle, publicly exposed to insults and distress, and sometimes by becoming companions with those who were so treated.  For you showed sympathy and deep concern for those who were imprisoned, and you joyfully accepted the [unjust] seizure of your belongings and the confiscation of your property, conscious of the fact that you have a better possession and a lasting one [prepared for you in heaven].  Do not, therefore, fling away your [fearless] confidence, for it has a glorious and great reward.  For you have need of patient endurance [to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising], so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one [the one justified by faith] shall live by faith [respecting man’s relationship to God and trusting Him]; And if he draws back [SHRINKING IN FEAR], My soul has no delight in him. BUT OUR WAY IS NOT THAT OF THOSE WHO SHRINK BACK TO DESTRUCTION, but [we are] of those who believe [relying on God through faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by this confident faith preserve the soul.” (AMP)

This passage from the Bible suggests an idea that’s pretty common in modern athletics. You hear this word a lot – FOCUS. And it’s not focusing in good times, but focusing in hard times! Times when you’re attacked, taunted, provoked, and even insulted! The word “focus” has many definitions, but the one I like is “to pay particular attention to.Just like that basketball player. He’s got to focus on making that basket; what it takes to sink it when you’ve got a thousand nuts out there trying to get you to look somewhere else. That player has all kinds of sights and sounds trying to get his attention. But he’s got to tune it all out. His eye is fixed on the basket. To attain his goal, he has to Pay Particular Attention!

The Bible says, “We have a race marked out for us.The Lord has set the course for your life. You’ve got gifts to use for Him, you’ve got people to influence for Him, you have work to get done for Him, you have days that are yours with which to glorify Him and keep striving toward His prize. All that matters is getting to that finish line. Truth is we should all want to have Paul’s testimony: 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight. I have Completed the race. I have kept the faith.” (GWT). That word “complete” is defined as “having run its full course; finished; to the greatest extent or degree; total.” It’s Latin Origin “Complere” literally means “to fill up, finish, and fulfill.” And isn’t that what every believer wants? To fulfill the Will of God for their life? Well, it’s possible, it’s doable, you just have to concentrate and focus and you’ll finish your fulfillment! Will it be easy? Absolutely not! But it will most certainly be worth it to hear: Matthew 25:21, “…Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master.” (AMP). Listen, the Lord has indeed promised to do His part, Philippians 1:6, “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and COMPLETE IT until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].” (AMP). But in the words of the Apostle Paul, we have our part to do as well: “…I have FINISHED the work I was to do…” (NLV). To finish well, you need to focus well!

Now, the player who has to make this free throw shot has a lot coming at him and all at the same time! There’s a lot that could blur his vision, cloud his judgment, shift his focus, and cause him to lose his concentration. After all, that player could look at the crowd. He could look at the competitors all around him. He could look at all the signs that say ‘MISS IT!’ But a champion, of course, always focuses on the upward goal. What he has to do is more important than what others around him are trying to do to him.

Now, if we are to all be honest, truth is, we all fight with distractions every day! It’s easy to have your attention drawn away to a problem person, or your finances, or making more money, or a thousand little annoyances. You can be distracted by temptation, or as I often am, by an overwhelming “to do” list. And dare we mention television, phones, and social media? Even in church we can get so caught up in positions, protocols and programs that we never focus on fulfilling our purpose. But that’s the goal of distraction, to cause you to retract from forward progression. In fact, the word “Retract” means “to draw or be drawn back; to withdraw; to go back on.” Its Latin Origin “Retrahere” literally means “to draw back.” And is there danger in being distracted to the point of going backwards? Absolutely! Just take a look at Luke 9:62 in a few translations:

“But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.” (AMP);

“Jesus answered, “Anyone who starts plowing and keeps looking back isn’t worth a thing to God’s kingdom!” (CEV);

“Jesus said, “Anyone who begins to plow a field but looks back is not prepared for God’s kingdom.” (ERV)

“Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” (MSG)

“Jesus said, “Anyone who begins to plow a field but keeps looking back is of no use in the kingdom of God.” (NCV)

 “But Jesus told him, “Anyone who lets himself be DISTRACTED from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (TLB)

Listen: You cannot afford to be drawn back, go back, procrastinate or allow yourself to be distracted from your assignment, ministry, race, work, calling or purpose! It makes you unfit, unfocused and ultimately unfulfilled! You can’t make the mark while aiming at everything but the mark! If you ever take the time to look at the faces of the athletes when they’re on the line and focused on making their free throw shot, you will be amazed at the intensity of their stare, focus and concentration. And even though their free throw shot is important to them in that moment, surely you know we have a mark to make that’s a tad bit more important! We have to finish what our Father assigned to our hands to do!

