“Don’t Let FAKE FOOL You!”

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Matthew 13:24-25, “Jesus gave them another parable [to consider], saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds [RESEMBLING WHEAT] among the wheat…” (AMP)

I guess as a woman it would be considered rather strange that I don’t particularly care for Roses. I don’t consider them ugly, I just don’t possess a particular fondness for them. And to be honest, I really don’t like any one set flower. However, if you really want my heart to sing, give me a mixed bouquet of wildflowers! I absolutely love a bouquet of mixed flowers with all the different shapes, scents, sizes, colors etc…it just captures my heart and instantly makes me smile!

However, I must share this. One of my coworkers had a beautiful bouquet of flowers on her desk. I stopped by to pick up some work, and there I saw these amazing flowers in a vase. Wildflowers! My Wildflowers! I actually noticed a few more times as I hustled down the hall past her door. I really felt like a flower stalker! I just couldn’t help myself. I would walk past her office, even if I had no reason to, just to take a glimpse at her huge bouquet of the wildflowers I so love. But then one day, I actually put on the brakes for a moment and I stuck my head all the way in the office and told her, I have just got to smell the flowers on your desk. I leaned over and inhaled deeply…needless to say…it wasn’t worth the stop. You see, after all of that peeking, visiting, stalking, admiring, smiling and smelling…I exhaled my disappointment. The beautiful, breath-taking wildflower bouquet was a FAKE! It LOOKED so real, too real, so real in fact that I couldn’t tell they were fake until I got close enough to realize they didn’t have the scent real flowers possess.

Which made me think of us, the church, the body of believer’s. Do we carry the REAL Scent of our Savior? 2 Corinthians 2:15, “For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (AMP)

You know, those flowers can sure fool you. They look so real, but they have NO LIFE. They look so authentic, but they have NO SCENT. Just like so many folks who look like they really belong to Jesus Christ, but there’s no life, no sweet fragrance of Christ.

Jesus warned us about this fatal difference in His story about God’s Kingdom being like a wheat field. Listen: Matthew 13:24-30, “Jesus gave them another parable [to consider], saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds [RESEMBLING WHEAT] among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the weeds appeared also.  The servants of the owner came to him and said, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have weeds in it?’ He replied to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants asked him, ‘Then do you want us to go and pull them out?’ But he said, ‘No; because as you pull out the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.  Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First gather the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”(AMP)

Just because God hasn’t uprooted the phony weeds now, doesn’t mean He won’t later. In fact, the phony weeds will be first to be gathered, tied and burned. So, don’t by any stretch of the imagination think that you’re getting away with Imitation Christianity. God knows who are His and who are not. He knows who’s real, and who’s fake (no matter how well a performance or appearance they put on).

In another place, Jesus describes people who will come before Him on Judgment Day, talking all the right Christian words and beliefs and activities. But He’ll tell them, “I never knew you.Now, that’s what you call some frightening words! Here’s the Scripture in full: Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’ (AMP) The Message Bible reads like this: “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’ (MSG)

I don’t know about you, but that certainly gave me a Selah moment! And that moment took me straight to 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers. Examine yourselves [not me]! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves [by an ongoing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test and are rejected as COUNTERFEIT?” (AMP) The Message Bible reads like this: “Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it…” (vss. 5-9 MSG).

The time to realize that you know ABOUT Jesus but you don’t KNOW Him is NOW, not when you’re standing before Him, BECAUSE THEN IT’S TOO LATE! Now, is the time to self-exam and get yourself together! Now, is the time to make sure you’re planted, deeply rooted among the wheat, the real wheat, not them ‘Resembling Wheat!’ If you find yourself amongst the Tares, tear yourself away and get right! Or you’ll find yourself falling in the same category as those whom Christ said, “I Never Knew You!” And pay attention to the text, because it doesn’t say let the Apostle, Bishop, Pastor, Prophet, Elder, Evangelist, Minister, Deacon, Missionary, evaluate you and your lifestyle of faith to make sure it’s genuine. No, this is an inside job! “TEST AND EVALUATE YOURSELVES…” Your faith, and lack thereof, are your responsibility alone! You have no one to blame but yourself if you ‘miss the boat!’ It’s too late in the end-time hour to keep faking, pretending, acting like, and impersonating righteousness! It’s time to simply get Right and get Real!

Remember 2 Timothy 3:5, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Now, let’s look at this in a few translations shall we:

“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);

“They will LOOK LIKE they are religious but deny God’s power. Avoid people like this.” (CEB);

“Even though they will MAKE A SHOW OF BEING RELIGIOUS, their religion WON’T BE REAL. Don’t have anything to do with such people.” (CEV);

“They will go on PRETENDING to be devoted to God, but they will refuse to let that “devotion” change the way they live. Stay away from these people!” (ERV);

“having the APPEARANCE of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (ESV);

“They will APPEAR to have a godly life, but they will not let its power change them. Stay away from such people.” (GWT);

“they will hold to the OUTWARD FORM of our religion, but reject its real power. Keep away from such people.” (GNT);

“They will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. Don’t be taken in by people like that.” (TLB);

“They will do things to make it LOOK as if they are Christians. But they will not receive the power that is for a Christian. Keep away from such people.” (NLV)

Just like those artificial flowers that are so beautiful but so dead, it’s so easy to look like someone who belongs to Jesus but not really know Him. Especially if you’ve been around Jesus most of your life. You know the words. You believe the beliefs. You try to do the right things. You go to the right meetings. You give to the right things. And, quite possibly, everyone around you assumes you belong to Him Except Jesus! And He’s the only one who matters.

