“Pretty Container, But Poisonous Content!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“I’ve Fallen…BUT I WILL Get Up!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s look at this in a few translations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a few translations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“The 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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“3 Reasons You Keep Losing the Battle”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now Soldiers, FIGHT AND WIN!

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

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“Trials Train You to Fight!”

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Judges 3:2, “He did this to TEACH WARFARE to generations of Israelites WHO HAD NO EXPERIENCE IN BATTLE” (NLT).

The Contemporary English Version says it like this: “And the Lord had another reason for letting these enemies stay. The Israelites NEEDED TO LEARN HOW TO FIGHT IN WAR, just as their ancestors had done. EACH NEW GENERATION WOULD HAVE TO LEARN BY FIGHTING” (CEV)

God brought the nation of Israel into the Promise Land of Canaan through Joshua. But after Joshua, THERE CAME AN ENTIRE GENERATION WHO HAD NO EXPERIENCE IN FIGHTING BATTLES! How can a generation who knew nothing but to fight for victory, not train the next generation to do the same? However, this is the problem with today’s church, which is why so few know how to deal with spiritual warfare when it arises! They run and hide, and cry, and complain, and beg God to remove what they don’t like or don’t want to deal with. But ‘old church’ knew how to slay a devil, do devotion, wash clothes, pray, cook, clean, fast and help the kids with their homework, all before sundown! Yet, now, if this generation stub a toe they’re out of church for 6 months! If the doctor gives a diagnosis, they go picking out their casket! If someone talks about them, they’ll switch 12 churches in 12 months! If they get into an argument with their spouse they’re downloading divorce papers templates! But what they need to do is “…LEARN HOW TO FIGHT IN WAR, just as their ancestors had done. EACH NEW GENERATION WOULD HAVE TO LEARN BY FIGHTING”

TRAINING AND TESTING, IS ONE OF GOD’S IMPORTANT STRATEGIES THAT ENABLE HIS CHILDREN TO SUCCEED IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE!

The Bible says: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I HAVE TRIED AND CHOSEN YOU IN THE FURNACE OF AFFLICTION” (Isaiah 48:10 AMP) People of God, like it or not, Your Affliction is Trying You, But It Is Also Refining You! The word ‘refine’ is defined as ‘to remove impurities or unwanted elements from; to make changes so as to improve.’ And that’s the purpose of God refining you, so He can get out of you everything that’s unlike Him, so He can improve you and make you a better representative of Him in the earth! Refining is for your good! It’s proof that God loves you far too much to leave you as is, especially when He sees so much more in you! Yes, it hurts, yes it’s painful, yes it feels unfair, yes everybody sees your refining process, yes it makes you cry, yes it wakes you up in the middle of the night to enter prayer, yes it’s uncomfortable, but it’s making you into a Warrior That Knows How to Fight the Battles of Life! Not the worrier who only knows how to weep and whine, scared of getting the slightest of battle bruises!

Now, we’re always quick to say that we’re “Chosen”, but God says I’ve “…CHOSEN You IN THE FURNACE OF AFFLICTION”! Saints, Your Anointing Has Affliction Added To It, Not Subtracted! You Need Them Both! You Need Anointed Affliction if You are to Become the Warrior God CHOSE You to Be! Which means you have to learn how to handle affliction! Psalm 119:71 says, “It is good for me that I have been AFFLICTED, That I may LEARN Your statutes.” (AMP) However, Venting is not handling affliction, posting on social media is not handling affliction, having a self-pity party is not handling affliction, trying to get the whole church to wipe your crocodile tears is not handling affliction! The only way to handle affliction is to keep your sword sharp which is the Word of God! You need to learn how to fight using the weapon of the Word that’s freely at your disposal! Hebrews 4:12, ” For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (AMP) In other words, when in battle, every word out of your mouth needs to be the Word of God! Matthew 4:4, “But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’” (AMP) That’s how God’s soldiers fight in His army!  No Word, No Weapon, No Weapon, No Victory! If you are to successfully handle affliction you will need to learn how to go toe-to-toe with the enemy, using the Word of God that stops him in his tracks every time! 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,” (AMP) Affliction should always send you running for the Word of God, that’s your weapon to wield until you attain victory…

BUT, unfortunately…

This Generation of the Church has become pitiful in Spiritual Warfare, and you know why? Because There’s a Whole Generation “…WHO HAS NO EXPERIENCE IN BATTLE” That’s why we cry over everything from a disobedient child to a troubled marriage, to an unexpected health issue or pink slip from the job! Because We Do Not Have Experience In Battle! And guess how GOD HIMSELF said this will be rectified? “…EACH NEW GENERATION WOULD HAVE TO LEARN BY FIGHTING”! So put your cute shoes away and lace up your boots, it’s time to go to battle!                

TRIALS ARE FOR TRAINING YOU TO WIN VICTORIOUSLY! This is why the life of the believer is NOT WITHOUT TRIALS! Ephesians 6:16, “Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (AMP); James 1:2-4, “Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.” (AMP) 1 Peter 1:7, “THESE TRIALS WILL SHOW THAT YOUR FAITH IS GENUINE. It is being TESTED as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong THROUGH MANY TRIALS, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (NLT) Your Trials Show Whether Your Faith Is Genuine Or Just a Sorry Form of Godliness, That Lacks Power! 2 Timothy 3:5, “holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.” (AMP) Your Trials Are Your Greatest Teacher Because Your Faith Learns From Them! Every Time You Endure a Battle, Your Faith Gets Bruised…But Made Better! So Stop Having Temper Tantrums and Endure Your Trials! The Bible says, THESE TRIALS…ARE SENT SPECIFICALLY TO SEE IF OUR FAITH IS FULL OF POWER OR MERE EMPTY POWERLESS WORDS! Which is why the Bible informs us: “If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.” (Proverbs 24:10 MSG). Yes, that sounds harsh, but it’s honest! Truth is: We talk real big until small trials come to test our faith and then we find out that we only had words, with no meaning, conviction or power! The purpose of your trials is to test and prove your faith! Again, this is for your good and God’s glory, which should keep you from grumbling! Now, Mustard Seed Faith is Awesome! But you’ve been saved how long now? Shouldn’t your seed have grown and produced a harvest of faith by now? Listen, don’t try to make your faith sound big while you keep holding on to mustard seed faith, year after year! Your faith is to be nurtured so it can grow and experience greater depth and newer levels! Your affliction and trials are helping with that, so stop complaining and learn to fight!

The Bible further records, “They were left to TEST the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which He had given their forefathers through Moses” (Judges 3:4). So before you go crying and complaining about your trials and enemies, know that God Allowed Them Both to Teach and Train You (and the greatest lesson is Obedience)! Israel’s enemies were kept in place, BY GOD, to test their obedience and to mature them in it. And likewise, God is not removing every trial, hurt, pain, unfairness, enemy and doctors report just so you can be comfortable! No, He’s leaving them in place to teach you how to fight and win! He’s teaching you to trust what He said no matter what you see! He’s teaching you to follow Him even when the path, map and directions make absolutely no sense! He’s teaching you to rely solely on Him! Remember, this is all for the good of your maturity, growth and development! Don’t fight the process, fight through the process!

Now, Get It Together and Get Your Gear On! It’s Time for You to Learn to Do Battle!

People of God, like it or not:  BUT GOD ALLOWS CIRCUMSTANCES TO DEVELOP AROUND OUR LIVES TO GIVE OUR FAITH OPPORTUNITY TO BE PROVEN! “Also through Him, we have obtained access BY FAITH into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, BUT WE ALSO REJOICE IN OUR AFFLICTIONS, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces PROVEN character, and PROVEN character produces hope.” (Romans 5:2-4 HCSB) Did you catch all of that? “…WE ALSO REJOICE IN OUR AFFLICTIONS…” WHY? Because Our Afflictions, “PRODUCE ENDURANCE, PROVEN CHARACTER AND HOPE…” In Other Words: Your Affliction Works to Your Advantage! How? The word ‘endurance’ is defined as ‘to suffer something painful and prolonged patiently; to tolerate; to remain in place even if something is hard.’ It’s Latin Origin ‘indurare’ literally means ‘to harden.’ That’s what God is doing on your behalf when He allows afflictions into your life. They are teaching and training you to suffer through something patiently, even if it’s painful and prolonged; it’s teaching and training you to tolerate the suffering with tough skin; it’s teaching and training you to remain in place no matter how hard the situation gets, because God has hardened you to circumstances, so you don’t break even when you’re bent out of shape! Your afflictions are proving that you have what it takes to endure the battle and win the victory. But it’s also working on your character. ‘Character’ is defined as, ‘the qualities distinctive of an individual.’ Its Old French ‘caractere’, from Greek ‘kharakter’ literally means ‘stamping tool’, which is to engrave, mark, brand or give a seal of approval on something. That’s what God does when He sends afflictions into your life to improve your character. He wants you to grow and develop His characteristics in your life in such a way that people can see His stamp of approval on your life. Your character is your brand. It tells people what you stand for and what you will not tolerate. Your afflictions are teaching and training you to maintain good character, integrity and a reputation that is above reproach and one that resembles God’s! In addition, afflictions groom your hope! ‘Hope’, is ‘a feeling of expectation and desire for something to happen.’ It’s directly attached to your faith and both grow when you learn how to expect God to deliver you, even when you see no evidence that He will (Daniel 3:16-18, ” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to answer you on this point. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up!” AMP). Your afflictions train your hope and faith to believe God no matter how fierce the battle becomes; no matter what the enemy is saying, no matter what the enemy is doing; no matter how badly you’ve become bruised in battle; your hope and faith are teaching and training you to let nothing and no one distract you from victory! Your afflictions are working for your good because they are training you to endure the battle and win the victorious war!

