“Don’t Let a Dark Past Dim Your Bright Future!”

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1 John 1:5-7, “This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in Him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with Him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth – we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God Himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” (MSG)

So, anyone that really knows me knows, I Hate Scary Movies! It’s just not my thing! And truth is, the reason I hate them, is my own fault! You see, there were some pretty scary (in my opinion) movies when I was younger (there was, Friday the 13th; the Exorcist; Carrie; the Shining; Halloween; the Lost Boys, the Omen, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre; Child’s Play; Nightmare on Elm Street; Hellraiser, to name a few). But what got me in trouble was the first scary movie I watched (that I was told by my parents specifically NOT to watch, and that was Cujo!) Now, in my little head, I didn’t get the big deal, after all, it was just a crazy movie about dog, right? I mean how bad could it be?! Well, can I tell you, I swore off all dogs after that movie! In fact, I watched it and refused to go anywhere near my own dog anymore! In the end, I was grounded and sent to bed. Oh sure, Mom and Dad thought I could watch that kind of movie and drift right off to sleep in la la land. But that was NOT my sweet, peaceful night at all! The problem is, adults don’t believe what kids know to be the awful truth – that there are monsters in your closet at night! And in my case, the monster was on four legs, named Cujo and was waiting in my closet for me to go to sleep! But my parents expected me to close my eyes and just start having sweet dreams? Come on!

Actually, I really had nothing to fear from those monsters that lived in my overactive imagination. But then there are real monsters that a lot of us have locked in a closet somewhere in our heart: the secret pain, the secret sin, the secret darkness of that unforgiving heart. They’re like vampires. They live in the darkness. But as I came of age, I discovered that they start to lose their power when you drag them into the light.

My parents were indeed upset that I disobeyed them and watched a movie they forbade me to see. But they also loved me too much to let me have nightmares. And so, they took a flashlight from the garage and turned it on (in my closet). Believe it or not, but knowing that as long as that light was on, the dark monsters couldn’t get me, gave me a pretty good night’s rest!

However, when it comes to life’s experiences with pain, I’ve found that getting rid of my ‘monsters’ wasn’t as easy or as simple as turning on a flashlight. The monsters of molestation, rape, domestic violence, health battles, homelessness, and the like didn’t exactly go away as quickly as the flip of a light switch for me. Nor did they for my friend Tynelle.

Tynelle, was abandoned, often physically abused by a drunken father, and cocaine addicted mother. Then she was horribly betrayed by her sister’s boyfriend. She trusted him so much as the brother she never had, and yet he sexually violated her. It was the final chapter in a story that told her a cruel lie, “Tynelle, you are worthless.” A story line that brought her to the brink of suicide not once, but three times. She took pills the first time, slit her wrists the second, and the third time she held a gun to her own head literally.

Thank God, Tynelle came across some wonderful people who led her to Jesus who did what no one and nothing else could do, He saved her! However, there was a few ‘monsters’ left living in her closet; bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear of rejection, not to mention, hatred that she harbored in her heart. Now, all of her feelings and emotions were understandable. But unforgiveness never hurts the person we refuse to forgive. No, instead it eats us alive and, strangely, it ties us to the very person we can’t stand!

Like so many of us who have had to endure mistreatment in whatever form, many of us did like Tynelle and stuffed it in the closet. But there is where it grows into a monster of ungrieved grief, unrepented sin, and unforgiven hurt; a monster that morphs into all kinds of anger, rage, depression and self-loathing.

SIDEBAR: I love plants as much as my mom did (okay, maybe not quite as much as she did), but I do love them. I have one in my office that my boss gave me years ago. At that time, it was the only plant I had in my office. I would water it, and make sure it was placed in a safe location where no one could cause any damage to it. It was absolutely a beautiful plant. But as the weeks went by I noticed it started to look as if it were dying, and it was. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and so I asked my boss to take a look at it. I told him I was doing everything you’re supposed to do to keep a plant alive. What he said still helps me today, he said: “If you want it to grow, you have to move it from that dark corner and bring it into the light.” Sounds simple enough. But the way it helped me besides helping my plant, was I’ve learned that if I’m going to heal from hurt, I can’t keep hurt tucked away in a dark corner somewhere. I have to physically bring it out of a dark place and bring it into the light. When I brought my plant into the light it began to heal and grow. When I brought my hurt, pain, discouragement, disappointment, and past into the light it healed and I grew. But it took me to physically move my plant, and to physically move my pain. And it’s going to require you to likewise physically move what’s hurting you to a place where it can heal. Those monsters of yours need to be brought out of the dark and into the light, it’s the only way to get rid of them. Now, before you think my plant was an easy task, let me be the first to tell you, it was not. From the floor to about my shoulder was its height (and I’m only 5 foot 2 inches by the way) so that gives you an idea of how big my ‘little’ potted plant was! Moving it took hard work, and moving my hurt was even harder work. But it needed light, and so did I, so a move had to take place!

Remember This: “Nothing Happens Until Something Moves!” (Albert Einstein)

Listen to our text again:

1 John 1:5-7, “This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in Him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with Him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth – we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God Himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” (MSG)

Once you’ve made the decision to make Jesus Lord of your life, you have LIGHT! And in Him there’s not a trace of darkness! But in us, oh yes indeed there is. That’s why it’s so important to take our darkness to Him. After all, why should we keep stumbling around in the darkness of hurt, heartache, let-downs and disappointments when we can simply come to Him so that His light can outshine our darkness? Why dwell in the darkness of sin, when we can dwell in the light of our Savior?

And just as moving my plant required work, so does walking in the light of God requires work. The Scripture says, “…But if we WALK in the light…”Walk” is present tense. Meaning, this is a daily requirement! In order for this to work, I have to walk, every day. I have to make a deliberate decision to come out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Be warned, this will not be easy, and you’re not going to feel like doing it all the time. But if you are to grow and heal, it is a necessity. When you look at 1 John, it reveals to us that walking in the light brings us out of darkness; brings us into admittance and acceptance; it brings us into a wonderful shared bright light of life with other believers not to mention it grants us a clean slate by purging all our sins. And all we have to do is bring our darkness to His light.

John 8:12, “Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows Me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” (MSG) Therefore, I must ask, why are you living in darkness when you can live in perpetual light? That word “perpetual” is defined as “never ending or changing; occurring repeatedly; seemingly continual.” Its’ Latin Origin ‘perpetualis’, from ‘perpetuus’ literally means “continuing throughout.That’s what you could have if you’d simply bring your darkness to His Light! He Himself is LIGHT! And therefore He promises that if you follow Him, you won’t stumble around any longer in the darkness. And aren’t you finally tired of stumbling around in the darkness? Every time you hear a particular song; see a specific scene in a movie; or hear someone’s voice that sounds like theirs, you return to that dark place, when you could live in the perpetual, never ending, light of the Lord!

