“There’s a Blessing Behind Closed Doors!”

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Psalm 42:1-5, “As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God.  I thirst for God, the living God. Where can I find him to come and stand before him?  Day and night I weep for his help, and all the while my enemies taunt me. “Where is this God of yours?” they scoff. Take courage, my soul! Do you remember those times (but how could you ever forget them!) when you led a great procession to the Temple on festival days, singing with joy, praising the Lord? Why then be downcast? Why be discouraged and sad? Hope in God! I shall yet praise him again. Yes, I shall again praise him for his help.” (TLB)

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a bookaholic! I read everything! There is absolutely no time in which there isn’t a book in my hand, on my desk, in my bag, or on my nightstand. I love reading books! And when my daughters were little, I would always make sure that they had reading time at home. They had to read a book, and give me a book report, yes, even as little tots! I always wanted them to be educated, intelligent and in the know. And I made sure that they read everything from Encyclopedias, to Dictionary’s, to Novels, to Magazines and Newspapers. I pushed them hard to read, and to this day, nothing has changed, they still love to read (but for some reason, they refuse to give me book reports any longer) go figure.

Well, unlike many kids today, my children spent a lot of time at the public library. I would take them, they would find their particular book and I would find mine. But there’s one particular memory about our library trips that I remember most. It’s what stirred today’s devotional. Me and the girls, as usual, went to the library, however, this time was different when we got there. Usually, it would be full of parents, guardians and kids, but this time there was no one. And it suddenly dawned on me that this time wasn’t a good time to go. You see, this was the time in which they traditionally conducted their inventory. Yep, what a lousy time to go to a place you really want to be in, but you can’t, because they were shut down to take stock.

Now, before we go on, let’s define this word “inventory”. It means “a complete list of items such as goods in stock or the contents of a building; a quantity of goods in stock.” Its Latin Origin “inventarium” means “a list of what is found”, from “invenire” which means “to discover”. Inventory is conducted to discover what’s good, what’s bad, what’s out-dated, what’s needed, what’s no longer needed, and how much of all of this is present. Inventory is done to find out the cost of the good and the cost of the bad, in stock.

With that in mind, there was one man in history who was called the man after God’s own heart by God Himself. His name was David. It’s this man whose personal spiritual diary is in your possession. It’s called the book of Psalms. One of those is in Psalm 42; it’s a real look inside David’s heart. No pretense, no mask, no phoniness, no cover-up, but the real heart of David.

Psalm 42 beginning at verse 1, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Then here arises David’s question, “When can I go and meet with God?” Now what’s David’s frame of mind in this Psalm? Well he reveals it in verse 3, “My tears have been my food day and night.He later describes himself as being downcast, and disturbed. In a word David is struggling. In essence, something’s not right. But instead of sinking, he knows the lifeguard to call on for help. He says this in the Psalm, “My soul is downcast within me: therefore I will remember You.

Here, David is much like the library, he’s saying it’s time to close the store and meet with God. It’s time to take an inventory of my life and where I am right now. It’s time to discover what’s good, what’s bad, what’s out-dated, what’s needed, what’s no longer needed, and how much of all of this is present. It’s time to find out the cost of the good and the cost of the bad, I have in stock.

Maybe it’s that time for you too. It’s time to meet with God, let Him close the door (that no man can open) and you take close inventory. Truth is, we can only go but so long without time away from all the other voices. And can we dare be honest? There are a lot of voices. Our spouses, children, family members, coworkers, bosses, clients, church, neighbors, and the list could go on forever. Someone, somewhere is constantly talking to us about something. But with so many voices to listen to from day-to-day, when do you get quiet time just to hear the voice of the Lord? And isn’t that the one voice we can’t afford to ignore?

Life has a strange way of simply spinning out of control without a periodic time of uninterrupted inventory with God. Because, besides listening to all the other voices, we also have jobs, school, responsibilities, appointments, meetings, and once again, the list could go on and on. For instance, there was a time when I was heading out the house for work with a million things on my mind, court dates for work, teaching sessions, leadership workshops, preaching engagements, my mom’s doctor appointments and bills that needed to be paid, on top of handling the household affairs of my own house, and my own doctor appointments etc… All of the distractions didn’t dawn on me until I was almost to work, and a woman on her phone stepped out into the street on a green light and was almost hit by a car. She screamed “Jesus! Thank God I prayed before I left home this morning!” And that’s when it hit me…did I pray this morning? I honestly couldn’t remember. I had so much to do, so many places to be, so many meetings to attend, so many workshops to facilitate, so many decisions to make, I simply couldn’t remember praying before I left home. That’s a rarity for me, since walking around in the quiet of my living-room is my absolute favorite place to pray every morning. But somehow that morning, I didn’t “have time to pray.” But when I finally got to my job, I went in my conference room and just sat quietly for a moment. As ironic, and maybe even comical as it may sound, my silent prayer to God was asking God, “did I pray this morning?” So grateful that He didn’t disconnect His communication with me, because I could clearly hear Him say… “No…” Immediately I wondered what God’s grace, mercy, favor and protection had spared me from, as I walked along the morning without ever asking Him to keep me covered by His blood and by His name? I thought about that woman so distracted by her phone that she almost lost her life getting struck by a car, but even in her distraction, she still remembered that she’d prayed that morning.

I know for most, that sounds tragic coming from a preacher, but it’s my truth. Sometimes I can get so busy (with both the good and the bad) that I don’t take time out for God or even for myself. Even more disturbing is that morning prayer, in particular, is my most favorite. I always come out of morning prayer feeling like a super-hero (don’t laugh!) But I do. I feel like I have God, all His angels, the whole armor of God and the whole host of heaven walking out the door with me to face the day. I feel so inspired, empowered, encouraged, lifted, strong, and yet, I was too busy that day to pray.

I do hope this will encourage and inspire you to re-evaluate (and do a personal inventory) of your life. Go to God like David did, “Lord, when can I meet with You?” God will close the door, and you will have uninterrupted, personal time with your Savior. Which makes me think of the many times in the Bible (Old and New Testament) when a door was closed, there was often a miracle performed on the other side of it. From Noah and Elisha to Jesus and the Disciples, something awesome happens, when doors are closed!

Stores know you can’t really take stock of what you have while you’re still selling and servicing customers at the same time. They have to close the doors. They have to hang out a closed sign to do it. It’s the same spiritually, mentally and emotionally for us. Because it’s hard to really see where you are and where God wants you to be while you’re still meeting all the demands of your daily responsibilities and servicing all the “customers” in your life. It’s hard to know what You need, while simultaneously serving all the needs of others.

But what I’ve learned (albeit the hard way) is that you have to value you enough to ask God to close the door because you need to meet with Him to re-evaluate your inventory.

One of the things I hate the most (especially when it comes to my hair products) is when I go to the beauty supply for something specific (usually something I absolutely love), only to have them tell me “we have to order more”. UGH! Well, Miss, I (like every other woman) knew at 9am this morning that I would be washing my hair at 7pm this evening, and I came in here for the Only shampoo I use! What do you mean, “we have to order more”, or “we’re out of stock”. Either phrase will get you a roll of the eyes or a snap of the neck or worse, a fierce comment! However, that only happens when you over-estimate or under-estimate your stock! And doing inventory is designed to avoid that very thing. But how many times do we all make this mistake in judgment? Either we’re more empty than we thought, or assume we’re more full than we are. Which is why inventory is so vital.

There must be those times when you hang out the closed sign and just say, “I’m all yours, God.” Spend some extended time with your Lord. Remember David’s question: “When can I go and meet with God?” It might be a day; it might be a couple of days or once in a while a longer period of time. And what you do is, just take you, your bible, a pen, and a big notepad to write down what comes to you while you’re listening to the Lord and you can expect Him to fill that pad. He loves when we come to Him with an empty piece of paper, instead of our own full personal agenda.

This is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your spouse; taking over their responsibilities so they can close for inventory. It’s a gift to you too. You get a better husband or wife out of the deal. A son or daughter can offer extra help so their mom or dad could spend this time. A church or a ministry is wise to allow, even to encourage their leaders to stop all the business and running the church machine, and take time out for inventory. Truth is, many marriages, relationships, friendships, businesses, and churches are going under because everyone is too busy to do inventory. You need some quiet time away from it all (and them all) to sit with God and see what’s good, what’s bad, what’s out-dated, what’s no longer needed, what requires more. If not, you’ll find yourself still trying to make deposits in others, when you’re depleted yourself.

In honesty, there are some relationships/friendships/companions we no longer need, and we’re stressed out over their very presence. However, if you took the needed time to sit behind closed doors and talk to God, He would’ve shown you that months even years ago. Many of us have people, places and things that have been long out-dated, and still they’re hanging onto us because we haven’t taken out the necessary time to re-evaluate them, and realize that keeping them is far too costly!

Listen: When you do go meet with God, open up every corner of you to His search light. Psalm 139:23-24, “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about…” (MSG) You need to ask the Lord to do this for you. That word “investigate” means “to carry out a formal inquiry so as to establish the truth.” Its Latin Origin “investigare” means “to trace out”. When you “trace” something, it means “to find out by investigation”. And there are simply some things in your life that you will never discover need to be removed from your life until the Lord does His own private investigation. It’s not until you sit with the Lord, with your undivided attention, and listen attentively to Him, that you’ll be able to finally trace where your exhaustion is coming from; where your discouragement is coming from; where your depletion is coming from; where your peace, joy and contentment are going. It’s not until then when you’re able to trace where your aggravation is coming from. It takes investigation, and investigation doesn’t happen in 5 minutes. You need time to spend time with the Lord. You’re losing too much sleep, money, sanity and strength. You need to trace the source.

You need to deal with wrong actions, and wrong attitudes that have developed. Stand back with Him and get the big picture again. Then ask Him to help you see each of the key people in your life as He sees them – through His eyes. And when He says he goes…then you let him go! When He says she stays, whether you like it or not, she stays! You need clear and concise guidance and direction, and you can’t get that surrounded by a multitude of noisy distractions!

So how long has it been since you closed for inventory? Are you afraid they’ll get mad? Are you afraid you may miss an opportunity? Are you afraid the time a part will destroy the relationship/friendship? Are you afraid you’ll miss out on money? Are you afraid you’ll lose ‘friends’, posts, likes, and tweets? Are you afraid you’ll lose your seat, title, office and position? Are you afraid you’ll lose your ring and robe? What has you so afraid of temporary closed doors, that will grant you permanent peace? Listen, anytime you spend time with the Lord, you Gain…you never Lose! So anything (or anyone) that falls off in your silence, was a quiet blessing!

God has so much He wants to show you and you need to hear His voice so much. You’ll come out of that seeking time really ready for business again. But first you have to be still and know that He is God. You Have to Take Time to Be Still! Some may not like this, but I’ll say it anyway, you are not that anointed, gifted, talented, important and vital that all of the world and the Kingdom of God will go on hold because of your absence.

Know when you need a Break before you’re Beyond Repair!

Jesus shares these interesting words in Luke 14:28-30, “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’” (MSG) You need to have the Lord close doors, and sit you down to do inventory. You need to know if you have all that you need to do and be all that the Lord desires, or are you missing something? And if you are, do you even know what it is? Well, you’ll never know until you sit down and count the cost. Do your inventory before you start the business, open the church, relocate, marry him/her, go to school there, take this job… Can you finish what you started with what you have? And I understand potential and ambition, dreams and desires, but I also understand the importance of time with God to hear His voice and heed is direction. You need to know how much you’ve gained by having her in your life, you also need to know how much you’ve loss by having him in your life. And you’ll never know either without time with God.

I’m a firm believer that God closes doors to force you to turn to Him, so He can finally point you in the direction, to the right door, you should’ve entered. Even David knew that. Because as distressed as he was, he at least knew he needed some time with God. He said, yes, I’m going to praise Him again, but for right now, I need some help with what I’m feeling. So do you, and that’s not a bad thing to admit.

Let God close the door, so you can both sit down and reason together, what’s working and what’s not. Where is the gain and where is the loss? What should be added, what should be taken away? And you can’t sit with God, while you’re busy serving others. You need to put your “closed for inventory” sign up, and let people know, “not today…” You’re not out of commission permanently, you’re just under New Management, and receiving some Over-Due Repairs, and when you open for Business again, this time, you’ll turn a better Profit! Let God restructure and renovate you and your life. Let Him go over the plans and look at the numbers. Let God Handle It, and Take Your Hands Off It. You need a break from being everything to everybody all the time. Let God replenish you. Let God restore you.

Keep in mind: YOU are not the only person people can go to! For instance, there were other libraries I could’ve taken the girls too, and there were other beauty supply stores I could’ve went to. In other words, get rid of your Elijah Complex, You Are Not the Only One God Has Left to Use!

Today, Ask God For a Meeting, and When He Closes the Door, Take Out Your Pen and Pad and Do Some Much Needed Inventory!

Listen to Matthew 6:6:

“But when you pray, go into your [MOST] PRIVATE ROOM, AND, CLOSING THE DOOR, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.” (AMPC)

“But when you pray, GO TO YOUR ROOM, SHUT THE DOOR, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.” (CEB)

“When you pray, GO INTO A ROOM ALONE AND CLOSE THE DOOR. Pray to your Father IN PRIVATE. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you.” (CEV)

“But when you pray, GO AWAY BY YOURSELF, ALL ALONE, AND SHUT THE DOOR BEHIND YOU and pray to your Father SECRETLY, and your Father, who knows your secrets, will reward you.” (TLB)

 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a QUIET, SECLUDED PLACE so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (MSG)

“But you, when you pray, go into YOUR INNER ROOM, CLOSE YOUR DOOR and pray to your Father who is in SECRET, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (NASB)

“When you pray, go into a room by yourself. After you have shut the door, pray to your Father Who is in secret. Then your Father Who sees in secret will reward you.” (NLV)

BASED ON THESE TRANSLATIONS, HOW IS YOUR BEHIND CLOSED DOORS MEETING SUPPOSED TO BE DONE WHEN DOING INVENTORY WITH GOD?

YOU ENTER YOUR MOST PRIVATE ROOM AND CLOSE THE DOOR; YOU GO TO YOUR ROOM AND SHUT THE DOOR; YOU GO INTO A ROOM ALONE AND CLOSE THE DOOR BEHIND; YOU GO AWAY BY YOURSELF, ALL ALONE, AND SHUT THE DOOR BEHIND YOU IN SECRET; YOU FIND A QUIET, SECLUDED PLACE SO YOU’RE NOT TEMPTED TO ROLE PLAY BEFORE GOD; YOU GO INTO YOUR INNER ROOM AND CLOSE YOUR DOOR; YOU GO INTO A ROOM BY YOURSELF AND SHUT THE DOOR!

IN OTHER WORDS, THIS IS A PRIVATE MATTER BETWEEN YOU AND GOD! NOT YOUR PRAYER CIRCLE, NOT YOUR BFF, NOT EVEN YOUR PASTOR, SPOUSE OR CHILDREN! YOU AND GOD ALONE NEED TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION AND COMPLETE THIS INVENTORY! SO BY NO MEANS THINK THAT YOU ARE BEING SELFISH, THIS IS ABOUT SELF CARE! AFTER ALL, YOU ARE NO GOOD TO THE BODY OF CHRIST IF YOU CAN’T EVEN TAKE PROPER CARE OF YOUR OWN BODY!

DO NOT TAKE THIS LIGHTLY! LIKE DAVID, SET ASIDE YOUR MEETING TIME WITH GOD, TAKE YOUR PEN AND PAD, AND GET TO WORK! WE HAVE NEED OF A HEALTHY, HEALED AND WHOLE YOU IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD TO AID IN FIXING THIS FRACTURED WORLD!

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: “There’s a Blessing Behind Closed Doors”

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“Leadership Balance: When to SIT, When to SERVE”

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Luke 10:38-42, “Now while they were on their way, Jesus entered a village [called Bethany], and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister named MARY, WHO SEATED HERSELF AT THE LORD’S FEET AND WAS CONTINUALLY LISTENING TO HIS TEACHING.  BUT MARTHA WAS VERY BUSY AND DISTRACTED WITH ALL OF HER SERVING RESPONSIBILITIES; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part.”  But the Lord replied to her, “MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU ARE WORRIED AND BOTHERED AND ANXIOUS ABOUT SO MANY THINGS;  but only one thing is necessary, for MARY HAS CHOSE THE GOOD PART THAT WHICH IS TO HER ADVANTAGE], WHICH WILL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM HER.” (AMP)

Every now and then I love a good 5-star restaurant, however, anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m an Applebee’s-A-Holic! I love the Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp (that’s my New Orleans side talking). But it’s my absolute most favorite meal there. Well, me and a few coworkers went there for lunch one day and it was at the tail end of their rush hour. Can I tell you, this place is a zoo for about 90 minutes around that time! But after some time it was slowing down and one of the waiters was finally able to stop and chat with us (a good friend from our leadership workshops). Anyway, when he asked how we were doing, I said, “I don’t know about them, but I’m doing a whole lot better now. I had lunch!” Sean’s response? “I know what you mean. If I wait very late to eat lunch, I start to get shaky. I told him, “Well, I guess you’re in a good place then.” Sadly, he corrected me. He said, “Sometimes we are so busy serving it that we don’t have time to eat it ourselves. I guess you could say we’re ‘Starving Servants’Nothing could’ve broken my heart more.

Truth is, a lot of us have experienced what my restaurant friend Sean was talking about – being so busy serving that we don’t have any time to get fed ourselves naturally or spiritually. Think about it, it happened to Martha, didn’t it? It’s happened to me way too often, and probably to you, too.

