“The Gift of Being Hidden”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“The Purpose of Ministry is to Equip, Not Entertain”

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John 6:30, “What sign (miracle, wonderwork) will You PERFORM then, so that we may see it and believe and rely on and adhere to You? What [supernatural] work have You [to show what You can do]?” (AMP).

Okay, so try to picture this. Here’s a group of maybe a hundred teenagers in a seminar for two hours, sitting on concrete the whole time, taking notes the whole time, and asking for more when the seminar is dismissed! Naturally, your response would be, “What planet were you on?” But that was actually in Haiti when a Pastor friend (Pastor Toonee) was there a few years ago, teaching in a workshop in a gymnasium. You see, the only place to sit was in the balcony, and in the balcony of that gym it was all concrete. And yet they still told him to take two hours to teach! “Wow”! He said, “I could talk here all the time!” He thought, Okay, I could probably figure out something to say for two hours, and he did. Believe it or not, when he was finished, after two hours of teaching, they quickly ran to the next seminar to get some more! These students remind me of the mind-set of those in Acts 17:11, “Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (AMP).

If only the Church, as a Whole, would develop this same mind-set!

Unfortunately, for many of today’s churches, you’d better be done in 20 minutes or you’ll be talking to yourself! Unless, of course, you’re funny enough to be like a Christian comedian! I call it a Disease that’s been afflicted on the whole American church! And the name of it isEntertainitis.”

Our Scripture follows the feeding of the 5,000, where it says in John 6:14, “When the people saw the sign (miracle) that Jesus had performed, they began saying, Surely and beyond a doubt this is the Prophet Who is to come into the world.’” (AMP). Another translation says it like this: “The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!” (MSG).

Well, they chased Him all the way across the lake of Galilee, and when they found Him on the other side of the lake, it says they asked Him, “‘Rabbi! When did You come here?’ Jesus answered, ‘I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, you have been searching for Me, not because you saw the miracles and signs, but because you were fed with the loaves and were filled and satisfied.’” (vss. 25-26 AMP).  Another translation states it like this: “When they found him back across the sea, they said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free.” (MSG).

Then, in verse 30 they asked Him, “What sign (miracle, wonderwork) will You PERFORM then, so that we may see it and believe and rely on and adhere to You? What [supernatural] work have You [to SHOW what You can do]?” (AMP). Another translation reads: “…Why don’t you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what’s going on? When we see what’s up, we’ll commit ourselves. SHOW us what you can do.” (MSG).

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!

They Were Looking For Jesus to PERFORM and Give Them a SHOW! Mere Entertainment! But When Jesus Attempts to Equip Them Instead, Watch What Happens:

Finally, after Jesus begins to talk to them about the SHEDDING OF BLOOD AND A CROSS, verse 66 says, “AFTER THIS, MANY OF HIS DISCIPLES DREW BACK (RETURNED TO THEIR OLD ASSOCIATIONS) AND NO LONGER ACCOMPANIED HIM” (AMP). Another translation states: “AFTER THIS A LOT OF HIS DISCIPLES LEFT. THEY NO LONGER WANTED TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH HIM” (MSG).

Now, here’s a crowd, and they are ready to follow Jesus AS LONG AS THERE WAS A GOOD SHOW: Miracles, Excited Crowds, Cheers, Surprises, Songs, Good Feelings! BUT AS SOON AS IT GOT SERIOUS OR DEMANDING, AS SOON AS IT COST SOMETHING, AS SOON AS A HINT OF SACRIFICE WAS SMELT IN THE AIR, THEY CHECKED OUT – This Is The First Known Case of “Entertainitis”!

Interested In Spiritual Input AS LONG AS IT’S EASY TO TAKE!

And what does the Bible say about folks like this? “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Hebrews 5:12 NIV). Another translation reads like this:  “I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.” (MSG).

I didn’t realize how shallow our faith here (in the States) is until I met Christians in other countries! They Know How to Pray Powerfully, and Extensively! They’re Hungry, Not For Jokes and Stories, BUT For Solid, Biblical Teaching! They believe wholeheartedly in what the Word of God Commands: “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP).

Unlike many of us, they’re interested in the Substance of Christianity, NOT the Style of the Speaker! Therefore, while we’re having Church Gathering Socials, they’re having Revolutionized Revivals! While we Accept Ministry Mediocrity, they’re Expecting and Experiencing Miracles!

Unfortunate for today’s church, we’re a product of a Media Culture; kind of a Sesame Street, Internet Pop-Up Approach that changes the subject every 60 seconds! Compared to believers in the rest of the world, we have a Sesame Street faith! Many will follow as long as its ENTERTAINING, but as soon as it Gets SERIOUS, They Change the Topic, Bring out the Puppets, and Act a Fool all for the purpose of Keeping Church Folks ENTERTAINED!

Listen: Both Adults and Children can watch Sesame Street. But ONLY the Children should be Learning From It! As an Adult you may find portions that ENTERTAIN You, but there should be Absolutely No Moments Where You Seek It To Help You Grow! Why? BECAUSE IT’S A STAGE YOU SHOULD’VE OUTGROWN BY NOW!

Children learn their Basic Necessities there (abc’s, 123’s, colors, shapes, sizes etc.) You on the other hand should NOT be learning anything! It’s Basic, For Children, For Those Who Know No Better, For The Immature! It Can Only ENTERTAIN You!

Likewise, stop sitting under teachers and preachers, that LEAVE YOU ILL-EQUIPPED BUT WELL ENTERTAINED!

The Word of God has a Definite Purpose When It Goes Forth, and here it is: “Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and Profitable for Instruction, for Reproof and Conviction of Sin, for Correction of Error and Discipline in Obedience, [and] for Training in Righteousness (in Holy Living, in Conformity to God’s Will in Thought, Purpose, and Action), So that the Man of God May Be Complete and Proficient, Well Fitted and Thoroughly Equipped For Every Good Work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMP).

No Where In That Long Laundry List of Purpose For the Word of God Do You Find, “TO ENTERTAIN THE SAINTS!”

The First Step toward the Cure of Entertainitis is to Recognize the Disease and to Want a Cure! We need to begin to Re-Train Our Hearts to Look for the Treasurable Truth in a Message, Not the ENTERTAINMENT Value; to Look for the Bible in a Song, Not the Beat; to Quit Expecting Preachers to Do All the Study Work For Us; to Pack the Congregation for a Concise Word From the Lord, Not Just For a Concert or Special Event; to Understand this is a War, Not a Walk Through the Park!

Most Important, we need to Commit Ourselves to the Spiritual Discipline of a Personal Bible Study Time With Jesus that starts Every Day! That’s the Anchor of an Authentic Christian Life!

Maybe it’s time we simply say, “Lord, I’m SICK of Suffering in a Shallow, Entertaining Faith. I want to Get Rid of this DISEASE of Entertainitis….NOW. DELIVER ME!”

Special Note: Preachers/Teachers, Don’t Be Discouraged When You Switch From Being ENTERTAINING to IMPACTING! Like Jesus, Many Will Walk Away And Leave You! But That’s Quite Alright!

Those Who Really Want The Substance Will Stay With The One Effectively Wielding The Sword of the Spirit!  “After this, many of His disciples drew back (returned to their old associations) and no longer accompanied Him. Jesus said to the Twelve, Will you also go away? [And do you too desire to leave Me?] SIMON PETER ANSWERED, LORD, TO WHOM SHALL WE GO? YOU HAVE THE WORDS (THE MESSAGE) OF ETERNAL LIFE. AND WE HAVE LEARNED TO BELIEVE AND TRUST, AND [MORE] WE HAVE COME TO KNOW [SURELY] THAT YOU ARE THE HOLY ONE OF GOD, THE CHRIST (THE ANOINTED ONE), THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD” (John 6:66-69 AMP).

Only A Fool Would Walk Away From the Hand That Feeds Them!

Listen: We are to be Ministry Gifts that EQUIP the Body of Christ, Not Ministry Puppets that merely ENTERTAIN It!

“And His GIFTS were [varied; He Himself Appointed and Gave Men to Us] Some to be Apostles (Special Messengers), Some Prophets (Inspired Preachers and Expounders), Some Evangelists (Preachers of the Gospel, Traveling Missionaries), Some Pastors (Shepherds of His Flock) and Teachers. HIS INTENTION WAS THE PERFECTING AND THE FULL EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS (HIS CONSECRATED PEOPLE), [THAT THEY SHOULD DO] THE WORK OF MINISTERING TOWARD BUILDING UP CHRIST’S BODY (THE CHURCH)” (Ephesians 4:11-12 AMP).

The word “intention” is defined as “an aim or plan”. Therefore, God’s aim and plan for the five-fold ministry is to serve for the purpose of, “…THE PERFECTING AND THE FULL EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS (HIS CONSECRATED PEOPLE), [THAT THEY SHOULD DO] THE WORK OF MINISTERING TOWARD BUILDING UP CHRIST’S BODY (THE CHURCH)”

That’s the aim and plan: Equipping, NOT Entertaining!

The word “equip” is defined as “to supply with the items needed for a purpose; to prepare someone for a task; to furnish for service or action by appropriate provisioning; to make ready.” Its Old French Origin “équiper”, is from a modification of the Anglo-French “eskiper, eschiper” meaning “to load on board a ship, to embark, to man a ship.It is in essence, to provide a ship with everything it needs to embark on its journey successfully and efficiently. That is our responsibility, to provide people with what they need to carry, to accomplish their purpose and calling in God. It is not, however, to hear as many amen’s as possible; it’s not to see people run, jump, leap, clap, yell, spin, dance and fallout. It’s not to proclaim houses, cars, land, spouses, promotions, possessions and money. It is to prepare people for purpose! Whether it’s preaching or teaching, to 2,000, 200 or 2, we are to prepare them with what they need to produce God’s purpose in their lives. That’s our responsibility. Not to hit the right key, the right note, perfect the perfect moan. No, it’s to Equip the people, not Entertain them!

The word “entertain” is defined as “to provide with amusement or enjoyment.” Its Middle English “entertinen”, from Middle French “entretenir”, means “to hold”. It serves as a purpose of holding a person’s attention for no other reason than to “DISPORT (‘enjoy oneself unrestrainedly’), DIVERT (‘cause to change course or take a different route; distract; entertain’), AMUSE (‘cause someone to laugh; to entertain’. Its Old French ‘amuser’ means ‘to entertain or deceive’ from ‘muser’ which means ‘to stare stupidly’), REGALE (‘to entertain with conversation’) or SOLACE (‘to comfort’).” And what does that mean? “It means to pass or cause to pass the time pleasantly; to have one’s attention be engaged in humor; to distract the attention from worry or routine occupation especially by something funny.” And is that bad? No, not in and of itself. But when it comes to our responsibility of preaching, teaching, equipping and preparing people, yes, it is quite bad. Entertainment has its place, however, it is not our responsibility when it comes to the people, to ensure that they have a good laugh. No, we are to ensure that they have what they need to live a godly life.

When you look at the day and time we’re living in, you must agree that the times are dangerous and very serious. The devil is playing for keeps. He’s not playing with our lives, he’s looking to take our lives. And if we as the church, do not become more grounded in our responsibility, he won’t have to fight too hard to win. Our children need to know the importance of the Word of God, prayer, righteousness, holiness and proper leadership. How do they get that though, from perfecting praise breaks? No! We need to teach them how to feed their soul, not have fabulous fancy foot-work. We need to prepare the next generation to enter the government, heads of state, to make laws, to change laws, to serve in other areas, outside of the pulpit, if the world is to ever change for the better. And they will receive none of this equipping if we keep entertaining them, Sunday-after-Sunday. If marriages are to remain intact, we need to equip, not entertain. If singles are to remain holy, and set-apart, we need to equip, not entertain. If the disciples are to turn the world upside down, we need to equip, not entertain. If leadership is to be effective and efficient, we need to equip, not entertain. If the unbeliever is ever to become a believer, we need to equip, not entertain.

We are the Church, not Comedy Central. There has to be a distinction in what we do, say, believe and live. We are to be Salt and Light, not Sugar and a Dimmer.

People of God, we have to do better, and Leaders, it begins with us. 1 Peter 4:17, “For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God?” (AMPC)

Church, judgment will begin with US. Therefore, now, is the time to get this thing right. Remembering that we are Representatives of Heaven, Ambassadors of Christ, and Created in the Image and Likeness of the God-Head. Now, is the time to look like it, sound like it, act like it, and live like it.

