“Keep Your Hand On Your Sword!”

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“But he stood his ground and fought the Philistines until his hand was weary and STUCK TO THE SWORD. But the Lord accomplished a great victory that day. The troops then returned to Eleazar, but only to plunder the dead.” (2 Samuel 23:10 CEB)

The Message Bible reads like this: “Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite was the next of the elite Three. He was with David when the Philistines poked fun at them at Pas Dammim. When the Philistines drew up for battle, Israel retreated. But Eleazar stood his ground and killed Philistines right and left until he was exhausted—BUT HE NEVER LET GO OF HIS SWORD! A big win for God that day. The army then rejoined Eleazar, but all there was left to do was the cleanup.” (2 Samuel 23:9-10 MSG)

Eleazar, one of David’s “…three mighty men…” was the kind of person who simply wouldn’t quit! When the Philistines attacked, we read, “he attacked and killed Philistines until his hand got tired and STUCK TO HIS SWORD…” What a tremendous picture of encouragement for those of us in the midst of battles right now! “…HIS HAND STUCK TO HIS SWORD…” In a nutshell: I simply want you to be encouraged to STICK WITH IT, EVEN IN BATTLE, AND WATCH GOD GIVE YOU A GREAT VICTORY!

However, if on the other hand you unfortunately decide to quit, walk away and throw in the towel, you must ask yourself what more can God do on your behalf? Because the truth is, you can’t Retreat and simultaneously expect Victory! And this is where many of us mess up!

Instead of sticking with it we give up on our children, discard marriages, throw away friendships, quit jobs, drop out of school, close businesses, change churches, etc… instead of being mature enough to stay in it and stick it out! Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. SO DON’T TRY TO GET OUT OF ANYTHING PREMATURELY. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG) And with Scripture validation, I feel it is within my right to inform you that many of us are Immature, Under-Developed and Lacking in Many areas for no other reason than that we got out of things PREMATURELY!

Imagine what your daughter might have done if you didn’t give up; what might your son have soared in if you hadn’t given up on him; what might your husband have accomplished if you would’ve stuck it out through the rough patches a little longer; what might your wife have become if you would’ve wiped her tears instead of throwing in the towel; what profits might the business have seen had you worked at it just a little harder; what degree would you have by now if you hung in there a few more semesters; what growth might the church have experienced had you stayed on your post instead of switching pews and pulpits?

Sadly, we give up, give out and give in far too quickly and certainly far too often!

We fail to understand that Progression not Perfection is the Ultimate Goal!

Let’s face it, you will experience conflict, crisis, trials, struggles, heartache and heart-break, financial difficulties, set-backs, and the like. That’s all just a part of life! But does that give you just cause and reason to quit? Absolutely Not! After all, look at what Jesus said in John 16:33 in the following translations:

“…In this godless world you will continue to experience DIFFICULTIES….” (MSG);

“…In the world you have TRIBULATION and TRIALS and DISTRESS and FRUSTRATION…” (AMP);

“…While you are in the world, you will have to SUFFER…” (CEV);

“…In the world you’ll have TROUBLE…” (GWT);

“…Here on earth you will have MANY TRIALS and SORROWS…” (TLB).

So where on Earth did we get the false impression and faulty idea that life for the believer is roses with no thorns?! Especially since Jesus Himself forewarned all of us that we would have “…Difficulties…Tribulation…Trials…Distress…Frustration…Suffering…Trouble…and Sorrows…” And yet even knowing this In Advance, we still give up as soon as it looks like the sky no longer has sun, moon, stars, rainbows, and silver linings, and instead it’s just dark, bleak, rainy, cloudy, gloom-filled nights! When did we become so weak, that the only thing we have the strength to do is give up and walk away?!

Can you imagine if you planted a seed today and then went to the garden tomorrow expecting to see growth and since there was none, you uprooted the seed and threw it away! Now imagine doing that every time you don’t See Immediate Manifested Growth in other areas of your life! The Result Would Be That You Would NEVER Produce Anything! Maybe that’s where you are right now…every area of your life is filled with stagnant water and stunted growth. Well, just maybe the problem isn’t it or them, but YOU! Maybe you should stop hindering Manifestation based off your Improper Expectations! Think about it: Even God Uses and Respects Waiting and Time!

“There’s an OPPORTUNE TIME to do things, a RIGHT TIME for everything on the earth: A RIGHT TIME for birth and another for death,
A RIGHT TIME to plant and another to reap,
A RIGHT TIME to kill and another to heal,
A RIGHT TIME to destroy and another to construct,
A RIGHT TIME to cry and another to laugh,
A RIGHT TIME to lament and another to cheer,
A RIGHT TIME to make love and another to abstain,
A RIGHT TIME to embrace and another to part,
A RIGHT TIME to search and another to count your losses,
A RIGHT TIME to hold on and another to let go,
A RIGHT TIME to rip out and another to mend,
A RIGHT TIME to shut up and another to speak up,
A RIGHT TIME to love and another to hate,
A RIGHT TIME to wage war and another to make peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 MSG)

There is an OPPORTUNE TIME for Everything Under the Sun! So why are you so Impatient?!

The word “opportune” is defined as “done or occurring at an especially convenient or appropriate time.” Its Latin Origin “opportunus” comes from “ob” meaning “in the direction of” and “portus” meaning “harbor”. It originally described the wind driving towards the harbor, at varying times, hence the meaning “seasonal”. And that’s what we fail to realize before we quit, give up, throw in the towel and walk away! Everything in life is “seasonal”. Good and bad days alike! And “seasonal” is defined as: “fluctuating characteristics depending on varying times of the year.” So, just as we don’t experience Summer all year long, neither do we Experience Winter, Spring or Fall, all year long. The seasons alternate! They do not remain the same. And if you dare learn to apply that principle to friendships and relationships you’ll stop washing your hands of people when all you needed to do was wait for the season to change! Who wants to be in Summer all year long?! And although I think I can find a few people that might like the idea, the rest of the world would hate to miss out on all that the other seasons bring. Winter is pretty cold, but it also brings Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentines Day, Gift Exchanges, Family Gatherings Over Large Dinners etc. Meaning even Winter has its’ burdens and blessings! And when you look at it like that, you’ll not seek a divorce because you’re in Winter, instead you’ll look for the blessings that even Winter carries. Then you’ll determine to endure it because there is Always a changing of the seasons! I hope you’re really getting this. Because as a counselor, it’s heart-breaking to listen to story after story of demolished friendships and relationships that only required more communication, openness, laughter, time and a bit more perseverance and patience.

Listen to this true story: Truett Cathy is not only a Committed Christian, but he’s also one of the world’s most successful businessmen. He started Chick-fil-A with one small diner and it grew to more than 1,450 restaurants, making it the second largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in America. As of September 2007, in Forbes Magazine’s listing of billionaires, Cathy was number 380 in the United States with a net worth of 1.3 billion dollars. And this was achieved even while remaining closed on Sunday’s which is one of the busiest sales days of the week. However, in his autobiography he tells of being so tongue-tied he could hardly put two words together. Then, three weeks after he opened his first store it burned to the ground. And if that’s not bad enough, when he finally got his second store, his brothers, who were his partners, were all killed in a plane crash. People advised him to quit. But instead he decided to trust God and keep trying! As a result his business employs thousands, and feeds millions every day! Truett Cathy took his setbacks and turned them into stepping stones!

And if he can endure THAT…you can endure THIS!

Now to our Scripture: “But he stood his ground and fought the Philistines until his hand was weary and STUCK TO THE SWORD. But the Lord accomplished a great victory that day. The troops then returned to Eleazar, but only to plunder the dead.” (2 Samuel 23:10 CEB); The Message Bible reads: “Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite was the next of the elite Three. He was with David when the Philistines poked fun at them at Pas Dammim. When the Philistines drew up for battle, Israel retreated. But Eleazar stood his ground and killed Philistines right and left until he was exhausted—BUT HE NEVER LET GO OF HIS SWORD! A big win for God that day. The army then rejoined Eleazar, but all there was left to do was the cleanup.” (2 Samuel 23:9-10 MSG)

The Scripture in varying translations say Eleazar kept fighting even though he was:

“…weary…” (CEB);

“…exhausted…” (MSG);

“…tired…” (ERV); and

“…cramped…” (GNT).

Yet, despite all of this, even in the midst of battle, HE NEVER LET HIS SWORD GO! In fact, the Scripture says it like this:

“…weary and clung to the sword…” (AMP);

“…weary and stuck to the sword…” (CEB);

“…cramped, yet couldn’t let go of his sword…” (CEV);

“…tired and stuck to his sword…”;

and my personal favorite, “…exhausted – but he never let go of his sword…” (MSG).

Imagine if we followed Eleazar’s example and even though in our friendships and relationships when we become “…weary…exhausted…tired…and even cramped…” we still refuse to “…let go…” instead we “…cling and stick…”

I love the way The Voice translation puts it: “but Eleazar stood his ground. He killed Philistine soldiers that day until his arm grew tired, but he never dropped his sword. The Eternal One gave them a decisive victory that day; and then the people came back, only to pillage the fallen.” (VOICE)

Despite how Eleazar FELT, he still “…stood his ground…” and “…never dropped his sword…” And what was the end result of his determination? Let’s see what the Scripture says:

“The Lord wrought a great deliverance and victory that day…” (AMP);

“…the Lord won an impressive victory that day…” (GWT);

“…the LORD wrought a great salvation that day…” (JUB);

“…the Lord gave him a great victory…” (TLB);

“…A big win for God that day….” (MSG);

“…The Lord saved many of His people that day…” (NLV);

Due to Eleazar’s persistence, determination, perseverance and fight, “…the Lord wrought DELIVERANCE…an IMPRESSIVE VICTORY…and SAVED MANY OF PEOPLE…” And all because one person decided I’m not giving up, giving out or giving in! I’m not quitting, throwing in the towel, or walking away. Instead I’m going to stand, cling, and stick it out despite how I feel, why? Because the Scripture says, “…The Lord won a great victory that day. AFTER IT WAS OVER…” (GNT)

Remind yourself that after this is over, me, my family, my children, my friends, my business, ministry and church will experience Deliverance, Victory and Salvation! And isn’t that worth it to hold on just a little while longer?

Today, Determine to Just Stick It Out! There Will Be Victory After This! But you have to keep your hand on your sword, and what is your sword? “…and the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD.” (Ephesians 6:17 AMP)

Now, Eleazar had a physical sword, however, ours is more powerful! It is the very Word of God! And why is it so important that we know that? Because, “…though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man.  The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 AMP)

We are not fighting flesh and blood, we are fighting principalities in the spirit! And that requires not a physical sword but a spiritual one, and one that we keep stuck to us like Eleazar’s sword! This is vital because as followers of Christ, we have to fight like He fought, and He fought using the Word of God! “Jesus replied to him, “IT IS WRITTEN AND FOREVER REMAINS WRITTEN, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE.” (Luke 4:4 AMP); “Jesus replied to him, “IT IS WRITTEN AND FOREVER REMAINS WRITTEN, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE ONLY HIM.’” (Luke 4:8 AMP); “for IT IS WRITTEN AND FOREVER REMAINS WRITTEN, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD AND PROTECT YOU,’ AND, ‘THEY WILL LIFT YOU UP ON THEIR HANDS, SO THAT YOU DO NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’” JESUS REPLIED TO HIM, “IT IS SAID [IN SCRIPTURE], ‘YOU SHALL NOT TEMPT THE LORD YOUR GOD [TO PROVE HIMSELF TO YOU’” (Luke 4:10-12 AMP) And then what happened? “When the devil had finished every temptation, he [temporarily] left Him until a more opportune time.” (Luke 4:13 AMP)

People of God, this is how we are to fight in the Spirit, with the Word / Sword of God!