Particularly in leadership, I find it easy to burn out while trying to keep everybody else’s flames burning brightly. For many of us, we’re busy getting wood, finding matches and lighters, positioning logs, collecting paper or twigs, stoking dying embers, and even removing ashes so they don’t hinder any future fires. We’re so busy trying to keep others on fire, that we’ve become lukewarm ourselves! And certainly we don’t want “lukewarm” to be descriptive of us! Revelation 3:16, “So because you are lukewarm (SPIRITUALLY USELESS), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth [REJECTING YOU WITH DISGUST]” (AMP). I reiterate, surely, you don’t want this to be descriptive of us!

But the hard truth is, sometimes, you can get so busy praying for others, that you forget to pray for yourself. You take such good care of everyone else’s health, while yours deteriorates. So busy doing everything for everybody, that you forget you are a body too. And your body needs proper food, exercise, and rest as well. Think about it: Jesus was hungry, so He ate, He was tired, so He slept, He was angry, and so He threw the money-changers out, He was sorrowful, and so He wept. Now, if the Son of God Himself can have emotions and healthily express them, who are we to pretend to be ‘Super-Human’? Selah…

Mary and Martha’s experience is described to us in Luke chapter 10. The above version gives it to us in the Amplified Bible, but now, let’s look at the same Scripture in the Message Bible translation, it reads: “As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, MARY, WHO SAT BEFORE THE MASTER, HANGING ON EVERY WORD HE SAID. BUT MARTHA WAS PULLED AWAY BY ALL SHE HAD TO DO IN THE KITCHEN. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU’RE FUSSING FAR TOO MUCH AND GETTING YOURSELF WORKED UP OVER NOTHING. One thing only is essential, and MARY HAS CHOSE IT—IT’S THE MAIN COURSE, AND WON’T BE TAKEN FROM HER.” (MSG).

The 2 parts I love about this version is: “…ONE THING ONLY IS ESSENTIAL…” and “…IT’S THE MAIN COURSE…” Can you imagine being so busy in the kitchen that you don’t even know the ‘MAIN COURSE’ has been served? How can you be Starving and yet miss out on the Main Course?

Now, anyone following my devotionals/blogs for any length of time, know I love the origin of words. I love what’s called ‘Etymology’, which is defined as, “an account of the origins and the developments in the meaning of a word.” Its Greek Origin, “Etumologia”, from “Etumos”, literally means “True”. And that’s all Etymology is, discovering the true meaning of a word. With that said, let’s discover some definitions. Remember now, my 2 favorite parts about the text are: “…ONE THING ONLY IS ESSENTIAL…” and “…IT’S THE MAIN COURSE…”

“Only” is defined as “unquestionably the best; alone in a class or category; existing with no other or others of the same kind.”

“Essential” is defined as “fundamental; central; absolutely necessary.”

“Main Course” is defined as “the most substantial course of a meal; featured; primary; usually the heaviest, heartiest, and most substantive; also called the ‘meat course.’”

In other words, Mary, being, “…seated…at the Lord’s feet…continually listening to His teaching…and…who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said…” was doing the thing that was: unquestionably the best thing, for it is in a class all by itself, not in comparison to anything else. Being seated at the feet of Jesus is fundamental, central and absolutely necessary. Mary choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus, to hear the Words of Jesus, chose the Main Course, that which is most substantial, featured, primary, the heaviest, heartiest and most substantive meal of any course. She chose the Main Course which was indeed the Meat Course! Leaders, can you honestly say you’ve made the same choice?

This reminded me a lot of Matthew 4:4, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Let’s look at this Scripture in a few translations:

“…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’” (AMP);

“…People won’t live only by bread, BUT BY EVERY WORD SPOKEN BY GOD.” (CEB);

“…‘No one can live only on food. PEOPLE NEED EVERY WORD THAT GOD HAS SPOKEN.” (CEV);

“…‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive. THEIR LIVES DEPEND ON WHAT GOD SAYS.’” (ERV);

“…Scriptures tell us that bread won’t feed men’s souls: OBEDIENCE TO EVERY WORD OF GOD IS WHAT WE NEED.” (TLB);

“…“It takes more than bread to stay alive. IT TAKES A STEADY STREAM OF WORDS FROM GOD’S MOUTH.” (MSG);

“…‘A person lives not on bread alone, BUT BY EVERYTHING GOD SAYS.’” (NCV);

“…’Man is not to live on bread only. MAN IS TO LIVE BY EVERY WORD THAT GOD SPEAKS.’” (NLV)

Serving does have its place of priority, especially among leadership. However, do you now see the vitality attached to the admonishment of hearing and heeding the Word of God? Our very lives, says the Scripture, ‘…depends on what God says…” But if we make no time to hear what thus saith the Lord, how do we intend to keep on living? This is the equivalent of having your heart literally stop beating, your lungs stop pumping oxygen, your brain entering into a vegetative state, your warm blood starts to run cold, but you insist You Are Alive! No ma’am, no sir, you are not! And just as you cannot live without the healthy functioning of your vital organs, so you need a healthy appetite of the Word of God to ensure you continue to live, and live well. The Word of God is Your Vital Organ! “Jesus answered him, “The Scriptures say, ‘It is not just bread that keeps people ALIVE. THEIR LIVES DEPEND ON WHAT GOD SAYS.’” (ERV)

Preachers, Teachers, it’s not enough to study the Word of God only to give it out to others. Now, is that our responsibility to share it, absolutely. However, is that our only responsibility, absolutely not!

I believe we are personally accountable to study the Word of God for ourselves, according to 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” (AMP); and 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (AMP)

However, I also believe we are personally accountable to Ephesians 4:11-13 as well, “And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct],  [AND HE DID THIS] TO FULLY EQUIP AND PERFECT THE SAINTS (GOD’S PEOPLE) FOR WORKS OF SERVICE, TO BUILD UP THE BODY OF CHRIST [THE CHURCH]; UNTIL WE ALL REACH ONENESS IN THE FAITH AND IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD, [GROWING SPIRITUALLY] TO BECOME A MATURE BELIEVER, REACHING TO THE MEASURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST [MANIFESTING HIS SPIRITUAL COMPLETENESS AND EXERCISING OUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS IN UNITY].” (AMP)

It’s vital to take personal accountability for ourselves AND others. A Healthy Balance between the two. We have to study AND teach, but we also have to individually become mature believers, growing spiritually for ourselves.

It takes nothing from you as a leader to know when to SERVE and when to SIT. For in truth, you will need to do them both if you are to be an effective, efficient leader. In a nutshell, SERVE AND FEED OTHERS, BUT DON’T STARVE YOURSELF!

Now, Martha’s busy serving Jesus. Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him. Which is better? Most of us make-it-happen, get-it-done types would instinctively gravitate to the doing stuff rather than the being stuff. But Jesus says, “Mary has chosen what is BETTER. I think we’ve all been Martha-ed…and maybe you are right now. You get so busy SERVING Jesus that you have no time to SIT WITH Jesus. It’s like my Applebee’s friend. We’re so busy serving spiritual food to others that we’re actually eating less of it ourselves. Now that’s backwards! The more people are looking to you, the more you have to be with the Lord yourself. But, frankly, it’s easy to let your spiritual health become a victim of ministry. In fact, serving God’s Word without experiencing God yourself is a prescription for burnout!

There is no leader, no believer, so gifted, anointed, talented, and powerful, that you are the only person God can use. The reality is, if you don’t teach another lesson, there will be another teacher. If you don’t preach another sermon, there will be another preacher. If you don’t make it to visit the hospital, hospice, jail, and nursing home, there is someone else who can! Neither the world or the Kingdom of God Stop, because you Start to take some time for yourself! It’s not selfish, it’s self-preservation, it’s self-care.

Elijah, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE LEFT! 1 Kings 19:13-18, “…He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts (armies), because the sons of Israel have abandoned (broken) Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. AND I, ONLY I, AM LEFT; and they seek to take away my life.” The Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram (Syria); and you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel; AND ANOINT ELISHA THE SON OF SHAPHAT OF ABEL-MEHOLAH AS PROPHET IN YOUR PLACE.  It shall come about that Jehu shall put to death whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, and Elisha shall put to death whoever escapes the sword of Jehu. YET I WILL LEAVE 7,000 [SURVIVORS] IN ISRAEL, ALL THE KNEES THAT HAVE NOT BOWED DOWN TO BAAL AND EVERY MOUTH THAT HAS NOT KISSED HIM.” (AMP). So, God Not Only Has a Replacement in Place for YOU, but He’s Also Got 7,000 Survivors! I reiterate, you are not so gifted, anointed, talented, or powerful that you are the only person God can use. He’s already got in place your replacement, plus, 7,000 others! Please believe me, you are not the only one God has left to use. Therefore, I strongly admonish you to learn the balance between SERVING and SITTING. This is the sign of a healthy, effective leader. After all, if you die prematurely because of your lack of balance, you do realize God already has your understudy in place? The term ‘understudy’ is defined as, ‘an actor who learns another’s role in order to be able to act in their absence.’ The show don’t die because you do! So if you die early, we’ll celebrate your life; mourn your death; and then another actor will step into your role! Leaders, Take Better Care of You!

I learned the hard way, there’s a danger in studying God’s truth only to prepare lessons, Bible studies, sermons, devotionals, blogs etc…and missing the purpose of studying it, which is to have your life changed through applying it to your everyday life. Not, just sharing with others so they can apply it to theirs. There’s a danger of becoming someone who leads others to experience the Lord while you’re slowly becoming a spectator yourself. And you can so fill your life with Christian meetings, Christian positions, and Christian activity that it feels like knowing the Lord. But, in fact, those activities have slowly crowded out that precious private time with Jesus. And that time is the fuel for any valid ministry! When you run out of time with God, you run out of fuel, which may clarify why you’ve been feeling so empty!

Stop Serving And Starving! Sooner or later that’s going to lead to a Martha Meltdown! Ministry is supposed to be the overflow of your own time with the Lord, not a religious substitute for it. So if you feel yourself growing weak and tired, frustrated, and negative while you’re serving your Lord, don’t blame the work and don’t blame the customers. You probably have not taken time to feed yourself spiritually – to really be with Jesus. And remember, your very life depends on every Word God speaks. You don’t want to lose your seat at the foot of Jesus because you were so busy serving for Jesus! You need balance. That word “balance” is defined as “an even distribution of weight ensuring physical, mental or emotional stability.” Its Old French Origin, from Latin literally means “balance having two equal scale-pans.” And what does God have to say about balance and scales? Proverbs 20:23, “The Lord hates for people to use the wrong weights to cheat others. It is wrong to use scales that are not accurate.” (ERV) Whether you lean too much to the Mary side or too much to the Martha side, neither is Good. Neither is a just weight. You are cheating yourself and others out of your very best. The natural and spiritual scales in your life should always be equally balanced. You need time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen, then you need time to get up from the feet of Jesus and be the feet of Jesus, to go and feed the masses the Bread of Life.

“…BUT MARTHA WAS VERY BUSY AND DISTRACTED WITH ALL OF HER SERVING RESPONSIBILITIES…” (AMP); BUT MARTHA WAS PULLED AWAY BY ALL SHE HAD TO DO IN THE KITCHEN….” (MSG) Martha, you are not by yourself, so stop being so busy. Distractions are deadly, so pace yourself and focus your attention. There are only 24 hours in every day. You can only do but so much. So, do your part, and know when the scenes have changed, we’ve moved on to another part in the play. It’s now their time to act, their role is to be played, not yours. Leaders, know how to share parts, and know when to bow out when yours is done. You are not the only character in the story of the Kingdom.

“MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU ARE WORRIED AND BOTHERED AND ANXIOUS ABOUT SO MANY THINGS…” (AMP); “…“MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU’RE FUSSING FAR TOO MUCH AND GETTING YOURSELF WORKED UP OVER NOTHING….” (MSG) Martha, are the people around you becoming more and more annoyed by your presence? Have you even noticed? Martha, stop comparing, stop complaining, stop fussing, worrying, being anxious and bothered (and bothering everybody else by the way)! You’ve been getting yourself worked up over everybody and everything. Stop running around, and go sit down!

“…MARY, WHO SEATED HERSELF AT THE LORD’S FEET AND WAS CONTINUALLY LISTENING TO HIS TEACHING….” (AMP); “…MARY, WHO SAT BEFORE THE MASTER, HANGING ON EVERY WORD HE SAID…” (MSG) Martha, Balance With Mary! It’s not about being one or the other. It’s not about one being so much better than the other. The best is balancing the both of two great worlds. Serving and Sitting. Leading and Listening. Being at His Feet, and Being His Feet. Balance is Beautiful and Necessary! Leaders, the Head can’t be sick while expecting the Body to be Well. Everything Starts at the Top and Works Its Way Down. And Whether You are a Healthy or Unhealthy Leader, It Is Working Its Way Down From the Head to the Body. Do Not Become the Illness That Infects Your Own House!

“Balance is not something you FIND, it’s something you CREATE” (Jana Kingsford)

“Life is a balance of holding on, and letting go.” (Author Unknown)

“Life is about balance. Be kind, but don’t let people abuse you. Trust, but don’t be deceived. Be content, but never stop improving yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“Extremes are easy. Strive for balance.” (Colin Wright)

“The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.” (Gordon B. Hinckley)

“Life is a balance between what we can control and what we cannot. I am learning to live between effort and surrender.” (Danielle Orner)

“If the emotional bills don’t balance, there has to be an accounting.” (Marie Casey Stevens)

“Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between what people need from you and what you need for yourself.” (Jessye Norman)

“I want balance in my life.” (Ron Dellums)

1 Corinthians 12:18, “But now [as things really are], God has placed and arranged the parts in the body, each one of them, just as He willed and saw fit [with the best BALANCE of function].” (AMP);

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

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);

1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober [WELL BALANCED and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.” (AMP) 

Leaders: Don’t Serve Life to Others, Yet Starve to Death Yourself!

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

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“You’re Too Close to Lose Focus Now!”

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“LET’S KEEP FOCUSED…those of us who want everything God has for us” (Philippians 3:15 MSG)

My mama always said, “You Become Effective By Being Selective!”

It’s human nature to get distracted! Many of us are like gyroscopes, spinning around at a frantic pace but not getting anywhere! Without a clear purpose you keep changing directions, jobs, relationships, churches, etc., hoping each change will settle the confusion or fill the emptiness in your heart. You think, “This time will be different,” but it’s not because it doesn’t solve your real problem—Lack of Focus!

The power of focusing can be seen for instance in LIGHT. With a magnifying glass the rays of the sun can set paper on fire! But when light is FOCUSED even more as a laser beam, it can cut through steel! Just as it is with Light, so it is with LIFE, nothing is as Potent as a Focus! The men and women who make the greatest difference in life are the most Focused! For instance, the Apostle Paul said,I am bringing all my energies to bear on this ONE THING.” (Philippians 3:13 TLB). Paul’s obsession was to make Christ known, and maintaining a Focused Life, allowed him to do just that. So if you want your life to have impact, FOCUS it! Remember: “You Become Effective By Being Selective!” Which means in a nutshell: Stop Dabbling! Stop trying to do it all! Do less in fact. Turn away from even good activities and do only that which matters most. I learned a hard lesson that I hope you’ll learn easy: Never Confuse ACTIVITY With PRODUCTIVITY!

Poet William Matthews wrote, “One well-cultivated talent, deepened and enlarged, is worth a hundred shallow faculties. The first law of success in this day when so many things are clamoring for attention is Concentration—to bend our energies to One point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right nor to the left.

Focus doesn’t come easily or naturally, it’s a Discipline that must be practiced Daily!

Paul told Timothy to Focus on his strengths:That special gift…you were given…keep that dusted off and in use.” (1 Timothy 4:14 MSG). Focused people don’t hide their weaknesses or excuse them; instead they focus on their strengths!

There’s a story about a couple who decided to build a farm. Then they began to argue. The wife wanted to build the house first. The husband wanted to build the barn first to house the animals. They went back and forth until finally the man said, “Look, we have to build the barn first—because the barn will enable us to build the house, the garage, the silo, the kid’s swing set, and everything else!” In other words, When You Focus on Putting FIRST Things FIRST, Everything Else Falls Into Its Proper Place Automatically!

Anthony Campolo says, “What you commit yourself to, will change what you are and make you into a completely different person. The future conditions you, not the past. What you commit yourself to become, determines what you are—more than anything that ever happened to you yesterday. Therefore, I ask you, ‘What are your commitments? Where are you going? What are you going to be? Show me somebody who hasn’t decided, and I’ll show you somebody who has no identity, no personality, and no direction.

Focusing on weaknesses instead of strengths is like having a handful of coins, a few made of gold, the rest of tarnished copper, and setting aside the gold coins to spend your time shining the copper ones in hopes of making them more valuable. Think about it: No matter how long you spend polishing tarnished copper coins, they’ll never be worth what the gold ones are! So, Stay Focused on your God-given strengths! That is an investment that will yield great dividends!

Another way to look at it is this: Why focus on the many that were called, instead of the important few that are chosen?! Remember: “You’ll Become Effective By Being Selective!” So make sure your selections today are those Few things and people that Matter Most!