Listen: That “examine yourself” verse says to make sure “Christ Jesus is IN YOU.Not on you, as all the “I’m a Believer” symbols like to imply. You know, we like to carry the bible, talk in church lingo, have 10 titles, 15 robes, 20 crosses, all to look like we’re something we’re not. We’re attending Sunday School, Bible Study, Prayer Meetings, Revivals, Anniversaries, Outreach, and the like and still heading straight to hell as the Non-Believer we are at heart. It’s time we stop “wearing Christ” and actually have Him on the INSIDE. Because truly that is the only thing that will make a REAL difference.

A lot of people simply have Jesus AROUND them, but not IN them because there’s never been a time when they consciously and personally really opened up their life to Him. And I do mean all of it, not just the compartments you feel safe or comfortable in letting Him visit. But I mean letting Him move all the way in. Take your name off the deed to your body, and make it His sole property alone. It’s time to stop having Christ in our HEAD, but not in our HEART. Which means you will miss heaven by eighteen inches. (That’s how far it is from your head to your heart). And God says, “It is with the HEART man BELIEVES and is SAVED” (Romans 10:9). You Need Jesus in Your Heart, Not Just in Your Head, if You are to Ever Have a Real, True, Genuine, Authentic Relationship With Him!

Look at it like this: One night Keith went into a church…not married. The woman he wanted to marry came down the aisle. They stood in front of the minister. They walked out together, but Keith left still not married. Why? Because it was the rehearsal. However, the next night, same woman, same man, same minister, same aisle, but this time Keith walked out married. You see, the first night Keith was just going through the motions. But the second night he committed his life to her. Maybe you’ve been going through all the motions of knowing Jesus. But somewhere, you’ve missed the step of saying, “Jesus, I know what you did on that cross was for me. And you’re my only hope. Beginning right here, beginning right now, I am completely Yours! I turn my entire life into Your capable, nail scarred hands!” You see, that’s when you commit yourself to Him. Not practice, not rehearse, not go through the motions, not resemble, not look like, not pretend. But for real! Which means no more going to church every Sunday, singing the songs, dancing, leaping, running, clapping, shouting, praising, speaking in whatever tongues. In other words, no more show, no more performance, no more acting and acting like. But this time being real with God so you can finally be right with God. Because the truth is, you don’t have any more time to play and waste. As cliché as it may sound, His return is soon. And you don’t want to be unprepared. You want to be rapture ready. With no sorries, no explanations, no reasons, no requests for just a little more time. You want no remorse and no regrets. And the only way to secure that is to be Real, be Right and be Ready!

Matthew 25:1-13, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish [thoughtless, silly, and careless], and five were wise [far-sighted, practical, and sensible].  For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take any [extra] oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil along with their lamps.  Now while the bridegroom was delayed, they all began to nod off, and they fell asleep.  But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! The bridegroom [is coming]! Go out to meet him.’  Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order [trimmed the wicks and added oil and lit them].  But the foolish virgins said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’  But the wise replied, ‘No, otherwise there will not be enough for us and for you, too; go instead to the dealers and buy oil for yourselves.’  But while they were going away to buy oil, the bridegroom came, AND THOSE WHO WERE READY WENT IN WITH HIM to the wedding feast; and the door was shut and locked.  Later the others also came, and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open [the door] for us.’  But He replied, ‘I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I DO NOT KNOW YOU [WE HAVE NO RELATIONSHIP].’  Therefore, be on the alert [BE PREPARED AND READY], for you do not know the day nor the hour [when the Son of Man will come].” (AMP)

For me, this was yet another Selah moment…

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be Left Behind. I want while I’m here to be planted and well rooted so that I may bear good fruit. And when it’s time to go home, I’m ready because I’m certain of my eternal resting place. So, two things need to take place for us. One, we need to be planted and rooted as Real Trees/Plants/Flowers that grow, develop and produce fruit! Matthew 7:15-20, “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. THESE DISEASED TREES WITH THEIR BAD APPLES ARE GOING TO BE CHOPPED DOWN AND BURNED.” (MSG); Luke 13:7-9, “Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. CHOP IT DOWN! WHY WASTE GOOD GROUND WITH IT ANY LONGER?’ “The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; IF IT DOESN’T, THEN CHOP IT DOWN.’” (MSG).

WISDOM NUGGET: Don’t take advantage of your grace-period! Get planted, rooted, develop, grow and bear fruit before your barrenness gets you chopped down!

Secondly, don’t put off getting real and right for tomorrow!  James 4:13-17, “And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.” As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.” (MSG)

Today, is your best day to get real, get right and get ready! Don’t put off until tomorrow when you may very well end up among the tares, among the foolish virgins or the chopped down barren tree!

Don’t Let Fake Fool You, the Time to Get Real With God is TODAY!

