“Men Helping Men Through Failure, Encouragement and Restoration”

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Acts 15:36-41, “After a few days of this, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let’s see how they’re doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia to build up and sinew in those congregations.” (MSG)

2 Timothy 4:11, “…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very helpful to me for the ministry.” (AMP)

Remember This and Never Forget It: Every Man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul…at Some Point in Life!

One of the things I absolutely love is to watch a baby learn how to walk. It’s the most funniest thing to me ever! In fact, I like to call it the Frankenstein Walk! It’s so clumsy, so mechanical. It’s kind of a “step, boom” method. Someone comes along and says, “I think it’s about time“, then sets them up on their legs – you know, kind of spaghetti legs – and they take one step, then boom! And, of course, they get up again, and the next time it’s step, step, boom! And then step, step, step, boom! You get the idea. But what I love is that even babies don’t call it quits after a fall! As often as they wobble, step, then go boom, either someone helps them back on their feet or they struggle their way back up to give it another shot! Believe it or not, but it’s like that for many believers as well.

I remember when my youngest was learning to walk, she pretty much had the same step, boom, method as all babies have. But when she went down, you could see her grabbing something and battling to get her muscles going all in one direction so she could get up again. But then there were also those times when you saw her big sister reaching over to give her a hand. Actually, that’s what it takes whenever you go step, boom! Sometimes you can pull yourself up, and other times you need someone else to help you back up again! Are we our brother’s/sister’s keeper? Yes We Are!

And so, I think today is a good day to look at a man who stepped out to serve the Lord and went “step, boom!” His name is John Mark. Acts 15 is where we’re hearing about a missionary journey that Barnabas and Paul were launching. “Barnabas,” it says, “wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it was wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus.

Now, in order to get the full story, realize you need to turn to 2 Timothy 4, where at the end of Paul’s life he is now alone in a Roman prison. He will soon be executed for his loyalty to Jesus Christ, and guess who he mentions? Guess who he wants to see? MARK! The same guy who bombed out earlier in his Christian work, and Paul said, “Boy, I don’t think this guy’s going to make it.” But then Paul writes, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful for me in my ministry.” Wow!

Brothers, it is indeed my prayer that today’s devotional will help you look at yourself and your brothers in a new, and even better, light. I want you to look at these three men and see yourself and your brothers, and possibly began responding to each with a clearer perspective.

First, there’s MARK (HE FAILED). And believe it or not, you’ve failed and so have many of the men you know. Does that mean you or they have to live in failure forever? No! Failure never has to be fatal. It doesn’t have to end your marriage, ministry, career or life. Yes, Mark, went the wrong way, he let people and leaders down, but thank God that’s not how his story ended, and neither will it be the closing chapter of your life. In truth, maybe you did fail at the marriage: (you didn’t give it everything you should have, you weren’t as supportive, or kind, or faithful, or loving, or committed, or encouraging as you should have been); maybe you did fail at fatherhood (you weren’t there for the events, activities, talks, and medals); maybe you did fail at the ministry (you didn’t tithe, you didn’t go to prayer, bible study, Sunday school, or afternoon services, you didn’t support the men’s ministry efforts); maybe you did fail at the business/career (you didn’t pay attention to the over-head, you didn’t handle the budget right, you didn’t do better by your staff, you took advantage of your sick and vacation time, you were late to clock in, early to clock out, and went into overtime on lunch). Let’s say the truth of the matter is, this is the truth of the matter! You Failed! But do you have to stay there, absolutely not! Be honest with yourself first (and then others), that you didn’t get it right. Then, if you can pull yourself up, then pull yourself up! But if not, know that you are not the only one, and that there is help available! Which is why you have to be so careful in how you judge your brothers. You don’t know what led them to where they are, just like they don’t know what led you to your failures. So, instead of gossiping or getting and staying stuck, just turn around and start looking for Barnabas!

Second, there’s BARNABAS (HE ENCOURAGED). Mark may have screwed up, but thanks be to God he wasn’t left to his own devices! And neither are you. There will be times that you and your brothers will be Mark (you will have failed at many things, badly). But there will also be times when Barnabas will come to your aid, and then there will also be those times when you’ll need to be the Barnabas that comes to your brother’s aid. You never want to kick someone when they’re already down. And the best way to keep you from doing this is to remember when you were Mark too.  You needed someone to look beyond the worse in you and still see the best. Well, there are men around you who need the same thing.  Not all men will come to church! And those that do, won’t always come speaking in church lingo. Some will come, but not dressed like you, act like you, conduct themselves as you do. Some will come and they will come with more baggage than the baggage claim at an airport. Some will come from gangs, drugs, alcohol, failed marriages, poor fatherhood, estranged relationships with their children and family. Some will come with no job, no place to live, no hope, no faith. Some will come bitter, discouraged, angry even combative. But Barnabas, if you can encourage the Apostles to take a shot and believe in Paul who was the King of the Killers of Christians, most certainly you can work with these brothers also. Some brothers just need to feel like they’re not going to be picked last to be on the team. Like Barnabas, he could’ve said, listen Mark, I’ve worked with Paul a long time, I’ve built a friendship with him, I trust his leadership, I’m loyal to our covenant. I can’t help you, you should’ve done what you were supposed to do from the beginning. But that was not at all Barnabas response, instead, he picked the one person no one wanted on their team, and he says in essence, ‘I’ll take him’! Brothers, there are some men in your church, in your home, in your family, on your job, in your community that simply need to hear,I’ll take him!” Yep, with all his baggage and all his failures, “I’ll still take him!” Men of God, be the man that watches Mark go “step, boom,”, then go over and help him back up! And do it knowing full-well that he may go down again! But after all, when did you get it perfectly right? You still wobble in some areas, and yet you still have God’s grace, mercy, favor and forgiveness. Are you really going to withhold such a wonderful gift like that from your brother, that you open every new day?

Third, there’s Paul (HE RESTORED). Now, Paul had a two-fold responsibility. Because first of all, as a leader, he had to be honest. Mark did fail! And there’s no such thing as an effective leader who doesn’t correct bad behavior. Paul still had more journey’s to go on, more people to reach, more work to do. He couldn’t just take into account Mark, but the danger of Mark relapsing again in failure that would affect others. So he makes a leadership decision not to take him. But what I love is that even though as a leader, he corrected and reproved Mark, that wasn’t the end of their relationship!

You know what the message is? When you’re following Christ, failure is not final! But it takes two kinds of people to recover someone from a fall. It takes Barnabas to encourage the one who has fallen, to get back up, but it also takes Paul the restorer, to say I’ll give him another chance. I still see hope, a future, a change, some more potential, he deserves another chance.

You know, if that baby goes “step, boom” he can’t just say, “Well, I fell down. I guess I’ll never walk. I’m not cut out for this.” He can’t just keep lying there helpless on the floor. No! Because if he does, he’ll still be there when he’s 18; his Mom will be vacuuming around him! LOL! But no, instead, he gets up and he says in his own little brain, “I will try this walking thing again.But sometimes you need help, you need a Barnabas to Lift and a Paul to Re-Launch!

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’ve been giving up because you failed. But the gospel of Mark’s life is that you can be restored. You can be useful again if you’re willing to battle your way back up, even on wobbly legs. But recovery also requires a brother; one like Barnabas, who will work with you patiently, who will deal with your weaknesses, who will give you an another chance. And it takes a brother like Paul, who though he had his doubts, is willing to accept him once he’s restored, and not to continue to say, “Oh, yeah, he’s the failure.

Now, one of these is you, or it needs to be. Maybe you’re a Mark and you feel that you’ve fallen. But now ask the Lord for the courage and the patience to battle your way back up. Maybe you’re a Barnabas who reaches out to that person that others have given up on, maybe even a member of your own family. Or maybe you’re Paul, who can make or break somebody’s comeback by whether you greet them with open or folded arms.

When one of God’s kids goes “step, boom” there is still hope if there’s a battler determined to walk again and a brother who’s offering a hand of help.

Can we be honest brothers? Life is not easy, and most times it’s horribly unfair. So you never get the opportunity to be Paul all the time. The strong one that restores. But when life happens, you will find yourself being all three of these men, and sometimes you can find yourself being all three, all in the same day. But know this, Mark didn’t die in his failure; Barnabas didn’t overlook him; and Paul didn’t completely give up on him. In fact, the Scripture says, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11 KJV). Let’s look at Paul’s words in a few translations:

 “…Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING.” (ASV);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY.” (AMP);

“…Get Mark, and bring him with you. He has been A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY.” (CEB);

“…Take Mark, and bring him with you, because he is a VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK.” (CJB);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, because he CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK.” (GNT);

“…Bring Mark with you when you come, FOR I NEED HIM.” (TLB);

 “…Bring Mark with you; HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN.” (MSG)

As badly as Mark messed up, Paul says, I need him, he’ll be my right hand man! Can you imagine what those words must be like to hear after you’ve failed so miserably? And more importantly, to hear them from the very person whom you failed! I wonder if the man (who you know) that messed up, but was received like this by the brethren, if he would still be a member of the church today? You know that same ‘Mark’ in your ministry, in your home, on your job, who failed in his leadership; who didn’t complete his assignment; whose wife left him; who’s estranged from his children (by his own fault); whose lost the job. You know, that Mark. What kind of man could he have matured and grown and developed into had he been mentored in his mistakes?

Paul went from, “Acts 15:36-41 saying, “…Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. BUT PAUL WOULDN’T HAVE HIM; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia…” (MSG); to saying in 2 Timothy 4:11, “…Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR SERVICE.” (NASB)

Paul, says, don’t leave him down in his failure, pick him up and bring him to me because even after his failure he is still, “…USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING; … VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY… A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY… VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK… CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK… FOR I NEED HIM… HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN! Now, that’s what you call Restoration!

Men of God, please know that you as well as your brothers will all experience times of being Mark (who failed), Barnabas (who encouraged) and Paul (who corrected and restored). And whichever stage you find yourself in, know that it’s progressive and repetitive. You don’t stay in either stage permanently. As anointed, gifted, talented, powerful and awesome as you are, you will fail again, you will need to be encouraged as well encourage others again, you will need to give and receive rebuke and restoration again. And all of this is a blessing because Mark teaches us Humility; Barnabas teaches us Hospitality; and Paul teaches us Hope. Give these wonderful gifts to yourself, as well as to your brothers!

Life is not easy, and there is no flawless, perfect male specimen walking around on this planet! All have sinned, all have missed the mark, all have made mistakes, all have messed up, all have gotten it wrong at some point in life. Pointing fingers is not a remedy. Gossip, rumors, slander, and lies, is not a remedy. Favoritism, is not a remedy. Encouragement and Restoration, now that’s a Remedy! That’s a Recipe for Greatness and Recovery!

Today, Remember that every man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul at some point from moment to moment in this life. Be as forgiving, encouraging, supportive and strengthening as you would want someone to be to you. Be the living proof that any man can go from failure, to encouragement, to restoration! And make it your business to personally be a part of his process!

Which means you will not only need to be Barnabas and Paul, but you’ll also need to be Peter: Luke 22:32, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen they brethren.” (KJV) Let’s review this text in a few translations:

“but I have prayed [especially] for you [Peter], that your faith [and confidence in Me] may not fail; and you, once you have turned back again [to Me], strengthen and support your brothers [in the faith]” (AMP)

“But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.” (AMPC)

“But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others.” (CEV)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (ERV)

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you recover, strengthen the other disciples.” (GWT)

“but I have pleaded in prayer for you that your faith should not completely fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up the faith of your brothers.” (TLB)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (NCV)

“But I have prayed for you. I have prayed that your faith will be strong and that you will not give up. When you return, you must help to make your brothers strong.” (NLV)

“Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.” (vss. 31-32 MSG)

Brothers, Today, Determine to be There for Your Brothers!