“Do not swerve to the right or the left.” Proverbs 4:27 NIV

Bear this in mind, Focus does 3 things for you:

(1) IT KEEPS YOU ON TARGET: We find ourselves pulled in a dozen different directions, spending much of our time and energy on things we don’t really care about. Author Don Marquis put it this way: “Ours is a world where people don’t know what they want, and are willing to go through hell to get it.” The Bible says: “Let your eyes look straight ahead…Do not swerve to the right or the left.” (Proverbs 4:25-27 NIV) Focused People Develop a Discipline that helps them to Stay On Target Without Swerving to the Right or the Left! Distractions Invite Detours From Your God-Given Destination! So, Stay Focused!

(2) IT INCREASES YOUR ENERGY: Attempting everything, like attempting nothing, will suck the life right out of you! Focus gives you energy. Admiral Richard Byrd, the Polar explorer, said, “Few men come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used.One of the reasons those wells go untapped is Lack of Focus. The mind doesn’t reach toward achievement until it has clear objectives. Focused People have Learned to Focus All of Their Efforts Into One Thing or One Direction, which in Return Replenishes the Energy and Strength that was Zapped from Multiple Activities that didn’t Produce an Ounce of Productivity! All you desire will come together once you stop letting everyone and everything pull you apart!

(3) IT LIFTS YOU: It’s been said thatthe world stands aside to let anyone pass, who knows where he or she is going.In a sea of mediocrity, just knowing what you want to do and making an effort to pursue it, distinguishes you from almost everybody else. Henry David Thoreau asked, “Do you ever hear of a man who had striven all his life faithfully and singly toward an object, and in no measure obtained it? If a man constantly aspires, is he not elevated?Just by striving to become better than you are, you become elevated—even if you don’t accomplish all of what you desire, and even if others don’t step aside for you. By trusting God and aiming higher, you move to a higher level—Regardless. Staying Focused Isn’t All About Elevating to Another Level, Another Position, Another Title. Staying Focused Gives You The Best and Highest Level of Elevation There Is…Which is Simply Becoming a Better You Today Than You Were Yesterday, and a Better You Tomorrow Than You Were Today! Now That’s What You Call a Worthy Elevation!

Acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:6).

When it comes to staying focused, keep in mind these 3 additional notes:

(1) FOCUSED PEOPLE ALWAYS LOOK FOR A BETTER WAY: What got you where you are, won’t necessarily get you where you need to be. A family who moved into a new neighborhood got a late start one morning. As a result their 6-year-old missed her school bus. Though it would make him late for work her father agreed to take her to school if she gave him directions. After 20 minutes of going in circles they finally arrived at the school, which turned out to be only a few blocks away from where they lived. Steaming, her dad asked why she drove him all over the place when the school was so close to home. “We went the way the school bus does,” she said. “That’s the only way I know.” Focused People Don’t Get In a Rut, Nor Do They Get Stuck and Stagnant! They Continuously Reinvent Themselves and How They Do Things. They Grow and Change Constantly! They Don’t Regress, They Progress! They’re Forever Moving Forward Looking to Do Better In 2020 Than They Did in 2010! If Everything You Do Is Still Done the Same Way and The People You Are Around Are Still the Same People, You My Friend Are In Serious Danger of Never Becoming Better!

(2) FOCUSED PEOPLE CONCENTRATE A LITTLE HARDER AND A LITTLE LONGER: Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron said, “What separates a superstar from the average ballplayer is that he concentrates just a little bit longer.Focused thinking is the ability to remove distractions and mental clutter so that you can concentrate with clarity. Examine Your Thoughts, Examine Your Emotions, Examine Your Speech, Examine Your Attitude, Examine Your Heart, Examine Your Habits and Certainly Examine Your Associations and Immediately Remove Anything or Anyone That Clutters Your Clarity or Breaks Your Concentration! Keep In Mind: Folly and Focus Can’t Dwell In the Same Place!

(3) FOCUSED PEOPLE MAKE COMMITMENTS, NOT EXCUSES: A sign on the desk of an officer at the Pentagon read: The secrecy of my job does not permit me to know what I’m doing.It’s a cute joke, but not so cute when it’s true. When you don’t know what you’re doing, you become frustrated and end up failing. That’s why praying and getting direction from God, is critical for every area and aspect of your life.Do not swerve to the right or the left”, says the Scripture.  To ’Swerve’ means ‘to make an erratic deflection from an intended course.In other words, your lack of focus, when heading in the direction of your destiny will cause you to ’swerve– or stray from the intended course God has set for your life. Which is why you must always remember: In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (NIV). And when He does—STAY FOCUSED!

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I FOCUS on this ONE THING: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13 NLT)

The poorest man in the world is not the one without money, he’s the one without a vision for his life. But Vision requires Focus. When you’re spread too thin you become mediocre at everything and excellent at nothing! Failure always results from saying yes to too many things. Because something is good doesn’t mean it’s right for you. When your plate’s full doing what God has given you to do, learn to say no to everything else! “No” doesn’t mean never, it just means “not now.” If you try to fight on every front you’ll wear yourself out and fail to win where it counts most. Fighting a battle without spoils is like pouring water on a burning shack. Unless somebody’s life’s in danger it’s probably not worth fighting for. Conserve your energy for when something important is at stake!

Know that you’ll always lose when you: Fight the wrong battle; Fight at the wrong time; Fight when you shouldn’t be involved; Fight because you need to win in order to feel good about yourself; Fight, though the battle has been lost, but your pride won’t let you swallow it! Learn to Stay Focused on your goals. Keep your eyes on the prize that God has set before you. And be warned: If the enemy can’t defeat you, he’ll distract you with side issues or disqualify you by getting you to make bad decisions. Either way, he wins and you lose! 

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I FOCUS on this ONE THING: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.Notice 3 more things about Focused people:

(1) FOCUSED PEOPLE DON’T LIVE IN THE PAST: Too many of us yearn for the past and get stuck in it! Instead, we should learn from the past and let go of it. Elbert Hubbard wrote, “A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is a token of greatness. Successful people forget. They’re running a race. They can’t afford to look behind. Their eye is on the finish line. They’re too big to let little things disturb them. If anyone does them wrong, they consider the source and keep cool. It’s only the small people who cherish revenge. Be a good forgetter…success demands it.

(2) FOCUSED PEOPLE DON’T THINK ABOUT THE DIFFICULTIES, BUT THE REWARDS: If you dwell on the difficulties too long you’ll start to develop self-pity instead of self-discipline. As a result you’ll accomplish less and less. By focusing on results you’ll stay encouraged. Make Christ your example.He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross BECAUSE OF THE JOY HE KNEW WOULD BE HIS AFTERWARDS.” (Hebrews 12:2 TLB).

(3) FOCUSED PEOPLE CHOOSE THEIR FRIENDS CAREFULLY: Here are 5 types of people you’ll encounter: 1) REFRESHERS—who strengthen your faith and energize you; 2) REFINERS—who sharpen you and clarify your vision; 3) REFLECTORS—who mirror your energy, neither adding to nor subtracting from it; 4) REDUCERS—who try to diminish your goals and efforts to their comfort level; and 5) REJECTERS—who don’t understand you or what God’s called you to do. At some point in time you will have to encounter all five of these people! So, remain Focused and you’ll stay grounded; the praise of others is less likely to go to your head, and the negative impact of your critics will be minimized!

“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” (Genesis 12:1 NLT)

I use to wonder why God would take people like Moses, or Abraham away from their familiar environments, after He called them. Uprooting them from family and friends to use them for greater works. But the more I look at where I was, where I’m at, and where I’m going, the more I understand why God does such a thing as this. The harsh reality is, there are many limits put on us By Our Very Own Loved Ones! Especially those that have watched us come up and fall down many times before. Often, their perception of us distorts our vision and causes us to doubt ourselves, God, and even the planned purpose He has for us. But what we must remember is, whenever someone says you can’t do it or be it, they are a liar! Because the Bible Clearly Declares,I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” {Philippians 4:13} Understand that too often people will speak into your life, according to what THEY were able or NOT able to accomplish for their own. They will judge you based on what they could or Moreso, what they couldn’t do themselves. But Listen: A vision is only seen by the bearer of it and because you were selected to bear it, it is therefore invisible to others. In actuality, they only get to see the back of it, after the glory of it has passed by, (Exodus 33:12-21) That’s why folks get mad with you, because they want to see the personal face-to-face of your vision, but have to settle for the hind parts instead! So prepare yourself, because when you’re chosen by God to carry out a vision, not everyone’s going to understand what you’re doing or why.  So they’ll label you based on the outside, because they don’t have inside access! Don’t let them shift your focus because they can only see the container and not the contents! 

And they said one to another…this dreamer cometh…let us slay him…and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” {Genesis 37:19-20} Listen: Don’t feel bad when you don’t have a lot of friends and family around, or when people abandon you and walk away. Count it all joy, because those that God wants in your life will never leave and those that are from Him will never lead you astray. Friends and family are good to have, but many times God removes them so prepare yourself for it. Don’t fight it. Stop holding folks hostage in your life that need to be set free! Allow God to add and subtract what’s best for your multiplication! There’s so much more to you than meets the eye, so surround yourself with people that can see past your appearance. If you just Stay Focused, you’ll say like Joseph,…Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” {Genesis 50:20} Need I remind you, Joseph didn’t say that to enemies, or even friends, but to FAMILY!

Isn’t this the carpenter?” {Mark 6:3} Please be careful around those who love to say, “I knew you when…” in an attempt to label or limit you. When David volunteered to fight Goliath his faith was an embarrassment to his big brother Eliab, an officer in King Saul’s army. Think of Eliab’s position, “If my little brother wins, everybody will ask, ‘How come you couldn’t do it—big brother?’” Beware: your decision to step out and follow God will put pressure on others around you! And the first place you’ll feel it will be amongst those closest to you, especially if your calling sets you apart, and takes you higher than them! The Bible records that Eliabburned with anger at [David] and asked, ‘Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is” (1 Samuel 17:28). Take Note: Before David could overcome Goliath, he had to overcome the thoughts and opinions of those around him, especially his family. And you will too! Look at the life of Jesus. When He went back to His hometown they said,What’s this wisdom…given him,…he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son…they took offence at him. Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them…he was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mark 6:2-6)

Bottom line: Don’t allow those “who knew you when”, to hinder where you’re going! Neither friend, family or foe! STAY FOCUSED!

“…Stay close to the king wherever he goes.” (2 Chronicles 23:7 NIV)

Commercial flying can be a real adventure. Like the day Pastor Ron booked a last-minute flight to the Northwest to support some Native American friends who had just lost their young son. He was supposed to fly into Spokane, Washington, but fog shut it down and he was diverted to another airport for the night. So, the airline put him up in a hotel overnight and promised they’d do their best to get him to Spokane the next morning. Pastor Ron knew if he didn’t get to the reservation that next day, he would have missed what he was going for. He really needed the real scoop on whether or not his plane was going to get into Spokane. Thankfully, from a casual conversation at the hotel, he knew who the captain was. So that next morning, as he waited around trying to get some word on the fate of his flight, he saw the captain headed for a pay phone in the airport. He made sure he got close to the captain; he was calling to check the current Spokane weather. Then, as he walked over to the gate agents in charge of his flight, Pastor Ron overheard him say, “Well, we’ll try Spokane, but I think there’s only a 20% chance we’ll get in. We’ll probably end up back in Denver where we started.” Well, that inside information helped Pastor Ron pursue alternatives – one of which got him where he needed to be, when he needed to be there.

There was one reason Pastor Ron knew where to go – He Stayed Close to the Captain. Actually, that’s how all of us are going to know what we’re supposed to do and where we’re supposed to go – and that’s by Staying Close to the Captain of our flight; Staying Close to Captain Jesus!

There are eight words in 2 Chronicles 23:7 that I’ve actually typed out and posted on my wall at work. These eight words remind me of the secret of knowing and doing what God has planned in any given situation. In this chapter, a coalition of military and spiritual leaders is working to put the rightful king on the throne in Judah – even though he’s only a boy. The temple staff, the Levites, are given a straightforward assignment, and here are those eight words,Stay close to the king wherever he goes.That’s our assignment, too. And when we fulfill this assignment, we’ll be led naturally and supernaturally – into the next steps we’re supposed to take. Just like that day at the airport when Pastor Ron got his direction just by staying close to the captain. He had the information Pastor Ron needed, but he never would’ve known that information Except For His Proximity to the One Who Knew. It’s like that with knowing God’s Will for our lives. It’s not your cleverness in figuring it out; It’s Your Closeness to the God Whose Will You’re Looking For! That’s actually the Focus of John 10, which describes us as sheep following our Shepherd. Jesus said,My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27) NIV. See, it’s about being where you can hear His voice – not figuring out some spiritual jigsaw puzzle called “The Will of God.”

If you’re needing to know God’s direction right now, don’t focus so much on figuring out The Plan. Focus on staying close to the Man, to Jesus, whose plan it is. Living in God’s Will isn’t supposed to be this stressful spiritual mystery game. Relax and do the things that get you really close to the person Who is the Pilot of your earth-journey. Or in the words of the Bible, “Stay close to the King … wherever He goes!“ Unfortunate in this day and time of the church, too much attention is being Focused on Fleshly Leadership! But God’s Word still declares:You can’t depend on anyone, not even a great leader. Once they die and are buried, that will be the end of all their plans. The LORD God of Jacob blesses everyone who trusts Him. God made heaven and earth; He created the sea and everything else. God always keeps His word. {Psalm 146:3-6 CEV}. Stop focusing on the arm of flesh, for it will fail you every time. Instead, Stay Focused on Your Captain, Your Leader, Your King, Whose Word Never Fails! Knowing With Assurance that Once He Gives You Direction, You Are Guaranteed to Make it to Your Intended Destination!

It is indeed my prayer that you will now set your heart, mind and spirit to the things of God and the Will of God for your life, and that you will allow nothing and no one to distract you or deter you from destiny, Not Even You! People of God, Stay Focused and Finish Strong! Because You’re Too Close to Manifestation to Lose Sight of the Vision Now!

“If your parents ever measured you as a child, they had you stand against a wall, and made a little pencil mark on the wall to show your growth. They did not measure you against your brother, or the neighbor’s kids, or kids on TV. When you measure your growth, make sure to only measure your today self by your past self. If you compare your relationships, your success, or your anything against anyone else, you are not being fair to you. Everyone has a different path, a different pace, and different challenges to face along the way.” (Doe Zantamata)

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

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“Give Your Faith Some Feet”

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Joshua 3:14-17, “So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.  Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan AND THEIR FEET TOUCHED THE WATER’S EDGE, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.  The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” (NIV)

One of the things I’m known for in my household is packing! I don’t care where we’re going, by the time we get there, there will look like a replica of home! Now, that may be alright when you’re going away for a few days, but unfortunately I’m a creature of habit. So I pack like that even for an overnight trip! For example, I had to teach a leadership workshop in upstate New York, for only one day! I was taking Amtrak for only approximately 3-4 hours after work, and then staying to teach the workshop the next day, and the day after that coming back home. I literally needed nothing more than what I was teaching in and a hygiene package. But that would make far too much sense for ‘Pack-It-All Patty’! I had my files and I had my laptop. Then I had hard copies just in case the Power-point presentation didn’t work out. But those things make sense, what didn’t make sense was the large (medium and small) suitcases I took with me…for One Day! In other words, I had a lot of luggage! Now, my large suitcase, which was screaming for mercy because I packed everything but the kitchen sink in it, is what I call ‘Big Bertha’! Seriously, I actually called her ‘Big Bertha’! Stop laughing, and don’t judge me!

Well, on this particular day I was loaded down with ‘Big Bertha’ as I was paying my Overnight hotel bill. I looked over at the door that I was going to be using to leave the hotel and there was a problem. There was no handle on that door. I had this heavy load and a door with no apparent way to open it. Is that a problem? Well, of course not. You know what happened. As I walked toward that door, presto, it opened all by itself! All I needed to do was walk towards it! Keep that in mind!

In Joshua 3 is where the Jews are about to cross into their Promise Land. But they’re facing a flooded Jordan River and if they’re anything like me, they would be wondering how in the world are we ever going to get across this! But let’s walk through the text from the beginning to dig out some diamonds in the rough. Bear in mind, the first six verses are what happens BEFORE the Lord ever says a word to Joshua. Listen:

Joshua 3:1-6, “Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over.  After three days the officers went throughout the camp,  giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.  Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.” (NIV)

Verse 1, this happened early in the morning! In other words, you cannot expect to get anywhere great by being lazy! The leaders and the people all had to get up and out…Early in the Morning! Nutshell: No More Excuses! If you want it, get up and go get it! Just be mindful that the timing of God is often inconvenient! You have to be ready to rise with the Son and the Sun!

Verses 2-5, the leaders give clear and concise orders for the people to follow. You cannot expect to get anywhere great with unorganized leaders and uninformed followers. The people were told who to look out for, who to look to and where to go, even when to go. They are taught obedience, (‘…move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go…) But they are also warned about following directions to the letter, because, (‘…you have never been this way before…’) How awesome that not only you, but a whole group of people with you get the opportunity to enter new territory, in which they’ve never been in before. And all they need is obedience to get there. And so will you. When you start to believe God to open new doors, some of those doors will be uncommon, unfamiliar and uncomfortable. What you did to get through the last doors won’t open these new doors. So you have to be prepared to have guidance, direction, focus, vision, obedience, and courage to step into a new place, new level and new territory. This next direction from God for your life will be where you have never been before, therefore, hear clearly and heed without compromise. Another great nugget here is, (‘…When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.’) Always have a keen sense of the presence of the Lord with you. Truth is, going into new territory, in a way you’ve never been before, is a bit scary. And where there is fear there is the tendency to stand still. But if you do, you’ll miss where God is taking you NEXT. If you want the doors to open, you have to move towards them by faith. God is with you even when it feels awkward, when you’re uncertain, when you’re nervous and even when unbelief desires to peek its little head in. God is with you. Let that be your motivation to keep moving forward! If you get stuck here, you’ll stay here, and the door that would’ve opened, will remain closed. Are you really willing to risk your destiny?