TRUTH IS: IT’S ONLY WHEN WE’RE TESTED IN BATTLE THAT WE BECOME SKILLED WARRIORS!

Therefore, you might as well get ready because you can be confident God will allow trials to come your way through afflictions such as: a strained marriage, straying children, critical bosses, false assaults on your character, or a difficult friendship that requires unconditional love. HOWEVER, Regardless to how many afflictions come our way, GOD HAS PROMISED US, “MANY are the AFFLICTIONS of the righteous: BUT THE LORD DELIVERETH HIM OUT OF THEM ALL” (Psalm 34:19). So What Are You Crying and Complaining About? There Is NO Affliction That Is Permanent! They Are ALL Temporary! When You Pass Your Training Tests of Trials, “…THE LORD WILL DELIVER YOU OUT OF THEM ALL…”

“So why am I still suffering in affliction?” you ask…Simple: YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE SUFFERING, YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE LEARNING! “…EACH NEW GENERATION WOULD HAVE TO LEARN BY FIGHTING” (CEV) So, Stop Sitting Idly By On the Sidelines Waiting For God to Have Pity and Snatch You Out of Your Affliction! Fight While You’re In It Until He Brings You Out of It! Romans 8:37 says, “Nay, IN ALL THESE THINGS we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (AMP) Listen, God Promised to Bring You OUT, But While You’re Still IN it, Know That You Are More Than a Conqueror, So Fight Like It!

You will discover if you have passed the test, or if you need more battles that will give you the opportunity to learn the art of spiritual warfare. BUT DON’T FEAR THE BATTLES! GOD HAS ALREADY GIVEN YOU THE VICTORY, IF YOU CHOOSE COMPLETE DEPENDENCE AND OBEDIENCE ON HIM!  Remember: His Promises Are Iron-Clad! And He Promised:  “MANY are the AFFLICTIONS of the righteous: BUT THE LORD DELIVERETH HIM OUT OF THEM ALL” (Psalm 34:19). Just as school is not forever, neither is your class of trials and afflictions! But you will be left back to repeat if you don’t learn, grow and graduate!

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. THIS IS A SPIRITUAL REFINING PROCESS, WITH GLORY JUST AROUND THE CORNER” (1 Peter 4:12-13 MSGDid you catch that? “…GLORY IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER”! And all you have to do is endure your refining process! The word ‘Process’ is defined as ‘a series of actions or steps towards achieving a particular end.’ And your ‘particular end’ is, “…GLORY IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER”! So Don’t You Dare Give Up, Give Out or Give In! Keep Going! Glory Is Waiting Just Around the Corner!  

PEOPLE OF GOD: DON’T BE DISCOURAGED IN BATTLES, GOD IS USING THEM TO DEVELOP YOU INTO A GREAT WARRIOR, SKILLED IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE!  NO LONGER A GENERATION WHO HAS NO EXPERIENCE IN BATTLE! BUT NOW A GENERATION THAT MAKES THE DEVIL CRINGE EVERY MORNING WHEN YOUR FEET HIT THE FLOOR TO REMIND HIM, YOU’RE DRESSED IN THE WHOLE/FULL ARMOR OF GOD, AND YOU’RE READY FOR ANOTHER FIGHT! “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but MIGHTY through God to the pulling down of strong holds;” (2 Corinthians 10:4). Cheer up and gear up, because your afflictions are training you to pull down strong holds!

Judges 3:2, “He did this to TEACH warfare to generations of Israelites WHO HAD NO EXPERIENCE IN BATTLE” (NLT). Your afflictions, trials, refining, and fights are all for the sole purpose of teaching and training you for battle! They are skills being added to your spiritual resume, removing ‘no experience’ and instead having ‘a wealth of knowledge in warfare’ added. And just like a resume in the natural realm so it is in the spiritual realm, the more experience you have the greater the opportunities for employment. The more you grow in learning how to handle warfare the more opportunities God will give to you His soldier, because He knows, from experience, you will not retreat but you will return with the spoils of the enemy! Learn what God is trying to teach you and train you, so He can trust you in battle!

“And the Lord had another reason for letting these enemies stay. The Israelites NEEDED TO LEARN HOW TO FIGHT IN WAR, just as their ancestors had done. EACH NEW GENERATION WOULD HAVE TO LEARN BY FIGHTING” (CEV) Did you catch that? “…The Israelites NEEDED to learn by fighting.” The word ‘Need’ is defined as ‘something that is required because it is essential or very important.’ And what is one of our Requirements as God’s servants, stewards and soldiers? 1 Corinthians 4:2, In this case, moreover, it is REQUIRED [as essential and demanded] of stewards that one be found faithful and trustworthy.” (AMP) And how is God going to prove you as faithful and trustworthy if He can never use trials and afflictions to test you? Listen, I get it, this is not an easy process, refining never is. After all, how often do you find a process that involves fire to be a pleasant experience? So, yes, this is going to burn, and be painful and hard, but the warrior that you will grow and develop into will be worth it all! You will have proven faithful and trustworthy to be used by God, and isn’t that the point? To be positioned to be used by God for purpose, on purpose? 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)

Well, if that is so, here is your FAITH DECREE: I decree today that I will no longer stumble over my struggles, cry over my crisis, agonize over my afflictions, retreat from my refining process, or have a tantrum over my trials. There is no test given to me, that my God hasn’t already provided the answers to pass.  This time, when my Faith comes out of the Furnace it will be on Fire instead of in Ashes! In Jesus Name I Decree it to be so. Amen. So It Is and So Shall It Be!               

Remember: Trials Turn What You’ve Learned, Into What You Live! So come on soldiers, let’s learn well, train well, fight well and win well!

“All trials are not the reason to give up but a challenge to improve ourselves. Our pain is not an excuse to back out but an inspiration to move on.” (Author Unknown)

“Life will beat you up a lot, so be proud of each and every trial you came through. All your scars from those trials are medals of bravery for not giving up.” (Author Unknown)

“God places obstacles along your journey to prepare you for the blessings that await you at the finish line.” (Author Unknown)

“Trials in life are not meant to make us fail, but to see how far we can fly.” (Author Unknown)

“Don’t let your trials blow you down, let them lift you up.” (Woodrow Kroll)

“Before the fruits of prosperity can come, the storms of life need to first bring the required rains of testing, which mixes with the seeds of wisdom to produce a mature harvest.” (Lincoln Patz)

“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

“From dark clouds we get precious water. From dark mines we get valuable jewels. And from our darkest trials come our best blessings from God.” (Author Unknown)

“Be thankful for your trials. If you’re being tested, you’re being perfected. Which means you have a divine purpose and reason to rejoice.” (Author Unknown)

“Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Trials are medicines which our gracious and wise physician prescribes because we need them; and He proportions the frequency and weight of them to what the case requires. Let us trust His skill and thank Him for His prescription.” (Isaac Newton)

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” (Mary Tyler Moore)

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” (Oscar Wilde)

“Life’s trials are not easy. But in God’s Will, each has a purpose.” (Warren Wiersbe)

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny.” (C.S. Lewis)

“While you are going through your trial, you can recall your past victories and count the blessings that you do have with sure hope of greater ones to allow if you are faithful.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

“Usually your biggest trials come right before your biggest breakthroughs. Keep pushing on!” (Author Unknown)

“Faith upholds a Christian under all trials.” (John Newton)

“You wouldn’t be who you are without all of the difficult times. Be Thankful, even during the trials.” (Joel Osteen)

“Trials are the soil in which faith flourishes.” (T.B. Joshua)

“Trials do for the Christian what Storms do for Trees. They give us stronger roots and ground us.” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes Trials are God’s way of taking our hands off of things that aren’t secure and putting them on the only thing that is…HIMSELF.” (Author Unknown)

“Fiery Trials make Golden Christians.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)

“Trials are medicines which our gracious and wise physician prescribes because we need them.” (John Newton)

“I never had a Trial I wanted to have, but I never had a Trial I wasn’t glad I had.” (Jack Hyles)

“God speaks through Trials…Listen.” (Elissa Gabrielle)

“There are some of your graces which would never be discovered if it were not for your Trials.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

Psalm 144:1, “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock and my great strength, Who TRAINS my hands for war And my fingers for battle;” (AMP)

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

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“How God Makes a BIG Ego…small”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflection Questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “The Types of Friends You Need to Ditch NOW!”