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

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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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “16 Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol”

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“You Can Stop Hiding Now”

dose

“…the Lord God called out to the man, asking him, ‘WHERE ARE YOU?” (Genesis 3:9 ISV)

The first recorded question God ever asked was, “[Adam]…WHERE ARE YOU?” And it’s a question you need to stop and ask yourself today: “Where Am I…Honestly?” If you don’t know the answer, or you do, but you don’t like it, then today’s devotional is for you!

When God asked Adam, “Where Are You?” he responded by saying, “I HEARD YOU in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (vs. 10 NIV). The New King James Version says it like this, “…I heard Your Voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I HID MYSELF”  

I find it amazing that USUALLY when we get into trouble, God’s Voice is the Only One We Want To Hear! When we’re sick, in danger, need protection, feel confused, lonely, depressed, discouraged etc…the First Thing We Cry Out Is SPEAK LORD! However, that wasn’t the case with Adam…not when he messed up! And just like Adam, many of us go into HIDING when we mess up! We run away FROM instead of TO the Voice of the Lord! If we could only reach a place of understanding that God is NOT LIKE MAN, we would learn to take our mess to Him instead of trying to hide it from Him (as if that were even possible!)  For even the Psalmist declared:  “Is there ANYPLACE I can go to avoid Your Spirit? To be out of Your sight? If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute – You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You” (Psalm 139:7-12 MSG)

Sorry Saints, But There Is Absolutely NO Hiding From God! So Give It Up!

He Sees You…All Of You…And Yet, Loves You Still! The Bible says, “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. BUT GOD PUT HIS LOVE ON THE LINE FOR US BY OFFERING HIS SON IN SACRIFICIAL DEATH WHILE WE WERE OF NO USE WHATEVER TO HIM.” (Romans 5:6-8 MSG)

He Loved You BEFORE You Did What You Did, BEFORE You Said What You Said, BEFORE You Thought What You Thought! AND HE EVEN LOVED YOU AFTERWARDS! He Simply Loves You…All Of You…Mistakes, Mess and All! So Stop Trying To Hide From Him! Please understand, God is NOT LIKE MAN!

Man will bring it up again; hold it over your head; brow beat you to death with it; belittle you by it…BUT NOT GOD! HE HAS SAID: “If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—HE WON’T LET US DOWN; HE’LL BE TRUE TO HIMSELF. HE’LL FORGIVE OUR SINS AND PURGE US OF ALL WRONGDOING. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of Him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.” (1 John 1:8-10 MSG) Beloved, God Is Ready to Forgive You, Purge You and Clean You of All Wrongdoing! So Why Are You Still Trying To Hide From Him? Isn’t Forgiveness and Cleansing What You Want? Well, You Can’t Get It From Him While Trying to Hide From Him!

Listen To How Much He Loves You: “BUT, I, YES I, AM THE ONE WHO TAKES CARE OF YOUR SINS – THAT’S WHAT I DO. I DON’T KEEP A LIST OF YOUR SINS” (Isaiah 43:25 MSG). Now that’s what you call Simply Amazing! If God, of All People, Doesn’t Keep a List, Why Do You Allow Others, and Yourself, to Keep You Stuck In What You Did, Where You Were, Who You Were With etc…? God Himself Said “…I DON’T KEEP A LIST OF YOUR SINS” So Throw Your List Away, And Throw Away The List Others Keep Trying To Keep On You As Well!

Now, this does Not in any way give you a clean slate just so you can dirty it again, for the Word of God Declares:  “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! NEVER AGAIN LET ANYONE PUT A HARNESS OF SLAVERY ON YOU” (Galatians 5:1 MSG) The Amplified Bible says it like this: “In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]” (AMP) In other words, He didn’t Redeem You for You to Return to Mess! The Bible says, “As a dog eats its own vomit, so fools recycle silliness” (Proverbs 26:11 MSG) When He Restores You…Don’t Be a Fool and Recycle Your Silly Ways! When He Redeems and Restores You…DON’T RECYCLE YOUR REFUSE! And “Refuse” is defined as “Matter Thrown Away As Worthless” It’s Old French Origin “Refusè” Literally Means “REFUSED”! So Unlike What the Sanitation Department Would Say: I’m Telling You DO NOT RECYCLE! OR BETTER YET, REFUSE THE REFUSE!

I also find it amazing the lengths we will go to in order to “HIDE”! We’ll bury ourselves in work, or get involved in an affair, or build a wall around our hearts, or leave a marriage, leave a job, leave a ministry – anything but face the truth! And that’s not what God wants you to do! After all His Word says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NLT) So Why “HIDE” From What You Need To Set You FREE?! Truth and Nothing Else will set you free! And whether you are Embraced or Embarrassed by it, as long as you acknowledge it, you will be set free! Some will talk, some will speculate, some will add scenes to your story that were never part of the plot…but THEY are not the focus….You and Your Truth Are! Man Does Not Have a Hell To Put You In Or A Heaven To Keep You Out Of…SO WHY LET THEIR OPINION CARRY SO MUCH WEIGHT?!