However, how can you use a Sword you don’t use?! You can’t use the Word of God against the enemy if you don’t know the Word of God for yourself! Which is why we are admonished to remember: 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the WORD OF TRUTH.” (AMP)

What’s the best way to fight a liar? With the truth of course! And what does the Bible say about Satan? John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.” (AMP)

You can slay lying Satan with the truth, but you have to know the truth first in order to do so! And if you are not consistent in personal bible study time; Sunday school; and Bible study, how are you accomplishing this? You can’t wield a sword effectively if you don’t know how to! That’s like giving a baby a loaded gun, it doesn’t know how to use it effectively, but if he keeps picking and poking, eventually he’ll accidentally figure out how to pull the trigger which will be dangerous and deadly to himself and others, and all because he was given a weapon he wasn’t taught how to properly use! You know why? For a baby, it makes sense not to give a loaded weapon. But you’ve been saved how long now? Delivered how long now? Anointed how long now? Gifted how long now? Sitting under the Word of God for how long now? And you’re still haphazardly wielding a powerful sword?!

Please understand how powerful your Sword is: Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (AMP) This is a powerful weapon, and it’s at your disposal by your God, and you’re not using it?!

2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (AMP) God gave you such a powerful weapon to wield that it can be used to hurt your enemy and help you at the same time!

People of God, please hear me, you are already equipped for every battle you’ll ever face in this life, natural and spiritual, and all you have to do is read it, apply it, live it and use it!

The Word of God needs to be so engrafted to you that it seems like another member attached to your body! James 1:21, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” (KJV) “Engrafted” means, “to attach to, and become part of.” And doesn’t that sound a lot like Eleazar and his Sword?! He held it so long and tight that it may as well been a second layer of skin. And that’s how the Word of God has to be in your life! Never let your Sword go! Instead, grow with it, study how to use it, but whatever you do, don’t let it out of your hand!

And yes, that means when you’re tired, wearied, frustrated, attacked, treated unfairly, doesn’t matter, keep your sword in hand. Hold it tightly, because the more tightly you hold on to it, the more tightly it will teach you how to hold on to your loved ones, even in bad times, and yet, never let go!

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

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“Go Through Until It’s Granted!”

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“Later on Eve gave birth to another son and named him SETH (meaning “GRANTED”); for, as Eve put it, “God has GRANTED me another son for the one Cain killed.” (Genesis 4:25 TLB)

In one sweep of jealousy Eve’s dreams lay bleeding on the ground; her older son a criminal on the run, her younger son murdered in the prime of his life. And yet she’s supposed to be the mother of all living! In fact, this is what the Scripture says: “The man named his wife Eve (meaning “The Life-Giving One”), for he said, “She shall become the mother of all mankind.” (Genesis 3:20 TLB). Well, how do you maintain a title like that, when you’re now the mother of a corpse and a killer? Her own husband spoke “Life” in naming her, and yet the one he called “Life” would have birthed from her own womb, one that would be killed and one that would be his killer! How bad it must have felt to be called “Life”, and yet deal with “Death”?

Have you ever been there, when you’re CALLING and your CIRCUMSTANCES are opposites that DON’T attract?

Can you identify just a little bit with Eve? Or should I say it like this, have you ever found yourself asking, “Lord, this is not what YOU promised me!”; “Lord, this is not the way this was supposed to go!”; “Lord, I saw this work out a little different in my mind than what has manifested in my life!”; “Lord, after all this time, shouldn’t this and they be better?”; “Lord, I give my tithes, but the windows of heaven must be open on the wrong side of the house!”; “Lord, am I really supposed to STILL live here, STILL drive that, STILL walk there, STILL face this, STILL deal with them?” In Essence: Lord, This Is NOT How This Was Supposed to Go!

YOU Said You Have a Plan, a Purpose, and a Promise Just For Me, and Yet All I’ve Seen Thus Far are Problems, Pain and Persecution! Lord, What Happened?!

Well, if that’s where you are today, here’s my advice to you and it’s free: GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH! Or in the words of our title: GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED!

Now, many of you will say, “Thanks for the encouragement, but I’m still stuck in the middle of the tunnel, and I hear a train coming but don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel! You say Go Through, but I’m still stuck and can’t Get Through, so, now what?” I reiterate, GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH…GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED! How is that possible? Simple, just remember this: Matthew 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (KJV). However, there’s another translation of this Scripture that I love and it reads like this: “I can GUARANTEE this truth: Until the earth and the heavens disappear, neither a PERIOD OR A COMMA will disappear from the Scriptures before EVERYTHING HAS COME TRUE.” (GWT). Do you know how determined God has to be to “Guarantee” that not even a “Period or a Comma” will come up missing “Before Every Word He’s Declared Comes True”?! In other words, be encouraged, because regardless to how bleak the situation looks, whatever God has declared concerning you in His Word HAS to come to pass! Listen: The word “Guarantee” means “a formal assurance that certain conditions will be fulfilled; something that makes an outcome certain; a promise of certainty”. Its Spanish Origin comes from “Garante” and is related to the word “Warrant”. “Warrant” means: “a document entitling the holder to receive goods, money, or services.” Its Origin comes from the words “Protector and Safeguard” and thereby means “To Protect From Danger.

Hear me clearly: You will go through and get through because God has granted you a guarantee that everything He said WILL come true! And His guarantee comes with an assurance that every condition will be favorable in the end. Your outcome of victory is sealed and certain. Your promise of goods, money, and services are safe-guarded and protected. And as long as you have this promise from God you will forever be protected from dangers that attempt to sift your life!

Remember This: Satan can touch your POSSESSIONS, but he can’t take your PROMISE! Listen to Job 1:12 in a few translations:

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that Job has is in your power, ONLY DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND ON THE MAN HIMSELF.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.” (AMP)

“And the Lord said to Satan (the adversary and the accuser), Behold, all that he has is in your power, ONLY UPON THE MAN HIMSELF PUT NOT FORTH YOUR HAND. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” (AMPC)

“The Lord said to the Adversary, “Look, all he has is within your power; ONLY DON’T STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND AGAINST HIM.” So the Adversary left the Lord’s presence.” (CEB)

“The Lord replied, “All right, Satan, do what you want with anything that belongs to him, BUT DON’T HARM JOB.” Then Satan left.” (CEV)

“The Lord said to Satan, “All right, do whatever you want with anything that he has, BUT DON’T HURT JOB HIMSELF.” Then Satan left the meeting.” (ERV)

“And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. ONLY AGAINST HIM DO NOT STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (ESV)

“The Lord told Satan, “Everything he has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT LAY A HAND ON HIM! Then Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (GWT)

“All right,” the Lord said to Satan, “everything he has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT HURT JOB HIMSELF.” So Satan left.” (GNT)

“And the Lord replied to Satan, “You may do anything you like with his wealth, BUT DON’T HARM HIM PHYSICALLY.” So Satan went away; and sure enough, not long afterwards when Job’s sons and daughters were dining at the oldest brother’s house, tragedy struck.” (TLB)

“God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. JUST DON’T HURT HIM.” Then Satan left the presence of God.” (MSG)

“The Lord said to Satan, “All right, then. Everything Job has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT TOUCH JOB HIMSELF.” Then Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (NCV)

“The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, BUT ON THE MAN HIMSELF DO NOT LAY A FINGER.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (NIV)

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “See, all that he has is in your power. ONLY DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND ON HIM.” So Satan went out from the Lord.” (NLV)

“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, BUT DON’T HARM HIM PHYSICALLY.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (NLT)

I REITERATE: Satan can touch your POSSESSIONS, but he can’t take your PROMISE!

You will maintain the testimony that…MY LIFE IS SAFE, AND I WILL LIVE TO TELL WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE.” (Psalm 118:17 CEV) Or in the words of the Good News Translation, “I WILL NOT DIE; INSTEAD, I WILL LIVE AND PROCLAIM WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE.” (GNT). I love that word “Instead”, it means “In Place Of”. In other words, devil, no matter what you do or bring my way, IN PLACE OF DYING, I will Survive and LIVE to tell the story! Will this always be easy? Of course not, if it was, none of us would need any encouragement at all! But is it doable, is it possible? YES! Just Let His Guaranteed Promises Keep You Anchored in His Word Which Cannot Even Allow a Period or Comma to Move Out of Place Before ALL He Has Said (Promised) Comes True!

Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that He should lie. He is not a son of man, that He should be sorry for what He has said. Has He said, and will He not do it? Has He spoken, and will He not keep His Word?” (NLV)

Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My Word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (AMP)

Jeremiah 1:12, “The Lord then said, “You are right, for I’m watching over My Word until it is fulfilled.” (CEB)

Are you getting this? No matter how bad things may be, they cannot, and will not stay this way for good! Before you know it you’ll have the testimony that “IT’S MY TURN!” Psalm 30:11, “Then He TURNED my sorrow into joy! He took away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” (TLB).

I know it’s tough right now, tight right now, stressful right now, frustrating right now, confusing right now. And yet I still assure you that with all that’s against you, you will still say like Joseph, …Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” (Genesis 50:20 MSG). You see, even when things don’t work out as we think they should, God’s plans are never put on pause because of our problems. He’s in fact so awesome as God that He won’t even change the plans of the enemy, but will even make the enemies plans work for your good! How powerful is that?!

Which is why you must always remember: Romans 8:28, “We know that God makes ALL things work together for the GOOD of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His PLAN.” (NLV); Jeremiah 29:11, “…I’ll show up and take care of you as I PROMISED and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all PLANNED out – PLANS to take care of you, not abandon you, PLANS to give you the future you hope for.” (MSG)

I reiterate, are you getting this? Not even the plans of the enemy, nor your own failed plans can hinder the Guaranteed Plans God has in Place for Your Future! That’s a good place to give God praise!

Look at another example of what God did for His people in the wilderness: “He led them forth by the straight and right way, that they might go to a city where they could establish their homes.” (Psalm 107:7 AMP). Your job is to Go Through, no matter how painful, just Go Through! Why? Because even in the struggles of the wilderness, God can still lead you in a straight and right way and as an added bonus, when you come out, you’re coming out Established! You know what I love about the word “Establish”? Its’ meaning of course! “To Set Up On a Firm and Permanent Basis”! His people Went Through, and When They Came Out, They Were “Set Up On a Firm and Permanent Basis”! Be Encouraged, Your Next Blessing Won’t Be Seasonal, It Will Be Permanent!

I reiterate yet again, GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH! Because on the other side of your BIG Burden is an even BIGGER Blessing!

Back to our text, you see, when Cain killed Abel God’s plan for Eve was delayed…but not denied, nor destroyed! And in spite of what you are going through right now, everything God has promised you will likewise be fulfilled: The Bible declares: And I am CONVINCED and SURE of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to FULL COMPLETION IN YOU.” (Philippians 1:6 AMP). Therefore, don’t let the disturbances, distractions and discouragement deter you, His Promises Are Coming to Full Completion In Your Life! Remember: Your God Can’t Lie, and His Word Can’t Fail!

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand)” (AMP)  Listen: When doubt and unbelief and even fear try to creep up and steal the joy of your promise, just call on God, He’ll not only answer you, but come to you and show you great and mighty things that are fenced in and hidden in your struggles!

