“Carry God Correctly!”

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2 Samuel 6:3, “And they set the ark of God upon a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abindab, drove the new cart.” (AMP)                     

For those of you desiring to be a True Soul Winner for God, then the First Key you must remember is to Carry God Correctly!  

God cannot be sprayed on like cologne, used as a scent to cover up our sinful stench! Nor can He be used like a credit card, hidden, and taken out only when needed to be used! No, God Must Live IN You and Through You! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who LIVES WITHIN YOU, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him IN your body.” (AMP).

Truth is, it’s getting really hard for the people of God to be Effective in reaching out to the world because the world is starting to believe in their own Form of Righteousness and even though they have No Commitment to God, they believe that they are heaven bound! This is going to step on some Sanctified Toes, but the Truth of the Matter Is: This is the Churches Fault! 2 Timothy 3:5, For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].” (AMP).

Church, We have made So Many Excuses For Ourselves, And Them, going after Money Instead of Deliverance or Preaching Feel Good Messages Instead of Preaching the Total Truth, that Now, the World is Walking Alongside the Church As If They Are Okay! However, the Word of God Has Commanded Us: “So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor.” (2 Corinthians 6:17 AMP). 

When we Hide the Truth, We Give No Reason For Change To The World! We have to remember at all times, Believers Don’t Blend!

Again the Church Is Commanded: 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers [do not make mismated alliances with them or come under a different yoke with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light have fellowship with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial [the devil]? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement [can there be between] a temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (AMP). 

Understand This: When We Are “Of” The World, Then We Promote It And Cause the World to Accept a Form of Godliness, Instead of a Godly Lifestyle! It’s All About How WE (THE CHURCH) Carry God In Our Daily Lives, PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY! The World Should See a Distinctive Difference Between Us and Them. Our Homes, Families, Character, Integrity, Work Ethics, Dress Attire, Habits, Lifestyle, Should All Send a Clear Message Between Light and Dark, Clean and Unclean, Holy and Unholy, Saved and Unsaved, Believer, and Unbeliever! Church, Let’s Come Out of Acting Like the World, So We Can Bring the World Into the Church! We Can’t Help Them When Our Behavior is No Different From Them.

Listen: In this passage of Scripture, we find a group of people that are Trying to Carry God’s Ark (Which Represents His Presence), BUT They Did Not Follow His Commandments!

Let me say it like this: These guys Decided to Put God on a Vehicle and Carry Him to a Certain Place. HOWEVER, God Commanded that They Carry Him By the Hands of the Sanctified Levites and that They Carry Him By the Handles that were Attached to it! BUT, They Came Up With the Bright Idea to Place Him On a Cart and Drive Him By Oxen! Well, when the cart hit a bump, the Ark Got Off Balance and Uzzah Reached Out to Stabilize it. When He Touched It, He Was Struck Dead On the Spot! But the Moral of This Story Is Not that Uzzah Touched the Ark of God, BUT the Whole PROCESS of Carrying the Ark was WRONG!

Church, in case you didn’t know, Disobedience Leads to Death and Dethroning! Just Ask Saul! Then Samuel said, Do you think all GOD wants are sacrifices—empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. Not doing what GOD tells you is far worse than following around in the occult. Getting self-important around GOD is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors. Because you said No to GOD’s command, he says No to your kingship.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23 MSG).

Amazing, You Can Either Have It All Or Lose It All And It All Simply Depends On Obedience!

God Did Not Want Them to Carry Him Like That! Uzzah reached out and tried to Help God, BUT He Shouldn’t Have Been Carrying God Like That In the First Place! Even Though Their Motives Were Good, the Process of Getting God to the People Was Wrong! And That’s What We Must Remember Today! If We Are Going to Reach the Lost, We Have to Carry God Correctly!

2 Corinthians 5:16-20, “Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s Representatives. God Uses Us to Persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re Speaking For Christ Himself Now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” (MSG).

In A Neat Little Nutshell: You Can’t Convert Them Into a Right Relationship With God, Carrying God Wrong!

Listen: As Christ’s Representatives, We Can’t Afford to Mix God Up in Our Selfish Agendas, BUT We Must Stick to the Bible and Understand How He Wants Us to Walk in This World!

“See then that ye Walk Circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” (Ephesians 5:15). The Word “Circumspectly” means to be “Cautious and Prudent” Its Latin Origin “Circumspectus”, from “Circumspicere” literally means to “Look Around”. In other words, whether it be in your thoughts, words, actions, motives, intentions, or attitude, Be Cautious and Prudent, Take the Time to Look Around You, there is a Whole World Watching How You Walk! And Many will either stay the same, change for the better, or change for the worse, Simply and Literally By Watching How You Walk!

“Prudent” means “Acting with or showing care and thought for the future”; Its Latin Origin “Prudens”, from “Providens” literally means “Forseeing” As a part of witnessing, it is our job as the church not to see people (unbelievers) as they are Currently, but as they Can Be In Christ! We have the ability to Forsee Them Being Saved, Sanctified, Healed, Delivered and Changed! Therefore, we walk in such a manner as not to foolishly hinder what could be a fruitful future for them in the Kingdom! Which means, we must take such care in our walk because they are watching and will thereby imitate…For Better Or For Worse!

Think of it this way: A small child learning how to put their shoes on needs assistance, teaching, direction and an example shown because of their lack of knowledge in how this is to be done. And looking to an adult, who they believe knows all about this stuff, obviously, they come to us to show them how to do it. Can you imagine if we told them the left shoe goes on the right foot, and the right shoe goes on the left foot? Sounds comical, but do you know that they’re going to do it! Why? Because they trust that what We Tell Them and Show Them Is Correct! After all, why would we, who supposedly love them, want to tell and show them something that is not only wrong, but painful, and which can eventually lead to a difficult walk and deformity?

However, the truth is, that’s exactly what we, the church, has been doing to the world! We’ve been telling them one thing and doing another! And in confusion, they’re doing both…what we say and what we do, and then we’re wondering why are they so screwed up and confused…BUT WE CAUSED IT!

And while we’re talking about teaching people to walk right, there’s another little thing to keep in mind. As parents, we often check our children’s feet and shoes as they grow older because we always want them to be in the Appropriate Size! Likewise, don’t just get the “glad glads” when someone comes to Christ and then just leave them at the altar! Babes in Christ are no different than Babies, to Children, To Teens, To Young Adults, To Adults. They need help throughout all their stages of life and growth! Teach them throughout each Transition! Listen, you can’t get mad when they’re 16 and still struggling trying to walk in the same size shoe as when they were 6, when you never helped them out of it! You see, the danger is that once a person does something consistently (be it right or wrong), it develops into a habit, and that habit (be it good or bad) will become their normal way of life. So, if we tell the world to put out their cigarettes, get rid of the bottle, flush the drugs, we better make sure those things have already been delivered from us first! Because when we compromise before the world, we compromise the eternity of the world. We can’t tell them to start a new way of life, when we haven’t stopped our old way of living. In addition, we can’t set low standards that say you can cuss (just not on Sundays); you can drink, get high, and smoke 2 packs a day (just not on Bible Study nights); you can fornicate, commit adultery, lie, steal, cheat, be unforgiving and spiteful (just not when you see other believers around). We have to stand out so distinctively it makes the world come to us asking questions! Which is why you don’t see an influx of unbelievers visiting churches. For what? When what’s going on within the 4 walls of the church is the same thing going on within the 4 walls of the club! Why would they come to church to learn how to live right, when we’re comfortable living wrong? Church, we have to do and be better. We have to set the bar as high as God’s character and integrity, especially since we’re going around using His Name (Christ) to describe ourselves (Christians)! My former pastor used to say, ‘bring no shame to the family name.’ Well, if you were charged for bringing shame to the Kingdom of God family name, would you be found innocent or guilty? And yes, that includes your public AND private life!

It’s our job to make sure that unbelievers come to Christ, and it’s our job to continue walking with them along their journey! However, that is difficult to do when we keep changing up the rules of Salvation depending on the Circumstance of Life we find ourselves in! We can’t call what they do sin on Saturday, when we do the same thing on Monday. We Can’t Compromise the Characteristics of Christ that Should Be Evident in Every Believers Life and Lifestyle. Remember This: Carrying Christ Requires Consistency!

We must learn to consistently walk in such a manner that our testimony is the same as Enoch’s: “And Enoch walked [in Habitual Fellowship] With God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him].” (Genesis 5:24 AMP).  And this isn’t a Sunday Walk either! Enoch’s Walk With God Was “Habitual”, meaning it was “Done Constantly as a Habit; It was his usual or his regular, daily, consistently unbroken routine”! Now that’s a walk, in the words of the Apostle Paul, that is “worthy to be imitated”!

Church, To Carry God Correctly, We Must Walk Circumspectly! God Wants Us to Walk With Him and Carry Him Within Ourselves So that He May Be Shown Mighty In Our Own Lives! God Wants Us So Full of Him that We Can Just Walk Up to a Sinner and he will See God’s Glory Shining Through Us!

After All, If We’re Really Spending Quality Time Walking With God, Talking With God and Carrying God, There Should Be Manifested Evidence of the Fact, Shouldn’t It? It was for Moses:When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of The Testimony, he didn’t know that the SKIN OF HIS FACE GLOWED BECAUSE HE HAD BEEN SPEAKING WITH GOD. Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, SAW HIS RADIANT FACE, and held back, afraid to get close to him. Moses called out to them. Aaron and the leaders in the community came back and Moses talked with them. Later all the Israelites came up to him and he passed on the commands, everything that GOD had told him on Mount Sinai. When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face, but when he went into the Presence of GOD to Speak with Him, he removed the veil until he came out. When he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, THEY WOULD SEE MOSES’ FACE, ITS SKIN GLOWING, and then he would again put the veil on his face until he went back to Speak With GOD.” (Exodus 34:29-35 MSG). 

People of God, the World is looking to see the Glow of His Glory on Us, NOT the Form of Godliness Through Us! Therefore, Today Determine To Carry God And His Glory Correctly!

God Is Tired of Us Hiding In the Church or Using Our “Ministry” as a Cart to Carry Him Instead of Us Carrying Him Personally! The Day of Trying to Get Sinners to Church to get them Saved Is Over! We Must Be Full of God’s Spirit and Reach the Lost at Our Jobs, in our Homes, at the Supermarket, in the Laundromat, on line at the Bank, Walking through Park and our Neighborhoods, Just Because He Is Shown Mighty in Our Personal Lives! If We Walk Right Before Them, They Will Know the True and Living God! If Signs and Wonders Really Follow Us (Healing, Miracles, Deliverance, etc.) then They Will Know the Power of God and Desire It! Our Man-Made Schemes of Reaching the World are Not Important! God Will Reach the Lost If We Just Lend Him Our Members and Show Him In Our Daily Walk! Don’t Get Caught Up In a Man-Made Plan to Carry God in Any Method Other Than the Way the Word of God Tells Us To!