“Conflict cannot continue without your participation.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer)

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” (William James)

“Do not kid yourself, a conflict is never about the surface issue. It’s about issues unsaid, untreated, and unhealed.” (Author Unknown)

“The goal of resolving conflict in a relationship is not victory or defeat. It’s reaching understanding and letting go of our need to be right.”

“Explain your anger, don’t express it, and you will immediately open the door to solutions instead of arguments.” (Author Unknown)

“Conflict is Inevitable, but Combat is Optional.” (Max Lucado)

“Bringing a problem to resolution and closure through continued discussion and compromise is an honorable act as it shows respect for the needs of both partners.” (Lynne Namka)

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” (Albert Einstein)

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

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“What You SEE Depends On What You’re LOOKING For”

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Lamentations 3:19-27, “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God…” (MSG)

Alex is the director for the outreach team at his church. One year, several of his team members were all driving together to an evangelism explosion out of state. They were in two cars, but stayed in touch by means of walkie-talkies. At a couple of points, one of the men in the car behind him pointed out a hawk that he spotted soaring gracefully over them. They saw several of them, actually, on this particular trip. ‘Now, when you see a hawk or an eagle’ Alex said, ‘it’s kind of always an event for a city boy like me’. But then Alex friend Terry – who was not driving at the time said, “Well, I just saw a dead coyote on the shoulder.” As their walkie-talkie conversations went on during that trip, that wasn’t the last hawk Alex saw – nor was it the last road kill that Terry saw. I guess whether you see soaring hawks or dead coyotes depends on where you’re looking and what you’re looking for.

Truth is, some of us have this amazing ability to miss out on the most beautiful things going on around us because we only focus on seeing the ugly or even the dead. For instance, some folks see mostly what’s right with people and with their situation – others just can’t help focusing on what’s wrong…or the ‘dead coyotes’. And it really does depend on where you Choose to look – Up or Down. And in the end, it all boils down to Choice…whether you look Up or Down, or focus on what’s good or what’s bad, either way it is always your deliberate Choice.

Alex and Terry were on an evangelism mission, you would think they would already have their focus on what’s good, positive, great, and uplifting. But you had two men, traveling down the Same road, but seeing two very Different outlooks. Alex was focused on the soaring hawks, Terry was focused on the dead coyotes…which are you focusing on?

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah knew what it was to see the ‘dead coyotes’ – until he Chose to look up and see those ‘soaring hawks’. Both perspectives are evident in Lamentations 3, beginning in verses 19-20.

First, he saw, the ‘dead coyotes’ – for the Bible reads: “Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed.” (CEV). Another translation reads: “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” (NIV). That word “downcast” is defined as “to have eyes that continually look downwards; to be low in spirit; to be bowed down; distressed; troubled; uneasy; worried; hopeless; disappointed; discouraged; agonized; anguished; weeping; bleak; desolate; dreary; comfortless; having a despondent feeling.” And “despondent” is defined as “to feel or show extreme discouragement, dejection, or depression; to be brokenhearted; gloomy; joyless; miserable; saddened; sorrowful; unhappy; pessimistic.” Needless to say, the prophet was not feeling all that great! But how could he when the Bible says, “Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. THAT’S ALL I EVER THINK ABOUT, and I am depressed.” Of course if this is your only mindset about yourself, your life and the challenges you face, you will be depressed, especially if this is “…ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT…”! Imagine going day in and day out with nothing positive, good, uplifting or encouraging to enter your mind. What a horrible way to live, especially as a believer who has been given the promise of Life and that More Abundantly! What the prophet struggled with was his: affliction, troubles, loneliness, bitterness and gall. Is that where you are? Does your pain, failures, broken heart take away God’s Unspeakable Joy from your life? Well, it’s possible, when you focus on your frustrations and your failures, the bad news and the negative feelings, yeah, you’re going to be discouraged, you’re going to be depressed, your souls going to be downcast within you. Especially when this is “…ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT…”!

At this point, the prophet is very much like Terry, all he can see is the ‘dead coyotes’, while others are focusing on the ‘soaring hawks’.

Reality Check: Now, truth is, at some point in time we’ve all felt like this, and if you haven’t yet…just keep living! To be honest, life can throw you some curve balls that no one can prepare you to catch. Can we be real? No one looks forward to a divorce, a baby out of wedlock, an addiction, a disease, the loss of a loved one, the bankruptcy, the foreclosure, the abandonment, the rejection, the depression, the job loss, the repossessed car, the unmet tuition, the promotion passing you by. No one wakes up one morning and thinks this will be a part of their agenda for the day. But for many, life happens, and happens hard and unexpectedly! And so we look around and all we see are ‘dead coyotes’. It doesn’t look as if things could get any worse, nor does it look as if things will get any better. Then, the next thing you know your mind starts wandering, “I thought I’d be married by now; I thought I’d have at least my first child by now; I thought the church/ministry/business would have taken off by now; I thought my vision and dreams would have come to pass by now; I thought I’d be finished school by now; I thought I’d own my own home by now; I thought I’d be off the bus by now; I thought I’d finish writing my book by now; I thought I’d be through with all these tests and medications by now; I thought the ailment would have run its course by now; I thought I’d be happy by now…” It appears as though life, happiness, promise, dreams and even God has forgotten about us. And so we look around like Terry and only see ‘dead coyotes’, or like the prophet we only see troubles and misery.

But then there comes a turn of events, a shifting of focus and perspective. Listen to the change: “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom. BUT THERE’S ONE OTHER THING I REMEMBER, AND REMEMBERING, I KEEP A GRIP ON HOPE. GOD’S LOYAL LOVE COULDN’T HAVE RUN OUT, HIS MERCIFUL LOVE COULDN’T HAVE DRIED UP. THEY’RE CREATED NEW EVERY MORNING. HOW GREAT YOUR FAITHFULNESS! I’M STICKING WITH GOD (I SAY IT OVER AND OVER). HE’S ALL I’VE GOT LEFT. GOD PROVES TO BE GOOD TO THE MAN WHO PASSIONATELY WAITS, TO THE WOMAN WHO DILIGENTLY SEEKS. IT’S A GOOD THING TO QUIETLY HOPE, QUIETLY HOPE FOR HELP FROM GOD…” (vss. 19-27 MSG)

Alright, prepare for the soaring hawks!

You see, when you focus on all the evidence of God’s love and God’s care in your life…when you look for the blessings that He has sown into this day and every day, your load gets lighter and your heaviness turns to hope. Same situation – two Different outlooks. Either way, you Choose! Because things didn’t change for the prophet, but his Mindset, Focus and Perspective did. The trouble, lostness, taste of ashes, poison, hitting rock bottom…all that was still there, but placed in perspective of an even greater truth… “BUT THERE’S ONE OTHER THING I REMEMBER, AND REMEMBERING, I KEEP A GRIP ON HOPE…” That’s what you have to learn to do when you’re losing your grip on life, grab ahold of hope! For it’s in that hope that you’re reminded of God’s loyal love that can’t run out and His mercy that can’t dry up! Every new morning they are there to meet you before you even meet the day! Your God is that loving and that caring and that protective of YOU! Even when you’re situation doesn’t change, your Mindset can, your Outlook can, your Perspective can! Which is what happened to Jeremiah, he said, I’M STICKING WITH GOD (I SAY IT OVER AND OVER). HE’S ALL I’VE GOT LEFT. GOD PROVES TO BE GOOD TO THE MAN WHO PASSIONATELY WAITS, TO THE WOMAN WHO DILIGENTLY SEEKS. IT’S A GOOD THING TO QUIETLY HOPE, QUIETLY HOPE FOR HELP FROM GOD…”

The same God who has promised to never leave you or forsake you is still your very present help in times of trouble. Remember His Love Notes Penned Directly to You:

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);

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);

Deuteronomy 31:6, “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS, DO NOT BE AFRAID OR TREMBLE IN DREAD BEFORE THEM, FOR IT IS THE LORD YOUR GOD WHO GOES WITH YOU. HE WILL NOT FAIL YOU OR ABANDON YOU.” (AMP);

Joshua 1:9, “HAVE I NOT COMMANDED YOU? BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS! DO NOT BE TERRIFIED OR DISMAYED (INTIMIDATED), FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO.” (AMP);

1 Peter 5:7, “CASTING ALL YOUR CARES [ALL YOUR ANXIETIES, ALL YOUR WORRIES, AND ALL YOUR CONCERNS, ONCE AND FOR ALL] ON HIM, FOR HE CARES ABOUT YOU [WITH DEEPEST AFFECTION, AND WATCHES OVER YOU VERY CAREFULLY]” (AMP);

Psalm 46:1, “GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH [MIGHTY AND IMPENETRABLE], A VERY PRESENT AND WELL-PROVED HELP IN TROUBLE.” (AMP)

And that’s just a FEW Love Notes from Your Father!

Listen: Even on a bad day you still serve a good God! Which is why you have to make the deliberate choice to stop looking for the ‘dead coyotes’ when the ‘soaring hawks’ are flying overhead to remind you to look in the right direction…Upwards! Could it be that maybe you’ve allowed too much negativity to blind you to God’s blessings that are all around you? You’ve allowed your frustrations and hurts and stresses to dominate your view. Maybe people can tell because you seem to be kind of: cynical, sarcastic, accumulating negatives, or looking for things to criticize. You’ve allowed yourself to get stuck in a negative rut – and the trip gets to be drudgery when all you’re looking at is the ‘dead coyotes’.

Trust me, we all have said a time or two, “God, this is not how it was supposed to turn out!But don’t forget, your problems don’t hinder His plans, and His plans for you are still marvelous!

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) No amount of troubles, misery, or struggles, can ever hinder the plan of God for your life!

Listen, you’ve been driving along this life highway for a good minute now, don’t you think it’s high time you change your perspective on the view? Think about it: Alex and Terry were driving around mountains, yes, there was dirt, gravel, bumps in the road, scary turns, dark nights…but there was also beautiful sunshine and flowers by day, there was birds chirping, hawks soaring, and above all, they were on their way to minister to the lost about the Jesus they’ve found. Two men, on the same road, same mission, and yet focusing on two very different views. One saw life, the other saw death, one saw soaring, the other saw grounding. But both had a Choice in what they saw based on where they looked and what they were looking for. One Chose to look up the other Chose to look down, where have you Chosen to look?

Maybe it’s time to say, “Lord, would you forgive me for letting the negative take over – for missing so many of the beautiful things that You put into every one of my days. I’ve been looking in the wrong direction. Please shift my focus. Help me to see the positive; to see Your new mercies every morning; to see Your love in action.” Then you can make this a day full of God sightings of good stuff. “Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6 GWT) Goodness and Mercy will not only be with you always, but they will stay close to you all the days of your life! There will always be something good to see, every day, in your life…you simply have to make the Choice to see it! Out the same window, you can see the majesty of the soaring hawks or you could see the mess of the dead coyotes. What you Choose to focus on is actually going to determine the kind of journey you have. So, if you don’t see happiness in your life; change direction. If you don’t see joy in your life; change direction. If you don’t see peace in your life; change direction. If you don’t see love in your life; change direction. Stop looking down, and start looking up! You didn’t survive all that you have to walk around with your head down, your eyes downcast, your back bent and your shoulders slumped.