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“What YOU Have is Enough!”

dose2

The Bible says: When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.  He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it.  Then Samson said: “With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men!” And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place Ramath Lehi.” (Judges 15:14-17 NKJV).

Notice Point #1: SAMSON ALLOWED THE ENEMY TO BIND HIM: …We are come down to bind thee…we will bind thee fast…AND THEY BOUND HIM…” (Judges 15:12-13). If the truth be told, much of what we would like to blame on others, WE need to take Accountability and be Honest that WE Alone are to Blame.

It is not only what we do, but also what we do Not do, for which we are Accountable.” (Moliere).

Samson was not shocked, surprised or caught off guard by his enemies! In fact, his enemies even had the audacity to let him know, IN ADVANCE, that they were coming for no other reason or purpose than to BIND HIM! The bible says, “…We are come down to BIND thee…we will BIND thee fast…AND THEY BOUND HIM… And sadly enough, the enemy was true to his word!

Now, I already know Samson’s story, but might I ask YOU, “what has you tied up today?” Or better yet, “what have you ALLOWED to tie you up today?” “What/Who have you ALLOWED to bind you, tie you up and hold you back from the work assigned to your hands?And before you answer, know that you can’t say you didn’t know that the enemies purpose was to hinder and harm you, because Jesus gave you a heads up: “The thief’s PURPOSE is to STEAL and KILL and DESTROY…” (John 10:10 NLT). So, since you knew, IN ADVANCE, but the enemy was able to bind you ANYWAY, that only means you entered into battle WILLFULLY UNPREPARED! You did not obey the orders of your Commanding Officer:

“…God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. BE PREPARED. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6:10-18 MSG).

People of God, you have Far Too Much Ammunition to Use to Your Advantage to continuously be bound, held captive, restrained and detained from the work of the Lord! Stop putting up help wanted posters on your life for the enemy to answer! Remember the Word of God admonishes: Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [GIVE NO OPPORTUNITY TO HIM].” (Ephesians 4:27 AMP).  Stop Allowing him to turn your life into his career opportunity! Stop offering him room for growth, advancement, increase in pay, vacation, sick, personal and comp time, stop giving him the stocks and bonds in your life that are making him rich and leaving your body, soul and spirit bankrupt! And most of all stop handing him bonuses every time he’s successful at binding you! And all of this is what YOU allow when you keep showing up to battle ill-prepared with no armor or weaponry!

Listen to that text again:

“Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil.” (CEB)

“and don’t give the devil a chance.” (CEV)

“Don’t give the devil a way to defeat you.” (ERV)

“Don’t give the devil any opportunity to work.” (GWT)

The devil is seeking the want ads for employment, stop hiring him! Stop giving him opportunities to keep working to defeat you! Stop extending ‘grace’ to the devil, we give him just as many chances as we ask God to give us! Which is why it’s so vital that you are never without your armor! The devil is always busy, and clearly always employed to wage war on us and win! God said to BE PREPARED, and the best way to BE prepared is to STAY prepared!

Understand that: “When the devil is called the god of this world, it is not because he made it, but because we serve him with our worldliness.” (Symeon). Remember you are in Spiritual Warfare, you can’t keep allowing your flesh to give the devil a foothold or you’ll never win the war!

Church, you can’t get free with SECULAR ANTICS, only with SPIRITUAL ARTILLERY! With that said, if you want to really get free and stay free, I’ll give you a little hint: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, AND THE YOKE SHALL BE DESTROYED BECAUSE OF THE ANOINTING” (Isaiah 10:27).  This might buck up against some folks theology, but you will not get free by running around the church, jumping over pews, singing, dancing, praising, praying, spinning, falling out at the altar, or even worshiping! The Bible says: “…THE YOKE SHALL BE DESTROYED BECAUSE OF THE ANOINTING”! And the Scripture does not say the yoke will be broken, bruised or battered, but DESTROYED! The word ‘Destroy’ means to “put out of existence by severe damage or attack; to completely ruin or spoil. That’s why it’s vital that you locate your anointing and live there! A yoke cannot and will not withstand the presence and power of the anointing! And you’ll always know when you have the right Spirit behind the anointing, because there will always be a RELEASE! The Bible says, “…the Spirit of the LORD entered Samson and gave him great power. The ropes on him weakened like burned strings and fell off his hands!” (Judges 15:14 NCV).  The anointing will destroy anything or anyone trying to bind you to the extent that it will “put out of existence” your yoke of bondage, that it never returns again! Don’t allow the enemy to bind you, and even if he has already, don’t become distressed, depressed, discouraged, dismayed, disheartened or doomed for destruction, simply follow the road-map to release, IT’S FOUND IN THE ANOINTING!

The Bible says: “…He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men…’” (Judges 15:14-18 NKJV). 

Notice Point #2: SAMSON NEEDED TO SEE WHAT HAD ALREADY BEEN GIVEN TO HIM: It was just the jawbone of a donkey, but with God’s help it was enough to win the day! Unfortunately, however, we spend far too much time focusing on what we DON’T have, that we lessen the value in what we DO possess! We focus on the gifting’s that others have, while down-playing the gifts the Holy Spirit has “willed” and “desired” for us to have. We continuously want what’s in someone else’s hand when what we actually need is placed right in our own!

Instead of complaining at his lot, a contented man is thankful that his condition and circumstances are no worse than they are. Instead of greedily desiring something more than the supply of his present need, he rejoices that God still cares for him. Such an one is “content” with such as he has.”  (Arthur W. Pink).

If the truth be told, many marriages and ministries have been destroyed by the foolish assumption that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, when in actuality, if we simply took the time to nurture, weed and water our own lawn, it would supersede even the fantasy-image we have conjured up of someone else’s yard!

Christian Contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” (Jeremiah Burroughs).

Many of you may have looked at the jawbone of the donkey and thought, “what am I supposed to do with that?”; “God you didn’t have anything else you could give me?”; “God you gave Saul full armor, you couldn’t give me the same?”; “It’s just a jawbone of a donkey, are you trying to say that’s all I can handle?Or can we really be honest and bring it home and say: “God I can sing just as good as her, why can’t I lead a song?”; “I worked with women longer than she has, why can’t I be over the women’s ministry?”; “I’m nicer than Sister Celery, why can’t I be on the usher board too?And the list could go on and on forever, because we love to complain about all that we don’t have, or better yet, all that we THINK we don’t have.

Discontent is a sin that is its own punishment and makes men torment themselves; it makes the spirit sad, the body sick, and all the enjoyments sour; it is the heaviness of the heart and the rottenness of the bones. It is a sin that is its own parent. It arises not from the condition, but from the mind. As we find Paul contented in a prison, so Ahab discontent in a palace.”  (Matthew Henry).

Saints, learn to be content both with what God gave you, and with what He saw fit NOT to give you! If you truly trust Him, then you’ll rejoice over what He has approved AND what He has Denied!

“The very first temptation in the history of mankind was the temptation to be discontent…that is exactly what discontent(ment) is—a questioning of the goodness of God.”  (Jerry Bridges).

You see, too many of us would rather preach to 500 people, who don’t care to hear us in the first place, than sing to 5 people who receive fresh strength for the journey from one simple song. Why? Because the pulpit Appears more prestigious, than the podium on the floor, hidden in the corner, unnoticed by the organ! But as for me, I would rather use what God gave me to bless, strengthen and encourage 5 people than waste my time, energy and life doing something for 500 that produces absolutely no fruit! Whatever God has given you is enough! You don’t have to be like him, you don’t have to look like her, you don’t have to act like them, you don’t need to sit over there, you don’t need that title, you don’t require that position, leave their talents, gifts, and skill-set alone. What God assigned to you is all you need to fulfill YOUR assignment! Stop comparing your equipment to others, and simply use what God has equipped YOU with!

God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” (John Piper).

Family, Samson’s “…jawbone of a donkey…may seem little, insignificant, unnoticeable, irrelevant, unimportant, useless and unimpressive. But the Bible states: “…He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, AND KILLED A THOUSAND MEN… Pay close attention, what God provided for Samson appeared, little, insignificant, unnoticeable, irrelevant, unimportant, useless and unimpressive, but, “…HE REACHED OUT HIS HAND AND TOOK IT…

Listen: If you don’t learn anything else, learn to accept what God has given YOU! Accept what God has made available for your use. Accept the road He’s called you to travel and the path He’s allowed you to cross. Whether it’s your spouse, your children, your job or your church, reach out your hand and take hold of what God has blessed you with!

