“Are You FOLLOWING the Right LEADER?”

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John 3:30, “He must increase [in prominence], but I must decrease.” (AMP); The Message Bible reads like this: “This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.” (MSG)

I am definitely one of those people that has to check and double-check everything I buy at the supermarket. Especially when it comes to dairy, meats, fresh fruit and vegetables. After all, when you’re raised in a house of two great cooks as parents, you come to believe that there really is an art to shopping for food. Some may not know any better, but truth is you can’t just grab the first apple or tomato you see! You have to learn to smell and squeeze the produce. And where did I get that from? My mom. She taught me how to do that as well as the importance of doing that. She taught me that you have to learn how to check for holes and dents in apples and peaches; you don’t just take the first one off the pile. You have to check to see how yellow those bananas are, or how green, or how black. In other words, there are ways to tell whether a fruit or vegetable is one you should buy. However, it’s much tougher to shop for a spiritual leader that’s a good one you can trust. Oh, but there is a way to tell!

Now if we are to be brutally honest, it’s getting tougher and tougher to know which spiritual leaders you can actually trust. After all, we’re living in a time when a lot of Christian heroes have let us down, right? People who say spiritual things, lead spiritual causes, give spiritual counsel, and then all of a sudden something happens that exposes their fleshy hypocrisy. In a way, it kind of makes a lot of us hold back and wonder who can we trust to govern, keep and protect our soul and that of our families?

Now, another truth we need to keep in mind is this, we’re not supposed to have our eyes on man in the first place! Jeremiah 17:5-6, “God’s Message: “Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight. He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.” (MSG). Surely you don’t want that to be your testimony!

The Bible makes it clear that our focus should never be on flesh! 1 Samuel 16:7, “But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” (MSG). That word ‘eliminate’ is defined as: ‘to completely remove or get rid of; to reject or exclude from consideration or further participation.’ Its Latin Origin ‘eliminare’ literally means ‘to turn out of doors.’ You see, this man wasn’t just rejected, but he was completely removed, God got rid of him, He made sure he was excluded from any consideration or participation; he was in essence kicked out his own house, turned outdoors! Therefore, if God doesn’t entertain ‘flesh; looks and stature’, why should we?

So, our focus on spiritual leadership shouldn’t be on the flesh, but on the spirit! God does give His people leadership; He does raise up leadership for the benefit of the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13,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].” (MSG)

In other words, there are authentic spiritual leaders who are doing their job. God does want us to be able to get His teachings and see His love coming through people, but so many have let us down. How can you tell whether a pastor is a leader from God or a person who’s simply doing his own thing in God’s name?

Well, there’s one person that Jesus really held up as a model leader. It was John the Baptist. He said, “There has been no greater man born among women.” (Matthew 11:11) Now I cannot think of a stronger endorsement than that. Jesus said John the Baptist was the real deal; a real spiritual leader, worthy of following. And why was John the Baptist an ideal leader? In John 3:30, speaking of Jesus, John said this, “He must become greater; I must become less.The King James Version says, “He must increase; I must decrease.” 2 other translations read like this:

“Jesus must become more important, while I become less important.” (CEV);

“He must increase in importance, while I must decrease in importance.” (GWT);

You know how to test a spiritual leader? Well, one of the tests is this: Does he/she leave you thinking more about him/her or more about Jesus? Where is the spotlight focusing most and shining brightest, on him/herself, or God? Is it more about his organization, his goals, his ministry, his programs, or more about Jesus and the Great Commission He assigned for us to fulfill? An authentic man or woman of God, like John the Baptist, puts himself or herself in the background, on the sidelines, making sure that JESUS is the one who’s made to be Greater and More Important, in the very center. However, the leader doing his own thing is heavy on sentences that have: “I”, “me”, and “mine” in them, but rarely, “HIM”.

Is this the only test? No, but it’s a pretty good start. If you’re in leadership, measure yourself that way. Who is getting the attention, you the leader or the Savior? The real spiritual leaders, the ones you can trust, are the ones who put Jesus in the spotlight and make you think about Him and forget about them. They’re not seeking accolades and applause and amen’s. They don’t need their names called for everything, anything and nothing. They don’t need their picture posted on every wall nor do they need their name written on every piece of paper. They don’t need a chair the size of the Throne of God. Their main focus is that you focus mainly on Jesus! If that’s not the type of leader you are under, get out now!

Years ago I read about a man who maybe a hundred years ago had lived in the countryside in England. He traveled to London and wrote to his wife and said, “Honey, today I went to two of the great churches of London. This morning I heard Dr. Cartwright and he is a great preacher. Tonight I went to Metropolitan Tabernacle and I heard Mr. Charles Spurgeon.” He said, “Mr. Spurgeon has a great Savior.Leaders, after you’re done speaking, teaching or preaching, do you want them to remember a great preacher, or do you leave them thinking about a great Savior? I never like to leave a church or service feeling like I was just greatly entertained by an outstanding cast of performers. I don’t want to remember the songs, the dances, the praise breaks, the garments, the titles, the beauty of the sanctuary. But what I want to leave with is conviction that I can be a better believer than I have been. It’s rare these days that I actually hear sermons that speak on holiness, sanctification, repentance, sin, hell, consequences of bad choices, or even chastisement. Instead, messages focus more on houses, cars, land, spouses, promotions, increase, harvest, blessings, abundance, and the like. But what happened to using the Word to do what it was originally designed to do? And what’s that you ask? Well, 2 Timothy informs us:

2 Timothy 3:14-17, “But as for you, continue in the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced [holding tightly to the truths], knowing from whom you learned them, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings (Hebrew Scriptures) which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus [surrendering your entire self to Him and having absolute confidence in His wisdom, power and goodness].  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)

The Message Bible says it like this: “But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (MSG)

For some reason I don’t think the Word is being preached or taught in this manner anymore. Because everyone is happy, over-joyed and excited to leave church when the Word is done. However, the Word says when the Word comes forth it will instruct, convict, correct, train, and exposeSo if that’s how the Word is coming forth, why are we so happy after every sermon, every week? We should leave after the Word feeling as though we’ve received instructions since we’ve been convicted and corrected of wrongs, and now we’re being trained to be better since our worst has been exposed. We should leave with pad and pen in hand and a list of what we need to make our own lives better.

Now, I certainly don’t believe you should spend Sunday after Sunday being busted upside the head with the Bible. But shouldn’t something be said week after week that makes you better week after week? And not “feel” better, but “be and do better.” There is indeed a difference.

Maybe you’ve been burned by Christians, by a Christian leader, many of us have. I’ve certainly had the experience of being hurt by spiritual leadership. But don’t let them cause you to miss Jesus in the midst of it all. Sometimes I think we get so lost in “Following Them”, that we forget Jesus said, “Follow Me.” Does that mean we ignore spiritual leadership? Absolutely not! Romans 13:1-7, “Every person must obey the leaders of the land. There is no power given but from God, and all leaders are allowed by God. The person who does not obey the leaders of the land is working against what God has done. Anyone who does that will be punished. Those who do right do not have to be afraid of the leaders. Those who do wrong are afraid of them. Do you want to be free from fear of them? Then do what is right. You will be respected instead. Leaders are God’s servants to help you. If you do wrong, you should be afraid. They have the power to punish you. They work for God. They do what God wants done to those who do wrong. You must obey the leaders of the land, not only to keep from God’s anger, but so your own heart will have peace.  It is right for you to pay taxes because the leaders of the land are servants for God who care for these things.  Pay taxes to whom taxes are to be paid. Be afraid of those you should fear. Respect those you should respect.” (NLV);

Hebrews 13:17, “Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?” (MSG).