Verses 6-7, make sure those following you are uncontaminated! The word ‘contaminate’ is defined as ‘to make impure by exposure to or addition of a poisonous or polluting substance.’ Its Latin Origin ‘contaminare’ means ‘to make impure’, from ‘contamen’ meaning ‘to pollute through contact.’ Listen: the last thing you need when you’re about to enter a new door, a new season, a new level, is to be attached to people who will pollute you through contact. “… Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” The word “consecrate” is defined as “to make or declare sacred; to dedicate, to set aside, to set apart, to devote to sacred use.” In a nutshell: you don’t need anyone attached to you that’s living just any kind of way. You don’t need to be polluted by those unholy, unclean, ungodly, or unrighteous. You don’t need to be polluted by those in fornication or adultery. You don’t need to be polluted by those who are filled with fear, negativity, unbelief, or pessimism. You don’t need to be polluted by those who are wavering in their faith, them that are double-minded and unstable in all of their ways. You don’t need to be polluted by those who are functioning outside of the Will of God for their own lives. Make sure the people you’re taking with you are consecrated, dedicated and devoted to being holy! Why? Because there’s a lot at stake, (‘…Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, FOR TOMORROW THE LORD WILL DO AMAZING THINGS AMONG YOU.”) Are you willing to miss out on God’s promise because you’re in contact with polluted people? He’s getting ready to do something in your life that’s absolutely amazing, therefore, check the company you keep…in advance…and make all necessary adjustments…Prior to the Promise! And then the Bible says, “…Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.” (NIV) Leaders, you have to be among the people to relate, but ahead of them to motivate. You have to show them where we’re going, not just say it. We’re visual people, we need to see you actually believe what you say! If you say where going to the next level, we need to see your feet already in motion!

Now, once the people and leaders have all done their part, then the Lord speaks:

Verses 8-13, ” Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’” Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.  This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.  See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you.  Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe.  And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” (NIV)

First, you always want to have a leader that tells you to listen to the Word of the Lord (not just to him). Remember, it is God who will get you to the promise, not man.

Secondly, God always has such a wonderful way of encouraging His people to know that He’s always with them. Again, when you’re about to conquer something new, amazing and unfamiliar, fear will creep in…make sure your faith kicks it out! God Himself sends them a reminder through reassurance that He is in fact with them. And no matter what enemies they would face (‘…Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, Jebusites…”) He would drive them out! God will allow nothing and no one to hinder you from the Promise He made to you. That’s why you should never allow fear to halt your feet of faith. It doesn’t matter what or who you will encounter on your way to the promise, God has already promised it will not over take you! So you need not worry if on your journey to the promise you encounter your own ‘ites’ as the Israelites did, God will drive them out. And it doesn’t matter if those ‘ites’ are (hypertension, diabetes, cancer, lumps, tumors, unemployment, divorce, foreclosure, heart break, or financial disaster) it will not impede your journey to the promise…God has already Promised! And He Never Breaks His Promise! Listen to my favorite Scripture in varying translations, Jeremiah 1:12:

“…I am [actively] watching over My Word to fulfill it.” (AMP);

“…I am alert and active, watching over My Word to perform it.” (AMPC);

“…I’m watching over My Word until it is fulfilled.” (CEB);

“…I always rise early to keep a promise.” (CEV);

“…I am watching to make sure that My message to you comes true.” (ERV);

“…I am watching to make sure that My Words come true.” (GWT);

“…I’ll make every Word I give you come true.” (MSG);

“…I am watching to see that My Word is completed.” (NLV)

In other words, God Keeps His Word! He watches over it to make sure it comes to pass, so no matter what obstacles you encounter along the journey to your promise, keep moving your feet of faith forward!

What I also love about this text is proper positioning, accountability, responsibility, leadership and order. “…Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe.  And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” (NIV) The men were chosen and there was no argument regarding who was chosen. Now, in today’s church, that scene would’ve played out a tad bit different! “Why does he get to do it; why is she over that; who said he could go there; why is she sitting over there now; he hasn’t been here long enough to do that; she’s not living right, how does she get to go with them; why Tony and not Tommy; why Keisha and not Karen?” And the bickering would go on forever and a day. And yet, they were told to choose 12, the 12 were chosen and that was the end of the story. Always remember, there is too much at stake to miss out on God’s promise because we’re too busy fighting for control; in competition; making comparisons; and judging who was chosen. Think about it: does it matter which 12 were chosen, since Everybody gets the same promise? Don’t allow distractions to get in the way of you reaching your destined promised land! Positioning is necessary because Order is vital. But in the end, We All Get the Promise! Remember we are One Body of Christ, His One Church, therefore, let’s act like it. Let’s get Everybody in Procession to the Promise!

God says, “…And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord – the Lord of all the earth – set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in the heap.” When God is with you, and goes before you, and gives you an unbreakable promise, what’s keeping your feet from moving forward in faith?

Verses 15-17, conclude like this, “Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing.” It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” (NIV)

And what’s my favorite part? Well, when did the water’s part? It said, “…as soon as their feet touched the water’s edge…”

You see, if it was me, I might have tried to negotiate this one, “I’ll tell you what, Lord. How about you part the waters and I’ll start walking in.” But, He says, “No. You start walking in and I’ll part the waters.” Sounds a lot like faith with feet. It also sounds a lot like my automatic door at the hotel. It looked like I could hurt myself if I just kept walking toward that door. After all, I couldn’t see any way it would open, so I could have stood there with ‘Big Bertha’, my suitcase, all afternoon waiting for an opening. But the door opened as I was walking toward it – by faith you might say.

Now, can you imagine if I never moved towards the door? I would’ve been standing there with ‘Big Bertha’, weighted down and going nowhere. And mind you, the only thing that would’ve hindered me would have been my own 2 feet. Maybe that’s what’s been hindering you too. Instead of going to the mortgage loan officer; to the dealership; to that interview; to negotiate that property; or fill out those scholarship and grant papers…you’re simply standing still, in the same place, going nowhere, with all those doors just waiting for you to step foot near them so they can automatically open just for you! And think about it, even while I was carrying ‘Big Bertha’, the door still opened as soon as I stepped to it. So before you start to run down your long laundry list of all the baggage you have with you as the reason you can’t go through any new doors, remember, I had ‘Big Bertha’ and the door still opened! God is not intimidated by your baggage! And truth be told, many of us are avoiding doors because of the baggage we carry, but just as that door didn’t care two cents about my baggage but opened anyway, so God doesn’t care about your baggage either, He cares about your feet, just like the automatic door does. Carry your baggage, right up to the door! Your baggage doesn’t hinder your entrance or your exit! The door only cares that you move your feet towards it, regardless of what you’re carrying! So don’t let fear and doubt, or inadequacies keep you standing still! No, Give Your Faith Feet and Move Forward!

Stop allowing yourself to get stuck on how the door will open or if the door will open, Just Move Your Faith Feet Towards It! You see, we, of course, want to know how every door might open. We want to know how every need will be met, every obstacle will be removed, and the Lord says, “Just start walking.” But meanwhile, we just stand still waiting for the waters to part or until we’ve had a lot of our questions answered, till it looks safe. And many people have lost God’s plan for their lives that way over and over again. The door can’t wait to open for us, but we’re standing at a distance wondering, “will it open, where does it lead, who’s on the other side, is it a wooden, glass or iron door, does it have a handle, do I ring the bell, who will help me with this baggage…” Stop Murmuring and Move!

God is asking you to walk by faith, not by sight. This is not about what you see, it’s about what He said! And He said the promise is yours, you just have to walk towards it. So Move Your Feet of Faith! I know it’s risky, I know it’s scary, I know it’s intimidating, I know it’s uncertain, unclear, unfamiliar, uncommon, and even unconventional. And still I admonish you…Give Your Faith Some Feet and Move Forward! Automatic doors don’t need handles, so you don’t need your hands for this one. You’re not going to open it, fix it, or figure it out. This time it’s not about your eyes, but your ears, not about what you see, but what He said. This time it’s not about your hands, but your feet, you don’t need to handle anything, you just need to move your feet.

Today, allow this devotional to encourage, empower and inspire you, but also allow it to challenge you to change from your normal, status quo comfort zone, and get on course with God to your next promise. You’ve been standing here staring at that door long enough. Move your feet of faith towards it, and watch God open it and do amazing things just for you…Just As He Promised!

James 1:22-24, “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” (MSG)

Hebrews 11:1-2, “Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval.” (AMP);

2 Corinthians 5:7, “for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]” (AMP)

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

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“When God Speaks to Men”

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Professor Sheringham is on the road a lot, so the phone in his hotel room is a very important tool, (especially when he’s in those areas when he doesn’t have a cellphone signal). But years ago, even before cell phones, (if you dare to believe there was such a time), it was even more frustrating for Professor Sheringham. One time in particular he shared with us his students. He was staying in this campus guest room provided by the school where he was lecturing. Now, he appreciated the room; he just didn’t appreciate the phone. The problem? He couldn’t call out, not even collect or with a credit card! You see, the school had programmed the phone so it blocked any outgoing calls, because he guessed they didn’t want to get stuck with long distance bills.

However, for him it was absolutely frustrating! Especially early in the morning or late at night when he wasn’t dressed and couldn’t easily get down to the public phone seven floors down in the “good old days.” Well, one morning they were in the middle of something that required daily communication with his office, and he literally prayed that someone from his team would call and deliver him from this one-way telephone prison. And God answered the prayer – they did call. Then they called the people that he needed to hear from. In essence, he could receive calls; he just couldn’t initiate them. So he was stuck being able to talk only when someone wanted to talk to him! I guess it was too bad if he wanted to talk to them!

From his experience he then taught our class from 1 Samuel 3:8-10. It was a time right at the beginning of Samuel’s life as he is a young man staying with the priest, Eli. And it says this, “God called again, “Samuel!” – the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, “Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am.” That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” Samuel returned to his bed. Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” (MSG)

See, God wanted to talk to Samuel, but He had a little difficulty getting the call through. He had to dial three times after all. Likewise, God has some things He’d like to say to you about your future, your pain, your questions, the decisions you need to make, the struggle you’re going through. But maybe there’s just a one-way phone most of the time. Oh, you’re calling God whenever you feel like it (or feel you need to). You’re talking about whatever is on your mind. But maybe you’re not allowing much opportunity for God to whisper something quietly to your soul.

1 Kings 19:11-14, “Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire A GENTLE AND QUIET WHISPER. 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.” (MSG)

Elijah only heard the quiet whisper of  a voice because he was listening. Which means there will be times when you have to ignore the distractions of the “hurricane wind…shattered rocks…earthquake…and fire”! Sometimes hearing God means you will have to make the deliberate decision to block anyone, any thing and any place out that would distract you from Hearing Him! The Bible says, “…Elijah Heard the Quiet Voice…” Do you hear it too, or are you too busy being distracted by your own voice or that of others?

Remember: He wants prayer to be a dialogue, not a monologue.

The dangerous problem is that we unfortunately rewrite this verse to say, “Listen Lord. Your servant is speaking.” Oh, and make no mistake about it, He does. He listens. We initiate a call to God, we say what we want to say and hang up. But we miss so much when we don’t allow God to call us with important things that He wants to show us.

Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is God’s Message…’Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (MSG)

But unfortunate for us, we call God, tell Him what we want to, then hang up!

Imagine if we did this in other areas of our lives: For instance, what would happen if you called the fire department, told them there’s a fire, then hung up? What would happen if you called the police department, told them there’s a robbery, then hung up? How about your child calling you and telling you they’re in danger, then they hang up? None of these scenario’s would end very well. You’re on the phone with people who you’ve got to talk to AND listen to if help is to be reached!

But instead, we call God and say, “Lord, help me meet the mortgage this month; how am I going to pay tuition at these new rates; how am I supposed to put these 3 children through college when they’re stair-steps in age; what am I going to do when this last check runs out? Lord, my marriage is letting go of the last string it had to hold onto, what now? Lord, I went to the doctor for that, and now they say I’ve got this too, what’s going on? God, I give my full tithe, and yet my financial future is looking more and more empty. God, I can’t get this weight off; God I’m tired of being single; God when will we have a baby? God, will I ever get this promotion? God, when can I open the church, start the business, have peace of mind?!”

We talk to God only to tell Him to, “fix it God; heal it God; save it God; deliver it God; promote it God; protect it God; provide for it God; send him/her God; close that door God; open that door God; forgive me God; punish them God…” And our ‘to-do-list’ for God goes on and on and on!

But when do we take the deliberate, undisturbed time to listen to God?

Samuel said, “…Speak. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” (MSG) Are you just as READY TO LISTEN? The word ‘ready’ is defined as ‘prepared for an activity or situation; made suitable and available for immediate use; easily obtained; within reach; willing to do or having a desire for; quick; prompt; prepared mentally or physically for some experience or action’ So, I ask again, are you READY TO LISTEN? Have you entered into prayer prepared to listen to God? Are you within reach of God’s voice, or is His voice muffled by all the other voices vying for your attention? Do you even have a desire to hear God speak? Are you mentally, physically and spiritually prepared for an experience with God? Are you ready, quick and prompt, or are you hesitating, procrastinating, dragging, slothful, and lazy in your approach to God? Have you made yourself suitable and available for God’s immediate use when He talks to you and tells you what He wants you to do?

Listen to Samuel again: “The Lord then stood beside Samuel and called out as He had done before, “Samuel, Samuel!” “I’M LISTENING,” Samuel answered. “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?” (vs.10 CEV) Is that your response to God? Or do you end your prayer with, “God, here’s what I want YOU to do!” There is a difference you know?

Brothers, you give your ear to many people throughout the day: Your spouse; your children; your family; your friends; your coworkers; your bosses; your church family; the news; sports; even the latest gossip (believe it or not, but men gossip too)…but are you giving your ear to God? Does He have your undivided attention? Do you take time to hear His voice? Just imagine the great things God wants to say to you, but you won’t LISTEN. You have a one-way calling system…you talk to God, He listens to you, you hang up!

But what happens when you install a new, two-way calling system? What happens when you have a two-way phone system from earth to heaven and heaven to earth? Well let’s see what verse 11 has to say, God said to him, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it tingle.” Let’s take a listen to a few translations:

“…Samuel, I am going to do something in Israel that will shock everyone who hears about it!” (CEV);

“…Listen carefully. I’m getting ready to do something in Israel that is going to shake everyone up and get their attention.” (MSG)

God is about to tell Samuel about something BIG He’s getting ready to do in Israel, and when it is heard, it will shock people, shake people and get everyone’s attention! And all Samuel has to do is LISTEN! Samuel is getting insider information because he’s attentive enough to LISTEN…are you? I mean, this is about to be some exciting news! Likewise, God wants to show you some amazing things, but you have to stop talking to hear Him tell you what they are! Samuel let’s God know, “I’m listening, I’m paying attention, speak Lord, talk to me, share with me the great things You’re about to do!” Have you positioned yourself in like manner?

LISTEN: When you pray about something, allow some silent time at the beginning and at the end. Allow a space where God could call you. You won’t always hear an audible voice like Samuel; that’s not needed so much today when God lives inside His children through the Holy Spirit. But He’ll speak to you as you meditate on a verse of Scripture. He’ll light up your situation suddenly with a personal application of those words or maybe as you’re praying. As for me, I tend to trust the ideas or the insights that come into my mind while I’m talking to God about an issue, when I’ve turned off everything else, not looking at my cell phone, not responding to texts, not listening to the radio, not watching TV, nothing else around, and I’m just listening to God solo – to let Him say something to my soul. I can trust pretty much what I hear then, and so can you.

As a man, you need to listen for what God tells you to do concerning your family, health, finances, schooling, church, personal salvation, and deliverance. You need to hear what He has to tell you about raising sons and daughters, about loving your own, one wife. You need to hear what He has to tell you about being effective in your church, your community or even as you rise on the corporate ladder. You need to hear what He has to tell you to tell another brother, as iron still sharpens iron. You have to hear what He has to tell you about leading and following; and spear-heading; working solo and a part of the team. You have to hear what God needs to tell you about your ministry, anointing, and gifts. You have to hear God’s instructions concerning your every assignment, the ones to take and the ones to leave. You have to hear God clearly say, ‘she’s the one!’ You have to hear God say, ‘save this; spend that; invest there.’

You will never be a man with an effective vision who has impaired hearing to God’s voice!

You need to hear God when He tells you, ‘sign that contract; get out of that contract; lay hands on that building; go to that dealership; that’s the school; that’s the job; go to this doctor; see that specialist; start now; stop now; wait now; not now.’

John 10:27, “…My sheep RECOGNIZE my voice. I know them, and they follow Me…” (MSG)

Do you recognize God’s voice? Do you know God’s voice? Do you follow God’s voice? The word ‘recognize’ is defined as, ‘to identify; to acknowledge the validity and legality of to show official appreciation of.” Its Latin Origin ‘recognoscere’, from ‘cognoscere’ literally means ‘to learn.’ You need to learn how to recognize God’s voice, and the best way to do that is to make it a daily habit of listening to it! For example, I’ve been with my husband over 20 years, married 19. That’s a lot of time to spend talking to and listening to this one person’s voice! Now, we both have family members, jobs and church responsibilities in leading people, so we both hear varying voices every day. However, we’ve spent so much time with one another in a personal, intimate, and focused manner, that even in the midst of a crowded, talkative bunch, we can recognize each other’s voices without having to turn around! But that took years, of talking, listening, and arguing to develop! It took time, so much time, that now we can have a full conversation in the middle of folks without saying a single word to each other! You see, when you invest time into the communication of your relationship, and yes, in your relationship with God as well, there’s a depth that grows from such nourishment. It develops level by level. You learn to become more familiar with the person and the voice, even with the things that are being communicated in a non-verbal manner. But you’ve got to invest in the communication if you want to reap the benefits from such an investment!