REMEMBER, THE BIBLE SAYS: “But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll ALL have to face God, regardless of our conditions. WE will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to US as a result of OUR actions, either good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 MSG) Did You Catch The Bonus In That Scripture?! It says “…WE’LL ALL HAVE TO FACE GOD, REGARDLESS OF OUR CONDITIONS. WE WILL APPEAR BEFORE CHRIST AND TAKE WHAT’S COMING TO US AS A RESULT OF OUR ACTIONS, EITHER GOOD OR BAD” Saints, NO ONE IS EXEMPT FROM ACCOUNTABILITY BEFORE GOD! SO THE NEXT TIME SOMEONE ATTEMPTS TO BRING UP YOUR STUFF…REMIND THEM THAT THEY HAVE A DATE OF ACCOUNTABILITY BEFORE GOD TOO! DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT I DID, WHAT I’M DOING OR WHAT I WILL DO…JUST MIND YOUR OWN STUFF! 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “Stay calm; MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS; DO YOUR OWN JOB. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts…” (MSG)

IN ADDITION…THE BIBLE SAYS, “So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, WE’RE ALL GOING TO END UP KNEELING SIDE BY SIDE IN THE PLACE OF JUDGMENT, FACING GOD. YOUR CRITICAL AND CONDESCENDING WAYS AREN’T GOING TO IMPROVE YOUR POSITION THERE ONE BIT. Read it for yourself in Scripture: “As I live and breathe,” God says, “every knee will bow before Me; Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God.” So tend to your knitting. YOU’VE GOT YOUR HANDS FULL JUST TAKING CARE OF YOUR OWN LIFE BEFORE GOD.” (Romans 14:10-12 MSG)

That’s a Good Spot For a Praise Break! Now, After You Sit Down and Pull Your Neighbor Down, The Lesson Continues:

You see, God wasn’t trying to find Adam; He just wanted Adam to find himself! Yep, that’s it! God Is Simply Trying to Get You To Be Honest About Where You Really Are and What You Really Did! And not so He can hold it over your head, but so you can finally come to full Maturity! After All, Accountability is the Basis of Maturity! You can’t be trusted with More Until You can be trusted to be honest about the Least You Already Messed Up! Yes, You Get a Second Chance…But Do You Realize If You Keep Starting Over…You Never Get Farther Then The Spot You Messed Up In?! Can you imagine your church transitioning every 5 years losing and gaining the same folks like recycling? How is that growth? The same goes for you! You have to Gain Ground Then Establish Your Footing! Psalm 18:33, “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly and tread safely on paths of testing and trouble]; He sets me [securely] upon my high places.” (AMP); Habakkuk 3:19, “The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].” (AMP); 2 Samuel 22:34, “He makes my feet like the doe’s feet [firm and swift]; He sets me [secure and confident] on my high places.” (AMP) God has already done His part in securing our footing on high places, according to the Word of God, so we can confidently walk forward! Therefore, why are we constantly walking backwards or in vicious cycles to nowhere?!

Look at it this way: If you were given a Billion Dollars in your bank account, and had only 5 minutes to get it out and your bank is across the street, but you only run in place…what’s going to happen? The truth is, you were given the blessing, it’s yours, got your name on it, and it’s even in your bank account, and you have the bank card and access code! The only problem? You have to leave where you are and take steps (progress) across the street to attain it! If not, you can’t complain that you never received the blessing…you just didn’t progress in steps to take hold of it! Maturity is the same! You have to gain ground by taking steps towards Accountability for your deeds, words and speech! “Adams”, you have to grow up and not point fingers at Eve! Likewise, let God take care of your haters, gossipers, tale-bearers and the like! You Are Responsible For YOU and Accountable to GOD! That’s What Matters! So Come Out Of Hiding and Be Truthful You! Even If Your “Truthful” Is Painful and Not So Pretty! Until you do that, you’ll remain where you are, running in place and gaining muscle and strength that is applied to absolutely nothing!

Another problem is, when you “HIDE you become a “PHONY”! And the word “Phony” is defined as “To Be a Fraudulent Person”. And “Fraudulent” means “To Be Dishonest”. Going back a bit, remember John 8:32? “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”? People of God, That’s Your Hindrance Right There! Being Phony! Because Being Phony Is Being Fraudulent and Being Fraudulent Is Being Dishonest! And Dishonest Means “Not Honest, Trustworthy, Sincere, or Truthful”! In a Nutshell: Hiding Leads to Phoniness That Causes You To Be Dishonest With Yourself, Others and God! And the Danger of Your Dishonesty Is That It Keeps You From Being Truthful…And Only TRUTH CAN SET YOU FREE! Are You Getting This? UNTIL YOU’RE TRUTHFUL YOU WILL NEVER BE FREE FROM THE TRAPS OF SIN AND DISOBEDIENCE?! And besides that, do you have any idea how much emotional and mental energy it requires of you to keep up a Charade for others? Only two things are worse: being a phony with yourself, and being a phony with God! Furthermore, you’ll find it difficult to be honest with others or look them in the eye. Why? Because you’ll be afraid they might look into your heart and see the real you! Is that where you are today? Afraid to look into your own heart? Or afraid someone else will? 

Well Today, STOP IT! Be Truthful With You, God and Others and then MOVE ON…

Look at it this way: Neither God, Adam, Eve or Even the Serpent Stayed in the Garden After the Fall! There Was Far Too Much of a Story That Had To Continue to Be Lived and Written! Everything Didn’t Stop In the Garden When Adam and Eve Fell, And Your Whole Life Has No Reason To Be Put On Permanent Pause Because of Your Failures or Falls Either! So, Keep Moving! There’s More Story To Tell! The Good News is, Adam was naked but God clothed him; he was guilty but God cleansed him; he was anxious but God comforted him. And if you come to Him today God will cleanse you, clothe you, and comfort you too! He’s just waiting for the opportunity to do it! So when are you going to finally give it to Him?!