Psalm 3:3-4, “But You, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, You lift my head high; with all my might I shout up to God, His answers thunder from the holy mountain.” (MSG)

If you are walking with your head down, you have not gone to God! Because according to Scripture, He lifts your head high! Even in the midst of pain, heartache, loss, bitterness, resentment…He can still lift your head high! No matter what your finances may look like, He can still lift your head high. No matter what your marriage looks like, He can still lift your head high. No matter what’s going on with your children, He can still lift your head high. No matter what the doctor said, He can still lift your head high. And not only lift it, but lift it HIGH!

Listen good to the psalmist, “But You, God, shield me on all sides…” No matter what you face in life, God is still your shield, on all sides!  Even when it doesn’t look good, sound good, or feel good, God is still there…on all sides! You can’t make a turn and not run right into God! So don’t you dare think that you are in this life alone. Nor are you in your hurt, suffering, confusion, or disappointment alone. God has you on all sides. You just need to shift the direction of your focus. Stop looking at you, stop looking at your marriage, loneliness, children, job, loss, hurt, finances, health…and start looking to God! Start looking up!

Psalm 5:1-3, “Hear my words, O Lord. Think about my crying. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God. For I pray to you. In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice. In the morning I will lay my prayers before You AND WILL LOOK UP.” (NLV)

Lay it all before the Lord in prayer and look up to Him. Not to other people, not to your situation, but to Him! Your problems aren’t the problem, your perspective is. The word “perspective” means “the angle or direction in which a person looks at an object; the ability to understand what is important and what isn’t; having a clear point of view; the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see something objectively.” The word “objectively” is defined as “to not be influenced by personal feelings or opinions.” You see, no matter what is going on in your life, you need to always maintain a good perspective. No matter how bad it is, don’t allow your feelings and opinions to influence you to look down at the ‘dead coyotes’. No, look at it from the right angle, above, upwards, towards the direction of clear and accurate viewing, noting what is important and what’s not. In a nutshell: The fact that you have a problem, is not important. The fact that you have a God who has a solution for every problem, is important! Don’t look at IT, look at HIM!

Remember these 3 examples:

1…Luke 10:38-42, “As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, YOU’RE FUSSING FAR TOO MUCH AND GETTING YOURSELF WORKED UP OVER NOTHING. One thing only is essential, and Mary has CHOSEN it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (MSG) Mary had the right focus, the right view, the right perspective. After all, when Jesus is present, what/who else really matters? Don’t allow your circumstances to shift your focus from God.

2…Numbers 13:27-33, “We went to the land to which you sent us and, oh! It does flow with milk and honey! Just look at this fruit! The only thing is that the people who live there are fierce, their cities are huge and well fortified. Worse yet, we saw descendants of the giant Anak. Amalekites are spread out in the Negev; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites hold the hill country; and the Canaanites are established on the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan.” CALEB INTERRUPTED, called for silence before Moses and said, “LET’S GO UP AND TAKE THE LAND – NOW. WE CAN DO IT.” But the others said, “We can’t attack those people; they’re way stronger than we are.” They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, “We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants (the Anak giants come from the Nephilim). Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.” (MSG) When you know what God has promised you, let no one attempt to talk you out of attaining it. Not others, not yourself, not your situation! Caleb never wavered in the belief of the promise of God, not even with the presence of Giants added to the mix. Likewise, keep your focus on God, nothing and no one else. The giants don’t matter compared to God! No matter how big your giants, they can never out-size your God!

3…1 Samuel 17:32-37, “Master,” said David, “don’t give up hope. I’m ready to go and fight this Philistine.” Saul answered David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced—and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born.” David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. Lion or bear, it made no difference—I killed it. And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive. GOD, WHO DELIVERED ME FROM THE TEETH OF THE LION AND THE CLAWS OF THE BEAR, WILL DELIVER ME FROM THIS PHILISTINE.” Saul said, “Go. And God help you!” (MSG) Always remember what God has already done on your behalf! That’s what David and Jeremiah both did! They remembered…GOD! If He could do it then, He can do it Again! So, before you go looking for ‘dead coyotes’ again, remember that the God whose wings you find safety and shelter under is still soaring overhead! Don’t look down, look up! Even when what you’re facing looks like it will slaughter you, remember Who is on your side…On All Sides! No matter how great the struggle you face, nothing and no one will ever be able to Out-Size Your God!

Today, be encouraged to look at life from a different perspective! Focus on the good, for your God is still good even when you’re having a bad day!

Genesis 50:20, “AS FOR YOU, YOU MEANT EVIL AGAINST ME, BUT GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD IN ORDER TO BRING ABOUT THIS PRESENT OUTCOME, THAT MANY PEOPLE WOULD BE KEPT ALIVE [AS THEY ARE THIS DAY].” (AMP);

Romans 8:28, “AND WE KNOW [WITH GREAT CONFIDENCE] THAT GOD [WHO IS DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT US] CAUSES ALL THINGS TO WORK TOGETHER [AS A PLAN] FOR GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE GOD, TO THOSE WHO ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PLAN AND PURPOSE.” (AMP)

He’s working all things for your favor and for your good. Don’t let the situation shift your focus! Even when your shoulders are weighed down, go to God to lift your head high! Even when you’re overwhelmed you will not be overtaken! God is there, every morning with new mercies, ensuring that you are never consumed! Keep your eyes on Him at all times, especially in hard times, remembering that What You See Depends On Where You Look! Look Up and Look to God!

Isaiah 40:31, “BUT THOSE WHO WAIT FOR THE LORD [WHO EXPECT, LOOK FOR, AND HOPE IN HIM] WILL GAIN NEW STRENGTH AND RENEW THEIR POWER; THEY WILL LIFT UP THEIR WINGS [AND RISE UP CLOSE TO GOD] LIKE EAGLES [RISING TOWARD THE SUN]; THEY WILL RUN AND NOT BECOME WEARY, THEY WILL WALK AND NOT GROW TIRED.” (AMP)

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” (John Lubbock)

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” (Wayne Dyer)

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” (Henry David Thoreau)

“Use your struggles and frustrations today to motivate you rather than annoy you. You are in control of the way you look at life. Be mindful.” (Marcandangel)

“Which way you ought to go depends on where you want to get to.” (Lewis Carroll)

“If you keep looking back, you’re going to trip going forward.” (Pinterest)

“It’s easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top.” (Henry Ward Beecher)

“You’re the one who decides how big or small your problem is. It depends on how you look at it.” (Pinterest)

“People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.” (Epictetus)

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: “16 Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol”

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“Go Through Until It’s Granted!”

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“Later on Eve gave birth to another son and named him SETH (meaning “GRANTED”); for, as Eve put it, “God has GRANTED me another son for the one Cain killed.” (Genesis 4:25 TLB)

In one sweep of jealousy Eve’s dreams lay bleeding on the ground; her older son a criminal on the run, her younger son murdered in the prime of his life. And yet she’s supposed to be the mother of all living! In fact, this is what the Scripture says: “The man named his wife Eve (meaning “The Life-Giving One”), for he said, “She shall become the mother of all mankind.” (Genesis 3:20 TLB). Well, how do you maintain a title like that, when you’re now the mother of a corpse and a killer? Her own husband spoke “Life” in naming her, and yet the one he called “Life” would have birthed from her own womb, one that would be killed and one that would be his killer! How bad it must have felt to be called “Life”, and yet deal with “Death”?

Have you ever been there, when you’re CALLING and your CIRCUMSTANCES are opposites that DON’T attract?

Can you identify just a little bit with Eve? Or should I say it like this, have you ever found yourself asking, “Lord, this is not what YOU promised me!”; “Lord, this is not the way this was supposed to go!”; “Lord, I saw this work out a little different in my mind than what has manifested in my life!”; “Lord, after all this time, shouldn’t this and they be better?”; “Lord, I give my tithes, but the windows of heaven must be open on the wrong side of the house!”; “Lord, am I really supposed to STILL live here, STILL drive that, STILL walk there, STILL face this, STILL deal with them?” In Essence: Lord, This Is NOT How This Was Supposed to Go!

YOU Said You Have a Plan, a Purpose, and a Promise Just For Me, and Yet All I’ve Seen Thus Far are Problems, Pain and Persecution! Lord, What Happened?!

Well, if that’s where you are today, here’s my advice to you and it’s free: GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH! Or in the words of our title: GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED!

Now, many of you will say, “Thanks for the encouragement, but I’m still stuck in the middle of the tunnel, and I hear a train coming but don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel! You say Go Through, but I’m still stuck and can’t Get Through, so, now what?” I reiterate, GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH…GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED! How is that possible? Simple, just remember this: Matthew 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (KJV). However, there’s another translation of this Scripture that I love and it reads like this: “I can GUARANTEE this truth: Until the earth and the heavens disappear, neither a PERIOD OR A COMMA will disappear from the Scriptures before EVERYTHING HAS COME TRUE.” (GWT). Do you know how determined God has to be to “Guarantee” that not even a “Period or a Comma” will come up missing “Before Every Word He’s Declared Comes True”?! In other words, be encouraged, because regardless to how bleak the situation looks, whatever God has declared concerning you in His Word HAS to come to pass! Listen: The word “Guarantee” means “a formal assurance that certain conditions will be fulfilled; something that makes an outcome certain; a promise of certainty”. Its Spanish Origin comes from “Garante” and is related to the word “Warrant”. “Warrant” means: “a document entitling the holder to receive goods, money, or services.” Its Origin comes from the words “Protector and Safeguard” and thereby means “To Protect From Danger.

Hear me clearly: You will go through and get through because God has granted you a guarantee that everything He said WILL come true! And His guarantee comes with an assurance that every condition will be favorable in the end. Your outcome of victory is sealed and certain. Your promise of goods, money, and services are safe-guarded and protected. And as long as you have this promise from God you will forever be protected from dangers that attempt to sift your life!

Remember This: Satan can touch your POSSESSIONS, but he can’t take your PROMISE! Listen to Job 1:12 in a few translations:

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that Job has is in your power, ONLY DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND ON THE MAN HIMSELF.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.” (AMP)

“And the Lord said to Satan (the adversary and the accuser), Behold, all that he has is in your power, ONLY UPON THE MAN HIMSELF PUT NOT FORTH YOUR HAND. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” (AMPC)

“The Lord said to the Adversary, “Look, all he has is within your power; ONLY DON’T STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND AGAINST HIM.” So the Adversary left the Lord’s presence.” (CEB)

“The Lord replied, “All right, Satan, do what you want with anything that belongs to him, BUT DON’T HARM JOB.” Then Satan left.” (CEV)

“The Lord said to Satan, “All right, do whatever you want with anything that he has, BUT DON’T HURT JOB HIMSELF.” Then Satan left the meeting.” (ERV)

“And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. ONLY AGAINST HIM DO NOT STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (ESV)

“The Lord told Satan, “Everything he has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT LAY A HAND ON HIM! Then Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (GWT)

“All right,” the Lord said to Satan, “everything he has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT HURT JOB HIMSELF.” So Satan left.” (GNT)

“And the Lord replied to Satan, “You may do anything you like with his wealth, BUT DON’T HARM HIM PHYSICALLY.” So Satan went away; and sure enough, not long afterwards when Job’s sons and daughters were dining at the oldest brother’s house, tragedy struck.” (TLB)

“God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. JUST DON’T HURT HIM.” Then Satan left the presence of God.” (MSG)

“The Lord said to Satan, “All right, then. Everything Job has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT TOUCH JOB HIMSELF.” Then Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (NCV)

“The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, BUT ON THE MAN HIMSELF DO NOT LAY A FINGER.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (NIV)

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “See, all that he has is in your power. ONLY DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND ON HIM.” So Satan went out from the Lord.” (NLV)

“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, BUT DON’T HARM HIM PHYSICALLY.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (NLT)

I REITERATE: Satan can touch your POSSESSIONS, but he can’t take your PROMISE!