After all, what will it Profit the World to See Us Carrying God the Way They Do?

Saints, There Must Be a Difference Between Us and Them! A Clear Distinction! Exodus 8:20-23, “God said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes down to the water. Tell him, ‘God’s Message: Release my people so they can worship me. If you don’t release my people, I’ll release swarms of flies on you, your servants, your people, and your homes. The houses of the Egyptians and even the ground under their feet will be thick with flies. BUT WHEN IT HAPPENS, I’LL SET GOSHEN WHERE MY PEOPLE LIVE ASIDE AS A SANCTUARY – NO FLIES IN GOSHEN. THAT WILL SHOW YOU THAT I AM GOD IN THIS LAND. I’LL MAKE A SHARP DISTINCTION BETWEEN YOUR PEOPLE AND MINE. This sign will occur tomorrow.’” (MSG)

IT IS MY BELIEF THAT GOD STILL WANTS HIS PEOPLE DISTINCT FROM THE WORLD AROUND THEM! SO THE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ASK AND ANSWER IS: “IS MY CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE DISTINCT FROM THE WORLD OR HARD TO DIFFERENTIATE FROM IT?!”

2 Samuel 6:6-7, “When they came to Nacon’s threshing floor, Uzzah reached out [with his hand] to the ark of God and took hold of it, because the oxen [stumbled and] nearly overturned it.  And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.” (AMP) Trying to help cost him his life. And all because he put his hands on the ark he wasn’t supposed to touch. An ark that was being carried incorrectly. Can you imagine if that was God’s response to us every time we carried Him incorrectly or represented Him in a manner inconsistent with His Character? How much of the Church would be left alive? Sadly, Uzzah would never have lost his life had the ark been carried correctly in the first place. Saints, we have to remember that there are always consequences to our choices. And if we choose to haphazardly carry God incorrectly, He will chastise the children in whom He loves. But who’s to say what that chastisement might be? And do you really want to compromise and chance it? Truthfully, we’ve all missed out on much due to our disobedience. Not to mention, this side of heaven, we’ll never know how many people we led astray by our contrary behavior.

We preach, teach and pray that these are the end times and the last days. Well, wouldn’t you say then that it’s vital that the church gets her act together? Lives and eternity are hanging in the balance. Our obedience can tip the scales in the Kingdom’s favor. People of God, We Must Stay Obedient to Him In Order to Win the Lost! For We Dare Not Carry God So Carelessly That the World Declares “…You ALMOST Persuaded Me…” (Acts 26:28) ‘Almost’ is defined as, ‘very nearly; borderline; partially; just about; within an inch of.’ And in these last days and end times, is that the report we intend to give to God? That our inconsistent lifestyles of straddling the fence, caused people to miss heaven by a borderline?! People who were very near to accepting You, they were partially there, just about, within an inch of making it in, until they saw how we act out! Listen, I can’t speak for you, but that is NOT the report I intend to give God!

Let’s not lose anymore Uzzahs!

Let’s Carry God the Way He’s Already Commanded Us to. Let’s be His clean, and honorable vessels that He can pour into and out of. Let’s make sure our habits, behavior, attitude, speech, attire, lifestyle choices all reflect a good representation of God. Let’s remember we’re created in His image and likeness, we’re His Ambassadors, we are Christians, called by His Name, we are Disciples of Christ, we are children of God, and representatives of heaven, we are the called out ones, we are the CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD! Now, let’s act like it!

Remember, the world is watching our walk, let’s make sure we don’t trip them up!

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

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“Rest is NOT a Sin”

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Mark 6:30-32, “The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; LET’S TAKE A BREAK AND GET A LITTLE REST.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves…” (MSG).

The Bible speaks in a negative way about “IDLENESS”. After all, it’s defined as, “avoiding work; lazy; not in use; having no purpose or basis; doing nothing of relevance.” Its Old English origin literally means, ‘empty and useless.’

The Bible says this in Proverbs 6:6-11, “Go to the ant, you Sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O Sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber – So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (NKJV). The Message Bible says it like this: “You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest!” (MSG)

This is not in reference to those who are working, but to those who are not! They haven’t even tried! Don’t even give a little bit of effort. Never making the slightest of attempts! This speaks of those who are idle, those who avoid work, those who are lazy, not in use, floating through life with no purpose or basis to their existence, accomplishing absolutely nothing that has any relevance. They’re called lazy, foolish sluggards who in the end can only look forward to a dirt-poor life with poverty being their permanent houseguest! Saints, make sure this is NOT descriptive of you! Do not attempt to use REST as your excuse for LAZINESS!  

Then 1 Timothy 5:13 goes on to say, “And besides they learn to be Idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only Idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not” (NKJV). Of all the things you can learn in life, make sure idleness is not the subject you pass with flying colors! You see those who are idle have nothing of value to share with anybody. All they have is gossip because they’ve learned to become busybodies, who are only busy running their mouths! And you have to be careful around people like that because the Bible says they go from house to house! Make sure they don’t visit you! These are the wrong guests to entertain!

The Bible Refers to those who are “LAZY” by such loathsome words as “Slothful,” “Sluggard,” and “Slack Hand”! We do not want our names listed in these categories! Therefore, before we talk about REST make sure you’re one who has earned it, and not one who uses it as an EXCUSE for Laziness and Idleness! God will not confuse the two when He hands out blessings and curses, so I suggest you likewise not confuse the two!

Now, the Bible Refers Very Positively about LABOR and WORK in the following Scriptures:

Luke 10:7, “Stay with the same family, eating and drinking whatever they give you, because WORKERS Are Worth What They Earn. Don’t move around from house to house” (CEV);

1 Corinthians 3:8-9, “The one who Plants is just as important as the one who Waters. And each one will be Paid For What They Do. Apollos and I WORK Together For God, and You are God’s Garden and God’s Building” (CEV);

Ephesians 4:28, “If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and WORK Hard, so you will Have Something to Give to People In Need” (CEV);

1 Thessalonians 4:11, “Try your best to live quietly, to mind your own business, and to WORK Hard, Just As We Taught You To Do” (CEV). 

Given the Admonition that we are to WORK six days and rest one (Exodus 34:21, “Do your WORK in Six Days and REST On the Seventh Day…” CEV), we might conclude that the Bible is about all work and no fun. However, that is far from the truth!  

Jesus Expected His Disciples to “Come Aside” periodically for REST, and Scripture has repeated references to the Benefits of “Making Merry”:

Proverbs 15:13, 15, “A Merry Heart Maketh a Cheerful Countenance…but he that is of a Merry Heart Hath a Continual Feast”;

Proverbs 17:22, “A Merry Heart Doeth Good Like a Medicine…”;

Luke 15:32, “It was meet that we should Make Merry, and Be Glad…” 

The Bible speaks of More than Seventy Days a Year in which “No Customary Work” is to be done!

Leviticus 23:7-8, “In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do No Servile Work Therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do No Servile Work Therein”. That word ‘servile’ is defined as, ‘excessively willing to serve or please others; of or characteristic of a slave or slaves.’ Its Latin origin ‘servilis’, from ‘servus’ literally means ‘slave.’ In other words, this rest break was speaking of those who actually did Work! And by its definition they worked hard, as hard as slaves, excessively willing to serve and please others. There’s been times when we’ve all worked our hearts out on projects, only to attempt to sit down, and before our behind could hit the cushion, another assignment was given! And yet, as hard as we are to work, God let’s us know that we are not to ALWAYS, ALL THE TIME, WORK! There are times when you are to take a break and get a little rest! Especially since rest is NOT a Sin!

The seven-day feasts that mark Passover, Tabernacles, and Weeks, as well as the Feast of Trumpets, and every Sabbath Day Are Included in this time of rest where no servile work is to be done!

In addition to Rest and Prayer, Leisure days in the Bible are associated with food, gift-giving, singing, and great joy: Revelation 11:10, “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth”.  

A time of Rest from work is Advocated for those who are experiencing grief: Matthew 14:10-13, “So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He Departed From There By Boat To a Deserted Place By Himself…” (NKJV).  

It is Advocated for those who are seeking Spiritual Empowerment to do God’s Will: Matthew 4:1, 11, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (NKJV).  

It is Advocated for those who are entering into an intense period of Prayer: Matthew 14:23, “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He Went Up On the Mountain By Himself to Pray. Now When Evening Came, He Was Alone There” (NKJV).  

And it is Advocated for those who are Newly Married: Deuteronomy 24:5, “When a man has taken a New Wife, he shall Not go out to War or be Charged with Any Business; he shall be Free at Home One Year, and bring Happiness to his Wife whom he has taken” (NKJV). [That last one might’ve saved a lot of ministry marriages if we had simply applied it!]  

Listen, keep this in mind: The word “Leisure” means “Time Spent in or free for Relaxation or Enjoyment”. Its Origin is the Old French word “Leisir” from the Latin word “Licere” which means to “Be Allowed”. People of God, Allow Yourself Leisure Time! You’ve Earned It, You Deserve It, You Need It, and Most Importantly, the Bible Commands It! Yes, the Bible is indeed in favor of those who Labor and Work Hard! But Likewise the Word is Not Silent Regarding the Leisure Time of Rest and Play that is Needed to Balance Out the Believers Life! So keep your 50/50 Balance in Life, Work and Play, and Enjoy a Long, Healthy Life!

Understand this: You Will Never Renew Until You Rest! And what does the Bible say about Rest? “And He said to them, [As for you] come away by yourselves to a deserted place, and REST A WHILE – for many were [continually] coming and going, and they had not even leisure enough to eat” (Mark 6:31 AMP).

One of the hardest things to do for many of us, especially in leadership, is to “take a break” without feeling guilty and selfish; or worse, feeling like a failure because everything on your “to do” list didn’t get done. Here’s a news flash: There Will Always Be More To Do! There will always be more deadlines, meetings, appointments, assignments, etc. Which is why one of your biggest challenges will be learning the difference between setting high standards for yourself – and setting unrealistic, impossible ones! Think about it: It’s hard enough trying to make time to get done what you NEED to get done, but that doesn’t compare to the sheer exhaustion of attempting to do something you were never assigned to do in the first place! Therefore, in order to get a handle on your schedule, erase anything non-essential that you’ve penciled in yourself! Truth is, many of us are running around all over the place, completely exhausted and spent, ignoring our loved ones, burned out, miserable, and all because we’re doing more than God ever assigned to our hands! Therefore, here’s some homework for you. Sit down with a pen, pad and your schedule, and make sure you’re supposed to be doing all the stuff you’ve been doing! Remove your unnecessary agenda entries and rearrange your hectic schedule! And I’ll even take it further. Sit yourself down from the committees, auxiliaries, ministries, and leadership positions that God never told you to accept! Have enough maturity to go to your leaders and be honest that you added more to your plate than you can digest in a healthy manner. Learn to tell people ‘no’ without excuse or explanation! Stop over-committing yourself! Stop allowing people to guilt you into stuff! Take your hands off all the stuff God never entrusted you to hold! Sometimes success means knowing when to get somewhere and sit down!