In other words, leadership be it in the church or in the land is to be respected. Now, you don’t have much say so in the leaders of the land, but you have a lot of say so under which leader you submit to in any given church. You are not their by force but by choice, so choose your place of worship wisely. Don’t make a selection as though it were an arena, museum, palace, stage or theater. But ask God for godly wisdom that you make the right choice to serve in the right house of worship under the right leader.

And what are some signs that you have the right leader? Just listen to Scripture:

Matthew 17:6-8, “When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. “Don’t be afraid.” When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.” (MSG) You need to be submitted under a leader that makes you see Only Jesus. Not them, their accomplishments, titles, positions, vestments, rings, robes, initials, degrees, collars, etc…But Only Jesus!

1 Corinthians 2:2, “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.” (MSG) You need to be submitted under a leader whose preaching and teaching is about who Jesus is and what Jesus did. Not who they are (or think they are) not on what they’ve done (or think they’ve done). But a leader who keeps the name of Jesus on his/her lips when preaching or teaching. Not someone using Greek, Latin, and Hebrew in every other sentence, and certainly not someone who you need to keep the Webster’s Dictionary on hand every other 2 lines to know what 23 letter words they keep using every 5 minutes to be verbally impressive! A good leader keeps it “plain and simple.” And to those of my preacher friends who stand flat foot and preach and teach the ‘plain and simple’ Gospel, without hoop and holler, please do not compare yourselves to those who do. A hoop and holler are not the equivalent or evidence of the Holy Ghost, it is but a person’s preferred style of execution. It’s apart of their personality in how they choose to deliver. So, never feel as though you are not making the same, or even a greater impact on the lives of your hearers, just because your delivery is packaged differently. You don’t have to yell, scream, sweat, do back-flips, bang the podium, spin around in circles with fancy footwork, flying hands and spit spreading everywhere. You can still, speak what God gave you and go sit down without breaking a sweat, and still watch souls be added to the Kingdom of God. Remember, whatever your ‘preferred style’, the importance is on the Message being delivered in its most plain and simple form. Look at it like this: If a person who’s diabetic has their glucose levels shoot up through the roof, do you really think at a time like that, they want someone to hand them a pen of insulin and teach a 2 hour, detailed tutorial on the history of insulin, before they use it? No, they need a straight shot! Stick pen now! And truthfully there are a lot of people coming to our churches that are leaving empty because we’ve over-complicated the message. You can’t properly apply what you don’t clearly understand. Therefore, I reiterate, what your ‘preferred style’ is, for the sake of the people’s soul and eternity, keep it ‘plain and simple.’

Galatians 1:10-12, “Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ.” (MSG) You need to be submitted to a leader that is void of intimidation and manipulation. A leader that doesn’t need and seek applause and popularity. A leader that doesn’t attempt to impress with 9 titles and 14 initials (half of which were bought, not earned). A leader that hears from God and speaks the unadulterated Word of God to His people. A leader who is not into people pleasing, is sure to help you grow to your full potential.

Colossians 3:23-25, “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” (MSG) You need to be submitted to a leader that knows who the real Master is (and that it clearly is not them). Working in the church they pastor, still means you are working for God! Avoid leaders who make you feel as though you work personally for them. The work of the ministry has nothing to do with mere man. The work of the ministry is adding souls to the Kingdom. And even in this work, we are to put forth our best effort, remembering WHO it is we’re working for. Avoid leaders who act as though the Church is their personal incorporation. A leader of humility and servanthood is who you sit under submissively. A leader that does his/her best which brings out the very same in you! That’s the leader you follow.

2 Timothy 4:3-4, “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.” (MSG) You need to be submitted to a leader that will feed you the unadulterated Word of God. I love the word “unadulterated” because it’s simply defined as “having no inferior added substance.” In other words, you need a leader that will call it “Adultery”, not “An Affair”; “Sin” and not “An Issue”. You need a leader that possesses the wisdom of when to cover you and when to expose you. You need the bread of life, not a cake of compromise. A leader that will tell you when you’re wrong, not help you try to justify it as right. You need a leader that will continue to serve you the Solid Meat of the Word even when your flesh only wants to Digest Spiritual Junk Food!

Galatians 2:19-21, “What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.” (MSG) You need a leader just like that!

If you see a leader who leaves you thinking about Jesus, in the crowded spiritual supermarket that you and I shop in, you’ll know that’s one worth buying into. So, after this little lesson, it is my prayer that you will carefully, thoroughly, honestly re-evaluate your spiritual leadership. Make sure you are in the right house with the right head. The loss of your soul is too costly!

Remember our opening text:

John 3:30, “He must increase [in prominence], but I must decrease.”; (AMP);

“This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.” (MSG);

“Jesus must become more important, while I become less important.” (CEV);

“He must increase in importance, while I must decrease in importance.” (GWT).

There are many things you can use to measure good leadership, but why not follow the ruler Jesus Himself used? He used John the Baptist because He wasn’t out to compete with Him, he was out to make Jesus the most prominent; the center; and the most important, even if that meant he was to decrease; slip off to the sidelines and become less important. If you dare find a leader like that, follow him/her closely, you’ve indeed found the right one!

Charles H. Spurgeon Quotes:

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

“That very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors.”

“Satan, he can make men dance upon the brink of hell as though they were on the verge of heaven.”

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

“The preaching of Christ is the whip that flogs the devil. The preaching of Christ is the thunderbolt, the sound of which makes hell shake.”

“The Word of God is like a Lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose and the lion will defend itself”

“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible”

“If you are idle in Christ’s work, you are active in the devil’s work”

“If sinners be damned at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped around their knees. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let no one go unwarned or unprayed for.”

“People, like sheep, tend to follow a leader – occasionally in the right direction.” (Alexander Chase)

“According to Scripture, virtually everything that truly qualifies a person for leadership is directly related to character.” (John MacArthur)

“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” (Bill Bradley)

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” (Tom Peters)

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” (Max Lucado)

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” (John C. Maxwell)

“To become a leader worth following, you must give time and attention to the inner man. To leave a legacy that goes beyond accomplishments alone, a leader must devote himself to matters of the heart.” (Andy Stanley)

“Christian leadership is a privilege of being in the service of influencing God’s people to achieve divine vision and purpose.” (Tionge Matela Msiska)

“Most Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead. Many Christian empire-builders have been people unable to give and receive love.” (Henri Nouwen)

“A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.” (Leroy Eims)

“Leadership is not about positions and having people bow to you. It’s not about having titles conferred on you. Leadership is about service. It is about helping people fulfill their God-given purpose.” (Pastor Mensa Otabil)

“To keep the wrong leader in the wrong place prevents the right leader from being in the right place.” (Aubrey Malphurs)

“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“Those of us who have been privileged to receive education, skills and experiences and even power must be role models for the next generation of leadership.” (Wangar Maathai)

“Leadership is all about people. It is not about organizations. It is not about plans. It is not about strategies. It is all about people-motivating people to get the job done. You have to be people-centered.” (Colin Powell)

“Your gifts are not about you; leadership is not about you; your purpose is not about you. A life of significance is about serving those who need your gifts, your leadership, your purpose.” (Kevin Hall)

“A big part of leadership is recognizing that your fruit often grows on other people’s trees.” (Todd Adkins)

“True leadership is the authority given by the trust of the followers to use power for the benefit of all.” (Dr. Myles Munroe)

“Every local church has a leader, but it seems so few local churches are being led.” (Andy Stanley)

“Leadership in church is one of the biggest challenges that the church is facing because without strong leadership, the church rarely lives out its redemptive potentials.” (Bill Hybels)

“Spiritual leadership is knowing where God wants people to to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power.” (John Piper)

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” (John Maxwell)

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” (James C. Humes)

“The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis.” (Brian Tracy)

“The story of the church, as depicted in the book of Acts, is one of a community of faith directed by a team of leaders working together toward a common vision. Had the church relied upon a single, incredibly gifted, magnetic individual to replace Jesus, the church would surely have collapsed.” (George Barna)

“Integrity is the most valuable and respected quality of leadership. Always keep your word.” (Brian Tracy)

“If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you.” (Bishop Dale C. Bronner)

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

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“Has Your Appetite Matured Yet?”