Think about sports, not everyone is holding the ball at the same time. Only those who need to, do. We may praise the quarterback’s position, but not even he keeps the ball. Everybody on the team has their talents, gifts, and assignments, everybody on the team has their role to play and their position to hold. And if winning is key, then you don’t attempt to take someone else’s spot! We have to learn to work together in the Kingdom if we are to advance the Kingdom. We can’t win trying to beat our own teammates! I can’t play the organ, but so what, I don’t need to. But what I can do is join in the singing and praising and worshiping with everyone else. I don’t usher, I’m an Elder. Usher’s have their role in the church and so do I. Our ushers don’t attempt to preach, and I don’t attempt to take their bulletins and tell people where they can and can’t sit! Respect what your brothers and sisters have been assigned to do in the Kingdom of God. Stay your lane so we don’t all crash on impact and die because someone was trying to move over into a lane not needed for them to travel in order to get to their intended destination. I hope you’re getting this. Samson was successful because he used what was made available to HIM! He did not attempt to grab anyone else’s weapon in his warfare! And neither should you! What God Gave YOU Is Enough!

The contented person experiences the sufficiency of God’s provision for his needs and the sufficiency of God’s grace for his circumstances. He believes God will indeed meet all his material needs and that He will work in all his circumstances for his good. That is why Paul could say, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” The godly person has found what the greedy or envious or discontented person always searches for but never finds. He has found satisfaction and rest in his soul.” (Jerry Bridges).

Reach out your hand and take hold of your spouse, children, job and church and don’t try to change them, alter them, or compare them to what others have! His grace is sufficient, and so is all that He has given you (and all that He’s kept from you as well)! Stop complaining and comparing and learn to be content with what you have!

Can you imagine if Samson picked up that jawbone and said, ‘I don’t want this, I want a big, shiny, new spear!’ And so he throws away the very thing that was made available to him to win! Do not discard your ‘jawbone’! You see, jawbone’s are easy to dismiss, after all, who wants one? It’s the remains of something that died! It’s a bone with no life, no breathing, no organs! And since just about everything was dust and dirty then (not like our marbled streets, and paved roads) the jawbone would’ve been dusty and dirty too. Not to mention the bible says it was a ‘fresh jawbone of a donkey.’ So it had rotting flesh and blood on it as well. Surely everybody wants to be given that right? Wrong! But regardless to what was left of it, regardless that it’s no longer what it used to be, regardless that it’s bloody, dirty and dusty and a very little use, still it was what Samson needed to use to kill his enemies and win his battle! Likewise, your spouse is more than likely not as small or as young as they used to be. Wrinkles have formed, bags and sags are so disrespectful since they were not invited to be a part of our bodies. They are no longer 21 and ready to take on the world, no they’re 51 and ready to take on the bed for a nap! Yet, they are who God allowed you to marry and build a family and life with. They are who God allowed to be available to help you build that ministry, that church, that business, that school! And although they may not look like they did 20 or 40 years ago, don’t you dare discard your ‘jawbone’ now! They are a part of your life for the long haul! And since you haven’t fought your last battle with the devil, I suggest you hold on to who helped you win the last fight!

It’s so sad to say, but we’ve become a comfortable circumstantial church of convenience. If we don’t like the circumstances we quit; if it’s not comfortable and convenient, we quit. NO! Believers, that’s not our lot. We value and appreciate what/who God has made available to us to help us and make us better! So don’t be so quick to quit! Don’t throw away your ‘jawbone’, you need it to fight and win!  My dad used to say, ‘don’t chase a shiny penny because you don’t like a crumbled dollar! No matter what either one looks like, their value is still the same.’ And that’s exactly what many of us are doing, casting aside our crumpled dollars for a shiny penny! But you do realize, crumpled or not, the dollar has 99 cents more value over the one shiny penny! Be careful in the decisions you make to discard people! You Have Everything You Need in YOUR Jawbone, Keep It!

Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God.” (William Ward).

Yes, saints, it was just a “…jawbone of a donkey… but it “…KILLED A THOUSAND MEN…”!

So I admonish you today, be careful about underestimating, overlooking, undervaluing and discrediting what God provided FOR YOU, IT JUST MAY BE THE WEAPON YOU NEED TO KILL YOUR ENEMY! Your spouse, children, job and church may not be all that you thought they should be, or all that you wanted them to be, but if God provided them, YOU BETTER BE GRATEFUL, BECAUSE THEY’RE THE WEAPON YOU NEED TO KILL YOUR ENEMIES! Samson had to see what God had ALREADY provided for him, accept it and use it, and so do you! Why? BECAUSE IT IS ENOUGH!  

You see, Samson used his jawbone to kill a thousand men in chapter 15. But over in chapter 16, he killed more than three thousand! Judges 16:26-30, “Samson said to the young servant who was leading him by the hand, “Place my hands against the pillars that hold up the temple. I want to rest against them.” Now the temple was COMPLETELY FILLED WITH PEOPLE. All the Philistine rulers were there, and there were about 3,000 MEN AND WOMEN on the roof who were watching as Samson amused them. Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.”  Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands, he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.” (NLT)

Samson had to first use that jawbone to kill a thousand before he got to the slaughter of three thousand plus! And sometimes we forget to pay attention to using what has been made available to us in our first battle. You see, if they killed him before the jawbone, he would’ve never gotten the opportunity to slay all of his enemies! Use what God has given you, and use it when He gives it to you and how. There will be more and greater opportunities down the road, but if you don’t handle the little, don’t look for the much!

No more competing and comparing, no more envy and jealousy, no more trying to grab somebody else’s gift (or spouse, yep I said it!) What God has Given YOU is Enough for YOU! Don’t discard your small beginnings and please don’t discard your ‘jawbone’!

Be Warned: “The person with the discontented heart has the attitude that everything he does for God is too much, and everything God does for him is too little.” (Don Kistler).

Be Content With What and Who God Has Made Available for YOU! It is Enough!

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Your Damage is NOT Beyond Repair!”

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“Overcoming the Fear of…’What If?'”

What If

Proverbs 15:15, “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].” ( AMP).

The word “foreboding” is defined as “fearful apprehension.” The word “apprehension” means “fearful anticipation.” And “anticipation” means “to look forward to; to be aware of (a future event) and prepare for it.” How sad to say that far too often, we as believers, find ourselves foreboding. We walk around with a ‘fearful apprehension, anticipating and looking forward to future events that we’ve already deemed unfavorable for us, and then we even go so far as to prepare for the absolute worst scenario (which however, rarely happens).’ Reminds me of the quote: “Most of the things you worry about NEVER happen.” (Author Unknown).

Which is why I rather follow the advice of Joseph Hall, he quoted, “He that taketh his own cares upon himself loads himself in vain with an uneasy burden. I will cast all my cares on God; He hath bidden me; they cannot burden Him.” Sounds a lot like Scripture to me! “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” (1 Peter 5:7 AMP) The word “cast” has several definitions, however, the one I love most means “to assign, allocate, discard, and shed.” Furthermore, the word “Assign” means to “transfer to someone else”. Its Latin Origin “assignare”, from “signare” literally means “to sign”. And who has officially signed His name to your cares? Just one name, JESUS! “…By the name of JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. JESUS is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; NO OTHER NAME HAS BEEN OR WILL BE GIVEN TO US BY WHICH WE CAN BE SAVED, ONLY THIS ONE.” (Acts 4:8-12 MSG). JESUS has the Authority by His Name to Carry Any Concerns or Cares You Cast On Him! So Why Are You Still Carrying Them?! In addition, that word “shed” means to “allow to fall off; to discard; to get rid of; to take off; to cast or give off; to separate, to divide; to scatter.” With that said, what I love most about ‘shedding’ is that we can learn a lot about it from animals. Think about it: Have you ever seen a cat or dog gather up and save the fur it ‘sheds’, so it can keep it and reapply it later? Absolutely not! Just the thought of it sounds silly, and so does the fact that you keep reapplying what God keeps ‘shedding’ from your life!

Listen, When You Give it to God, Don’t Be an Indian-Giver as They Use to Say When I Was a Kid! Don’t Give it to Him, Then Take it Back! That’s Stealing! Remember: He Has Officially Signed His Name to Your Cares, They Now Legally Belong to Him! Therefore, Why Do You Keep Stealing Them Back?!

Lastly, the word “cast” is defined as “a bandage stiffened with plaster, molded to support and protect a broken limb.” How amazing, when you “cast” it protects until it heals! So what are you going to do today? Cast Your Cares On God, for He Will Protect You From Them as You Heal!

“For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” (Proverbs 15:15 NLT)

The word “despondent” is defined as “to be in low spirits from loss of hope or courage.” Its Latin Origin “despondere” literally means “to give up and abandon.And isn’t that what we do when life becomes too much? We get low in our spirit, we lose hope and courage, and eventually give up and abandon our faith as faulty.

Listen to this: An old sea captain once asked a naval student how he’d handle a sudden storm. “I’d throw out an anchor, sir,” he replied. “But WHAT IF another storm approached?” asked the captain. “Then I’d throw out another anchor,” he said. “And WHAT IF storms just kept coming?” the old man asked. “I’d keep throwing out anchors,” said the student. “Hold on, son,” said the captain, “where are you getting all those anchors?” “From the same place you keep getting all those storms, sir,” came the reply!