Listen: “Hide” means “To Camouflage” and “Camouflage” Old French Origin “Camoufler” means “To Disguise” and “Disguise” means “To Alter In Appearance or Nature So as to Conceal the Identity Of” And that’s what you are doing and allowing others and the enemy to do to you… when you’re in hiding…it Alters and Conceals Your Real Identity In God”. Yes, You Messed Up! Yes, You Got It Wrong! Yes, You Were Disobedient, Sinned and Broke Commandment and Covenant! But Is It Fatal? NO! Your Failure Does Not Make You Illegitimate! You Still Belong to the Body of Christ! You Are Still The Child of the King, Your Father Is Still Enthroned In Heaven, You Are Still An Heir, Joint Heir and Your Inheritance and Your Identity Are Still Your Possessions!

Yes, Adam messed up, but how wonderful to know that he was only the First Adam!

Romans 5:12-21, “You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. BUT ADAM, WHO GOT US INTO THIS, ALSO POINTS AHEAD TO THE ONE WHO WILL GET US OUT OF IT. Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, JUST THINK WHAT GOD’S GIFT POURED THROUGH ONE MAN, JESUS CHRIST, WILL DO! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin AND THIS GENEROUS, LIFE-GIVING GIFT. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; THE VERDICT ON THE MANY SINS THAT FOLLOWED WAS THIS WONDERFUL LIFE SENTENCE. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, CAN YOU IMAGINE THE BREATHTAKING RECOVERY LIFE MAKES, SOVEREIGN LIFE, IN THOSE WHO GRASP WITH BOTH HANDS THIS WILDLY EXTRAVAGANT LIFE-GIFT, THIS GRAND SETTING-EVERYTHING-RIGHT, THAT THE ONE MAN JESUS CHRIST PROVIDES? Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, ANOTHER PERSON DID IT RIGHT AND GOT US OUT OF IT. BUT MORE THAN JUST GETTING US OUT OF TROUBLE, HE GOT US INTO LIFE! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; ONE MAN SAID YES TO GOD AND PUT MANY IN THE RIGHT. All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call GRACE. When it’s sin versus grace, GRACE WINS HANDS DOWN. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. GRACE, BECAUSE GOD IS PUTTING EVERYTHING TOGETHER AGAIN THROUGH THE MESSIAH, INVITES US INTO LIFE—A LIFE THAT GOES ON AND ON AND ON, WORLD WITHOUT END.” (MSG)

In other words ‘Adam’s, the whole world does not cease to exist because you messed up! As long as you have JESUS, there is always recovering grace just waiting to grasp you! No matter how bad or how hard your fall, you don’t have to hide! People of God, You Are the Heritage of the Lord…So Stop Hiding…Come Out And Reclaim Your Proper Place In the Kingdom! Don’t Allow What Happened in YOUR Garden of Eden to Make You Forget What Happened in HIS Garden of Gethsemane! YOU ARE GRACE COVERED…SO DON’T HIDE, BE HONEST, AND BE HEALED!

Jeremiah 23:23-24, “I am everywhere – both near and far, in heaven and on earth. There are no secret places where you can hide from Me.” (CEV)

Job 34:21, “God watches everything we do.” (CEV)

“The person who surrenders absolutely to God, with no reservations, is absolutely safe. From this safe hiding-place he can see the devil, but the devil cannot see him.” (Soren Kierkegaard)

“Ever since the days of Adam, man has been hiding from God and saying, ‘God is hard to find.” (Fulton J. Sheen)

“We cannot hide, deny, or cherish sin and expect the Lord to hear and answer our prayers.” (Dr. Charles Stanley)

“Religion is one of the safest places to hide from God.” (Richard Rohr)

“Our huffing and puffing to impress God, our scrambling for brownie points, our thrashing about trying to fix ourselves while hiding our pettiness and wallowing in guilt are nauseating to God and are a flat denial of the gospel of grace.” (Brennan Manning)

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: “34 Sleep Hacks For Your Most Restful Night Ever”

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“God’s Reserve Tank”

Christian illustrations for the whole family

Isaiah 40:28-31, “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (NLT)

A good friend of mine named Earl recently picked up a used pickup truck for a friend of ours. However, it’s when Earl started up the truck that the trouble began. You see, Earl (everybody’s friendly neighborhood mechanic) was taking the truck out for a test drive for Jim who had just bought it. And as he backed it out of the new owner’s garage, it suddenly started sputtering and stalling. He couldn’t keep it running no matter what he tried. He got to a phone and called the old owner and said, “What’s the deal with this truck you just sold?” Well, the man who sold it is an honorable man, and he was really distressed about this suddenly dysfunctional truck. Then suddenly he asked Earl, “Did you happen to mess with the radio at all?” Well, truth is, yes, he had. The previous owner told Earl to go check these two switches that are right next to the radio. You see, this truck has a wonderful feature, especially for the country roads that it travels so much. It has what they call a reserve gas tank. Earl had unknowingly turned off Tank 2, which was full of gas, and turned on Tank 1, which was totally empty. But the good news is that as soon as he switched from the empty tank to the reserve tank, Mr. Pickup Truck ran and ran and ran.