We spend a lot of time in prayer only to talk to God, but there’s much God wants to say to us as well, if only we’d listen. Jesus said, My sheep Recognize My Voice, they Know My voice, they Follow My voice. If you take the time to recognize, know and follow the voice of God, you’ll stop following your own voice as well as that of others. Truth is, many of us will listen to family and friends before we listen to the Father. This should not be so! Just think, your God, your Father, the one who has created all things, wants to talk to YOU! Now, if President Obama called you up and asked to speak with you, you’d be all ears! But God, who is more important wants to talk to you, and you have to check your schedule to see if you have time (unless of course you’re experiencing trouble)…

Brothers, communication with God has to become as vital to you as breathing. Not just talking to Him, but listening to Him. What does He want you to do? Where does He want you to go? Who does He want you to take? When are you supposed to go? How are you supposed to go? God desires to give you guidance and direction, but you have to listen first! Imagine if you listened to God the way you listen to your GPS when you’re trying to figure out where you’re going or where you are. You pay attention to every detail, you turn down the radio just in case there’s an unforeseen turn up ahead…but when God speaks, we have selective hearing!

Listen: I know the frustration of just receiving information without being able to send any, and so does God. If your heaven-link phone has only been calling out, why not try Samuel’s prayer every new day, “Speak Lord. Your servant is LISTENING.” It’s important that God receives calls from you; however, it’s much more important that you get those calls from God!

Brothers, you can’t pass on God’s Voice through God’s Word to the next generation of boys to men, if you don’t listen and receive it for yourself first. And truth is, there’s some young boys in sports and school, young men in the military, brothers in the neighborhood, at work, in church and even standing on the street corner that need you to hear God so they can hear God when you speak! There are men in the barbershop getting their hair cut right next to you, and he needs a word so bad from God that he doesn’t know what to do. What if you were praying and listening for God before you ever left the house. What if God would’ve revealed to you the word of encouragement that that man needed at just the right time. You could’ve literally been apart of a God team that turned that man’s entire world around for the better! What if you listened to God before you head to the mechanic, who knows what assignment God would issue to you while you’re there. What if you listened for God before going to work, who knows what word of life you could’ve spoken to that colleague that gets on your last nerves!

Men, God loves you and He listens to you. But if you love Him as much as you say you do, you will do likewise, listen! Why? Because listening to God keeps you from marrying the wrong woman; having kids at the wrong time; falling down every time a new temptation comes up; wasting money that you should be investing; attending the wrong school; applying for the wrong job; going to the wrong dealership; making the wrong friends; requesting a loan from the wrong bank; signing papers out of season; turning down the wrong block! Listening for God is your Privilege, your Protection and your Power! Don’t Discard It!

Your vision needs God’s voice; your family needs God’s voice; your ministry and church needs God’s voice; your business needs God’s voice; your children need God’s voice; your marriage needs God’s voice; your health needs God’s voice; your promotion needs God’s voice! Guidance, Direction and Wisdom all come from Listening to God’s voice, so are you listening?!

“Speak Lord. Your servant is LISTENING.”

“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue; God’s voice is its most essential part. Listening to God’s voice is the secret of the assurance that He will listen to mine.” (Andy Murray)

“Prayer is not the answer. God is the answer. Prayer is the vehicle by which we reach God.” (Greg Laurie)

“When you pray be sure that you listen as well as talk. You have things you want to say to God, but He also has things He wants to say to you.” (Joyce Meyer)

“God want us to talk to Him as to a friend or father…authentically, reverently, personally, earnestly.” (Bill Hybels)

“There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.” (Simon Sinek)

“God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening, is the beginning of prayer.” (Mother Teresa)

“Not many were hearing from God. Not because God was not speaking. It was because the people were preoccupied with other things. We are very good at talking, but not so good at taking the time to wait on God’s presence and listen.” (Jeff Syverson)

“Prayer is not a ‘spare wheel’ that you pull out when in trouble. But it is a ‘steering wheel’ that directs the right path throughout.” (Daily Inspirational Quotes)

Proverbs 3:5-12, “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…” (MSG)

Proverbs 12:15, “A fool thinks he needs no advice, but a wise man LISTENS…” (TLB);

Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.” (CEV);

Proverbs 28:9, “God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t LISTEN to Him.” (MSG)

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

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“How to Establish Quiet Time With God?”

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“O GOD, YOU ARE MY GOD, EARNESTLY I SEEK YOU.” (PSALM 63:1 NIV)

When you come to meet with God you should have an Attitude of:

1…EXPECTANCY: Expect to ‘give and get’ from your time together. And make it a time of Intimacy. Now, intimacy wasn’t designed to be found in a crowd or a public place; intimacy calls for being alone with the one you love. The Bible speaks about Christ as the groom and us (the church) as His bride. Therefore, the groom has an Expectancy when it comes to His bride. He Expects us to go out of our way to be with Him, to spend valuable time with Him, to talk with Him, to share with Him, to love Him. He Expects us to show and prove our love for Him. He Expects words of appreciation, adoration and admiration from His bride. Without a doubt, He as our groom, has already given us this and much more, so don’t you think by now He deserves to really be loved by us in return? Th Bible says: “And, behold, a woman…brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:36-38) Intimacy with God is Important!

2…REVERENCE: Don’t clumsily rush into God’s presence! Prepare your heart by being Still before Him and letting the Quietness clear away the thoughts of the world. Remind yourself Who it is you’re meeting with – GOD! Once me and my husband took an evening and went out to dinner, for no other reason than just to spend some quiet, quality time together. You would’ve thought we were going to a 5-star restaurant by how we were carrying on trying to make sure we picked out just the right outfits and shoes. We almost choked our children to death with cologne and perfume spraying all over the place. And we only went to the restaurant ‘BBQ’s’! In other words, this wasn’t a “Special Event”, but it was Special. We loved each other enough to take the time to look especially nice, for no-one else but one another. And likewise, when you enter the presence of God, that set aside time for just you and Him, take the time to Prepare Yourself.You are Worthy…to receive Glory and Honor” (Revelation 4:11 NIV). Make sure you have enough praise and worship; enough thank you Jesus’; enough I love you Lord. Remember, He’s Worthy! Take the time to present Him with a clean and a pure heart. Present Him with a mind that is focused on Him alone. Truth is, we’ve been giving God a lot of Entertainment, but not enough true, heartfelt Endearment. “Worship the Lord in Holy Clothing. May all the earth shake in fear before Him” (Psalm 96:9 NLV). “Bravo, GOD, bravo! Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!” In awe before the glory, in awe before God’s visible power. Stand at attention! Dress your best to honor Him!” (Psalm 29:1-2 MSG). If He means what you say He means to you, love Him enough to enter His presence at your Best! You can’t Rush Reverence!

3…ALERTNESS: Get to bed early so you’ll be in good shape to meet God in the morning! He deserves your Full Attention. Give God the Best part of your Day – when you are the Freshest. Follow the example of Christ:VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING…Jesus…went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV). Hudson Taylor said, “You don’t tune up the instruments after the concert is over…you tune them up before you start.I don’t know about you, but when I was single and dating, I made sure my make-up was flawless, no bags under my eyes, breath-mints in my bag, changing my outfit ten times to get just the right look. I wanted my date to see me at my Peak, at my Best. I made sure, when I enter and when I leave your presence, You Will Remember Me! Well, I’ve learned to give God even Better than that! I’ve learned to be Alert to His presence. When I know I’m going to meet Him in morning prayer I get to the bathroom and get myself together! Why? Because if I gave flesh that much, surely I should give Spirit that and much more! If you really think about it, we cost God too much to short-change Him now!Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be Alert servants of the Master, cheerfully Expectant…” (Romans 12:11) Don’t give God your Aloofness when He deserves your Alertness.

4…WILLINGNESS: This Attitude is Crucial: Because you don’t come to your quiet time to choose what you will or won’t do, but with the purpose of doing anything and everything God wants you to do. So come to meet with the Lord, possessing a mindset to do His will—no matter what! Determine that I’m not just going to enter His presence and laugh, and jump, and shout, but He has something Vital to tell me. Therefore, I’ve got to be ready to receive and willing to fulfill whatever the day’s assignment might be.Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. BUT PLEASE, NOT WHAT I WANT. YOU, WHAT DO YOU WANT?” (Matthew 26:39 MSG). One of the questions that should always be on your lips when you enter your quiet time with God is, “What Do You Want From Me God?

Take special time to increase your Expectancy, Reverence, Alertness and Willingness to God. Go out of your way for Him, like you’ve never done before. Make a sacrifice to spend quality time with Him. Seek Him with all you’ve got. Pursue Him as if it’s your last time to grasp Him. Love Him enough to be quiet before Him and hear what He has to say.

Remember: There is no greater Return, than Investing in Quiet Time With God.

Stephen Olford said, “I want to hear God’s voice before anyone else’s in the morning. And His is the last voice I want to hear at night.

David and Daniel met with the Lord three times daily: EVENING, and MORNING, and at NOON, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” [Psalm 55:17] “Now… Daniel… kneeled upon his knees THREE TIMES A DAY, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aftoretime.” [Daniel 6:10].

So does that mean the rule of thumb is to meet with God three times daily? No. What it does mean is whatever time you set, Simply Be Consistent! Put it on your calendar if need be! In honesty, we put far less important stuff on our calendars (hair, nail and feet appointments, lunch dates, sales at Macy’s etc.) Therefore, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to make an appointment with God, certainly our Daily Protector is more important than a Perm! And just like you’ll rearrange your schedule to keep all your other appointments, do what you need to, to keep this one! You didn’t stand up Tyrone or Tasha, so whatever you do, Don’t Stand God Up!

As women, we keep better hair and nail appointments than we keep God appointments. As men, you keep better barber and basketball appointments than God appointments. As youth, you keep better girlfriend/boyfriend appointments than God appointments. In other words, we’ve ALL messed up our appointments with God, whether it be through cancellations, lateness, fatigue, change in plans etc… But if the truth be told, even if you are the President and CEO, you will Never have a more important appointment than the one you schedule with God! 

Make a firm commitment like the Psalmist. He said,My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” [Psalm 5:3]. That word “shalt” is the same as “shall” and the word “shall” means “expressing a strong assertion or intention” more importantly its Origin is Old English meaning “Owe“. The word “Owe” means to “Be Required to Pay (money or goods) to (someone) in Return for Something Received“. And the word “Required” means “To Expect Someone to Do SomethingAnd all of that sums up to mean the Psalmist Expressed a Strong Intention to Give God What He Owes Him (His Time), Because He is Required To Pay God In Return For all the Goodness, Blessings, Miracles, Provision, Protection…He Has Received. And Most Important God is Expecting Him to do It! And the Psalmist Has Vowed that it Shall be Done! My Voice SHALT Thou Hear In the Morning, O LORD; In the Morning Will I Direct My Prayer Unto Thee, And Will Look Up” Does meeting with God in Quiet Prayer Time Mean that Much to You?!  Do you realize you OWE God? Do you realize just how much you OWE God? Do you realize that God is REQUIRING this of you? Do you realize that God EXPECTS this from you? The Amplified Bible reads that same verse like this, “In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart.]There’s a few things I want to point out here:

(a) The Psalmist makes an Appointment with God:My voice SHALT thou hear In The Morning, O LORD…

(b) The Psalmist takes the time to Prepare Himself and what he wants to Offer God: …I PREPARE [a Prayer, a Sacrifice]…

(c) The Psalmist makes it clear that it’s not about himself: …For YOU…

(d) The Psalmist knows that his Appointment with God is not just about what he has to give to God, But What God Has to Give to Him Also: …watch and wait [For You to SPEAK to My Heart.]

I cannot stress enough the Importance of making and keeping your Quiet Time Appointments With God! If David could do this, certainly you can do the very same! Remember You OWE God That Much! You Are REQUIRED to Pay Up and He’s Waiting In EXPECTATION!

Now, let’s look at a few ‘TIME’ tips for our Quality Time With God:

1…DON’T START WITH A TWO-HOUR QUIET TIME: You’ll quickly get discouraged. You’ll create memories of failure rather than memories of success. You must grow in this relationship as you do in any other. So begin with a few minutes and let it grow. You don’t plant your seed Monday and look for a harvest on Tuesday. It takes time. So be patient and pace yourself. The more faithful you are in keeping your Quiet Time Appointments With God the more appointments you’ll want to make and the longer you’ll want to stay.

2…DON’T CLOCK-WATCH: That’ll ruin your quiet time faster than anything else. Decide what you can do in God’s Word and prayer during the time you’ve selected; then do just that! Sometimes it’ll take more time than you have set aside, sometimes less. But don’t clock-watch! When on a date with that special somebody that you’re enjoying spending time with, you don’t watch the clock waiting for it to be over. No, you enjoy every minute. In fact, if it’s really good, the first things you say are: ‘Where did the time go?’ ‘And I wish this night didn’t have to end.’ God is simply looking for the same attention. The more quiet, intimate time you spend with God, the more in love with Him you’ll become. Therefore, you’ll automatically want to increase that time. It’s a process. So enjoy each stage.

3…QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY: It’s what you do during your quiet time – whether 15 minutes or 2 hours – that’s important. Whatever time frame you set, simply give your full attention to Him. My husband knows not to talk to me while I’m watching TV. I’ll nod my head the whole conversation through, but I guarantee you when I’m asked later about it, I have no idea what he’s talking about. Why? Because I Wasn’t Paying Attention! So don’t try to be super-deep and lay in prayer for 4 hours when you don’t do 4 minutes consistently. It’s unrealistic, and what’s unrealistic goes unmet. So whatever time frame you set, just give God your full attention and when it’s done, it’s done, until the next time. There’s nothing worse than to read ten chapters and not even retain ten verses. Why not commit to one chapter and let it minister to you? Remember, QUALITY will always over-ride QUANTITY when it comes to spending time with God.

4…CHOOSE A SPECIAL PLACE: Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to THE PLACE where he had stood before the Lord.” [Genesis 19:27 NIV]. Your special place ought to be a place where: (a) You can pray aloud without embarrassment; (b) You’re comfortable. But for some of us I must stress the point: Don’t have your quiet time in bed – that’s far too comfortable! Trust me, I’ve tried it! Now, as for me, my special place is in my living-room at 5am. I anoint myself and walk the floor of my living-room in prayer while the house is asleep. And even when the house wakes up, no one disturbs my special place of prayer until I’m done. As the days go by your special place will come to mean everything to you, because it will become your meeting place with God. It will become your sacred, set aside, consecrated, personal holy ground. Now, don’t think this place has to be perfect, it just has to be a place where you can enjoy your Quiet Time in the Presence of the Lord.

All of that sounds wonderful preacher, but what happens When Noise Interrupts Your Quiet Time With God?!

“O GOD, You Are My GOD, Earnestly I Seek YOU.” PSALM 63:1 NIV

Let’s address some “Quiet Time Problems/Interruptions.”

The Problem of Discipline is a Major one! This is better known as “The Battle of the Blankets.” It faces you the moment you wake up! The devil will Exaggerate just how tired you really are. And when he and your flesh team up, it’s a battle to just get out of bed! So here are some tips on Overcoming this problem:

(1) GO TO BED ON TIME! Too many of us stay up late watching TV, therefore we have a hard time getting up in the morning. (I confess, Law & Order at 11pm has gotten me in a lot of prayer time trouble). But Dawson Trotman lived by the Scripture,Early will I seek thee.You see, even if he had company the night before, he would excuse himself and go to bed because his top priority was meeting with God each morning.  Ask yourself, is meeting with God that important to me?

(2) GET UP IMMEDIATELY UPON WAKING! If you wait to think about it, you’ve already lost the days battle! Furthermore, when you wake up in the morning it’s not the time to pray that you’ll have willpower to do it. In other words, Plan It! Be Intentional! Resolve like the Psalmist,In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice.” (Psalm 5:3 NIV). Make it a Mandatory Meeting!

(3) GO TO BED WITH THOUGHTS OF SCRIPTURE! Fall asleep with the attitude of, ‘See you in the morning, Lord.’ Ask Him to wake you up with thoughts of Him. One of the best ways to do that is to go to sleep with a Scripture verse on your mind. Remember You’ve Been Commanded:Do not let this Book…depart from your mouth; meditate on it DAY AND NIGHT.” (Joshua 1:8 NIV).

You say you’re not getting much out of your quiet time? Well, Rick Warren refers to this as “The Battle of the Blahs.” He writes: “You can never judge your quiet time by your emotions. Emotions may lie; feelings may come and go. If you only have a quiet time when you ‘feel’ like it, the devil will make sure you never feel like it. Some days will seem bland. On other days you’ll think heaven has opened up to you. So don’t expect a glorious ‘experience’ every morning. Not having goose-bumps doesn’t mean God is not present.

However, dry spells can be caused by a few things:

(a) DISOBEDIENCE:  Because God won’t bless you beyond your last act of disobedience. And He won’t reveal step two until you’ve effectively climbed past step one. So repent and get it right.