No matter what it looks like, consult God, He will always reveal your hidden blessings! Don’t believe it? Listen to this: “I will give you RICHES HIDDEN IN THE DARKNESS and things of GREAT WORTH that are HIDDEN IN SECRET PLACES. Then you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name.” (Isaiah 45:3 NLV). Be Encouraged, You’ve Got Hidden Blessings About to Be Revealed!

Then the Bible further declares: “The LITTLE TROUBLES we suffer now FOR A SHORT TIME are making us ready for the GREAT THINGS God is going to give us FOREVER. We do not look at the things that can be seen. We look at the things that cannot be seen. The things that can be seen will come to an end. But the things that cannot be seen will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLV). All you have to do is endure a little trouble for a short time now, and then wait and watch God do great things for you forever! Now that’s worth holding on and hanging in there for! That’s worth going through until it’s granted!

In fact, God loves us so much that He even promises: “I will answer them BEFORE they even call to Me. While they are still talking to Me about their needs, I WILL GO AHEAD AND ANSWER THEIR PRAYERS!” (Isaiah 65:24 TLB) I declare, the promises of the Lord gets gooder and gooder as the days go by! (I know, bad grammar, but good point!)

Now, we’ve talked a lot about GO THROUGH and GET THROUGH…but what about GRANTED?

Well, God has a way of restoring things you thought would never come to pass again. He moved in Eve’s life and gave her another son named “Seth”, which means “One who takes the place of; compensation and granted”.

Isn’t that just like God, after all this time and frustration, and fear that things may not get any better, He steps in and declares: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is…” (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG) If you would finally stop crying over what WAS, you’d be able to See and Celebrate what IS!

Eve named “Life”, had to Go Through “Death”, but ended up being “Granted” another blessing, and his name was “Seth”. “In Place Of” all that had been loss, she gained a ‘Grant’, which is defined as ‘Favor’! In the end, Eve could testify that: “My Loss Gained Me More”! Which brings us to an additional fact: Seth’s name also means “Compensation”. And “Compensation” is defined as, “something given to compensate for loss, suffering, or injury; something that compensates for an undesirable state of affairs.” Why Go Through Until You Get Through? Because God is not a Stingy God! He Will Compensate You For Your Loss, Suffering, Injury and Undesirable State of Affairs! Which reminds us of James, the Bible declares: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, NOT LACKING ANYTHING.” (1:2-4 NIV) Sounds Like Compensation to Me!

And then as an added generational blessing, Seth bore his parents a grandson named Enosh. The Scripture declares, “Adam slept with his wife again. She had a son whom she named Seth. She said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel whom Cain killed.” And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh. THAT’S WHEN men and women began praying and worshiping in the name of GOD.” (Genesis 4:25-26 MSG).

Never Judge Prematurely How Your Story Will End! After All, Eve Began Chapter 4 With LIFE…Then Stepped in DEATH…HOWEVER, Before the Closing of the SAME Chapter, She Birthed LIFE AGAIN, Plus the Added Blessing of a Grandson Who Invoked the People to Pray and Worship in the Name of GOD! “…And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh. THAT’S WHEN MEN AND WOMEN BEGAN PRAYING AND WORSHIPING IN THE NAME OF GOD.” (Genesis 4:25-26 MSG).

In a Nutshell: Don’t Get Discouraged By a Few Verses, God Can Turn Everything Around in Your Favor Before the Closing of the same Chapter!

People of God, Be Encouraged: GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH, FOR WHEN YOU GET THROUGH YOUR GREATEST BLESSING WILL BE GRANTED!

1 Chronicles 4:9-10, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; but his mother named him Jabez, saying, “Because I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would indeed bless me and enlarge my border [property], and that Your hand would be with me, and You would keep me from evil so that it does not hurt me!” AND GOD GRANTED HIS REQUEST.” (AMP)

PEOPLE OF GOD, GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED, FOR WHAT GOD PROMISED YOU IS GUARANTEED TO COME TO PASS!

1 Peter 5:10, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.” (AMPC)

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

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“When the Valley is Better Than the Mountain!”

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2 Chronicles 20:25-26, “When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder they found more loot than they could carry off—equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away! On the fourth day they came together at the VALLEY OF BLESSING (Beracah) and blessed God (that’s how it got the name, VALLEY OF BLESSING).” (MSG)

So often we talk about the great “mountain-top experiences” of life. And they are indeed wonderful! After all, with all the work, sweat, time and energy it takes to get to the top of the mountain, who wouldn’t want to celebrate the accomplishment and relish in their time at the top? It’s a beautiful view from the top, so much to see, to embrace, to celebrate and enjoy. However, I’ve found myself to have that same experience in some of my valleys as well. Unfortunately, we often view the valley as the dark, depressing, miserable, defeated place, but I’ve come today to tell you, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

You see, there’s a beautiful spot in Vermont that my friend Pastor Jonathan and his family has loved to visit for many years. Through working in ministry together, God introduced them to some wonderful friends who made it possible for them to stay at the place they own. Pastor Jonathan will be the first to tell you, even to get there is beautiful! First, they drive through the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. And then they enter the Champlain Valley of Vermont. And as they’re leaving the one range of mountains they’re immediately and sometimes simultaneously looking at the next range; the scenic green mountains of Vermont.

Now, the inn they stay in is in the Valley between the two. So when they arrive, they look West at those mountains they’ve just been through, and they look East at those mountains they plan to explore tomorrow. It’s a great place to be in the middle of the Valley.

You see, all they’re really doing is visiting the Valley between those two Mountains. From one side they can see the mountain they’ve already come over, and from the other side they can see the mountain that they will come over. I believe God intends for us all to live in a valley just like that!

Well, to see that kind of living in action, let’s go to a dramatic example of the history of God’s ancient people in 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat is the Jewish king, and it says, “Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army is coming against you’.” Well, frankly, this threat is overwhelming. But this godly king doesn’t get overwhelmed. Maybe nervous and scared, as many of us would, but certainly not overwhelmed. The Bible reads, “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord; and he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So [the people of] Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; indeed they came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord [longing for Him with all their heart].” (vss. 3-4 AMP).

Listen to some of his prayer to God: “Oh Lord,” he says, “God Are you not the God who is in heaven? Power and might are in your hand and no one can withstand you. Oh Lord God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham? They have lived in it and they have built in it a sanctuary for your name.” (vss. 6-8) Now, what he’s doing here is, LOOKING BACK AT THE MOUNTAINS OF YESTERDAY: the walled cities, the barbaric tribes the Jews had to conquer, the taking of a Promised Land they didn’t even have an inch of yet, and all the challenges of living since then and building an incredible temple to God. And Jehoshaphat is grateful to God for making all those mountains that once looked so big into monuments to His love, and His power, and His faithfulness.

BUT THEN THE KING LOOKS AHEAD AT THE MOUNTAIN OF TOMORROW; this vast army coming. He says, “Oh Lord God, we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.“(vs. 12) By the way, that feeling of powerlessness might be right where you are right now…but keep reading. “We do not know what to do (he says) but our eyes are upon You.” (vs. 12) Their eyes were not focused on the vast army…But, Our eyes are upon You.” And the Lord’s word to His servant, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” (vs. 15)

The king is now trusting God for the mountains of tomorrow! Right there is the picture of a victorious life of faith; a life in which nothing is really overwhelming. Living in the valley between what God has done and what God is going to do. To put it simply, God leads you in such a way that there is always something to thank Him for and always something to trust Him for!

First, you’ve got to look back at the amazing works God has already done, and specifically thank Him for them. Your confidence grows as you remember all He’s already done. Can you imagine if we did this every time a crisis in our lives appears? Think about it, He’s provided before; He’s healed before; He’s delivered before; He’s made ways out of no way before. And according to the Word of God, He has not changed! “Jesus Christ is [ETERNALLY CHANGELESS, ALWAYS] THE SAME YESTERDAY AND TODAY AND FOREVER.” (Hebrews 13:8 AMP). So if He did it then, what makes you doubt Him now? When you were unemployed, He was there; when you were lonely, He was there; when you were discouraged, He was there; when you were hurting, He was there. What makes you think anything has changed, since the Bible declares “JESUS CHRIST IS [ETERNALLY CHANGELESS…”? The rent, mortgage, car note, car insurance, tuition, utilities were all a struggle before, and still He came through, so why is your faith shaken now? Why are you wavering now? Why are you doubting now? Why are you second guessing now? You’ve needed food, shelter, and transportation, before, and He came through, why are you fearful now?

This is not your first time in the valley! “Even though I WALK THROUGH THE [SUNLESS] VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH…” (Psalm 23:4 AMP). Did you catch that? You’ve walked through the valley before! God never promised that you would stop visiting the valley, but the provision is still the same, “…I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.” (AMP). You’ve been here before, and He was there with you then, and He’ll be there with you now! Never forget His power neither ascends or descends because of the height of the mountain or the depth of the valley you experience. “JESUS CHRIST IS [ETERNALLY CHANGELESS]…” No matter your location, He knows where to find you, after all, there’s no where you can go and be without Him!

Psalm 139:7-16, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I run away from where You are?  If I go up to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in the place of the dead, You are there!  If I take the wings of the morning or live in the farthest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me and Your right hand will hold me.  If I say, “For sure the darkness will cover me and the light around me will be night,” even the darkness is not dark to You. And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to You. For You made the parts inside me. You put me together inside my mother.  I will give thanks to You, for the greatness of the way I was made brings fear. Your works are great and my soul knows it very well.  My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret and put together with care in the deep part of the earth.  Your eyes saw me before I was put together. And all the days of my life were written in Your book before any of them came to be.” (NLV).

If God doesn’t lose sight of you in heaven, hell, or the earth, what makes you think He will suddenly develop cataracts and not be able to see you in the valley?!

Be like Jehoshophat, remember the mountains you’ve overcome in the past and let them restore your faith to overcome the mountains before you! You look at the mountain behind you…THEN you look ahead and you see all those huge challenges in front of you! And you trust Him for those just the same. Why? Because the same God who brought you through all the mountains before, will bring you through these as well! Never be discouraged by the valley, it’s an awesome strategic place to be positioned when you look at it from the right perspective. Hear the word given to Jehoshophat: “Don’t be afraid; don’t pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God’s war, not yours. Tomorrow you’ll go after them; see, they’re already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you’ll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God’s saving work for you take shape. Don’t be afraid, don’t waver. March out boldly tomorrow—God is with you.” (vss. 16-17 MSG) That word “waver” is defined as “to move quiveringly; to flicker; to weaken; to falter; to be indecisive.” And that word “indecisive” means “not able to make decisions quickly and effectively.” But what is there for you to be indecisive about? God has already made the decision, “…This is God’s war, not yours… You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm… Don’t be afraid, don’t waver…” You have nothing to fear in the valley, because God’s got you!    

See, the battle is the Lord’s. Those five words say it all about this day and about each tomorrow in your life. It’s another day to trust Him. That’s what the valley does, it tests, exposes and builds your faith! “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG).

When looked at from the proper advantage point, the valley is a blessing, not a curse! The enemy wants you to believe that the valley is the place of discouragement, depression, and despair. A place of loneliness, dread, fear and worry. A place of doubt and guessing. A place void of God. And my friend, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

You see, in the valley you’re positioned between two mountains. You get to see where God has brought you and where He’s taking you at the same time. So when doubt and distress rear their ugly head, all you have to do is take a glance over your shoulder. Remember when God healed you, delivered you, protected you, provided for you, strengthened you. Remember when He restored your peace, joy, sanity, and life. Remember when you thought that last trial would take you out for good. When you thought that was it. That was the last straw. There’s no recovery from this…AND THEN…GOD! The valley tells your fears they have no power over you. The valley reminds you that you’ve conquered that, you got over that, you got past them. The rumors, lies, gossip, and backbiting that was designed to destroy you, fell apart at the seams! The valley is the place where you remind the devil that your God is walking with you while you walk your way through. The valley reminds you that what was supposed to kill you, ended up breathing new life into you!