NOTE: Once You Start Living in the Light, You’ll Stop Letting Darkness Visit!

Jesus provides plenty of light to live in, what better motivation than that to move out of darkness?

My pastor said something one Sunday that blessed me tremendously. He said, “if the dark cloud you’re under doesn’t move, then YOU move.” And that’s something I’m encouraging you to do today. YOU MOVE! Remember: “Nothing Happens Until Something Moves” (Albert Einstein). And oftentimes that ‘something’ is YOU! So, why live in that darkness a moment longer than you have to? Remember the hard truth is, sometimes you can move IT, and sometimes you simply have to move YOU! Which may require a great deal of separation! Like, moving from those contacts, connections, phone calls, text messages, pictures and emails. Move from that place, from that thing, from that person. Move from re-imagining memories in a prettier light than they actually were. Move from those feelings, that conversation, move from repetitive bad decisions and choices. Move your dark into His light.

Today: Take all of your Monsters out of your Past Closet, and put them in your Prayer Closet instead! Take the regret, the remorse, the bitterness, the anger, the hatred, the revenge, the unforgiveness. Take the broken heart and the broken spirit. Take the fractured mind and the bruised ego. Take what they said and what they did. Even take the part you played in your own self-inflicted pain. Take it all to Him. There is no greater Light than the Lord!

1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him WHO CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT. Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (AMP). God Himself Called You Out of Darkness, So Why Are You Still Trying to Live There?

Don’t you see that inspite of where you’ve been, what you’ve done and what was done to you, He yet calls you Chosen; a Royal Priesthood; a Consecrated Nation; a Special People; His Own Possession. As dark as you were, He still called you out of darkness!

People of God, He Called You OUT…So Why Are You Allowing Your Past to Keep You IN?!

Despite the Mess, you have since received Mercy, so why not live in it?

That same text in the Message Bible reads like this: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you – from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (MSG) That’s talking about YOU! The night-and-day difference that God desires to make in your life if only you’ll simply move your feet! Walk out of darkness and into His marvelous light…and all of this awaits YOU! No More Rejection, Just Acceptance. And All You Have to Do is WALK!

And just in case you need DIRECTIONS for your walk, here they are: “BY YOUR WORDS I CAN SEE WHERE I’M GOING; THEY THROW A BEAM OF LIGHT ON MY DARK PATH. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by Your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again WITH YOUR WORD. Festoon me with Your FINEST SAYINGS, God; teach me YOUR HOLY RULES. My life as close as my own hands, but I don’t forget what you have REVEALED. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, BUT I DON’T SWERVE AN INCH FROM YOUR COURSE. I inherited YOUR BOOK ON LIVING; it’s mine forever – what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAY – I always have and always will.” (Psalm 119:105-112 MSG) That’s how you govern your walk in the light, you use the Word of God as your lamp! It’s your map, your GPS to guide you out of darkness and into light!

Listen, you’ve been under that dark cloud long enough! You’ve been scared of those monsters in that dark closet long enough! Today is a new day, and one in which you need not give old days the opportunity to rob you of. Whatever happened, happened. You can’t undo it; you can’t change it; you can’t go back and alter some of the details of it. But you can decide today, that I’m not going to give another moment to those monsters. My body, soul, spirit, heart, mind and emotions deserve to live in light. I deserve peace, joy, laughter, unconditional love and complete healing and wholeness, and I’ve decided it will start today!

Now, remember, sometimes that will require you to delete the photos, messages and contact information. It may require you to stop talking to that person, or going back to that place. Because you can’t ask God to bring you into the light while you bring darkness with you, still clutched tightly in your hands! No, you have to make the deliberate decision to loose your grip on darkness and let it go! 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “…How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands?…” (MSG) The answer, NO! So you cannot ask God to bring you out of darkness, when you refuse to let darkness go! Know today that you can’t take that dark past with you into a bright future!

Whatever your ‘monsters’ are, bring them out of your past closet of darkness and into your present prayer closet of light. You’ve dealt with enough torment, torture, self-doubt and self-pity. You’ve been under that dark cloud far too long. You’ve cried long enough; been depressed and discouraged long enough; you’ve been lonely, angry and bitter long enough; you’ve replayed their role in your drama long enough; you’ve renewed the issues to your past publications long enough. You’ve complained and talked about it long enough. Do some spring cleaning during this summer season! Clean all that old junk out of your closet! Stop allowing hurt to hang around in your closet! Those skeletons in your closet don’t pay rent, and yet you’ve been paying a great price for them to live there, free of cost to them, hefty cost for you! Today serve them their eviction notice, pack them up and put them out!

Bigger, better and greater are waiting for you, just around the bend! Today, determine to make it your turn to change direction! Stop going backwards and start moving forward! Don’t allow that dark past to dim your bright future! Shine His Light on Your Dark Monsters and Finally Be Free From What’s Hiding in the Closet!

John 8:32, “And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].” (AMP)

1 John 1:9-10, “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His Will and purpose]. If we say that we have not sinned [refusing to admit acts of sin], we make Him [out to be] a liar [by contradicting Him] and His Word is not in us.” (AMP)

“Don’t get stuck in your past, use it to fuel your future.” (Pinterest)

“The only way to get over the past is to leave it behind. If you spend your time re-living moments that are gone forever, you might miss out on the special moments that are yet to come.” (Pinterest)

“Don’t let past relationships and old mistakes ruin your future. Don’t let someone or something that didn’t make it in your life continue to hurt you. If you do, you’re still giving a portion of your life to something that no longer exists – it’s like letting your happiness slip into a black hole. Learn the lesson, release the pain, and move on. Scars remind us of where we have been, not where we are headed.” (LessonsLearnedInLife)

“Being stuck in the past is like walking forward with your back facing the front. You’ll always miss out on what’s in front of you.” (Pinterest)

“You can get over a broken past if you decide to believe that there’s nothing in your past that can keep you from having a great future.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could’ve been any different.” (Oprah)

“If you want to get over a problem, stop thinking about it. Your mind affects your mouth and your mouth affects your mind. It’s difficult to stop talking about a situation until you stop thinking about it.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Sometimes you have to make peace with your past in order to keep your future from becoming a constant battle.” (Susan Gale)

“Sometimes we get so addicted to murmuring about the past and blaming the past for everything that we miss our whole future. You’re not going to enjoy your future, and you’re not going to enjoy your right now, if all you can do is be guilty and ashamed and afraid of your past.” (Joyce Meyer)

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

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“Don’t Let FAKE FOOL You!”