Preachers, now is the time to follow the admonishment of the Apostle Paul: “And [pray] also for me, that [freedom of] utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth to proclaim boldly the mystery of the good news (the Gospel)” (Ephesians 6:19 AMPC)

Let the church-house resemble Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were assembled was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak the Word of God with freedom and boldness and courage.” (AMPC)

Not song and movie titles; not the latest celebrity in the news; not the latest slang or cliché. But to preach the Word of God, with boldness, freedom and courage. Not jokes, just the Word. We are not a circus, we are not performing puppets. We’ve done more than enough ACTING, now let us ACT OUT THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.

Leaders/Preachers/Teachers/Believers, Let’s Start Equipping and Stop Entertaining!

Now is the time to Soar towards being Fully Equipped instead of Foolishly Falling for being Merely Entertained!

“The Devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. Providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt that it sets men afire.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)

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

“If you were God’s children you would loathe the very thought of the world’s evil joys, and your question would not be, “How far may we be like the world?” but your one cry would be, “How far can we get away from the world? How much can we come out from it?” (Charles Spurgeon)

“The Word of God will be to you a bulwark and a high tower, a castle of defense against the foe. Oh, see to it that the Word of God is in you, in your very soul, permeating your thoughts, and so operating upon your outward life, that all may know you to be a true Bible-Christian, for they perceive it in your words and deeds.” (Charles Spurgeon)

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

“For the church to turn aside from its divine work to furnish amusement and recreation is to pervert its true mission. It is to degrade its mission. Amusement and recreation should stem from the home or individuals rather than the church. The church, like Nehemiah, has a great work to do; and it should not come down to the plains of Ono to amuse and entertain.” (Goodpasture, Gospel Advocate)

“If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“A church is not a Fortune 500 company. It’s not simply another nonprofit organization, nor is it a social club. In fact, a healthy church is unlike any organization that man has ever devised, because man didn’t devise it.” (Mark Dever)

“God’s church is not a social club. It’s not a building, and it’s not an option. The church is life and death. The church is God’s strategy for reaching the world. What we do inside the church matters.” (Francis Chan)

“We have taken the command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations, and mutated it into a comfortable call to come, be baptized, and sit in one location.” (David Platt)

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

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“Your HURT is HELPING Someone HEAL”

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2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “What a wonderful God we have—He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.” (TLB)

Working with youth ministry is probably one of the most unpredictable ministries to work with. You just never know what you’re going to encounter with young people. Sometimes they want to be bothered, and sometimes they don’t want to be bothered at all. But nothing was worst for my youth pastor friend who decided to take a bus load of youth on their first ever mission trip! Now, to be honest, sometimes a bus ride full of kids can be fun, but then there are also those times when it can be as boring for them as watching paint dry! Hence, you will begin to hear the famous “are we there yet?” line. But this group of young people were excited because it was their first mission trip to a Navajo Reservation from Michigan! However, I don’t think they’ll remember their trip as boring at all! You see, unfortunate for them, the carelessness of another driver, forced their bus to swerve sharply at one point, causing the bus to go off the road and roll all the way over into a ditch! Well, as you can imagine, they were absolutely horrified! But, one by one they emerged from the bus. Some of them were injured and they had to be treated at a local hospital, but thankfully no one died.

By the time they finally arrived at that reservation they were a pretty sorry looking bunch. They didn’t exactly come running into that Native community. They came limping in and hurting. They weren’t able to bring all their luggage with them, and some of the kids were on crutches, in braces, patched up, and bandaged up.

BUT, that became the very reason why those Navajo young people listened to those white kids from Michigan. The comments of the Native young people made it pretty clear. If those Michigan young people had arrived looking like they had no idea what pain felt like, the Native youth who live in so much hurt probably would have never listened to a single word they had to say. But as one teenage leader from the youth group said, “Our wounds became our credentials.

Which brought to mind for me 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. It’s about finding meaning in your pain; maybe even the pain you’re going through right now. Here’s what the text says, “What a wonderful God we have—He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.” (TLB)

So you go through a hurting time. You know how the pain feels. You reach out to God for whatever resources He can give you to get through it and you start to experience God’s greatness, God’s grace, God’s kindness. And now you’re qualified by those experiences to help other hurting people. You can tell them in a very personal way the difference Jesus makes in a hurting time. And just like those Native American young people with those banged-up white kids, they’ll listen. You know why? Because you’ve been there.

It’s almost ironic. The worst things that happen to you in your life teach you the most about your God, and they give you the best chance you’ll ever have to tell people about Jesus Christ. Day after day you’re with people who, just under the surface, are carrying so much pain, a lot of scars, and unimaginable wounds. And they won’t listen to just anyone. But they will listen to someone who’s been through a deep valley too; maybe someone like you.

Truth is, no one wants to share their pain with someone who they don’t believe can relate. It’s like leaving your 3 bedroom house, and going to the shelter and telling a woman with 2 kids on a cot that “you understand”. When in fact, at home, you’re 2 girls are tucked away nice, cozy, comfortable and safe in their own separate bedrooms. It’s hard to share with someone the pain of a marriage heading for divorce, when every time you see them with their spouse, they are as happy as ever. Who wants to tell someone they don’t have enough change to get on the bus, while that person hops in a brand new car saying, “it’ll get better”. You want to talk to someone who can understand, who can relate, some who can personally identify, someone who gets where you’re coming from, because they just left there themselves. Which is why we have to be so careful about trying to avoid every pain, ache, moment of suffering and affliction. Because at the end of the day, someone, somewhere, needs something you have to offer, and they will more readily receive it through your pain than through your joy.

Which is why for me I love ministering in shelters (I can relate); I love ministering to those suffering through domestic violence (I can relate); those eating dinner at the soup kitchen with their children (I can relate); those trying to heal from the scars of rape, abortion, and addiction (I can relate); those feeling abandoned, rejected, left out, overlooked, under-estimated (I can relate); those suicidal and depressed (I can relate).

If you ever want to find out where your strengths are in ministering to others, just locate the places of pain where you can relate.

Your pain can become your credentials to answer hurting lives with the love of Jesus Christ that you’ve experienced in your darkest hour. And they’ll listen to you, someone whose bus has rolled over and who carries some of the scars and the damage from the crash. Those are pretty hard earned credentials, ones you’d have never chosen to have. But they are credentials God can use mightily in a hurting world. He uses wounded messengers to become agents of His healing. Which is why you should stop trying to get out of every painful event. Believe it or not, but God can bless you and use you to bless others, even while you’re still in the midst of personal pain yourself!

Romans 8:37 says, “Nay, IN ALL THESE THINGS we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Did you catch that? We’re not more than conquerors because we conquered our pain and now we’re out of it. But we’re more than conquerors “…IN ALL THESE THINGS…” We can help someone OUT, even while we’re still IN! That’s what I call a powerful testimony! I love the way The Living Bible states it, “BUT DESPITE ALL THIS, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us.” (TLB). In other words, it doesn’t even matter what I’m dealing with, because despite it all, I have overwhelming victory, even in the midst of it! And someone around you today needs you to know that, so when it’s rooted and engrained in you, you can share the same mustard seed faith with them!

Even the greatest pain, serves an even greater purpose! Genesis 50:19-21 reads, “Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, YOU PLANNED EVIL AGAINST ME BUT GOD USED THOSE SAME PLANS FOR MY GOOD, as you see all around you right now—LIFE FOR MANY PEOPLE…” (MSG) God can use the same thing that hurt you, to help someone else! I love the way the translation puts it, God used the SAME plans! The evil his brothers meant for him, turned out for his good, and life for many! Never doubt that your pain has a purpose! Our Father is a loving parent to us His children. He does not cause us pain that serves no purpose. Which is why Psalm 119:71 is one of my absolute favorite Scriptures, because those things that helped me most, hurt me most first! But I’ve learned from God’s Word, that the bad, worked for my good.

“MY SUFFERING was GOOD FOR ME, because through it I learned Your statutes.” (CEB);

“It was GOOD THAT I HAD TO SUFFER in order to learn Your laws.” (GWT);

“It is GOOD FOR ME THAT I WAS TROUBLED, so that I might learn Your Law.” (NLV);

“The punishment You gave me WAS THE BEST THING THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO ME, for it taught me to pay attention to Your laws. They are more valuable to me than millions in silver and gold!” (TLB);

“It is GOOD FOR ME that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (KJV)

How amazing to know that my suffering was good for me; it was good that I had to suffer; my punishment was the best thing that could have happened to me; and it was good that I was afflicted. Sounds ironic, but my bad was for my good! Why? Because it was only then that I learned to pay attention to His statutes and laws. My affliction was my best teacher. After all, I didn’t learn until it began to teach. And it is likewise for someone near you today. They need you to share your mess ups, screw ups, missteps, mistakes, flaws, imperfections, bad decisions. They need you to share and show the vulnerability of unmasking your wounds and scars. They need someone just like you who can identify, so they can finally stop allowing their pain to keep them in hiding.

Some people will only get free when you share the blessing from your bondage! Which is why you need to be like Lazarus. When Jesus called him, he came out of the grave, still wrapped in his dead man garments. And as bad as he must have looked and smelt, when Jesus called him to come out, he came out! Jesus could have had him come out right out of the garments, but no, He then spoke to those around Lazarus to loose him. There are people around you that will watch as your dead man clothes are being unraveled, and they will be encouraged to know that it’s more important for them to be a part of the miracle, than for you to come out looking like you never needed a miracle to begin with. It’s okay for people to know that you don’t cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’. It’s okay for people to know you don’t always feel strong, powerful, anointed, and gifted. It’s okay for people to know that you don’t always smile and laugh and feel upbeat. It let’s them know you’re real. It let’s them know you’re human. You hurt; you experience disappointment, let downs and pain…just like them. After all, it’s what Christ did.

John 1:14, “The Word became FLESH AND BLOOD, AND MOVED INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD. We saw the glory with our own eyes…” (MSG);

“And the Word (CHRIST) BECAME FLESH, AND LIVED AMONG US; and we [actually] saw His glory…” (AMP);

“The Word BECAME FLESH AND MADE HIS HOME AMONG US. We have seen His glory…” (CEB);

“The Word BECAME A HUMAN BEING AND LIVED HERE WITH US. We saw His true glory…” (CEV);

“CHRIST BECAME HUMAN FLESH AND LIVED AMONG US. We saw His shining-greatness…” (NLV)

Christ lived among us, made His home among us, became flesh and blood, and moved right into the neighborhood, so why are we avoiding people and their pain?! He didn’t. He spoke to hurting people, touched them, encouraged them, healed them, defended them, ate with them, and if all of that wasn’t enough, He let them touch Him in return! He loved us enough to be just as human as divine. He wasn’t so concerned with being Royal, as He was with being Relatable!

Hebrews 4:14-16 reads, “Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior].  For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.  Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].” (MSG)

He understands, He sympathizes, He knows, He can relate. Now it’s our turn to do the same! Understand, sympathize, know and relate. Truth is, if we are to finally be effective witnesses, we need to touch more than we talk! Stop saying what you think they need or want to hear; stop throwing clichés at them; stop drowning them in Scripture showers. Sometimes a simple hug, shoulder or smile, can say more than any word in the dictionary. Today, determine to touch, and be touchable!

Remember, Doubting Thomas didn’t believe until he saw the wounds. You know some people are like that. The pain you’ve been through may never make much sense to you until you see Jesus and He shows you the grand design of which that pain is a part. But until then, offer that pain to Him as credentials to make a difference for Him to other wounded people. To actually, maybe, even help them change their eternity by finding your Jesus. His wounded rescuer – that’s you! Thomas needed to put his hands in His side, and there are some people out there that need to put their hand in yours! They need to know your pain, they need to know you understand and can relate. They need to know you’re real. They need to know that as bad as it is right now, you are their living proof that it doesn’t get perfect, but it does get better.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (MSG); The Amplified Bible says it like this, “For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]!” (AMP).

They need to know it won’t be like this always. They need to know this trouble will pass; they need to know it’s just a momentary, light distress; they need to know that this is really just small potatoes! And you my friend, are the one to tell them that! Let them know, that you personally know, God can do some awesome things in the midst of pain!

Psalm 30:5, 11, “…The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter…You did it: You changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about You. God, my God, I can’t thank You enough.” (MSG)

You are the one to inform them that they will not cry always, and that their mourning clothes are not permanent. God has a time limit on all things, and therefore, their pain is not indefinite. They will laugh again, they will dance again, they will sing again. You are their proof. Remember, your wounds are your credentials that qualify you to help others heal.

Allow the proclamation of Isaiah 61:1-5 to be on your lips today, as you minister healing through your wounds to those who are hurting, and need you! You’ll show up like those kids from Michigan with bruises, scars, bandages, crutches, wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and of course pain. But you are also showing up and showing them that none of it stopped you from sharing it with them!