Can you imagine if we would become so convinced, fully persuaded, and secure in our faith, that despite the ferocious storms of life, we simply keep ourselves anchored in God? Let’s take a peek into a stormy situation with the Apostle Paul, The Bible reads, “We came under the lee of the small island named Clauda, and managed to get a lifeboat ready and reef the sails. But rocky shoals prevented us from getting close. We only managed to avoid them by throwing out drift ANCHORS…On the fourteenth night, adrift somewhere on the Adriatic Sea, at about midnight the sailors sensed that we were approaching land. Sounding, they measured a depth of 120 feet, and shortly after that ninety feet. Afraid that we were about to run aground, they threw out four ANCHORS and prayed for daylight.” (Acts 27:16-17; 27-29 MSG). I love the fact that Paul and the crew, continuously threw out Anchors! And when the storms of life rage in your life you need to make sure you remain Anchored in God the same way!

Now before you go and physically buy a million Anchors as a symbol of strength and encouragement in God, let me finish the story about Paul’s storm! The Bible says, “At daybreak, no one recognized the land—but then they did notice a bay with a nice beach. They decided to try to run the ship up on the beach. They cut the ANCHORS, loosed the tiller, raised the sail, and ran before the wind toward the beach. BUT WE DIDN’T MAKE IT. STILL FAR FROM SHORE, WE HIT A REEF AND THE SHIP BEGAN TO BREAK UP.” (Acts 27:39-41 MSG). Now I know you must be thinking, “What kind of encouragement is that?!” “I get the anchors and still end up shipwrecked?” LOL! Yep! But don’t lose hope just yet, read on, “…Paul…gave orders for anyone who could swim to dive in and go for it, and for the rest to grab a plank. Everyone made it to shore safely.” (Acts 27:42-44 MSG). You see, you can quote all the Scriptures in your Bible Vocabulary, you can have mountain moving faith, be anchored in God and still sink the ship! However, don’t miss the blessing, the Bible yet says, “…EVERYONE MADE IT TO SHORE SAFELY.” It was uncomfortable, it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t the desired way for this to work out. YET, they survived the storm and made it out safely! Listen: No matter how severe the storm, always remain anchored in God (no foreboding, no despondency, no loss of hope, faith and courage). Just cast it all on God, anchor your faith and trust in Him and His plan and purpose, then watch Him bring you through and bring you out safely on the other side of it all! Your hair may not be perfect, your makeup will not be flawless, you will not want to sing all the encouraging hymns, you will not want to run, jump, dance or praise, but you will make it out and be grateful, despite what the storm did to your looks!!!

Let’s go a little further: When you’re in the thick of things, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the storm that’s raging inside you and start listening to the “WHAT IF’S”. Can we be honest? “WHAT IF the check doesn’t come on time…WHAT IF the stock loses value…WHAT IF my mate walks out…WHAT IF the job closes down…WHAT IF the scholarship doesn’t come through…WHAT IF I can’t afford this house or this car…WHAT IF the test results are bad…” The list is endless! And because Satan knows that “…fear hath torment…” (1 John 4:18), he’ll keep pouring on the WHAT IF’S endlessly!

You see, if he can’t get you puffed up through pride, he’ll try to bring you down through fear! It’s one of his best tools! However, you don’t have to allow his tools to work on you! Paul says, “Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].” (Ephesians 4:27 AMP) That word “foothold” is defined as “a place where a person’s foot can be lodged to support them securely.” However, the second definition is the one I want to highlight, it means “a secure position from which further progress may be made.” Do you not understand that the enemy doesn’t need to come in and invade your entire life? All he needs is an entryway. Just a small space big enough to put his foot, so he can step in your life and instead of you trampling him underfoot, he now has the opportunity, invite and advantage to trample you!

Don’t let fear win! Satan will use fear to torment you, but God has a tool of His own, and His works much better! Listen to 1 John 4:18…again…in full: “There is NO FEAR in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love TURNS FEAR OUT OF DOORS AND EXPELS EVERY TRACE OF TERROR! For FEAR BRINGS WITH IT THE THOUGHT OF PUNISHMENT, AND [SO] HE WHO IS AFRAID HAS NOT REACHED THE FULL MATURITY OF LOVE [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection.]” (AMP). You see, the WORK OF PERFECT LOVE IS STRONGER THEN THE TOOL OF FEAR! And you my friend are indeed PERFECTLY AND GREATLY LOVED! “For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “For God so GREATLY LOVED and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” (AMP).

Another Scripture I love is Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” However, I love The Message Bible translation: “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him.” (MSG)

Another of my favorites is, John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.The Amplified Bible says it like this: “No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.” (AMP)

You Need Not Allow Satan to Torment You With Fear, Not When You Are So Greatly and Perfectly Loved By God! Rest On That and Sleep Well Tonight, Because His Love is a Very Peaceful Pillow!

In addition, you should Always Remember Jesus’ Words: “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” (John 14:27 AMP). Likewise, Remember our opening text, Proverbs 15:15, “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], BUT he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].” (AMP). You are not to operate out of fear, forebodings, despondency, intimidation, or anxious thoughts, but you are to have “…a glad heart…[REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES].” That word “Circumstance” is defined as “unforeseen events outside one’s control.” And as scary as that may be for you, there are a few Scriptures that should bring you immediate comfort as soon as you start to allow circumstances to scare you:

Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (MSG);

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

Psalm 139:1-16, “God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in! Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you. Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” MSG);

Hebrews 13:5, “…be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (AMP)

If That Doesn’t Comfort You, Regardless of  Your Current Circumstances, Nothing Else Will!

Another note on the word “Circumstance”, Its Latin Origin “Circumstantia”, from “Circumstare” literally means “Encircle (to surround) or Encompass (to surround and have or hold within)”. I know circumstances can make you feel just like that, Completely Surrounded With No Way Out! However, For the Believer, There’s Safety, Even When You’re Surrounded!The Lord’s people may suffer a lot, but He will ALWAYS bring them SAFELY through.” (Psalm 34:19 CEV).

Not to mention another of my favorites. I like to call it my 91 for my 911, Listen to the Call: 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).

People of God, I know Circumstances can be draining, and Life’s Storms can be overwhelming, however, you are so perfectly and greatly loved by God that He’s given you Word on top of Word on top of Word of His Promises to You that He’s Got You! So, no fear, no worry, no fret, no torment, no foreboding, no despondency. Just faith, hope, courage and reliance on God! Stop letting the “What If’s” beat you down, and instead turn the tables and beat them down not with “WHAT”….but with “WHO”! Remember: JESUS has officially and legally signed His name to all your cares, concerns and even to your What If’s! They belong to Him, they are no longer your property! So no more stealing and no more trespassing! Let God’s Hands Handle It!

“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. IF HE SAID IT, HE’LL DO IT!” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 MSG)

“Fear can paralyze us and keep us from believing God and stepping out in faith. The devil loves a fearful Christian.” (Billy Graham)

“Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

“A perfect faith would lift us absolutely above fear.” (George Macdonald)

“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” (Author Unknown)

“Never let fear drown the dreams God placed in your heart for He will make those dreams come true.” (Author Unknown)

“Outside the Will of God, there’s nothing I want. Inside the Will of God there’s nothing I fear.” (A.W. Tozer)

“I’m not afraid of the devil. He can’t handle the One to whom I’m joined.” (A.W. Tozer)

“Unbelief is based in fear. Belief is a necessity for God to operate and function in your life.” (Creflo A. Dollar)

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)

“With the power of God within us, we need never fear the powers around us.” (Woodrow Kroll)

“We fear men so much, because we fear God so little.” (William Gurnall)

“I will not fear, for You are with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” (Thomas Merton)

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” (Francis Chan)

“The only God-ordained fear is the fear of God, and if we fear Him, we don’t have to fear anyone or anything else.” (Mark Batterson)

“Fear of the devil is nonsense. Fear of demons is foolish. The Spirit of God anointing the Christian heart makes the soul impregnable to the powers of darkness.” (John G. Lake)

“Meet your fear with faith.” (Max Lucado)

“There is no greater terror than the fear of death. But, as a Christian, you are learning to die daily. Thus, when the actual time comes for your spirit to leave your body, you will have already gained the victory over its sting.” (Alicia A. Willis)

“The phrase ‘do not be afraid’ is written in the Bible 365 times. That’s a daily reminder from God to live every day being fearless.” (Author Unknown)

“Your limits are liars. Your fears are thieves.” (Robin Sharma)

“The enemy will try to use fear to paralyze the anointing from activating in your life. Confidence does not tolerate fear. Your past is irrelevant to God, He is concerned about your future.” (Bill Winston)

“Fear tolerated is faith contaminated.” (Kenneth M. Copeland)

“There is no room for fear. You have the Almighty God with you and on your side.” (Lisa Osteen Comes)

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. (Author Unknown)

“The one place where the Christian can be naked without fear is in the Presence of Christ.” (R.C. Sproul)

“God created you on purpose, for a purpose – and He never wants fear of the unexpected to hold you back.” (Author Unknown)