“Joseph replied, “…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…” (Genesis 50:20 MSG). In this case, God didn’t get rid of Joseph’s enemies/haters/brothers, instead He kept them around so they would see that all they tried to do to ruin him, didn’t work. In fact, it all worked to his good and to his advantage. And to rub salt in the wound, God even positioned Joseph’s brothers to where what they needed could only come from the hands of Joseph! The one they hurt would be the only hand that could help them! God didn’t remove Joseph’s brothers from his life, and He won’t always remove your trials, challenges, haters, and valley’s from yours either. Because the greater blessing is that God can bless you while you’re still IN the valley! God doesn’t need you to come OUT of anything in order to bless you! He can bless you while you’re still IN it! “Nay, IN ALL THESE THINGS we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37). Did you catch that? “…IN ALL THESE THINGS…” God doesn’t need to bring you OUT, He can bless you, protect you, provide for you, go to battle on your behalf, and strengthen you, even while you’re still IN it! He proves His might and power by making us more than conquerors even while we’re still, “…IN ALL THESE THINGS…” Take heart, take courage! God will show OUT, while you’re still IN!

That’s the beauty of the valley. You get to look over your shoulder and remember what the Lord has done…and what should be your response? “Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!” (vss. 18-19 MSG). Praise and Worship was the response to what we’ve already made it over!

BUT THAT’S NOT EVEN THE BEST PART!

Now you get to turn your ahead around, look forward and smile! Why? Because God gives you a view/vision of what He’s about to do NEXT!

“They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Listen Judah and Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in your prophets and you’ll come out on top!” (vs. 20 MSG) We’ve made it over the last mountain-top, and now we’re about to conquer the next one! We’re about to “…COME OUT ON TOP!”

The valley now provides you with security that what God did before He’s able to do again! He defeated our enemies before, He’ll defeat them again. He healed, delivered, answered prayer, made provision and provided protection before, and He will do it again! And all we have to do is trust Him in the Valley for the next Mountain!

Jehoshophat and the people of God trusted their God so much in the VALLEY that they began to sing, praise and worship! And God’s response? “As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, AND ALL ENDED UP KILLED. AS JUDAH CAME UP OVER THE RISE, looking into the wilderness for the horde of barbarians, they looked on a killing field of dead bodies—NOT A LIVING SOUL AMONG THEM. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder THEY FOUND MORE LOOT THAN THEY COULD CARRY OFF—EQUIPMENT, CLOTHING, VALUABLES. IT TOOK THREE DAYS TO CART IT AWAY! On the fourth day they came together at the VALLEY OF BLESSING (Beracah) and blessed God (that’s how it got the name, VALLEY OF BLESSING).” (vss. 22-26 MSG)

AND YOU DIDN’T THINK THE VALLEY WAS A BLESSED PLACE TO BE!

People of God, all this was done, in the VALLEY, not on the Mountain! They sought God there, they received instructions there, they obeyed there, they prayed, praised and worshiped there, God placed ambushes against their enemies there, and it is there where they had their enemies cut off, and there that they carried off (equipment, clothing, valuables) so much so, that it took three days to carry it all away! But it’s there fourth day response that blessed me most, “…On the fourth day they came together at the VALLEY OF BLESSING (Beracah) AND BLESSED GOD (that’s how it got the name, VALLEY OF BLESSING).”

THEY BLESSED GOD IN THE VALLEY! WON’T YOU LET THAT BE YOUR RESPONSE TODAY IN THE MIDST OF YOUR VALLEY!

Remember: The valley is not a bad place to be positioned! It reminds you (and your faith) of what the Lord did before, and what He will do again! It’s a place of encouragement, empowerment, renewal, trust, hope and confidence. Truth is, Sometimes the VALLEY is Better Than the Mountain!

In closing, take some time to look at a few other VALLEY’S below, where the Blessings of the Lord prevailed!

Psalm 84:6, “Passing through the VALLEY of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also COVERS IT WITH BLESSINGS.” (AMP)

Numbers 13:21-25, “With that they were on their way. They scouted out the land from the Wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob toward Lebo Hamath. Their route went through the Negev Desert to the town of Hebron. Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, descendants of the giant Anak, lived there. Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt. When they arrived at the Eshcol VALLEY they cut off a branch with a single cluster of grapes—IT TOOK TWO MEN TO CARRY IT—slung on a pole. They also picked some pomegranates and figs. They named the place Eshcol VALLEY (GRAPE-CLUSTER-VALLEY) because of the huge cluster of grapes they had cut down there. After forty days of scouting out the land, they returned home.” (MSG)

Joshua 11:7-9, “Joshua, his entire army with him, took them by surprise, falling on them at the Waters of Merom. God gave them to Israel, who struck and chased them all the way to Greater Sidon, to Misrephoth Maim, and then to the VALLEY of Mizpah on the east. NO SURVIVORS. Joshua treated them following God’s instructions: he hamstrung their horses; he burned up their chariots.” (MSG)

Genesis 26:16-18, “Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from here, because you are far too powerful for us.” So Isaac left that region and camped in the VALLEY of Gerar, and settled there. Now Isaac again dug [and reopened] the wells of water which had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, because the Philistines had filled them up [with dirt] after the death of Abraham; and he gave the wells the same names that his father had given them.” (AMP)

BLESSINGS, PROVISION, FRUITFULNESS, VICTORY, RECOVERY AND RESTORATION ARE ALL FOUND IN THE VALLEY!

TODAY, THANK GOD FOR YOUR VALLEY OF BLESSING!

“As you walk through the Valley of the unknown, you will find the footprints of Jesus both in front of you and beside you.” (Charles Stanley)

“Sometimes you must learn to appreciate the view in the Valley.” (Annette Harrison)

“Mountaintops inspire leaders but Valleys mature them.” (Winston Churchill)

“All of life is peaks and Valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the Valleys too low.” (John Wooden)

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” (Andy Rooney)

“No one gets to the top of a mountain without first going through a Valley.” (Steve Harvey)

“If you feel you are in a Valley today, don’t despair. Just put one foot in front of the other and continue on. Count your blessings with each step. You will soon see that you are on top of the mountain!” (Pinterest)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 1:16-17, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation [from His wrath and punishment] to everyone who believes [in Christ as Savior], to the Jew first and also the Greek. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, both springing from FAITH AND LEADING TO FAITH [DISCLOSED IN A WAY THAT AWAKENS MORE FAITH]. As it is written and forever remains written, “THE JUST AND UPRIGHT SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (AMP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How to Relieve Stress, According to Experts”

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LETS STAY CONNECTED!

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“Don’t Get Weary While Waiting”

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Galatians 6:9, “LET US NOT GROW WEARY OR BECOME DISCOURAGED IN DOING GOOD, FOR AT THE PROPER TIME WE WILL REAP, IF WE DO NOT GIVE IN.” (AMP)

As much as I love to cook, I don’t bake! But my friend Yolanda loves to bake! If she could bake an 8-course meal for dinner, she would in a heartbeat! But what I found to be hilarious is when her husband Evan bought her a bread maker one year. However, I’m still not sure who the present was really for – her or him? You see, Evan loves the smell and taste of fresh bread! But honestly, who doesn’t? Personally, my eyes have lit up when piping hot bread was delivered to the table at a restaurant! But I must admit, Evan is worse than I am! I mean I’ve even seen him ask the people at the next table if they were going to eat their bread, and if not could they let him know before it gets cold! LOL! Evan is a character indeed!

Back to Yolanda…since her husband Evan loves freshly, baked bread so much, she prepares it all the time! She pours the mix into the bread machine, punches in all the proper settings, leaves it so it can begin its wonderful three-hour process of becoming fresh baked bread. But naturally, with a couple who has 4 young children, Evan and Yolanda often become busy around the household, and so at times they often forget the bread is baking. But truth is, they don’t have anything to do with it anyway. IT’S SILENTLY GETTING DONE, WITHOUT THEIR ASSISTANCE OR INTERFERENCE!

Now, there are some hints along the way that lets them know what’s happening. For instance, eventually this wonderful aroma starts spreading through the house. But there is one particular time that they were so busy around the holiday season and preparing for the big family gathering that Yolanda had no idea where the noise was coming from when she all of a sudden heard a loud “beep…beep…beep”! So she called from the back of the house, “honey, what’s that sound?” Evan yelled back, “the bread is done!

Remember, they wanted the bread. So, they started the process of having the bread, but they didn’t see or hear anything for quite a while, until suddenly and deliciously, it was ready!

And believe it or not, that wasn’t a cooking lesson, but a Faith Lesson! That bread maker just described the way God works! Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads: “He has made everything beautiful IN ITS TIME.” Or in the Contemporary English Version, “God makes everything happen AT THE RIGHT TIME…” (CEV)

Now, if we’ll dare to be brutally honest, often that time is a whole lot later than we want it to be! Truthfully, if it were my preference, the saving, healing, deliverance, breakthrough, provision, protection, change, turn around, would have all happened for me overnight, not over the course of 48 years! If it had been up to me, I would have had all of my hearts desires requested on Monday and given to me in full on Tuesday morning before my alarm clock even went off! But thank God He not only knows what’s best for us, but WHEN it’s best for us. With that said, I must admonish you: “WAIT ON THE LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: WAIT, I SAY, ON THE LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)

Now, is that easy? Nope! But is it impossible? Nope! Therefore, WAIT!

Another translation says it like this: “DON’T BE IMPATIENT. WAIT FOR THE LORD…YES, WAIT AND HE WILL HELP YOU.” (TLB)

Being honest, we love that He’s going to help us, but we hate having to WAIT for it!

That word “Impatient” is defined as, “not willing to wait for something or someone; wanting or eager to do something without waiting; lack of patience; restless or short of temper especially under irritation, delay or opposition; eager desire for relief or change; intolerant of anything that delays or hinders; to be anxious.” And the word “Anxious” is defined as, “experiencing worry or unease.” Its’ Latin Origin “anxius” from “angere” means “to choke”. And the word “Choke” is defined as, “to prevent (someone) from breathing by constricting or obstructing the throat or depriving of air”. When you’re Impatient, you’re not willing to wait; you’re restless and short tempered (which means you can’t properly handle irritation, delay or opposition); you’re eager for immediate relief and change; you’re worried and uneased; you’re choked! Which means, praise can’t come out; worship can’t come out; exaltation can’t come out; reciting the promises of God can’t come out; declaring and decreeing the Word of the Lord can’t come out; and all because you’ve allowed Impatience to Choke Your Faith to Death!

But what does the Word of God remind us to do when we become Impatient, Worried, or Anxious? “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” (Philippians 4:6-7 AMP)

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

Now, doesn’t that sound a lot better than choking your faith to death; suffocating your praise; and robbing your worship of breath?!

People of God, don’t let impatience destroy you, or what God has designed to give you, when it’s ready, at just the right time!

Habakkuk 2:2-4, “And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness POINTING TO WHAT’S COMING. IT ACHES FOR THE COMING – IT CAN HARDLY WAIT! And it doesn’t lie. IF IT SEEMS SLOW IN COMING, WAIT. IT’S ON ITS WAY. IT WILL COME RIGHT ON TIME…the person in right standing before God through LOYAL AND STEADY BELIEVING is fully alive, really alive.” (MSG) NOT CHOKED TO DEATH BY IMPATIENCE, WORRY AND ANXIETY!