1 Corinthians 3:9-15, “For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building. According to the [remarkable] grace of God which was given to me [to prepare me for my task], like a skillful master builder I laid a foundation, and now another is building on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will be clearly shown [for what it is]; for the day [of judgment] will disclose it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality and character and worth of each person’s work. If any person’s work which he has built [on this foundation, that is, any outcome of his effort] remains [and survives this test], he will receive a reward. But if any person’s work is burned up [by the test], he will suffer the loss [of his reward]; yet he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has barely escaped] through fire.” (AMP) The Message Bible says it like this: “Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working. Or, to put it another way, you are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely.” (MSG)

2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we [believers will be called to account and] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives—the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities].” (AMP)

That’s Why You Need to Maintain Your Free-Throw Focus! Not Only Do You Have a Work to Complete For God, But It Will Be Inspected By God! Concentrate!

But, maybe your attention is drawn to this or that conflict or to something you’re afraid of, or something you’re worried about. Whatever it is, it’s yelling, “Look at me instead!“, and sadly, many of us do to our distraction and demise. Truth is, we have thrown away enough days by letting ourselves become frustrated, allowing ourselves to worry and panic and feel sorry for ourselves. What’s the answer then? Here we go again, FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS! It begins when your day begins. You fill up with Jesus in the waking moments. That’s a conscious choice you make. You listen to worship music, Christian radio, go to Christian websites. You take time to listen to the Lord in His Word and prayer, and then you refocus on Him several times during the day DELIBERATELY. Stop allowing the crowd to shift your focus! Whether it’s on the job, in the home, in business or in the church, keep your focus!

Refocus on Jesus and His assignment and purpose for your life because He’s holding you accountable for the work!

All the distracters will always be there waving, shouting, and screaming for your attention. But a champion knows they’ve got to make the difference. They’ve got to make the basket. They’ve got to make the goal. And the only way to do that is to focus and refuse to be distracted.

Make sure your eyes are stubbornly focused on the Christ who is Lord over every distraction!

You know, I’ve come to realize just this year, in the last few days that sometimes it’s okay to be stubborn. You see, “Stubborn” is defined as “determined not to change one’s attitude or position; difficult to move.” And that’s exactly what we need to be, so stubborn in focus that we’re determined not to change our attitude or position. So stubborn, that no matter what they do or attempt to do to distract us, we will not be moved! Let this year be the year that you plant your feet and refuse to be moved by distractions (whether they come from people, places, or things). Remember, you can’t make the shot if you keep shifting your sight to look at distraction!

1 Chronicles 29:14-19 says, “…And give my son Solomon an uncluttered and FOCUSED heart so that he can obey what you command, live by your directions and counsel, and carry through with building The Temple for which I have provided.” (MSG). Today, ask God to give you an UNCLUTTERED AND FOCUSED HEART! One that keeps Him at the center and core! Not one that’s consumed with Michelle on Monday or Frank on Friday! Because they are mere distractions! I don’t care what they have to offer, what they can do, what they will do, I don’t even care what they look like! You are responsible for keeping your heart uncluttered and focused on God and what He’s assigned you to do!

Psalm 119:65-72, “Before I learned to answer you, I wandered all over the place, but now I’m in step with your Word. You are good, and the source of good; train me in your goodness. The godless spread lies about me, but I FOCUS my attention on what you are saying…” (MSG) Listen, I don’t care what they call you, focus on what God says about you only! They can say you’re ugly, fat, lazy, no good, less than, useless, worthless, and the like, and they are entitled to their opinion. But their opinion is not God’s! He calls you His chosen people, His priceless, cherished treasure, He calls you His own, He calls you gifted, anointed, powerful, awesome, healed, delivered, saved! He calls you ‘MINE’! And that supersedes anything anyone else has to say about you! Be like the psalmist, BUT I FOCUS MY ATTENTION ON WHAT YOU ARE SAYING!

DON’T LET THE VOICES BLUR YOUR VISION!

Matthew 6:6, “…Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The FOCUS will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (MSG) The player getting ready to do his free throw shot focuses only on the basket. And you need to make sure that daily you are spending time with God, and God alone. Focused solely on Him! Shift your focus to place Him in clear view! Yes, there will be times when you’re surrounded by the crowds, but there must also be those scheduled moments that you don’t compromise. The moments that you PURPOSELY set aside for you and God to have some one-on-one time. The best way to maintain your focus is to always keep God in your view!