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Matthew 13:24-25, “Jesus gave them another parable [to consider], saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds [RESEMBLING WHEAT] among the wheat…” (AMP)

I guess as a woman it would be considered rather strange that I don’t particularly care for Roses. I don’t consider them ugly, I just don’t possess a particular fondness for them. And to be honest, I really don’t like any one set flower. However, if you really want my heart to sing, give me a mixed bouquet of wildflowers! I absolutely love a bouquet of mixed flowers with all the different shapes, scents, sizes, colors etc…it just captures my heart and instantly makes me smile!

However, I must share this. One of my coworkers had a beautiful bouquet of flowers on her desk. I stopped by to pick up some work, and there I saw these amazing flowers in a vase. Wildflowers! My Wildflowers! I actually noticed a few more times as I hustled down the hall past her door. I really felt like a flower stalker! I just couldn’t help myself. I would walk past her office, even if I had no reason to, just to take a glimpse at her huge bouquet of the wildflowers I so love. But then one day, I actually put on the brakes for a moment and I stuck my head all the way in the office and told her, I have just got to smell the flowers on your desk. I leaned over and inhaled deeply…needless to say…it wasn’t worth the stop. You see, after all of that peeking, visiting, stalking, admiring, smiling and smelling…I exhaled my disappointment. The beautiful, breath-taking wildflower bouquet was a FAKE! It LOOKED so real, too real, so real in fact that I couldn’t tell they were fake until I got close enough to realize they didn’t have the scent real flowers possess.

Which made me think of us, the church, the body of believer’s. Do we carry the REAL Scent of our Savior? 2 Corinthians 2:15, “For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (AMP)

You know, those flowers can sure fool you. They look so real, but they have NO LIFE. They look so authentic, but they have NO SCENT. Just like so many folks who look like they really belong to Jesus Christ, but there’s no life, no sweet fragrance of Christ.

Jesus warned us about this fatal difference in His story about God’s Kingdom being like a wheat field. Listen: Matthew 13:24-30, “Jesus gave them another parable [to consider], saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds [RESEMBLING WHEAT] among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the weeds appeared also.  The servants of the owner came to him and said, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have weeds in it?’ He replied to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants asked him, ‘Then do you want us to go and pull them out?’ But he said, ‘No; because as you pull out the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.  Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First gather the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”(AMP)

Just because God hasn’t uprooted the phony weeds now, doesn’t mean He won’t later. In fact, the phony weeds will be first to be gathered, tied and burned. So, don’t by any stretch of the imagination think that you’re getting away with Imitation Christianity. God knows who are His and who are not. He knows who’s real, and who’s fake (no matter how well a performance or appearance they put on).

In another place, Jesus describes people who will come before Him on Judgment Day, talking all the right Christian words and beliefs and activities. But He’ll tell them, “I never knew you.Now, that’s what you call some frightening words! Here’s the Scripture in full: Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’ (AMP) The Message Bible reads like this: “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’ (MSG)

I don’t know about you, but that certainly gave me a Selah moment! And that moment took me straight to 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers. Examine yourselves [not me]! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves [by an ongoing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test and are rejected as COUNTERFEIT?” (AMP) The Message Bible reads like this: “Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it…” (vss. 5-9 MSG).

The time to realize that you know ABOUT Jesus but you don’t KNOW Him is NOW, not when you’re standing before Him, BECAUSE THEN IT’S TOO LATE! Now, is the time to self-exam and get yourself together! Now, is the time to make sure you’re planted, deeply rooted among the wheat, the real wheat, not them ‘Resembling Wheat!’ If you find yourself amongst the Tares, tear yourself away and get right! Or you’ll find yourself falling in the same category as those whom Christ said, “I Never Knew You!” And pay attention to the text, because it doesn’t say let the Apostle, Bishop, Pastor, Prophet, Elder, Evangelist, Minister, Deacon, Missionary, evaluate you and your lifestyle of faith to make sure it’s genuine. No, this is an inside job! “TEST AND EVALUATE YOURSELVES…” Your faith, and lack thereof, are your responsibility alone! You have no one to blame but yourself if you ‘miss the boat!’ It’s too late in the end-time hour to keep faking, pretending, acting like, and impersonating righteousness! It’s time to simply get Right and get Real!

Remember 2 Timothy 3:5, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Now, let’s look at this in a few translations shall we:

“holding to a FORM OF [OUTWARD] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.” (AMP);

“They will LOOK LIKE they are religious but deny God’s power. Avoid people like this.” (CEB);

“Even though they will MAKE A SHOW OF BEING RELIGIOUS, their religion WON’T BE REAL. Don’t have anything to do with such people.” (CEV);

“They will go on PRETENDING to be devoted to God, but they will refuse to let that “devotion” change the way they live. Stay away from these people!” (ERV);

“having the APPEARANCE of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (ESV);

“They will APPEAR to have a godly life, but they will not let its power change them. Stay away from such people.” (GWT);

“they will hold to the OUTWARD FORM of our religion, but reject its real power. Keep away from such people.” (GNT);

“They will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. Don’t be taken in by people like that.” (TLB);

“They will do things to make it LOOK as if they are Christians. But they will not receive the power that is for a Christian. Keep away from such people.” (NLV)

Just like those artificial flowers that are so beautiful but so dead, it’s so easy to look like someone who belongs to Jesus but not really know Him. Especially if you’ve been around Jesus most of your life. You know the words. You believe the beliefs. You try to do the right things. You go to the right meetings. You give to the right things. And, quite possibly, everyone around you assumes you belong to Him Except Jesus! And He’s the only one who matters.

Listen: That “examine yourself” verse says to make sure “Christ Jesus is IN YOU.Not on you, as all the “I’m a Believer” symbols like to imply. You know, we like to carry the bible, talk in church lingo, have 10 titles, 15 robes, 20 crosses, all to look like we’re something we’re not. We’re attending Sunday School, Bible Study, Prayer Meetings, Revivals, Anniversaries, Outreach, and the like and still heading straight to hell as the Non-Believer we are at heart. It’s time we stop “wearing Christ” and actually have Him on the INSIDE. Because truly that is the only thing that will make a REAL difference.

A lot of people simply have Jesus AROUND them, but not IN them because there’s never been a time when they consciously and personally really opened up their life to Him. And I do mean all of it, not just the compartments you feel safe or comfortable in letting Him visit. But I mean letting Him move all the way in. Take your name off the deed to your body, and make it His sole property alone. It’s time to stop having Christ in our HEAD, but not in our HEART. Which means you will miss heaven by eighteen inches. (That’s how far it is from your head to your heart). And God says, “It is with the HEART man BELIEVES and is SAVED” (Romans 10:9). You Need Jesus in Your Heart, Not Just in Your Head, if You are to Ever Have a Real, True, Genuine, Authentic Relationship With Him!