Because to make matters worse, we often claw our way to our idea of success only to discover that we don’t like the pressures that go with it. So what should we do? Learn to Walk Away! Jesus Did! “The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; LET’S TAKE A BREAK AND GET A LITTLE REST.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves…” (Mark 6:30-32 MSG).

Jesus understood that if you don’t take a break – You’ll Break! And isn’t that the truth for many of us? We have such busy schedules and long to-do lists that we rarely get a chance to even eat. And even when we do eat, it’s late and definitely not what we should be eating! Which leads us to a whole new list of problems with bad dieting, over-weight, sickness, ailments and disease. Which only adds on to those problems by adding painful bodies, multiple medications and expensive doctor visits! And the vicious cycle goes on and on.

And what is Jesus Advice: “…LET’S TAKE A BREAK AND GET A LITTLE REST.” 

And what does the word “Rest” mean? “To cease work or movement in order to relax or recover strength; allowed to be inactive in order to regain or save strength or energy.” Do you notice the blessings in rest from this description? For one, you Recover and Regain Strength! You see, Exhaustion Wears You Out! It Drains You of Strength and Weakens You, Inside and Out! In fact, the word “Exhaust” means “to tire out completely.” Its Latin Origin “Exhaurire” literally means “Drain Out”. Now please explain to me how can you be of any good use to your family, friends, job, business, ministry or even to yourself if you’re Completely Tired and Drained Out?! You Can’t! Which is why it’s so important for you to know when to Take a Break! Remember, you can’t Give what you don’t Got! No one can Drink from you if you’re always Drained! The word ‘drain’ is defined as, ‘to cause to run out; to become dry; to deprive of strength and resources; to empty of content; to be used up.’ I reiterate, No One Can Drink From You If You’re Always Drained, Dry, Deprived, Weak, Empty and Used Up!

Saints, Rest is NOT a Sin, It’s a Necessity!

Another added blessing from the definition of ‘Rest’ is that you become Inactive! Many would consider that a negative, but actually it’s not all that bad. One of the definitions of “Inactive” is simply “Not currently being used.” And this can be for your own good! Truth is, sometimes you don’t know how much you do until you stop doing it! And that’s a truth for those around you too who are accustomed to you doing everything! Sometimes you need to stop, so someone else can start! You’ll never know what those around you are capable of if you don’t give them the opportunity to show you. You my friend, as gifted, anointed, blessed, and talent as you are, you are still NOT God. You are here to Represent Him, NOT Be Him! You can’t be everybody’s everything, and then wonder why you have nothing left for yourself! My pastor loves to say, “Stop Giving Away What You Need to Keep for Yourself!” And maybe it’s time you heed that advice. Maybe it’s time you spend an inactive season, where you’re not being used, and it’s okay!

Elijah thought he was the only one too, until God Himself let him know He had 7,000 additional servants! 1 Kings 19:13-18, “When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” Elijah said it again, “I’VE BEEN WORKING MY HEART OUT FOR GOD, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’M THE ONLY ONE LEFT, and now they’re trying to kill me.” GOD SAID, “Go back the way you came through the desert to Damascus. When you get there anoint Hazael; make him king over Aram. Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi; make him king over Israel. Finally, anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Anyone who escapes death by Hazael will be killed by Jehu; and anyone who escapes death by Jehu will be killed by Elisha. MEANWHILE, I’M PRESERVING FOR MYSELF SEVEN THOUSAND SOULS: the knees that haven’t bowed to the god Baal, the mouths that haven’t kissed his image.” (MSG) Like Elijah, I know you’re “working your heart out for God”, and it feels like since you’re doing Everything, you are the only servant God has, but I assure you, you are not all God has left! God has other servants that can do what you do, and several who can do it better. So, believe me when I tell you, taking an ‘inactive season’ off duty will not depress God, nor cause the heavens to go into chaos, it will not rob the angels of an assignment, it will not give advantage to hell, and it will not stop the spreading of the Gospel nor the building up of the Kingdom of God, nor will it kill the Body of Christ!

Saints, Rest is NOT a Sin! Trust me, you will not lose your Standing in God if you go somewhere for a season and Sit Down!  

Another blessing you reap from the definition of ‘Rest’ is that You also Regain Energy! Rest is like a Vitamin, You Should Take it Daily and Take a Supplement Too If Need be! The word “Energy” is defined as “The strength and vitality required for sustained activity.” It’s Greek Origin “Energeia”, from “Ergon” literally means “Work”. When you REST you become Re-Energized! So When You Go Back to Work, Your Strength is Sustained! And “Sustained” comes from the Latin Origin “Sustinere”, from “Tenere” which means “To Hold”. You see, once you get some REST, then you get back to work you’ll be able to hold yourself together because you took the simple time to re-energize! It’s hard to hold yourself together when you feel like you’re being torn in 20 different directions at the same time! That’s why it’s so easy for us to fall apart, because we’re too exhausted and weak to hold ourselves together. That’s why rest is so vital! In other words, REST is a Blessing! So, don’t under-estimate it, don’t devalue it, don’t disregard it, don’t over-look it! GET IT! And like medicine, take it in the right doses so you can recover!

The last blessing from the definition of ‘Rest’ is that you become Relaxed! And “Relax” means “to make or become less tense, anxious, or rigid; rest from work or engage in a recreational activity.” It’s Latin Origin “Relaxare”, from “Laxus” literally means “To Loose”. In other words, if you want to get a hold on things…Relax and Loosen Up! I know you’re gifted, talented, anointed, awesome, powerful and everyone loves you and wants you apart of everything they do, however if you don’t take a break…you will break! And in order for you NOT to break down, you have to break up your schedule! Balance it out! Have your meetings, but go out for a meal with the family too. Nail that presentation, but go get your nails done too. Coordinate that event, but get your 5 year old niece and enjoy a coloring book too. You have to have balance if you are going to avoid toppling over!

Which is why you should:

1…Make a list of the things that only YOU can do, then delegate the rest or let them go. Not every piece of mail that comes to the house has your name on it! So stop taking other people’s mail and stop acting like your middle name is “occupant” too! You can’t do it all no matter how awesome you are or think you are. And if you are in the company of those you can’t trust to delegate work to, you’re about to go out of business anyhow;

2…Learn to make small steps and celebrate small accomplishments for that’s what life is made of. If you only get 2 things done on your list of 20, eat a piece of chocolate and be happy! You at least accomplished something, there are many who didn’t even take the time to write a to-do list out, let alone do anything on it;

3…Don’t allow the stuff that’s still undone, to undo you. By God’s grace and mercy we see another tomorrow. And as long as He has work for you to do, you will continue to see another tomorrow. And when you don’t, you can still rejoice because your work here is done. Remember Jeremiah 29:11, God’s plan is not for you to have a plan, a back-up plan or a plan B! Simply do what needs to be done, and what’s left undone leave for tomorrow. God knows what needs to be accomplished in each day. And He certainly knows your future, so stop letting today stress you, you have a promising future ahead, it will get done, trust God day by day, He has a great, unstoppable plan for your life. No More Worrying! Matthew 6:30-34, “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers – most of which are never seen – don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you? What I’m trying to do here is get you to RELAX, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and how the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (MSG);

4…Strive for balance; don’t even become addicted to what you enjoy. For instance, some of us have a tendency to even turn good things into disasters. It’s great that you love your job, but you can’t have a wife and three kids at home and get home at midnight 7 days a week! Balance is always the order of the day. And the word “Balance” is defined as “an even distribution of weight ensuring stability”. To have a stable life, keep your scales between work and play even;

5…Don’t allow overachievers to put you into overdrive. You’re in it for the long haul. You win when you pace yourself. Competition kills! So stop peeking over at the agendas of others. You have no idea what they HAVE to do. To Have Great Insight, Simply Keep Your Eyes On Your Own Vision;

6…Take time for the people who matter most, otherwise you’ll lose them. Busyness is a destroyer of relationships/friendships. And truth is, all the success in the world won’t compensate for the joy and treasure of your family and loved ones! Always keep the main thing the main thing, and the main thing will always be your loved ones First!

People of God, It’s Vital That You Learn How to Walk Away, Take a Break and Rest! Believe it or not, but there’s a Blessing in REST! However, You Don’t Want Rest In Peace to Be the Only Blessing You Get! Remember, JESUS is an Advocate of REST! Therefore, Your Challenge is Simple: Take a Break and Get a Little REST!

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)

“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” (Dr. Maya Angelou)

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” (William S. Burroughs)

“Life is all about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back, and do nothing.” (Lori Deschene)

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” (Alan Cohen)

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.” (Author Unknown)

“You have permission to rest. You are not responsible for fixing everything that is broken. You do not have to try and make everyone happy. For now, take time for you. It’s time to replenish.” (Author Unknown)

“The six best doctors: sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise, and diet.” (Wayne Fields)

“When you rest in His presence, you rest in the knowledge that He is in control.” (Dr. Michelle Bengtson)

“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” (Ralph Marston)

“It is very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying, it allows us to clear our minds, focus and find creative solutions to problems.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)

“You’re killing yourself for a job that would replace you within a week if you dropped dead. Take care of yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“Rest and your energy will be restored.” (Lailah Gifty Akita)

“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” (Author Unknown)

“If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?” (Author Unknown)

“When you start taking care of yourself you start feeling better, you start looking better and you start to attract better. Everything starts with you.” (Author Unknown)

“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.” (L.R. Knost)

“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” (Mandy Hale)

“Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others.” (Bryant McGill)

“Beautiful girl, take care of yourself. No one else knows what your soul needs.” (AstonG)

“Make your happiness and personal growth a priority in your life. The more you take care of yourself, the more you can take care of others.” (Author Unknown)

“The best cure for the body is a quiet mind.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)

“Your mental health is more important than the test, the interview, the lunch date, the meeting, the family dinner, and the grocery run. Take care of yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“Remember to take care of yourself. Sometimes you get so busy taking care of others that you forget that you are important too.” (Author Unknown)

“Take care of yourself, you never know when the world will need you.” (Rabbi Hillel)

“Today, do something for You; relax, clear your mind, take a break, go for a jog, watch the sunset. Enjoy the simple things. Enjoy You!” (Brooke Griffin)

“Three steps to a Happy Life: 1) Don’t stress yourself with useless people who don’t even deserve to be an issue in your life; 2) Never invest too much emotion at one thing because if you do, you will end up hurting yourself; 3) Learn to live life without worries because God will take care of everything, trust and just have faith.” (Author Unknown)

“Self-care is a deliberate choice to gift ourself with people, places, things, events and opportunities that recharge our personal battery and promote whole health – body, mind, and spirit.” (Laurie Buchanan)

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: “5 Things to Know About Your Metabolism”

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“Keep SHINING, You’re Someone’s Way Out of DARKNESS!”