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Hebrews 5:11-14, “I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—BABY’S MILK, when you should have been on SOLID FOOD LONG AGO! MILK IS FOR BEGINNERS, INEXPERIENCED IN GOD’S WAYS; SOLID FOOD IS FOR THE MATURE, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.” (MSG)

Two of the greatest days of my life happened when I gave birth to my daughters. They are now 31 and 28 years old, and have grown into beautiful women. As their mother, I am extremely proud of them. And as much as they’ve accomplished over the last 3 decades, I think the funniest accomplishment of them all was when they were babies learning how to walk. Watching them transition from the stage of crawling to walking was indeed some of the funniest moments of my life.

Now, both of these young women came from the same mother, but they most definitely had two very different levels of motivation.

My oldest daughter Mo’Nae was not at all, whatsoever, fond of this whole walking thing. She didn’t get it and wasn’t trying to. She found no excitement in it at all. She’s a size 2 today, but then she was a chunky, chubby baby who acted as though her weight hindered her from doing much of anything. She wasn’t one of those children who pulled up on the furniture, or crawled out of the crib, or one who would make effort to stand on shaky legs and give this whole walking thing a shot. In fact, I thought I’d help her get motivated. Now, as my disclaimer, for many of you, you are going to consider this some form of child abuse. You see I walked to the store, and on the way back, I decided to sit her down on the ground and start walking away. My stupid assumption was that she would cry a little but then try to get up and come after me. Needless to say, that chubby, stubborn kid sat right there, unfazed in the least. She didn’t move, didn’t even try to, didn’t cry, didn’t reach, made absolutely zero attempts to walk. She just sat there, waiting for me to come back and pick her up and keep on carrying her. And sadly, I most certainly did.

However, my youngest daughter Ashley, was a different story altogether! I thought this kid had super-natural powers! She would pull up on anything, crawl out of anywhere. She wouldn’t sit still! She learned to walk so early, and so fast, it was amazing. I even took her to the doctor to make sure this was normal baby activity. She refused to stay in one spot. If you blinked, she would be attempting to get up the stairs! She was such a handful, because she was always so motivated to try the next thing. And it never mattered whether she fell or not, hurt herself or not, she wouldn’t let anything stop her. She would just keep going to whatever she deemed the next phenomenal life discovery!

And if you think the difference in these two stopped there, you are mistaken. Because the next thing was baby food. My oldest daughter Mo’Nae, could wait, the youngest Ashley, never could! Oh, and neither was she content with baby food for long. No, she kept following our forks as we put real food into our mouths. She was determined to have some of that right there, right now. And she wasn’t the type of kid that you could trick and give a chicken bone to. If you gave that to her, she would throw it on the ground. She was always looking for meat. She refused to settle for an empty, non-filling bone. She would not be fooled.

Now, the oldest could wait for you to sit with her and feed her. But oh boy that youngest one, she wasn’t even content for long with depending on someone else to feed her. Early on, she was reaching out for food and insisting on feeding herself. She would have food on the floor, in her hair, down her clothes, in her shoes. It didn’t matter, as long as some of it landed into her mouth, and she did it on her own, she was alright!

You see, our oldest could wait, she could be patient, she was in no hurry for anything at all. She has always done her own thing, at her own pace, in her own time. And even if it was different from the rest, she didn’t care, she would never alter who she was or what she did for anyone. She could wait out anything, and has not changed in over three decades.

But that youngest one, oh she crawled for a while, waited to be fed for a while, but we could tell she was impatient with crawling being her only means of transportation and waiting for others as her only means to eat. She really wanted to walk and she did. She wanted to eat her food when she wanted to and she did.

And what does all of this have to do with anything? Simple: A healthy child is never content to stay at the same level, and neither should a healthy child of God! Amazing how our babies and children motivate themselves to the next level, but we bible-toting, bible-believing, bible-quoting children of the Father are always stuck at a stagnant, stunted growth stage!

Unfortunately, too many of God’s children have reached a particular level of growing up in Jesus and they have just settled down there. You see, they don’t feed themselves much spiritually. They depend largely on others feeding them. They have no personal devotion time, no time in which they read the Word of God for themselves. No, instead they wait around for the latest fad-preacher to spoon-feed them sugar instead of handing them a knife and fork for some meat! So many children of God don’t even attend Sunday School (which I never understand how you skip foundational teaching); nor do they attend Bible Study (how do you stay healthy if you’re not eating the Word of God, in a consistent, private and public setting?)

Then, you have those children of God who think spiritual crawling is just fine, maybe because most of the Christians they know are stuck in the crawling stage themselves. You know, those who’ve been saved 40 years, in leadership 30 years, yet still going around in the same immature circles for 20?! At what point to realize you’ve been in this same place, with these same people, doing all the same stuff for years, and nothing has made a bit of difference in your life yet?!

Makes me think of my youngest daughter, because as her parent, just like any other parent; I was happy my daughter wasn’t content to stay where she was. She was always restless for more. Once she out-grew something, there had to be something else, and she’s still like that to this very day.

Truth is, I would have every reason to be very concerned if she was content to stay at a level that was below where she was meant to live! Could that be how your Heavenly Father feels about you?

Imagine how ridiculous it would look if at the age of 30, I’m still tying her shoes, spoon-feeding her, picking out her clothes and dressing her, carrying her around, pulling out baby wipes to clean her face, changing her diaper, heating her bottles. Are you seeing how foolish this imagery is? Now, if she suffered from some disorder or disability, we could all understand this type of behavior, dependence, helplessness, and neediness. But since she doesn’t have any, this would be utter insanity on her part and mine! And before you agree, make sure that this imagery isn’t descriptive of you!

Come on now, let’s be real about it: Are people still carrying you, babying you, spoon-feeding you, supporting you, wiping your tears and snot, and trying to protect you from every known danger in all of the world, because clearly you don’t know how to defend yourself? If that is you, this is your personal devotional, STOP CRAWLING, GET UP AND WALK!

The writer of Hebrews challenged believers who he said “ought to be teachers” by this time but instead were still needing someone to “teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again.” He told them to “leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity” (Hebrews 5:12; 6:1). The Message Bible says it like this: “So come on, LET’S LEAVE THE PRESCHOOL FINGER-PAINTING EXERCISES ON CHRIST AND GET ON WITH THE GRAND WORK OF ART. GROW UP IN CHRIST! The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE. LET’S GET ON WITH IT!” (Hebrews 6:1-3 MSG)

My favorite part? “…BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE. LET’S GET ON WITH IT!” I Agree! Let’s be real, who wants to be in the exact same place August 13, 2020, that they were in on August 13, 2019? Or for many of us, August 13, 1999; 1989; 1979; 1969; 1959; 1949, for that matter?! People of God, There’s So Much More! More to Mature Into! Our prayer lives should be more, our bible study should be more, our faith, hope and trust in God should be more. We should have more stability by now. More strength by now. More courage by now. More forgiveness by now. More bounce back ability by now. More focus by now. In the words of Paul, “…BY NOW YOU SHOULD BE…”

So, maybe the question you need to ask yourself today is, “BY NOW, WHERE SHOULD I BE…THAT I’M NOT?” And your follow-up question? “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT…STARTING TODAY?!”

And how about we take our honesty just a little further? When are you going to stop complaining about your marriage, and do more to fix it? When are you going to stop fussing about your children, and do more to help them get on with life (even if that’s a swift kick in the behind, and right out the nest?!) When are you going to stop talking about your leaders and do more praying for them instead? When are you going to stop gossiping about that auxiliary and do more to make it better? When are you going to stop begging people for money and do more interviewing to simply get a job and save your own money? When are you going to stop nagging about that house, that apartment, that car, that tuition, those bills, and do more to improve them? Complaining, fault-finding, blaming, pointing fingers, whining, nagging, even crying will not help the situation. It’s time to “…GET ON WITH IT!”