Look at it like this: One night Keith went into a church…not married. The woman he wanted to marry came down the aisle. They stood in front of the minister. They walked out together, but Keith left still not married. Why? Because it was the rehearsal. However, the next night, same woman, same man, same minister, same aisle, but this time Keith walked out married. You see, the first night Keith was just going through the motions. But the second night he committed his life to her. Maybe you’ve been going through all the motions of knowing Jesus. But somewhere, you’ve missed the step of saying, “Jesus, I know what you did on that cross was for me. And you’re my only hope. Beginning right here, beginning right now, I am completely Yours! I turn my entire life into Your capable, nail scarred hands!” You see, that’s when you commit yourself to Him. Not practice, not rehearse, not go through the motions, not resemble, not look like, not pretend. But for real! Which means no more going to church every Sunday, singing the songs, dancing, leaping, running, clapping, shouting, praising, speaking in whatever tongues. In other words, no more show, no more performance, no more acting and acting like. But this time being real with God so you can finally be right with God. Because the truth is, you don’t have any more time to play and waste. As cliché as it may sound, His return is soon. And you don’t want to be unprepared. You want to be rapture ready. With no sorries, no explanations, no reasons, no requests for just a little more time. You want no remorse and no regrets. And the only way to secure that is to be Real, be Right and be Ready!

Matthew 25:1-13, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish [thoughtless, silly, and careless], and five were wise [far-sighted, practical, and sensible].  For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take any [extra] oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil along with their lamps.  Now while the bridegroom was delayed, they all began to nod off, and they fell asleep.  But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! The bridegroom [is coming]! Go out to meet him.’  Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order [trimmed the wicks and added oil and lit them].  But the foolish virgins said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’  But the wise replied, ‘No, otherwise there will not be enough for us and for you, too; go instead to the dealers and buy oil for yourselves.’  But while they were going away to buy oil, the bridegroom came, AND THOSE WHO WERE READY WENT IN WITH HIM to the wedding feast; and the door was shut and locked.  Later the others also came, and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open [the door] for us.’  But He replied, ‘I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I DO NOT KNOW YOU [WE HAVE NO RELATIONSHIP].’  Therefore, be on the alert [BE PREPARED AND READY], for you do not know the day nor the hour [when the Son of Man will come].” (AMP)

For me, this was yet another Selah moment…

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be Left Behind. I want while I’m here to be planted and well rooted so that I may bear good fruit. And when it’s time to go home, I’m ready because I’m certain of my eternal resting place. So, two things need to take place for us. One, we need to be planted and rooted as Real Trees/Plants/Flowers that grow, develop and produce fruit! Matthew 7:15-20, “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. THESE DISEASED TREES WITH THEIR BAD APPLES ARE GOING TO BE CHOPPED DOWN AND BURNED.” (MSG); Luke 13:7-9, “Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. CHOP IT DOWN! WHY WASTE GOOD GROUND WITH IT ANY LONGER?’ “The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; IF IT DOESN’T, THEN CHOP IT DOWN.’” (MSG).

WISDOM NUGGET: Don’t take advantage of your grace-period! Get planted, rooted, develop, grow and bear fruit before your barrenness gets you chopped down!

Secondly, don’t put off getting real and right for tomorrow!  James 4:13-17, “And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.” As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.” (MSG)

Today, is your best day to get real, get right and get ready! Don’t put off until tomorrow when you may very well end up among the tares, among the foolish virgins or the chopped down barren tree!

Don’t Let Fake Fool You, the Time to Get Real With God is TODAY!

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 Nutritional Psychiatry, and Can it Help You Feel Better””

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“Pretty Container, But Poisonous Content!”

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

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

James 1:13-15. “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (MSG)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIRDLY, THE FOOD THE DART FROG EATS IS WHAT MAKES IT POISONOUS! Which is why you have to be so careful about what you DIGEST! The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, so clearly he’s not digesting anything good! Therefore, nothing to do with sin can be good! I don’t care what it looks like, feels like, or the lies it promises, sin is still a deadly killer! Everything out of the enemy and sin is ugly, damaging, and life threatening. It’s fear, discouragement, jealously, anger, maliciousness. And when you partake of sin, that’s the poison you digest! Stop coming into contact with people, places and things that will kill you! Don’t play around it, don’t flirt around it, don’t go near it, avoid it at all costs! Because nothing from it can ever produce anything good, just further destruction! People of God, Let’s Use the Wisdom of Scripture! Proverbs 4:10-15, “Dear friend, take my advice; it will add years to your life. I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way, I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road. I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys, or wasting time making wrong turns. Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip. Guard it well—your life is at stake! Don’t take Wicked Bypass; don’t so much as set foot on that road. Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth. Make a detour and be on your way.” (MSG) THE MORE WORD YOU DIGEST THE LESS CHANCE YOU HAVE OF SIPPING ON SIN AS YOUR CHOICE SUBSTANCE ABUSE! FOLLOW THE ADMONISHMENT OF THE PSALMIST: “How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of Your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of You; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked Your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in Your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from Your mouth; I delight far more in what You tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from You, I attentively watch how You’ve done it. I relish everything You’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.” (MSG)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember: Just as God has plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:10-11, “This is God’s Word on the subject…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” MSG); so does Satan have plans for our lives! 2 Corinthians 2:11, “I did this so that Satan would not win anything from us, because we know very well what Satan’s plans are.” (NCV) And what are his plans for our lives? “…TO STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY!” (John 10:10) Let’s Not Be the Ones Who Supply Him With the Ammunition to Take Us Out! Instead, Let’s Obey Christ’s Orders: Matthew 10:16, “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.” (MSG)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“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

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“I’ve Fallen…BUT I WILL Get Up!”

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Micah 7:8, “My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I MAY HAVE FALLEN, BUT I WILL GET UP; I may be sitting in the dark, but the Lord is my light.” (CEV)

Truth is, I’m not a big fan of the Olympics, but every now and then I catch them and always manage to learn something from them (either natural or spiritual). And one of my absolute favorite lessons was the final event of the men’s gymnastics competition in the 2004 Athens Olympics. American Paul Hamm’s hopes for the gold medal seemed to come crashing down. He made a lopsided landing and actually toppled into the judges’ tables. That gave him a disappointing 9.137 score that virtually doomed his chances for a first place finish. After some moments of what he described as “depression,” he decided to fight back with what would have to be the best two performances of his life, just to win the bronze!

Paul took a deep breath and he began to move powerfully through the air with a routine that was filled with technical challenges. It was a nearly perfect performance with a solid landing at the end. His score: 9.837. At first, he didn’t know what that meant in terms of a medal. Then he heard his coach screaming, “Olympic champion!The gold medal was his!

Paul Hamm messed up, but he didn’t give up! He fell down, but he didn’t stay down! And Neither Should You!