Matthew 17:17-18, “Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! No FOCUS to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things?…” (MSG) Listen, you cannot serve God while serving a million other things in life. I’ve seen it far too often in churches, people wearing so many hats you can no longer see their entire body anymore. You can’t be all over the place and focused at the same time. Imagine if you’re driving down the highway and you’re trying to adjust all the mirrors, turn off the wipers, turn on the radio, change the heat, pull down the visor to get a piece of paper, yell at the kids and fix your seat belt buckle all at the same time, guess what’s about to happen?! You guessed it, CRASH! Why? Because you shifted your focus from what was most important to everything else! Learn how to get some focus to your life, your entire life, which means work, home, church, school, activities and the like. Get them all in order and place them in proper priority categories so you can get more focus to your life. You can’t see clearly when your entire life is nothing but a cluttered mess of distractions!

Mark 8:24-26, “He looked up. “I see men. They look like walking trees.” So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty FOCUS…” (MSG) There’s nothing like taking what’s ailing you to Jesus for Him to lay His hands on it and fix and heal it. You can’t focus when you’re hurting and in pain. Meaning, yes, you have a purpose to fulfill, but when something isn’t working right in your life, don’t try to perform, just seek God. What happened to this man who had no sight, after he spend some time with Jesus? HE HAD RECOVERED PERFECT SIGHT, SAW EVERYTHING IN BRIGHT, TWENTY-TWENTY FOCUS! And the same will happen for you! Whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, financial, social, or spiritual, if it needs healing, take it to Jesus first, refocus, then get back to fulfilling your assignment!

Romans 4:19-25, “Abraham didn’t FOCUS on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.” (MSG) I can’t imagine all that goes through the mind of a player who has to make a free throw shot, while everyone around him wants him to lose his focus and lose his aim! That’s a lot of pressure. And Abraham knew pressure. He was promised to father a child in his old age, when it was past time for them both, and yet he believed God! Whatever God has assigned you to do, you can do it, no matter your flaws and imperfections, no matter how hard or seemingly impossible. Simply focus on what God said and believe it until you see it!

Romans 15:14-16, “…I need your help in carrying out this highly FOCUSED assignment God gave me, this priestly and gospel work of serving…” (MSG) Now, the free throw shot is all on you, alone. But thank God, that’s only one small portion in the game. You need to make sure that you surround yourself with a good team so you can win the entire game, which you cannot do alone, no matter how focused and gifted you are! Make sure you have a team that’s focused just as you are, or even better! Avoid the lazy, the pessimistic, the undisciplined, the show-boats, the easily distracted! Get you a team that’s focused on God’s assignment, plan, purpose and kingdom, and get the work of serving completed!

2 Corinthians 1:12-14, “…It was God who kept us FOCUSED on him, uncompromised…” (MSG) You can’t win and compromise! You need God to keep you focused especially during those times of temptation! Because as soon as you shift your focus to the things of God, the devil will immediately show up with every distraction to take your focus from God, don’t let it happen! Stay with God so He can keep you focused and uncompromised as you complete your assignment for Him!

Ephesians 1:15-19, “I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes FOCUSED and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!” (MSG) So many say they have no idea what God has called them to do, but the Bible clearly says, “I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, YOUR EYES FOCUSED AND CLEAR, SO THAT YOU CAN SEE CLEARLY EXACTLY WHAT IT IS HE IS CALLING YOU TO DO…” You need to focus on God so you can see clearly what it is He has called you to do! Unfortunately however, far too many focus on what people say instead, ‘you sound like a preacher’; ‘you look like a dancer’…But You Can’t See Your Calling Clearly Looking to People, You Have to Focus On God!

Brothers and Sisters, let today be the day you get your focus back and not lose it again to distractions! God has called you to a great work, that can’t be accomplished while you’re unfocused! Be it people, places or things, let nothing and no one take your free throw focus off the basket! You never know, your focus just may win it for the entire team! We’re All Counting On You!