“The Spirit of the Lord God is on me, because the Lord has chosen me to bring good news to poor people. He has sent me to heal those with a sad heart. He has sent me to tell those who are being held and those in prison that they can go free.  He has sent me to tell about the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day our God will bring punishment. He has sent me to comfort all who are filled with sorrow.  To those who have sorrow in Zion I will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I will give them the oil of joy instead of sorrow, and a spirit of praise instead of a spirit of no hope. Then they will be called oaks that are right with God, planted by the Lord, that He may be honored.” (NLV)

Today, Allow Your Hurt to Help Someone Else Heal!

“Your greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt.” (Rick Warren)

“Remember that even in the midst of suffering, God’s Will is being done.” (Paul Chappell)

“God has a purpose for your pain; a reason for your struggle; and a reward for your faithfulness. Trust Him and don’t give up.” (Author Unknown)

“Everything that God allows to come our way is always with a purpose. He uses even the greatest error and deepest pain to mold us into a better person.” (Author Unknown)

“God will give you the power to have peace in the midst of the storm.” (Joyce Meyer)

“What if the thing that produces your pain, is the very thing that God will use to release His power?” (Steven Furtick)

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” (Helen Keller)

“Sometimes God will use our deepest pain to launch our greatest calling.” (Author Unknown)

“Your purpose is greater than your pain.” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“You were afflicted so that you can help deliver other people from what you escaped from.” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“Your brokenness is not useless. God can always use your pain to rebuild a stronger you.” (Trent Shelton)

“Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.” (Rick Warren)

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

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“7 Practical Life-Application Lessons From the Cross”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practical Life Applications:

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How Much Sleep You Need, According to Experts”

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LETS STAY CONNECTED!

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“God is On the Move!”

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Psalm 68:7-10, “God, when you took the lead with your people, when you marched out into the wild, Earth shook, sky broke out in a sweat; God was on the march. Even Sinai trembled at the sight of GOD ON THE MOVE, at the sight of Israel’s God. You pour out rain in buckets, O God; thorn and cactus become an oasis For your people to camp in and enjoy. You set them up in business; they went from rags to riches.” (MSG)

Narnia was a mythical land, created by C. S. Lewis, where the animals talk and where four children experience this series of incredible adventures. The seven-part series, “The Chronicles of Narnia,have long fascinated children and adults alike.

And then came Disney’s movie version of the first Narnia story, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,and it was a blockbuster. In the story, the wardrobe is the closet through which the children discover Narnia. The witch is the evil ruler of the land. She’s creating an endless winter where it is “always winter but never Christmas.” And the lion is Aslan, the great son of the Emperor from across the sea. He is, in C. S. Lewis’ imagery, the Christ-figure of Narnia. As the children begin to experience the icy and dangerous world that Narnia has become under an evil ruler, one of the animals announces that there is hope on the horizon. Hope turns out to be five words: “ASLAN IS ON THE MOVE“. Indeed, he was, and Narnia would soon be set free because of it!

Five words may explain the strange stirring that you’ve been feeling in your spirit lately. Five words may mean hope for you. And what are those five words? “GOD IS ON THE MOVE!

The One of whom the Bible says: “…the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has Overcome and Conquered…” (Revelation 5:5 AMP). And today, I’ve come to encourage you to know, that GOD IS ON THE MOVE in your personal life as well! And His move is about to set you free!

What He’s moving to do, is pictured in Exodus 3:7-10. God is speaking to Moses from an amazing burning bush in the wilderness. And He says, “…I have in fact seen the affliction (suffering, desolation) of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters (oppressors); for I know their pain and suffering.  SO I HAVE COME DOWN TO RESCUE THEM FROM THE HAND (POWER) OF THE EGYPTIANS, and to bring them up from that land to a land [that is] good and spacious, to a land flowing with milk and honey [a land of plenty]—to the place of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.  Now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me; and I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them.” (AMP)

And that’s exactly what God is doing in your life as well! He’s heard your cry, plea, suffering, pain, depression, discouragement, hurt, loneliness, abandonment, abuse, and HE’S ON THE MOVE to Get to You So He Can Rescue You From What’s Holding You in Bondage!

Truth be told, many of us feel this way. Feel as though we’ve been locked up in this prison of pain for so long, and we’ve cried out to God for so long, and nothing has happened for so long, and therefore we tend to be deceived into thinking that God has forgotten to come and see about us. We look around us and it appears as if the Hand of the Lord is moving so graciously and quickly in the lives of others, but when it comes to OUR personal life, it’s like He’s allergic and can’t come near!

However, before you beat up on yourself, I want you to know that your feelings are not crazy, sinful, or outrageous, they are simply real! And if you ever take a moment to quietly sit and read through the Psalms you will be tremendously amazed by the emotions of David. He was indeed a man after God’s own heart, but he certainly didn’t hide his heart or his feelings from God either, and neither should you. It takes nothing away from you as a Child of God, to cry out in desperation for your Father’s help. After all, isn’t that what natural children do…naturally? As soon as a child is in pain, hurting, suffering or scared, be it mom or dad, but one of their parents is guaranteed to hear and heed their holler for help! Therefore, this is your reminder that it’s alright to be real, even if that “real” happens to be “real” hurt, real angry, real miserable, real lost and real confused. No matter how much it hurts, or how bad it hurts, or how long it’s been hurting, God wants your Hurt to Call out to Him for Help! He’s Always Ready, Willing and Able to Rescue His Children!

You see, when God starts moving, He’s actually on a rescue mission every time! In fact, the name Mary and Joseph were to give God’s Son was, “JESUS”, literally meaning “JEHOVAH RESCUES.Matthew 1:21, “She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus [HE SAVES], because he will save his people from their sins.” (GWT). The Living Bible says it like this, “And she will have a Son, and you shall name him Jesus (MEANING ‘SAVIOR’), for he will save his people from their sins.” (TLB) What I love most is the statements: “…BECAUSE HE WILL…”; and “…FOR HE WILL…” Meaning, this is not something you have to worry about because, HE IS ON THE MOVE TO RESCUE AND SAVE YOU! And what I love about one of the definitions of the word “Will” is “expressing facts about ability and capacity” In other words, it’s a FACT that God CAN and WILL SAVE and RESCUE YOU! He has the ABILITY and the CAPACITY to do so! It is without question!  That alone, should encourage you to know that even if it hasn’t happened yet, oh, it WILL happen!

The problem with us though is that we call out the name of our problems, circumstances, situations, troubles and struggles, MORE than we call out the name JESUS! But why in the world should we do that? I mean, knowing that His name means He Saves and Rescues, why are we calling out the name of what we’re drowning in instead of calling on the name of the Lifeguard that Walks on Water to Pull Us Out!

Isaiah 43:1-4, “But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. WHEN YOU’RE IN ROUGH WATERS, YOU WILL NOT GO DOWN. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” (MSG).

I don’t care how much your mama, daddy, spouse or children love you, NO ONE LOVES YOU MORE THAN JESUS! AND NO ONE WILL GO TO THIS EXTREME TO KEEP YOU SAFE BUT HIM! SO WHY CALL ON EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING ELSE, WHEN ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS CALL ON JESUS…THE ONE WHO SAVES AND RESCUES?!

Every time we say “Jesus,” we’re saying why He came – To Rescue!

In Moses’ day, God was coming down to rescue His people from slavery in Egypt. Today, God comes down to rescue people from the bleakness and the bondage’s of a life lived outside of His purposes; the kind of “my way” living that the Bible calls sin. Sin robs this life of its meaning and joy, and it condemns us to the death penalty of an awful eternity. Jesus came like the rescuers went into the fallen towers on that dark September 11. He risked His life to save us from a deadly situation from which we could never save ourselves. And He’s on the move right now, and He’s got rescue on His mind! And He’s heading your way! No matter how rough it’s been, or how “…ROUGH THE WATERS, YOU WILL NOT GO DOWN” Because when they LIFTED HIM UP, HE DREW YOU TO HIMSELF! IN LIFTING HIM UP, YOU WERE LIFTED UP TOO! That’s why you have no need to walk around with your head bowed down, your shoulders slumped, your back bent, or your tears falling, JESUS IS ON THE MOVE, and Heading in Your Direction!

I know many of you are saying, ‘but you don’t know how bad it is, or how long it’s been this bad’; ‘you don’t know how long I’ve waited, cried, bargained, and all I heard from Heaven was Silence’; ‘you don’t know how far behind the mortgage and rent are; how late the car note and insurance is; how much the tuition has increased to.’ ‘You don’t know what the doctor diagnosed; what the lawyer said; or what the job did to my life when they went out of business.’ ‘You don’t know the level of life support my marriage is on; you don’t know how hard I’ve prayed for my children who were raised in church, but now run from God.’; ‘You don’t know how suicidal I feel; how much medicating I do (whether alcohol, pills, food, sex etc…)’ And you are absolutely right, I don’t know. But I do know WHO does, and He’s Not Leaving You Stuck Here! He’s On the Move IN, and Because of it, You’re On the Move OUT! Which is why I love today’s text so much:

Psalm 68:7-10, “God, when you took the lead with your people, when you marched out into the wild, Earth shook, sky broke out in a sweat; God was on the march. Even Sinai trembled at the sight of GOD ON THE MOVE, at the sight of Israel’s God. You pour out rain in buckets, O God; thorn and cactus become an oasis For your people to camp in and enjoy. You set them up in business; they went from rags to riches.” (MSG)

Let’s look at this text in parts:

“God, when you took the lead with your people…”: Isn’t it amazing that even when we don’t go to God, HE COMES TO US? How encouraging to know that no matter what, He refuses to leave us where we are. And while we’re calling on psychics, horoscopes, and our friends (who are sinking in the same boat of debt and discouragement as we are), He’s on the move taking the lead to come and see about His followers. I’m so grateful that God doesn’t wait on me! He initiates and makes the first move and gives the most effort to reach and rescue little ole me. If you didn’t feel special before today, you should certainly feel special now!

“…when you marched out into the wild…”: I love that God loves me so much that He’ll risk anything to rescue me! He’ll march out into the wild, just to win me! That word “wild” is defined as “of animals or plants living or growing in the natural environment (not domesticated or cultivated)” Well, that definition I knew, but looking further at more definitions, I found “wild” to also mean “desolate-looking; uncontrolled; unrestrained; and dangerous” And yet, God doesn’t care! I’m important, I’m worth it, I’m loved enough for Him to risk any danger just to rescue me! I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling more and more special as the verses go on!

“…Earth shook, sky broke out in a sweat…”: Listen, when God enters your life, everything and everyone in your life better beware! Can you imagine that all because “God Was on the MOVE” The Earth shook and the sky began to sweat! Well, the devil and his imps and any enemies you may have picked up along life’s journey better know that God is On the Move in Your Life, and if they do not mean you well, they might want to leave you alone right about now! This is not a game to God by any means. He loves us enough to come and get us, and anyone around us causing harm is about to shake and sweat!

“…God was on the march…”: I love the word “march” (and not just because I’m a March baby) but more so because of its definition: It means, “to walk in a military manner; to proceed quickly and with determination; to take part in an organized procession to make a protest.” I reiterate, God is Playing No Games! He’s coming in military style to go to war…OVER YOU! And He’s not dragging His feet either, He’s moving quickly and with determination to get you out of whatever you’re in! He’s protesting your imprisonment of pain. You can’t stay there! He’s dressed, armed and ready to do battle, and win! So even when you experience those moments when you think no one loves you enough to fight for you, know that God is not included in that number! He Will March In and Fight For You Because the Battles Not Yours Anyway…It’s the Lord’s!

“…Even Sinai trembled at the sight of GOD ON THE MOVE, at the sight of Israel’s God…”: Can you imagine a MOUNTAIN trembling because of the SIGHT of God On the Move?! “Trembling” is defined as “to shake involuntarily with quick, short movements, as from fear; weakness; to quake or quiver;” Something as Big as a Mountain even Trembles at the Sight of God On the Move! Once again, everything and everyone in your life, will tremble with excitement or fear, at the Sight of God On the Move in Your Life! How Powerful For Everything to Be Affected When God Moves! And so will your emotions, finances, marriage, children, job, dreams, etc…they will all be Moved by the Move of God in Your Life!

“…at the sight of Israel’s God…”: What excites me about this part is how repetitively Israel messed up with God, and still He came to their rescue over and over again! Which is of great encouragement to you and I, as we’ve messed up with God multiple times as well. And yet, as many times as we’ve gotten it wrong, He still exercises His right to rescue us! We’ve had to go in a 40-year circle due to our disobedience, bad choices, and the like, and still God Has Not Forgotten About Us! He’s still Israel’s God, and He’s still ours!