(b) BEING IN A HURRY: Samuel Chadwick said, “Hurry is the death of prayer.So go for meaningfulness, not mileage!

(c) BEING IN A RUT: When your quiet time becomes a Ritual instead of a Relationship, it dies! So be flexible; change your routine, keep it interesting. Now men you would do it for your woman; and women you know you would do it for your man. So learn how to do it for your God. Besides, you’ll never have a better or more lasting relationship than that you have with God. So don’t you think it’s worth it to do whatever it takes to make your relationship work?

Sorry, it’s not over yet! Because once you’ve wonThe Battle of the BlanketsandThe Battle of the Blahs,you’ll have to fightThe Battle of the Brain.” Your mind will wander off in 101 directions during your quiet time! The devil will make sure of it! You’ll find yourself distracted by noises, lack of sleep, tensions with others, work, things you ‘just can’t forget,’ and even things you haven’t thought about all day. So here are some helpful suggestions:

1…BE SURE YOU’RE THOROUGHLY AWAKE! Take a shower, splash cold water on your face, or do some exercises. Get the Adrenalin flowing! The Psalmist writes,As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1 NIV). A deer being pursued by a hunter has only one thing in mind; getting to the stream where its wounds can be healed, its thirst quenched, and its strength renewed. Therefore, panting does not mean entering your quiet time dragging in, mumbling half a scripture, and dozing back off to sleep. There is a hunger and a thirst an urgency to get to God. So Wake Up and get to Panting and Pursuing after Him!

2…USE A MEMO PAD: When you decide to spend time with God you’ll suddenly ‘remember’ everything you have to do, or have left undone. So write things down as they come to you, then tell yourself, “I’ll get to that later,” and go back to prayer. Don’t let the devil distract you!

3…WALK WHILE YOU’RE PRAYING: You won’t fall asleep while standing up, (at least I hope not), so move around. And while you’re moving quote scriptures like,…I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised…” (Joshua 1:3 MSG) You’ll pray more purposeful and powerful then won’t you?

4…PERSONALIZE THE SCRIPTURES: Pray them back to God. Since God’s Word is always in line with God’s Will, your prayers will be answered. For example, use Psalm 23: “Lord, You are my Shepherd, therefore I shall not want for anything. Thank You for leading me in paths that are right when I don’t know which way to go.” It reminds you that you’re talking to SOMEONE who loves you and protects you and wants the best for you.

Who wouldn’t want to spend more quiet time with a Person like that?

If truth be told, nothing is more difficult to maintain than your quiet time with God. When pressures mount, what’s the first thing you’re tempted to drop? Time With God! Satan knows if he can keep you from it, he’s already won the battle, because he’ll have no opposition from you. Many of us who have messed up and missed the mark can honestly say, “It all started when I began to neglect my time with God.” So let’s look at some more ways to Overcome this problem.

1…MAKE A COVENANT WITH GOD! And be serious about it:When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it…It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 NIV). In the end, you need to remember that you’re in a relationship with a Covenant-Keeping God. Therefore, it’s not enough to make the vow, You’ve Got To Keep It!

2…PUT IT ON YOUR SCHEDULE: Block out time to meet with God each day, just like you plan a doctor’s appointment or a business luncheon. Think about it: We will run for a bus, jump on a train, chase down a taxi just to make it on time for an appointment with man. But we can’t roll over out of bed to meet with God in our own house? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that to be my track record with God. Being known more for my cancellations than actual kept appointments with Him.The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any who…sought after God, inquiring for and of Him…requiring Him [of vital necessity].” (Psalm 14:2 AMP) God is Seeking for those who are Seeking for Him! Are you seeking?

3…BE READY FOR THE DEVIL’S EXCUSES AND ATTACKS: To be forewarned is to be forearmed! So follow the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared!Dr. Robert G. Lee used to say,If you wake up in the morning and don’t meet the devil face on, it means you’re headed in the same direction!So don’t wake up with the mentality that the heavens are going to open up, and the angels are going to descend and lead praise and worship while you enter your Quiet Time with God! If this is what you’re looking for when you open your eyes, then you are in for a very Rude Awakening! Often times you’ve got to fight for your Quiet Time With God! But the rewards you receive for winning the fight are invaluable! So let the boxer in you rise up and let the devil know you’ve still got another round in you!I praise you, LORD! I prayed, and you rescued me from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:3 CEV).

4…LEAVE YOUR BIBLE OPEN THE NIGHT BEFORE AT THE PASSAGE YOU INTEND TO READ IN THE MORNING: When you wake up it will serve as a reminder to have your Quiet Time With God. Believe it or not, I used to sit my open Bible on top of my alarm clock, this way I had to pick up my Bible, to shut off my alarm clock. And it takes a pretty crazy person to pick up their Bible and throw it to the side, unread, when you realize God’s Grace and Mercy gave you another day to open your eyes! So whatever it takes… don’t miss out on your Quiet Time With God!…I have treasured the Words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12 NIV).

But what if I miss a day?Don’t worry about it, and don’t go on a guilt trip over it! If you miss a meal it doesn’t mean you gave up eating, does it? You’ll simply be a bit more hungry, so eat a little more at the next meal. Just don’t make a molehill a mountain! You can trip over a molehill and get some scrapes, dust yourself off and keep going. But a mountain will kill you! So stop treating your missed time with God as if you’ve fallen from Mt. Everest!The LORD’s kindness never fails! If He had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 CEV).

Listen: Psychologists say it takes up to three weeks to get familiar with a new habit; then another three weeks before it takes root. So the goal is to get beyond that six-week barrier!

Here’s a simple formula for developing a habit:

(1) MAKE A STRONG RESOLUTION: If you begin half-heartedly you’ll never succeed. The Bible says,Encourage one another daily.” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV). So become accountable to someone. Ask them to encourage you, and to remind you of the promise you made to God. I’m a witness, I have some Covenant Friendships that don’t let me get away with nothing! It works!

(2) NEVER ALLOW AN EXCEPTION: A habit is like a ball of twine: every time you drop it some of the strands unwind. So never allow ‘just this once’ to occur. Each act of yielding weakens your will and causes you to lose ground!

(3) SEIZE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICE YOUR NEW HABIT: Whenever you get the slightest urge to practice it, do it right then. Don’t wait, use that moment to reinforce it. It doesn’t hurt to overdo a new, and good, habit.

(4) RELY ON THE POWER OF GOD: When all is said and done, you must realize you’re in a spiritual battle and that you can only succeed by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. So pray that God will strengthen you. Depend on Him to help you develop Quiet Time habits for His Glory.Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (Jeremiah 33:3 MSG).

No Matter How Noisy Life May Become, Prepare And Equip Yourself To Allow Nothing And No One To Disturb Your Quiet Time With Your God!

“O GOD, You Are My GOD, Earnestly I Seek YOU.” (PSALM 63:1 NIV)

In closing, the word ‘Earnest’ says a lot. In fact, David wasn’t the only one who was ‘Earnest.’ James 5:17 says, “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed EARNESTLY that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.” Now when you study how Elijah prayed, the Bible says he prayed ‘earnestly’ that rain should not fall and God answered his prayer. The Scripture also says he was ‘subject’ to like passions as we are. The term ‘subject’ means ‘likely or prone to be effected by’. In other words, Elijah had some of the same pressures, temptations and conditions of life that we suffer today, and yet, when he prayed, he did it in an earnest, heartfelt manner, regardless to circumstance. Therefore, we have no excuse for our fast food prayer delivery! This isn’t a ‘bless the dinner rolls’ type of prayer. Elijah didn’t simply pray, “Lord, let there be no rain”. The word ‘Earnest’ is defined as ‘with sincere and serious intention’. Therefore, earnest prayer is Continued, Fervent and with Deep Conviction. It’s prayer that pulls on the very heart strings of God. This is the kind of prayer Jesus talked about in Matthew 6:6, …when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.Earnest prayer is Concentrated, Focused, and Deliberate. This kind of prayer is Serious Business! It’s more than saying, “Lord, bless all Christians; bless my family and bless me, in Jesus Name,” and then you’re off to work or to bed! No, it’s Sustained Prayer over a period of time. Earnest prayer, possesses the power to change even the most hopeless of situations. Isaac prayed hard to God for his wife because she was barren. God answered his prayer and Rebekah became pregnant.” (Genesis 25:21 MSG). Even Jesus prayed earnestly, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail.Luke 22:31 (NLT).

When you engage in this kind of prayer, You Don’t Give Up!

Every time I enter a new struggle and it gets long and hard, to the point it wearies me, I read Luke 18:1-5. Also [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up). He said, In a certain city there was a judge who neither reverenced and feared God nor respected or considered man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary. And for a time he would not; but later he said to himself, Though I have neither reverence or fear for God nor respect or consideration for man, YET BECAUSE THIS WIDOW CONTINUES TO BOTHER ME, I WILL DEFEND AND PROTECT AND AVENGE HER, LEST SHE GIVE ME INTOLERABLE ANNOYANCE AND WEAR ME OUT BY HER CONTINUAL COMING…” (AMP).

My prayer for you today, is that God will mold you into Disciples of Earnest Prayer. I pray that you will develop the characteristic of persistence and tenacity. And regardless to the situation or circumstance, you will not give up, give in or give out!

Now, just as earnest as Elijah, Isaac, Jesus, and even the widow were, particularly in prayer and petition, David was just as earnest in ‘seeking’ God. David does not use past tense, as an sought for the Lord. But the present tense, of I’m still seeking Him. Whether it’s to enter Quiet Time With God, or to enter into your closet of prayer with God, do it earnestly! Seek for Him with diligence.

Listen to David in full, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” The Message Bible says it like this, “God-you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts.”

You’ll know when you’re Earnestly Praying and Earnestly seeking, when your pursuit of God’s presence makes you feel trapped in a desert, hungry and thirsty and He’s your Only source of satisfaction and fulfillment! Unfortunately, somehow the church, the bride, has lost her hunger and thirst, her passion, her desire and longing for God, her bridegroom. Therefore, it is my prayer that this extensive devotional has stirred up a refreshing in your soul for Him. A new hunger and thirst that only He can feed and quench. I pray you will change your schedule in whatever way needed just so you can spend Quality, Quiet Time With God. I pray for a burning fire to be ignited within you that has to reach Him, has to see Him, has to hear from Him. From this day forward, I pray you will open your eyes each morning and say with David, “O God, you are my God, EARNESTLY I seek you…”

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

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“Winning Sides, But Losing Souls”

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Now, those of us living in New York City especially, have heard of ‘turf wars’ at some time or another. And more often than not, it’s usually found to be most often between rival gangs. Many of us can say, ‘well, I can see that; or I can understand that; or I’ve heard of that.’ But what do you do when the turf war isn’t between the gangs, but instead it’s between the police department and the fire department? I know, sounds absolutely insane doesn’t it? But truth is, there was an incident when the two departments clashed over whose job was whose. And it caused major damage!

You see, a while back there was a commuter helicopter that crashed in the East River. I’ve never forgotten this incident, it was haunting. The passengers were trapped in that helicopter under water. And here’s what the news reported, “Some police divers arrived on the scene first, and they went right to work. Minutes later, nine divers arrived from the fire department all suited up ready to go, and the police supervisor said, ‘We got it covered. It’s our territory; don’t worry about it.’Well, five passengers were rescued that day, but one man died. He was strapped in under water for an hour and a half while nine possible rescuers stood on the dock and watched, apparently because of a turf battle!

Which immediately brings to mind 1 Corinthians chapter 1. The Apostle Paul says this in, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, “I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common. I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—THAT YOU’RE FIGHTING AMONG YOURSELVES! I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: YOU’RE ALL PICKING SIDES, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.” I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?” I was not involved with any of your baptisms—except for Crispus and Gaius—and on getting this report, I’m sure glad I wasn’t. At least no one can go around saying he was baptized in my name. (Come to think of it, I also baptized Stephanas’s family, but as far as I can recall, that’s it.) GOD DIDN’T SEND ME OUT TO COLLECT A FOLLOWING FOR MYSELF, BUT TO PREACH THE MESSAGE OF WHAT HE HAS DONE, COLLECTING A FOLLOWING FOR HIM. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—CHRIST ON THE CROSS—be trivialized into mere words.” (MSG)

The church sounds a lot like the turf war in the above story, doesn’t it? And sad to say, I’m afraid nothing has changed. Today our turf is denomination, or our organization, or committees, or auxiliaries, or my church. “We’re charismatic.” “We’re not. We’re against that.” Or even a personal empire that someone is building…in Jesus’ name. Or, “Who will get the credit?” “Is my name next to that in the bulletin?” “Are you going to announce who did this?” Much like the Corinthians, all we’re doing is fighting over turf and territory. Who will get the glory? Who will get the recognition? Whose name will be called and acknowledged? Who will receive praise and accolades? Just like the Corinthians, we’re fighting among ourselves and picking sides. Who gets to sit where? Who gets to carry the Pastors whatever? Who gets to oversee the project or ministry? And then we have the pettiness of “but I’ve been here longer; I’m more qualified; I did that before; I started that…I’m the Pastor’s wife…” and the list goes on and on! Then to make matters worse, we have our favorites. We’ll stand and clap for him, but not for him. We’ll support her, but not her. And yet, while all of this transpires, people are dying without the Message of Christ because Christians are too busy being Messy in Church! Why do you think Paul says this is an “urgent matter”? Because people’s lives are at stake. While we’re picking sides, we’re losing souls. We’re worrying about elections and elevations while people are lost for an eternity without Christ.

And I love the way Paul always handles his leadership with love and rebuke. This is an urgent matter indeed, and yet he still gives them encouragement. “…You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common…” But such a relationship is impossible with people who are too busy with being on top, out front, connected to the right people or fighting for the most following.

Paul also gives us some insight into a leader’s heart. He says he’s received “…a disturbing report…” Which makes me wonder, is the reason the church is in the poor state it’s in is because the leaders aren’t disturbed by the reports they receive? Has leadership become so complacent? Accepting? Tolerant? Passive? Lazy? Unaffected? Have we become so calloused that as long as it doesn’t personally affect us, it doesn’t personally affect us? Shouldn’t we as leaders be disturbed by all the discord, division, fighting, competing, comparing, and the like in the church? When cliques are formed shouldn’t this be disturbing? When leaders aren’t talking to leaders, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When preachers can sit next to preachers in the pulpit and not once part their lips to speak to one another all service long, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When you can smell the alcohol, weed and cigarettes on the breath of your leaders, shouldn’t this be disturbing? While leaders are sexting parishioners, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When fornication, adultery, lying, gossip, rumors, spite, hatred, vengefulness, jealousy, anger and malicious intent are sitting comfortable in the pulpit and the pews, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When our youth are living in such a way that they look ten years our senior, shouldn’t this be disturbing? To answer, yes, this should disturb us tremendously. And disturb us so much that it compels us to take a stand from where we’ve been sitting so acceptingly for all this time.

Well, the report of the fighting in the church disturbed Paul and it has certainly disturbed me.

And what was all the fighting about? The Bible says, “…I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: YOU’RE ALL PICKING SIDES, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.” I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?”

Now, we have been saved, cleaned, justified, healed, delivered, and yet our focus after all of that is to pick sides of which leader to be found linked to? With all the gifts in this church, the fight was over who to be found in association with. Really? But truthfully, have we changed much from the Corinthian church? Certainly not. We’re still picking pastors, and churches, choirs, praise teams and praise breaks, to determine which we find most favorable. Oh, and the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we’ll get around to that once we’ve settled this (because clearly this is a matter of high importance in the Kingdom, in these last and evil days)!

Saints, this ought not to be so!

Sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ should always be our Primary Purpose. And one in which we carry out together, not divided. It’s not about who preaches or teaches or prays better. It’s not about us at all. We’ve simply been given an assignment to carry out and that is to carry the Cross of Christ to a world that needs to know what unconditional love and sacrifice really look like. It’s not for our vainglory, not for our popularity status, not for our Facebook ‘likes’ quota to be met, no it’s about Him not us, His Kingdom not our little ‘it’s all about me’ world!

Listen to what Paul says: “…GOD DIDN’T SEND ME OUT TO COLLECT A FOLLOWING FOR MYSELF, BUT TO PREACH THE MESSAGE OF WHAT HE HAS DONE, COLLECTING A FOLLOWING FOR HIM. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—CHRIST ON THE CROSS—be trivialized into mere words.” (MSG)

Paul says in essence, “Church, people are dying because they don’t understand what happened on the cross. How can you waste time arguing among yourselves?”

This is not about us personally! This is about HIM! His Message, His Cross, His Life, His Death, His Burial, His Resurrection, His Power, His Glory, His Name! NOT US! And so Paul lets them know there’s no need to fight among yourselves and pick sides, because this is not a popularity contest! I’m not running for office and this is not about who has the most votes! I’m not collecting followers for me, I’m collecting followers for Him! I’m not trying to be seen, I’m not shining my light so others can see me, but so they can see Him in me!

While the church is fighting for turf, the church is losing ground! Satan needs no new weapons, in fact he needs none at all since we’re handing souls to him freely! We’re so focused on who’s right up ahead, that we’re missing whose getting left behind!

Listen, a man died there in New York in the East River while the rescuers argued over territory. But don’t we do that? We’re so concerned about losing our members, or our contributions, or our credit, or our status. And all that really matters is that we’re losing the people around us to a Christ-less eternity. The two factors that really matter are number one, the lost-ness of our neighbors, and number two, the message of the cross whereby they can be found. Those two essentials are bigger than any of our differences, or any of our labels, positions, titles, degrees, initials, robes, rings, crosses, chairs, or any of our personal empires or egos! While we’re trying to find popularity, we’re losing people!