I REITERATE, WAIT FOR THE RIGHT TIMING OF GOD! YOU WILL GET IT, WHEN IT’S READY!

Now, a baby is healthy, if it comes at the time when it’s READY. However, the baby might not be as healthy if he or she comes PREMATURELY. And often our timing produces just that, a PREEMIE; an answer or a provision from God that really isn’t ready yet, isn’t fully developed for you to receive just yet. It’s PREMATURE. And the word “Premature” is defined as “occurring or done before the proper time.” Its’ Latin Origin “praematurus” literally means “very early.”

Listen, the last thing you want is to receive something before its’ ready! After all, would you cook a whole chicken in the oven for 30 seconds and then serve it to your family to eat? Of course you wouldn’t. You know why? Because it’s not ready, it’s PREMATURE, it’s undone, it can/will hurt them or even kill them, and all because you served them what they wanted, BEFORE it was ready for them to have! And who wants such a thing to happen to the people they love? Therefore, step into your Heavenly Father’s shoes for a moment. Think: Why would He give His children, (whom He loves, and even sacrificed the life of His own Son for), what is NOT READY, PREMATURE, UNDONE, OR COULD POSSIBLY HURT, HARM OR KILL THEM? Why would an INFINITE GOD OF ETERNITY give His children something BEFORE IT’S TIME?

To answer you…HE DOESN’T! He loves us too much to! That’s why as much as it hurts Him, He holds back the healing, provision, breakthrough…UNTIL IT’S TIME! Which may help you better understand why you haven’t received that promotion…yet; that house…yet; that car…yet; that loan…yet; that spouse…yet; those children…yet; that healing….yet; that deliverance…yet; that breakthrough…yet; that ministry…yet! It just may explain why He hasn’t taken you out of that situation, circumstance, hurt, trial, tribulation, or struggle yet! Why? He Doesn’t Want Anything to Happen for You, PREMATURELY!

James 1:2-4, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. SO DON’T TRY TO GET OUT OF ANYTHING PREMATURELY. LET IT DO ITS WORK SO YOU BECOME MATURE AND WELL-DEVELOPED, NOT DEFICIENT IN ANY WAY.” (MSG)

Keeping you in it, is helping to mature you, develop you and keep you from lacking in any way! It’s not designed to hurt you, BUT TO HELP YOU! So, don’t allow impatience to cause you to step into, or step out of anything…PREMATURELY!

Let God’s Timing Prevail and You’ll Produce What You’ve Been EXPECTING! Romans 8:22-25, “All around us we observe a PREGNANT creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply BIRTH PANGS. But it’s not only around us; IT’S WITHIN US. The Spirit of God is arousing us WITHIN. We’re also feeling the BIRTH PANGS. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for FULL DELIVERANCE. THAT IS WHY WAITING DOES NOT DIMINISH US, ANY MORE THAN WAITING DIMINISHES A PREGNANT MOTHER. WE ARE ENLARGED IN THE WAITING. WE, OF COURSE, DON’T SEE WHAT IS ENLARGING US. BUT THE LONGER WE WAIT, THE LARGER WE BECOME, AND THE MORE JOYFUL OUR EXPECTANCY.” (MSG)

Now, if that don’t make you happy, nothing else will! THE LONGER WE WAIT, THE LARGER WE BECOME AND SO DOES OUR EXPECTANCY!

People of God, Don’t Get Weary While Waiting! Galatians 6:9, “LET US NOT GROW WEARY OR BECOME DISCOURAGED IN DOING GOOD, FOR AT THE PROPER TIME WE WILL REAP, IF WE DO NOT GIVE IN.” (AMP) Listen: You Have Not Come This Far in God to Give Up, Give Out or Give In Now! SO DON’T!

Maybe right now there’s something you’ve been trusting God for, but the wait is getting pretty long: that financial breakthrough, that healing, a husband or a wife, a spiritual awakening in someone you love, a job, that answer to prayer. Well, let’s go back to our bread making machine. Evan and Yolanda started the process of cooking up an answer. For quite a while they didn’t see anything, hear anything, smell anything coming from their efforts to get bread. But silently, invisibly, it was getting done!

Daniel 10:12, “Daniel, don’t be afraid! God has listened to your prayers SINCE THE FIRST DAY…” (CEV) People of God, don’t be discouraged or afraid or worried or impatient…God has listened to your prayers SINCE THE FIRST DAY! He’s heard you, and believe it or not, while you’re waiting, He’s already answered! Jeremiah 33:3, “…CALL TO ME AND I WILL ANSWER YOU. I’LL TELL YOU MARVELOUS AND WONDROUS THINGS THAT YOU COULD NEVER FIGURE OUT ON YOUR OWN.” (MSG); Isaiah 65:24, “I WILL ANSWER THEM BEFORE THEY EVEN CALL TO ME. WHILE THEY ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT THEIR NEEDS, I WILL GO AHEAD AND ANSWER THEIR PRAYERS!” (MSG) How Amazing is Our Father? While We’re Still Talking About Our Needs, He’s Already Answered Our Prayers, (much like the bread in the maker), Silently, Invisibly, and Yet, IT’S GETTING DONE!

But that’s part of the problem for us…not that it’s being done, BUT THAT IT’S SILENT AND INVISIBLE! We don’t see anything, hear anything, or even smell anything…We can’t see or hear any activity from Heaven at all, it’s as if all the angels are on assignment to everyone, BUT US! It seems like nothing’s happening. It’s as if all of Heaven has gone deaf and mute as soon as we started praying. But I guess a gardener or a farmer could feel that way every year after they plant their seeds! For a while there’s just no VISIBLE SIGN that anything’s happening. But the processes of God most often happen OUT OF SIGHT! Why? Because that feeds and fuels our faith, and certainly guides our spiritual footsteps! 2 Corinthians 5:7, “FOR WE WALK BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT [LIVING OUR LIVES IN A MANNER CONSISTENT WITH OUR CONFIDENT BELIEF IN GOD’S PROMISES].” (AMP)

And then before you know it, the gardener and farmer, who sowed seed, but SAW NOTHING…yet, will soon SEE A WHOLE LOT! (AND SO WILL YOU!)

What we’ve hoped for will start to appear, in time, unless we get impatient and keep digging up the seed to see if God’s really doing anything! Remember, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. That’s Hebrews 11:1. The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality – faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses.]” (AMP) Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there…Focus Your Faith Again!

Your faith is in a Person, not in what you can see them doing. And that Person: well that’s your all-loving, all-powerful, always punctual God and I’ll tell you He’s cooking up something deliciously wonderful just for you. So don’t base your expectations or your emotions on what you can see or how much time seems to be left or if it seems like there’s no time left. You know, God can do in a Day what man can’t do in a Decade!

God may give you some hints of what’s in the oven, like the aroma that comes before the bread. But when it’s totally ready, – like the beeps on the bread maker – He’ll signal you in a way that you can’t miss. And it’ll be beautiful because it will be time! So, Don’t Get Weary in the Wait…it Will Be Worth it in the End!

Numbers 9:8, “Therefore, Moses said to them, “WAIT, and I will listen to what the Lord will command concerning you.” (AMP);

Job 14:14, “If a man dies, will he live again? I will WAIT all the days of my struggle Until my change and release will come.” (AMP);

Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will prepare [a prayer and a sacrifice] for You and watch and WAIT [for You to speak to my heart].” (AMP);

Psalm 25:3 Indeed, none of those who [EXPECTANTLY] WAIT for You will be ashamed…” (AMP);

Psalm 25:5, “Guide me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You [and only You] I WAIT [EXPECTANTLY] all the day long.” (AMP);

Psalm 25:21, “Let integrity and uprightness protect me, For I WAIT [EXPECTANTLY] for You.” (AMP);

Psalm 31:24, “Be strong and let your hearts take courage, All you who WAIT for and confidently EXPECT the Lord.” (AMP);

Psalm 33:20, “We WAIT [EXPECTANTLY] for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” (AMP);

Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord; WAIT PATIENTLY for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize)…” (AMP);

Psalm 37:34, “WAIT for and EXPECT the Lord and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; [In the end] when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.” (AMP);

Psalm 40:1, “I PATIENTLY WAITED, Lord, for You to hear my prayer. You listened.” (CEV)

Psalm 42:5, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and WAIT EXPECTANTLY for Him, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” (AMP);

Psalm 130:5-6, “With all my heart, I am WAITING, Lord, for You! I trust Your promises. I WAIT for You more eagerly than a soldier on guard duty waits for the dawn. Yes, I WAIT more eagerly than a soldier on guard duty waits for the dawn.” (CEV);

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);

Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we WAIT EAGERLY for it with PATIENCE AND COMPOSURE.” (AMP)

 “Let God work. Don’t block your blessings by moving too fast. When God is working on your behalf, be patient! Good things take time! Don’t get weary and don’t get in the way!” (Tony Gaskins, Jr.)

“Trust in God’s timing. It’s better to wait a while and have things fall into place, than to rush and have things fall apart.” (Author Unknown)

“Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t. Wait on God’s perfect timing and trust Him for the outcome.” (Pinterest)

“Joseph waited 13 years; Abraham waited 25 years; Moses waited 40 years; Jesus waited 30 years. If God is making you wait, you’re in good company.” (Pinterest)

“God’s plan is always the best. Sometimes the process is painful and hard. But don’t forget that when God is silent, He’s doing something for you.” (Author Unknown)

“What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.” (John Ortberg)

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Sometimes we don’t understand why we are waiting. Often it is because God has something great in store, it’s just not the right time.” (Joel Osteen)

“The truth is we all get tired, we all get weary. In fact, if you never feel like giving up, then your dreams are too small. If you never feel like quitting, then you need to set some larger goals. When that pressure comes to get discouraged and to think about how you can’t take it anymore, that is completely normal. Every person feels that way at times.” (Joel Osteen)

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: “10 Wellness Warriors on the Frontline of Black Lives Matter”

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“When You’re in a Hurry…But God’s Not”

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Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what He does.” (GNT)

My friend Katrina was in a big hurry to get home one freezing wintry night, but her aunt wasn’t. Her aunt had taken her shopping, and her aunt was taking her sweet time in leaving. One more thing to buy; one more store to go to; oh, yeah, one more stop to make. Oh, we need to fill up with gas. Needless to say, by the time Katrina finally got home, man, she was frustrated. It was the holiday season and everyone on planet earth was showing up in all the exact same stores she went to. Not to mention matters were made worse by trying to drive through the mountains of snow and slippery, ice-covered streets. Only to get home and have to take out all the shopping bags from the backseat and trunk. And certainly it was no fun trying to carry all of those bags, with her aunt holding on to her so she wouldn’t fall, while Katrina was praying her own version of ‘Lord, keep me on my feet!’ However, they finally make it to the door of the house, and Katrina sort of sputtered as she walked in the front door (tired, frustrated, freezing, and out of breath), only to be greeted by 25 of her best friends jumping out of the darkness shouting, “Surprise!”

Yeah, you guessed it; it was her birthday and believe me, it was a surprise! We planned it for months! And after she had some oxygen and some smelling salts and regained a steady heartbeat and consciousness…lol…she began to realize the reason for all those carefully, pre-planned, purposely orchestrated delays! Time was needed to get her surprise ready! And maybe, just maybe, that’s why you’re waiting right now too!

A portion out of Ecclesiastes 3:11 that I’ve gone back to as an anchor so many times to interpret what God was doing or seemed like He wasn’t doing in my life says this: “He has made everything beautiful in its time…

Problem is, we get real Ugly while waiting for God to make everything Beautiful in its time!