“…You pour out rain in buckets, O God; thorn and cactus become an oasis For your people to camp in and enjoy. You set them up in business; they went from rags to riches”: As empty and depleted as we’ve felt, God is about to March and Move On Our Behalf to Pour Out Buckets of Blessings! Even though we’ve been suffering in the Desert of Despair, Depression and Discouragement, yet God is about to Bathe Us in Living Waters! We’re about to be immersed in an Oasis of Healing Waters. And we won’t be there for 2 minutes either. We’re going to “…CAMP IN AND ENJOY…” And He doesn’t stop there!  But as broke, bankrupt and in debt as we’ve been, He’s about to “…SET US UP IN BUSINESS; WE’RE GOING FROM RAGS TO RICHES”

Listen, I get it, I know it’s been a rough time, a hard time, a time of hardship, trial and struggle. But be encouraged, GOD IS ON THE MOVE, AND HEADING IN YOUR DIRECTION! IT WON’T STAY LIKE THIS AND NEITHER WILL YOU! YOU WILL MOVE FROM HERE AS SOON AS GOD MOVES! You’ve cried, prayed, fasted, read the bible, pleaded with heaven, summoned all the angels, and still nothing has happened…UNTIL NOW! But Now Is Your Time of Transition!

The word “transition” is another one of my favorite words. By definition it means, “the process of changing from one state or condition to another.” And that perfectly defines you today my friend, you are transitioning! God is on the move, heading in your direction to make a change in your life for the better! You’ve settled and suffered here for far too long, and now it’s time to change and transition out of this mess into your miracle!

Remember, Every Time You Call On the Name Jesus, You Call On the Savior’s Help and Rescue! So don’t throw in the towel and give up! NO! Remember, We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight. So no matter what you see, remember what His Word has said: Psalm 68:7-10, “God, when you took the lead with your people, when you marched out into the wild, Earth shook, sky broke out in a sweat; God was on the march. Even Sinai trembled at the sight of GOD ON THE MOVE, at the sight of Israel’s God. You pour out rain in buckets, O God; thorn and cactus become an oasis For your people to camp in and enjoy. You set them up in business; they went from rags to riches.” (MSG)

Let Nothing and No One Move You Anymore From This Day Forward! The only important move for you to keep in my mind is the Movement of God…because It’s Coming…And So Is He! Right to Your Rescue!

Be Encouraged, GOD IS ON THE MOVE…AND HEADING IN YOUR DIRECTION!

“God is constantly on the move. I cannot stay where I am and follow God at the same time; responding requires movement.” (Margaret Feinberg)

“Do not ask God to guide your footsteps if you’re not willing to move your feet.” (Pinterest)

“Sometimes God closes doors because it’s time to move forward. He knows you won’t move unless your circumstances force you. Trust the transition. God’s got you!” (Pinterest)

“God is on the move to rescue people from misery to everlasting happiness, which can only be found in Him.” (John Piper)

“God doesn’t move in your life when you struggle. He moves when you pray.” (Pinterest)

“God has great things in store for us, but we have to keep moving forward to get where He wants us to be.” (Pinterest)

“Today is a new day, so rise up and move forward into the victory God has prepared for you.” (Joel Osteen)

“God was on the move; God is on the move; and God will always be on the move. Those who walk with God and listen to God are also on the move. Reading the Bible so we can live it out today means being on the move always. Anyone who stops and wants to turn a particular moment into a monument, as the disciples did when Jesus was transfigured before them, will soon be wondering where God has gone.” (Scot McKnight)

“Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience.” (Steven Furtick)

“You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.” (Pinterest)

“Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed, and rearranged to relocate us to the place we are meant to be.” (Pinterest)

“Perfect faith is not faith that moves God. Perfect faith is faith that moves us to trust God when He doesn’t seem to be moving.” (Andy Stanley)

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

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“The Devil Thought He Had Me, But I Got Away!”

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2 Timothy 4:17-18, “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened and empowered me, so that through me the [gospel] message might be fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear it; AND I WAS RESCUED FROM THE MOUTH OF THE LION. THE LORD WILL RESCUE ME FROM EVERY EVIL ASSAULT, AND HE WILL BRING ME SAFELY INTO HIS HEAVENLY KINGDOM; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (AMP)

I’ve often shared that I’ve made friends from all over the world. Every ethnicity, culture, gender, social, economical, marital status/class, I’ve befriended and built lasting relationships with them all. However, in this friendship tree of mine, I must admit, there are quite a few nuts! And my friend Arlene and her husband Dave are indeed at the top of the nut tree! You see, Arlene was raised in the country, deep country, all woods and maybe 2 houses per town country! Since you get the idea now, listen to this. Arlene decided to visit her father, along with her daughter and son-in-law. She then convinced her Dad to hike with them back into the woods to see the spring where they used to go to get water when she was a little girl. Eventually, they came upon a scene that was imprinted on her memory like a photograph – that spring gushing from the rocks, just beneath a cave above it.

They spent a few minutes exploring and then they headed back. That night her son-in-law pulled out the video that he’d shot of their little expedition. As the picture panned past that darkened cave, he stopped the video and rewound it to get a closer look. And there, gleaming in the darkness, were the two eyes of a big cat – a dangerous wildcat! They hadn’t seen the cat – but the cat clearly saw them! They had been exploring right beneath a wildcat – and they never knew the danger they were in!

Which made me think of 1 Peter 5:8, “Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack.” (CEV). The Living Bible says it like this, “Be careful – watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart.” (TLB)

I wonder how many of those, Unseen Dangers, you and I have had in our lives; the things that could have hurt us or destroyed us that we never knew about – in essence, the wildcats that never pounced. In an increasingly dangerous world, isn’t it great to know that you are under that kind of protection?

When I heard Arlene’s story and saw the video, I immediately began to look back over my life. You may not believe it, but I wasn’t born saved, and wasn’t raised in church (I know…who knew…LOL!) So, in replaying the video of my past in my own mind, I was both terrified and grateful, and here’s why. I wasn’t always where I should be; I wasn’t always doing what I should have been doing; I wasn’t always with the person/persons I should have been with, and yet God still spared my life in the midst of all of my unknown, accidental and even willful sins. It made me ask myself, “ never-mind Satan, but why didn’t God just kill me where He caught me?” Whether it was in the club, drinking, smoking, cursing, half-dressed, committing fornication. Why did He let me live? Why didn’t He allow those things to take me out? When I stole, why wasn’t I arrested? When I drove drunk, why wasn’t I locked up? When I was involved in gang activity, why didn’t I ever get shot or stabbed, or caught with the drugs in my possession? I told you, I wasn’t born saved! When I was in a domestically violent relationship for years, and beat up while pregnant, why did me and my baby survive? When I was homeless with my 2 toddlers, why didn’t social services take my children away when I couldn’t provide for them? When I was in the homeless shelter, why did no one hurt me or my children? When I was without a job, why did my children still have something to eat, while other children starved? When my heart valve began to have issues opening and closing properly, why didn’t I go into cardiac arrest? When I had a tubal pregnancy that ruptured on the table, why didn’t I die in surgery? When they continually found cysts and every 6 months for years I had to keep going back and forth to have mammograms and ultrasounds, why did God allow every single time to have them come up benign? When leaving the club at 3am and walking through a dark alley, why wasn’t I attacked, while another woman was, at 12noon during a sunny day? With all the hurt I’ve caused others over the last 4 plus decades of life, why did He spare me to still be found amongst the living?

And if you think that’s bad, I even took it a step further, because truth be told, as believers, we know how to justify behavior and simply say, “yeah, but all that was BEFORE you got saved.” True, but then I would have to address all the sins I committed AFTER salvation! I wasn’t born saved, but I didn’t always lived Saved after salvation either! My super-saints won’t be able to handle this, but for the deliverance of others, here goes: I sinned holding my bible, sinned wearing my collar, sinned in the pulpit and the pew, sinned before Sunday School and after Bible Study, sinned serving Communion and being served Communion, sinned in my robe and my civics! I know that may not be your confession and testimony, but it is mine! I own it and I’m glad God delivered me from it, but didn’t remove the memory so I could help somebody else move from where I USED to be stuck at! I took a brutally honest look back over my life, and it made me think to myself, “Lord, of all the people you could call your own, why in the world did you call me?” Some of my biggest screw ups in fact happened, AFTER salvation! And still His grace, mercy and favor have kept me. Inspite of it all, still His protective hedge has not been removed from my life! When my sins had my entire life right beneath the lions cave, God changed the lion’s appetite so he didn’t pounce and deservingly devour me! That’s why I’m so grateful because even when the devil thought he had me, God still made it so that I got away!

Paul wrote about that level of security in our text of 2 Timothy 4:17-18. He said, “But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.” (NLT) Now there is a pretty powerful antidote to fear! The Lord WILL rescue me and deliver me from every evil attack! In fact, not even death can come for me before His timing for it, not even ‘Certain Death’! And even in the face of timely death, I still have further security that “…the Lord will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom…” Death can only come for me when God says it’s invited. And even when it’s invited, it will only bring me to my Father’s House in Heaven! That’s why you should look fear, and even fear of death, right in the face and laugh. You are Always Protected By Your God!

Now, for the super-religious, let me add for you, that doesn’t mean we don’t take precautions! Even being protected by God, He has granted His children a good amount of solid common sense! Paul often continued to preach boldly, even when he knew there were forces who wanted to kill him in the city. But other times he left town quickly or sneaked out of the city in a basket.

When Nehemiah and his workers were threatened, he said, “We prayed to our God AND WE POSTED A GUARD DAY AND NIGHT” (Nehemiah 4:9). Now, look, our faith is not in that guard but in our God. But sometimes God chooses to protect us through practical steps that He asks us to take. Therefore, yes you are safe and protected by God, and indeed He will rescue and deliver us. However, we were created with brains for a reason! Always walk by faith, but never walk foolishly, and utilizing God’s wisdom is the best way to accomplish both successfully!

Ultimately we’re safe because our Almighty God is watching over us. In just six verses in Psalm 121, it says “The Lord watches over you” five times! It concludes by saying, “The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Listen to it in its entirety:

Psalm 121, “I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep. God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you – Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moonstroke. God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.” (MSG)

My absolute favorite part is, “…HE GUARDS YOU NOW, HE GUARDS YOU ALWAYS.” Meaning I am never without God’s protection. My present is secure, my future is secure, and so are yours!

So, when is the last time you praised the Lord for all those wildcats that never pounced from the cave due to God’s protection? For all those times you’ve been delivered from danger and never even knew it! Makes you wonder why the stray bullet didn’t hit you? Why did the drunken driver missed you? Why did the slashers never cut you? Why did the rapist go down the opposite block from the one you were walking on? Why wasn’t your suicide attempt successful? Why didn’t depression have you in a padded room, rocking and trying to remember your name? Why did the gang and terrorist activity miss your dwelling place? Why didn’t the accident take your life? Why didn’t the loss of employment cause the loss of your home? After such a painful broken trust, why were you allowed to love again? Why did you get to carry a baby to full term after multiple miscarriages? Why did you survive?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait ’till we watch the video in heaven! I think we’re going to be absolutely amazed at what could have happened that didn’t!

I often watch the news and I’m blown away at times by the things that happened, that just missed me by a moment! Such as, there was a 5 car pile-up (at an exit I would have normally gotten off on, but we missed it); a train derailed (the same one I was mad at that I missed); a bus broke down (the early one that I usually catch, but missed, and caught the later one, while passing the one I wanted thinking, thank you Jesus); a water-main busted (right by my job, but I had the day off); I was supposed to attend a Federal Campaign Event at the Windows on the World restaurant with my then boss Gary Battle at Aetna (the same week of 9/11, but it was cancelled last minute for not enough participation). 

All I can say is, “The Devil Thought He Had Me, But I Got Away!” I believe it’s safe to say that we ALL owe God continuous praise, worship, gratitude and thanksgiving for the many ‘wildcats’ that He didn’t allow to pounce and devour us whole! Just imagine, that kidnapping could’ve been you; that school shooting could’ve taken your child’s life; that plane you were on could’ve dropped out of the sky; that train you made could’ve derailed; that house fire could’ve been your house! Your drink could’ve been tampered with; popping that one extra pill could’ve been your overdose! You see, I think we’ve dressed up Satan over the years in such a comical manner (red suit with horns and a pitchfork, looking to poke us and hurt us). But that’s not how the Bible describes him. John 10:10 says, “THE THIEF’S PURPOSE IS TO STEAL, KILL AND DESTROY...” (TLB) You see, the devil has a clear PURPOSE, and it’s not to hurt you, it’s to STEAL, KILL AND DESTROY YOU! In other words, the devil is playing for keeps, which means we need to stop playing games! Until Jesus raptures His church, Satan is working overtime to steal, kill and destroy us, and everyone and everything attached to us. So when he makes his temptation offers, that could very will take our lives, and yet God provides a way of escape, we need to be the loudest people with the loudest praise of thanksgiving, because the devil thought he had us, but thank God, we got away!