Learn to cook, clean, do laundry and pay bills on time. Get out of debt. Finish school. Get a job. Take better care of your own health. Move. Relocate. Change your conduct, speech, and attitude. In other words, stop crawling around crying and get up and walk! Walk to the interview, walk to the bank, walk to the counselor, walk to the gym, walk to the real estate. Get up and actively do something more to make your life better! You’ve been crawling around in this crib of life long enough. Even babies grow out and grow up, what’s your excuse?

You’ve been at this stage long enough. Challenge yourself, stretch yourself, and most of all, be honest with yourself, that you are not doing your very best. Today is a great day to give it everything you’ve got! Get up, get out, get on with it and get more!

In Philippians 3, beginning with verse 12, we hear what a healthy child of God wants. Remember, this was written by the Apostle Paul, maybe the most powerful Christian of all time. But still he says, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.The Message Bible says it like this: I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (MSG)

Maybe you’ve been coasting at the same spiritual speed for a while; you’ve been content with mediocrity – still crawling, still on milk. But now it’s time for you to get restless with remaining the same. Paul said, “I press on to TAKE HOLD…” It’s time for you take hold and get a handle on your life, and start making some gear shifts! It’s time for you to say with Paul “…I’M OFF AND RUNNING, AND I’M NOT TURNING BACK.” No more diapers, milk, pacifiers, bibs, bottles, formula, and crawling. No, it’s time for Maturity not Mediocrity! And by no means wait until January 1, 2021 to determine you’re going to shift gears from crawling to walking, no, adhere to the Bible’s admonishment: Proverbs 27:1, “Never boast about tomorrow. You don’t know what will happen between now and then.” (GNT). The Easy Read Version says it like this: “Never brag about what you will do in the future; you have no idea what tomorrow will bring.” (ERV) And then over in James 4:13-15 we read: “Look here, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to such and such a town, stay there a year, and open up a profitable business.” How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your lives is as uncertain as the morning fog – now you see it; soon it is gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we shall live and do this or that.” (TLB). Therefore, stop making the same empty promises and resolutions to yourself and everybody else about the change you’re going to make at the stroke of midnight on December 31! Instead, start NOW, this moment! You have no idea how much time you have left, but you do know how much time you’ve already wasted that you can’t get back! So no more procrastination; no hesitating; no straddling the fence; no waiting until the New Year. No you’ve been waiting around long enough, get up now and start walking in it for real, right now! This is NOW the Moment for you to finally Walk Into Maturity!

That word “Maturity” is defined as “fully grown or developed”. Its Latin Origin “maturus” literally means “timely, ripe.” And that should describe you, by now, don’t you think?! When something is “ripe” it means it’s “fully matured; having reached a fitting time; advanced; full”. If that doesn’t describe you, edit your life so you can edit your description. You are no longer a babe in Christ, so stop crawling and crying and get up and walk in maturity!

The word “Mediocrity” is defined as “of only average or fairly low quality”. Which reminds me of Colossians 3:22-25, “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. DO YOUR BEST. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does SHODDY WORK will be held responsible. BEING A FOLLOWER OF JESUS DOESN’T COVER UP BAD WORK.” (MSG) As believers, we don’t do shoddy or bad work, everything we do, we do to our Best ability! And that includes the life and lifestyle in which we live. Be it public or private our life and lifestyle should always exemplify excellence! Mediocrity should never even be found in our vocabulary!

When complacency, procrastination, familiarity, laziness, slothfulness, mediocrity and anything stagnant presents itself to you, remember who you are: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9 AMP)

Did you catch that? “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you…”

Nothing About That Sounds Like Mediocrity! You Have a Responsibility to Your Royalty!

Today, this devotional was sent to remind you that you’ve been living far beneath your rights and privileges as a Child of God. And now that you know better, do better! James 4:17, “So any person who KNOWS what is right to DO but does NOT do it, to him it is SIN.” (AMP) So, stop begging, bargaining, pleading, and crawling. Get up and walk! Whatever you don’t have, get up and go get it! No excuses! Today is your day of motivation to make changes in your life for the better. And if that means you have to change some people, places and things, do so. If it or they are not making you better, get rid of them before they make you worse! Keep a circle of people who push you, pull you, charge and challenge you. You need those who refuse to accept that where you are is as far as you can go. You need people who put their foot in your back and propel you out of your comfort zone. You need people who make you pick up tools and start building instead of just looking at the blueprint. You need people who act like a nightmare to wake you from your daydream to get you to live your actual dream! You need those who call you on the carpet no matter what. You need those who will tell you, to your face, enough is enough. Get up, grow up and get on with life! Don’t settle for flattery of speech, don’t settle for those who say they understand your short-comings, struggles, and strongholds. Don’t settle for those who will carry you so long they actually cripple you. Don’t settle for those spoon-feeding you riches, when they should motivate you to feed on repentance. You’ve been at this stage, on this level, for far too long! Enough is indeed enough. Stop leaning, and walk; stop crawling, and walk; stop letting people carry you, and walk; stop being propped up and walk, stop waiting for everybody else to do it for you, and do it yourself. How much more of your time, ability and life are you really willing to waste?

Today is your day to move from Mediocre to More! Remember the Word of God: “So come on, LET’S LEAVE THE PRESCHOOL FINGER-PAINTING EXERCISES ON CHRIST AND GET ON WITH THE GRAND WORK OF ART. GROW UP IN CHRIST. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE. LET’S GET ON WITH IT!” (Hebrews 6:1-3 MSG)

By the end of this year, don’t let your resolutions be the same unfilled ones you made last year. Don’t get stuck!

HERE May Be Comfortable, But THERE Is Calling You!

If you want to Walk into More, you have to Crawl out of Less!

Today, Get Up, and Get There! STOP CRAWLING, GET UP AND WALK!

Today, Shift Your Appetite From Milk to Meat! It’s Time to Mature to a New Level!

“Spiritual maturity isn’t measured by how high you jump in praise, but how straight you walk in obedience.” (Author Unknown)

“Spiritual maturity is not reached by the passing of the years, but by obedience to the Will of God.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Maturity in the Christian life is measured by only one test: how much closer to His character have we become?” (Elyse Fitzpatrick)

“Every season of your life is valuable because God does not waste anyone’s time. Every season is necessary for our growth, our pruning, our maturity and preparation for our calling.” (Lisa Osteen Comes)

“We shouldn’t focus on the doors that God closes. Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Change means growth.” (Author Unknown)

“When God Wants You to Grow, He Makes You Uncomfortable.” (Author Unknown)

“Growing closer to God is not the result of trying harder, but of surrendering more.” (Author Unknown)

“Change is a part of life. Be open to change, because that’s God opening the door to growth in your life.” (Author Unknown)

“God allows difficulties, inconveniences, trials, and even suffering to come our way for a specific purpose. They help develop the right attitude for the growth of patience.” (Billy Graham)

“Spiritual maturity is a lifelong pursuit. We grow in spiritual maturity moment by moment, day by day, year by year.” (Jim George)

“Spiritual maturity is not a matter of years or time, it’s just a matter of your connection with the Lord and His Word, and your obedience and your humility.” (Author Unknown)

“Maturity is the ability to think, speak and act your feelings within the bounds of dignity. The measure of your maturity is how spiritual you become during the midst of your frustrations.” (Samuel Ullman)

“One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others.” (David A. Bednar)

“God’s Word is the living seed that brings new birth. It is the milk that nurtures the new life of a young Christian and the meat that builds the muscle of a mature believer.” (Colin S. Smith)