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Matthew 5:14-16, “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—SHINE! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (MSG)

There are two types of stories that pull at my heart-strings immediately. One is that of anyone who survives a life-devastating event; and two, anything concerning children. Well, what I’m about to share with you combines them both.

You see, she was only seven years old; the lone survivor of a plane crash that killed her parents, her sister, and her cousin. The sheriff said “she literally fell out of the sky into a dark hole.” He called her survival “a miracle.” This “miracle” survivor somehow crawled out of this upside-down wreckage of her dad’s plane dressed only in shorts and a t-shirt on a cold winter night. Shoe-less, through brambles and underbrush, this, who they called “remarkable” young girl, navigated two embankments, a hill, and a creek bed in the dark!

Then, much like the book of Genesis, “and then there was light”. Actually, it was just a single security light on a house. But when she knocked on that door, a kind, grandfatherly man brought her inside. Then she was safe. One report said this: “He thinks his security light may have been a beacon.I agree, a beacon of light for a little girl who had lost so much in the dark. Thank God for the light that saved her life.

This story got me to thinking about who I need to be for people who’ve lost so much (in the dark moments of life). Those who feel alone, depressed, disheartened…those whose world has suddenly crashed into darkness, who need someone to be a light – a “beacon” – to lead them to safety.

I love that word “beacon”, it’s defined as “a fire lit on the top of a hill as a signal; a light serving as a signal for ships or aircraft.” Its Old English Origin literally means “sign.” The word “signal” is defined as “a gesture, action or sound conveying information or an instruction.” Its Italian Origin “segnalato” means “distinguished”, from its root “segnale” which means “a signal.When we as believers become beacons of light for those lost in darkness, we serve as a signal conveying information about our Savior and instruction that He is the Light of the World to follow. And our signal is “distinguished”, which is defined as “having an identifying characteristic.” And what characteristics stand out for us as believers? “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [UNSELFISH CONCERN FOR OTHERS], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.  If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [WITH PERSONAL INTEGRITY, GODLY CHARACTER, AND MORAL COURAGE—OUR CONDUCT EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT].” (Galatians 5:22-25 AMP) That’s what distinguishes us. That’s what makes people who are walking around in darkness, look up and take notice of us. They see the light of an unselfish person with personal integrity, godly character and moral courage that conducts themselves according to the empowering Holy Spirit from within.

In other words, when people (whether saved or unsaved) see us, they should see light! They should see a way out. They should see encouragement, inspiration, empowerment, care, unconditional love and a non—judgmental attitude. They should see someone who simply wants to help guide them out of Gloom and into God. Those starving for help should see the Fruit of the Spirit in us. They should see love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. As believers, we are to be beacons of light in this dark world. Philippians 2:15, “so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, AMONG WHOM YOU ARE SEEN AS BRIGHT LIGHTS [BEACONS SHINING OUT CLEARLY] in the world [of darkness],” (AMP).

So, are you shining light, or throwing shade? Because you can’t do both!

In our text for today, Jesus says this in Matthew 5, beginning with verse 14, “You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see.  Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.” (TLB) The word “glow” is defined as “to give out steady light; to have an intense color and a slight radiance.” And the word “steady” is defined as “firmly fixed, supported, or balanced, not faltering or wavering; reliable; regular; continuous; and frequent.” In other words, our lights are always on, they do not turn off! The Scripture commands us, “…DON’T HIDE YOUR LIGHT!” When something is “hidden” it means it’s “put or kept out of sight; concealed; and camouflaged”. Which is very descriptive of some of us, believers, when we’re anywhere else, outside of church! Oh, we’ll shine brightly within the 4 walls of the church, but somehow we manage to dim-down at work, the salons, the barbershop, supermarket, laundromat, the mall, and most certainly when we’re cut off by someone on the highway! And that word “dim” means “difficult to see, shady, and unclear.” It becomes difficult to see our light when we want to blend in and look and sound like everyone else. When we conform to the crowd, it’s difficult to see our individual light. And depending on where we are, what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with, we become real shady. Our integrity and character becomes unclear. We’re no longer distinguished but indistinguishable. And what’s the danger of that? “YOU ARE THE WORLD’S LIGHT…” The world will only see the light that we shine. But when we remain hidden, they remain in the dark. But we’re commanded, “LET IT SHINE FOR ALL…” People are depending on us church. And as the Scripture says, “…ALL…” people are depending on us. Every culture, nationality, gender, race, age, rich, poor, single, married, divorced, with kids, without kids, varying religions, they are all depending on us…whether they know it or not. Because despite the popular ideas of “higher powers”, there is only One Power, One Name and One God, that can save them from eternal darkness and His name is Jesus Christ. And we as His followers, named after His name (Christians) are to continuously be the road map that points them in His direction! John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, I AM THE [ONLY] WAY [TO GOD] and the [REAL] TRUTH and the [REAL] LIFE; NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT THROUGH ME.” (AMP); Philippians 2:9-11, “Because of that obedience, God lifted Him high and honored Him FAR BEYOND ANYONE OR ANYTHING, EVER, so that ALL CREATED BEINGS IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH—EVEN THOSE LONG AGO DEAD AND BURIED—WILL BOW IN WORSHIP BEFORE THIS JESUS CHRIST, and call out in praise that HE IS THE MASTER OF ALL, to the glorious honor of God the Father.” (MSG)

We are the Beacons of Light, in this Dark World, that will Lead ALL to Jesus! Saints, We Can’t Dim Our Light, They Need Us to Show Them the Way Out!

Speaking of being a beacon and light, I’ve been thinking what it means to be a beacon or light for people in my personal world. And I found out, in its simplicity, it means being one person they know who is all about their need, not about my own. One who has time to listen (and even when I don’t have time, making time anyhow). Being that one person who doesn’t just ask the obligatory “How you doing?” But one who asks that second and third question to see if that obligatory “I’m fine” answer they gave me is really how they’re doing. Being a light means being the one who refuses to hear or speak trash talk about anyone. Who protects a person’s name when they’re not in the room. Who builds a person up and never tears them down. Who says, “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong.” It’s being the person to call, leave a voicemail, text, email, or visit. It’s the person to mail a get well card. It’s the person giving more than a “church hug”, but being arms in which someone can fall into, cry freely and still feel unashamed. Its’ being a safe place for someone to strip off all their layers of initials, titles, positions, and the like, and simply being who they really are in the moment (hurt, confused, in pain, lonely, depressed, bitter, discouraged, angry). It’s being the person they can confide in knowing that their confidence will never be betrayed.

It’s always being the person who treats people, as the Bible says, “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). The Message Bible reads it like this, “If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, AND ALWAYS WITH THE UTMOST COURTESY. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad…” (vss. 13-18 MSG) People of God, this ought to be descriptive of us, no matter what or where. Christians ought to always be courteous, kind, generous, gentle, caring, and understanding. After all, how can we possibly be anything contrary to the Christ we’ve been called to represent in His Image and Likeness?

In a nutshell: We do not “turn off our light” no matter how dark a person may be that approaches us. We have not been called to judge, point fingers, assign blame, pronounce guilt, to condemn or put down. We are simply to be light that directs dark to Light. That’s our responsibility. We are to represent God, not attempt to replace Him, or try to “be Him”. Just do what He asked of you, and certainly I’ve found nowhere in Scripture where He’s asked of us to treat cruel with cruel or dark with dark. In fact, His Word admonishes us, “Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. THAT GOES FOR ALL OF YOU, NO EXCEPTIONS. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—THAT’S YOUR JOB, TO BLESS. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth. God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well TO WHAT HE’S ASKED; But he turns his back on those who do evil things.” (1 Peter 3:8-12 MSG). Did you read your job responsibility? “…BLESS – THAT’S YOUR JOB, TO BLESS…” Not to curse, but to bless! No matter who you’re dealing with, no matter their attitude or response, you are to bless. Whether you feel like it or not, you are to bless. Whether it’s morning, noon or night, you are to bless. Whether it’s family, friend or foe, you are to bless. Whether it’s at home, church, work, business, gas station, in traffic, or a PTA meeting, you are to bless!

It’s a blessing, to be light! You know why? Because “light” people are those who remember a person’s birthday, who checks on them when they’re sick, who’s at the hospital, the wedding, and the funeral. Who drops what I’m doing when they’re hurting. Who offers to pray withnot just for – them when God is needed so much. “Light” people give you their precious time and undivided attention.

And so you don’t take this as a personal attack, I even asked MYSELF: do people around me see me as “safe“; the “go-to” person when it’s dark, when it’s cold and when it’s lonely? Have I so lived that when they hit a wall, they’ll think of me as a place to turn? Am I the light on the porch when people around me are feeling lost? Do people see Christ in me? Do they taste salt and see light? Am I compassionate, kind, enduring, patient, loving, understanding, pleasant to be around? Is my attitude a good one (or does it depend on the day, person and circumstance)? Do I murmur? Do I complain? Am I negative? Am I pessimistic? Am I confrontational? Am I critical? Am I the person someone would call in times of trouble? When someone has fallen into sin and needs restoration, am I a person they would call on to help them reconcile with God? As James admonishes us, am I a person they can confide in, trust, and confess to? In other words, this Word challenged me to re-exam my own life, lifestyle and walk with God, and His people. Now, I’ve discovered that I’m not a horrible person, however, I’ve also realized that I can certainly become a better person. I can be the light someone needs in their dark tunnel. I can help them navigate their way. And sometimes that’s not with speech, just with the gift of presence.

I can be that for one reason. Truth is, Jesus Christ has been that for me. And so have my brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether it was worry over my children, struggling in marriage, hardship in finances, discouraged with church, sleepless nights with school, the loss of my dad, the loss of my mom. I’ve had “Light” people that stepped into my dark path, and said, “lets walk this thing together.” And believe it or not, but there are people in your life that need your light. Oh, yeah, they have a smile on their face, and they know how to laugh on cue, and they’ve mastered, “I’m good, I’m fine, All is well, I’m blessed and highly favored.But truth is, in private, many are struggling just to wake up, get up, get dressed and keep going. For many, it’s a struggle just to put both feet on the floor in the morning. For many, their nights are so bad, they no longer want to face another day. YOU, my friend, can be their little piece of personal sunshine on a stormy day.

One thing that always warms my heart is passing by a person and they smile, which makes me smile. We never speak, we never exchange words at all. And yet, I feel instantly better. Likewise, you don’t have to be everything for everybody. Sometimes a little smile, a brief hug, a quick pat on the back, is all that’s needed to turn someone’s day around. In fact, you’ll be absolutely amazed at the rekindling of fire you can be to someone’s desire to live with just a few words, I believe in you, you can do this, you can be better, I see greatness in you, dream again, try again, don’t give up, keep pressing, you’ll make it.Everyone needs encouragement, even those that don’t admit it or ask for it. Everyone at one time or another experiences dark days and needs someone to shed a little light. Why not allow yourself to be that light?