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

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“How God Makes a BIG Ego…small”

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Genesis 11:1-9, “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.  And as men traveled in the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and made their home there.  They said to one another, “Come, let us make blocks and burn them until they are hard.” They used blocks for stone, and tar to hold them together.  Then they said, “Come, let us build a city FOR OURSELVES, with a tower that touches the heavens. Let us make a name FOR OURSELVES, or else we may be sent everywhere over the whole earth.” Then the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of men had built.  And the Lord said, “See, they are one people, and they all have the same language. This is only the beginning of what they will do. Now all they plan to do will be possible for them.  Come, let Us go down and mix up their language so they will not understand what each other says.”  So the Lord sent them everywhere over the whole earth. And they stopped building the city.  So the name of the city was Babel, because there the Lord mixed up the language of the whole earth. The Lord sent the people everywhere over the whole earth.” (NLV)

Key Verse: Genesis 11:4, “Then they said, “Come, let us build a city FOR OURSELVES, with a tower that touches the heavens. Let us make a name FOR OURSELVES, or else we may be sent everywhere over the whole earth.” (NLV) 

Louis Sullivan, the inventor of the modern skyscraper, said, “The tall building…should be a proud and soaring thing that makes a powerful appeal to the architectural imagination.

Well, today, many WOMEN embody the same spirit of Pride and Self-Sufficiency that is represented in the lofty towers that make up our cities. Unfortunate as it may be, many Bible toting, Scripture quoting WOMEN of God are Focused on Personal Perfection MORE THAN Pleasing the One Whom They Call Their “Personal Lord and Savior”.

Truth be told, there is a Multitude of Women who seek the pinnacle of age-defying beauty through creams, procedures or surgeries. Some even become obsessed with fashion or feel that they must conform to some media-driven image. Now, it’s one thing for the “World” to act in such a manner, but when the “Church” behaves in such a manner it Delivers a Critical Blow to the Conduct that is Called “Christ-Like”!  And as Women of God, We are Never Called to Compromise or Conform! Romans 12:1-2, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (MSG)

However, as women, we’ve become so diligent in working on our outer man that the inner woman of God is slowly decaying! Yes, our make-up is flawless, our hair doesn’t have a strand out of place, our clothes have every “known” name across the country, our smiles are picture perfect, our speech drips with honey-flavored eloquence, we’ve mastered poise and yet we’ve become a slave to pretense!

We “look” so much the “part” that we no longer even know how to end the “scene” of “playing church” when Sunday’s “role” is over. And then matters are made worse because others believe the “role” of religion we “play”, and so they give us “standing ovations, grand applause, beautiful flowers thrown at our feet,” compliments instead of criticisms and pats on the back instead of swift kicks in the behind! Our egos are stroked while our spirits are struggling to survive the strangulation of conformity! Who we are is slowly dying because we continue to breathe life into who we “pretend” to be!

“God, Church and Hell are all real. People claim they love God, but is God in them? They go to church to play church. But if you go to hell will you still be playing?” (Author Unknown)

I don’t think we’re fully aware, ladies, of the dangers of “playing church”. We can pretend all day long here on earth, but there comes a day of reckoning, and God is not going to ask about who and what you pretended to be, but who you really are and what you really did! 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, “But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.” (MSG) You have to get yourself together in this life, because the afterlife is too late! When you play with church, and play with your soul, you’re playing with your eternity! Today is the day we take off all the masks and stop with the pretense and get real! It’s time to work on ourselves, instead of simply covering up an ugly construction site of sin and foolishness. We’ve pretended to be healed, whole, saved and delivered for long enough. It’s time to get ourselves right before that last trumpet sounds! This is NOT a dress rehearsal! There are no shows and curtains in heaven waiting for you to come out playing a character instead of actually possessing Character! 

But what you will have to embrace is that once you’ve pretended for so long, the real you gets lost! And people become comfortable and familiar with who you’ve pretended to be all this time. So it will not be an easy or quick process to unveiling the real you! But if you are to please God, it is a must!  

You see, gradually, over time, it becomes easier and easier to build monuments to ourselves. After all, as the famous ad says to women, “Because, I’m Worth It”. Well, the builders of the tower of Babel shared a key aspect of Sullivan’s vision of the tall building: PRIDE! And they had one purpose: TO BUILD A NAME FOR THEMSELVES! They wanted to claim glory that rightly belonged to God Alone – but after all, they ‘were worth it’ too, right?

However, the longing to climb higher than God didn’t begin in Babel. Before time began, Lucifer said, “…I will RAISE MY THRONE ABOVE THE STARS OF GOD; I will SIT ENTHRONED ON THE MOUNT OF ASSEMBLY, on the UTMOST HEIGHTS OF MOUNT ZAPHON” (Isaiah 14:13 NIV). And to this day, we still have women who are doing whatever it takes to raise themselves up to sit enthroned amongst the assembly and be treated as Queens of the utmost heights of elevations, promotions, titles and positions, rings, robes, and royal seating in the sanctuary!