And if we dare tell the whole truth, many of us got away but the “skin of our teeth”! And the term “skin of your teeth” has some history behind it. Listen: After Shakespeare, a prolific coiner of new words, the King James translation of the Bible has been the biggest source of phrases in English. “By the skin of one’s teeth” is one of them. Meaning ‘narrowly’ or ‘barely’, and referring usually to a narrow escape from disaster. The phrase comes from the Book of Job, in which Job is subjected to horrible trials by Satan, to be relieved finally by God. The precise phrase Job uses is slightly different: ‘My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth’ (19:20). The Amplified Bible says it like this: ““My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh, And I have escaped [death] by the skin of my teeth.” (AMP) Exactly what ‘the skin of one’s teeth’ might be is not entirely clear, and there have been many theories put forward. However, the most plausible explanation is that it refers to the thin porcelain exterior of the tooth (rather than the gums). In other words, Job escaped with his teeth, but just barely. Job is comparing the narrow margin of his escape with the shallow ‘skin’ or porcelain of a tooth: the equivalent, in fact, of a ‘hair’s breadth’. And truthfully that’s how MANY of us made it out, by a hair’s breadth!

We seem to forget that we are Satan’s target, every moment of every day and every night. Better yet, this is how the Bible describes it: “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up…” (1 Peter 5:8-11 MSG) That word “pounce” is defined as “to spring or swoop suddenly so as to seize or attack; to take swift advantage of a mistake or sign of weakness.” And that’s what we’ve been spared of, by the skin of our teeth, a pounce from Satan that could’ve suddenly seized and attacked us and our every mistake or sign of weakness! But thank God, His Strength protected us against our weaknesses that the devil could’ve taken advantage of and used to annihilate us with! 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (MSG) Aren’t you grateful that God always steps in the midst of Satan’s plots, with His Own Plan!? Our weaknesses will never go away, which means Satan’s attacks on our weaknesses will never go away…however, neither will God’s Strength!

We’ve made it out of the enemies grasp, by the skin of our teeth, but yet, we still made it out! And therefore, we owe God our best praise! Because when the lion was poised to pounce, God protected us and kept us alive! Every time Satan tried to trap us with temptation, God provided a way of escape! 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation HE [HAS IN THE PAST AND IS NOW AND] WILL [ALWAYS] PROVIDE THE WAY OUT AS WELL, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” (MSG)

Be Encouraged, because no matter what the enemy brings our way, God will now and always provide us the way out! THE DEVIL THOUGHT HE HAD US, BUT WE GOT AWAY!

In closing, Psalm 107, is one of my absolute favorite Scriptures. And I love it most in the Message Bible translation, because it reminds me that many of the dangers I faced, God Got Me Out, Just In the Nick of Time!

“Oh, thank God—He’s so good! His love never runs out. All of you set free by God, tell the world! Tell how He freed you from oppression, Then rounded you up from all over the place, from the four winds, from the seven seas. Some of you wandered for years in the desert, looking but not finding a good place to live, Half-starved and parched with thirst, staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion. Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God. HE GOT YOU OUT IN THE NICK OF TIME; He put your feet on a wonderful road that took you straight to a good place to live. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves. He poured great draughts of water down parched throats; the starved and hungry got plenty to eat. Some of you were locked in a dark cell, cruelly confined behind bars, Punished for defying God’s Word, for turning your back on the High God’s counsel—A hard sentence, and your hearts so heavy, and not a soul in sight to help. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; HE GOT YOU OUT IN THE NICK OF TIME. He led you out of your dark, dark cell, broke open the jail and led you out. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves; He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors, He snapped the prison bars like matchsticks! Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin; You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; HE GOT YOU OUT IN THE NICK OF TIME. He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves; Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what He’s done—sing it out! Some of you set sail in big ships; you put to sea to do business in faraway ports. Out at sea you saw God in action, saw His breathtaking ways with the ocean: With a word He called up the wind—an ocean storm, towering waves! You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out; your hearts were stuck in your throats. You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk, you didn’t know which end was up. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; HE GOT YOU OUT IN THE NICK OF TIME. He quieted the wind down to a whisper, put a muzzle on all the big waves. And you were so glad when the storm died down, and He led you safely back to harbor. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves. Lift high your praises when the people assemble, shout Hallelujah when the elders meet! God turned rivers into wasteland, springs of water into sunbaked mud; Luscious orchards became alkali flats because of the evil of the people who lived there. Then He changed wasteland into fresh pools of water, arid earth into springs of water, Brought in the hungry and settled them there; they moved in—what a great place to live! They sowed the fields, they planted vineyards, they reaped a bountiful harvest. He blessed them and they prospered greatly; their herds of cattle never decreased. But abuse and evil and trouble declined as He heaped scorn on princes and sent them away. He gave the poor a safe place to live, treated their clans like well-cared-for sheep. Good people see this and are glad; bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks. If you are really wise, you’ll think this over—it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.” (MSG)

Now if that doesn’t encourage you, nothing else will! Right when the roaring lion was poised to pounce and steal, kill and destroy us, God stepped in right in the nick of time and delivered us! Today, let’s obey the Scripture: “…IF YOU ARE REALLY WISE, YOU’LL THINK THIS OVER – IT’S TIME YOU APPRECIATED GOD’S DEEP LOVE.” I agree, it’s time we appreciate God’s deep love for us by thanking Him because…HE DELIVERED US WHEN THE DEVIL THOUGHT HE HAD US…BUT WE GOT AWAY!

So, what will be your response today for God’s multiple rescues of your life? I know what mine will be: Ephesians 3:14-19, “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” (MSG)

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

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“Hurt…Honest…Healed!”

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Psalm 69:29, “I’m hurt and in pain; Give me space for healing…” (MSG)

They often give you one of these when you check into some sprawling hotel, huge mall, a big theme park, or even a large convention facility center. It’s a map of the place. And for the directionally challenged, like myself, there’s one important and specific thing I look for first on that map. It’s that big red “X” and those three very helpful words, “YOU ARE HERE!” 

It doesn’t help me very much by just giving me a drawing of where EVERYTHING is! In order for me to use that to get to where I need to go, I NEED THAT ONE FUNDAMENTAL PIECE OF INFORMATION – AND THAT’S LOCATING EXACTLY WHERE I AM RIGHT NOW! IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO GET TO A SPECIFIC DESTINATION, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO GET TO GOD! In fact, the failure to talk to God about where you REALLY ARE may explain why He seems a little farther away than He once did – and a little less real than He once appeared!   

Fanny Brice put it like this: “Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?And isn’t that like many of us today? Regardless to how we feel, or where we really are in life financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally and the like, we learn how to master the art of façade! You see the word ‘façade’ is defined as ‘a deceptive outward appearance.’ Its French Origin, ‘face’, literally means just that, ‘face’. It’s to put a mask or disguise over your face to hide what reality is and how it’s truthfully affecting you. And many of us do that daily. We go to church smiling on the outside, and crying on the inside; we go to work trying to be happy little team players, but we’re stressed trying to get our own home team of spouse and kids to work from the same play book; we go to school with the intent of making an A, but our brain is so fried from all the closet demons we silently battle with that no one knows about, that we can barely string two sentences together that make sense; we go to family functions and we’re on auto-pilot, because we can’t let on to anyone that the dream couple they see, has actually become one another’s worst nightmare! We’ve learned to master the art of façade! Sadly, we do this with our precious and real lives, and yet even actors know when the scene has ended, to drop the role, the character, and the script and pick up their normal, every day, imperfectly real, lives. Saints, living behind a deceptive appearance is dangerous to your overall health and well-being. At some point if you are to be completely healthy, healed and whole, you’ll have to first begin by being honest!

Hebrews 4:16 is God’s powerful invitation to come boldly to His “…throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 

However, the verses that precede this promise of God’s total availability, HAVE TO DO WITH OUR TOTAL HONESTY!   

Hebrews 4 beginning at verse 12, states that God’s Word “…is sharper than any double-edged sword…In other words it opens up our soul surgically and it exposes WHAT’S REALLY INSIDE! That brings to mind when the doctor has come up with your diagnosis, and lets you know where we’re going from here to get you back to optimal health. And for some, that requires surgery, whether you like it or not. Yet, the surgeon even with all of his/her skill, talent and knowledge, will most often still tell you a truth you may not want to hear. That truth is, I can tell you what I see from the blood work, from the x-rays, from the MRI and the like, and I have a plan for surgery and I’m prepped, capable and confident, and yet I still have to inform you that anything can happen once I go in! Why? Because there are some things that aren’t clearly visible until the surgeon begins cutting and removing layers, before he/she sees what’s hiding behind it all. And sometimes they’ll go in for one thing, and end up having to do 3-5 things, depending on what they discover! Likewise, God does the same with us when we go to Him in honesty. He goes in surgically and removes all the layers and then He sees what’s truly the problem and resolves it. But that first requires us going to Him openly and honestly and trusting Him with the scalpel, the layers and the discoveries! 

Verse 13 goes on to say, “NOTHING in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. EVERYTHING is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.Therefore saints, you might as well come to God TOTALLY UNMASKED, BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING HE DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT YOU ALREADY! Like Adam and Eve hiding behind their fig leaves, and God calls out to Adam, ‘where are you?’ It’s not like God had amnesia, he wants His children to be honest with Him, as our earthly parents want honestly from their children. God is looking for us to tell Him the truth, after all, He is truth! Therefore, since everything is uncovered, nothing being hidden (no matter how masterful we become with the art of façade) all is laid bare before His eyes and we must be honest with Him because we owe him an account!

If you talk to Him about how you’re honestly feeling, He’s not going to say, “Oh, you’re kidding Me! Wow! I’m surprised! That caught Me completely off guard! I didn’t see that one coming! What in the world will be the back-up plan I have to come up with to solve that? 

Now it’s understandable why you may not tell other folks about how you’re REALLY feeling; since most of the time it positions them to think less of you. BUT GOD ALREADY KNOWS, AND THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO MAKE HIM LOVE YOU MORE OR LOVE YOU LESS! In fact, these words go on to remind us that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence.” Why? BECAUSE GOD ALREADY KNOWS ALL ABOUT US, AND BECAUSE WE ARE COMING TO THE FATHER THROUGH A SAVIOR, HIS SON, WHO HAS FELT ALL THE FEELINGS OF BEING HUMAN! This my friends gives us license and right to come to God, as is!

Think about it: What better counselor is there, than The Wonderful Counselor Himself? (Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace” AMP). Listen, you can stretch out on the sofa’s of earthly counselors all you want; you can see the therapist, the psychiatrist, the psychologist, the social worker, none of them can do for you what your Wonderful Counselor can! Is that to say they are of no use and not helpful? Absolutely not, but we have to stop running to man every time something goes wrong in our lives thinking they alone can make it all right! God alone is the one who sees all, hears all, knows all and can save, heal and deliver all! You need to make Him your first choice not your last resort!

So, the next time you decide to give God a watered down version OF WHERE YOU ACTUALLY ARE, recall the following Scriptures:

  1. The eyes of the Lord are IN EVERY PLACE, keeping watch upon the evil AND the good.” (Proverbs 15:3 AMP).
  1. The LORD is CONSTANTLY WATCHING EVERYONE…” (2 Chronicles 16:9 CEV).
  1. And he keeps a CLOSE WATCH ON EVERYTHING I DO.” “God WATCHES EVERYTHING WE DO.” (Job 31:4 & 34:21 CEV).
  1. …He WATCHES EVERYONE CLOSELY, EXAMINING EVERY PERSON ON EARTH.” (Psalm 11:4 NLT).
  1. For MY EYES ARE ON ALL THEIR WAY; THEY ARE NOT HIDDEN FROM MY FACE, NEITHER IS THEIR INIQUITY CONCEALED FROM MY EYES.” (Jeremiah 16:17 AMP).
  1. CAN ANYONE HIDE HIMSELF IN SECRET PLACES SO THAT I CANNOT SEE HIM? Says the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:24 AMP).
  1. …YOU SEE EVERYTHING THAT MEN AND WOMEN DO AND RESPOND APPROPRIATELY TO THE WAY THEY LIVE, TO THE THINGS THEY DO.” (Jeremiah 32:19 MSG).
  1. …people don’t realize that I AM WATCHING THEM. Their sinful deeds are all around them, and I SEE THEM ALL.” (Hosea 7:2 NLT).
  1. GOD said, “I’ve taken a GOOD, LONG LOOK at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come down to help them…” (Exodus 3:7-8 MSG).
  1. So she called the name of the Lord Who spoke to her, YOU ARE A GOD OF SEEING, for she said, Have I [not] even here [in the wilderness] looked upon Him WHO SEES ME [and lived]? Or have I here also seen [the future purposes or designs of] Him WHO SEES ME? Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi [A well to the LIVING ONE WHO SEES ME]…” (Genesis 16:13-14 AMP).