You will maintain the testimony that…MY LIFE IS SAFE, AND I WILL LIVE TO TELL WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE.” (Psalm 118:17 CEV) Or in the words of the Good News Translation, “I WILL NOT DIE; INSTEAD, I WILL LIVE AND PROCLAIM WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE.” (GNT). I love that word “Instead”, it means “In Place Of”. In other words, devil, no matter what you do or bring my way, IN PLACE OF DYING, I will Survive and LIVE to tell the story! Will this always be easy? Of course not, if it was, none of us would need any encouragement at all! But is it doable, is it possible? YES! Just Let His Guaranteed Promises Keep You Anchored in His Word Which Cannot Even Allow a Period or Comma to Move Out of Place Before ALL He Has Said (Promised) Comes True!

Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that He should lie. He is not a son of man, that He should be sorry for what He has said. Has He said, and will He not do it? Has He spoken, and will He not keep His Word?” (NLV)

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

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

Are you getting this? No matter how bad things may be, they cannot, and will not stay this way for good! Before you know it you’ll have the testimony that “IT’S MY TURN!” Psalm 30:11, “Then He TURNED my sorrow into joy! He took away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” (TLB).

I know it’s tough right now, tight right now, stressful right now, frustrating right now, confusing right now. And yet I still assure you that with all that’s against you, you will still say like Joseph, …Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” (Genesis 50:20 MSG). You see, even when things don’t work out as we think they should, God’s plans are never put on pause because of our problems. He’s in fact so awesome as God that He won’t even change the plans of the enemy, but will even make the enemies plans work for your good! How powerful is that?!

Which is why you must always remember: Romans 8:28, “We know that God makes ALL things work together for the GOOD of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His PLAN.” (NLV); Jeremiah 29:11, “…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)

I reiterate, are you getting this? Not even the plans of the enemy, nor your own failed plans can hinder the Guaranteed Plans God has in Place for Your Future! That’s a good place to give God praise!

Look at another example of what God did for His people in the wilderness: “He led them forth by the straight and right way, that they might go to a city where they could establish their homes.” (Psalm 107:7 AMP). Your job is to Go Through, no matter how painful, just Go Through! Why? Because even in the struggles of the wilderness, God can still lead you in a straight and right way and as an added bonus, when you come out, you’re coming out Established! You know what I love about the word “Establish”? Its’ meaning of course! “To Set Up On a Firm and Permanent Basis”! His people Went Through, and When They Came Out, They Were “Set Up On a Firm and Permanent Basis”! Be Encouraged, Your Next Blessing Won’t Be Seasonal, It Will Be Permanent!

I reiterate yet again, GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH! Because on the other side of your BIG Burden is an even BIGGER Blessing!

Back to our text, you see, when Cain killed Abel God’s plan for Eve was delayed…but not denied, nor destroyed! And in spite of what you are going through right now, everything God has promised you will likewise be fulfilled: The Bible declares: And I am CONVINCED and SURE of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to FULL COMPLETION IN YOU.” (Philippians 1:6 AMP). Therefore, don’t let the disturbances, distractions and discouragement deter you, His Promises Are Coming to Full Completion In Your Life! Remember: Your God Can’t Lie, and His Word Can’t Fail!

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand)” (AMP)  Listen: When doubt and unbelief and even fear try to creep up and steal the joy of your promise, just call on God, He’ll not only answer you, but come to you and show you great and mighty things that are fenced in and hidden in your struggles!

No matter what it looks like, consult God, He will always reveal your hidden blessings! Don’t believe it? Listen to this: “I will give you RICHES HIDDEN IN THE DARKNESS and things of GREAT WORTH that are HIDDEN IN SECRET PLACES. Then you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name.” (Isaiah 45:3 NLV). Be Encouraged, You’ve Got Hidden Blessings About to Be Revealed!

Then the Bible further declares: “The LITTLE TROUBLES we suffer now FOR A SHORT TIME are making us ready for the GREAT THINGS God is going to give us FOREVER. We do not look at the things that can be seen. We look at the things that cannot be seen. The things that can be seen will come to an end. But the things that cannot be seen will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLV). All you have to do is endure a little trouble for a short time now, and then wait and watch God do great things for you forever! Now that’s worth holding on and hanging in there for! That’s worth going through until it’s granted!

In fact, God loves us so much that He even promises: “I will answer them BEFORE they even call to Me. While they are still talking to Me about their needs, I WILL GO AHEAD AND ANSWER THEIR PRAYERS!” (Isaiah 65:24 TLB) I declare, the promises of the Lord gets gooder and gooder as the days go by! (I know, bad grammar, but good point!)

Now, we’ve talked a lot about GO THROUGH and GET THROUGH…but what about GRANTED?

Well, God has a way of restoring things you thought would never come to pass again. He moved in Eve’s life and gave her another son named “Seth”, which means “One who takes the place of; compensation and granted”.

Isn’t that just like God, after all this time and frustration, and fear that things may not get any better, He steps in and declares: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is…” (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG) If you would finally stop crying over what WAS, you’d be able to See and Celebrate what IS!

Eve named “Life”, had to Go Through “Death”, but ended up being “Granted” another blessing, and his name was “Seth”. “In Place Of” all that had been loss, she gained a ‘Grant’, which is defined as ‘Favor’! In the end, Eve could testify that: “My Loss Gained Me More”! Which brings us to an additional fact: Seth’s name also means “Compensation”. And “Compensation” is defined as, “something given to compensate for loss, suffering, or injury; something that compensates for an undesirable state of affairs.” Why Go Through Until You Get Through? Because God is not a Stingy God! He Will Compensate You For Your Loss, Suffering, Injury and Undesirable State of Affairs! Which reminds us of James, the Bible declares: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, NOT LACKING ANYTHING.” (1:2-4 NIV) Sounds Like Compensation to Me!

And then as an added generational blessing, Seth bore his parents a grandson named Enosh. The Scripture declares, “Adam slept with his wife again. She had a son whom she named Seth. She said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel whom Cain killed.” And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh. THAT’S WHEN men and women began praying and worshiping in the name of GOD.” (Genesis 4:25-26 MSG).

Never Judge Prematurely How Your Story Will End! After All, Eve Began Chapter 4 With LIFE…Then Stepped in DEATH…HOWEVER, Before the Closing of the SAME Chapter, She Birthed LIFE AGAIN, Plus the Added Blessing of a Grandson Who Invoked the People to Pray and Worship in the Name of GOD! “…And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh. THAT’S WHEN MEN AND WOMEN BEGAN PRAYING AND WORSHIPING IN THE NAME OF GOD.” (Genesis 4:25-26 MSG).

In a Nutshell: Don’t Get Discouraged By a Few Verses, God Can Turn Everything Around in Your Favor Before the Closing of the same Chapter!

People of God, Be Encouraged: GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH, FOR WHEN YOU GET THROUGH YOUR GREATEST BLESSING WILL BE GRANTED!

1 Chronicles 4:9-10, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; but his mother named him Jabez, saying, “Because I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would indeed bless me and enlarge my border [property], and that Your hand would be with me, and You would keep me from evil so that it does not hurt me!” AND GOD GRANTED HIS REQUEST.” (AMP)

PEOPLE OF GOD, GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED, FOR WHAT GOD PROMISED YOU IS GUARANTEED TO COME TO PASS!

1 Peter 5:10, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.” (AMPC)

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: “14 Things No One Tells You About Aging”

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“The Gift of Being Hidden”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“When the Valley is Better Than the Mountain!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUT THAT’S NOT EVEN THE BEST PART!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY, THANK GOD FOR YOUR VALLEY OF BLESSING!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “The Healthiest Foods to Eat For Breakfast”

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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

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“Answering the Caleb Calling”

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Numbers 13:30, “Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, “Let’s go up and take the land – now. WE CAN DO IT.” (MSG)

Looking over the course of my life I realized that just about everything I’ve done and accomplished, came through risk. Even my love of teaching came through risk. You see, I was a Minister-in-Training and one of the responsibilities was to teach. The problem? I wasn’t raised in church and had no experience teaching, especially of all things the Bible! Truth is, I was still trying to teach it to myself! But there was no way around this whole teaching thing, not if you were going to be in leadership. And it’s not the teaching alone that was terrifying, but the thought of the students not liking me or worse, not understanding what I was teaching. And to make matters worse, I was a bit self-conscious because I had horrible acne, a chipped tooth and the podium was almost as tall as I am (so, even if they could hear me and understand me, could they see me?)! I was worried, scared and quite insecure about my appearance, about my knowledge of what I was teaching etc. There was this one line that rang over and over in my head, ‘I don’t think this is a good idea.’ And if that wasn’t bad enough, the only advice my leader gave me was ‘there’s no reward without risk. Just give it a chance. You’ll never know if you never try.’ Needless to say, I’ve been teaching ever since! But how did that first session go? Absolutely horrible! LOL! I forgot everything but my name! But my leader kept pushing me week after week. ‘You can do this…you’ll stumble, fall, cry, get a badly bruised ego, but you’ll also dust off, get back up and keep walking…trust me, you’ll get there.’ Guess what? It worked! It was worth the risk! Because now, I have the limitless opportunity to travel anywhere and teach, train, develop, lead…to prepare curriculum’s, seminars and workshops. In church, at work, in schools. And all because the reward was worth the risk. I would never be able to do what I do now, if I didn’t take the risk then.

So, what rewards are you missing out on in life, because you’re too afraid to take the risk?  

Well, how about we start with the definition of ‘risk’? It’s defined as, “a situation involving exposure to danger, injury or harm; the possibility that something unpleasant will happen; the possibility of loss.” Its’ French Origin ‘risque’, from its Italian Origin ‘risco’ literally means ‘danger.’ And a few synonyms are ‘hazard; pitfall; threat; and trouble.’ Trust me, I hear you screaming, ‘that’s why I’m not risking it!’ Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong my friend.

Truth is, anything worth having is worth the risk to get! And yes, that risk will include putting you in situations that can be dangerous (after all, you may fall on your face in front of everybody); the risk can cause injury and harm (especially to your ego, conceit, arrogance, high-mindedness and pride); something unpleasant can happen (you can forget the words, freeze up, stutter, faint, be talked about, gossiped about); you may even encounter loss (especially of the security you had in your comfy, comfort zone); it may be hazardous (because you just may find out that those in your circle were the very ones keeping you boxed in); you may even come across a pitfall (which is defined as ‘a hidden or unsuspected danger or difficulty; a covered pit for use as a trap.’ Yep, the very ones who give you the opportunity may actually be setting you up for a great, unsuspected fall); you may actually experience threats (especially if you happen to become better than the others who just knew you’d try, fail and give up…but you didn’t! And so you will have to deal with the oppression that comes with every opportunity.); and lastly, you will have some trouble (after all, did you really think you’d achieve something great without it?)

Yes, my friend, you will have to risk it to get it, but once you do, you’ll realize it was worth it!

Remember this: You Can’t Attain What You Don’t Go After! And when what you’re going after is BIG, you’ll always be tempted to let small stumbles stop you dead in your tracks! Don’t You Dare Let It Happen!

You press forward no matter what! Even if the risk means you have to change your circle of friends; you have to try something new or do something different. It’s worth the risk to get all God has for you and to become all that God has called you to be!