So you see, it didn’t begin with Babel, BUT, it didn’t end with Babel, either.

Here’s a little history for you. The pyramids of Egypt proclaim the power of the rulers buried beneath them. Many lives were lost in the building of the pyramids, “collateral damage” to the princes who built them. Often Egyptian slaves were killed when their masters died and were buried alongside them. But just as the Egyptian kings sacrificed everything to their own legacy, women often sacrifice the good of those around them for fleeting recognition, not to mention the humble spirit God desires. The rulers of ancient Egypt were not all-powerful – they died the deaths of mere men. So, don’t you dare be deceived, your soul will not be saved by flawless skin or the perfect career any more than the towering mountains of stone raised over the mummies of kings saved them!

Women of God, it’s one thing to have pride in yourself, your appearance and even your accomplishments. However, you must never let your pride get out of control. Don’t be like those who attempted to “BUILD FOR THEMSELVES” and “MAKE A NAME FOR THEMSELVES”! Truth is, It’s Not About You! Your Talent, Gifts, Skill-Set, Anointing etc…are for the Building of the Kingdom of God, Not a Personal Cathedral to You! Building a Legacy is not about Your Name being left behind for generations after you to talk about! A Legacy has Purpose; It Has Action! Legacy is for People who have Done Something! Your name on a building is useless, if what you Did wasn’t useful! Sisters, let your work speak for you, it has a loud and powerful voice that will not and cannot be silenced! 

However, you have to put in the work! And that work is not FOR you, it’s FROM you! It’s to build a better generation (not so you can take credit for it) but simply because you care about what the Lord’s heart desires. Every time Jesus came into a person’s life (even if it was briefly passing through it) their life was made better. They were made better. Ladies, if you want your name to say something, let it say Character; Integrity; Sincerity; Excellence; Modesty; Dignity; Help; Support. Let your name say something about what you Do for Others (that you look for no recognition or credit for). 

Women of God, the best handiwork is when your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand is doing! “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” (Judy Blume) Which means we have to stop taking up so much of our time daily applying makeup and masks, so that we can put our hands to better use, as in touching the lives of others and leaving that as our legacy! Ego’s and pride have had us to focus on ourselves long enough!

Also, be careful not to lose yourself trying to find yourself in places God never intended you to be! Hint: lofty, high places certainly is not it! If you want to really find yourself, just locate the places your God has been (after all, you were made in His image and likeness). Remember, He dwells in Humility; He hangs around the Poor and Meek; He lends a Helping and Healing hand to those who are hurting and struggling. He’s aiding the bound to become free; He’s feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. He’s providing shelter for the homeless and a protective hedge for those under attack. 

Believe it or not, the real Heights are when you delve into the Depths of despair to help someone who cannot help themselves!

In closing, I understand the commercial ad “Because, I’m Worth It”. But that is a motto for the World! When it comes to Believers, our Motto is more like “Because, He’s Worth It!”  

So, what do you take pride in? What keeps you from glorifying God? Has your focus become self-absorbed? Have you become self-glorifying? If so, the solution to the problem is simple: Whatever is keeping you from God, give it to Him for His glory! Let your relationship with Jesus be the source of your significance. 

The Word of God does not lie, when you humble yourself Before God, He Will Lift You Up! However, a high ego will bring you down mighty low! 

“…Come, let Us go down and mix up their language so they will not understand what each other says.”  So the Lord sent them everywhere over the whole earth. And they stopped building the city.  So the name of the city was Babel, because there the Lord mixed up the language of the whole earth. The Lord sent the people everywhere over the whole earth.” (NLV)  

Don’t allow your pride and ego to steal your voice! There’s so much for you to speak into the lives of the current and future generations that you can’t afford to let your ego ‘babble’ your purpose. These were a people that were sent by the Lord everywhere over the whole earth. But what purpose did it serve them, since their language was mixed up and served nothing of value to themselves or to those generations to come. You have an opportunity to be sent to all the corners of the earth. In fact, you have that as a command!