Shall we be honest? Our tempers flare, we get discouraged and depressed, and certainly our faith begins to waver, while our doubts remain steadfast, then of course unbelief snuggles up next to us every night closer than our pillows and covers. Our attitudes go through a period of needing some serious adjusting and resetting. Our speech and thoughts become negative and pessimistic. Jealousy and envy and coveting rear their ugly heads, because now we believe God has favorites and we’ve clearly not made the cut to be on His team. Resentment, bitterness and anger all become a part of our daily garments as much as our pants, shirts and shoes are. And dare we even began to talk about our ‘Sarah Complex’ of attempting to help God out with a back-up plan since He obviously has no idea that His plan A has some glitches in it that need to be worked out!

In a nutshell, it simply becomes a very Ugly time while waiting for something Beautiful to happen!

You see, it all kind of goes with that fullness of time principle the Bible talks about when it refers to the coming of Christ in these words: “But when the right time finally came, God sent His own Son…” (Galatians 4:4 GNT) Saints, God even waited for the right time to send His own Son to save us! You know, I’m starting to think that God has a thing about this whole ‘Timing’ bit!

And do you know why I say that? Well, just take a look at how other translations state this Scripture:

“BUT WHEN [IN GOD’S PLAN] THE PROPER TIME HAD FULLY COME, GOD SENT HIS SON…” (AMP);

“BUT WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT, GOD SENT HIS SON…” (CEV);

“BUT WHEN THE TIME ARRIVED THAT WAS SET BY GOD THE FATHER, GOD SENT HIS SON…” (MSG);

“BUT WHEN THE SET TIME HAD FULLY COME, GOD SENT HIS SON…” (NIV);

“BUT AT THE RIGHT TIME, GOD SENT HIS SON…” (NLV)

Even with something as important, urgent and vital as our salvation, God still waited for the right, set time to fully arrive in His plan before He sent His Son. And if He’ll wait for the right timing for that, He’ll wait for the right timing concerning all things concerning us! Like it or not my friend, but you may be in hurry, BUT GOD’S NOT! He is waiting for the Fullness of time! And the word “fullness” is defined as “after a due length of time has elapsed; completely filled; containing all that can be held; filled to the utmost; filled to capacity; perfectness; wholeness; and entire.” In other words, God is waiting for the absolute perfect timing to bring things to pass in your life, and when it does come, it will be more than you could have asked, dreamed or imagined (Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—” AMPC).

Just think about, when the time fully came for Him to send His Son, did we lack anything in receiving Him? Absolutely not! In fact, yes, He came to save us, but we received so much more than just salvation, we’ve been saved, healed, delivered, redeemed, justified, consecrated, gifted, anointed, protected, provided for, and still have so many more promises of God that haven’t been delivered to us yet! Listen, when you wait for God to do it in His timing and in His way, according to His plan, you will receive perfected promises! You simply cannot go wrong with that!

But again, the problem for us is that little phrase concerning the waiting periods of our life: “In the fullness of time, God…” Which means you my friend will have to wait! But will your waiting be in vain? Absolutely not!

Habakkuk 2:2-3, “And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming – it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.” (MSG)

What you’re waiting on is also waiting on you! You’re excited about it, and it’s excited about you! “…It aches for the coming – it can hardly wait!…” The promise and vision are just as on high alert as you are in expectation of their arrival…BUT you’ve got to wait, because it will only come “…right on time.”

Even when it seems slow, wait, don’t attempt to rush God! And in those moments when you feel the need to, remember King Saul:

1 Samuel 13:8-14, “He WAITED seven days, THE TIME SET BY SAMUEL. Samuel failed to show up at Gilgal, and the soldiers were slipping away, right and left. So Saul took charge: “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” He went ahead and sacrificed the burnt offering. NO SOONER HAD HE DONE IT THAN SAMUEL SHOWED UP! Saul greeted him. Samuel said, “What on earth are you doing?” Saul answered, “When I saw I was losing my army from under me, and that you hadn’t come when you said you would, and that the Philistines were poised at Micmash, I said, ‘The Philistines are about to come down on me in Gilgal, and I haven’t yet come before God asking for his help.’ SO I TOOK THINGS INTO MY OWN HANDS, and sacrificed the burnt offering.” “That was a fool thing to do,” Samuel said to Saul. “IF YOU HAD KEPT THE APPOINTMENT THAT YOUR GOD COMMANDED, by now God would have set a firm and lasting foundation under your kingly rule over Israel. As it is, your kingly rule is already falling to pieces. God is out looking for your replacement right now. This time he’ll do the choosing. When he finds him, he’ll appoint him leader of his people. AND ALL BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T KEEP YOUR APPOINTMENT WITH GOD!” (MSG)

People of God, you don’t want to lose everything because you couldn’t wait! Don’t attempt to take things into your own hands. If God set a date and a time, wait for it to come to pass no matter how slow the timing may be. Saul could’ve kept his kingdom generation after generation, and yet because of one fools move of moving outside of the set timing, he lost everything and was replaced! Listen, for the record, God knows what He’s doing and doesn’t need your assistance at all!

Jeremiah 29:10-11, “This is God’s Word on the subject…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (MSG) God knows what He’s doing, His plan is fool-proof, now just make sure you’re not acting the fool to mess it up!

You know, I heard about a pastor not too long ago whose secretary walked into his office, and she found him pacing back and forth, which was not what he usually did in his office. She said, “Hey, what’s the matter.” He said, “I’m in a hurry and God isn’t.” Did you ever feel that way? You say, “Well, that’s my life right now. I’m in a hurry and God isn’t.” And maybe you’re asking, “Where is that answer? What’s taking so long? God are You not listening to my prayers? Didn’t you hear me tell you about the urgency of the matter? The rent/mortgage/car note/ car insurance and tuition are all due on the same day! I need gas money, they’re about to turn off the water, gas and electricity if miracle funds aren’t deposited in my bank account by 5pm today! The doctor said if this last treatment doesn’t go well, that’s it, there’s nothing else he can do! God they’ve already laid off 5 people from my department and they’re not done yet…what are You going to do? God we need groceries, the kids need money for their school trip, Tommy needs braces and Tina needs glasses, and I need the money to pay for it all! God the child support is about to put my paycheck on life support! God if you don’t step in today we’ll be getting divorced tomorrow! God are You listening? God do You even care? God what are You waiting for? God when are You going to move?”

Ever been there? Are you there right now?

Well, God is following a careful process, invisible to you, but it will bring glory to Him and it will bring lasting joy to you. But right now He’s taking time to get you ready for the answer, recreating you into someone who has mountain-moving faith. Because if you don’t have to wait, you don’t have to develop faith. And all of us, no matter how powerful we think we are, need are faith to experience life events that cause it to develop.

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

Your faith muscles need exercise so they can be strengthened to develop and the weights that work best for this is tests and challenges that come at you from all sides! Strengthening your faith in the waiting time brings you peace like you’ve never known. It gives you the reassurance that God is at work, and you will be rewarded, in the fullness of time! So, don’t rush, don’t panic, and don’t try to get out of any situation that God is using for your ultimate good!

Remember: “…don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (MSG)

Saints, if you let it happen God’s way you will not be deficient in any way! So WAIT! It Will Be Good!

Romans 8:26-28, “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is working into something good.” (MSG)

Even God knows we get tired in the waiting, and He’s even prepared a plan for that. The Holy Spirit comes alongside to help us along, interceding along the journey.

Listen, I know you’ve been waiting so long you’ve lost count on how many days, weeks and years you’ve actually been waiting. But I still say wait! Why? Because God is working on something good just for you, and all you have to do is trust Him and wait for it!

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

And that’s exactly what I’m admonishing you to do today, wait for God; be confident in God; be strong and don’t lose heart as you wait for God; expect God to do it!

Truth is, if God gave many of us what we asked for, when we asked for it, we’d be in some serious trouble. I mean, if God gave me the six-figure job, twenty years ago, when I was struggling to pay my $20 tithe from my temp job, would I really have been disciplined enough to handle so much More, when I was already struggling with so much Less? Now, I would love to say yes, but the truth is a resounding No! I wasn’t disciplined then; I didn’t trust Him as much then; I didn’t believe Him as much then; I wasn’t as focused then; my faith wasn’t developed then. It took me a long time, a lot of years and quite a bit of painful life events to get me to the point that I can trust and believe in God for absolutely anything no matter the waiting time. Now, does that mean I don’t experience some anxious days even now? Nope. I most certainly do. I may not be as bad as I was then, but I still have my moments when I’m waiting for the doctors reports to come back for my husband or children; or I’m working on a major job or ministry project and I’m wondering how it will all be done by the deadline. I still have my moments and my days, but when I do, I turn to one of my favorite Scriptures that empowers me in the wait:

Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]” (AMP)

So, I’m not telling you something I read, but something I know, I live and I believe. Pray about every circumstance and every situation, take it all to God, believing that He will handle it in His way, in His time, and for your good! It’s still worth it to wait on God!

Furthermore, the waiting time is your developing time. It’s the time you take to do some self-examination and I promise once you do, you’ll say like me, “I need to change don’t I?” The answer, yes we do! And God knows this, which is why He’s taking time to get the answer ready for you. There’s a person, or a position, or a location that right now God is making just right for you. He’s working even though it’s invisible to you. Now if you panic while He’s getting everything ready, oh you’re going to ruin the plan, or maybe you’re going to end up with a short-term fix, or worse yet, a long-term mess!

So, don’t get Ugly in the wait, trust your Father’s timing, He does make everything Beautiful in its time.

Trust God’s timing even if it seems late to you. Truth is, God always seems to work a little more slowly than I want Him to, but He’s always right on time. My friend Katrina learned that the delays were only to set up a wonderful surprise for her. And my friend, your delays are doing the same thing for you! So be patient with all the stops and waits right now, because you’ll love the surprise at the end of this wait.

Don’t forget: Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what He does.” (GNT)

We don’t need to know the timing of God, we just need to wait on it. We’ll never fully understand what God does, but knowing that He’s the one doing it, should bring us reassurance and comfort, and certainly more faith, patience, expectation and anticipation that something good is on the way.

He’s Set the Right Time for Everything Concerning You…Now Leave the Clock Alone and Stop Trying to Hurry the Hand of God!

Remember: When You’re in a Hurry…God’s Not! And Father Knows Best!

“But when the right time finally came, GOD…”

“God is not in a hurry. You are. It’s why you’re tired, anxious, stressed, worried and disappointed. Trust that what is meant to be yours in accordance with His Will, will be yours, at just the right time!” (Aniket Yadav)

“God is not in a hurry because all His works are done in love.” (Warren W. Wierske)

“The best things are never arrived at in haste. God is in no hurry. His plans are never rushed.” (Author Unknown)

“God is never in a hurry, but He is always on time.” (Author Unknown)

“Don’t try to rush things that need time to grow.” (Author Unknown)

“Patience! Patience! You are always in a hurry, but God is not.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” (Saint Francis de Sales)

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

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“Trials Train You to Fight!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUT, unfortunately…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And the Lord had another reason for letting these enemies stay. The Israelites NEEDED TO LEARN HOW TO FIGHT IN WAR, just as their ancestors had done. EACH NEW GENERATION WOULD HAVE TO LEARN BY FIGHTING” (CEV) Did you catch that? “…The Israelites NEEDED to learn by fighting.” The word ‘Need’ is defined as ‘something that is required because it is essential or very important.’ And what is one of our Requirements as God’s servants, stewards and soldiers? 1 Corinthians 4:2, In this case, moreover, it is REQUIRED [as essential and demanded] of stewards that one be found faithful and trustworthy.” (AMP) And how is God going to prove you as faithful and trustworthy if He can never use trials and afflictions to test you? Listen, I get it, this is not an easy process, refining never is. After all, how often do you find a process that involves fire to be a pleasant experience? So, yes, this is going to burn, and be painful and hard, but the warrior that you will grow and develop into will be worth it all! You will have proven faithful and trustworthy to be used by God, and isn’t that the point? To be positioned to be used by God for purpose, on purpose? Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, READY TO BE USED] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” (AMP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Trust God…Even in the Dark”

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“Who is among you who fears the Lord, Who obeys the voice of His Servant, Yet who walks in DARKNESS and has no light? Let him TRUST and be confident in the name of the LORD and let him rely on his GOD.” (Isaiah 50:10 AMP).