“Fear is born of Satan.” (AB Simpson)

“Replace your Fear of What If with Faith in I Am.” (Author Unknown)

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” (Robert M. Mccheyne)

“Choose faith instead of fear and life will become a lot more fun.” (Dave Willis)

“Fear God and your enemies will fear you.” (Benjamin Franklin)

“Your excuses are just the lies your fears have told you.” (Robin Sharma)

“Can you imagine a life with no fear? What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats?” (Max Lucado)

Mark 5:36, “Overhearing what was being said, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; only keep on believing [in Me and my power].” (AMP)

Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord [on the authority of His word], and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.” (AMP)

Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe.” (AMP)

Romans 8:14-15, “For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [the Spirit producing sonship] by which we [joyfully] cry, “Abba! Father!” (AMP)

Isaiah 44:2, “This is what the Lord who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you says, ‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And Jeshurun (Israel, the upright one) whom I have chosen.” (AMP)

Isaiah 41:10, “‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’” (AMP)

Isaiah 41:13, “For I the Lord your God keep hold of your right hand; [I am the Lord], Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” (AMP)

Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—Whom shall I dread?” (AMP)

Psalm 118:6, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can [mere] man do to me?” (AMP)

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].” (AMP)

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

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“Binding the Strong Man”

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Mark 3:27, “But no one can go into a strong man’s house and steal his property UNLESS HE FIRST overpowers and ties up the strong man, and then he will ransack and rob his house.” (AMP)

The Message Bible reads like this, “The religion scholars from Jerusalem came down spreading rumors that he was working black magic, using devil tricks to impress them with spiritual power. Jesus confronted their slander with a story: “Does it make sense to send a devil to catch a devil, to use Satan to get rid of Satan? A constantly squabbling family disintegrates. If Satan were fighting Satan, there soon wouldn’t be any Satan left. Do you think it’s possible in broad daylight to enter the house of an awake, able-bodied man, and walk off with his possessions UNLESS YOU TIE HIM UP FIRST? Tie him up, though, and you can clean him out.” (Mark 3:22-27 MSG)

I have always been a fan of movies that make you think. For instance movies like “The Negotiator” with Samuel L. Jackson or “The Inside Man” or “John Q” with Denzel Washington.  Movies about negotiating and releasing people (without harm) from their captors. As a student of psychology (I love everything to do with the study of the mind), which is what I think adds to my love and fascination of such movies. To see how people respond under stress, in crisis, and how the mind balances, ever so quickly, with ‘what to do next’, especially when we’ve run out of plan a-z options.

The word “negotiator” is defined as “a person who discusses a problem with the aim of achieving agreement between different people or groups of people; to deal or bargain with another or others, as in the preparation of a treaty or contract or in preliminaries to a business deal; to conduct; to transact; to find a way through, around, or over in a satisfactory manner; to transfer; to extend a promissory note”. Its Latin Origin “negotiari” literally means “to do in the course of business” And as believers (children of God) we are to be about our Father’s business, and His business is that of saving souls. Which puts us directly in the role of the “negotiator” for the lives of those held in bondage and hostage in the hands of the enemy (Satan). In truth, we have the same charge as Jesus:

Isaiah 61, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me To bring good news to the humble and afflicted; he has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, TO PROCLAIM RELEASE [FROM CONFINEMENT AND CONDEMNATION] TO THE [PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL] CAPTIVES AND FREEDOM TO PRISONERS To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance and retribution of our God, To comfort all who mourn, To grant to those who mourn in Zion the following: To give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning], The oil of joy instead of mourning, The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit. So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God], The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up and restore the former desolations; And they will renew the ruined cities, The desolations (deserted settlements) of many generations. Strangers will stand and feed your flocks, And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. But you shall be called the priests of the Lord; People will speak of you as the ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, And you will boast of their riches. Instead of your [former] shame you will have a double portion; And instead of humiliation your people will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore in their land they will possess double [what they had forfeited];
Everlasting joy will be theirs. For I, the Lord, love justice; hate robbery with a burnt offering. And I will faithfully reward them, And make an everlasting covenant with them. Then their offspring will be known among the nations, And their descendants among the peoples. All who see them [in their prosperity] will recognize and acknowledge them That they are the people whom the Lord has blessed. I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has covered me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom puts on a turban, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, So the Lord God will [most certainly] cause righteousness and justice and praise To spring up before all the nations [through the power of His word].” (MSG)

This is our responsibility! A portion of it says, “…TO PROCLAIM RELEASE [FROM CONFINEMENT AND CONDEMNATION] TO THE [PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL] CAPTIVES AND FREEDOM TO PRISONERS…” Are you paying attention church? We are to get Freedom for the Prisoners. And who are the “prisoners”? In one word they are “hostages”. I guess I’d call it one of the ugly words of our time – that word hostage. We’ve all seen our share of hostage situations haven’t we? Some are even right here in the United States. When someone has taken a hostage or several hostages, the first thing they do is they bring in the hostage negotiating team and they do their very best to use their psychology and human relations to talk that person into releasing their hostages safely.

Sometimes the person will give up and the hostages go free. But often the negotiations fail, and then it can get a little more violent. Well, when that happens, in come the highly trained commando units, the SWAT teams, and if necessary they’ll shoot the hostage taker, because that’s the only way the hostages can be saved. Now, can you imagine just rushing in there to rescue the hostages without first dealing with the one who is holding them? Believe it or not, but we do it all the time.

Look at Mark chapter 3, beginning at verse 26. Here’s what Jesus says, “If Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions UNLESS he first ties up the strong man. THEN he can rob his house.Jesus says here that it’s necessary, if we’re going to take people back from the strong man, and we know from the context that strong man is Satan, that we first have to tie him up – to bind him to deal with this hostage taker. See, unlike humans, you don’t negotiate with the Devil out of his hostages. You don’t shoot the Devil, but you tie his hands. That’s Jesus’ strategy.

With that said, you need to section off your teams, evangelists, and according to their gifts/anointing/skill-set, you need to figure out who your negotiators are, and who your SWAT team will be. Because just like most hostages, negotiations often go but so far, and have a tendency to fail. Which is why you need your SWAT team in place before the negotiators ever go forth. You need to have SWAT in place to do whatever it takes to take down the strong-man who has a firm grip on the captives that you’ve been commanded to set free!

You see, some of Satan’s “possessions” are some people you know and some you don’t. Does it matter? Absolutely not. Our responsibility is: “…TO PROCLAIM RELEASE [FROM CONFINEMENT AND CONDEMNATION] TO THE [PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL] CAPTIVES AND FREEDOM TO PRISONERS…” And that includes our parents; children; mates; siblings; colleagues; coworkers; friends; family; business partners. And even the pimp; prostitute; alcoholic; drug addict; and homosexual. That includes men; women; boys; girls; black; white; Hispanic; Asian; wealthy; homeless; professors; uneducated; in the city and in the field; up North and down South. They ALL need to be set free!

However, the SWAT team is very different than the negotiators that go in first. The SWAT team has no interest in talking, negotiating, making deals or bargains. Their only focus is ‘how do we take down the hostage taker?’ The SWAT team isn’t on the phone with the hostage taker and ask no questions about what are their demands and if they want pizza in the meantime. No, the SWAT team is getting strategically in place to take out the hostage taker!

Meaning, the SWAT team is more aggressive than the negotiating team. And truth is, I know that you’ve prayed for those “hostages” in your life. You want to have them freed. You talk to them sometimes about the Lord; you worry about them. But so often we miss what Jesus said is the first step – tying up the one who is holding the hostages! And despite what most churches think, you can’t neutralize the Devil with a program, or a committee, or words, or a task force, or marches, or demonstrations. There’s more to outreach and evangelism than handing out tracts. There’s more than standing at the altar, waiting for the call to be made, so you can hold hands with someone and have a 2 minute prayer that you’re under the impression will take them out of the bondage they’ve been in for the last 2 decades. Listen: The Scripture gives us clear instructions in Mark 3:27 (let’s look at a few translations):

“But no one can go into a strong man’s house and steal his property UNLESS HE FIRST OVERPOWERS AND TIES UP THE STRONG MAN, and then he will ransack and rob his house.” (AMP);

“But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, UNLESS HE FIRST BINDS THE STRONG MAN. Then indeed he may plunder his house.” (ESV);

“Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? ONLY SOMEONE EVEN STRONGER—SOMEONE WHO COULD TIE HIM UP and then plunder his house” (NLT);

One of the “…FIRST…” things the SWAT team has to do is “…OVERPOWER; TIE UP AND BIND…” the hostage taker! This must be done “…FIRST…”!

The word “first” is defined as “coming before all others in time or order; before anything else; foremost in position, rank or importance; highest; chief; preference; precedence.

The word “bind” is defined as “to tie or fasten tightly together; to restrain by tying hands and feet; to wrap or encircle tightly; to hamper or constrain.

The word “tie” is defined as “to attach or fasten; to restrict; confine; limit; to prevent escape or movement.