“Bible study is the metal that makes a Christian. This is the strong meat on which holy men are nourished. This is that which makes the bone and sinew of men who keep God’s way in defiance of every adversary.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Our spiritual maturity will never exceed our knowledge of the Bible.” (Albert Mohler)

“Biblical convictions are essential for spiritual growth and maturity. What is ironic today is that people often have strong convictions about weak issues (football, fashion, etc.) while having weak convictions about major issues (what is right and what is wrong)?” (Rick Warren)

“A spiritual mature person prioritizes work before play, love over lust, and character over charm.” (Pastor Paul Sheppard)

“Maturity comes when you stop making excuses and start making changes.” (Author Unknown)

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

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“Pretty Container, But Poisonous Content!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “The Earliest Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Water”

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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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Quick Home Remedies for Puffy Face and Body”

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“What You SEE Depends On What You’re LOOKING For”

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Lamentations 3:19-27, “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God…” (MSG)

Alex is the director for the outreach team at his church. One year, several of his team members were all driving together to an evangelism explosion out of state. They were in two cars, but stayed in touch by means of walkie-talkies. At a couple of points, one of the men in the car behind him pointed out a hawk that he spotted soaring gracefully over them. They saw several of them, actually, on this particular trip. ‘Now, when you see a hawk or an eagle’ Alex said, ‘it’s kind of always an event for a city boy like me’. But then Alex friend Terry – who was not driving at the time said, “Well, I just saw a dead coyote on the shoulder.” As their walkie-talkie conversations went on during that trip, that wasn’t the last hawk Alex saw – nor was it the last road kill that Terry saw. I guess whether you see soaring hawks or dead coyotes depends on where you’re looking and what you’re looking for.

Truth is, some of us have this amazing ability to miss out on the most beautiful things going on around us because we only focus on seeing the ugly or even the dead. For instance, some folks see mostly what’s right with people and with their situation – others just can’t help focusing on what’s wrong…or the ‘dead coyotes’. And it really does depend on where you Choose to look – Up or Down. And in the end, it all boils down to Choice…whether you look Up or Down, or focus on what’s good or what’s bad, either way it is always your deliberate Choice.

Alex and Terry were on an evangelism mission, you would think they would already have their focus on what’s good, positive, great, and uplifting. But you had two men, traveling down the Same road, but seeing two very Different outlooks. Alex was focused on the soaring hawks, Terry was focused on the dead coyotes…which are you focusing on?

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah knew what it was to see the ‘dead coyotes’ – until he Chose to look up and see those ‘soaring hawks’. Both perspectives are evident in Lamentations 3, beginning in verses 19-20.

First, he saw, the ‘dead coyotes’ – for the Bible reads: “Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed.” (CEV). Another translation reads: “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” (NIV). That word “downcast” is defined as “to have eyes that continually look downwards; to be low in spirit; to be bowed down; distressed; troubled; uneasy; worried; hopeless; disappointed; discouraged; agonized; anguished; weeping; bleak; desolate; dreary; comfortless; having a despondent feeling.” And “despondent” is defined as “to feel or show extreme discouragement, dejection, or depression; to be brokenhearted; gloomy; joyless; miserable; saddened; sorrowful; unhappy; pessimistic.” Needless to say, the prophet was not feeling all that great! But how could he when the Bible says, “Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. THAT’S ALL I EVER THINK ABOUT, and I am depressed.” Of course if this is your only mindset about yourself, your life and the challenges you face, you will be depressed, especially if this is “…ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT…”! Imagine going day in and day out with nothing positive, good, uplifting or encouraging to enter your mind. What a horrible way to live, especially as a believer who has been given the promise of Life and that More Abundantly! What the prophet struggled with was his: affliction, troubles, loneliness, bitterness and gall. Is that where you are? Does your pain, failures, broken heart take away God’s Unspeakable Joy from your life? Well, it’s possible, when you focus on your frustrations and your failures, the bad news and the negative feelings, yeah, you’re going to be discouraged, you’re going to be depressed, your souls going to be downcast within you. Especially when this is “…ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT…”!

At this point, the prophet is very much like Terry, all he can see is the ‘dead coyotes’, while others are focusing on the ‘soaring hawks’.

Reality Check: Now, truth is, at some point in time we’ve all felt like this, and if you haven’t yet…just keep living! To be honest, life can throw you some curve balls that no one can prepare you to catch. Can we be real? No one looks forward to a divorce, a baby out of wedlock, an addiction, a disease, the loss of a loved one, the bankruptcy, the foreclosure, the abandonment, the rejection, the depression, the job loss, the repossessed car, the unmet tuition, the promotion passing you by. No one wakes up one morning and thinks this will be a part of their agenda for the day. But for many, life happens, and happens hard and unexpectedly! And so we look around and all we see are ‘dead coyotes’. It doesn’t look as if things could get any worse, nor does it look as if things will get any better. Then, the next thing you know your mind starts wandering, “I thought I’d be married by now; I thought I’d have at least my first child by now; I thought the church/ministry/business would have taken off by now; I thought my vision and dreams would have come to pass by now; I thought I’d be finished school by now; I thought I’d own my own home by now; I thought I’d be off the bus by now; I thought I’d finish writing my book by now; I thought I’d be through with all these tests and medications by now; I thought the ailment would have run its course by now; I thought I’d be happy by now…” It appears as though life, happiness, promise, dreams and even God has forgotten about us. And so we look around like Terry and only see ‘dead coyotes’, or like the prophet we only see troubles and misery.

But then there comes a turn of events, a shifting of focus and perspective. Listen to the change: “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom. BUT THERE’S ONE OTHER THING I REMEMBER, AND REMEMBERING, I KEEP A GRIP ON HOPE. GOD’S LOYAL LOVE COULDN’T HAVE RUN OUT, HIS MERCIFUL LOVE COULDN’T HAVE DRIED UP. THEY’RE CREATED NEW EVERY MORNING. HOW GREAT YOUR FAITHFULNESS! I’M STICKING WITH GOD (I SAY IT OVER AND OVER). HE’S ALL I’VE GOT LEFT. GOD PROVES TO BE GOOD TO THE MAN WHO PASSIONATELY WAITS, TO THE WOMAN WHO DILIGENTLY SEEKS. IT’S A GOOD THING TO QUIETLY HOPE, QUIETLY HOPE FOR HELP FROM GOD…” (vss. 19-27 MSG)

Alright, prepare for the soaring hawks!

You see, when you focus on all the evidence of God’s love and God’s care in your life…when you look for the blessings that He has sown into this day and every day, your load gets lighter and your heaviness turns to hope. Same situation – two Different outlooks. Either way, you Choose! Because things didn’t change for the prophet, but his Mindset, Focus and Perspective did. The trouble, lostness, taste of ashes, poison, hitting rock bottom…all that was still there, but placed in perspective of an even greater truth… “BUT THERE’S ONE OTHER THING I REMEMBER, AND REMEMBERING, I KEEP A GRIP ON HOPE…” That’s what you have to learn to do when you’re losing your grip on life, grab ahold of hope! For it’s in that hope that you’re reminded of God’s loyal love that can’t run out and His mercy that can’t dry up! Every new morning they are there to meet you before you even meet the day! Your God is that loving and that caring and that protective of YOU! Even when you’re situation doesn’t change, your Mindset can, your Outlook can, your Perspective can! Which is what happened to Jeremiah, he said, I’M STICKING WITH GOD (I SAY IT OVER AND OVER). HE’S ALL I’VE GOT LEFT. GOD PROVES TO BE GOOD TO THE MAN WHO PASSIONATELY WAITS, TO THE WOMAN WHO DILIGENTLY SEEKS. IT’S A GOOD THING TO QUIETLY HOPE, QUIETLY HOPE FOR HELP FROM GOD…”