You were promised the Peace of God, but not smooth sailing, immunity or exemption from life’s problems! Which is why Jesus Himself admonishes you with these words: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have TRIBULATION and TRIALS and DISTRESS and FRUSTRATION; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” (John 16:33 AMP). In other words, you will experience Tribulation, Trials, Distress and Frustration, but it will NOT Overcome you no matter how Overwhelmed you may feel!

However, you WILL experience it nonetheless!

According to our text in another translation, the Bible says this: “Who is among you who [reverently] fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, yet who walks in DARKNESS AND DEEP TROUBLE and has no shining splendor [in his heart]? Let him rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let him lean upon and be supported by his God.” (AMPC) I’m certain that is the testimony of many of you, “…fearing the Lord…YET…walking in darkness and deep trouble…” However, I encourage you to rest assured that you are NOT the only one who shares this testimony!

Let’s see some examples:

1…JOB—lived an exemplary life yet he lost everything! Troubled and perplexed, he cried, “God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness.” (19:8 NLT).

2…JEREMIAH – after preaching to a rebellious people who beat and imprisoned him, said, “I wish that my eyes were fountains of tears, so I could cry day and night for my people…” (9:1 CEV).

3…JOHN THE BAPTIST—was puzzled about why Jesus, who could raise the dead, had left him to languish in prison. So he sent Him a message asking, “…are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:19 NIV).

4…PAUL—suffered so much he “…despaired even of life.” (2 Corinthians 1:8). Or better stated by The Message Bible, “We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us…It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us…” (vss. 8-11).

5…NAOMI – was so bitter in soul, that she renamed herself bitter. “But she said, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter. The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow. I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back. Why would you call me Naomi? God certainly doesn’t. The Strong One ruined me.” (Ruth 1:20-21 MSG)

6…DAVID – did not bite his tongue at all when addressing God about how he felt. “Long enough, God – you’ve ignored me long enough. I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain. Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me.” (Psalm 13:1-2 MSG)

7…ELIJAH – simply wanted to die! When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush…” (1 Kings 19:3-5 MSG)

8…MOSES – was under such distress, He even asked God to erase him out of His book! “Moses went back to God and said, “This is terrible. This people has sinned – it’s an enormous sin! They made gods of gold for themselves. And now, if you will only forgive their sin…But if not, erase me out of the book you’ve written.” (Exodus 32:32 MSG)

9…JESUS – even asked a question many of us ask of our Father. “From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:45-46 MSG)

People of God, in a nutshell: Faith is like film; it’s developed in the DARK! Yet you can take heart because you share the ‘DARK ROOM’ with some great men and women who experienced the same struggles and yet still overcame them and succeeded! Job, Jeremiah, John, Paul, Naomi, David, Elijah, Moses and even Jesus all spent time in the Dark Room developing into images of strength and endurance for us to admire and become!

You see, dark days are purposed to make you lean on God in ways you normally wouldn’t! The truth is, if your faith was never tested you wouldn’t be motivated to pursue God and draw closer to Him! The hymn writer wrote it best: “When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Think about it: It’s easy to praise God when your health is good, your bills are paid, your kids are well-behaved, your marriage is back in the honeymoon phase, you got the job you weren’t even qualified for, the school gave you the grant, the car is running like its brand new etc… But it’s a completely different story told when light suddenly turns to darkness that you discover what your faith is really made of and where your trust truly lies. The Bible says it like this: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when TESTS and CHALLENGES come at you FROM ALL SIDES. You know that UNDER PRESSURE, YOUR FAITH-LIFE IS FORCED INTO THE OPEN AND SHOWS ITS TRUE COLORS. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you can become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG). Saints, I know the Tests and Challenges Coming From All Sides doesn’t feel all that great, but it challenges, tests, stretches and strengthens your faith. In the words of the Apostle Paul: “So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!—to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. WHEN THE GOING GETS ROUGH, TAKE IT ON THE CHIN WITH THE REST OF US, THE WAY JESUS DID. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.” (2 Timothy 2:1-7 MSG)

Therefore, I agree, the tests, trials, challenges, frustrations, rough times and tough seasons can weary you, however, you have to remember the reason you don’t allow your weariness to overwhelm you to the point you quit:Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9 CEB).

Therefore, I encourage you my brothers and sisters to continue to press on, because there’s a prize at the end of the pressure!Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I PRESS TOWARD THE MARK FOR THE PRIZE OF THE HIGH CALLING OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS.” (Philippians 3:12-14). I Challenge You to Let the Pressure, Press You and Push You to attain Possession of Your Prize!

Now, to Developing Night Vision!

In our dark seasons of struggle, stress and strife, sometimes God doesn’t tell us WHY because He wants us to know WHO! In Psalm 23, David goes from talking ABOUT God, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” (vs. 1) to talking WITH God, “…Thou art with me…” (vs. 4). So what happened in between? David learned that no matter how dark the way is, the Lord is there to guide us, “…He leadeth me beside…still waters…He leadeth me in…paths of righteousness…” (vss. 2-3). He discovered that it’s better to walk through the valley with God than stand on the mountaintop without Him! Church, if you haven’t reached this level of faith and trust in God, keep stretching! It’s mandatory that you reach it! Practice talking like David!

Psalm 23 – “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, You find me quiet pools to drink from. True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when You walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.” (MSG)

David learned something that we all need to learn, especially when traveling through the dark and even death valley’s of life. He learned to trust God even when he couldn’t trace Him. Why? Because God is a covenant keeper of His Word, and His Word has made you promises that will not fail! And those promises hold true even when God doesn’t immediately light the path for your way out of darkness. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isaiah 43:2). The Message Bible says it like this: “…Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end – Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba throw in! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” (vss. 1-4 MSG)

Does that sound like you’re walking in the dark alone? I think not!

Family, when you feel like you’re out in the depth or in over your head, claim the Isaiah 43:2 promise and let it be a light of hope in your dark season! Remember, no matter how dark your road gets, Faith can do more for your vision than Pearle Vision and Lens Crafters combined! Increase your faith so your doubt doesn’t cause you to miss God in the dark! 2 Corinthians 5:7, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight.” The Message Bible says it like this: That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.” (MSG)

That’s the kind of faith that keeps your focus on point!

Listen: Job had many unanswered questions, but when he began to understand the difference between REASON and RELATIONSHIP, he told God in Job 42:5, “I had heard of You [only] by hearing of the ear, But now my [spiritual] eye sees You.” (AMP). The Message Bible says it like this, “Job answered God: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’ I admit I once lived by rumors of You; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor. (MSG)

Job teaches us that when you can’t find the REASON, simply trust the RELATIONSHIP! God won’t fail you! Even when you act like Sarai and try to help Him out with your own back-up plan; or like Job, you try to foolishly speak on God’s behalf, yet God remains in His relationship to us and with us, regardless of our poor judgment in trying to find our own light in the dark. In fact, Job’s relationship is deepened because in his own words, he only lived on rumors about God, but now after trusting Him through a dark season, he can now say, I have firsthand knowledge of God with my own eyes and ears. He no longer needed anyone to tell him about God, he learned of God from God! And what’s one of the lessons Job learned? You can trust God with everything, even when a dark season leaves you with nothing!

But, there is something else you should know about darkness and that is: Contrary to what you may think, DARKNESS isn’t always the work of the enemy! In actuality, it’s often God’s best teaching tool! Listen to the Bible: “LATE AT NIGHT, the boat was far out at sea; Jesus was still by himself on land. He could see his men struggling with the oars, the wind having come up against them. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the sea. He intended to go right by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and screamed, scared out of their wits. Jesus was quick to comfort them: “Courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” As soon as he climbed into the boat, the wind died down. They were stunned, shaking their heads, wondering what was going on. They didn’t understand what he had done at the supper. None of this had yet penetrated their hearts.” (Mark 6:48-52 MSG).

Truth is, you get to know the Lord by going through storms WITH Him! Yes, it was “LATE AT NIGHT”, but aren’t you glad your GOD still works the NIGHT SHIFT?!

The Psalmist said, “EVEN THE DARKNESS WILL NOT BE DARK TO YOU; THE NIGHT WILL SHINE LIKE THE DAY, FOR DARKNESS IS AS LIGHT TO YOU” (139:12 NIV). So instead of running from your problems, ask God to develop your night vision, and when He does, remember He promised to “…GIVE YOU TREASURES HIDDEN IN DARK AND SECRET PLACES…” (Isaiah 45:3 CEV).

Remember, just because your situation is too dark for you, doesn’t mean it will EVER be too dark for God!

Now to take it just a little step further, when the darkness you’re experiencing is God-Ordained, don’t try to create your own light! The Bible says, “…walk in the light of the fires YOU HAVE SET. But with his own hand, the LORD WILL PUNISH YOU AND MAKE YOU SUFFER” (Isaiah 50:11 CEV). Attempting to light your own way, will only lead to further, and might I add, Unnecessary, suffering! For example: Abraham And Sarah decided to kindle their own fire when God’s promise of an heir didn’t materialize quickly enough. So they ended up with Ishmael, and ended up creating problems that would last for generations!

Therefore, Never Attempt to Make Decisions In the Dark! All You Need to do is See, Hear and Trust God!

NEVER Attempt to Make Your Own Light in Your Dark Seasons!

As a matter of fact, when you’re in darkness, by divine design, simply recall these great promises:

“Light arises in…darkness for the upright…” (Psalm 112:4 AMP); and “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). Your dark seasons will not last always, but while they are here, trust God in the dark as though it were already light! Remember: He’s God in the Mountains and the Valley’s alike! Listen: The forty days Moses spent alone on the mountain, Elijah’s stay on Mt. Horeb, and Paul’s years in the Arabian Desert weren’t wasted experiences; they were all part of God’s plan! Likewise, darkness can’t detour your destiny! Simply Develop Your Night Vision and See the Great Treasures God Has In Store For You…Surely that will Lighten Your Dark Places…for it’s often in our Dark Seasons when we See God Brighter than ever before!

Learn to Develop Night Vision So You Can Learn to Trust God Even in the Dark!