Someone in your life needs to feel loved, important, significant, and cherished. Because someone in your life feels neglected, wounded, unforgiven, ashamed, guilty, and desperate. And all they need to make a difference in their darkness is just a little light. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). The Message Bible says it like this, “Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” (MSG). If you could just help them direct their darkness to Him, He’ll provide them plenty of light to live in. However, that can’t happen, if you don’t help them get to The Light. If someone in my personal world is wandering in the dark today, I just pray they’ve seen the light in me so I can help them find the Light in Him.

I’ll close with this little story. I have pocketbooks! Lot’s of ‘em! Every color, style and size. My favorites however, are my big bags. But the down-side of them is that I always throw my keys in my bag, so when I get home and try to get in the house, I can’t! It’s dark when I get home at night, and I never think to take them out ahead of time or to place them in a better place of convenience. Well, I ended up attending a friends event and the giveaways were cute little keychain flashlights. I said “what in the world am I supposed to do with this little thing?” And a child (yes, a little kid) gave me the answer. She said, “well, maybe you can use the little light until you can get to a bigger one.” All I could think was: “And a child shall lead them!” That was one of those moments when I thought, “kids say the darndest things”. Sounds comical, but I think she nailed it. The little light, would help me get to the big Light. And upon using my little keychain flashlight to fish out my keys one night, I found it to be true. That little light helped to find my keys, unlock and open the door and the first thing I did was cut on the big light inside.

Today, that’s my prayer for US! That we’ll be just a little light that leads someone in darkness to the Big Light! Just think about the opening story, she walked away from so much tragedy, in the middle of a dark, cold and lonely night, and the only thing that saved her and her life, was a little light that was kept on.

My Admonishment to You Today: KEEP SHINING, YOU ARE SOMEONE’S WAY OUT OF DARKNESS!

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” (Dr. Maya Angelou)

“There are two ways of spreading light, to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” (Edith Wharton)

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” (James Heller)

“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” (Francis Bacon)

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” (Desmond Tutu)

“If you want to give light to others, you have to glow yourself.” (Thomas S. Monson)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“Small lights have a way of being seen in a dark world.” (Neal A. Maxwell)

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” (Francis of Assisi)

“Within you is the light of a thousand suns.” (Robert Adams)

“If you want light to come into your life, you need to stand where it is shining.” (Guy Finley)

“Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.” (Benjamin Franklin)

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” (Aristotle Onassis)

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” (Helen Keller)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“No More Shallow Living For You!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to what your manual is telling you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

So stop allowing your comfort to cripple your capability!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “What is Situational Depression?”

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“Salt With No TOUCH Has No TASTE”

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Matthew 5:13, “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (MSG)

If it’s one thing I love to do its cook! However, one thing I hate to cook with is salt! You see, having parents who both suffered with high blood pressure and heart disease definitely had a huge impact on how I prepared food. To my credit, in my last two decades of life, I became a master at seasoning, so you would have no idea that salt was ever missing from my meal preparation. But prior to that, was a whole different story! I remember cooking dinner for my daughters and my friend Laurie came over to join us. She took one bite and screamed, “where the heck is the salt!?” I reminded her I didn’t cook with salt (as I laughed hysterically at the faces she made!) Well, even though I don’t cook with salt, I always have my trusted salt shaker full and ready for use for those who prefer it. So Laurie, jumps up and heads to the kitchen for the flavorful seasoning and comes back with the comment, “now we’re in business!” She did a few shakes then tasted the food again. She repeated the action three times! And yet, her facial expression let me know she was still not happy. By now, I’m a bit discouraged thinking, “I know I know how to cook, it can’t be that bad!” Laurie, always the candid one responded, “I’m telling you I don’t taste a difference.” Now I’m stressed because the amount of shakes she did with that salt will give her a heart-attack before dessert! But then my eldest daughter in all her wisdom, whom we all call grandma, because as my older relatives would say, ‘she’s been here before’, decided to enlighten us. Her comment, ‘are you sure the salt is coming out?’ Sure enough, we looked at the salt shaker, and as fancy as it was, you needed to move a little button from closed to open on the bottom of the salt shaker! Laurie was shaking her little heart out, and nothing changed, because nothing came out! Without TOUCH, there was no change to the TASTE!

In reading today’s Scripture for my morning devotional, the above memory is what immediately came to mind. Laurie had the salt in her hand, what she needed to put it on was right in front of her, within reach, and she even put in tremendous effort to get the salt out, and yet, because it stayed contained in its little bottle, nothing was affected, nothing was changed. Sounds a lot like Matthew 5:13 doesn’t it?

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (MSG)

The whole reason we’re here is to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. But if the salt never touches anything, how does it change anything? Which makes me think of the evangelism that has so greatly halted in our churches. Oh, we go to church week-after-week, Sunday School; Sunday worship; prayer; bible study; meetings; rehearsals; revivals; special services and the like, and we’re quite comfortable sitting in our sanctuaries (aka “salt shakers”), well contained! Problem? Salt is touching salt, but touching nothing else! Selah…

In order for you to TASTE salt, it has to TOUCH something! In order for salt to change something, it has to touch something. In order for us salty Christians to change something, or someone, we’ve got to touch it and them! We can’t remain in the salt-shaker, where we’re useless because we’re touchless and tasteless.

Therefore, we can’t sit in our churches and complain about the world and the way it is, while we sit in the salt-shaker sanctuary touching nothing and no one. Just imagine if we actually left the salt-shaker sanctuary and went to shake some salt in the nursing homes, in the hospitals, in the prisons, in the homeless shelters, at the soup kitchens. What change might we bring about if only we’d leave the salt-shaker sanctuary? If we shook some salt while standing in the grocery aisle, in the barbershop, or at the nail and hair salon? What if we shook some salt at our jobs, in our families and in our communities? What if we shook some salt on that drug-infested park, or gang-infested territory? What if we shook some salt as we walk the streets from day-to-day, passing countless ‘tasteless’ individuals on the way? I mean after all, the Bible says that’s what we’re here for, right? Isn’t that our purpose? Isn’t that our charge? Isn’t that our call?

Is it possible that people haven’t tasted God, because we haven’t touched them with Him? With His unconditional love, His sufficient grace and new mercies. With His forgiveness, kindness, compassion and encouragement. With His protection, provision, and presence. With His unspeakable joy and reassuring peace. I reiterate, is it possible that people haven’t tasted God, because we haven’t touched them with Him?

Psalm 34:8, “Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him.” (MSG)

How can people “taste” how good God is, if we’re His salt, but we never leave the salt-shaker?

I’m sure God would love to hear the sounds of His salt getting out of the shaker more often! After all, the work salt is supposed to do is not inside the salt shaker, all clustered together with the other salt. It’s supposed to get out and change the flavor of something!

The Scripture says, “Open your mouth and taste…”, now, can you imagine feeding your baby, and yet every time they open their mouth, you bring the spoon close enough, but then you pull it away. Do you know the noise that little rascal would make, especially if he/she is already hungry! But that’s what we do as a church. We have programs and services, and we invite “whosoever will let him come”, and then when they don’t come in, we don’t go out. And of course it’s not our fault, after all, we invited, we held the service, we put on the program…but honestly, all we’re doing is bringing the food on a spoon close enough for them to see it, but then we pull it away before they can taste it. Truth is, most unbelievers are not going to simply walk in the church on Sunday morning, cry out “how can I be saved”, and then shout to a praise break! Believe it or not, but that’s like being a police officer and waiting at the precinct for someone who is guilty to stroll in and ask to be held accountable for their wrong! Not gonna happen! Officers go out to bring them in! Someone did it for us, so why are we not doing it for others?

Matthew 28:18-20, “Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually – regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” (AMP)

Now, how are we to make disciples OF ALL NATIONS, if we never leave the pulpit or the pew? How is it God said GO, but we’ve YIELDED to the point that we’ve STOPPED? How can we MAKE something without ever touching it? How are people to LEARN of our God if we’re the TEACHERS who are never in CLASS with our STUDENTS? How can they BELIEVE Him if we don’t tell them ABOUT Him? How can they be expected to OBEY HIS WORD, when they haven’t HEARD HIS WORD?

Romans 10:14, “But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher (messenger)?” (AMP)

Furthermore, how are they to be BAPTIZED, without us touching them?

And how do we use anything as an excuse, when God Himself said, “…AND LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS [REMAINING WITH YOU PERPETUALLY – REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCE, AND ON EVERY OCCASION], EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE.” What can we possibly use as an excuse for why we have not done what He “COMMANDED”?

According to Jesus, “You are the salt of the earth…“, not of the sanctuary! But of the entire Earth! Which means we have to leave from within the church walls. We have to operate outside of our comfort zones, our pulpits and pews. We have to leave the meeting and the auxiliaries. We have to leave the Fellowship to go Fellow-Ship, before they all Drown!

Can you imagine the horror on the face of an individual who’s fighting with all their might, absolutely terrified that they may die any minute while trying to stay afloat in the troubling waters of life…and yet, we, the church, Jesus’ Life-Guards, are standing on the shore, watching…equipped to help…but just watching…knowing how to save…but choosing to just watch…having the Word that will deliver from destruction…and yet we remain, just watching.

People are struggling at sea, because the saints are only concerned with their safety on shore. This should not be!

You don’t keep salt stored up together in the shaker any more than you stand as a lifeguard on shore and watch someone drown. No, you scatter salt around so it will be in contact with the things that need their flavor changed. No lifeguard just stands on the shore and yells, “see if you can make it over here to me, then I can help you”. No, it’s the lifeguard’s job to look out for those who may need him, and he goes out to them, he does not wait and hope they will come to him. And unfortunately, that’s what we’ve been doing as a church. We see people struggling to stay afloat in the troubling waters of life, and instead of going out to help them, we’re standing on shore, yelling, “see if you can make it over here to my church, my service, my program, then I can help you.” That’s not how this is supposed to work saints.

Listen, Jesus left Heaven to get to us, Satan left Hell to get to us, and yet we won’t even leave the church to make disciples?

As Christians we were never meant to be all clustered together in a spiritual salt shaker, just salting each other and soaking up more blessings, miracles and the like for ourselves. The salt’s got to be in direct contact with the meat or the vegetables that need it. So guess what? You and I have to be in meaningful contact with the people who really, really need our Jesus. We’re not supposed to be hiding out, playing defense all the time, trying to keep from being contaminated by avoiding the world that Jesus left us here to change! We need to have the world testify about us as they did about some of Jesus’ more effective disciples:

Acts 17:6, “But when they did not find them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the Lord’s followers. They took them to the city authorities and shouted, “PAUL AND SILAS HAVE BEEN UPSETTING THINGS EVERYWHERE. NOW THEY HAVE COME HERE.” (CEV). They took the gospel message “EVERYWHERE”! And we can’t get folks to leave the sanctuary or the community!