There was this striking poster on the wall. It showed two mountain climbers near the peak of this Alpine mountain, straining to reach the top. But it was the inscription that impressed me most. It read: “Conquest without risk is a triumph without glory.” That’s pretty good.

Now, that doesn’t just apply to reaching the top of a mountain. In fact, it pretty much describes everything worth doing in life. No risk, no meaningful conquest – a triumph without glory. Low risk – low return. High risk – high return. It’s a principle that defines Spiritual Greatness or Spiritual Mediocrity.

Whether it’s a relationship, a job, a career, a ministry, a church, a business, you will encounter risk before reward! Which is what we learn from in our lesson today.

In Numbers 13, the conquest was not a mountain; it was the taking of the Promised Land that God had promised. And if you take a moment to think about that, you’ll realize just how ridiculous we can be when it comes to taking a risk. God Himself promised them the Promised Land. So, how could they allow risk to scare them from what God promised them?

Numbers 23:19, “God is not man, one given to lies, and not a son of man changing his mind. Does he speak and not do what he says? Does he promise and not come through?” (MSG)

Listen to varying translations of this Scripture:

“God isn’t a man that he would lie, or a human being that he would change his mind. Has he ever spoken and not done it, or promised and not fulfilled it?” (CEB);

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

“God is not a man; he will not lie. God is not a human being; his decisions will not change. If he says he will do something, then he will do it. If he makes a promise, then he will do what he promised.” (ERV);

“God is not like people, who lie; He is not a human who changes his mind. Whatever he promises, he does; He speaks, and it is done.” (GNT);

“God is not a human being, and he will not lie. He is not a human, and he does not change his mind. What he says he will do, he does. What he promises, he makes come true.” (NCV);

“God is not a man, that He should lie. He is not a son of man, that He should be sorry for what He has said. Has He said, and will He not do it? Has He spoken, and will He not keep His Word?” (NLV)

Now, how could anyone with this level of Character and Integrity be doubted? How can anyone who serves this God, be fearful enough to forfeit a fruitful future that was guaranteed to be theirs? But can we be honest? Are we really any different? That job would have been ours, if we didn’t talk ourselves out of going for it. Didn’t think we were qualified (and sometimes we weren’t, however, if God says go for it, not even that should stop you)! Who knows the house you would already own if you weren’t so sure that your credit score alone was the guaranteed deal breaker. God doesn’t need your credit score to get you to the goal! Who knows what you’d be driving if only you would have trusted God. Who knows who you would be married to, if you only trusted God, heard and heeded His voice, instead of the internal clock in your head telling you to grab Bubba over there because at 30 he’s the best shot you’ve got. Who knows the grants and scholarships that passed you by because you didn’t think you had what it took for them to come your way. Who knows how well that business would be doing today if only you would have trusted God with the blueprints instead of handing them over to your fears to redesign. Who knows where the church or ministry would be if only you would have believed God when the battle raged instead of retreating and running away.

People of God please commit this to memory: God doesn’t make promises He can’t keep! So if He said it’s yours, it’s yours! And that holds true no matter what you see, what you hear, or what they say or what they look like! God keeps His promises; He keeps His Word; He fulfills it and makes it come true, so why are you doubting? Why are you stagnant? Why are you fearful? Why are you not moving forward? Why are you not trying it? Why are you scared? Why are you not taking the risk?

Listen: They were guaranteed the promise of the Promised Land! Problem? It was currently inhabited by fierce people who, of course, didn’t plan to hand it over. And whether or not they would ever experience all God had for them depended on whether or not they would trust Him enough to take some big risks. Now whether or not you experience all God has for you may depend on that same thing.

So, are you willing to trust God with what He promised you even if you’ll have to take some big risks in the process? Are you willing to risk being talked about, walked away from, laughed at? Are you willing to risk having to endure the uncommon, the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable? Are you willing to take the risk that small minds will attempt to shake your confidence and faith in achieving the big dreams that God said can and will become your reality? Are you willing to risk having to go alone? Are you willing to risk going without the full insight to how God is going to make this thing happen? Are you willing to take the risk to go to the bank, to walk into the dealership, to meet with the loan officer, to apply to the school, to show up for the interview, to write the book, to buy that property or that land? Are you willing to take the risk of being misunderstood? Are you willing to take the risk of looking misplaced for the moment? Are you willing to take the risk?

Twelve scouts had explored the land of Canaan, and they reported back on the fabulous beauty and bounty they found there. But ten of those scouts chose to focus on the risks, two on the Lord who had promised them this land. It boiled down to an exchange like this, recorded in Numbers 13, beginning with verse 27, “This was their report: “We arrived in the land you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent country—a land ‘flowing with milk and honey.’ Here is some fruit we have brought as proof. But the people living there are powerful, and their cities are fortified and very large; and what’s more, we saw Anakim giants there!  The Amalekites live in the south, while in the hill country there are the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites; down along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and in the Jordan River Valley are the Canaanites.” But Caleb reassured the people as they stood before Moses. “Let us go up at once and possess it,” he said, “for we are well able to conquer it!” “Not against people as strong as they are!” the other spies said. “They would crush us!” So the majority report of the spies was negative: “The land is full of warriors, the people are powerfully built, and we saw some of the Anakim there, descendants of the ancient race of giants. We felt like grasshoppers before them, they were so tall!” (TLB)

Now, they brought back fruit (Proof) that the land (God Promised to be Theirs) was indeed Flowing With Milk and Honey. And still, in the face of all of this, the Scripture says, “…So the majority report of the spies was negative.” How do you hold the proof in your hand and still say with your mouth, we can’t handle it?! The Proof Was Already in Your Hand! It’s Prosperous and it’s Promised to Us! And yet they forfeit! That’s like receiving a paid in full mansion, your name only on the deed, nothing owed out of your pocket, the keys in your hands, but you spend 40 years standing on the stoop looking at a door you never open to fully possess what’s already yours!

Keep in mind, anytime you’re about to make a positive change, someone will come with a negative report! The choice is yours to believe it, or believe God. My suggestion? Believe God!

Isaiah 55:8-11, “…For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” (MSG)

When God sends His Word on Assignment it has no other option than to Fulfill the Assignment! Therefore, you have nothing and no one to worry about when God gives you a Promise! Not the naysayers, not the negative report, not the disapproving stares, or the discouraging words. Nothing can stop what God starts!

Philippians 1:6, “I’m convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus.” (GWT)

God has proven Himself trustworthy to Carry to Completion what He Began! In a nutshell: Nothing and No One Can Stop What God Starts! Now, all you need to do is be just as “Convinced”! The word “convince” means “to cause to believe firmly in the truth of something; to persuade to do something.” Its’ Latin Origin ‘convincere’ literally means ‘to overcome, to demonstrate’, from ‘vincere” which means “to conquer.” Listen, if you’re going to get what God’s got for you, it will take risk, but you will reap a reward! And all you’ve got to do is be convinced that what He promised will come to pass! You’ve got to believe firmly in the Truth, regardless of the Facts! Yes, there were Giants (Facts), but they could never be bigger than God (Truth)! That’s why we are to walk by FAITH, not by Sight! Let your Spirit lead you, not your Senses! Because often when God is about to do something BIG, your senses tell you to Shrink back! Don’t You Dare Do It!

Now, as for them, you probably know the result. The people followed the lead of the ten scouts who said, “The risks are too great.” And they never saw the Promised Land! Be careful who you listen to, who you trust, who you share your vision, hopes and dreams with. Everyone will want to reap the rewards with you, but very few will want you to take the risk, and even fewer will take the risk with you! Caleb says, “yes, let’s do this, we got this, we can do this, we can conquer this”, yet the naysayers respond like this:

“So those men gave a report that discouraged the people…” (ERV)

“So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report…” (ESV)

“So they spread a false report among the Israelites…” (GNT)

“So they began to spread lies among the Israelites…” (GWT)

“They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel…” (MSG)

“So they brought the people of Israel bad news…” (NLV)

When you’re getting ready to take a big risk and get what God’s got for you, look out for people like this! Those who will attempt to discourage you, give you a bad or false report, lie to you, spread rumors of fear and bring you bad news! These are dream killers, and destiny destroyers, avoid them at all costs, or you’ll pay a pretty penny in missing out on the Promises of God for your life!

Unfortunate as it may be, they chose what was safe, and they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. They could have had wonderful; instead, they lived and died in the wilderness! Many of God’s children over the years have made that same tragic miscalculation. And they have lived that same tragic result. Do you really want that to be descriptive of you?

Right now God may be asking you to follow Him into something risky. To obey Him is going to mean taking a financial risk, or a geographical risk, a social risk, doing something that’s way beyond your comfort zone. Something out of the norm and status quo. But when you get serious about obedience to God and the promises of God, usually such a thing involves risk. But the great danger is not in obeying God’s “risky” leading; it is in not obeying because you won’t risk it at all! You’ll miss the top of the mountain if you listen to every little molehill murmurer along the way. You’ll miss the best that God has for you. You’ll miss the Promised Land. Are you really willing to risk that?

Maybe you’re all settled in at your little base camp at the bottom of the mountain. You’re safe, but you’ll never see the view from the top if you stay where you’ve always been. You’ve been stuck there long enough, it’s time to move on before you miss out.

Dream big; broaden your vision; enlarge your territory; go further; reach higher! They’ve got Giants, but you’ve got God, it’s a Fixed Fight and you’ve got the Fruit in Hand to Prove it! Trust God and Take the Risk, the Reward Reaped Will be Well Worth it!

“It is better to make a thousand failures than to be too cowardly to ever undertake anything.” (Clovis G. Chappell)

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” (Christopher Columbus)

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” (T.S. Eliot)

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” (John D. Rockefeller)

“If you are not willing to risk the Usual you will have to settle for the Ordinary.” (Jim Rohn)

“There can be no great accomplishment without risk.” (Neil Armstrong)

“If it’s still in your mind, it is still worth taking the risk.” (Paulo Coelho)

“I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk.” (Oprah Winfrey)

“If we walk away from risk to keep ourselves safe, we will waste our lives.” (John Piper)

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” (William Shedd)

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Anais Nin)

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” (Author Unknown)

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

“Risk more than others think is safe; Care more than others think is wise; Dream more than others think is practical; Expect more than others think is possible.” (Cadet Maxim)

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

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“Don’t Get Weary While Waiting”

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Galatians 6:9, “LET US NOT GROW WEARY OR BECOME DISCOURAGED IN DOING GOOD, FOR AT THE PROPER TIME WE WILL REAP, IF WE DO NOT GIVE IN.” (AMP)

As much as I love to cook, I don’t bake! But my friend Yolanda loves to bake! If she could bake an 8-course meal for dinner, she would in a heartbeat! But what I found to be hilarious is when her husband Evan bought her a bread maker one year. However, I’m still not sure who the present was really for – her or him? You see, Evan loves the smell and taste of fresh bread! But honestly, who doesn’t? Personally, my eyes have lit up when piping hot bread was delivered to the table at a restaurant! But I must admit, Evan is worse than I am! I mean I’ve even seen him ask the people at the next table if they were going to eat their bread, and if not could they let him know before it gets cold! LOL! Evan is a character indeed!

Back to Yolanda…since her husband Evan loves freshly, baked bread so much, she prepares it all the time! She pours the mix into the bread machine, punches in all the proper settings, leaves it so it can begin its wonderful three-hour process of becoming fresh baked bread. But naturally, with a couple who has 4 young children, Evan and Yolanda often become busy around the household, and so at times they often forget the bread is baking. But truth is, they don’t have anything to do with it anyway. IT’S SILENTLY GETTING DONE, WITHOUT THEIR ASSISTANCE OR INTERFERENCE!