Maybe that’s a picture of you, or it’s going to be a picture of you because you’ve messed up. You’ve made some mistakes. You’ve experienced making some bad choices and worse decisions. You’ve failed. You’ve fallen. And truth is, that failure could be final, but only if you let it be! In other words, you can get up and make a defiant comeback at any moment in which you CHOOSE to! Which is exactly what the devil is counting on you NOT Doing! He got you down, and he’s hoping you’ll be so discouraged, so defeated, you’ll give up and stay down. But this is your day to say, “Not a chance Satan! In my weakness, and in His strength, I will make a comeback!

And that kind of comeback defiance is powerfully expressed in Micah 7:8: “Do not gloat over me, my enemies! FOR THOUGH I FALL, I WILL RISE AGAIN. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” (NLT)

Let’s look at this in a few translations:

“Enemy, don’t laugh at me. I HAVE FALLEN, BUT I WILL GET UP AGAIN. I sit in the shadow of trouble now, but the Lord will be a light for me.” (NCV);

“Don’t, enemy, crow over me. I’M DOWN, BUT I’M NOT OUT. I’m sitting in the dark right now, but God is my light.” (MSG);

“Our enemies have no reason to gloat over us. WE HAVE FALLEN, BUT WE WILL RISE AGAIN. We are in darkness now, but the Lord will give us light.” (GNT);

“I have fallen, but enemy, don’t laugh at me! I WILL GET UP AGAIN. I sit in darkness now, but the Lord will be a light for me.” (ERV)

You see, sometimes you have to learn how to speak up for yourself and talk to the devil at the same time! Truth is, I HAVE FALLEN! However, that’s nothing more than a mere fact. And for some of us, if we’re to be completely honest, OUR FALL WAS NOT ACCIDENTAL! Let’s be real, the sin in our lives is not new! We are repeat offenders against God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness! Either we puffed again; drank again; had an affair again; lied again; gossiped again; stole again; cussed again…the bottom line, WE DID IT AGAIN…DELIBERATELY! And when you learn how to acknowledge and admit your Sin for what it really is, you’ll begin traveling down the right road to recovery!

One of the worse things you can do is to ACT LIKE YOU DON’T SIN! None of us is sinless! Not even on our best day, dressed in our best attire, hanging around the best people, on our best behavior… still Sin is ever present in us! So, if you want to do something to help yourself get up, be honest that no one knocked you down in the first place (MANY OF US DELIBERATELY LAID DOWN!) So step one, BE REAL WITH YOU! Step two, BE REAL WITH OTHER’S (after all, we ALL have our OWN sin and some of that sin is the identical twin to yours…in a nutshell, we’re in no position to judge!) Third, BE REAL WITH THE ENEMY! See, you have to remember who Satan is!

Revelation 12:10, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom (dominion, reign) of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come; for the ACCUSER of our [believing] brothers and sisters has been thrown down [at last], he who ACCUSES them and keeps bringing charges [of sinful behavior] against them before our God day and night.” (AMP)

That’s Satan and his job description all rolled up into one! He is an Accuser who does nothing but Accuse! And the Scripture even goes so far as to say he does this day and night. Isn’t that just like an enemy to bad mouth you day in and day out as though it were a full-time job that they received a paycheck, bonus and increase from?!  

Now, that word “Accuser” is defined as “to blame (someone) for something wrong or illegal; to say that someone is guilty of a fault or crime; to condemn; criticize; damn; denounce; prosecute, implicate; impeach; indict; defame.” It’s Middle English, from Anglo-French “accuser” from Latin “accusare” which means “to call to account”. It’s the combination of “ad” and “causa”, which together mean “lawsuit.” And that’s what the enemy attempts to do to us daily, accuse us of wrong doing day and night. He wants to prosecute us and condemn us and bring us up on lawsuit charges of guilt. But I love the Word of God!

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

That’s one of those Scriptures the enemy hopes you will never read, never learn, never memorize, and certainly never apply! Why? Because, when you admit your wrong before God, the enemy can accuse night and day, and still for the believer, THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION! And that word “condemnation” is defined as, “to express complete disapproval of; to sentence to a punishment, especially death; to endure something unpleasant; to officially declare to be unfit for use; to prove the guilt of.” Its Latin Origin ‘condemnare’, from ‘damnare’ literally means ‘to inflict loss.’ The penalty we SHOULD receive, we DON’T! And even though the enemy accuses us before God day and night, and desires that condemnation would ‘sentence us to a punishment especially death’, it’s NOT going to happen! You know why? Because the Bible says, “The thief comes only in order to STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY. I came that they may HAVE AND ENJOY LIFE, HAVE IT IN ABUNDANCE [TO THE FULL, TILL IT OVERFLOWS]” (John 10:10 AMP) I Reiterate…” THEREFORE THERE IS NOW NO CONDEMNATION [NO GUILTY VERDICT, NO PUNISHMENT] FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS [WHO BELIEVE IN HIM AS PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR]” Which is why we should never be ashamed to admit our mistakes, bad choices, and even willful sin! Because as Guilty as we are, we still have an ADVOCATE!

1 John 2:1, “My little children (believers, dear ones), I am writing you these things so that you will not sin and violate God’s law. And if anyone sins, we have an ADVOCATE [who will intercede for us] with the Father: Jesus Christ the righteous [the upright, the just One, who conforms to the Father’s will in every way – purpose, thought, and action]” (AMP)

For this very reason, we can always come clean with the mess we’ve made in our fall! So, do not be ashamed to acknowledge, admit, and confess to yourself; to others and even to the enemy, YEP, I have fallen, but I CAN and I WILL get up!

Don’t allow yourself, other’s or even Satan to make you think you have to stay down, because you went down! No, you make a deliberate decision that I will not stay down here! I’ll admit I messed up, and when I do, that will be the strength my legs need to get me back up on my feet!

People of God, never worry about the Accusers when you have an Advocate!

The word “advocate” is defined as, “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy; a person who pleads a case on someone else’s behalf; to publicly recommend or support.” Its Latin Origin ‘advocare’ literally means ‘to call to one’s aid’. A few synonyms are: ‘apostle; backer; booster; champion; friend; gospeller; herald; high priest; promoter; true believer; white-knight; applauder; cheerleader.’ That’s what our Advocate is for us! He PUBLICLY supports us, pleads for us and comes to our aid! And truth is, there are some people who will ‘say’ they support you…quietly, under their breath; in a corner of a room where no one can see or hear them. But not Jesus! He’s Our Public Advocate! He doesn’t care who sees or hears His support and defense of us, no matter what the charges may be! Now are you understanding why the enemy hates us so much! We’re Guilty; He Accuses Us; Yet Jesus Steps In….”Satan, I Publicly Denounce Their Condemnation!” Which is further reason for you to remind yourself today, “ENEMY, YES, I’VE FALLEN, OH’, BUT I CAN AND I WILL GET BACK UP!”