Listen to a few other translations:

“…THESE MEN HAVE MADE TROUBLE EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD…” (ERV);

“…THESE MEN WHO HAVE TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN HAVE COME HERE ALSO.” (ESV);

“…PAUL AND SILAS HAVE TURNED THE REST OF THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN, AND NOW THEY ARE HERE DISTURBING OUR CITY,” THEY SHOUTED.” (TLB) – Now, when is the last time you touched the world, and unbelievers, in such a way that you disturbed them? Disturbed their sin, their wickedness, their unbelief, their habits and addictions. When is the last time you disturbed the devil? When is the last time you turned the city upside down? When is the last time you gave someone a taste of God by giving them a touch from God?

The Message Bible says it like this, “…YELLING HYSTERICALLY, “THESE PEOPLE ARE OUT TO DESTROY THE WORLD, AND NOW THEY’VE SHOWN UP ON OUR DOORSTEP, ATTACKING EVERYTHING WE HOLD DEAR! AND JASON IS HIDING THEM, THESE TRAITORS AND TURNCOATS WHO SAY JESUS IS KING AND CAESAR IS NOTHING!” (MSG) When is the last time we’ve made an impact like this on the world as the church?! When is the last time we went door-to-door letting them know Jesus is King? When is the last time we’ve attacked sin, the very thing the unbeliever holds dear? When is the last time we touched the world in such a manner that they couldn’t deny the taste of God?!

People of God, we have to do more than rub shoulders with each other in the salt shaker sanctuary! Think about it, salt on top of salt is dangerous and deadly to our physical health…could be just as dangerous and deadly to our spiritual health as well?!

Saints, if the last days are really upon us, what are we doing sitting in salt shakers?

2 Timothy 4:3-5, “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you – keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.” (MSG)

This is what we should be doing in these last and evil days. Preaching the gospel truth message to the masses as God’s servants! Not to each other! But to others! If we don’t touch, they don’t taste, they’ll just settle for tickling! Do you really want to be held responsible for that?

Like it or not, but if your time is pretty much spent with Christians, well you’re missing your mission! We’ll do that in heaven! We’ll hang out together all the time, for all eternity! But right now we’ve got to be involved with some people who aren’t going to heaven yet! It’s time for you to take all that you’ve been storing up spiritually and start taking it to places and people where it’s really needed.

It’s time to be intentional about building relationships with that neighbor of yours, you know that lost co-worker, with some of your fellow students who need Jesus. It’s time to look around your community and find some human needs that you can be involved in meeting in Jesus’ name; to build some bridges into lives. They’re all around us waiting for a touch and a taste, let’s not let them down!

It’s time to look around your community for a place to volunteer so you can be in contact with some unreached people with some really deep needs. You need a community connection, not just a church connection; something that will put the salt of your life in contact with some of the lives that really need the flavor of Jesus! Remember: “…if you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?They can’t taste godliness without first touching your saltiness. So, are you within reach? Are you salty? Are you in use? Are you available? Are you touchable?

We need to be actively involved in the life of our church no doubt. God wants that. Hebrews 10:22-25, “So let’s do it – full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps His Word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” (MSG) See, we are to spend some time in the salt shaker together, but we can’t stay there indefinitely! There are people waiting to get a taste of God from a touch of us, we have to come out!

You need time together, but not to the exclusion of connecting with the world that God so loves. You are the spiritual salt where you live. Get out of that salt shaker! And what’s the danger if we don’t?

“… You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (MSG)

Surely you don’t want the testimony that you went from the Gospel to the Garbage…do you? I think not.

Luke 10:1-2, “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every city and place where He was about to go. He was saying to them, “The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few. Therefore, [prayerfully] ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (AMP)

Let today be the day that you challenge yourself, your family and friends, your community and certainly your church to come out the salt shaker and touch the world with a taste of God! Many are waiting, be counted in the number with the few, who are in fact available to proclaim the message of salvation to the masses!

Remember: Salt With No Touch Has No Taste! Reach Them Today!

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How to Feel Better in Less Than 15 Minutes”

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“Don’t Let OLD Destroy NEW”

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Mark 2:21-22, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk (new) cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear becomes worse. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the wineskins. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (AMP)

I absolutely love documentaries and history, simply because I love finding out the origin of things, where they began, why and how. But more importantly, I love to see if there’s been any change from the start of the thing to the present. Sometimes it’s good to see that things are now, just as they were when they began. However, that’s not in all cases.

I watched a documentary on the Revolution, and I learned something I didn’t know before. Question: Why did the American colonists win the Revolution? Well, it wouldn’t surprise you if you saw how the redcoats fought. You see, they fought battles in the OLD FASHIONED European way. They lined up in straight rows. The front row shoots. The next row rotates in while the others reload. Now, the colonists on the other hand, didn’t believe in lining up. They just came from everywhere! So those red uniforms all lined up in a rigid row…well, that’s like target practice, don’t you think? In other words, they were easy to see, easy to aim for, and easy to hit! Their old, outdated, rigid, well-organized, structurally sound way of fighting, didn’t work…any longer! But even though the colonists looked like they were disorganized, their NEW WAY of fighting won the battle!

Let’s listen in on Matthew 5:29-30. This is where the religious leaders are criticizing how Jesus is going about reaching people. The Pharisees and the people who followed them, they’re complaining to Jesus’ disciples: “Levi gave a large dinner at his home for Jesus. Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. The Pharisees and their religion scholars came to his disciples greatly offended. “What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and ‘sinners’?” (MSG). Then the Bible goes on to say, “And Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but [only] those who are sick. I did not come to call the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to repent], but sinners to repentance [to change their old way of thinking, to turn from sin and to seek God and His righteousness].” (vss. 31-32 AMP).

Then later the Bible goes on to further say, “He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old one; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.  And no one, after drinking old wine, wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is fine.’” (vss. 36-39 AMP)

See, Jesus broke out of the religious mold to reach people that no one else was touching – in a nutshell, new wine skins. Now, in those days the bottles in Palestine were really animal skins. And the wine would ferment and it would give off this gas. And if the bottle was new and it had elasticity in the skin, then it gave with the pressure. If it was an old wine skin, it was dry and hard, and of course it burst. And such is the issue with the church! We keep attempting to reach new believers with old behaviors, and it’s no wonder, it’s not working! New wine needs a new bottle to be poured into. If poured into the old, the old is no longer designed to handle the growth of expansion (that’s why it bursts!). It’s become hardened over the years, predictable, unyielding, unbending. It no longer handles the challenge of stress and pressure. So it bursts! And the result? The old is destroyed and the new is wasted!

Sometimes you have to replace an old idea with a new idea if you want God to do a new thing; if you want to reach people no one’s been reaching you have to let go of the old and get a good grip on something new. Like those Revolutionary War soldiers. The redcoats? They were rigid and they lost. The ones who were flexible won the battle. If we want new believers, we have to stop trying to reach them with old, outdated, rigid ways, that clearly no longer work!

Isaiah 43:16-21, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands…I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.” (MSG)

First things first, “FORGET ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENED…It doesn’t matter how your grandma did it, your mama or your daddy, your first church or your third pastor. You will always get the same old results, doing things the same old way. Forget about it! That was then, this is now. We have an entirely different generation in 2020, and the only reason we can’t reach them is because we won’t leave the methods of 1960, in 1960! It doesn’t make the old bad, but we have an opportunity for new, and we need to embrace the necessary change in order to get them.

Secondly, “…DON’T KEEP GOING OVER OLD HISTORY…It’s irrelevant how your Sunday school was taught in 1960; or how the ushers marched in 1970; or how the outreach witnessed in 1980; or how the choir sang in 1990; or how the anointing flowed in 2010! It’s even irrelevant how many souls were added to the kingdom in January, 2016! It’s May, 2020, and we need to constantly be evolving as a church! There’s bigger, better and greater waiting for us, as soon as we finally make the deliberate decision to leave the same, old, comfort zones alone!

Thought: Maybe God is trying to do a new thing in your life, in your church, in your ministry. But could it be that you’re unwilling to go with His flow? Maybe God is trying to do something new in your marriage, on your job, in your career, in your health, in your children, with your finances, in your family…but He can’t, because you can’t let go of what it was before! Which is why I bring the Word to you today, and admonish you, “FORGET ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENED…”; “…DON’T KEEP GOING OVER OLD HISTORY…

Let God Do Something Brand New!

Thirdly, “…BE ALERT, BE PRESENT…” Maybe today’s relationship would work out a bit better for you if you’d finally stop treating Paul like he’s Peter, and Tina like she’s Tracy! Stop reliving your past, and dragging your present into old bondage. You need to be PRESENTLY ALERT! Maybe that’s why you keep missing so much, because you’re focus is so ill-placed. All you see is the past, and God is already done there. Listen to what He says next: 

“…I’M ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING BRAND-NEW. IT’S BURSTING OUT! DON’T YOU SEE IT? THERE IT IS!…” How is it even possible for you not to see something BRAND-NEW, that’s BURSTING OUT?! That’s like standing right next to an erupting volcano, but not being able to see the lava! How can you miss it?! God is screaming, “…THERE IT IS!” But if you’re still stuck on THAT, you most certainly will never see THIS when it comes! And please hear me, you can’t afford to miss THIS!

He then says, “…I’M MAKING A ROAD THROUGH THE DESERT, RIVERS IN THE BADLANDS…” God is now telling you that He’s Providing For You and Making New Ways For You!

But, He even goes further, “…I PROVIDED WATER IN THE DESERT, RIVERS THROUGH THE SUN-BAKED EARTH…” That new thing He’s doing for you, is literally Brand-New! He’s doing things unseen and unheard of! 1 Corinthians 2:9 says it best, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” He’s doing things that don’t even make sense! And all of these things He’s doing just for you, if only you’d stop focusing on the old, you’ll finally see the new!

Isaiah goes on to say: “…DRINKING WATER FOR THE PEOPLE I CHOSE, THE PEOPLE I MADE ESPECIALLY FOR MYSELF, A PEOPLE CUSTOM-MADE TO PRAISE ME.” (MSG) The term “custom-made” is defined as “made to fit the needs or requirements of a particular person.” God has customized all of us, neither of us (even identical twins) are the same. God is constantly doing something new, and something different, and something out the box. And if we are indeed His children, why are we so opposite our Father? Why are we stuck, complacent, ordinary, the same, comfortable? If the God we serve can make a donkey talk, have a coin found in the mouth of a fish, have a man sit (alive) inside of a great fish, raise a dead man back to life (after 4 days), and birth His son through a virgin woman, why are we trying so hard to be ordinary? Why are we doing the same things, getting the same ineffective results? We are a custom-made people, and we need to start acting like the priceless, designer originals we are! 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

Why do you think people go to these annual fashion week shows? They can’t wait to see what’s NEW and what’s NEXT! And I am fully persuaded that the world is looking to the church for the same things! Something different, something new, something next!