Maybe you and I have cared too much about our group, or our glory. And while we’re building our little kingdoms and our walls, people are dying. We need to get together to make a greater difference. It’s time for the church to stop acting like those officers who were sent to rescue people and save lives, but instead they were found standing on the dock arguing about turf, territory, and who was in charge. Saints, are we all in the river together, rescuing every person we can find, or are we too busy being distracted by turf and territory, fighting and picking sides? Because the truth is, time is running out! Turf is for now; lost is forever! And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to be rerouted back to my place of purpose. Preaching and teaching about the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And doing so without fancy words to entice the educated with eloquence of speech.

Listen again to Paul: “The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It is written, I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head, I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots. So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in His wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb – preaching, of all things! To bring those who trust Him into the way of salvation.” (vss. 18-21 MSG)

This is what we’re called to do, preach the gospel, preach Jesus, preach the cross, preach salvation, and to do so without attempting to sound impressive. Remember, it’s not about us, it’s about Him!

2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “But we have this precious treasure [the good news about salvation] in [unworthy] earthen vessels [of human frailty], so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be [shown to be] from God [His sufficiency] and not from ourselves.  We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed; always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown in our body.  For we who live are constantly [experiencing the threat of] being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be evidenced in our mortal body [which is subject to death]. So physical death is [actively] at work in us, but [spiritual] life [is actively at work] in you.” (AMP)

Church, this is our assignment! Not attempting to look, seem or be grand, but just humble servants diverting the unsaved from hell, no matter how “hellbent” they are. We’re unworthy, earthen vessels of human frailty, nothing impressive, just available to be used by God. And even though we’ll suffer for sharing the Gospel, the suffering is worth it to snatch souls from the devils grasp. Isn’t this why we were saved in the first place?

1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you – from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (MSG)

That’s our assignment! We were brought from dark to light to shine, but not for our own personal glow… but for His glory! People should be able to see the night-and-day difference He made for us, so they can desire the same thing and we can lead them into the salvation that makes it possible. And all of this can easily be accomplished if only we’d stop fighting for turf and losing ground.

People of God, this Journey with God is not about us, it’s about Him. And as soon as we can stop fighting in church we can get back to fighting for the Kingdom. Believe it or not, but there are still souls out there drowning that desperately need rescuing. So, are we going to help save them or watch them drown while we fight over differences on the dock?

Let’s refocus on what we’ve been called to do. Let’s go back to being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  And not so people can get a taste of our favor-flavored life, but that they can “Taste and See, (for themselves), that the Lord is Good.” Let us not shine so people can see us, but so they can see that in our dark lives “He’s still the Light of the World”, that has so graciously desired to live in us (and desires likewise to live in them. Let’s go back to the Great Commission and Fulfill it instead of wasting time becoming Full of ourselves.

Our Master is returning, and He’s going to want an account of what we’ve done. Question is, will we pass His audit or fail?

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let’s determine today that we’ll stop fighting for turf so we can finally stop losing ground. Because according to Acts 1:8, as His Witnesses, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover in sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so, let’s not lose it to the devil through division and distraction.

Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the [consistently] righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise captures and wins souls [for God – he gathers them for eternity].” (AMP);

Acts 13:47, “For that is what the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring [the message of eternal] salvation to the end of the earth.” (AMP);

Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (AMP);

Acts 1:8, “But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about Me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.” (CEV);

Acts 20:24, “But I do not consider my life as something of value or dear to me, so that I may [with joy] finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify faithfully of the good news of God’s [precious, undeserved] grace [which makes us free of the guilt of sin and grants us eternal life].” (AMP);

Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation [from His wrath and punishment] to everyone who believes [in Christ as Savior], to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (AMP);

2 Timothy 1:8-10, “So don’t be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner. Take your share of suffering for the Message along with the rest of us. We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus.” (MSG)

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

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“Your Storm is Keeping You On Course”

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Acts 27:44, “the rest were to follow, holding on to the planks or to some broken pieces of the ship. And this was how we all got safely ashore.” (GNT) 

It was some years ago, but I remember when they closed a local airport. You see there was a violent storm at Newark airport, and thousands of people had their plans suddenly changed…indefinitely. I’ve come to find out in life, Storms have a way of doing just that! There’s a snow storm, for example, and schools and businesses, even though they all had their plans made for the day, suddenly have all those plans thrown out the window. Meetings that HAD to be today are amazingly rescheduled. Planes and ships are diverted and all because of a storm. You see, a storm is a classic embodiment of that familiar phrase, “Due to circumstances beyond our control…” Ever heard that line? 

Truth is: maybe you’re in the middle of a storm right now. Your life and plans are being blown around in every possible direction, and it seems like everything is completely out of control. Well, if that’s your testimony, then I’ve got some really good news for you today! According to the Word of God, Acts 27 talks about A Stormy Surprise! Now, I don’t know where your storm is right now, but maybe there’s something blowing your life out of control: (a marriage conflict; a troubled child; a financial crisis; a health scare; a job loss or loved one loss; or a ministry transition). Whatever your storm is, it’s blowing fierce and hard! And to make matters worse, you’ve already tried everything to get it back to smooth sailing, and yet, all you see in all directions is nothing but complete and utter chaos!

And by the way, if you’re one of those tremendously blessed folks who’s not in a storm Right Now, Just Stay Tuned; Your Forecast Will Change Just Like the Rest of Us! That’s just the way life is. Before you know it, out of no-where, the winds blow, the waves are high, the lightening is bright, the thunder is loud, the foundation is shaky, the cold airs of conflict and crisis strike, and you’re wondering if you’ll Survive the Storm! We all get them, so if you haven’t YET, simply Stay Tuned!

However, for those who feel that In Your Life Right Now Things Are Completely Out of Control By the Storms of Life, You’ll Most Definitely Be Able to Relate to Paul’s Storm in Acts 27!

What was happening was that Paul was being taken by Roman soldiers on a grain ship from Israel to Rome. They had a lot of water to cross to get from where Israel is and to cross the ocean and to get over to Italy where they needed to be, and in the middle of all this they encountered a terrible storm that lasted for fourteen days. Hurricane strength, we’re told in Acts 27:20, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.” (NIV). Now, if you’ve ever felt like all your points of reference were gone, like Acts 27:20, you couldn’t see the “…sun, the moon, the stars…” –Which Are All Things You Can Usually Count On To Be There As Your Day-to-Day, Consistent Point of Reference…When That’s Gone, The Storm Is Bad! The things you were able to hang on to before, They’re No Longer There! That one song that use to encourage you, now you can’t remember one verse of it, that friend whose shoulder use to be available for you to lean on has vanished into thin air, that Scripture that would pop into your head right when you were ready to throw in the towel (and now you have no idea what book of the Bible it’s even found in). It feels as though all you used to Depend on has somehow Disappeared into the Darkness of the Storm! 

Well, maybe you’re there right now, and you know what, truth is, it’s easy to give up hope. I know “church folks” will tell you that’s not supposed to ever happen to a believer. But truth is, life can get real hard, and heart breaking. It’s difficult to keep a praise on your lips when your coworker is cursing you out. It’s hard to keep joy when you’ve lost loved ones back-to-back. It’s not easy to keep shouting when your marriage is screaming divorce. Its’ rough trying to teach Sunday school to other children when your own don’t even attend. Life is not easy! No, not even for the believer. So never beat yourself up when you have a moment of lost hope, it happens to the best of us, from the pulpit to the door (whether we admit it or not)!

However, before you feel as if your lost hope can never be found again, keep this in mind: The Outcome of the Story Is What You Need to Take Note Of! Acts 27:44 declares, “…Everyone Reached Land Safely.They were blown into the rocks after two weeks, But It Says, IN THE END, They Were On An ISLAND! And in chapter 28 we find out the ISLAND was called MALTA! Do you know where Malta is? IT’S ON THE SOUTHERN COAST OF ITALY! Why is that such good news? Because, Regardless to a Violent Storm, They Ended Up Right Where They Were Heading All Along! Oh, they’d been out of control for two weeks or so it seemed, BUT THE WHOLE TIME THEY HAD BEEN OUT OF CONTROL, THEY HAD ACTUALLY BEEN RIGHT ON COURSE, AND SO ARE YOU!

The Surprise About Your Storm Is, That YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE! I know the storm blew some stuff all over the place, I know you received some bumps and bruises and even some brokenness in the storm, but YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE! As hectic as it is, as violent as it was, as rough as it’s been, as depressed as you’ve felt, YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE! Yes, with a marriage that seemed to be sinking, children that seemed to be jumping over-board, a ministry that seemed to lose the wind in its sails, and a health that has seemed to be tossed to and fro, from healthy to sick all in the same week, YOU MY FRIEND ARE STILL ON COURSE! REGARDLESS TO THE STORM, PAUL STILL ENDED UP EXACTLY WHERE HE WAS SUPPOSE TO BE…AND SO WILL YOU! SO, DON’T BE DISCOURAGED BY THE STORM, YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE!

Nahum 1:3 says, “…The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (AMP)

Look at this text in a few additional translations with some deeper insight:

“…He can BE SEEN in storms and in whirlwinds; clouds are the dust from His feet.” (CEV) Some encouragement during your storm is found in knowing that God is SEEN even in storms. The problem is that like Peter, we tend to focus on the storm instead of the Savior who’s in the storm With Us! Matthew 14:30-32, “But when he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened, and he began to sink, and he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus extended His hand and caught him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” (AMP) The key is knowing that Jesus is in the storms of life WITH us, and close enough to us in the storm, like Peter, that all He had to do was reach out His hand and touch him. He’s that close to us in the storms of our lives as well. So take heart beloved, because in the harshest of storms, the hand of God is still nigh. Those are the things we lose sight of in storms. We began to focus on the ‘effects of the wind’ instead of keeping our eyes on the One who created and controls All the Elements! When your in the storms of life, don’t look at the storm or its effects, look for God, He can always be seen in the storm!

“…He will USE whirlwinds and storms to show His power. People walk on the dusty ground, but He walks on the clouds.” (ERV) Don’t be afraid of the storms, God uses storms to show forth His power! The problem is that we focus on how powerless we feel in the storms of life instead of focusing on how powerful God is even in the midst of the storm! In fact, He’s using the storm you’re in right now for your good not your harm. That’s why you have to always condition yourself to look for the lessons He’s showing you on how to trust Him even in strong storms where you feel most weak! 2 Corinthians 12:9, “but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.” (AMP) God uses storms to showcase His power, and uses your weaknesses in the storms of life to do the same. Be encouraged in knowing that God is Using this storm on your behalf!

“…Raging winds and storms MARK HIS PATH, and clouds are the dust from His feet.” (GWT) When the winds and storms are raging in your life, don’t try to figure out which way to go, simply look for the Path of God. Follow His Footsteps and You’ll Exit the Storm Better Than You Entered it! Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].” (AMP) Don’t pace the floor in fear, walk by faith as you follow the path of God. If you just ask Him, He’ll show you the way to go! Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord, and He delights in his way [and blesses his path].” (AMP) In chaos, let God order your steps, and you will be sure to never stumble. Just ask Him to show you where He’s marked His path so you can follow it, instead of tripping over trouble trying to figure it all out on your own. Jeremiah 33:3, “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.’ (MSG)

“…He shows His power in the TERRORS of the cyclone and the raging storms; clouds are billowing dust beneath His feet!” (TLB) No matter how terrifying your storm is, know that God still shows His power in the terrors of the cyclone and the raging storms. When God is in the storm with you, you need not worry yourself, no matter how bad the storm is. Your Storm Will Never Be Bigger Than the Size of Your God! Remember, Your God is Omnipotent; Omnipresent; Omniscient; All-Powerful; All-Present and All-Knowing. What Storm Do You Know Can Top That?!

Psalm 147:5, “Great is our [majestic and mighty] Lord and abundant in strength…” (AMP);

“Great is our Lord and of great power…” (AMPC);

“Our Lord is great and so strong…” (CEB);

Our Lord is great and powerful…” (CEV);

“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power…” (ESV);

“Our Lord is great, and His power is great…” (GWT);

“How great He is! His power is absolute!” (TLB);

“Our Lord is great, with limitless strength…” (MSG)

Now, with a God that Great, are you really going to let this temporary storm scare you?!

“…Tornadoes and hurricanes are the wake of His passage, Storm clouds are the dust He shakes off His feet…” (MSG); “…Where the Lord goes, there are whirlwinds and storms, and the clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (NCV) I hope you’re starting to understand that when God is in the storm with you, you are in the safest place in all the world! And that means even in the midst of the tornado, hurricane, whirlwind and storm, He is always present, and you are always protected! After all, the Bible says, “Where the Lord goes, there are whirlwinds and storms…” If you’re in a storm, God is already there, so take heart!

Be Not Discouraged! The Lord Is Still In Control of Your Care and Course…Despite the Storm!

Believe It Or Not, As Bad As It Looks, His Ways Still Work…Even In the Storms of Life! And for an added bonus, God speaks in storms too!  “And now, finally, GOD answered Job from THE EYE OF A VIOLENT STORM…” (Job 38:1 MSG) Never feel as though storms have the power to cut off your communication from God. He sees you, He hears you, He speaks to you, He’s there with you! Even when the storm is Violent it can’t silence His Voice! So, make sure that while you’re in the storm, you keep your ears open, the Lord has a wonderful way of communicating calm even in the midst of chaos! Listen to the Bible: “Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?” Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!” (Mark 4:35-41 MSG) Your storm is never designed to take you out! You just have to remember what happened BEFORE the storm took place: The Bible says, “…He said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” The best lifesaver in the storms of life is to always remember what “…HE SAID…”! He didn’t suggest to go, He said LET’S GO! When God is with you, never let what’s around you distract you from the direction He’s already given you! If HE SAID let’s go across to the other side, it doesn’t matter what takes place along the journey, one way or another you will reach the other side! Remember: Your Storm is Keeping You On Course! Yes, Even With All of Its’ Chaos! Therefore, Never Allow the Sound of the Storm to Drown Out What God Has Already Said!

People of God, Your Storms Will NEVER Be Powerful Enough To Short-Circuit The Power Of The God You Serve! Remember: Even Jesus Himself had to face storms: “Right now I AM STORM-TOSSED. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’” A voice came out of the sky: “I have glorified it, and I’ll glorify it again.” (John 12:27-28 MSG) Jesus Himself was “…STORM-TOSSED…” yet He determined to endure it because it would display the glory of the Father! And as bad as your storm is, and as violently as it’s tossing you to and fro, don’t give up, give out or give in! Stick it out! You will eventually arrive to your destination and there will be glory after this!

Yes, In the End You May Just Make It By On Broken Pieces, However, That Still Does Not Change the Unchangeable Fact and Truth, That You Still Made It!  Jesus made it to the Crown, but not without the Cross, Enemies, Spit, Mockery, Piercing, Tomb, Grave, Nails, Pain, Suffering, Agony, Blood, Sweat etc…Yes, He made it, but it was a horrible journey. And yet He didn’t stop and take down the sails, He stayed the course, because there was too much Purpose and Promise on the other side of this. Likewise it is for you!

Paul Was Destined For Italy, and the Storm Would Not Be A Distraction, But a Driving Force to Ensure He Made It There! And Not Just Made It There, But Made It There With the Testimony of What He Had to Make It Through To Get There! And if it’s anyone who has a testimony of endurance, it’s certainly Paul! The Bible says, “I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones…” (2 Corinthians 11:23-29 MSG) Now, if Paul can survive THAT, you can survive THIS!

Listen: Your Storm Will Not Be a Straight Path To Your Destination! And After All, Who Wants to Hear the Boring Story of How You Left Here, and Simply Made It Straight There, With No Bumps, Bruises or Brokenness…Who Can Relate To That?! That’s Why Your Storm Is Adding Streets, Paths, Cliffs, Dead-Ends, U-Turns, Corners, Hills, Avenues, Back Alley’s, Valley’s and More to Your Story’s Journey! People Will Be Able to Relate to What You’ve Been Through, and then Further Be Encouraged to Know That They Can and Will Make It Through Just the Same!

You may feel like you’re either going nowhere right now or you’re on the verge of utter shipwreck disaster; maybe on the verge of being blown on the rocks even to crash and burn. But remember, the surprise in the storm is this: GOD STILL CONTROLS SEEMINGLY OUT-OF-CONTROL TIMES! He uses them to blow His children right where they were supposed to go all along! SO DON’T LET THE STORM DISCOURAGE YOU, DISTRACT YOU OR DISHEARTEN YOU! THE BOTTOM LINE IS: THE STORM IS KEEPING YOU ON COURSE! YOU WILL SURVIVE AND YOU WILL HAVE AN AWESOME STORY AND TESTIMONY TO TELL ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORM!  

The word ‘storm’ is defined as, ‘a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow; an uproar or controversy; a sudden attack and capture; to move forcefully in a specified direction.’ People of God, do not allow your storm to disturb you, even when it disturbs the atmosphere around you. Because my favorite definition of ‘storm’, is ‘to move forcefully in a specified direction.’ Your storm is not working against you, it’s working for you! It’s pushing, shoving, and moving you forcefully, but it’s taking you in the right direction! Your storm is not there to throw you off track, but to keep you on course! And your ‘specified direction’, is in the Will of God for your life! It will not be the easiest, or smoothest ride there, but you will arrive where God desired all along! Acts 27:44, “the rest were to follow, holding on to the planks or to some broken pieces of the ship. And this was how we all got safely ashore.” (GNT) Truth is, they survived the storm, but on broken pieces. Likewise, you will not survive this storm without some scrapes, scars, bruises and even broken pieces. But the key is, you survived the storm, you made it through and out of the storm! No, you will not look like GQ’s man of the year, or America’s Next Top Model, when it’s over, but you will have the testimony that you outlasted the storm! The storm won’t remain, but you will remain standing when the storm is over!