Now, there are some hints along the way that lets them know what’s happening. For instance, eventually this wonderful aroma starts spreading through the house. But there is one particular time that they were so busy around the holiday season and preparing for the big family gathering that Yolanda had no idea where the noise was coming from when she all of a sudden heard a loud “beep…beep…beep”! So she called from the back of the house, “honey, what’s that sound?” Evan yelled back, “the bread is done!

Remember, they wanted the bread. So, they started the process of having the bread, but they didn’t see or hear anything for quite a while, until suddenly and deliciously, it was ready!

And believe it or not, that wasn’t a cooking lesson, but a Faith Lesson! That bread maker just described the way God works! Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads: “He has made everything beautiful IN ITS TIME.” Or in the Contemporary English Version, “God makes everything happen AT THE RIGHT TIME…” (CEV)

Now, if we’ll dare to be brutally honest, often that time is a whole lot later than we want it to be! Truthfully, if it were my preference, the saving, healing, deliverance, breakthrough, provision, protection, change, turn around, would have all happened for me overnight, not over the course of 48 years! If it had been up to me, I would have had all of my hearts desires requested on Monday and given to me in full on Tuesday morning before my alarm clock even went off! But thank God He not only knows what’s best for us, but WHEN it’s best for us. With that said, I must admonish you: “WAIT ON THE LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: WAIT, I SAY, ON THE LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)

Now, is that easy? Nope! But is it impossible? Nope! Therefore, WAIT!

Another translation says it like this: “DON’T BE IMPATIENT. WAIT FOR THE LORD…YES, WAIT AND HE WILL HELP YOU.” (TLB)

Being honest, we love that He’s going to help us, but we hate having to WAIT for it!

That word “Impatient” is defined as, “not willing to wait for something or someone; wanting or eager to do something without waiting; lack of patience; restless or short of temper especially under irritation, delay or opposition; eager desire for relief or change; intolerant of anything that delays or hinders; to be anxious.” And the word “Anxious” is defined as, “experiencing worry or unease.” Its’ Latin Origin “anxius” from “angere” means “to choke”. And the word “Choke” is defined as, “to prevent (someone) from breathing by constricting or obstructing the throat or depriving of air”. When you’re Impatient, you’re not willing to wait; you’re restless and short tempered (which means you can’t properly handle irritation, delay or opposition); you’re eager for immediate relief and change; you’re worried and uneased; you’re choked! Which means, praise can’t come out; worship can’t come out; exaltation can’t come out; reciting the promises of God can’t come out; declaring and decreeing the Word of the Lord can’t come out; and all because you’ve allowed Impatience to Choke Your Faith to Death!

But what does the Word of God remind us to do when we become Impatient, Worried, or Anxious? “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” (Philippians 4:6-7 AMP)

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

Now, doesn’t that sound a lot better than choking your faith to death; suffocating your praise; and robbing your worship of breath?!

People of God, don’t let impatience destroy you, or what God has designed to give you, when it’s ready, at just the right time!

Habakkuk 2:2-4, “And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness POINTING TO WHAT’S COMING. IT ACHES FOR THE COMING – IT CAN HARDLY WAIT! And it doesn’t lie. IF IT SEEMS SLOW IN COMING, WAIT. IT’S ON ITS WAY. IT WILL COME RIGHT ON TIME…the person in right standing before God through LOYAL AND STEADY BELIEVING is fully alive, really alive.” (MSG) NOT CHOKED TO DEATH BY IMPATIENCE, WORRY AND ANXIETY!

I REITERATE, WAIT FOR THE RIGHT TIMING OF GOD! YOU WILL GET IT, WHEN IT’S READY!

Now, a baby is healthy, if it comes at the time when it’s READY. However, the baby might not be as healthy if he or she comes PREMATURELY. And often our timing produces just that, a PREEMIE; an answer or a provision from God that really isn’t ready yet, isn’t fully developed for you to receive just yet. It’s PREMATURE. And the word “Premature” is defined as “occurring or done before the proper time.” Its’ Latin Origin “praematurus” literally means “very early.”

Listen, the last thing you want is to receive something before its’ ready! After all, would you cook a whole chicken in the oven for 30 seconds and then serve it to your family to eat? Of course you wouldn’t. You know why? Because it’s not ready, it’s PREMATURE, it’s undone, it can/will hurt them or even kill them, and all because you served them what they wanted, BEFORE it was ready for them to have! And who wants such a thing to happen to the people they love? Therefore, step into your Heavenly Father’s shoes for a moment. Think: Why would He give His children, (whom He loves, and even sacrificed the life of His own Son for), what is NOT READY, PREMATURE, UNDONE, OR COULD POSSIBLY HURT, HARM OR KILL THEM? Why would an INFINITE GOD OF ETERNITY give His children something BEFORE IT’S TIME?

To answer you…HE DOESN’T! He loves us too much to! That’s why as much as it hurts Him, He holds back the healing, provision, breakthrough…UNTIL IT’S TIME! Which may help you better understand why you haven’t received that promotion…yet; that house…yet; that car…yet; that loan…yet; that spouse…yet; those children…yet; that healing….yet; that deliverance…yet; that breakthrough…yet; that ministry…yet! It just may explain why He hasn’t taken you out of that situation, circumstance, hurt, trial, tribulation, or struggle yet! Why? He Doesn’t Want Anything to Happen for You, PREMATURELY!

James 1:2-4, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. SO DON’T TRY TO GET OUT OF ANYTHING PREMATURELY. LET IT DO ITS WORK SO YOU BECOME MATURE AND WELL-DEVELOPED, NOT DEFICIENT IN ANY WAY.” (MSG)

Keeping you in it, is helping to mature you, develop you and keep you from lacking in any way! It’s not designed to hurt you, BUT TO HELP YOU! So, don’t allow impatience to cause you to step into, or step out of anything…PREMATURELY!

Let God’s Timing Prevail and You’ll Produce What You’ve Been EXPECTING! Romans 8:22-25, “All around us we observe a PREGNANT creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply BIRTH PANGS. But it’s not only around us; IT’S WITHIN US. The Spirit of God is arousing us WITHIN. We’re also feeling the BIRTH PANGS. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for FULL DELIVERANCE. THAT IS WHY WAITING DOES NOT DIMINISH US, ANY MORE THAN WAITING DIMINISHES A PREGNANT MOTHER. WE ARE ENLARGED IN THE WAITING. WE, OF COURSE, DON’T SEE WHAT IS ENLARGING US. BUT THE LONGER WE WAIT, THE LARGER WE BECOME, AND THE MORE JOYFUL OUR EXPECTANCY.” (MSG)

Now, if that don’t make you happy, nothing else will! THE LONGER WE WAIT, THE LARGER WE BECOME AND SO DOES OUR EXPECTANCY!

People of God, Don’t Get Weary While Waiting! Galatians 6:9, “LET US NOT GROW WEARY OR BECOME DISCOURAGED IN DOING GOOD, FOR AT THE PROPER TIME WE WILL REAP, IF WE DO NOT GIVE IN.” (AMP) Listen: You Have Not Come This Far in God to Give Up, Give Out or Give In Now! SO DON’T!

Maybe right now there’s something you’ve been trusting God for, but the wait is getting pretty long: that financial breakthrough, that healing, a husband or a wife, a spiritual awakening in someone you love, a job, that answer to prayer. Well, let’s go back to our bread making machine. Evan and Yolanda started the process of cooking up an answer. For quite a while they didn’t see anything, hear anything, smell anything coming from their efforts to get bread. But silently, invisibly, it was getting done!

Daniel 10:12, “Daniel, don’t be afraid! God has listened to your prayers SINCE THE FIRST DAY…” (CEV) People of God, don’t be discouraged or afraid or worried or impatient…God has listened to your prayers SINCE THE FIRST DAY! He’s heard you, and believe it or not, while you’re waiting, He’s already answered! Jeremiah 33:3, “…CALL TO ME AND I WILL ANSWER YOU. I’LL TELL YOU MARVELOUS AND WONDROUS THINGS THAT YOU COULD NEVER FIGURE OUT ON YOUR OWN.” (MSG); Isaiah 65:24, “I WILL ANSWER THEM BEFORE THEY EVEN CALL TO ME. WHILE THEY ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT THEIR NEEDS, I WILL GO AHEAD AND ANSWER THEIR PRAYERS!” (MSG) How Amazing is Our Father? While We’re Still Talking About Our Needs, He’s Already Answered Our Prayers, (much like the bread in the maker), Silently, Invisibly, and Yet, IT’S GETTING DONE!

But that’s part of the problem for us…not that it’s being done, BUT THAT IT’S SILENT AND INVISIBLE! We don’t see anything, hear anything, or even smell anything…We can’t see or hear any activity from Heaven at all, it’s as if all the angels are on assignment to everyone, BUT US! It seems like nothing’s happening. It’s as if all of Heaven has gone deaf and mute as soon as we started praying. But I guess a gardener or a farmer could feel that way every year after they plant their seeds! For a while there’s just no VISIBLE SIGN that anything’s happening. But the processes of God most often happen OUT OF SIGHT! Why? Because that feeds and fuels our faith, and certainly guides our spiritual footsteps! 2 Corinthians 5:7, “FOR WE WALK BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT [LIVING OUR LIVES IN A MANNER CONSISTENT WITH OUR CONFIDENT BELIEF IN GOD’S PROMISES].” (AMP)

And then before you know it, the gardener and farmer, who sowed seed, but SAW NOTHING…yet, will soon SEE A WHOLE LOT! (AND SO WILL YOU!)

What we’ve hoped for will start to appear, in time, unless we get impatient and keep digging up the seed to see if God’s really doing anything! Remember, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. That’s Hebrews 11:1. The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality – faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses.]” (AMP) Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there…Focus Your Faith Again!

Your faith is in a Person, not in what you can see them doing. And that Person: well that’s your all-loving, all-powerful, always punctual God and I’ll tell you He’s cooking up something deliciously wonderful just for you. So don’t base your expectations or your emotions on what you can see or how much time seems to be left or if it seems like there’s no time left. You know, God can do in a Day what man can’t do in a Decade!

God may give you some hints of what’s in the oven, like the aroma that comes before the bread. But when it’s totally ready, – like the beeps on the bread maker – He’ll signal you in a way that you can’t miss. And it’ll be beautiful because it will be time! So, Don’t Get Weary in the Wait…it Will Be Worth it in the End!