Now, as a disclaimer, there are some things that never change and must never change; the product so to speak, which is the Gospel, the Message, the Doctrine of Jesus Christ. That must never change! It must never be watered-down, altered, customized, changed, added to or taken away from! But the packaging of it? That can change! Never the message, but often the method can and will change. After all, God went from the 12 He selected Himself to preach His Gospel, to someone like Paul! The Message Never Changes, But the Messengers Can and So Can Their Delivery!

If you think about it: The world of lost people and the world of the church have never been so far apart. I call them the new unbelievers, America’s first post-Christians. They’re biblically illiterate. They don’t ever plan to go to a religious meeting to hear a religious speaker talk on a religious subject. It takes new things to reach them. Or else we could just leave them lost like we have been.

In other words saints, we’ve got to leave the church building! We’ll never find the lost, hanging around those who are already found! Truth is, they’re probably not going to come in, so we need to take the initiative and go out! We need to have our outreaches on neutral ground. Am I telling you to go into the crack house, in the club or in the bar? Absolutely not! But we can’t keep sitting at the altar, in the pulpit, in the pews, in Sunday school, bible study, prayer and rehearsals, waiting for them to come in! We have to learn to express Christ without all our religious language, in our religious location. Remember, it’s the language of the natives we’re trying to reach. And all missionaries know that you do it in the language of the person you’re trying to reach. Can you imagine trying to reach the lost in China talking Russian? Can you imagine trying to reach the lost in Africa while speaking Chinese? Can you imagine trying to reach the lost in a homeless shelter, when you arrive in a BMW and dressed in a fur and diamonds? You have to meet on neutral grounds, at their level and in their language, and as hard as it will be for some to do, that has to be done with new ways, not old!

Maybe we need to learn to wrap this gospel that is unfamiliar to so many people in a familiar need that they do know about. We talk about marriage, or parenting, or handling stress, or sex, or singleness. And you move from those things that they do know about into the story of Jesus to show the difference that a Savior like Jesus can make in those areas and others.

In Jesus’ day the religious people totally missed what God was doing because they could not accept a new approach. The British soldiers in Revolutionary War times lost because they were rigid. We’re in a battle for our town, our neighbors, the ever-living, never-dying souls of people. Their eternities are at stake. Therefore, if God says, “I’m doing a new thing”, let’s not lose the battle by insisting on the same old formation!

Listen: I never cared much for seafood as a kid or adult for that matter. I didn’t eat any of it for the majority of my life. I love chicken, steak, hamburgers, ribs and the like. But I could certainly pass on the seafood side of any menu. But then it happened! Somewhere along the way, someone encouraged me to try some fish (Tilapia), and I don’t know why I took the risk, but I tried it, and I liked it. After all those years I could have been eating it and I didn’t know. Now you can’t get me to stop eating it. Then, someone encouraged me to try shrimp (Fried and Grilled). I had avoided seafood for so long, but now, I love them! I could eat grilled shrimp every-day of the week! Then a friend really pushed me to branch out, and they took me to a restaurant and for the very first time, I tried a California Roll! I couldn’t believe what I was missing all those years because I was sure food meant chicken, steak, hamburgers, and ribs. I can’t believe what I missed because I was such a creature of habit. That term “creature of habit” is defined as “a person who follows an unvarying routine; someone who always wants to do the same things in the same way”. Sounds a lot like us church folks, in our old, set ways, that we refuse to alter…even if it means something new, exciting, different, and great! Let’s listen to our text:

Mark 2:21-22, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk (new) cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear becomes worse. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the wineskins. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (AMP)

Here, Jesus is talking to religious folks; Pharisees, scribes, people who had ways in which they thought God would always work. They couldn’t accept the fact that there might be some new things God wanted to try. Now, Jesus came along and blew the walls off the narrow box that they had God in. He wasn’t working in any of the ways that they were used to, they were in essence saying,I don’t know about this, God never did it this way before. I’m not sure this is even God.” But Jesus had a whole new way of doing things, and like it or not, but they were about to experience it!

And that’s exactly what we need to do with our churches, ministries, families, workplaces, we need to be open for new things! Ineffectiveness becomes our casualty, because we’re too comfortable to change. Methods and approaches that once were the new wine skins are now brittle, tired and irrelevant. It’s time we uproot the old, and sow seeds in the new. However, you must be prepared, because most often the gift of new is presented in a surprisingly new package! Don’t become so focused on the formula, that you mess up the fruit! Don’t let your religious habits inhibit the exciting new thing God wants to do in every area and aspect of your life.

You’ll never taste God’s Gourmet Meals if you keep limiting God to the same old Fast-Food Choices on the same old menu.

In this new month, challenge yourself to try something new. Whether it’s a new outfit, new color, new witnessing technique, new food, new activity, new route to work etc… And please know that it doesn’t have to be big and grand. But it does have to be different, if you’re tired of the same!

Matthew 9:17, “Nor is new wine put into old wineskins [that have lost their elasticity]; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the [fermenting] wine spills and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, so both are preserved.” (AMP)

“After a while, the same old song and dance gets a little off key and a little out of step.” (Susan Gale)

“Life is full and overflowing with the new. But it is necessary to empty out the old to make room for the new to enter.” (Eileen Caddy)

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” (Socrates)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How to Keep Your Lungs Healthy, According to Pulmonologist”

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“WHO Is HE To YOU?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“3 Reasons You Keep Losing the Battle”

dose2

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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“Make Your Request Specific!”

what do you want question

Matthew 20:29-34, “As Jesus and His disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd was following. Two blind men who were sitting by the road heard that Jesus was passing by, so they began to shout, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!” The crowd scolded them and told them to be quiet. But they shouted even more loudly, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!” Jesus stopped and called them. “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO FOR YOU?” He asked them. “Sir,” they answered, “WE WANT YOU TO GIVE US OUR SIGHT!” Jesus had pity on them and touched their eyes; at once they were able to see, and they followed Him.” (GNT)

I am definitely one of those people who can aggravate your very last nerve when it comes to buying me gifts. I usually get the question, “What do you want for your birthday, or anniversary, or graduation, or Mother’s Day, or Christmas?” And the least appreciated answer goes something like this, “I don’t know. Anything is fine. Whatever you want to get me.” That’s usually what I say. However, for my family that can be quite stressful. You see, what they’re hoping for is something a little more specific. Something that will give them some guidance in getting something special just for me. But what can I say, I’ve always been that way. I rather not give any specifics and just wait and see if my gifts will say ‘Me’? Will they say you thought this through? Will it be something I would get for me?

Now, one of my best friends Keisha is a different story altogether! She is always very helpful when it comes to receiving Christmas gifts (in particular). And to prove to you just how crazy she can make some of us when we do our ‘girlfriends gift exchange’, I want you to envision a full page list (typed out and double-spaced), with model numbers, colors, sizes, page numbers, brand names, stores (and even their specific one day only sale dates), and all of this is received at least 3 months in advance! Yeah, it was pretty specific, pretty direct, but at least we always knew exactly what she wanted! No guess work needed or required!

Which brings us to Matthew 20, and I’ll begin reading verses 29-34, “And as they were going out of Jericho, a great throng accompanied Him. And behold, two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, Lord, have pity and mercy on us, [You] Son of David! The crowds reproved them and told them to keep still; but they cried out all the more, Lord, have pity and mercy on us, [You] Son of David! And Jesus stopped and called them, and asked, What do you want Me to do for you? They answered Him, Lord, we want our eyes to be opened! And Jesus, in pity, touched their eyes; and instantly they received their sight and followed Him.” (AMPC)

I love this! The first face they would see would be Jesus and they followed Him from then on!

As we hear this story, we are actually looking at three secrets of prayer that get a miracle response! You might be able to use that, right?

First of all, when you make a request to the Lord and you want to get a miracle it needs to be PERSISTENT. Notice, they said, “Lord have pity and mercy on us,” and when they were told to be quiet they just kept at it: “Lord, have pity and mercy on us,” for the second time. The word “Persistent”, is defined as “continuing or recurring; prolonged; longer than usual time; beyond the normal period of time; continuing without change in function or structure; continuing beyond the usual, expected or normal time; not stopping or going away.” And my favorite definition reads: “continuing to do something or to try to do something even though it is difficult or other people want to stop you.” Its synonyms are “insistent; persevering; certain; dedicated; determined; resolute; resolved; unyielding; willful; unfaltering; unhesitating; unwavering; resistant; devoted; faithful; constant; steadfast; unconquerable; relentless; and unbending.” And doesn’t that describe these blind men perfectly?

They’re stubborn in their request. Which reminds me of children (which I better understand why we need child-like faith). They are the epitome of Persistent! If they dare tell you (in full detail) what they want for Christmas, you better believe they will keep asking about it all the way up to Christmas morning! “Did you get it; did you find it; remember the color is; the size is; it’s at this store only.” They want to make sure you don’t mess this up and get it wrong! After all, your full credibility as a parent with direct connections to Santa are riding on this! Children do not play with Christmas gifts, if only we as adults were this persistent when approaching God in prayer with our requests! Look at these men, even after being told to be quiet, they repeat their request! They could care less about what people say, think or feel about them. They could care less of the opinions of others. They could care less how desperate they sound. They need to receive something from Jesus, and they intend to get it, even if they have to face enemies as they entreat. I mean listen to these people in varying translations:

“Now the crowd SCOLDED THEM and told them to be quiet. But they shouted even louder…” (CEB);

“The people there CRITICIZED the blind men and told them to be quiet. But they shouted more and more…” (ERV);

“The crowd REBUKED them, telling them to be silent; but they cried out all the more…” (ESV);

“The crowd tried to HUSH THEM UP, but they got all the louder…” (MSG);

“The crowd STERNLY told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more…” (NASB);

“The people WARNED the blind men to be quiet, but they shouted even more…” (NCV);

“Many people spoke SHARP WORDS to them. They told the blind men not to call out. But they called all the more…” (NLV);

“Be quiet! The crowd YELLED at them. But they only shouted louder…” (NLT)

The crowd scolded them; criticized them; rebuked them; hushed them; spoke sternly to them; warned them; used sharp words to them and yelled at them!