REMEMBER: THE SURPRISE OF THE STORM IS THAT THE STORM DIDN’T SURPRISE GOD! YOU WILL SURVIVE! And before you know it the storm will be over! The Bible says, “WHEN THE STORM IS OVER, there’s nothing left of the wicked; good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed.” (Proverbs 10:25 MSG) You’ll eventually look back and wonder, how you got over!

Here’s some more encouragement, “Moses left Pharaoh and the city and stretched out his arms to GOD. The thunder and hail stopped; THE STORM CLEARED.” (Exodus 9:33 MSG) And the same will happen for you! As soon as you reach your destination in God, the storm will clear and you’ll be able to clearly see that it was all worth it in the end!

Therefore, Sail On Through the Storm, It’s Helping You to Stay On Course!

Psalm 107:23-32, “Some of you set sail in big ships; you put to sea to do business in faraway ports. Out at sea you saw God in action, saw His breathtaking ways with the ocean: With a word He called up the wind— an ocean storm, towering waves! You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out; your hearts were stuck in your throats. You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk, you didn’t know which end was up. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; He got you out in the nick of time. He quieted the wind down to a whisper, put a muzzle on all the big waves. And you were so glad when the storm died down, and He led you safely back to harbor. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves. Lift high your praises when the people assemble, shout Hallelujah when the elders meet!” (MSG)

Your Storm is Keeping You On Course!

“And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in.” (Haruki Murakami)

“You will not be the same after the storms of life; you will be stronger, wiser and more alive than ever before.” (Bryant McGill)

“Don’t fear the storms that life may bring. You’ve been chosen by God to survive it, overcome it, and outlast it.” (Sheryl Brady)

“The greatest miracles aren’t seen in calm peaceful waters, they are seen in the rocky, turbulent and frightful waters of a faith-filled life.” (Kelly Balarie)

“We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God.” (St. Francis de Sales)

“The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.” (Aesop)

“When the storms do come; you can only allow them to slow you down, but don’t let them stop you. There will be delays, detours, and disappointments but you have to keep pushing through it. Pursue your dreams.” (Bernard Kelvin Clive)

“When the storms of life strike, it’s what happens in you that will determine what happens to you.” (Jerry Savelle)

“Often as we experience the storms of life, we witness the Lord’s hand in providing eternal protections.” (Quentin L. Cook)

“Clouds, leaves, soil and wind all offer themselves as signals of changes in the weather. However, not all the storms of life can be predicted.” (David Petersen)

“We cannot stand through the storms of life based on someone else’s faith. We must be fully assured in our own hearts and minds.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Without rain nothing grows, learn to embrace the storms of life.” (Author Unknown)

“You can’t calm the storm so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.” (Thimber Hawkeye)

“If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.” (Frank Lane)

“We all face storms in life. Some are more difficult than others, but we all go through trials and tribulation. That’s why we have the gift of faith.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Life’s toughest storms prove the strength of our anchors.” (Author Unknown)

“Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” (Hunter S. Thompson)

“No storm can last forever. It will never rain 365 days consecutively. Keep in mind that trouble comes to pass, not to stay. Don’t worry. No storm, not even the one in your life, can last forever.” (Iyanla Vanzant)

“Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.” (Author Unknown)

“There are some things you can only learn in a storm.” (Joel Osteen)

“He who sends the storm steers the vessel.” (Thomas Adams)

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” (Louisa May Alcott)

“God’s peace is not the calm after the storm. It’s the steadfastness during it.” (Dr. Michelle Bengston)

“Storms may postpone your journey, but they can never stop you from reaching your destination.” (Author Unknown)

“Beneath our clothes, our reputations, our pretensions, beneath our religion or lack of it, we are all vulnerable both to the storm without and to the storm within.” (Frederick Buechner)

“Embrace your storms, they’re a part of the journey too.” (Author Unknown)

“Once you have learned to dance in the rain, you will be able to survive life’s passing storms.” (Author Unknown)

“I like storms. They let me know that even the sky, screams sometimes.” (Author Unknown)

“You may be facing the storms of life but you can also walk over them. Fix your gaze on Jesus and begin to walk over lack, depression, confusion, sickness and attacks of the enemy. Don’t look at the waves. Don’t focus on who is attacking you or trying to pull you down.” (Pastor Mensa Otabil)

“Don’t be crushed under the oncoming tide of adversity that moves in to test your faith. Make sure that your foundation is built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. Be ready for the storms of life and move forward in a confidence that cannot be shaken by the strong winds of hardship.” (Calvin W. Allison)

“The storms will come and the winds will rise and the gusts will threaten to pull you from your roots. Let the winds come. Let them rage and know that you will not break in the breeze, you will bend. Always bend because you are made of more strength than you know, because you are better than the breaking.” (Tyler Knott Gregson)

“Don’t let people pull you into their storm. Push them out of your peace.” (Author Unknown)

“This life will never be without storms. Stop fearing the storm. Build your inner shelter.” (Yasmin Mogahed)

“Storms make trees take deeper roots.” (Dolly Parton)

“In all my years, I’ve learned that life delivers many storms for us to weather. Some will be slow, brooding, quiet beasts, and others will be loud, thunderous, and frightening. But if you’re willing to look close enough, no matter how devastating the storm may be, after the rain you’ll always find new life sprouting in the aftermath.” (Renee Carlino)

“We can’t predict all the struggles and storms in life, not even the ones just around the next corner, but as persons of faith and hope, we know beyond a shadow of any doubt that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and the best is yet to come.” (L. Tom Perry)

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

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“3 Reasons You Keep Losing the Battle”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now Soldiers, FIGHT AND WIN!

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

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“Delegation Empowerment!”

dose (2)

Proverbs 2:6, “For the Lord gives Wisdom; From His mouth come Knowledge and Understanding” (NKJV)

To succeed in life and leadership you must do these three things:

1.       Decide What’s Important: The story’s told of a family who moved to the country to get away from the city. They decided to raise cattle so they bought a ranch. One day a friend visited them and asked what they’d named the new ranch. Dad said, “I wanted to call it The Flying-W, but Mom wanted to call it The Suzy-Q. Our son likes The Bar-J, but our daughter preferred The Lazy-Y. So we compromised and called it The Flying-W, Suzy-Q, Bar-J, Lazy Y Ranch!” The friend asked, “How are your cattle doing?” Dad replied, “We don’t have any. They didn’t survive the branding”! Sounds comical, but truth is Indecision Is Dangerous! Therefore, the first thing you need to do then is Decide! The word “Decide” means “To resolve in the mind as a result of consideration; to settle (as an issue or contest), or to give a judgment concerning a legal case.” It’s Latin Origin “Decidere” means “Determine” from “Caedere” which means “To Cut”. In other words, when you make a Decision it’s similar to cooking beef…you don’t throw the whole cow on the fire! You “Decide” what portion you want, and “Cut” that away and cook that Only! Likewise, make a clear decision about what you want in life, and then cut away time to focus on that Only! After all, it’s better than Dividing up your time among several things that don’t matter to you, only to end up Multiplying your headaches as a result! Thereforedecide what’s important to you! And when it comes to ministry, seek God’s Wisdom; Knowledge and Understanding for Direction and Guidance. Let God tell you what is for your hands alone, and what can be handed to others. Because it’s vital to your obedience that you don’t confuse the two. Numbers 18:5-7, “…The work of the priesthood is my exclusive gift to you; IT CANNOT BE DELEGATED – anyone else who invades the Sanctuary will be executed.” (MSG) You see, there are some assignments that cannot be delegated (no matter what your position, title or authority may be). Remember, everything we do is as unto the Lord, because we are always ultimately working for the Lord. Therefore, you need to decide which things remain with you and which can be given away! In the case of the priesthood, God let them know, this is non-negotiable, delegate it and someone is guaranteed to die! Which lets us know that not all things can be delegated. Therefore, we need God’s direction so we don’t lose our own life and blessings, nor cost someone else theirs! Those things that are non-negotiable become a part of your priority listing. If it can be negotiated and you can (without disobedience) delegate them elsewhere, do so! If not, you’ll find yourself with a full agenda that has no room for God or His blessings on your life. And if you should find that you’re that busy, you’re too busy! Take some time this week to sit down and decide what stays on your to-do-list and what can be reassigned to someone else. You don’t want your busyness to cost you God’s best! Remember the story above, the whole purpose of the ranch was for them to have cattle. But all the cattle died because they couldn’t survive the branding of such a long name from a group of people who didn’t sit down and decide what was best. Don’t kill off your blessings for the same reason.

2.       Prioritize Your Time: Too many of us are like the store owner who got so busy trying to keep the place clean that he forgot to open the front door! Again, it sounds comical, but the reason he was in business was to serve customers and make a profit, not get distracted by secondary things. Therefore, base your life’s decisions on your Priorities! And if you need help figuring out what they are, ask God: “For the Lord gives Wisdom; from His mouth come Knowledge and Understanding”. You don’t want to end up like the store owner, who has a clean store and No Customers…Which Translates No Profit! So, Prioritize What Is Important Then Focus Your Attention On That! And Don’t Get Distracted In the Details Of Things That Don’t Matter! Proverbs 4:23-27, “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; IGNORE ALL SIDESHOW DISTRACTIONS. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.” (MSG) That word ‘ignore’ is defined as, ‘to intentionally disregard; to fail to consider something as significant.’ That’s the tunnel vision you have to have when it comes to fulfilling your priorities. You need to learn how to intentionally disregard all sideshow distractions and focus on what God assigned your hands to do. When something is designated a priority it means it’s more important than anything else. Therefore, you can’t afford to be distracted from your priority since it’s the most important thing on your agenda! Your priorities need to be carried out by you, but what falls low on the totem pole of the to-do-list, can be delegated to others! Again, I admonish you, do not confuse what is your priority, with the things that are merely options that can be delegated to others.

3.       Learn To Motivate Yourself: Truth is, most times, nobody else will! Think about it: When tragedy struck his life, we read: “…David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David STRENGTHENED HIMSELF IN THE LORD HIS GOD” (1 Samuel 30:6 NKJV). You need to learn how to do that too. Encourage Yourself! Truth is, life has a way of hitting you below the belt…so you have to learn how to recover and do so quickly! And many days your recovery will be lonesome. But you ever notice when someone has had surgery and they take them into the recovery room, the doctor or nurse will tell you not to stay too long or there’s no point in you staying at all? They’re just going to rest or sleep the rest of the night anyway. Well, when you go through something traumatic and you’re upset because no one is there, take heart, you’re just in recovery! Of course it’s not fun having to be in something or deal with something on your own, but it’s a part of your process of healing and recovering. Don’t fight it. Use that alone time as Quiet Time to get your second wind from having the wind knocked out of you! It’s your time to re-inflate yourself and bounce back, but it’s often best done alone. Jude writes, “But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost” (Jude 20). To succeed in life you must learn to encourage yourself, by building up yourself in the faith (which is your foundation) and praying in the Holy Ghost (which is your strength and power)! Yes, it knocked the wind out of you, but the Holy Ghost will breathe on you again and You Will Bounce Back! You cannot be in leadership and always need someone to hold your hand; wipe your tears; fight your battles; pat you on the back; give you kind words of encouragement etc. Motivating yourself and encouraging yourself is a priority that you should never attempt to delegate to anyone else, it is your responsibility alone!

Now, I know you’re probably asking “what has this all got to do with Delegation?” Well, to be honest, you have to do Your Part First before you can delegate anything to anyone else! Which means you need to Decide what your Priorities are (make a decision);  then schedule your time for what’s Important to you and don’t get deterred or Distracted by minor details; then when you run into Discouragement along the journey (and you will, because we all do), you must learn how to Encourage Yourself in the Lord! In other words, do what YOU have to do FIRST! Then DELEGATE everything else!

Matthew 25:14-18, “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and DELEGATED responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities…” (MSG) You are not God, you can’t be everywhere at the same time, doing everything for everybody! God never assigned that task to you! What He has entrusted to your hands to handle, handle it, and nothing more! The rest should be delegated responsibilities to others depending on their abilities. Which also means, as a leader, you need to know those you work with! You need to know their strengths and weaknesses so when it’s time to delegate, you’re not wasting a year trying to figure out who should receive what. In the story, the man was going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities to each according to their ability. But what you should take note of is that he didn’t need to have a meeting with them; he didn’t call for a board or committee decision; he didn’t need to pray, fast and shut in for 40 days and nights to figure out who to delegate what to. He knew his people and what they could and could not handle. As a leader, you need to remember that prior to delegation!

Now to the part of Delegation! You’re going to wear yourself out – and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself” (Exodus 18:18 NLT) President Reagan said, “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.Yet in our eagerness to please God we take on responsibilities that are “…too heavy…to handle…by [ourselves]”

For example, Moses was spending every waking minute listening to complaints from long lines of people. Finally his father-in-law said, “You’re going to wear yourself out – and the people too,” and advised him to appoint capable leaders to “help…carry the load, making the task easier for you” (vs. 22). It was a win-win solution; the people got help faster, and Moses became a better efficient effective leader. And what was the solution that brought this to pass? DELEGATION! You see, Moses had his part to play, and others had theirs too! Likewise, you need to prioritize your life in the same manner. Decide What You Need To Do, Then Delegate The Rest…and in the words of President Reagan…”Don’t Interfere”! Micro-managing people is just as wasteful of a time as an unnecessarily overloaded schedule!

One Bible teacher writes, “One of our greatest challenges…is determining what God DOESN’T want us to do! We love God, we love His people, and we see many needs. But sometimes good intentions cause more harm than good…When you become aware of a need, don’t automatically assume God wants YOU to meet it!  The only reason to perform ministry is when God clearly tells you it’s His Will. If you’re overwhelmed…you’re probably doing more than God asked. Therefore, pray about the assignments you take on, so you don’t rob yourself and others of God’s best.

I remember counseling a leader in church that said she was just exhausted! She said I have no time or energy…I just run from one thing to the next! So I asked her what do you do? Well, she gave me an ear-full! She’s the women’s ministry director, the Sunday school superintendent, an ordained Elder, youth leader, choir director, Pastor’s secretary and part of the hospitality and ushers ministries! I asked how large is your church? She said it’s approximately 250 people. I said wait a minute there’s over 250 people in that church from Sunday to Sunday and yet YOU are the ONLY one doing all of this? She said yes, after 10 years of this I guess it’s finally time to ask for some help! I must be real honest with you all, and don’t judge me either, but I could’ve slapped sister-girl silly! I couldn’t think of a prayer, a scripture, or an encouraging word to give her. Everything in my head said just tell her the truth…THE PROBLEM’S NOT THE CHURCH, THE PROBLEM IS YOU! Seriously, who in their right mind would juggle all of that when there is obviously ample help that was never sought out! And then the bells went off! And I realized who she was…she was ME! I remembered wearing more hats than all the hat stores on the east coast combined! And Never Once Asking For Help!  Just aggravated, stressed, miserable in ministry and not happy at all in life in general! But I was Busy…Needed…Helpful…Useful…Important…But Overwhelmed, Overloaded and Struggling!

That’s when the words came to ask her if she could take just one thing on her long To-Do-List and say that’s the one thing I love doing everyday…that’s the one thing I couldn’t live without doing…what would it be? And you would never guess! What she loved the most…Wasn’t Even On Her To-Do-List! You see, the church had a weekly newsletter, and she loved to write! Yet, she never once handed in any of her writings to the newsletter! She said she was always too busy, she never had the time!  Well, after meeting with her and her Pastor, we had an idea (well, technically, I had the idea, the pastor was heartbroken, but he was at least humble enough to accept some helpful input and insight). My suggestion? Pull her out of everything she was doing and put her on the newsletter committee ONLY.
Well, 2 years later she is now the editor and writer of the newsletter, has her own ministry staff and her first book of poetry will be out this Fall! She said something that I hold dear to this day, she said: “I never knew peace was so simple to attain…its simply found in the passion of performing your purpose”.

People of God, that is my prayer for you today! That you stop being busy and start being productive in your purpose!

Jon Walker states: “Imagine if God created you to be the Michelangelo of this age, but you stayed so busy doing all kinds of things – good things – that you never got around to painting and sculpting. You’d end up missing the best because you got distracted chasing the good. What a disappointment…for God…and all the people who would have been blessed if you’d stayed focused on your original purpose.

Saints, Do What YOU Need to Do Then Learn to Delegate the Rest! Release the Burdens God never meant you to carry, and focus on what He called you to do! There’s No Greater Joy and No Greater Peace! Delegation is Not Succumbing to  Weakness, it’s Embracing the Strength of Others to Help Strengthen You!

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

“If you delegate tasks, you create followers. If you delegate authority, you create leaders.” (Craig Groeschel)

“If you want your business to grow, delegation will be your salvation.” (Julian Hall)

“Delegating work works, providing the one delegating works, too.” (Robert Half)

“The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.” (Eli Broad)

“The first rule of management is delegation. Don’t try to do everything yourself because you can’t.” (Anthea Turner)

“You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” (David Allen)

“Deciding what NOT to do is as important as deciding what TO DO.” (Jessica Jackley)

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: “20 Reasons For Blood Sugar Upswings”

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

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