The same God who has promised to never leave you or forsake you is still your very present help in times of trouble. Remember His Love Notes Penned Directly to You:

Hebrews 13:5, “…FOR HE HAS SAID, ‘I WILL NEVER [UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES] DESERT YOU [NOR GIVE YOU UP NOR LEAVE YOU WITHOUT SUPPORT, NOR WILL I IN ANY DEGREE LEAVE YOU HELPLESS], NOR WILL I FORSAKE OR LET YOU DOWN OR RELAX MY HOLD ON YOU [ASSUREDLY NOT]!’” (AMP);

Matthew 28:20, “…AND LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS [REMAINING WITH YOU PERPETUALLY – REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCE, AND ON EVERY OCCASION], EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE.” (AMP);

Deuteronomy 31:6, “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS, DO NOT BE AFRAID OR TREMBLE IN DREAD BEFORE THEM, FOR IT IS THE LORD YOUR GOD WHO GOES WITH YOU. HE WILL NOT FAIL YOU OR ABANDON YOU.” (AMP);

Joshua 1:9, “HAVE I NOT COMMANDED YOU? BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS! DO NOT BE TERRIFIED OR DISMAYED (INTIMIDATED), FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO.” (AMP);

1 Peter 5:7, “CASTING ALL YOUR CARES [ALL YOUR ANXIETIES, ALL YOUR WORRIES, AND ALL YOUR CONCERNS, ONCE AND FOR ALL] ON HIM, FOR HE CARES ABOUT YOU [WITH DEEPEST AFFECTION, AND WATCHES OVER YOU VERY CAREFULLY]” (AMP);

Psalm 46:1, “GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH [MIGHTY AND IMPENETRABLE], A VERY PRESENT AND WELL-PROVED HELP IN TROUBLE.” (AMP)

And that’s just a FEW Love Notes from Your Father!

Listen: Even on a bad day you still serve a good God! Which is why you have to make the deliberate choice to stop looking for the ‘dead coyotes’ when the ‘soaring hawks’ are flying overhead to remind you to look in the right direction…Upwards! Could it be that maybe you’ve allowed too much negativity to blind you to God’s blessings that are all around you? You’ve allowed your frustrations and hurts and stresses to dominate your view. Maybe people can tell because you seem to be kind of: cynical, sarcastic, accumulating negatives, or looking for things to criticize. You’ve allowed yourself to get stuck in a negative rut – and the trip gets to be drudgery when all you’re looking at is the ‘dead coyotes’.

Trust me, we all have said a time or two, “God, this is not how it was supposed to turn out!But don’t forget, your problems don’t hinder His plans, and His plans for you are still marvelous!

Jeremiah 29:10-11, “This is God’s Word on the subject…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised…I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (MSG) No amount of troubles, misery, or struggles, can ever hinder the plan of God for your life!

Listen, you’ve been driving along this life highway for a good minute now, don’t you think it’s high time you change your perspective on the view? Think about it: Alex and Terry were driving around mountains, yes, there was dirt, gravel, bumps in the road, scary turns, dark nights…but there was also beautiful sunshine and flowers by day, there was birds chirping, hawks soaring, and above all, they were on their way to minister to the lost about the Jesus they’ve found. Two men, on the same road, same mission, and yet focusing on two very different views. One saw life, the other saw death, one saw soaring, the other saw grounding. But both had a Choice in what they saw based on where they looked and what they were looking for. One Chose to look up the other Chose to look down, where have you Chosen to look?

Maybe it’s time to say, “Lord, would you forgive me for letting the negative take over – for missing so many of the beautiful things that You put into every one of my days. I’ve been looking in the wrong direction. Please shift my focus. Help me to see the positive; to see Your new mercies every morning; to see Your love in action.” Then you can make this a day full of God sightings of good stuff. “Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6 GWT) Goodness and Mercy will not only be with you always, but they will stay close to you all the days of your life! There will always be something good to see, every day, in your life…you simply have to make the Choice to see it! Out the same window, you can see the majesty of the soaring hawks or you could see the mess of the dead coyotes. What you Choose to focus on is actually going to determine the kind of journey you have. So, if you don’t see happiness in your life; change direction. If you don’t see joy in your life; change direction. If you don’t see peace in your life; change direction. If you don’t see love in your life; change direction. Stop looking down, and start looking up! You didn’t survive all that you have to walk around with your head down, your eyes downcast, your back bent and your shoulders slumped.

Psalm 3:3-4, “But You, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, You lift my head high; with all my might I shout up to God, His answers thunder from the holy mountain.” (MSG)

If you are walking with your head down, you have not gone to God! Because according to Scripture, He lifts your head high! Even in the midst of pain, heartache, loss, bitterness, resentment…He can still lift your head high! No matter what your finances may look like, He can still lift your head high. No matter what your marriage looks like, He can still lift your head high. No matter what’s going on with your children, He can still lift your head high. No matter what the doctor said, He can still lift your head high. And not only lift it, but lift it HIGH!

Listen good to the psalmist, “But You, God, shield me on all sides…” No matter what you face in life, God is still your shield, on all sides!  Even when it doesn’t look good, sound good, or feel good, God is still there…on all sides! You can’t make a turn and not run right into God! So don’t you dare think that you are in this life alone. Nor are you in your hurt, suffering, confusion, or disappointment alone. God has you on all sides. You just need to shift the direction of your focus. Stop looking at you, stop looking at your marriage, loneliness, children, job, loss, hurt, finances, health…and start looking to God! Start looking up!

Psalm 5:1-3, “Hear my words, O Lord. Think about my crying. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God. For I pray to you. In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice. In the morning I will lay my prayers before You AND WILL LOOK UP.” (NLV)

Lay it all before the Lord in prayer and look up to Him. Not to other people, not to your situation, but to Him! Your problems aren’t the problem, your perspective is. The word “perspective” means “the angle or direction in which a person looks at an object; the ability to understand what is important and what isn’t; having a clear point of view; the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see something objectively.” The word “objectively” is defined as “to not be influenced by personal feelings or opinions.” You see, no matter what is going on in your life, you need to always maintain a good perspective. No matter how bad it is, don’t allow your feelings and opinions to influence you to look down at the ‘dead coyotes’. No, look at it from the right angle, above, upwards, towards the direction of clear and accurate viewing, noting what is important and what’s not. In a nutshell: The fact that you have a problem, is not important. The fact that you have a God who has a solution for every problem, is important! Don’t look at IT, look at HIM!

Remember these 3 examples:

1…Luke 10:38-42, “As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, YOU’RE FUSSING FAR TOO MUCH AND GETTING YOURSELF WORKED UP OVER NOTHING. One thing only is essential, and Mary has CHOSEN it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (MSG) Mary had the right focus, the right view, the right perspective. After all, when Jesus is present, what/who else really matters? Don’t allow your circumstances to shift your focus from God.

2…Numbers 13:27-33, “We went to the land to which you sent us and, oh! It does flow with milk and honey! Just look at this fruit! The only thing is that the people who live there are fierce, their cities are huge and well fortified. Worse yet, we saw descendants of the giant Anak. Amalekites are spread out in the Negev; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites hold the hill country; and the Canaanites are established on the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan.” CALEB INTERRUPTED, called for silence before Moses and said, “LET’S GO UP AND TAKE THE LAND – NOW. WE CAN DO IT.” But the others said, “We can’t attack those people; they’re way stronger than we are.” They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, “We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants (the Anak giants come from the Nephilim). Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.” (MSG) When you know what God has promised you, let no one attempt to talk you out of attaining it. Not others, not yourself, not your situation! Caleb never wavered in the belief of the promise of God, not even with the presence of Giants added to the mix. Likewise, keep your focus on God, nothing and no one else. The giants don’t matter compared to God! No matter how big your giants, they can never out-size your God!