Never forget: El-Roi SEES EVERYTHING! Yes, he saw the cigarettes, the alcohol, the drugs, the hotel/motel stay, the divorce papers, the disconnect notice, the foreclosure sign, the pink slip, the diagnosis, the cut paycheck, the denied mortgage loan, the defaulted tuition payments, the car dealership refusal, the scholarship that fell through, the business plans that never left the blueprint stage, the demotion, the miscarriage, the betrayal, the tears, the hurt, the pain, the struggle! Yes, God SEES it all! He SEES everything so today is a good day to stop faking with the façade! Today is a good day to be real with God about where you really are!

Yet, there are some of you who may still say, “Well, if God already sees, if God already knows, why do I need to tell Him?IT’S SO YOU CAN OPEN UP THAT PART OF YOUR HEART AND YOUR LIFE, WILLINGLY, TO HIS CLEANSING, HIS RESTORING, HIS HEALING AND HIS WHOLENESS! ALWAYS REMEMBER: GOD IS A GENTLEMAN, AND ONLY GOES WHERE HE’S INVITED!

Maybe you’ve been saying, “God doesn’t seem all that real to me right now.But look at it from His perspective, He just may be saying the very same thing about you! You’re coming to Him super religious, all together, dressed up, and eloquently quoting scriptures. So, if God doesn’t seem real to you, maybe it’s because you aren’t being real with Him! Simply put, you aren’t stating where you really are! You’re making the same, common mistakes most church folks make, and that’s coming to God not as you really are, but as you think you’re supposed to be! Keep in mind though, when you come in this manner, you never receive from God all that He has to give you! God isn’t trying to help the future you, or the fake you, He’s trying to help the hurting you, that you are right now, at this very moment! He’s trying to meet you where you really are! Stop lying, and stop hiding, if you want Him to help you! Because He can’t heal who you pretend to be!

Listen: I shared this analogy with a Ministers-in-training class, and hopefully it will help you just the same: Sister Taylor needs $100, and I have the $100 to give her. I ask Sister Taylor to tell me where she’s at so I can bring her what she so desperately needs. Now, if Sister Taylor says she’s in New York, that may well be true. But if she tells me she’s in Roosevelt, New York when in actuality she’s in Freeport, New York, although the state is true, she wasn’t honest about the town she’s actually located in! So because she didn’t tell me ‘EXACTLY’ where she really was, what she needs, I have, but she’ll never receive it until she can honestly say “I’M RIGHT HERE.

Far too many of us do not go to God honestly about where we really are! Yes, He already knows. But that’s not the point. The point is when you really have a relationship with God, and you trust Him you’ll take all the stuff you can’t trust people with, to Him! You’ll comfortably and confidently go to your Holy God and expose all of your Unholy Self, knowing that when the encounter with the honest to God truth is over, He loves you no less!  

Another Example: My husband knows I’m at work from 9-5. But just because he knows WHERE I am, he doesn’t know HOW I am unless he calls me or I call him to share that. God likewise, knows where you are, but He wants you to share with Him HOW you’re really doing where you really are! He knows about the troubled marriage, the wayward children, the depleting bank account, the strife amongst siblings, the plotting coworkers, the stress of the ministry. He knows about your depression, your loneliness, your despair, your confusion, your tears, your heartache, your frustrations. And He’s still sitting by waiting for you not to just tell Him where you are, but how you’re really doing where you are. Remember you’re in a Relationship with Him, you’re not a part of a Religion with Him. For Him, this is not about a list of principles, it’s about a personal relationship. He wants to hear your voice, he wants you to share your emotions, pour all that’s in you out to Him, before you take it to others as usual who can do you no good.  It’s about your Relationship not Rules, Regulations and Religion.

And a real relationship with God is honestly telling Him when you’re hurting, when you’re afraid, when you feel like giving up, when you’re angry, when you’re tired, when you’re frustrated, when you’re lonely, when you’re suicidal, when you’re confused, when you can’t forgive, when your jealous, when your envious, when your discontent, when you can’t fight anymore, when you don’t understand, when you’re desperate for love, when you’re spiritually deflated, and the list could simply go on forever! Because you’ll never reach a point in a real relationship with God where you run out of things to share with Him, good, bad, ugly and beautiful alike!  

Can you imagine how many marriages could’ve been saved had the couples went to God to tell Him exactly where they were? How many children would not have run away from home, joined gangs, or lost their virginity, had they known to go to God with all they’re feeling and talk to Him? How many lives could’ve been saved had they went to God with their deepest hurts, disappointments, anger, and feelings of despair and loss instead of to drugs, sex and alcohol? How many businesses that would not have went bankrupt if the owners went to God before they went to the attorneys? How many church splits that didn’t need to occur had the pastor and church went to the God they say, sing, and preach is the Head of the church?

People of God, if you only knew how badly your God desires for you to let it all out so He can finally let in His mercy (that is new every morning); His grace (that is sufficient for whatever you’re going through); His lovingkindness (that will always be better than life); and His unconditional love (that will always cover the multitude of your every sin)! All He’s waiting for is a meeting with the Real You, at the place You’re Really At! Just tell Him! Don’t walk out on the marriage, don’t give up on the kids, don’t quit the job, don’t leave the church, don’t drop out of school, don’t end the friendship/relationship, don’t take your own life, don’t throw in the towel, just Talk to God, He’s waiting to hear from you! “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (Jeremiah 33:3 MSG); “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking to me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” (Isaiah 65:24 TLB) God is waiting to hear from you, why are you still so silent?

Your spiritual drifting, your distance from God, or your unnecessary pain may be because you’ve been coming to God without the real you! But He said: “I know the plans I have for YOU…” (Jeremiah 29:11). Not the plans for the person you’re attempting to be, not the figment of your imagination, not the covered up Cover Girl, not the masked man! But plans for the real you! Flawed you, rejected you, abandoned you, failed you, imperfect you, addicted you, diseased you, God is waiting to hear from YOU, the real YOU, because He has Plans for YOU that neither pain nor problems can stop!  

Today, I challenge you to get your life map out and mark the “X” of where you Really are right now. Why? Because, it’s then, and only then, that God will take you from there to where He’s destined you to be! Which is why you should be encouraged to tell God where the real you is today, right now, in this moment. Because where you are doesn’t distract God from where He’s taking you. Your current location does not in any way intimate God, no matter how bad it is! God specializes in using shattered people in broken places! Noah was a drunk; Abraham was old; Jacob was a liar; Leah wasn’t the most attractive; Joseph was abused; Moses stuttered; Gideon was afraid; Sampson was a womanizer; Rahab was a prostitute; Jeremiah was young; David had an affair and was a murderer; Elijah was suicidal; Isaiah preached naked; Jonah ran from God and his assignment; Naomi loss her husband and both her sons; Job loss his family, went bankrupt, and had a wife who wanted him to curse God; John the Baptist dressed a little funny and ate bugs; Peter had a temper and denied Jesus Christ by saying he never even knew Him; The Disciples fell asleep while praying; Thomas had doubts; Miriam talked about her own brother; Aaron helped the people make up their own god out of a golden calf; Sarai was impatient; Hagar was a single mother wandering around the desert waiting for her and her son to die; Martha worried about everything; the Samaritan Woman had a few too many men (none of which were actually her own); Saul was tall; Abigail was married to a fool; Zaccheus was short; Paul was beaten and shipwrecked; Timothy had ulcers; and Lazarus was dead! So do you really think that God is intimated by you and where you really are in life?!  I promise you, God can still use, Even YOU!

Hear Jesus’ heartfelt plea to us, “Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together.” (Revelation 3:20 CEV).  Today, He wants to come in and share with you substance “…we will eat together“. He wants to share with you something that will feed you, nourish you, and strengthen you! And He wants to do it With You!  

Saints, He’s at your door knocking, will you open the door of your heart to Him and finally say “Lord, I’m Right Here”? “Lord, I’m Hurting, But Here is the Real Me!” Because once you do, you and your life will never be the same again!

Psalm 69:29 says, “I’m hurt and in pain; Give me space for healing…” (MSG) Brothers and Sisters, our Father already knows your hurting and in pain, and He so desperately wants to heal you. In fact, He already has that “space for your healing” set aside just for you, He’s just waiting for you to show up! That space is found in Psalm 91, “You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in You and I’m safe!” That’s right—He rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; His arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered His angels  to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path. “If you’ll hold on to Me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust Me. Call Me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” (MSG)

Saints, here’s God’s “space for your healing” (Psalm 91), so are you going to make the wise decision today to bring the real you there so you can finally be healed, or are you going to make the foolish decision to remain hiding in pain behind your diseased facade?

 

It is My Sincere Prayer That Today You’ll Take Your Hurt to God, Be Honest With God, and Be Healed By God!

“Be honest with God and ask Him to give you a willingness to do the work of prayer.” (David Jeremiah)

“I’m honest in my conversations with Him because I know He can handle it.” (Lysa TerKeurst)

“God blesses people who are real. When you’re honest, you open the door for God to come in and change things.” (Joel Osteen)

“God’s grace is sufficient. You’ll never face a hill you don’t have the strength to climb.” (Joel Osteen)

“The beauty of grace is that God already knows about our sin. He just wants us to be honest with Him.” (Author Unknown)

“To be God’s friend, you must be honest to God, sharing your true feelings, not what you think you ought to feel or say.” (Author Unknown)

“You might as well tell God what you think, He already knows it anyway.” (Todd Burpo)

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

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“The Benefit and Blessing of Circumcision!”

dose

Joshua 5:8, “And after the whole nation had been Circumcised, they remained where they were in camp Until They Were Healed.” (NIV)

BEFORE the nation of Israel could go into the Promised Land…THEY HAD TO BE CIRCUMCISED FIRST! 

Circumcision is Painful, Bloody, and Personal…However, For the BELIEVER…SPIRITUAL CIRCUMCISION IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! 

God REQUIRES each of us to be Circumcised IN HEART BEFORE we are allowed to enter and receive the blessings that await each believer in the Promised Land!

Circumcision can often be very Painful But it’s always Purposeful! 

Circumcision requires cutting off our old way of life! 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” (AMP); Romans 6:4, “We have therefore been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways].” (AMP) I reiterate, circumcision requires cutting off our old way of life! And when you look at circumcision in the Natural, what is Cut Away is neither Kept, Reused, or Put Back In Place! IT’S COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY DISCARDED…NEVER TO BE REATTACHED AGAIN!

Can you imagine if we had our LIFESTYLES CIRCUMCISED…TO THE EXTENT THAT NOTHING THAT WAS CUT AWAY EVER REATTACHES AGAIN??!!

CAN YOU IMAGINE HAVING THAT NASTY ATTITUDE CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN?! THAT DISOBEDIENT NATURE CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? THAT LUSTFUL SPIRIT CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? THAT PERVERSE MOUTH CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? THAT BOASTFUL, PRIDEFUL, ARROGANT, CONCEITED, ENTITLED DEMEANOR CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN?! THOSE CORRUPT COMPANIONS, ASSOCIATES AND FRIENDS CIRCUMCISED THAT THEY NEVER REATTACH AGAIN? THAT JUDGMENTAL, CRITICIZING, CONDESCENDING, BELITTLING BEHAVIOR CIRCUMCISED THAT THEY NEVER REATTACH AGAIN?! THAT HABIT/ADDICTION CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? WHAT WOULD THE CHURCH LOOK LIKE IF THAT BACKBITING, SLANDERING, GOSSIPING, LYING, RUMOR FILLED TONGUE WAS CIRCUMCISED, NEVER TO REATTACH AGAIN?! WHAT IF JEALOUSY, COVETING, ENVY, COMPARING, AND COMPETING WERE CIRCUMCISED, NEVER TO REATTACH AGAIN?! WHAT IF BITTERNESS, ANGER, SPITE, MALICIOUSNESS, UNFORGIVENESS, AND HATRED WERE CIRCUMCISED, NEVER TO REATTACH AGAIN?!

PEOPLE OF GOD, THAT’S THE PURPOSE OF CIRCUMCISION (SPIRITUALLY AND NATURALLY)…IT IS PURPOSED TO CUT AWAY WHAT’S NOT NECESSARY SO THAT IT’S NEVER ALLOWED TO REATTACH AGAIN!

And Despite What You’ve Heard, Circumcision, Both Natural and Spiritual, Is NOT Gender Specific! Both Males and Females Have Been Circumcised (HOWEVER, I BELIEVE THE LORD’S PREFERENCE (According to the Word of God) IS MEN NATURALLY, AND MEN AND WOMEN SPIRITUALLY …READ YOUR BIBLE SAINTS!)