I’m assuming that your life runs pretty fast, and pretty hard much like mine. You have family, work, church, friends, schedules, children, business, school, leadership, health and financial check lists and the like. And because of it, there are times when your tank is basically empty. You’re totally exhausted, you have nothing left to give, your demands and responsibilities are much greater than the strength you have to meet them. And sometimes you just run out of ideas, you’re out of solutions, you’re out of motivation, you’re out of energy. Now why am I assuming that you know about an empty tank like this? Because I’m assuming you’re not that different from me or any other human being that has to face the grueling challenges of daily life.

But there is good news that gets delivered Right when your tank has nothing Left!

Isaiah 40:28 says, “Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He doesn’t grow tired or weary. His understanding is beyond human reach.” (CEB)

Now, in case you didn’t know, the God you belong to, the God who lives in you, is inexhaustible! And that wonderful word “inexhaustible” is defined as “of a never-ending supply; incapable of being used up because of its continual abundance; tireless; incapable of being wearied or worn out; impossible to use up completely; impossible to exhaust; plentiful enough not to give out or be used up.” It even has synonyms like: “unlimited, limitless, illimitable, infinite, boundless, endless, never-ending, unfailing, and everlasting.” This is talking about the God who holds you together when you’re ready to fall apart! He is what the theologians call infinite. And “infinite” is defined as “limitless in space, extent, or size; very great in amount or degree; the quality of having no limits or end, exceedingly great; unmeasurable.” And it comes with synonyms such as: “everlasting, foreverness, eternity, perpetuity, boundless, endlessness, permanence, and timelessness.” His resources and wisdom just never, ever run out, but yours do, and don’t feel bad because mine does as well. But as for God? He is never tired or weary! As the One who created the ends of the earth (still He is never tired or weary). And no matter what the problem or struggle is, His understanding of it is still beyond human reach. There is nothing we can bring to Him, that so perplexes us, will ever stress Him! He can handle anything and everything…now if only we’d stop thinking we can as well! God never runs low, or runs out, but we do. The good news is that when we do, we still have our connection to Him!

And here’s where the reserve tank kicks in. The passage continues, “He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak. Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up.” (vss. 29-30 TLB). Another translation says it like this: “He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted.” (vss. 29-30 AMPC). Any of the words here sound like you? “Weary, weak, tired, worn out, exhausted, feeble, faint, no might, stumble, and fall?” And what’s so interesting about this text is that even the “young” and the “selected” will not be exempt! You’d think the young would have nothing to complain about, but truth be told, life hits hard and it doesn’t care about your age! Even the youth will be exhausted and young men will all give up. And we can’t judge them either. Because you never know what someone’s struggle is. You may be 60 and battling with diabetes, but believe it or not, there’s a 6 year old battling cancer, and a 16 year old battling addiction. No one is exempt from running on empty! Not even the “select”! Listen to how this reads in a few translations:

“Even youths grow weary and tired, and VIGOROUS YOUNG MEN stumble badly.” (AMP); (“vigorous” is defined as “physical strength and good health.”)

“Young men get tired and need to rest. Even YOUNG BOYS stumble and fall.” (ERV);

“For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in THEIR PRIME stumble and fall.” (MSG); (“prime” is defined as “of the best possible quality; excellent.”)

“Even CHILDREN become tired and need to rest, and young people trip and fall.” (NCV);

“Even very young men get tired and become weak and STRONG YOUNG MEN trip and fall.” (NLV)

Even those who are physically strong, in good health, young, at their best possible level of quality, in excellent condition, are still tired, weary, need rest, stumble and fall, get weak and trip! So then why are you being so hard on yourself? Don’t attempt to ‘fake it till you make it.’ Be honest with yourself, if no one else, and admit that you’re exhausted…but don’t get stuck there…remember you still serve in Inexhaustible God!

You see, much like Earl, who got inside the pickup truck and immediately went to pressing buttons…we do the same thing. Pressing an unnecessary button (the radio) caused a necessary button (the reserve tank) to be switched off. Sometimes in life we think we know what we’re doing, but we don’t. And like Earl, who had to contact the person who owned the truck first and therefore knew it best, we need to go to God who created us first and knows us best to ask Him, “God what’s wrong with this?” Meaning, our life, our family, our finances and health, our choices, our decisions, our marriages, churches, ministries and businesses. “God why is this not working?” And as silly as it sounds, I’m certain we’ll get a response much like Earl did, “did you mess with the wrong button?” And if we’re honest and humble enough, we’ll admit that we did. Then we can have God tell us what to do next to fix it. And like Earl, it will be the same answer, switch to your reserve. And what’s your reserve tank?

Well, here’s what God promises to the totally overwhelmed and depleted person: “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.” (vs. 31).

When Earl’s Tank 1 on that truck was empty, the fuel in Tank 2 made all the difference! I can’t tell you how many times I have reached empty in my tank, and God’s never-empty tank has kicked in and it has made all the difference. After an exhausting week, I wake up and say, “God, I’m so tired.” He says, “I’m not.” I say, “I’m empty, Lord.” He says, “I know, but switch on My power. I’m not empty.” Which reminds me of the song I used to sing when I first got saved and I didn’t really understand it until life got a lot more complicated, but it simply says, “Little ones to Him belong, they are weak, but He is strong.”