Numbers 9:8, “Therefore, Moses said to them, “WAIT, and I will listen to what the Lord will command concerning you.” (AMP);

Job 14:14, “If a man dies, will he live again? I will WAIT all the days of my struggle Until my change and release will come.” (AMP);

Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will prepare [a prayer and a sacrifice] for You and watch and WAIT [for You to speak to my heart].” (AMP);

Psalm 25:3 Indeed, none of those who [EXPECTANTLY] WAIT for You will be ashamed…” (AMP);

Psalm 25:5, “Guide me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You [and only You] I WAIT [EXPECTANTLY] all the day long.” (AMP);

Psalm 25:21, “Let integrity and uprightness protect me, For I WAIT [EXPECTANTLY] for You.” (AMP);

Psalm 31:24, “Be strong and let your hearts take courage, All you who WAIT for and confidently EXPECT the Lord.” (AMP);

Psalm 33:20, “We WAIT [EXPECTANTLY] for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” (AMP);

Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord; WAIT PATIENTLY for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize)…” (AMP);

Psalm 37:34, “WAIT for and EXPECT the Lord and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; [In the end] when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.” (AMP);

Psalm 40:1, “I PATIENTLY WAITED, Lord, for You to hear my prayer. You listened.” (CEV)

Psalm 42:5, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and WAIT EXPECTANTLY for Him, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” (AMP);

Psalm 130:5-6, “With all my heart, I am WAITING, Lord, for You! I trust Your promises. I WAIT for You more eagerly than a soldier on guard duty waits for the dawn. Yes, I WAIT more eagerly than a soldier on guard duty waits for the dawn.” (CEV);

Isaiah 40:31, “But those who WAIT for the Lord [WHO EXPECT, LOOK FOR, AND HOPE IN HIM] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and NOT BECOME WEARY, They will walk and not grow tired.” (AMP);

Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we WAIT EAGERLY for it with PATIENCE AND COMPOSURE.” (AMP)

 “Let God work. Don’t block your blessings by moving too fast. When God is working on your behalf, be patient! Good things take time! Don’t get weary and don’t get in the way!” (Tony Gaskins, Jr.)

“Trust in God’s timing. It’s better to wait a while and have things fall into place, than to rush and have things fall apart.” (Author Unknown)

“Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t. Wait on God’s perfect timing and trust Him for the outcome.” (Pinterest)

“Joseph waited 13 years; Abraham waited 25 years; Moses waited 40 years; Jesus waited 30 years. If God is making you wait, you’re in good company.” (Pinterest)

“God’s plan is always the best. Sometimes the process is painful and hard. But don’t forget that when God is silent, He’s doing something for you.” (Author Unknown)

“What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.” (John Ortberg)

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

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

“The truth is we all get tired, we all get weary. In fact, if you never feel like giving up, then your dreams are too small. If you never feel like quitting, then you need to set some larger goals. When that pressure comes to get discouraged and to think about how you can’t take it anymore, that is completely normal. Every person feels that way at times.” (Joel Osteen)

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

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“No More Shallow Living For You!”

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I have quite a few social media sites. With that said, unfortunately, it gives people the misconception that I’m Ms. Technology, when that couldn’t be further from the truth! For instance, as much as I use my cellphone, I know very little about how it really functions, or how to use it to its full capacity. And the reason why? Because outside of making a call, receiving a call, or sending a text, I really don’t care to know much else! However, I’ve come to find out that is to my own loss. You see, there are so many buttons and gadgets that I really don’t want to take the time to figure out. I look at them and ignore them. And what makes matters worse is that my phone wasn’t just handed to me. It came in a box with a Manual for Maximum Usage! Have I read the manual? Absolutely not!

Finally, I got tired of everybody telling me how awesome my phone is and all the great things it’s capable of doing. So I enlisted the help of one of my IT guys to pick his brain. And to my amazement, I could not believe all the things I was able to do, that I wasn’t doing, only because I didn’t know I could! I was so comfortable with what I knew, that I didn’t want to put in the work to find out what I really needed to know. And that was that my comfort was crippling my capability!

However, now, at the click of one button I can access all of my schedules (and finally avoid so many scheduling conflicts because who knew my phone could organize my dates in priority without my help?). With one button I can check all of my email accounts. With one button I could have all of my social media sites on one page. I could even control what goes on in my house, while I’m away, by my phone! And all of this was at my fingertips, but I was too complacent to grab a hold of its full capability!

Now, let’s see what the Bible has to say about this.

Matthew 14:25-29, “And in the fourth watch of the night (3:00-6:00 a.m.) Jesus came to them, walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately He spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!” Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.”  He said, “Come!” So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” (AMP).

All the other disciples were just trying to ride out the storm. But Peter suddenly got a glimpse of the power of his Master and of something supernatural he could do if he risked everything on Jesus. And suddenly Peter was doing what people don’t do. He was walking on water!

The fact is that Jesus may be preparing you to step up to something far more supernatural than you’ve ever been or you’ve ever done before. In fact, if you’re anything like me, He’s made your heart restless for more so you would get out of the boat and start walking toward Him in an exciting new way. Truth is, there are quite a few endeavors that I’ve had my heart set on for quite a while. And fear and nervousness about stepping into something new, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar is honestly terrifying! BUT I don’t want to miss a moment because of a minute of insecurity.

Peter found out that day that if Jesus wants you to do it – no matter how beyond your capability it may be – He will give you whatever it takes to do it.

A lot of our Christian lives are like my multi-faceted cellphone. We’re settling for a level that is far below where we could be living. We’re looking at all those spiritual buttons. Maybe we know some other people who have tapped into those capabilities, but we’re settling for a powerless life when Christ in us wants to make our life really powerful. We’re settling for the mediocre when we’re wired for the miraculous.

Look at it like this: Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and apply for the mortgage, the business, student or car loan? Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and head that ministry or start a new one? Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and try that, or go there? Truth is, being inside the boat, especially during a storm, seems like the safest, best and most comfortable, and sensible place to be. But if Jesus isn’t in the boat, do you really think it’s the best place to be? If He’s outside the boat, even in the storm, don’t you think it’s better to be where Christ is than where your cushion is?

You have the Holy Spirit of the Almighty God living in you. You have backing you up the authority that Jesus has over everything in this universe. You have Jesus’ resurrection power in your life. Question is: So why aren’t you living like it?

Are you settling for only pushing a couple of God’s buttons when there are so many more that could open up a whole new frontier for you?

You need to be reading the Manual. You know that’s the Bible, and you need to be reading it every single day. Not just for theology, not just for a lesson to teach or a Word to preach. But looking for the keys to powerful faith and then using them to unlock your bound-up greatness. Tell the Lord, Lord, I want the “something more” you’ve made my heart hungry for. Then surrender yourself in a new, fresh way to Him. With all the things that are going on in your life now, update that old surrender. Let go of those areas that you’ve insisted on controlling. Get out of that safe little boat and dare to walk where you’ve never walked before!

In a nutshell: You will never get THERE staying HERE! Yes, this requires chance, risks, the probability that it won’t work, even failure. And yet I challenge you to try it anyway!

Think about it: Can you imagine how David’s story would’ve turned out if he stayed in the field with the sheep because he’d become comfortable in what he’s used to doing? What if Abraham decided not to leave his people and country? What if Noah decided he didn’t want to chance looking silly building an ark? What if Moses’ stutter held him captive? What if Esther thought that she wasn’t good enough since she was an orphan? What if Deborah said ‘no thanks, I’ll just stay in the back since men go in the front’? What if Paul thought his past was too bad for him to have a better future? What if Peter thought his denial would lead to the Lord’s ultimate denial? What if Hannah decided to accept her barrenness as this is just the cards I’ve been dealt? What if Joshua and Caleb agreed that the majority is always right? What if Rahab thought my profession will hinder me from protection? What if Mary said the public scandal would be too much for me to bear, kindly use someone else?

Can you imagine the tragedy of having their stories re-written with the pen of fear?

Listen to what your manual is telling you:

Matthew 19:26, “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible.” (AMP);

Matthew 17:20, “… for I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have [living] faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and [if it is God’s will] it will move; and NOTHING will be impossible for you.” (AMP); (Question: Do you know how silly it sounds that you can have enough faith to move a mountain, and yet you allow a little fear to keep you immobile?) Selah…

Mark 11:23, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s UNLIMITED POWER], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with God’s will].” (AMP);

Philippians 4:13, “I CAN DO ALL THINGS [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” (AMP)

Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us,” (AMP).

Like my cellphone, when you read the manual, you’ll be amazed at all you’re capable of doing!

So stop allowing your comfort to cripple your capability!

The word “cripple” is defined as “unable to walk or move properly through disability or injury; to make someone unable to move or walk properly; to cause severe and disabling damage to something”. And that’s exactly what your comfort is doing! It’s crippling your spiritual walk! When something or someone is cripple, their walk is unsteady and unstable. Reminds me of James 1:8, “being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides]” (AMP). Which is why you never want fear and comfort to cause you to be unstable, because that will cause you to think ‘I can’t do this’; to feel like ‘I’m not strong enough to accomplish this’; and then to make poor decisions like ‘let someone else who is more qualified attempt this.’

However, that’s not how your story is going to end! Today is the day you find your courage, your strength and your faith. Today is the day you deliberately decide I’m not staying in this comfort zone any longer. I may fall, I may fail, I may get it wrong, but I won’t get stuck in this place of mediocre any longer. Today, I’m getting out of the boat! Yes, I know no one has ever done it before; yes, I know it’s safer in the boat during the storm; yes, I know I’m taking a big risk and chance; yes, I know those who are in the boat are probably talking about me making the dumb decision to do something new, uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and different; yes, I know they’re sitting in the boat thinking I’m crazy for even trying this; yes, I know they’re waiting for me to sink so they can say I told you so; yes, I know getting out of the boat to walk on water is strange, nuts, odd, and even dangerous. AND YES, I’M STILL GOING TO DO IT ANYWAY!

For a minute, just think of all the inventors and inventions. Can you imagine if they allowed the ridiculousness of doing something different to stop them from trying? We wouldn’t have lights, trains, planes, cars, computers, medicine, washing machines, or cellphones! People on transplant lists would just have to die because who’s crazy enough to try and replace a heart or kidney?

Saints, it’s a new day, a new month and a new year! Don’t you want better this year than last year? Well then, do something better! Do something different! Do something new!

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” (Albert Einstein) Therefore, for the remainder of this year, stretch yourself; challenge yourself; dare yourself; compete with yourself; push yourself; encourage yourself; motivate yourself!

Remember this: There Is No GROWTH In Comfort Zones; Only Stagnation!

Ronald E. Osborn said, “Undertake something difficult; it will do you good. Unless you try something beyond what you have already mastered, you’ll never grow.

In closing, let’s look briefly at Luke 5:4:

“…Now GO out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” (NLT); “…PUSH out into deep water, and lower your nets for a catch.” (ISV)

The word “Go” in its simplest form means “To Move To Or From a Place” And that’s what you need to do if you are going to get what you’ve never gotten before! You’re going to have to Move From Where You Are and Move Towards Where You Need To Be! You Can’t Get It Standing Still or Staying Where You Are! Your Destiny Is Not On The Shore, It’s Out In The Deep, So Get Up Off Your Hind Parts and GO! Move Out Into the Deep!

The word “Push” in its simplest form means “To Exert Force So As To Move From and Move To.” Listen, You Are Not Going to Get This Passively! You are going to have to Exert Force! Which is why Comfort Zones are so Dangerous! They make you Complacent! And worse yet, they make you Stagnant! The word “Complacent” means “Smug and uncritically satisfied with oneself or one’s achievements” Which is why so many miss out on greater blessings because they’ve become so satisfied with where they are currently and what they’ve achieved and attained thus far! It’s Latin Origin “Complacere” means “To Please”. And that’s all they did, was reach a certain goal, and sit back pleased with the 3rd place ribbon in their hands and never getting back in the next race to try for the number one slot!  Don’t Do It! Don’t Become Complacent! There Is Far MORE For You To Attain, But You’ve Got to Believe You Can and Then Exert Force to Attain It!

The word “Stagnant” means “Motionless and often having an unpleasant smell as a consequence”. Don’t Let This Happen To You! Stagnant Water Stinks because it goes No Where! So animals in particular, go to the bathroom in Stagnant Water! And any waste just lying around gets stuck in Stagnant Water furthering its Awful Smell! Warning: Gossip Garbage Is Dumped In the Lives of Stagnant People! After All, They’re Going No Where and Doing Nothing and So Everyone with Everything and Anything Just Dumps and Deposits! On the other hand, When You’re Moving You Have No Time For Mess! So Don’t Just Stand There…MOVE…AND LAUNCH OUT INTO THE DEEP!