You see, getting up again, coming back again – that’s a choice, and one you need to make this very day. Serve notice that the devil’s victory is a temporary victory. You’re not staying down! And you know how I know? I’ll tell you!

Micah says in verse 8, “My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I may have fallen, but I will get up; I may be sitting in the dark, but the Lord is my light.” (CEV) But keep reading, because he doesn’t stop there! He goes on to verse 9: “I have sinned against the Lord. And so I must endure His anger, until He comes to my defense. BUT I KNOW THAT I WILL SEE HIM MAKING THINGS RIGHT FOR ME AND LEADING ME TO THE LIGHT.” (CEV).

In other words, yes I got it wrong, but thank God He can make things right! And yes indeed He will do that even for the likes of someone like me! Listen to the translation:

“I have sinned against the Lord. So I will endure His fury UNTIL HE TAKES UP MY CAUSE AND WINS MY CASE. He will bring me into the light, and I will see His victory.” (GWT);

“We have sinned against the Lord, so now we must endure His anger for a while. BUT IN THE END HE WILL DEFEND US AND RIGHT THE WRONGS that have been done to us. He will bring us out to the light; WE WILL LIVE TO SEE HIM SAVE US.” (GNT);

However, my favorite reads: “Don’t, enemy, crow over me. I’M DOWN, BUT I’M NOT OUT. I’m sitting in the dark right now, but God is my light. I can take God’s punishing rage. I deserve it – I sinned. BUT IT’S NOT FOREVER. HE’S ON MY SIDE AND IS GOING TO GET ME OUT OF THIS. He’ll turn on the lights and show me His ways. I’ll see the whole picture and how right He is. AND MY ENEMY WILL SEE IT, TOO, AND BE DISCREDITED –YES, DISGRACED! THIS ENEMY WHO KEPT TAUNTING, “SO WHERE IS THIS GOD OF YOURS?” I’M GOING TO SEE IT WITH THESE, MY OWN EYES – MY ENEMY DISGRACED, TRASH IN THE GUTTER.” (8-10 MSG)

You see my friends, we’ve all sinned; missed the mark; fallen short of His glory; messed up; fell down, and even laid down! And yet God loves us so, that He will not leave us there! No matter how the enemy accuses and taunts, in the end, our Father will raise His children up again! And worse yet, THE ENEMY WILL HAVE TO WATCH HIM DO IT JUST FOR US! “THEN MY ENEMIES WILL SEE THIS, AND THEY WILL BE COVERED WITH SHAME, BECAUSE THEY ASKED ME, “WHERE IS THE LORD YOUR GOD?” NOW I LOOK AT THEM. THEY ARE TRAMPLED LIKE MUD IN THE STREETS.” (vs. 10 GWT)

How befitting that the enemy that tried to shame you will have to cover his face in shame instead…how befitting that the enemy that tried to get dirt on you will be trampled like mud in the streets instead. The devil’s been trying to use your dirt to bury you in its shame. Well, that’s over and done with as of today! You need to get up; remove whatever junk might bring you down again, and then declare, “Lord, I am going to make the devil sorry he ever messed with me. I’m going to push back the darkness and I’m going to take prisoners away from him! He’s going to be the one who ends up covered with shame!” Can you do it? Sure you can!

You are the walking, talking proof of the grace, the love, and the restoring power of Jesus Christ; who can turn your fall into a mighty testimony for new followers of Christ! That voice that’s telling you, “It’s over. What’s the use? God doesn’t love you after what you’ve done.” That’s the voice of hell, and those are lies! The truth is that according to the Bible, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “But the Law came to increase and expand [the awareness of] the trespass [by defining and unmasking sin]. BUT WHERE SIN INCREASED, [GOD’S REMARKABLE, GRACIOUS GIFT OF] GRACE [HIS UNMERITED FAVOR] HAS SURPASSED IT AND INCREASED ALL THE MORE.” (AMP)

And because of God’s amazing grace, your fall does not have to be final or fatal! You went down, but you’re not staying down! You’re going to come back more of a winner, and more of a warrior than ever before! Just look at Paul Hamm. Can you even imagine how embarrassing it must have been to not only mess up and fall, in the Olympics of all places, but to fall so bad that you fall right into the judges table?! And yet, he went from the Ground to the Gold…AND SO CAN YOU!

Listen, whatever your sin may be, you can recover! Whether it was substance abuse; fornication; adultery; a baby out of wedlock; lying; stealing; cheating; hatred; sowing discord among the brethren, even murder (the Apostle Paul is proof), you can still get back up! Proverbs 24:16, is one of my favorite Scriptures, and here’s why:

“For a just man falleth seven times, AND RISETH UP AGAIN: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” (KJV)

Here’s a few translations:

“For a righteous man falls seven times, AND RISES AGAIN…” (AMP);

“The righteous may fall seven times BUT STILL GET UP…” (CEB);

“Even if good people fall seven times, THEY WILL GET BACK UP…” (CEV);

“Good people might fall again and again, BUT THEY ALWAYS GET UP…” (ERV);

“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them. No matter how many times you trip them up, GOD-LOYAL PEOPLE DON’T STAY DOWN LONG; SOON THEY’RE UP ON THEIR FEET, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” (vss. 15-16 MSG)

You my friend may have fallen, even seven times, and still I reassure you today…YOU’VE FALLEN, BUT YOU CAN AND WILL GET UP…SO GET UP!

“Falling down is an accident; staying down is a choice.” (Pinterest)

“Life has knocked me down a few times. It has shown me things I never wanted to see. I have experienced sadness and failures. But one thing is for sure…I Always Get Up!” (Author Unknown)

“Struggles are required in order to survive in life, because in order to stand up, you gotta know what falling down is like.” (Pinterest)

“I’ve fallen, cried, been angry and afraid. But even when I was hurting, I always found a way to keep going. A strong person never gives up.” (Simple Reminders)

“What defines us is how well we rise after falling.” (Pinterest)

“Falling down is part of life. Getting back up is living.” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes you fall down, because there is something down there that you are supposed to find.” (Pinterest)

“Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get back up.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

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

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“The Power of Influence”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Strength of Choice should never Weaken a Fellow Believer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How to Stop Wasting Time?”