Let’s be honest, this is an intimidating scene! First of all there’s a crowd (some translations say a multitude or many people), however, these were only 2 men (and blind ones at that!) This may sound a little harsh, but these people could’ve beat these men to death! They were a vulnerable part of society. Not to mention they were clearly not taken care of by family since they were sitting there by themselves, by the road, having to plead for their own mercy and miracles! But did that stop them…intimidate them…cause them to fear for their lives? Absolutely Not! And clearly it didn’t stop them from crying out either! And not just crying out, but doing it repetitively, and getting “louder more and more”! They had to get to Jesus to get their sight and if that required some naysayers, they would persevere through and get their request granted! And these people weren’t just “mean”, but remember, they “scolded; criticized; rebuked; hushed; were stern; spoke sharply and even yelled” at these men. But did it hinder them? NOPE! They cried all the louder! People of God, don’t let anything or anyone silence your cry to God! No one really knows the depth of what you’re going through but you and God, so their opinions are irrelevant! The more they try to silence you, the louder you shout! You have a need that has absolutely nothing to do with them, so don’t let them stop you! Be Persistent! Persistent prayer brings miracles! You need this too bad, and for too long, to get to this point (of being this close to getting it) to allow critics to stifle your cry! When you go in prayer (public or private petition) you throw everything you have in you on the line! Snot, cry, yell, but don’t you dare sit quietly by and get passed by!

Verse 33 gives us a second secret because they were very BOLD. When the Lord said, “What do you want Me to do,” they said, “WE WANT OUR SIGHT.” This is something so big only God could do it! I wonder, when’s the last time you asked God for something huge; trusting God for something so big only He could do it? You see, they weren’t asking for someone to help them along; someone to help them eat and get dressed, and go from one place to another. No, they weren’t looking for something that any mere man could do. They were requesting what only God could do! Which brings to mind a question that came up in one of my bible school classes, “Is Jesus the only One to ever restore sight to the blind?” And one professor responded like this: “As far as I can tell, there is no record or any instance of anyone other than Jesus restoring sight to the blind (and this He apparently did quite a bit in fulfillment of the prophecies about Him as the Messiah: Luke 7:21, “At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and He restored sight to many who were blind.” (NLT); Isaiah 42:7, “You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.” (NLT); Matthew 11:5, “the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” (NLT); Matthew 12:22, “Then a demon-possessed man, who was blind and couldn’t speak, was brought to Jesus. He healed the man so that he could both speak and see.” (NLT). Matthew 10:1 does say regarding the twelve: “Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority and power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (AMP)that may or may not have included restoration of sight. We do have instances of the dead being raised by men other than the Lord (Example: Elijah, Elisha, Peter, and Paul), so this is indeed an interesting point. It may be that such instances just were not recorded (as indeed most instances of healing were not put down in scripture for obvious reasons of space: John 21:25, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were recorded one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” AMP).

But there is also the fact that it is only in Jesus that our spiritual blindness is removed: 2 Corinthians 3:12-18,Since we have such a [glorious] hope and confident expectation, we speak with great courage,  and we are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites would not gaze at the end of the glory which was fading away.  But [in fact] their minds were hardened [for they had lost the ability to understand]; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, BECAUSE IT IS REMOVED [ONLY] IN CHRIST.  But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil [of blindness] lies over their heart;  but whenever a person turns [in repentance and faith] to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom].  And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.” AMP).

Jesus made a definite point of contrasting the restoration of physical sight to those who believe, with the spiritual blindness of those who possessed physical sight: (Read John 9:1-41). As the One who is the Light by which we see (Read: John 1:4-9), the restoration of human vision is a very powerful symbol of accepting the truth which, once accepted, not only removes our spiritual blindness but brings us to eternal life (Psalm 146:8, “The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous [the upright in heart]” (AMP); Isaiah 29:18, “On that day the deaf will hear the words of a book, And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see [the words of the book]” (AMP);  Isaiah 35:5, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.” (AMP).

If there were any others who restored sight, it seems likely to me that the Spirit has chosen for this reason to preserve in scripture only the instances performed by Him who is the Light of life, through whom, though we were blind, we now see.

I’ll never forget that class or that professor! But it makes me wonder if in prayer we’re bold enough to be like these blind men and take what the world may see as “hard and impossible” to our God who asks: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 AMPC); “But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.” (Matthew 19:26 AMPC); “For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.” (Luke 1:37 AMPC).

So, just how persistent, big and bold will you pray from now on? Especially knowing that you can take the hard and impossible to a God for whom nothing is hard or impossible! Therefore, starting today, pray Persistent, Big and Bold! Ask the hard thing! And be Specific! Don’t be afraid! Ask God to heal the adultery in your marriage; the substance abuse in your children; your fear of tithing because of your bills and debt. Take to Him specifically what the doctors diagnosed! Jesus is not afraid of Cancer; Heart Failure; Diabetes; Arthritis; Hypertension; Sickle Cell Anemia; HIV or Aids! He Can Heal Anything, So Take Everything to Him! He has no fear in regards to your mistakes and even your deliberate sin. He can handle the divorce; the unemployment; the church transition; the foreclosure; the bankruptcy; the child support (and even lack thereof). Why struggle with fear, fret, panic, anxiety worry, stress; anguish and the like, when you could simply enter your prayer closet (the one that you make anywhere, including a bathroom stall at work!) Block out people who try to discourage you with such statements as “nobody has ever survived that; or my dad died from that same exact thing; or boy you must be out of your mind to think God will do that; or girl you may as well throw in the towel because not even Jesus can clean this mess up!”

Be like the blind men, when you can’t see Jesus, listen for Him, and when you hear Him, make sure He hears you! Open Your Mouth, Therein Lies Your Miracle!

Jesus loves these kind of prayers: Persistent, Big and Bold!

And lastly, let’s focus on the one secret of prayer that we miss all too often. In verse 32 Jesus says, “What do you want Me to do for you?” It seems like such an obvious answer though, don’t you think? I mean after all, here’s two BLIND men! And Jesus heals BLIND people! However, the blind men say instead, “Lord, have mercy on us.” And there’s nothing wrong with that, but Jesus says, “Well, tell Me exactly what you want Me to do?” Which brings us to our third characteristic of prayer that gets miracles and that’s praying SPECIFICALLY! See, these guys had already made a GENERAL request, “Lord, have mercy,” but Jesus insists that they narrow down their request and tell Him EXACTLY what they want, SPECIFICALLY. And when they do, Jesus responds with a miracle!

The word “Specific” is defined as: “clearly defined or identified; precise or clear; relating to a particular individual or situation; a definite reference; limited to one particular thing; exact; detailed; intended; distinctive; unique; designated; explicit.” People of God, this is what your prayers need to sound like!

See, too often our prayers are like those vague answers I give my family in regards to buying gifts for me, “Anything will be fine, anything you pick out or pick up is alright by me.” We talk to God about “give me a blessing,” “I need an answer,” “send help!” or some GENERAL spiritual request. And I wonder if Jesus is standing there asking, “Well, like what? What are you asking Me for?” In fact it’s really expanded my praying to imagine Jesus standing there as I pray, saying, “Okay, Shermaine, what do you Specifically want Me to do for you?”

I learned not to just ask God to bless my marriage, but I’ve learned to take specifics about my marriage to Him. I no longer just say “Lord, keep my children safe.” But I’ve learned to pray “Lord, keep my children safe not just from others, but from their own imaginations; desires; wants; lusts; insecurities; immaturity”, and the like. I don’t just say “Lord bless my finances.” But “Lord, bless me to be a good steward over the finances that you have provided for me. Help me to disciplined in my spending and saving…” I don’t want to be like the blind men sitting by the road yelling Lord have pity and mercy on me, when my specific request is, “I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME MY SIGHT!”

Now it isn’t that He doesn’t know what the need is. He just wants us to know what we’re believing Him for! Listen to Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [SPECIFIC] REQUESTS known to God.” (AMP) God honors specific faith! Not demands, but requests that are always under the umbrella under which even Jesus Himself prayed, “Not My will but Yours, Lord.” Coming to God persistently, daring to believe Him for big, bold, specific requests touches His heart!

As a sidebar: That Scripture says, “…CONTINUE TO MAKE YOUR [SPECIFIC] REQUESTS KNOWN TO GOD” Not to the psychic; not to the horoscopes; not to your friends and family; not even to your little prayer circle. Make Your Specific Requests Know to GOD! Which means, you may need to stop talking to people so much, and start talking to God more!

Listen to our text in the Message Bible: “As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” Jesus stopped and called over, “What do you want from Me?” They said, “Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!” Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession.” (MSG)

Jesus was “…Deeply Moved…” by their request, and He is just as “…Deeply Moved…” by yours…especially when it’s Specific!

You know what I also find interesting as well? Once they make a persistent, big, bold and specific request of Jesus; once their request is granted; they “…joined the procession.” Which is the SAME CROWD of critics that tried to mess up their miracle! This is why you can’t be deterred by your critics. Let God’s work in your life be what silences those who tried to silence you! Think about it: Two blind men shouting to get their sight, silenced those who tried to shut them up…isn’t God amusing!

Saints, let today be the day your prayer life takes on a new dynamic. One that is specific in its nature. One that goes to God KNOWING He hears and He answers! SEE to it today that you Make Your Prayer Request Specific! You Have NOTHING to Lose And EVERYTHING to Gain!

Psalm 28:2, “Hear the voice of my supplication (SPECIFIC REQUESTS, humble entreaties) as I cry to You for help, As I lift up my hands and heart toward Your innermost sanctuary (Holy of Holies).” (AMP);

Psalm 30:8, “I called to You, O Lord, And to the Lord I made supplication (SPECIFIC REQUEST).” (AMP);

Psalm 31:22, “As for me, I said in my alarm, “I am cut off from Your eyes.” Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications (SPECIFIC REQUESTS) When I cried to You [for help].” (AMP);

Psalm 86:6, “Hear, O Lord, my prayer; And listen attentively to the voice of my supplications (SPECIFIC REQUESTS)!” (AMP);

Psalm 116:1, “[Thanksgiving for Rescue from Death.] I love the Lord, because He hears [and continues to hear] My voice and my supplications (my pleas, my cries, MY SPECIFIC NEEDS)” (AMP);

Ephesians 6:18, “With all prayer and petition pray [WITH SPECIFIC REQUESTS] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.” (AMP);

Philippians 1:4, “always offering every prayer of mine with joy [AND WITH SPECIFIC REQUESTS] for all of you.” (AMP);

Colossians 1:9, “For this reason, since the day we heard about it, we have not stopped praying for you, asking [SPECIFICALLY] that you may be filled with the knowledge of His Will in all spiritual wisdom [with insight into His purposes], and in understanding [of spiritual things].” (AMP);

1 Timothy 2:1, “[A Call to Prayer] First of all, then, I urge that petitions (SPECIFIC REQUESTS), prayers, intercessions (prayers for others) and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all people.” (AMP);

Hebrews 5:7, “In the days of His earthly life, Jesus offered up both [SPECIFIC] petitions and [urgent] supplications [for that which He needed] with fervent crying and tears to the One who was [always] able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission toward God [His sinlessness and His unfailing determination to do the Father’s Will].” (AMP);

1 Peter 4:7, “The end and culmination of all things is near. Therefore, be sound-minded and self-controlled for the purpose of prayer [staying balanced and focused on the things of God so that your communication will be clear, reasonable, SPECIFIC and pleasing to Him].” (AMP)

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

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