SO, HAS YOUR LIFE BEEN CIRCUMCISED YET?! Have you finally made the decision to get rid of some UNNECESSARY Stuff (WHICH INCLUDES PEOPLE, PLACES, THINGS, CONDUCT, BEHAVIOR, THOUGHTS, DEEDS, SPEECH ETC…)? Have You Matured Enough To Go Without the Stuff You Should Be Without In the First Place!?  

And bear in mind, just as a natural circumcision takes time to heal, so does a spiritual one! Truth is it’s not easy having God cut away some stuff and people that have been attached to us for a very long time. And it doesn’t even matter if we already know they’re poisonous, toxic and infectious, they’ve been attached to us too long for them to easily be detached without wound or pain! So, when you’re ready to reap the promises of God for your life, and you finally make the decision to be circumcised, you will need time to heal. Which is why like the children of Israel, we must WAIT UNTIL WE ARE HEALED BEFORE WE GO FORTH INTO THE PROMISED LAND! 

If we launch out too early, we will not only be Ineffective but we may Risk Infection and Disease and will not be at our Full Capacity! You see, Circumcision opens you up to Vulnerability and Pain, two things none of us like to be in! And when you think about (I pray you can handle this) but Circumcision is in a very Private Area, and not just Private, But Vital to Life! It’s an Organ Where LIFE Itself Is Produced! It All Starts Right There! Yep, I Said It…Nicely! This Very Place Will Release a Seed for Something to Be Birthed (9 Months Later) So It Is Indeed the LAST Place You Want Infected! Hello! 

Remember what the Bible says about the Israelites: “And after the whole nation had been Circumcised, THEY REMAINED WHERE THEY WERE IN CAMP UNTIL THEY WERE HEALED” – Joshua 5:8 (NIV) You Can’t Go Forth Until You’ve Been Circumcised and Healed! You Have to Stay Right Where You Are! Yes they had the place of promise before them, but they couldn’t attain it: “…UNTIL THEY WERE HEALED”! And You Are No Different! Yes, God has Great Things To Be Produced From Your Loins, but BEFORE He Does, You Will Be Circumcised, Then Made to Wait Right Where You Are (In a Vulnerable and Painful Place) Until You Are Healed!

When a Circumcision takes place, the doctors give clear instructions on what to wash with, how often, what cream to use, what to do for the pain etc…and if you’re smart, You Will Follow the Doctors Orders! The very same with a Spiritual Circumcision, Yes It Is Going to Hurt, Some of the Things and People He’s Going to Cut Away Have Been Attached For a Very Long Time And Many of Those Attachments Have Been Private, So When He Removes Them, It Is Going to Hurt, But It Won’t Hurt Always! However, In the Meantime, After He Cuts Things/People Away (That You Don’t Need Anyway) and you Follow His Instructions on How to Recover, Your Painful Experience Will Be But a Memory As You Enjoy the Promised Land!

BUT…YOU HAVE TO BE CIRCUMCISED, STAY WHERE YOU ARE, AND HEAL…FIRST!

Pay attention to the text: “And after the whole nation had been Circumcised, THEY REMAINED WHERE THEY WERE IN CAMP UNTIL THEY WERE HEALED” – Joshua 5:8  (NIV) You don’t get to say, ‘Lord I’ve been Circumcised and all is well! I’m better now, I’m delivered now.’ NO! You have to remain right where you are UNTIL YOU ARE HEALED!

In other words, you don’t get PROMOTED WHEN CIRCUMCISED! YOU REMAIN RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE! GOD IS NOT TAKING ANYMORE LIP SERVICE FROM HIS PEOPLE! THIS TIME, TO ATTAIN THE PROMISE YOU ARE GOING TO GO THROUGH THE PAIN OF CIRCUMCISION…AND THEN YOU’RE GOING TO SIT RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE UNTIL YOU’RE HEALED AND COMPLETELY DELIVERED! Can you imagine if as Leaders we endured this, and made sure others endured it as well?! Remain Where You Are Until You Are Healed! Do You Know How Many Compassionate, Humble Folks Would Then Make Up the Church Body?! Instead of the Highly Decorated Peacocks We Have Poised In the Pews and Pulpit?!

Here’s another reason why waiting until you are completely healed and delivered is so important: The people of Israel fought ONLY 2 BATTLES when they were coming out of Egypt. However, in the Promised Land they fought 39 BATTLES! Wait For It…

You see, far too many in the church believe once we get to the promise or promised land that we get the glad, glads, and it’s happy go lucky every day! We’ll have no more problems, no more headaches, no more struggles, no more trials! ALL OF THAT IS A LIE THAT SHOULD NEVER BE TOLD…NO MORE!

TRUTH IS: ISRAEL FOUGHT MORE AND TOUGHER BATTLES IN THE PROMISED LAND THEN THE ONES GETTING TO IT! THAT’S WHY YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE CIRCUMCISED…FIRST! AND THEN WAIT AND MAKE SURE YOU ARE COMPLETELY HEALED AND DELIVERED (REATTACHING NOTHING THAT WAS SEVERED!) BECAUSE YOU WILL NEED YOUR FULL STRENGTH FOR THE BATTLES THAT LIE AHEAD IN YOUR PROMISED LAND!

Each of us must be Prepared to enjoy the benefits of living in the Promised Land. And that Preparation Is Spiritual Circumcision! However, we must also be Prepared to wage war against the enemy of our souls. Therefore, make sure the Lord has provided the needed healing to your circumcision experience before you enter the Promised Land!

I find it so amazing that Natural Circumcision Meant So Much In the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, For Believers, Paul Pays Natural Circumcision No Mind and Instead He Talks About the Circumcision of the Heart! He Goes Through Colossians, Galatians and Romans talking about the Pointless Need of Natural Circumcision but of the Value and Importance of Spiritual Circumcision of the Heart. There has to be something to it don’t you think?!

“Look out for those dogs [Judaizers, legalists], look out for those mischief-makers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances—…” (Philippians 3:2-4 AMP)

“In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but in a [spiritual] circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts). [Thus you were circumcised when] you were buried with Him in [your] baptism, in which you were also raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God [as displayed] when He raised Him up from the dead.” (Colossians 2:10-12 AMP)

Today, ask God to perform a Spiritual Circumcision on Your Heart! Ask Him to Remove Anything and Anyone that Serves No Purpose to Your Growth In Him! And When He Removes It and Them, Don’t Attempt to Reattach Either One!

You Have a Promise Land and Bigger Battles Ahead of You, You Can’t Afford to be Unprepared! So Be Brave and Ask God to Use the Sword of His Word and Cut You…TODAY!

“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 AMP)

The Message Bible reads like this: “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.” (Hebrews 4:12-13 MSG)

People of God, it is Vital that you have your Heart Circumcised. God has so much in store for you that will only benefit and bless you once you’ve detached unnecessary people, places and things. Let nothing and no one come between you and what God has already gotten ready for you. Remember: God is only removing people, places and things that are non-essential to your journey, life, ministry, calling, promise and purpose.  So make absolutely no attempts to hold onto what God’s hands have already determined you do not need. He has a plan and a promise just for you, but you’ve got to be prepared to receive it, and the only way that will happen, is through circumcision. Don’t miss your blessing, don’t miss your promise! Let it and them go, today, and let neither one return!

Joshua 5:8, “When they had completed the circumcising of the WHOLE NATION, they stayed where they were in camp until they were healed.” (MSG)

Something else that’s important to note is that the WHOLE NATION was circumcised. It’s not enough for you alone to endure this process, but everyone attached to you must as well. Which means it’s important to make sure that your home and your church family are all walking through the process of circumcision. Since all with you are going into the promise and promised land with you, you need to make sure that the Whole House has been Cut, Healed, Ready to Enter the Promised Land and Ready to Fight Even Greater Battles! Mom and Dad, it’s not enough that only you have been delivered, but your children need deliverance too! Pastor and Leaders, it’s not enough that only you have been cut, made to wait, endure healing and get ready to enter the promised land! No, the Whole House needs to be on the same page!

Joshua 24:15, “…but as for me AND MY HOUSE, WE will serve the Lord.” That’s not singular, that’s plural! Meaning everybody in the house will have to follow the same house rules! We all get circumcised, we all have to stay right where we are until we are healed, then we all will go into the promised land, fight and win! This is a collective effort, not an individualized event! And so your prayer life will change. Because it has to shift from ‘me, my, mine, and I’ to ‘us, we, and the whole house!’

Joshua 5:8-9, “And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have ended your shame of not being circumcised.” So the place where this was done was called Gilgal (meaning, “to end”), and is still called that today. After the ceremony the entire nation rested in camp until the raw flesh of their wounds had been healed.” (TLB) Another good thing to note, is that regardless to who you were, or what you did, or where you were, the shame is gone after the process of circumcision has been completed! They were circumcised in Gilgal! It was the circumcision to end the shame of their painful past! Gilgal means to end, or roll away! As painful as your circumcision will be, it serves a greater purpose than just pain! It closes the door on the past! It ends the shame of what was, and prepares you for what is to come! So, don’t under-estimate your process of circumcision! It is a good thing that shall work in your favor!

And don’t rush the process either! Yes it’s a painful time, place and process, but it’s also a place where God grants you rest until your wounds have healed! Which means, when your circumcision is complete, don’t rush to start the business, open a new church, buy a house or car, and seek to enter ministry or elevate in it! This is not about any of that! This is your time to let the people, places and things God severed from you, heal. You can’t cut away from flesh and not give it time to heal! You need the memories to heal, you need the what if’s to heal, you need the regrets to heal, you need the pain to heal. So don’t rush the process, let God do the cutting, and you do the waiting while healing.

And please don’t think of your process of circumcision as a horrible place either! In Gilgal, yes, there was the pain of circumcision. However, don’t forget some of the other things that transpired in Gilgal. It was also the place of the first encampment of the Israelites west of the Jordan River where a monument was erected to commemorate their passage across the Jordan River! Joshua 4:19-24, “This miracle occurred on the 25th of March. That day the entire nation crossed the Jordan River and camped in Gilgal at the eastern edge of the city of Jericho; and there the twelve stones from the Jordan were piled up as a monument. Then Joshua explained again the purpose of the stones: “In the future,” he said, “when your children ask you why these stones are here and what they mean, you are to tell them that these stones are a reminder of this amazing miracle—that the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry ground!  Tell them how the Lord our God dried up the river right before our eyes and then kept it dry until we were all across! It is the same thing the Lord did forty years ago at the Red Sea!  He did this so that all the nations of the earth will realize that Jehovah is the mighty God, and so that all of you will worship him forever.” (TLB). It was also the place where the Passover was kept: Joshua 5:10, “While they were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated the Passover during the evening of April first.” (TLB); it was also the place where their first king was crowned and altars were built and sacrifices offered 1 Samuel 11:15, “So they went to Gilgal and in a solemn ceremony before the Lord they crowned him king. Then they offered peace offerings to the Lord, and Saul and all Israel were very happy.” (TLB); it was also the place of the school of the prophets: 2 Kings 4:38-40, “Elisha now returned to Gilgal, but there was a famine in the land. One day as he was teaching the young prophets…” (TLB); in addition, it was the place where the Tribe of Judah escorted King David and the very place Joshua conquered!

In other words, don’t get stuck in this temporary place! You are not going to stay here forever! But also, know that God has done some amazing things even in painful places! Don’t despise your place of Gilgal, it’s painful, but it’s purposeful! It won’t last forever, it’s the place of your healing, it’s the place of your resting, it’s the place where your past shame comes to an end, and most important, it’s the place that will lead you into your promised land and victorious battles! There are benefits and blessings to the process of circumcision, you just have to endure the painful waiting period of healing in order to get them! My suggestion? Endure Your Process of Circumcision!

Jeremiah 4:4, “Circumcise (dedicate, sanctify) yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskin [sins] of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Or else My wrath will go forth like fire [consuming all that gets in its way] And burn and there will be no one to quench it, Because of the evil of your acts.” (AMP)

Deuteronomy 30:6, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants [that is, He will remove the desire to sin from your heart], so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, so that you may live [as a recipient of His blessing].” (AMP)

“Without this heart attitude it is exceedingly difficult for us to accept the circumcision of the flesh. Every affection, desire, thought, knowledge, intent, worship, and work of the flesh must go to the cross.” (Watchman Nee)

People of God, Do Not Despise Your Painful Process of Circumcision in the Place of Gilgal (the Place Where You Get Cut, You Wait, You Heal, and the Pain Comes to an End Before You Enter Your Promise Land!) Don’t Despise Gilgal, Embrace it, it’s the Place That Will Lead You to Your Promised Land!