And SWAT team this is our charge! To FIRST, TIE AND BIND THE STRONG MAN! This is what we do FIRST (before anything else; this is our highest; chief; foremost important, preferred method of operation!) And why is that? Because when we FIRST, TIE AND BIND the strong man, what we’re strategically doing is restraining him, which is (‘to keep under control or within limits; to deprive of freedom or movement or personal liberty’. Its Latin Origin literally means “to tie back”); we’re hampering him, which is (‘to hinder or impede the movement or progress of’); we’re constraining him, which is to (‘severely restrict the activity of; Its Old French Origin “constraindre”, from Latin ‘constringere’ literally means “to bind tightly together”); we’re restricting him, which is to (‘put a limit on; keep under control; deprive of freedom of movement or action’. Its Latin Origin literally means ‘to tie back’); we’re confining him, which is to (‘set limits or boundaries; to make unable to leave; restricted due to handicap or because of becoming disabled; limiting’. Its Latin Origin ‘confinis’ means ‘bordering’ and ‘finis’ which means ‘end or limit’); and most importantly, we’re preventing his escape or movement to do any more damage! This is what happens to the strong man when we first tie and bind him! Which clearly makes it easier to free the hostages! After all, what can he then do?!

But how do we tie and bind the strong man? He is bound by prayer. And I don’t mean, “Now I lay me down to sleep” or “Bless the missionaries” kind of prayers. This is prayer that aims all the majestic power of Jesus Christ at the enemy who is holding the lives we care about.

Mark 9:29, “He answered, “There is no way to get rid of this kind of demon EXCEPT BY PRAYER.” (MSG); Matthew 17:21, “But this kind does not go out EXCEPT BY PRAYER AND FASTING.” (AMPC)

James 5:16, “Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and PRAY [also] for one another, that you may be HEALED AND RESTORED [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. THE EARNEST (HEARTFELT, CONTINUED) PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN MAKES TREMENDOUS POWER AVAILABLE [DYNAMIC IN ITS WORKING].” (AMPC)

Then the book of Revelation goes on to say, “…THEY OVERCAME HIM BY THE WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY AND BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB.” (Revelation 12:11) Another powerful weapon is our Testimony, but no weapon is as powerful as the Blood of the Lamb! We need to make sure we’re covered by the Blood, then Plead the Blood against the enemy!

And even if you dare doubt that we are well equipped to tie and bind the strong man after all of that, make sure you read Ephesians 6:10-19! Because it’s not that we’re ill-equipped, it’s that we keep forgetting to get dressed properly!

Ephesians 6:10-18, “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. And don’t forget to pray for me. Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I, jailbird preacher that I am, am responsible for getting out.” (MSG)

That’s the weapons you are to wield! This is to be your daily wardrobe if you are to win in warfare! So how have you been dressing for battle lately?!

And yet, even with that, the Scripture that blessed me the most is still Luke 10:19, “Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over ALL THE POWER THAT THE ENEMY [POSSESSES]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.” (AMPC) Remember Mark 3:27? … In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house AND CARRY OFF HIS POSSESSIONS unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.” But Luke 10:19 states, “Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] OVER ALL THE POWER THAT THE ENEMY [POSSESSES]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.” (AMPC)

SWAT team we can gear up and go in? Why? Because with the authority and power that Jesus has given unto us “…OVER ALL THE POWER THAT THE ENEMY [POSSESSES]…”, when we TIE and BIND the Strong Man, we can “…CARRY OFF HIS POSSESSIONS…”

Like Pharaoh, By the Time We’re Done With the Enemy, He Will Gladly Loose Our Hostages and Let Them Go! Exodus 12:31-36, “Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “GET UP, GET OUT FROM AMONG MY PEOPLE, both you and the Israelites; and GO, serve the Lord, as you said.  Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and GO, and [ask your God to] bless me also.” The Egyptians [ANXIOUSLY] URGED the people [to leave], to send them out of the land QUICKLY, for they said, “We will all be dead.”  So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their clothes on their shoulders. Now the Israelites had acted in accordance with the word of Moses; and they had asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing.  The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they gave them what they asked. And so they PLUNDERED the Egyptians [of those things].” (AMP) Sounds a lot like Mark 3:27, But no one can go into a strong man’s house and ransack his household goods right and left and seize them as PLUNDER unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may [thoroughly] PLUNDER his house.” (AMPC).

That word ‘plunder’ means ‘to enter in and take by force!’

Listen, once you follow the directives of Jesus’ strategy for taking down the hostage taker, you’ll be amazed at how fast the strongman wants you to take your stuff (and his) and leave! And if you follow through all the way you won’t leave anywhere near empty handed, just ask Israel!

BUT! You can’t just go running in to try to bring them out! You’ve got to DO FIRST THINGS FIRST! Deal with the one who is holding the hostages. And what’s the best way to deal with him besides prayer, fasting, the Word of God, being equipped in the armor of God, your testimony, the blood of the Lamb, and having the authority and power of Jesus? It’s using that wonderful name…JESUS! Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation].” (AMP) The Message Bible reads like this: With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: “Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I’ll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, ONLY THIS ONE.”(Acts 4:8-12 MSG)

Philippians 2:10, “So when the name of Jesus is spoken, everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow down before Him.” (NLV).  It says in Mark 3:11, “And whenever those possessed by demons caught sight of Him they would fall down before Him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” (TLB) They didn’t even fight. They just fell down, and so will the enemies you face!

Saints, when the Devil is confronted with the presence, and the power, and the name of Jesus Christ, he surrenders and the hostages can go free!

SWAT team, it’s time to weaken the strong man, plunder his house and set the captives free! You’ve been given the weapons and the strategy, now but them to work, there are far too many hostages who are still bound waiting for you to go to battle on their behalf!

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

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“Guard the Word God Gave You!”

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Mark 4:15, “These [in the first group] are the ones along the road where the Word is sown; but when they hear, SATAN IMMEDIATELY comes and takes away the Word which has been sown in them.” (AMP)

When you come from a military family, you learn quite a bit about military lingo. And one of the terms I learned was “beachhead”. Now, since we’re not all military types, it’s probably good to explain what a beachhead is before we talk about one. A beachhead is not where the beach begins (yeah, that’s what I thought it was, so what, don’t laugh!). And for further clarity, it’s also not a guy who just thinks about getting to the beach all the time!

You see, in wartime, a beachhead is pretty serious business! It’s a small piece of ground that you try to take as your first step in taking all the ground that your enemy holds! The dictionary defines it as “a fortified position on a beach taken by landing forces.”

For example, during WWII, two of the world’s greatest generals went against each other when the Allies set out to take North Africa back from the Germans. General Dwight Eisenhower, the commander of the Allied forces, planned to land and take three important beachheads. German general Rommel, the famous “Desert Fox“, basically said, “We must stop Eisenhower within 48 hours of his landing or we won’t stop him.” Needless to say, they didn’t stop him. And five months after Eisenhower successfully captured that first beachhead, Rommel had to flee and surrender everything, including 250,000 soldiers. And he lost it all at that first beachhead!

Satan, the commander of hell’s forces, is determined to stop you from ever becoming what Jesus died for you to be! And like any smart general, he knows he has to stop you at that first beachhead, before you grow and gain any more ground. His strategy is revealed in Mark 4:15. “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. AS SOON AS they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Let’s look at this Scripture in a few translations:

“The ones along the path are those who have the Word sown [in their hearts], but when they hear, SATAN COMES AT ONCE AND [BY FORCE] takes away the message which is sown in them.” (AMPC);

“This is the meaning of the seed that fell on the path: When the word is scattered and people hear it, RIGHT AWAY SATAN COMES and steals the word that was planted in them.” (CEB);

“The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But SATAN SOON COMES and snatches it away from them.” (CEV);

“And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, SATAN IMMEDIATELY COMES and takes away the word that is sown in them.” (ESV);

“The hard pathway, where some of the seed fell, represents the hard hearts of some of those who hear God’s message; SATAN COMES AT ONCE to try to make them forget it.” (TLB);

“The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. NO SOONER DO THEY HEAR THE WORD THAN SATAN SNATCHES away what has been planted in them.” (MSG);

“Sometimes the teaching falls on the road. This is like the people who hear the teaching of God, but SATAN QUICKLY COMES and takes away the teaching that was planted in them.” (NCV)

Listen to what Satan does WHEN YOU HEAR A WORD FROM THE LORD: “AT ONCE AND BY FORCE… RIGHT AWAY SATAN COMES… SATAN SOON COMES… SATAN IMMEDIATELY COMES… SATAN COMES AT ONCE… NO SOONER DO THEY HEAR THE WORD THAN SATAN SNATCHES… SATAN QUICKLY COMES…”

Here’s what happens: God’s Word has landed in your heart. You’re starting to gain some ground spiritually, so hell has been notified and your enemy is alarmed. He comes immediately to try to take away the ground you just gained through God’s Word. This is what causes us to become discouraged so quickly. Because as soon as God gives us a Word, Satan goes to War! God speaks healing, and here comes Satan with another symptom; God speaks wealth, and here comes Satan with an unexpected bill; God speaks promotion, and here comes Satan with a layoff; God speaks a new home, and here comes Satan with a leaky roof; God speaks opportunity, and here comes Satan with obstacles; God speaks calm, and here comes Satan with chaos; God speaks anniversary, and here comes Satan with divorce papers! And he doesn’t drag his feet either, the Bible says, “at once, by force, right away, immediately, no sooner than, quickly, and as soon as” the Word is Sown, here comes Satan with his Shovel!