3…1 Samuel 17:32-37, “Master,” said David, “don’t give up hope. I’m ready to go and fight this Philistine.” Saul answered David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced—and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born.” David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. Lion or bear, it made no difference—I killed it. And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive. GOD, WHO DELIVERED ME FROM THE TEETH OF THE LION AND THE CLAWS OF THE BEAR, WILL DELIVER ME FROM THIS PHILISTINE.” Saul said, “Go. And God help you!” (MSG) Always remember what God has already done on your behalf! That’s what David and Jeremiah both did! They remembered…GOD! If He could do it then, He can do it Again! So, before you go looking for ‘dead coyotes’ again, remember that the God whose wings you find safety and shelter under is still soaring overhead! Don’t look down, look up! Even when what you’re facing looks like it will slaughter you, remember Who is on your side…On All Sides! No matter how great the struggle you face, nothing and no one will ever be able to Out-Size Your God!

Today, be encouraged to look at life from a different perspective! Focus on the good, for your God is still good even when you’re having a bad day!

Genesis 50:20, “AS FOR YOU, YOU MEANT EVIL AGAINST ME, BUT GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD IN ORDER TO BRING ABOUT THIS PRESENT OUTCOME, THAT MANY PEOPLE WOULD BE KEPT ALIVE [AS THEY ARE THIS DAY].” (AMP);

Romans 8:28, “AND WE KNOW [WITH GREAT CONFIDENCE] THAT GOD [WHO IS DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT US] CAUSES ALL THINGS TO WORK TOGETHER [AS A PLAN] FOR GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE GOD, TO THOSE WHO ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PLAN AND PURPOSE.” (AMP)

He’s working all things for your favor and for your good. Don’t let the situation shift your focus! Even when your shoulders are weighed down, go to God to lift your head high! Even when you’re overwhelmed you will not be overtaken! God is there, every morning with new mercies, ensuring that you are never consumed! Keep your eyes on Him at all times, especially in hard times, remembering that What You See Depends On Where You Look! Look Up and Look to God!

Isaiah 40:31, “BUT THOSE WHO WAIT FOR THE LORD [WHO EXPECT, LOOK FOR, AND HOPE IN HIM] WILL GAIN NEW STRENGTH AND RENEW THEIR POWER; THEY WILL LIFT UP THEIR WINGS [AND RISE UP CLOSE TO GOD] LIKE EAGLES [RISING TOWARD THE SUN]; THEY WILL RUN AND NOT BECOME WEARY, THEY WILL WALK AND NOT GROW TIRED.” (AMP)

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” (John Lubbock)

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” (Wayne Dyer)

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” (Henry David Thoreau)

“Use your struggles and frustrations today to motivate you rather than annoy you. You are in control of the way you look at life. Be mindful.” (Marcandangel)

“Which way you ought to go depends on where you want to get to.” (Lewis Carroll)

“If you keep looking back, you’re going to trip going forward.” (Pinterest)

“It’s easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top.” (Henry Ward Beecher)

“You’re the one who decides how big or small your problem is. It depends on how you look at it.” (Pinterest)

“People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.” (Epictetus)

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

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“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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“The Gift of Being Hidden”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “The Best and Worst Juices For Your Health”

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“Your Giant Will NEVER Be Bigger Than Your God!”

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1 Samuel 17:48-51, “That roused the Philistine, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply. The Philistine crashed, facedown in the dirt. That’s how David beat the Philistine—with a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. No sword for David! Then David ran up to the Philistine and stood over him, pulled the giant’s sword from its sheath, and finished the job by cutting off his head. When the Philistines saw that their great champion was dead, they scattered, running for their lives.” (MSG)

One of the funniest things in the world to me is listening to a child’s perspective. After all, the world looks a little different through five-year-old eyes. Chase was five and he was the grandson of one of my dear friends. One day little Chase was out with his Mom, and they drove past this construction site and saw one of those giant cranes. Well, Chase got completely wide-eyed as he watched the humongous mechanized monster moving things around so powerfully! And then finally, in total amazement, he tried to find a way to express how big that crane looked to him. Here’s what he said: “Mommy, it’s bigger than God!

Which is the thought that brings us to 1 Samuel 17:33. Here, we’re watching the army of Israel being totally intimidated by Goliath, the Philistine giant/bully. Yet David, is this little guy who wants to go out and fight him! But Saul, the king, replies in verse 33, “…You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight him. For you are [only] a young man and he has been a warrior since his youth.” (AMP). And then in Verse 37, David says, “…The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.” (AMP)

So by the time we get to verses 45-47, David Charges the Giant! David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give all of you into our hands.” (NIV).

Now, the Israeli army looked at Goliath and said like Chase, “He’s bigger than God!” And therefore, they retreated!

David seemed like the least likely person to take on the giant, but he was the only person there who believed that God was bigger than the giant!

So David, it says, “…ran quickly toward the battle lines to meet him.” (NIV).

The Jews of Moses’ day and Joshua’s day? Well, they made the same mistake when they measured the challenge in front of them. They looked at the Promised Land and they saw walls, and cities, and warriors that were bigger than they were. Listen to Numbers 13:31-33,But the others said, “We can’t attack those people; they’re way stronger than we are.” They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, “We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants (the Anak giants come from the Nephilim). Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.” (MSG).

The Contemporary English Version reads: “But the other men replied, “Those people are much too strong for us.”  Then they started spreading rumors and saying, “We won’t be able to grow anything in that soil. And the people are like giants.  In fact, we saw the Nephilim who are the ancestors of the Anakim. They were so big that we felt as small as grasshoppers.” (CEV)

They had men say in essence, “God’s Bigger Than Giants!” But unbelief won the day, and so the people got to spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness as a result! Listen to Numbers 32:10-13, “The Lord became very angry.  And he said that no one who was twenty years or older when they left Egypt would enter the land he had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE BELIEVED IN THE LORD’S POWER, EXCEPT CALEB AND JOSHUA. They remained faithful to the Lord, but he was so angry with the others that he forced them to wander around in the desert forty years. By that time everyone who had sinned against him had died.” (CEV)

“It’s bigger than God!” That’s what unbelief says. It’s what worry is saying. It’s what fear is saying. It’s what discouragement is saying. We don’t really believe that theologically, but practically we seem to. We get beaten by the walls, beaten by the giants and the obstacles, because we think, “This one’s pretty big, maybe too big for God!”

But do you really want to miss the Promise because you doubt God’s Power? Do you really want to die in fear, because you didn’t live in faith? I think not!

So, what’s the big thing that’s making you afraid, making you discouraged? “These bills are bigger than God.” Really? “This crisis is bigger than God.” Is it? Really? “This pain, this illness, this family problem; it’s bigger than….” Oh, forget it! It’s nowhere near bigger than God! Nothing is! Compared to YOU, the challenge or the obstacle is huge. But what are you going to compare to GOD, who created and controls a hundred billion galaxies and everything in them? Why don’t you measure your monster next to Him? You’ll find your fear turning to faith and your stress melting into peace!

Where is your child-like faith, to replace your child-like fear? Why are you responding like little Chase, who doesn’t know any better? To him, everything is huge, even a machine compared to God, appeared (in his little mind) as bigger than God. However, you know better, so why is this your response and reaction?

You’ve seen God heal, you’ve seen God deliver, you’ve seen God save, you’ve seen God do the impossible, you’ve seen God turn it around in your favor. So why do you doubt Him now? You’ve seen God keep a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food on the table, clothes in the closet. So why do you doubt Him now? You’ve seen God protect you and provide for you. So why do you doubt Him now? What the doctors said before didn’t stop God from being God…what stops Him now? You’ve seen God grant you a job, a paycheck, insurance, transportation. So why do you doubt Him now?

People of God, we need to learn how to measure our giants by the size of our God, not our God by the size of our giants! After all, what can be measured against God?