Acts 1:7-8, “He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses IN JERUSALEM, ALL OVER JUDEA AND SAMARIA, EVEN TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.” (MSG) 

Matthew 28:19-20, “Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train EVERYONE YOU MEET, FAR AND NEAR, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (MSG) 

Mark 16:14-16, “Still later, as the Eleven were eating supper, he appeared and took them to task most severely for their stubborn unbelief, refusing to believe those who had seen him raised up. Then he said, “GO INTO THE WORLD. GO EVERYWHERE and announce the Message of God’s good news TO ONE AND ALL. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned.” (MSG)

You can either maintain your ego and cause God to send your babbling, unproductive self all over the globe, or you could humble yourself and cause God to send you all over the globe fulfilling His Will and Purpose, however, the choice is always YOURS! You can have a global ministry that takes you all over the globe filled with purpose, or a global ministry that takes you all over the globe and it’s pointless.  

Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” (AMP) So, what are you going to allow your ego to use your words for, death or life? Because as you go day-by-day in your work for the Lord, you will daily have to make that decision. And your ego or humility is the determining factor as to which it will be. 

Women of God, there’s nothing wrong with building, but it has to always keep God in proper perspective with every brick! Proverbs 16:3, “Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His Will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.” (AMPC) 

The danger for the people in our text was that they were focused on building for themselves and they failed. Just think of what you could accomplish and succeed at if only you’d keep the Lord as your tunnel vision focus?! Remember, no matter how the Lord chooses to use YOU, it is always about HIM! Don’t let your ego rob you of a great work you can accomplish for God. There are people who have need of you and all that God put in you. Don’t let your ego be the roadblock that keeps you from going forward into a fruitful destiny. Keep the Lord at the center, and everything else around you will fall into place and, “…so shall your plans be established and succeed.” Instead of “…and they stopped building the city…”  

Reflection Questions:

  1. What kind of “towers” have you built? (your business, your career, your talents, your ministry etc…) Who really gets the glory from your labors, you or God?
  1. Would those who know you best, say you are Selfless or Selfish?
  1. If you had to be truthful with yourself, would you honestly say you are Selfless or Selfish?
  1. How much time do you spend on beautifying your inner man compared to the time you spend beautifying your outer man?
  1. How would you honestly handle working hard behind the scenes, and yet never having your name come up in the credits?
  1. When is the last time you did something good for someone who still has no idea it was you?
  1. Do you ever find yourself in comparison and competition with the “image of beauty” in the world? How do you handle it?
  1. What does the word Legacy mean to you?
  1. If there were only 3 things that someone would be able to share as your lasting legacy, what would those 3 things be?
  1. If you were to be known for a specific Fruit of the Spirit, which would it be and why?

Psalm 86:8-10, “There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord. And there are no works like Yours.  All the nations You have made will come and worship before You, O Lord. And they will bring honor to Your name.  For You are great and do great things. You alone are God.” (NLV);

Proverbs 18:10-12, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The man who does what is right runs into it and is safe. The rich man’s money is his strong city, and he thinks it is like a high wall. The heart of a man is proud before he is destroyed, but having no pride goes before honor.” (NLV);

Matthew 23:12, “The person who thinks he is important will find out how little he is worth. The person who is not trying to honor himself will be made important.” (NLV)

1 Peter 3:1-6, “The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated.” (MSG)

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

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

Proverbs 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house [on a foundation of godly precepts, and her household thrives], But the foolish one [who lacks spiritual insight] tears it down with her own hands [by ignoring godly principles].” (AMP)

Proverbs 3:13-18, “You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight. She’s worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary. Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition. Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete. She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her. Hold her tight—and be blessed!” (MSG)

“The one sole thing in myself in which I glory is that I see in myself nothing in which I can glory” ~ Catherine of Genoa

“Swallow your pride occasionally, it’s non-fattening!”  ~Author Unknown

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”  ~Benjamin Franklin

“Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self.”  ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.”  ~Author Unknown

“It is always the secure who are humble.”  ~Gilbert Keith Chesterton

“Few are humble, for it takes a self-esteem few possess.” ~Robert Brault

“We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.”  ~Rabindranath Tagore

“Nobody stands taller than those willing to stand corrected.”  ~William Safire

“One learns to ignore criticism by first learning to ignore applause.”  ~Robert Brault

“Don’t look for more honor than your learning merits.”  ~Jewish Proverb

“The man who thinks he can live without others is mistaken; the one who thinks others can’t live without him is even more deluded.”  ~Hasidic Saying

“When someone sings his own praises, he always gets the tune too high.”  ~Mary H. Waldrip

“None are so empty as those who are full of themselves.”  ~Benjamin Whichcote

“People that put themselves above others will fall longer and harder.”  ~Gina Lindley

“When science discovers the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to find they are not it.”  ~Bernard Baily

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

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