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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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “10 Wellness Warriors on the Frontline of Black Lives Matter”

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“What is Your Appetite Costing You?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two other translations read like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But sin does not let you go once you let it out of the box. It will take you farther, it will keep you longer than you ever bargained for. Thus bringing out the truth of, James 1:15, “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” The Message Bible reads like this, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from US AND ONLY US. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of OUR OWN lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (vss. 13-15 MSG)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Let’s Just Kiss and Say Goodbye”

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Ruth 1:14, “Then they wept aloud again; and Orpah KISSED her mother-in-law [GOODBYE]…” (AMP)

One of the great things about being a 70’s baby is great music! My mom and dad were huge on parties and music! One of my dad’s favorite songs (and if he was smart, only I know this and not my mom), was the song, “Kiss and Say Goodbye” by the Manhattans. Here’s the lyrics:

“Kiss And Say Goodbye”: “This has got to be the saddest day of my life. I called you here today for a bit of bad news. I won’t be able to see you anymore. Because of my obligations, and the ties that you have. We’ve been meeting here every day. And since this is our last day together, I wanna hold you just one more time. When you turn and walk away, don’t look back, I wanna remember you just like this. Let’s just kiss and say goodbye. I had to meet you here today. There’s just so many things to say. Please don’t stop me ’till I’m through, this is something I hate to do. We’ve been meeting here so long, I guess what we done, oh was wrong. Please darling, don’t you cry, let’s just kiss and say goodbye. Many months have passed us by (I’m gonna miss you) I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie (I’m gonna miss you) I’ve got ties, and so do you, I just think this is the thing to do. It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie, maybe you’ll meet, you’ll meet another guy. Understand me, won’t you try, try, try, try, try, try, try. Let’s just kiss and say goodbye. (I’m gonna miss you) I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie (I’m gonna miss you) Understand me, won’t you try (I’m gonna miss you) It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie (I’m gonna miss you) Take my handkerchief, wipe your eyes (I’m gonna miss you) Maybe you’ll find, you’ll find another guy (I’m gonna miss you) Let’s kiss and say goodbye, pretty baby (I’m gonna miss you) Please, don’t you cry (I’m gonna miss you) Understand me, won’t you try (I’m gonna miss you) Let’s just kiss and say goodbye.”

Now, the lyrics have nothing to do with Naomi, Ruth and Orpah, but it was indeed a song I heard played so much growing up, that I could swear to someone my parents wrote it! And when I read Orpah during my devotion time, it honestly was the song that popped into my head. I thought, truth is, for some people in our lives, it really is time to simply Kiss and Say Goodbye.

Ruth told Naomi, “where you go I will go.” And to be honest, you can spend your life anywhere with anybody doing anything, then suddenly meet someone and sense that there is a connection between you. It comes so natural that they become a part of your life, attached as permanently as your hand is attached to your arm. It’s what made Elisha quit farming and follow Elijah, an eccentric prophet; it’s why Timothy hung out with Paul, an old man soon to be executed. You know intuitively, “I won’t reach my destiny without you in my life.” Looking back you realize if you hadn’t met that certain person, or taken that phone call, added that Facebook friend, or read that email, you wouldn’t be where you are today. Truth is, so many people in our lives have played such major roles in helping us to become the greater person we’ve become, that it’s hard to even fathom life without them. It’s what kept Ruth attached to Naomi, even at the most miserable of times. Inspite of death, loss, famine, and the struggle to begin again, Ruth stayed. And man did her decision pay off! She meets and marries Boaz, and produces a great seed in Obed. Naomi is provided for and gets a fresh start at life. She can finally leave the “Mara” (bitterness) feelings behind her, a new and great day has indeed come. And all because Ruth remained. And it doesn’t make Ruth good or bad, it’s just that her Character was not finished in the Role it would Play in Naomi’s Story.

On the other hand, “Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye”. Now, Orpah’s leaving didn’t make her a bad person; it just meant her role in the story was over. Likewise, we need to learn how to recognize when somebody’s part in our story is over, otherwise we’ll kill ourselves constantly trying to raise the dead.

David pleaded with God for his newborn baby’s life. 2 Samuel 12:16-17, “David therefore appealed to God for the child [to be healed]; and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.  The elders of his household stood by him [in the night] to lift him up from the ground, but he was unwilling [to get up] and would not eat food with them.” (AMP). But, when the child died, he had to accept that there was nothing more he could do, so he, “…got up from the ground, washed, anointed himself [with olive oil], changed his clothes, and went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he came [back] to his own house, and when he asked, they set food before him and he ate.” (12:20 AMP).

I can tell you from experience, one of the greatest things you can do for your body, soul, spirit, heart, emotions and peace of mind, is to acknowledge when something in your life is over! I learned (and the hard way, might I add), that if God means you to have it, He’ll give it to you.  Psalm 84:11 declares, “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (NLT). If you’re supposed to get it, God will give it to you! James 1:17 confirms, “But whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God…” (TLB) The Message Bible says it like this: “So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.” 16-18 MSG). Saints, if it was good for you, perfect for you, desirable for you, or beneficial for you, God would have given it to you! If He hasn’t, trust His decision. He’s a Father who will always do what is in His children’s best interest.

So, if you’ve tried to make it work and it hasn’t, accept His will in the matter. Get up, go to the mall, buy yourself a new outfit, treat yourself out to a good meal; whatever you do, just keep living! Never beg anyone to stay with you against their will, be it a relationship, friendship, or business/ministry partner. Their leaving is no accident; it just means God has something bigger, better and greater in store for you (and possibly them too), so trust Him and move forward!

Sometimes, like it or not, people will leave your life. And there will also be times when you’ll have to make the decision to leave theirs. Listen to this:

Genesis 13:1, “So Abram left Egypt…and Lot was still with him…” (MSG).

Then read Genesis 13:14-17, “After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, “Open your eyes, look around. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever. I’ll make your descendants like dust—counting your descendants will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. So—on your feet, get moving! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.” (MSG)

Did you read the good news I read? “AFTER LOT SEPARATED FROM HIM…” then the Bible says, “…GOD SAID TO ABRAM…” After Lot left, God spoke to Abram some of the most awesome promises in Scripture. Literally, nowhere could Abram turn, and not bump into a blessing! North, South, East, and West…Abram Would Be Prosperous! BUT, God only spoke this, AFTER LOT LEFT!

I know it’s hard when the person you love leaves, but sometimes in order for God to give you what He’s had on reserve for you, you have to release them first! Sometimes that will be a family member, a friend, a business associate, a ministry colleague. Sometimes the length of time together will be decades, years, months, weeks, days, or even mere hours, minutes and seconds.  But when God says it’s time to let go, Let Them Go! Will it be easy? Absolutely not! Will it be impossible? Absolutely not! It will hurt, you may cry, you’ll experience regret, but you will continue to live on.

What’s Coming Is Better Than What’s Been. That’s something I need you to hold on to. God’s best for you is not behind you, but before you. However, if you keep holding onto your past, you’ll never be able to grab a hold of the great future God has in store for you.