You’ve been HERE too long, today we’re moving over THERE!

The word “shallow” is defined as “of little depth; not going far; small distance; having little extension inward or backward; to be superficial; surface-focused.” Do you really want that to be descriptive of you, your life and dreams? That there’s little depth; you’re not going far, only small distances, you have little in you or behind you, your superficial and only focused on the simple, small, things that are easily attained. Surely you want more for yourself than that! Peter walked on the ocean, not the shallow end of the pool, and it’s time you did the same! If you are to attain depth, you have to go out into the deep! No more shallow living for you!

TODAY, WE DARE TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, NEW AND EVEN UNCOMFORTABLE AND UNFAMILIAR, SO THAT WE CAN FINALLY WAKE UP AND LIVE OUR DREAMS!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” (Author Unknown)

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

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” (Thomas Jefferson)

“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” (Thomas Edison)

“God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, He will increase our capability.” (Neal A. Maxwell)

“Don’t limit yourself to someone else’s opinion of your capabilities. Be you. Dream, plan, execute!” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

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

“Don’t you dare shrink yourself for someone else’s comfort – Do not become small for people who refuse to grow.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

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: “What is Situational Depression?”

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

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“WHO Is HE To YOU?”

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…AND HOW ABOUT YOU? WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?…” (Matthew 16:13-19 MSG).

Meteorologists have studied weather patterns to discover the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW of rain, thunder, lightning, hail, drought, monsoons and the like. They have pondered why deserts receive less than an inch of rain per year, while India’s monsoons pour down over 400 inches annually. Why does lightning strike? What causes hail? Why does thunder make the sound it does? How can we predict hurricanes and tornado’s?

While great strides have been made in observing, predicting and understanding the weather, no one has been able to change it. Why? Because while human beings have studied the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW, they often have forgotten to ask the most important question of all: WHO?

Maybe you’ve been making the very same error. Looking at your situation and focusing on the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and even WHY? But falling short in focusing on WHO?

Job’s friend, Elihu, didn’t subscribe to the weather channel or own a farmer’s almanac. He understood, however, that God controls it all: “It is GOD WHO takes water from the earth and turns it into drops of rain. He lets the rain pour from the clouds in showers for all human beings” (Job 36:27-28 GNT). He may as well said, “I don’t understand the process of condensation and precipitation, but I do understand that God is in control of it all!

So, what’s keeping you from reaching that same place? A place of complete confidence that even when you don’t understand all that’s going on in your life, you yet trust HIM? You Trust GOD! You may not understand the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, or WHY, but what’s keeping you from trusting the WHO that is Always Faithful? “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left” (Lamentations 3:22-24 MSG); “For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and his faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation” (Psalm 100:5 TLB); “God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9 AMP) Sounds to me as though we gravely underestimate our God’s Faithfulness towards us. In fact, hearing those Scriptures alone ought to lead us to repentance and a new found attitude of gratitude for the Lord’s Consistent Faithfulness.

Furthermore, the first words in the Bible are, “In the beginning GOD…” So, while we might not understand all the intricate details and secrets of life, we can hold on to this: God set the universe in motion and still sustains it! Paul put it like this: “We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence AND HOLDS IT ALL TOGETHER RIGHT UP TO THIS MOMENT. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and HOLDS IT TOGETHER, like a head does a body.” (Colossians 1:15-18 MSG). Now, if God can create and hold all of this together, surely you have no doubt about His ability to hold you and all that concerns you, together?

Jeremiah states: “Alas, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too hard or too wonderful for You” (Jeremiah 32:17 AMP). Did you read that? “…There is NOTHING too hard…for You” The word ‘nothing’ is defined as, ‘not anything.’ People of God, where is your level of confidence in your God? Do you believe that there is absolutely NOTHING taking place in your life that is too hard for your God to handle? There’s absolutely nothing that you’re experiencing, enduring, suffering or struggling through or with that is too hard for your God to handle. There’s NOT ANYTHING that you can name that will EVER be listed under the TOO HARD FOR GOD TO HANDLE category! Which is why you should be encouraged to finally reach a place where you can confidently say: “…With men this is impossible, BUT ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD” (Matthew 19:26 AMP). In other words, don’t let the government shut-down scare you; you don’t allow the doctor’s diagnosis to cause you to panic; don’t let the marital discord make you believe that what’s out of your hands is also out of God’s; don’t focus on your children doing the very opposite of what you’ve taught and trained them to do under the admonition of the Lord (God has His hands on them too); stop pacing the floor over the funds that are no longer piling high in your bank account (God is neither limited by money or intimidated by numbers). Learn how to trust God even in the moments when you can’t trace Him. Know that He’s still your LIGHT even in DARK places and seasons of life. Believe that He is still a very present help in times of trouble and that no matter how dark your circumstances get, your God is not afraid of the dark, therefore, neither should you be!

When will you reach a place where you trust what He SAID and not what you SEE? After all, “…we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our convictions…” (2 Corinthians 5:7 AMP). So, when will you therefore, begin to conduct yourself by your convictions? A ‘conviction’ is ‘a firmly held belief; the quality of showing that one is utterly convinced of what one believes or says.’ And ‘convinced’ is ‘to cause to believe firmly in the truth of something; to be fully persuaded.’ Its Latin origin ‘convincere’ literally means, ‘to overcome and demonstrate’, from ‘vincere’ which means, ‘to conquer.’ You see, when you reach a growth level where you trust God without question, you began to stretch and strengthen your faith to the point where your convictions are firmly held in their belief because they are utterly convinced of what they believe and what they declare and decreed. Your faith reaches a point where you’re convinced and believe firmly in the truth of what God has already said concerning you, knowing that His Word can’t fail and can’t lie, therefore, you are fully persuaded to overcome your fear by the demonstration of your faith and conquer all that life’s struggles tell you can’t be conquered! You began to walk, talk, think, act and live in the full knowledge that there is Absolutely Nothing Too Hard for Your God, and Nothing With Him Will Ever Be Deemed Impossible!

Know this: Trusting GOD, NOT Your Circumstances, is What Matters Most!

So, are you going through a difficult situation in your life right now? Are there circumstances that you cannot understand? Well, instead of trying to fix it or control it, rather than trying to figure out the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW of your struggle, why not simply focus instead on WHO:

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS ELOHIM: The Creator, Who Made You With a Plan and For a Purpose!  “…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:10-11 MSG). People of God, you have no need to worry, fret or fear about your past, present or future, for God has a plan, a purpose and a promise, and neither of them will fail due to your problems!

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS EL ELYON: The God Most High, Whose Ways are Higher Than Your Ways! “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. “For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them” (Isaiah 55:8-11 MSG). So stop trying to figure this out on your own! God’s Got It And You! Trust Him, Follow Him, Lean On Him, Obey Him! He Cannot Lie And Won’t Fail You! He Can Handle What’s Got a Hold of You! This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own” (Jeremiah 33:2-3 MSG). Imagine That! God Himself is sitting by waiting for you to call on Him! He’s waiting for you to bring to Him all of your WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW questions! Because He alone will “…tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own” So, why are you still struggling with this? Why are you continuing to lose sleep, hair, peace, joy, comfort and strength? When you can simply talk to God, the One WHO is the answer to all of your questions?!

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS EL ROI: The God Who Sees and Knows Where You are and How You Feel! “So she called the name of the Lord Who spoke to her, You are a God of seeing, for she said, Have I [not] even here [in the wilderness] looked upon Him Who sees me [and lived]? Or have I here also seen [the future purposes or designs of] Him Who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13 AMP). Much like Hagar, you can be at your lowest point in life right now, wandering through the wilderness ready to give up and throw in the towel. Not knowing what to do for yourself or your child. With no provision or protection, and worse yet, having those who should be there to support you, be nowhere to be found. And yet, it is at this very same place where God manifests Himself to you and like Hagar all you can say isI looked upon Him Who sees me [and lived]…”. In other words, yes you’ll survive this, yes you’ll make it through this! There will be an “After This” testimony for you too! But like Hagar, you have to focus on WHO, not WHAT! “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG). Did you catch that? “…Take the mercy, accept the help”. God is waiting to extend mercy and help to you, so, what are you waiting for? If you can simply take your eyes off everything and everyone else and focus them where they need to be on (WHO) you will come out of this a lot better than you went into it!

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS EL SHADDAI: The Lord God Almighty, the One Who Can Change You or Walk With You Through Your Circumstances as Surely as He Can Send Rain From Heaven! “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!…” (Proverbs 3:5-12 MSG). If you want to live and have a good life than simply follow God! You want restored health than simply follow God! The WHO is all you need to get through all the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and WHY! The greatest exercise to maintain good health and a good life is walking with God! “But look!” he said. “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25 NKJV). Saints, there is absolutely nothing you can walk in, where God is absent! Remember: “God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 AMP). The Message Bible says it like this: “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains.” (MSG). You are never alone! Your God loves you too much to ever leave your side! “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG). Now that’s what you call comfort! Need a little more reassurance? Here you go: “for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (Hebrews 13:5 AMP). You my friend are tucked away safely under the wings of God and in the hands of God, whereby nothing and no one can touch you or take you away! “Count on it: Everyone who had it in for you will end up out in the cold – real losers. Those who worked against you will end up empty-handed – nothing to show for their lives. When you go out looking for your old adversaries you won’t find them – Not a trace of your old enemies, not even a memory. That’s right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’ (Isaiah 41:11-13 MSG). Now that’s what you call safe!

And just in case you think something or someone in the world can harm you, God loves you enough to even give you a protection plan that’s better than ADT:

“You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you—under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path. “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” (Psalm 91 MSG).

And just in case your faith fuel hasn’t reached all the way on full yet, here’s a little more:

“The earth belongs to God! Everything in all the world is His!” (Psalm 24:1 TLB)

“Do you have any idea how powerful God is? Have you ever heard of a teacher like him? Has anyone ever had to tell him what to do, or correct him, saying, ‘You did that all wrong!’? Remember, then, to praise his workmanship, which is so often celebrated in song. Everybody sees it; nobody is too far away to see it.” (Job 36:22-25 MSG)

“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. Men of God in days of old were famous for their faith. By faith – by believing God – we know that the world and the stars – in fact, all things – were made at God’s command; and that they were all made from things that can’t be seen” (Hebrews 11:1-3 TLB).

“Don’t you yet understand? Don’t you know by now that the everlasting God, the Creator of the farthest parts of the earth, never grows faint or weary? No one can fathom the depths of his understanding.  He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak.  Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up.  But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31 TLB).

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG).

People of God, Don’t Allow Focusing On WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW, Distort Your Vision That You Can’t See WHO! And YES, It’s Vital That You Know WHO He Is!

When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He pressed them, “AND HOW ABOUT YOU? WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?” Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of WHO I REALLY AM. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out. “And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19 MSG).

SO, DO YOU KNOW WHO HE IS? WHO HE REALLY IS? Because if you did, you wouldn’t worry about WHAT is going to happen in the government, WHEN will I be healed, WHERE will I find the money to pay the bills, WHY did the promotion pass over me, and HOW am I going to get out of this? NOPE! You stand confident in your faith knowing that the God WHO is responsible as the source of your faith has never failed before and He most certainly won’t fail you now!

So inspite of WHAT you’re going through, WHO will you allow God to be to you?!

“Though you have changed a thousand times, He has NOT changed once.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [ALWAYS] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages).” (AMPC)

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

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