Psalm 146 reads, “Hallelujah! O my soul, praise God! All my life long I’ll praise God, singing songs to my God as long as I live. Don’t put your life in the hands of experts who know nothing of life, of salvation life. Mere humans don’t have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them. Instead, get help from the God of Jacob, put your hope in God and know real blessing! God made sky and soil, sea and all the fish in it. He always does what he says – he defends the wronged, he feeds the hungry. God frees prisoners – he gives sight to the blind, he lifts up the fallen. God loves good people, protects strangers, takes the side of orphans and widows, but makes short work of the wicked. God’s in charge – always. Zion’s God is God for good! Hallelujah!” (MSG)

Now, that’s how we need to view our God! Bigger Than All Things! Always in Charge no matter what becomes out of Control in our lives! Listen, there is absolutely nothing that God can’t do except lie and fail! So why are you allowing circumstances to crush your faith?

And I’ll be the first to tell you, this is not what I’ve read, but what I’ve lived. I know what it feels like to feel as though your marriage struggles are bigger than God; bills are bigger; the diagnosis is bigger; the pain is bigger; the enemies attack is bigger; the lack of employment is bigger; the lack of money is bigger; the lack of food and shelter is bigger. Been there! And I know first-hand the response on both sides. I know what it feels like to experience all of those things and feel as if God has forgotten you or that your situation is so big that God has to figure out a solution to your problem. And I can tell you personally, thoughts like that only bring about fear, worry, lack of sleep, loss of hair, loss of peace and joy, high blood pressure and the like. In other words, it does not help, it only hurts! But, I’ve also grown, matured and developed into a woman of faith. I learned to trust God to handle what I can’t get a grip on. And I’ve watched Him supersede even what I asked of Him in prayer. I learned how to look at obstacles, trials and struggles as only another means of increasing my faith, challenging my hope, and building my trust, dependence and reliance on Him. I learned that my hardships and hard times were only teaching me to do more than read the Scriptures, but to apply them, live them and walk in them. You can’t walk by faith while standing still in comfort. Stretched faith comes from uncomfortability and unfamiliarity! Listen to James:

James 1:2-4, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (MSG)

Tests, Challenges, and Pressures, Work FOR You, Not AGAINST You!

Truth is, if many of us weren’t tested or challenged to endure hardship and pressure, our faith would remain the size of a mustard seed for the entirety of our Christian Walk! And is mustard seed faith bad? Absolutely not! Listen to Matthew 17:20, “Because you’re not taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.” (MSG) How awesome is that?!

But, should we stay at the same mustard seed size of faith? I think not!

Romans 1:16-17, “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 the Greek. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, both springing from FAITH AND LEADING TO FAITH [DISCLOSED IN A WAY THAT AWAKENS MORE FAITH]. As it is written and forever remains written, “THE JUST AND UPRIGHT SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (AMP)

Mustard seed faith is awesome! However, it’s a SEED for a reason! The word “seed” is defined as “a flowering plant’s unit of reproduction, capable of developing into another such plant; the beginning or process of something which continues to develop and grow; to stimulate growth and development; designed to produce and reproduce; to stimulate more of; offspring.” Some of its related words are: “fountain; spring; well; beginning; birth; genesis; inception; launch; onset; outset; start; threshold; creation; permeate.” And that last word “permeate” is defined as “to spread throughout; to pervade.” Its Latin Origin “permeare” means to “pass through.” In other words, your mustard seed faith should never remain stagnant as just a mustard seed. It’s a seed for a reason. It’s supposed to reproduce; develop; grow; continue; permeate and spread throughout! It’s supposed to pass through from one capacity to another. And if the Scripture says, “…there’s nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle”, and that’s just with mustard seed faith, imagine what else you would be able to handle with increased faith? In addition, what else would you believe God for if you increased in faith? Maybe then when the bills come in you won’t lose your mind; maybe then when the doctor gives you a report, you’ll still believe the report of the Lord; maybe then when your marriage looks like it’s going down for the last time, it will go another round; maybe then when your children look as if their leaving the faith you’ve taught them, you’ll trust that what you’ve trained them, will not be forgotten; maybe then a layoff will cause you to take a leap of faith instead of lagging behind in fear.

So, are you encountering something really big right now? Well, be awed, but not by what’s big, but by your God who’s bigger! That’s what our little friend saw, something that was bigger than he was so he thought it was bigger than God is. Not So! Nothing and No One is, nor will ever be! That’s where we take heart and courage! Even when something is bigger than you, it’s never bigger than God (who is also IN you!) 1 John 4:4, “Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because HE WHO LIVES IN YOU IS GREATER (MIGHTIER) THAN HE WHO IS IN THE WORLD.” (AMPC)

No matter what you face today, it cannot defeat you! Like David, no matter how Goliath came at him, nor what he came at him with mattered. David knew he had the upper hand, because He had the Hand of God to hand him his enemies Head! 1 Samuel 17:48-51, “That roused the Philistine, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply. The Philistine crashed, facedown in the dirt. That’s how David beat the Philistine—with a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. No sword for David! Then David ran up to the Philistine and stood over him, pulled the giant’s sword from its sheath, and finished the job by cutting off his head. When the Philistines saw that their great champion was dead, they scattered, running for their lives.” (MSG)

People of God, You Serve a Big God, No Matter How Big the Battle is You’re Facing! Like David, You Will Win! But You Have to Remember to Increase Your Faith and Believe That When God Says I Got You, He’s Got You! Hebrews 13:5-6, “…God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?” (MSG)

How dare we ever fear anything when God is bigger than everything, AND, He’s Promised to NEVER let us down or walk off and leave us?! God is ready to help you, so you need to live fearless, after all with God in you and with you, “Who Or What Can Get to You?!”

Don’t make the mistake of missing a miracle because you let something loom larger in your heart than the awesome God of the creation, the awesome God of the cross, the awesome God of an empty tomb, the awesome God of second chances; the awesome God of the universe; the awesome God that’s living in you and coming back for you! After all, if the cross, nails, thorns, spear, death, hell and the grave couldn’t stop or hinder God, what makes you think the gas and water bill that you can’t pay right now can?!

People of God, be encouraged today knowing that there is nothing too Big or too Hard or too Impossible for Your God to Handle! It Is Well, Because With God, We Win, No Matter What!

Romans 8:31-39, “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? AND WHO WOULD DARE TANGLE WITH GOD BY MESSING WITH ONE OF GOD’S CHOSEN? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CAN GET BETWEEN US AND GOD’S LOVE BECAUSE OF THE WAY THAT JESUS OUR MASTER HAS EMBRACED US.” (MSG)

FRIENDS, BE ENCOURAGED! YOUR GIANT WILL NEVER BE BIGGER THAN YOUR GOD!

Jeremiah 32:17, “O Lord God! You have made the heavens and earth by your great power; nothing is too hard for you!” (TLB)

“The giant in front of you is never bigger than God who lives in you.” (Christine Caine)

“Focus on giants, you stumble. Focus on God, your giants stumble.” (DayStar)

“God will not allow any person to keep you from your destiny. They may be bigger, stronger and more powerful, but God knows how to get you to where you’re supposed to be.” (Spiritual Inspiration)

“Start calling yourself healed, happy, whole, blessed, and prosperous. Stop talking to God about how big your mountains are, and start talking to your mountains about how big your God is.” (Spiritual Inspiration)

“Make God bigger than your ‘what-if’s” (Christine Caine)

“Face the giants in your life, slay them and move on. Do not be daunted by the mistakes and failures in your life.” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“All David had was faith and a rock and he defeated a giant. All you need is faith in the Rock to defeat yours!” (Daystar)

“Sometimes God will put a Goliath in your life, for you to find the David within you.” (Author Unknown)

“King Saul thought Goliath was too big to fight, David thought he was too big to miss!” (Author Unknown)

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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