It’s important to understand that Satan doesn’t want you to gain any more ground!

Remember the beachhead, is “a fortified position on a beach taken by landing forces.” It’s important to know that the beachhead isn’t vulnerable, it is fortified! And the word “fortified” is defined as, “to provide with defensive works as protection against attack.” Its Latin Origin “fortificare,” from “fortis” literally means “strong.” So, General Eisenhower wasn’t landing on a ground that wasn’t protected! It was guarded, just not well enough to stop him from taking it. Which is why Rommel said, “We must stop Eisenhower within 48 hours of his landing or we won’t stop him.Rommel knew Eisenhower was coming, and knew that he was coming to take their ground, their land, their territory, and their beachhead. And he obviously knew how strategic and strong Eisenhower’s troops were, because he immediately tells his own,We must stop Eisenhower within 48 hours of his landing or we won’t stop him.” And surely you recall how this attack ended from the opening statement: “…five months after Eisenhower successfully captured that first beachhead, Rommel had to flee and surrender everything, including 250,000 soldiers.” And he lost it all at that first beachhead!

Because Rommel didn’t stop Eisenhower, he had to flee, and surrender everything, including his soldiers!

Listen: If you don’t Guard the Word God has given you, Satan will come in IMMEDIATELY, and fight to steal it! And in the end, you will be the one fleeing, and surrendering everything, including those attached to you!

In other words, by no means is Satan playing games, in fact, he’s playing for keeps! “The thief’s PURPOSE is to STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY…” (John 10:10 NLT) Nothing about that sounds like child’s play! Which is why it’s so vital that you take the enemy seriously! He has a Purpose just as much as you do! And if you let him, he will fulfill his, leaving you to forfeit yours!

Which may help explain why things have suddenly gotten so tough for you, why things are going wrong, maybe why you don’t have the spiritual enthusiasm you did before. Your logical reaction is, “I’ve been really trying to do what God wants, so what’s wrong here?” The answer is, “‘Nothing’s wrong! It’s because something’s right!

You have a beachhead (‘a promise’; ‘a word from God’) and the enemy is worried and ready to attack because he can’t let you have that ground, then gain more! So suddenly he’s interested in you. He didn’t have to bother you when you weren’t a threat. He didn’t bother you when you stopped fasting, became lazy in reading/studying the Word, started slacking in your prayer/devotion time with God, when you stopped going to Sunday School, and started making excuses for skipping Bible Study. The enemy didn’t think 2 cents about you. You didn’t even appear on his radar, in fact he may have said something like this: “But the evil spirit retorted, “I know and recognize and acknowledge Jesus, and I know about Paul, BUT AS FOR YOU, WHO ARE YOU?” (Acts 19:15 AMP)

The enemy doesn’t bother those who don’t bother him! If you’re not reading the Word, in prayer, fasting, obeying the commandments, fellowshipping with your brothers and sisters in Christ, walking in the Spirit, being directed and guided by the Holy Ghost, what does he want with you? After all, what can you do to attack his kingdom, when you aren’t armed with any of the weaponry of the Kingdom yourself!?

However, for those who have made the decision to LAY ASIDE AND GET RID OF their bad habits, attitudes and addictions (Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (UNNECESSARY WEIGHT) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,” (AMPC); those who have decided to REIGNITE THE FIRE in their gifts, prayer and devotion time (2 Timothy 1:6, “That is why I would remind you to stir up (REKINDLE THE EMBERS OF, FAN THE FLAME OF, AND KEEP BURNING) the [gracious] gift of God, [THE INNER FIRE] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination].” (AMPC); (1 Thessalonians 5:17, “BE UNCEASING IN PRAYER [PRAYING PERSEVERINGLY]” (AMPC); (1 Timothy 2:10, “But by doing good deeds (deeds in themselves good and for the good and advantage of those contacted by them), as befits women who profess reverential fear for and DEVOTION TO GOD.” (AMPC); those spending more time with God, the saints, and in the sanctuary; those hearing from God and following the directives of the Holy Ghost, the enemy is screaming from hell, “READY, AIM, FIRE!”

And by no means should that terrify you, in fact, it ought to excite you, that you’re finally on the enemies hit list! It’s not because of what you’ve done wrong, it’s because you’ve finally got it right!

So now he’s got to get himself in position to make it hard for you! He’s got to stop your forward progress fast or there’s no telling how much ground he’s going to lose! He has to stop you before you start interceding for folks, laying hands on people, speaking in tongues, binding the works of the flesh. He’s got to stop you before you start pleading the blood of Jesus over your family; before you start anointing your children. He’s got to stop you before you start speaking those things that be not as though they were. He’s got to stop you before your hope is renewed and your faith is revived. He’s got to stop you before you start believing that God meant just what He said concerning you. He’s got to stop you before you start dreaming again. He’s got to stop you before you stop living in the past and start seeing yourself in a great future. He’s got to stop you from walking with God, before you gain more ground!

Satan gets busy whenever God has made a major landing in your life. Maybe you’ve recently made a new surrender of your life to Jesus or you’ve said yes to His call on your life. You’ve stepped up to leadership. Could it be that you’ve begun a new work for the Lord? Made a new commitment to be the marriage partner or the parent you should be, to give more to the Lord’s work, to live by new priorities? Guess what? If so, alarm bells are going off in hell!

But don’t get discouraged. Don’t go back to the old ways. This is just your old enemy trying to stop this progress while it’s new and fragile. If you keep going this way, your enemy’s going to lose big time and he knows it. So step up and launch a Biblical counterattack. In the words of James 4:7, “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

Remember, Rommel’s beachhead was guarded, just not well enough to stop Eisenhower’s attack! Which is why you have to be sure you guard well your beachhead (‘your promise/your Word from God’). And how do you do that? By doing your part and allowing God to do His. What I love about James 4:7 is that when I come near to God, He comes near to me. And what greater protection can your beachhead possibly have than to have the Presence of the Lord near? Look at it like this: If there was a thief across the street from you, but you were surrounded by 20 of the NYPD’s finest, armed, locked and loaded…how scared would you really be of that thief? You would probably stand there in full confidence saying, “what you waiting for? Come on over here, in fact, I double-dog dare you!” And why are you able to say that? Because you are heavily guarded and protected! And just so you know that’s not just an illustration, but it’s the truth!

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)

That’s the security you have when you come near to God and He comes near to you! Not only is He your refuge keeping you safe, but He’s also Ordered (not asked) His angels to guard you wherever you go! Remember this the next time God gives you a Word. Protect it by remaining in the Presence of God. Knowing that His angels are with you, guarding you, keeping you safe, wherever you go. That’s how you protect your beachhead (‘your promise/your Word from God’). Don’t just let the devil take your property! Fight for it, guard it, and stay as close to God as you can!

Don’t get all excited about the Word from God, and forget to Guard it! Remember the enemy is ready to steal, kill and destroy, and that includes you and the Word of Promise given to you. Don’t let him get it! He’s ready and alert, now make sure you are too!

1 Peter 5:8-11, “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. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” (MSG) Stay Alert, The Devil Is Poised To Pounce! The Danger for us as believers in becoming lazy, is that the devil never is! He’s Poised to Pounce! He’s in Position to Attack, are you?!

Charles Spurgeon said, “The greatest sign of God’s will and God’s power is the Devil’s growl.” If you’re hearing the “growl” you’re probably on the right track! The battle for the beachhead… it might be raging around you or even in you right now. Hold your ground, soldier! You’re not losing or the enemy wouldn’t bother with you. You’re on your way to some of the greatest victories of your life! Protect Your Word, Protect Your Promise! He’s Only Getting Worse, Because You’re Getting Better! It will be a fight to the finish, but one you will finish and win! Keep your armor on, and fight the good fight of faith!

You’ll Gain More Ground If You Keep the Devil Under Your Feet!

1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of the faith [in the conflict with evil]; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and [for which] you made the good confession [of faith] in the presence of many witnesses.” (AMP)

Psalm 144:1, “Praise and thanks be to the Lord, my rock. He makes my hands ready for war, and my fingers for battle.” (NLV)

2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man.  The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ” (AMP)

1 John 4:4, “Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind].” (AMP)

Therefore, Soldiers in the Lord’s Army, Put Your Warfare Clothes On, Go to Battle and Guard the Word God Gave You!

Ephesians 6:10-18, “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (MSG)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “African Americans Face Unique Mental Health Risks”

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