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

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“Church, Let’s Go Fishing!”

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Luke 5:10, “And so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon (Peter). And Jesus said to Simon, Have no fear; from now on you will be CATCHING MEN!” (AMPC)

I assure you I was not your typical young girl! I didn’t dream of the most beautiful wedding, the most expensive wedding gown with the long train that took 5 people to carry it. I was more of the tom-boy who was climbing up trees and jumping out of them; learning to work on engines since my dad was a mechanic; walking the dogs; chopping wood since I wanted to do everything my dad did, because if you haven’t guessed it, I was indeed the typical daddies’ girl! And one of my dad’s absolute favorite things to do in all the world was to go fishing! So once again you guessed right, I just had to learn how to fish! And it wasn’t a struggle for me either. Before you knew it, I was digging for worms, and baiting hooks, casting my line, and catching some fish!

Now, as for me, catching the fish was fun. Eating them was fun. But, in between, there was this one step that was a lot less fun – cleaning them! But for that fish to realize its culinary destiny, it had to be cleaned.

If you’re a fisherman, you’re apparently Jesus’ kind of person. Four of the twelve disciples He called were fishermen by trade. When He summoned them to His service, He said, “…Follow Me [as My disciples, accepting Me as your Master and Teacher and walking the same path of life that I walk], and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17 AMP). He told Simon Peter, “…Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” (Luke 5:10 NKJV).

So the business of bringing people into a relationship with Jesus Christ apparently has some things in common with fishing. For example, you don’t try to attract the fish with what you’re interested in, but what they’re interested in. For example, I like pizza. I don’t like worms. But if I put pizza on my hook, I’m going home with an empty bucket. I’ve got to offer what will be interesting to the fish that I’m trying to attract. And so it is church, with reaching people for Jesus Christ, especially MEN! Think about it, if all you offer is religious bait, coming to a religious meeting to hear a religious speaker talk on a religious subject in a religious place, you probably won’t attract many of the lost men who need Christ so desperately. But if you’re talking about needs they care about in a place where they feel comfortable, in words they can understand, you have a far better chance of getting them within hearing distance of the Gospel. Now, does that mean if they enjoy the strip club, you go to the strip club to win them to Christ? Uh, No! Your convictions, character and calling should never be compromised! But will an unsaved man be more likely to talk to you over a game of bowling, than an hour of bible study, yes sir! Remember, your bait is not supposed to catch your interest, but theirs.

Now, there’s another very important fishing principle we need to keep in mind as we present Jesus to the people around us. It’s a principle it seems many believers have never thought about. And church, here it is: FISH AREN’T CLEANED UNTIL THEY’RE CAUGHT FIRST! Now that’s pretty deep and profound don’t you think? Nope! Just common sense, that has become way too uncommon in the church!

You see, far too many times, lost people feel judged by us rather than loved by us, because we attack the things they do. But they do those things because they’re lost, which is why instead of judging their lost ways, we should be leading them to the One who will take them from lost to found! However, that’s hard to do because we’re too busy trying to get them in “proper church attire”; trying to change their habits; their mindset; their way of life; their behaviors; and their speech. We’re too busy trying to take out their piercings; cover their tattoos; restyle their hair; and put sheets over their splits, and safety pins to close up their cleavage. Before they get in the church good, we have 5 auxiliaries to put them on; and want to cram tithes and offerings down their throat. Now, let’s be real, how would you feel about a group of people telling you Jesus loves you, now all you have to do is give Him 10% of the paycheck you worked hard to earn, and the one that barely covers your bills as it is? As church folks, we have a tendency of going too far, too soon!

Think about this: No fishermen goes to the water, immediately sticks his hand in the water, snatches out a fish, cleans it, cooks it and eats it. No, there is a process to fishing, and one of the greatest parts to that process is waiting! It doesn’t happen in an instant. And most men, in particular, aren’t going to just pour into the church like a floodgate has opened either. A fishermen knows that he can sit out there for hours and catch absolutely nothing; or just one or two. If only we could learn to be that patient with catching men!

Women have a stronger tendency to fill the church pews, men not so much, not so many, and not so quickly! So, if you’re attempting to grow the men’s ministry, you will need patience and better bait!

And more importantly, it’s vital that you remember: You catch them, then JESUS cleans them!

Take a brief walk with me through Luke 19 beginning with verse 5. The whole town is shocked when Jesus says to Zacchaeus, of all people – the town crook, “I must stay at your house today.” As stunned as anyone, the Bible says Zacchaeus “welcomed him gladly. The people started muttering, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’” But after meeting Jesus and experiencing His unconditional love, Zacchaeus can’t stand his sin anymore. He announces he’s going to make right the dishonest wrongs he has done, “If I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus announced, “Today salvation has come to this house.

Zacchaeus Got Clean, But He Got Caught First!

The problem with the lost people you know is not their profanity or their dishonesty or their immorality – truth of the matter, they’re lost and they’re living like it! So why are we as the church, mad at the world because they behave like the world? That’s like being mad at a dog because he barks; a cat because he purrs; a fish because he swims; or a lion because he roars! It’s the same as being mad at an elephant because he has a trunk; or a giraffe because he’s tall; or a bear because he’s big! You can’t be mad at something or someone that does what it’s purposed to do! And guess what, sinners…SIN! I know, who knew! 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago YOU were on that list. SINCE, THEN, YOU’VE BEEN CLEANED UP AND GIVEN A FRESH START BY JESUS, OUR MASTER, OUR MESSIAH, AND BY OUR GOD PRESENT IN US, THE SPIRIT.” (MSG) So, we can’t be mad at sinners who sin. However, I love the way we, the church, conveniently forget that text also says, “…A number of YOU know from EXPERIENCE what I’m talking about, for not so long ago YOU were on that list. SINCE, THEN, YOU’VE BEEN CLEANED UP AND GIVEN A FRESH START BY JESUS, OUR MASTER, OUR MESSIAH, AND BY OUR GOD PRESENT IN US, THE SPIRIT.” (MSG) Don’t forget, you weren’t born saved! And some of your best sinning even came, AFTER salvation! Therefore, we need not be mad at the world for acting like the world, but we should be mad that the church acts like the world! But dare we address such a controversial matter?! You were just as bad off as they are, but the Godhead was merciful! Jesus  cleaned you up with the Father and the Holy Ghost! And pay close attention to WHO did the cleaning! It was the Godhead! Not the Bishop, Pastor, Overseer, Elder, Evangelist, Deacons, Missionaries; Ushers; Trustees; Mother Board; Music Ministry and the like, no it was the Godhead Alone! Try to remember that the next time you go Man Fishing! You Catch, God Cleans!

You see, sinner’s real problem is that they need a Savior! Yes, they must repent, but that’s part of being rescued by Jesus from their sin! Don’t make their lifestyle the main issue. Make Jesus the main issue, and say with the great spiritual fisherman, Paul, “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 MSG). See church, simple is still best! One righteous man (Jesus) went to an unrighteous man (Zacchaeus) and his life was made the better because of being in the company of a man who didn’t judge him, didn’t try to change him, didn’t bring up his past, his mistakes, his failures, his sins, his habits. No, you simply had one short, unrighteous man that went to great lengths to see Jesus. Jesus looked up, saw him, and talked to him (not about him). The man (Jesus) let’s Zacchaeus know I’m your uninvited guest today, and Zacchaeus was delighted to have Him.

Now, I must note this, as soon as the righteous starts talking to the unrighteous, the so-calledrighteous’ start gossiping! Luke 19:7, “And when the people saw it, they all muttered among themselves and indignantly complained, He has gone in to be the guest of and lodge with a man who is devoted to sin and preeminently a sinner.” (AMP) Now, you would think the “church folks” would be happy to see someone unrighteous come into contact with someone righteous. And not to simply visit a church service, but to receive salvation! You would think this was a good thing! Sad as it is to say, you will experience some of the very same behavior. But remember, you have to catch them, before He can clean them. So, if that means going to their house, instead of the House of Worship, just to have a conversation that may bring about salvation, is worth it, don’t you think? Even if it is done in the midst of muttering church folks!

Well, in spite of those who should have been spreading the gospel, and not the gossip, neither Jesus nor Zacchaeus pays them any attention, nor verbally responds to them! Take note church: There will be some folks who don’t think you should be around such people, even if you are trying to win them to Christ. But don’t you get distracted, you have the right bait available and over the process of time, they will be caught by you, and cleaned by Him, and the naysayers can do nothing about it! After all, is their soul about them, or Him? Remember Paul’s words: “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 MSG). People of God, if you want the same results, follow the same regime: Keep it simple, meet them on their terms, use the right bait, and once they’ve been caught, let Jesus clean them (after all, if you had the power to clean them, you would’ve been able to clean YOU years ago!) #Selah

But just as you needed someone to reach out to you, and you needed time to come to Him, and more time to let Him clean you after you were caught, give your brothers and sisters the same courtesy. Don’t get caught up in protocols, programs, and positions. There simply needs to be one brother/sister telling another brother/sister how they can become family. Don’t complicate the matter about rules, regulations, laws, do’s and don’ts. Do your part, and let God do His. You catch, let Him clean!

Psalm 51:1-2, “Have mercy upon me, O GOD, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions. WASH ME THOROUGHLY [AND REPEATEDLY] from my iniquity and guilt and CLEANSE ME AND MAKE ME WHOLLY PURE FROM MY SINS!” (AMPC);

Psalm 51:7, “PURIFY ME WITH HYSSOP, AND I SHALL BE CLEAN [CEREMONIALLY]; WASH ME, AND I SHALL [IN REALITY] BE WHITER THAN SNOW.” (AMPC);

Psalm 51:10, “CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART, O GOD, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.” (AMPC)

In all of that WASHING; CLEANSING; and PURIFYING, did you note that the ONE who was doing it was: “…O GOD…”! Not, “O James, Jasmine, Edward, Esther, Jeffrey, Juanita, Joseph, Julia, Dwayne, Dorothy, Douglas, Diana, Derrick or Deidra”! Nor was it, “O Apostle, Bishop, Pastor, Elder, Evangelist, Minister, Deacon, Missionary, Brother or Sister”! NO, It Was, “…O GOD…”! Because that’s the Only One Who Can!

It’s simple directives, you catch, He cleans! And as soon as you stop playing God and stay in character with the only role you were cast in, the sooner we can fill the pews with more than just women and babies, but we will see a great catch of men filling the House of God as redeemed Men of God! Church, don’t let any more men and women be left out floating aimlessly in this world, when you have the bait to catch them, and you have the means of getting them to your God so He can clean them! Don’t complicate such a simple process by attempting to be grand. The goal is to make sure your Name is written in the Lamb’s book of Life, not your Accomplishments or Head Count!

Saints, today is a good day to go fishing! And unlike my dad who had his favorite spot to fish in. God has sent us into all the world to fish! Meaning, you need to be casting your line with bait attached to doctors, lawyers, teachers, janitors, bank tellers, cashiers, CEO’s, police officers, fire fighters, and nurses. You need to be casting your line at the supermarket, at the bank, at the laundromat, at school, at work, at home, at the homeless shelter, at the soup kitchen, in the prisons, in the nursing homes, at the hospital, in the emergency rooms, at the rehab, at the dialysis and chemo centers. You need to be casting your line among those married with three children and those divorced with 5; among the unwed mother; the identity and gender confused; among those with 10 piercings and 20 tattoos; among those in Ivy League colleges; among those in community college. Cast your line walking down the street, boarding the bus, train or plane. Cast your line as you share that cab ride. Cast your line as you wait in line at the social services office; while you’re standing in the unemployment line; while you’re getting ready to perform at Madison Square Garden! Are you getting this? Sinners are everywhere, therefore the church needs to be casting her line everywhere! After all, it is what we’ve been commissioned to do, right?

Acts 1:8, “He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.” (MSG)

Mark 16:14-20, “Still later, as the Eleven were eating supper, he appeared and took them to task most severely for their stubborn unbelief, refusing to believe those who had seen him raised up. Then he said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned. “These are some of the signs that will accompany believers: They will throw out demons in my name, they will speak in new tongues, they will take snakes in their hands, they will drink poison and not be hurt, they will lay hands on the sick and make them well.” Then the Master Jesus, after briefing them, was taken up to heaven, and he sat down beside God in the place of honor. And the disciples went everywhere preaching, the Master working right with them, validating the Message with indisputable evidence.]” (MSG)

Matthew 28:18-20, “Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (MSG)

Church, we have work to do! So, Let’s Go Fishing!

Matthew 4:19, “Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.” (MSG)

 “We’ve Strayed From Being Fishers of Men to Being Keepers of the Aquarium.” (Paul Harvey)

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

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“You Are Yoke Free!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THAT’S WHO YOU ARE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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