I know men in particular, are “supposed” to be strong and able to handle anything and everything. But can I tell you how untrue that is. You are to be god-like, but you are never to attempt to be God. You will get tired and weary and worn out and exhausted. And none of that makes you a “weak man.” What makes you a “weak man” is when you think your source of strength and power comes from you alone!

2 Corinthians 12:9, “but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough – always available – regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.” (AMP)

Did you get that? No matter what you’re going through, God’s Grace, Lovingkindness and Mercy are Sufficient…More Than Enough…and Always Available…REGARDLESS OF THE SITUATION! There is nothing you can bring to God that He can’t handle in your life! Nothing that weakens you can weaken Him! In fact, His power is more evident and effective IN YOUR WEAKNESS! That’s why we can boast, because no matter what weakens us, God will always be our reserve of strength! Whether it’s divorce, debt or diabetes…God can handle any situation that’s draining you! But you have to contact Him, like Earl had to contact the previous owner of the pickup truck. God is waiting for you brothers and sisters to stop trying to be strong and hold it all together. He’s waiting for you to come to Him for Help!

Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment.” (AMP). And lastly, the Message Bible says it like this: “Now that we know what we have – Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God – let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all – all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (MSG)

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I go to someone for advice and help, I like to know that they’ve already sat where I’m sitting. And who better to talk to about our weaknesses than one who has experienced weakness and overcame it?! This is our God who so desperately wants us to bring our failures, hurts, discouragement, disappointments, stress and struggles to Him. He wants us to bring Him our weaknesses and emptiness to Him.

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

Who knew that GRACE is the GAS we need to REFUEL?! And all we need to attain it is Honesty… “Lord, I’m exhausted and empty, please fill me again! Help me to rediscover Your reserve tank of strength, just for me!”

Listen: If you dwell on how stressed you are, or how tired, or how sick or overwhelmed, you’re done! That’s like sitting in a pickup truck dwelling on the empty tank! There’s no point to it, because that doesn’t change anything about it. But if, on those depleted days, you consciously focus on your Lord’s inexhaustible strength, your Lord’s unlimited power, you will be able to keep driving when you thought you couldn’t go another mile!

The songwriter of one of my favorite songs said it pretty well. “When we have exhausted our store of endurance; when our strength has failed ere the day is half done. When we’ve reached the end of our hoarded resources, our Father’s full giving has only begun.”

Remember, Even When You’re Exhausted, Never to Forget Your God is Inexhaustible! When You Need to Refuel, He is Your Reserve!

Today, Don’t Complain About Being Empty, Just Switch Tanks!

Isaiah 40:27-31, “Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me?” Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch His breath. And He knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.” (MSG)

“God wants to fill all the desperate little corners of our souls with Himself.” (Author Unknown)

Let Him Do It! Let Him Refuel You With His Reserve! Take Your Empty Tank to the God Where the Scriptures Declare “…In His Presence is the Fullness of Joy!…” (Psalm 16:11)

“Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Nobody ever tells you that emptiness weighs the most.” (Author Unknown)

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

“It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself.” (Mother Teresa)

“The usefulness of the cup is its emptiness.” (Osho)

“God wants to fill all the desperate little corners of our souls with Himself.” (Author Unknown)

“No person, possession, profession, or position ever fills the cup of a wounded, empty heart. It’s an emptiness only God can fill.” (Lysa TerKeurst)

“God created a void in your heart that is only His to fill. When life becomes meaningless, boring, and hard it’s because we’ve been filling it with anything but Him.” (Author Unknown)

“There is no friendship, no relationship, no championship, no ownership that will satisfy any of your desires in this life like a relationship with God Almighty.” (Pastor Matthew Hagee)

“If you want to live in the fullness of God’s anointing, fill your mouth with His Word.” (Joyce Meyer)

“May your prayer life be filled with the fullness of God and His powerful love.” (Stacey Hitch)

“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.” (Khalil Gibran)

“It is only in the presence of God, we find the fullness of life and joy.” (Lailah Gifty Akita)

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

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“Salt With No TOUCH Has No TASTE”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to a few other translations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Your HURT is HELPING Someone HEAL”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, Allow Your Hurt to Help Someone Else Heal!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“What’s Coming is Better Than What’s Been”

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2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day. For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!], Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.” (AMP).

One of my nieces had an interesting method of weight control. She would eat what she wanted for a while, and then suddenly she would reverse all engines for a day or two. She would announce, “Today is a Slim Fast day!” Which translates, drink diet milk shakes three times a day. However, when you like to eat like I do, drinking all three meals a day is not very satisfying in my book.

Well, one day I was out running errands and my niece went with me. We stopped at this bagel store, and I came back to the car with the aroma of fresh bagels. (One of the great aromas in the world might I add!) I said to my niece, “I’m sorry I did this today, I know how much you love bagels.” She said, “Auntie, don’t worry about it, I can handle it. It’s only one day, it’s only for a moment.

In our text of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Paul is writing his perspective on the mountain of suffering that he was experiencing. It sounds a little bit like the niece I know that would deprive herself of food…for a short time.