More people will come, and yes, more people will leave as well. Your life is the ink in God’s pen, He’s the author writing a beautiful story, full of drama, action, suspense, comedy, romance, and the like. But you have to remember that it’s His pen, His story, His characters. You have to learn to be okay with the characters He brings to life, and the ones He allows to die off.

In closing, my favorite time of year is Autumn. I love everything about it! The weather is perfect, the scenery is beautiful, the clothing shifts and has such warm colors, the scents change to more apples, pumpkin, cinnamon, and cocoa. It’s my absolute favorite season! But there’s more to it than that for me. You see, Autumn is also a time when things change, get fickle, and fall off!

Therefore, in your Fall seasons in life, you better prepare yourself to let some shady, fickle folks fall!

And don’t complain when they fall off either! Fall is the season in which things, and people, are supposed to fall off! Can we keep it simple? When leaves fall, we rake ‘em up, put ‘em in a bag, tie it up, and sit it out for the garbage. We do not, however, attempt to pick ‘em up, and put ‘em back on the tree! See, when folks start falling off, you need to rake ‘em, bag ‘em, tie ‘em and put ‘em out for the garbage! Understand that the reason you keep failing your fall exam is because you keep trying to pick ‘em up and put ‘em back!  The key to passing the test is, in the fall, let ‘em fall!

There’s two animals that possess a characteristic I love. And that’s Cats and Dogs. They do something fairly regular, that I’ve learned to do fairly regular myself, they shed. Now, the word “shed” means “to allow to fall off; to discard; to get rid of; to take and cast off”. Its Old English Origin means to, ‘separate or divide’.

See, cats and dogs don’t shed, and attempt to put back on, what fell off! And neither should you! You need to get serious enough about your purpose and accept the fact that anyone that fell down, wasn’t strong enough to hold you up in the first place; anyone that separated, wasn’t faithful enough to remain in covenant; and anyone that divided was subtracted because they couldn’t add or multiply anything worthwhile to your life anyhow! I’m warning you, in the fall, let ‘em fall!

Proverbs 30:25 says: “…they prepare their meat in the summer…” Don’t miss it: They gather in the summer, they drop things that are not a necessity in the fall, so they have what they need, their meat, in the winter! Let me help you, the reason you have nothing in your hands in the winter, is because you gathered everybody in the summer, but you didn’t let none of them non-essential folks go in the fall! And now, in the dead of winter, you have no meat in your hands, cause you still trying to hold up those you should’ve let down! I’m warning you, in the fall, let ‘em fall! 

You’re suffering because you’re trying to carry junk food into a winter season that requires Meat! The Bible says, “…they prepare their MEAT in the summer.” Listen to me real good, your next season Requires MEAT! In the words of the Apostle Paul, “But strong MEAT belongeth to them that are of full age…” (Hebrews 5:14). Your next level is a level of maturity and growth, a level of tenacity and stamina, a level where your childish things have been put away! A level of blessings and promise, a level of break-through’s and victory! But only MEAT is strong enough to sustain you at such a level! Might I give you some valuable advice worthy to be followed? Before your next Promotion get rid of those still wearing Pampers! Before your next Degree get rid of those still Drooling! Before your next Baptism get rid of those still wearing Bibs! Before your next Calling get rid of those still Crying in Cribs! Before your next Revelation get rid of those still shaking Rattles! Before your next Touch get rid of those still Teething, because this next level Requires Those That Can Chew and Digest MEAT! Only MEAT is strong enough to sustain you in the season of winter! Therefore, you’ve got to let some folks go! I’m warning you, in the fall, let ‘em fall! Why? Cause my destiny’s at stake; my calling is on the line; my purpose is trying to press through; my vision is getting clearer and I’m in the 9th month of birthing what’s in my belly! I can’t risk going without in the winter because I didn’t forfeit in the fall! I’m warning you, in the fall, let ‘em fall!

Never allow the Immaturity of your Company to Compromise the Growth of your Calling! 

And be bold enough to tell them the truth! It’s because of where I’m going that I can’t take non-essentials with me. See, when it came time for the sacrifice, it was only between Abraham and Isaac, he told the servants to stay where they were! What’s about to take place don’t involve you! And you need to do the same! Only take those who are essential to the process, provision, promise and promotion of your next season! No non-essentials allowed! 

Well then, just for clarity, who are the non-essentials I can’t take with me? Glad you asked! You can’t take folks still fighting over he said she said nonsense. You can’t take folks still sucking their teeth, rolling their eyes, pointing their fingers and folding their arms! You can’t take folks looking like preaching prostitutes. You can’t take folks who still get provoked into foolishness! You can’t take folks still cussing, crying and complaining! You can’t take folks who fight more than they fast, play more than they pray and worry more than they worship!  

Jealous and envious folks are non-essentials; gossipers and back-biters are non-essentials; lazy sluggards are non-essentials; prayerless, faithless, powerless, wordless folks are non-essentials! Look around today at the company you keep and ask yourself a vital question: Are they non-essentials? Because if they’re non-essentials they can’t go where you’re going! 

Remind yourself: I can only take essential folks because they’re strong enough to handle the winter! They know how to stay on fire when the winds are blowing, the temps are dropping, the rain is freezing and no matter where you go, it’s bitter cold everywhere! You see, winter folks know how to struggle and endure; how to get provision in poverty; how to cry and not quit; how to pause and not give up; how to take a break and not breakdown! Winter folks can handle when it gets dreary, lonely and cold, without becoming desperate, bitter and weak! That’s why they’re essential! You can only take essential folks who understand that your purpose is coming with provision, but it’s coming in the winter! So prepare yourself to let ‘em fall, in the fall!  

Don’t get upset when your Orpah kisses you and says goodbye. It’s her time and season to leave. And you can’t get what’s rightfully yours from God, until she’s left. Make today the day you Kiss and Say Goodbye to your Orpah! The summer will come to a close, then fall will fastly approach and winter will be on its heels! So, begin your spring cleaning TODAY! 

Make sure you make every necessary change in each of the right seasons.

“Some people are going to Leave, but that’s not the End of your Story. That’s the End of their Part in your Story.” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes you have to accept that people’s part in your story is over.” (Author Unknown)

“The best part about your story is that the next page is blank and you get to write it.” (Chris Butler)

“When people want to go, let them go. Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you, and it doesn’t mean that they are bad people. It just means that their part in your story is over.” (Author Unknown)

“I’m the author of my story and I’m not finished writing yet.” (Author Unknown)

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” (Harley Davidson)

“Part of being the heroine in your own life is accepting the bad with the good. Not dodging it or covering it up or glossing over it to make it look prettier. I think it’s a lot braver to talk about your doubts and fears instead of act like everything is perfect. Life without both joy AND sadness is a life without balance.” (Mandy Hale)

“Sometimes the people you wanted as part of your whole story are only meant to be one chapter.” (Author Unknown)

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

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