Here’s what it says in another version, “Therefore we do not lose heart…” Wow! In spite of all Paul went through, not losing heart is major! Some of us go through nowhere near what he suffered and endured, and yet Paul encourages us by how he encouraged himself, “…we do not lose heart…

He then says, “…Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles…” (Get that? “…light and momentary troubles…” In other words, this load as heavy as it is, will not crush you, believe it or not, it is but a light thing and as long as you’ve been going through it, it is still but momentary!) The word ‘light‘ is defined as, ‘of little weight; deficient in weight; not strongly or heavily built; not profound or serious.’ And the word, ‘momentary‘ is defined as, ‘very brief or short-lived.’ That’s how Paul describes our troubles! And does he have the credibility to do so? Absolutely! Just listen to Paul’s LIGHT AND MOMENTARY TROUBLES that he describes just seven chapters later:

2 Corinthians 11:21-29, “…(I can’t believe I’m saying these things. It’s crazy to talk this way! But I started, and I’m going to finish.) I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches…” (MSG) 

WHEN SOMEONE WITH THAT AS THEIR TESTIMONY TELLS YOU THAT YOUR TROUBLES ARE ONLY LIGHT AND MOMENTARY, YOU BELIEVE THEM!

The text goes on to say: “…are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV).

The Message Bible puts it like this: “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (MSG)

That’s what you call encouragement! Whatever you’re dealing with, Paul says to treat it as “…here today, gone tomorrow…light and momentary!”

Remember, Every Storm Eventually Runs Out of Rain! Things Will Begin to Clear Up and Clear Out Sooner Than You Think!

Keep in Mind: “…Weeping may stay all night, but by morning, joy!” (Psalm 30:5 CEB).

Paul continues that same theme from 2 Corinthians 4 in Romans 8:18. He says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (NIV). The Common English Bible says it like this: “But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him. I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us.  The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters.  Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice—it was the choice of the one who subjected it—but in the hope  that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children.” (Romans 8:17-21 CEB).

Remember: “…the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory…” Remind Yourself Daily: What’s Coming is Better Than What’s Been!

The key here is a little thing called Perspective. The description I love on “Perspective” is “a particular way of regarding something based on its relative importance.In other words, it’s how important it is to you! How do you view it? How do you see it? What is its importance? And like Paul, when you compare the temporal to the eternal and the pain to the glory, the cross to the crown, the crushing to the oil, you will also conclude that what you are going through is nothing compared to what God has planned to come to pass! It’s likened to trouble lasting “One Day”!

When you look at the comparisons you’ll begin to say: “Okay, if this is all there is, I can handle it.” You see, compared to a forever without pain and with incredible rewards for the faithful, our suffering is only for a day. So no matter what or who you have to face, face it and them with the same attitude: “I can handle it.

Believe it or not, but your loving Lord knows you are under a very heavy load of hurt right now. And as always, He shares your pain. He has seen your tears, He cares about your suffering because He’s familiar with it! Philippians 2:5-8, “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” (MSG)

If no one knows what’s it’s like to endure suffering and pain it is Jesus!

He knows sometimes you feel like this is just more than I can handle. Which is why He lovingly says to you today:  Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

I’m here today to remind you that it isn’t always going to be like this. This isn’t forever; not compared to how long you will live through eternity with your Savior in peace. In fact, compared to that, it’s not long at all.

There’s a little phrase that a sister in church taught me to say as a babe in Christ whenever I was faced with hardship. She would say, “Just remember: TTSP!” The glorious truth: This Too Shall Pass! And that’s the truth about this dark valley you’re going through-This Too Shall Pass. Maybe you have lost someone close to you recently, and the grief is heavy, but it is temporary. There’s a reunion coming. This is only an interruption in your relationship. The pain of your situation is real; maybe even devastating. But praise God there’s an eternal healing coming. The Bible still says, “…Weeping may be for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Get Ready Because There is Still a Morning Coming After Your Mourning!

I know it feels like the marriage won’t get better, the children won’t improve, your finances won’t increase, your health won’t change, the job won’t come through, the business won’t start, the ministry is struggling. But truth is still truth, TTSP: This Too Shall Pass! It’s but for a moment, it’s temporal, it’s in comparison to just One Night! You can handle this!

In Christ there is a four-letter word that makes the worst earth stuff bearable-HOPE. And the hope will last much longer than the hurt! You have in Jesus a Savior who has lived the pain. Hebrews 12:2 says, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (NIV).  The Message Bible says it like this: “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!” (Hebrews 12:1-3 MSG).

Nutshell: Temporal Pain, Permanent Joy!

People of God, if you just look at today’s suffering, you’re going to stagger under the load. But if you can lift your eyes and look at the short way down the road, you’ll be a winner even with your wounds. For just beyond this valley there is a Savior waiting with His arms wide open, waiting to welcome you to the forever He has planned for you. And you will hear Him say, “It’s over, my child. You have born your pain as I did. Now, enter the kingdom I’ve prepared for you. I’ve been waiting on your arrival.

Oh, I know it hurts now, but hold on and hold out, in comparison to what’s coming, it’s only for a day.

BE REASSURED, WHAT’S COMING IS SO MUCH BIGGER, BETTER AND GREATER THAN WHAT’S BEEN!

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

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“WHO Is HE To YOU?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“7 Practical Life-Application Lessons From the Cross”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practical Life Applications:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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