“To trust God in the light is nothing, but trust Him in the dark…that’s faith.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“Trust God in the dark, until the light returns.” (Aiden Wilson Tozer)

“Never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light.” (Author Unknown)

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. Trust God today no matter how dark your situation. God says, ‘you are coming out!’” (Christine Caine)

“When you trust God to fulfill the promises He’s given you, all the forces of darkness cannot stop God from bringing your dreams to pass.” (Author Unknown)

“I would sooner walk in the dark, and hold hard to a promise of my God, than trust in the light of the brightest day that ever dawned.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Heavenly Father, I may not understand how everything will work out, but I trust You. I don’t see a away, but I know You will make a way. I have faith at this very moment You are touching hearts, opening doors, and lining up the right breaks and right opportunities. Things may look dark and bleak now, but I have faith that my dawn is coming! In Jesus’ name.” (Author Unknown)

“It is the easiest thing in the world to obey God when He commands us to do what we like, and to trust Him when the path is all sunshine. The real victory of faith is to trust God in the dark, and through the dark.” (Theodore L. Cuyler)

“Trusting God when the miracle does not come, when the urgent prayer gets no answer, when there is only darkness – this is the kind of faith God values perhaps most of all. This is the kind of faith that can be developed and displayed only in the midst of difficult circumstances. This is the kind of faith that cannot be shaken because it is the result of having already been shaken.” (Nancy Gutherie)

“Confession is the statement of truth based on the ‘WORD’. You might be in the night season of your life but don’t allow it to change your confession. You have to trust God in the darkness with what He told you in the light. Keep declaring His Word till your change manifests. The Word of God Never Fails and Never Lies.” (Author Unknown)

“It takes faith to trust God in times of trouble, especially when the boat you’re in is being tossed to and fro in the dark.” (Rosa Watson)

“True worship doesn’t put on a show or make a fuss; true worship isn’t forced, isn’t half-hearted, doesn’t keep looking at its watch, doesn’t worry what the person in the next pew is doing. True worship is open to God, adoring God, waiting for God, trusting God…even in the dark.” (N.T. Wright)

“It is not my responsibility in what form God answers my questions for guidance. That, is quite safe in His hands. The only thing that I know is that God is light, and not darkness. Those who trust Him, He does not leave in darkness. He is a very, very good shepherd.” (Corrie ten Boom)

“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.” (Rabindranath Tagore)

“The tiny Seed knew that in order to Grow it needed to be Dropped in Dirt, Covered in Darkness, and Struggle to Reach the Light.” (Author Unknown)

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

“The ultimate test of faith is not how loudly you praise God in happy times but how deeply you trust Him in dark times.” (Rick Warren)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “The 50 Best Weight Loss Foods of All Time”

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“Curing the Eeyore in YOU!”

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As a mom, my absolute greatest family memories are the days when I would read stories to my children. I would always do my best to bring those old stories to life! My oldest daughter’s favorite story of all time was Winnie the Pooh. Probably because it was my favorite story growing up also! I would read that story to her over and over again! In fact, my baby brother got his middle name because my mom let me name him. And what’s his middle name? Christopher! You got it, named after my favorite boy Christopher Robin. However, my oldest daughter loved Pooh, my youngest daughter loved Tigger, my little sister loved Piglet. But I never found anyone that was all that fond of Eeyore. Remember the donkey in Winnie the Pooh? He’s the one that usually managed to see the dark side of Everything! There always seemed to be something wrong in Eeyore’s world. Know any people like that? I know I do! And if I had to be brutally honest, I’ve been Eeyore myself quite often!

Here’s how you spot Eeyore: Eeyore always has a way of focusing on the rain instead of the rainbow! Eeyore has clothes in the closet, but because they don’t have name brands, Eeyore complains. Eeyore has food to eat, but because it’s not his favorite restaurant chain, Eeyore complains. Eeyore has money for a bus pass, but complains about walking to the bus stop. Eeyore has a car, but complains because it’s not as new as his neighbor’s. Eeyore has a wife, but complains because she’s not the distorted perfection image he had in mind. Eeyore has a job, but complains about going to work every-day. Eeyore has money in the bank, but complains because it’s not a million dollars. Eeyore has an apartment to live in, but complains because she would rather live in a house. Eeyore complains if hair is too short, or too long; if it’s hot or cold; if it’s sunny or snowing; if he’s in the North or the South! Eeyore Finds Everything to Complain About, And Nothing to Celebrate!

Only if Eeyore knew the Word of God found in Nehemiah 8:10, “…This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!” (MSG). Other translations say it like this:

“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength. You must NOT be dejected and sad!” (TLB) The word ‘dejected’ is defined as, ‘to be low in spirit; cast down; depressed, despondent; downcast; gloomy; heartsick; heavyhearted; inconsolable; joyless; melancholy; miserable; sad; sorry; unhappy; woeful; wretched; distressed; troubled; upset; worried; despairing; hopeless; disappointed; discouraged; suicidal; agonized; anguished; bleak; dismal; dreary; and somber.’) “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength. You must NOT be dejected and sad!” (TLB) ;

“…And do NOT be worried, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and your stronghold.” (AMP) The word ‘stronghold’ is defined as, ‘a fortified place and a place of security or survival’);

“…DON’T be sad! This is a special day for the Lord, and He will make you happy and strong.” (CEV);

“…so DON’T be sad. The joy that the Lord gives you will make you strong.” (GNT);

And my personal favorite: “…This day is special. It is sacred to our Lord. DO NOT grieve over your past mistakes. Let the Eternal’s own joy be your protection!” (VOICE);

In a nutshell: The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength; Your Stronghold and Your Protection! Therefore, Who Wouldn’t Be Happy About That?!

Today is the day you shift your disposition! Your ‘disposition’ is your ‘preference; custom; habit; pattern; practice; or routine.’ And today yours is shifting from dejected to overjoyed! You are going to become the person whose PREFERENCE is to still trust God even when the odds are stacked against you; it will become your CUSTOM to praise God, even in pain; you will have the good HABIT of walking by faith instead of stumbling in fear; you will develop the PATTERN of every time something bad happens, you’ll deliberately choose to dwell on what’s still good; you will began the PRACTICE of speaking Life and not Death; and all of this will become your daily ROUTINE!

And why the shift in disposition? Because, let’s be honest, we all know some two-legged Eeyore’s! They’re on the job, in the church, in school, on the train, on the bus, in the car, in the cab, on the subway platform, in the laundromat, at the bank, at the supermarket, at the barbershop, at the beauty and nail salons, and even living under our own roof! The people who respond to the pressures and problems of life by throwing a party – a pity party that is, for themselves (yet always managing to invite you to the festivities…voluntarily or involuntarily)!

The last time I looked in the dictionary I saw hundreds of words that began with self. But there are few of them as damaging as self-pity. The term “self-pity” is defined as, “excessive concern with and unhappiness over one’s own troubles.” And that word “excessive” is defined as, “more than is necessary, normal, or desirable.In other words, having a moment is one thing, but when your moment gains the momentum of recurring every month of the year, there’s a problem! That’s not normal, but abnormal! And what does “abnormal” mean? “Deviating from what is normal”. Its’ Greek Origin “anomalos” literally means “uneven”. Eeyore you need some balance! A bad day should not turn into a bad year and a bad life! In other words, you can cry, but remember to wipe your tears; you can frown, but remember to smile again; you can be angry, but don’t forget to locate your happy place again, you can have moments of fear, but don’t forget that God has promised to provide for you, protect you and never leave you, you can have moments of doubt, but don’t unpack and live there!

You can’t live a healthy life under a daily cloud! So what’s the cure? JOY!

Listen: Nehemiah had been through all kinds of burdens, challenges, and attacks. Yet, here’s what he said, “Do not grieve. For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” This joy of the Lord has nothing to do with your ENVIRONMENT. It has to do with your INVIRONMENT! Truth is, far too many of us look to other people, places and things to make us happy! But it’s not the responsibility of your environment to do that, it’s the responsibility of your INvironment. YOU are responsible to make YOU happy! Not him, her, them, that, it, or there! But YOU! Sadly, people even enter into relationships and marriages looking for someone else to make them happy, and all they end up with his an Additional Unhappy Person!

Listen to the Scripture: 1 Peter 1:8, “… ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” The Living Bible says it like this: “…and even now you are happy with the inexpressible joy THAT COMES FROM HEAVEN ITSELF.” (TLB) Listen: I don’t care how handsome he is, how sexy she is, how new that car is, how big that house is, how much that job pays, how much that ring cost, JOY DOESN’T COME FROM PEOPLE, PLACES OR THINGS IT COMES FROM GOD ALONE! Your first step to curing your Eeyore Disease, is to stop your idolatrous worship of people, places and things, thinking that if you adore them enough, it will ultimately make you inexpressibly full of joy! It won’t fill you with joy, but it may make you happy. You see, happiness is only dependent upon what happens! But JOY is an attitude in which if nothing particularly wonderful happens, I’m still content! Happiness comes from your environment, but joy comes from your invironment. It’s something you seek God alone for, and once you get it, you hold on to it for dear life!

See, joy gives you the ability to look for God in any situation and ask the question, “How could God use this?Now, you might not particularly like what’s going on right now, but you know it had to pass through God’s hands before it gets to you! Which means, He’s okayed it, now you have to learn how to be okay with it! Job 1:8, “And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job…” The Message Bible says it like this: “God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job…” (MSG). Now, I’m all for receiving a person’s recommendation, but God this was a bit much! How do you call me your friend, and yet recommend me to Satan all in the same sentence?! However, God would never okay it if He wasn’t able to work through it, if He didn’t have a purpose in allowing it. Romans 8:28, “And we know that ALL that happens TO us is working FOR our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans” (TLB). KNOW THIS: Neither God Nor His Word Can Lie! “…ALL THAT HAPPENS TO US IS WORKING FOR OUR GOOD…” ALL OF IT! Good and bad days; money flowing or money stagnate; married, single, widowed, separated, divorced, ‘it’s complicated’; living in a house, apartment, room or cot at the shelter; getting the promotion or waiting in line at the unemployment office; in the best of health or filled with medication, symptoms, pain and a diagnosis you don’t even know how to pronounce or explain; eating Filet Mignon or a McDonald’s Fish Sandwich… “…ALL THAT HAPPENS TO US IS WORKING FOR OUR GOOD…”!

Believe it or not, but you are not the first, the last or the only one that has to deal with the difficulty of balancing life’s issues! David fasted and prayed as he waited for God’s decision on whether his son would live or die; David had to rule a kingdom with a king trying to kill him, a daughter that was raped by his son, another son trying to take his throne, and a frustrated wife to top it all off; Naomi loss her husband, sons and a daughter-in-law, and still she kept another daughter-in-law with her and instructed her through her own issues of recovery; Mary had to carry a son that was not conceived by her own husband to be; Nehemiah had to keep building, while his enemies in essence threw bricks at him; Noah had to build a boat with no water no-where in sight; Leah stayed married to a man that didn’t love her, but loved her sister instead; Adam’s woman spent more time with a snake than him; Samson loss his hair and his life; Jacob was a trickster that got tricked; Esau sold his birthright for some soup; Sarah is almost taken hostage because her husband called her his sister! And the list is endless!  In other words, life is not just happening to YOU! We ALL have to endure hardship! But maintaining your JOY makes it just a bit easier!

Never Forget: No Matter How Weak You Are, the Joy of the Lord is Still Your Strength!

Now to be honest and fair, sometimes when I’m tired and I’m stressed, I hear Eeyore coming out of my mouth too. I complain, feel negative, see problems, but no solutions. I’m critical, snappy and my mood swings can knock someone onto a different planet altogether! I have the Eeyore tendency from time-to-time to make a gray day darker because I’m dragging myself and everybody else down with me, with my Eeyore complex!

Think about it: It’s amazing how one negative person can be a cloud that blots out the sun for everybody else! If you don’t believe it can happen to you, just take a moment and play back the tapes of some of your recent conversations when you were going through the storms of life. What do you hear? Is it the joy of the Lord? Or do you hear a lot of “poor me” songs on repeat?

I remember a day when I woke up early, really depleted. I mean really depleted. I had a marathon schedule ahead of me, like a lot of days. And I decided that day in my first conscious moment I was going to focus on Jesus’ strength, instead of my burdens, my schedule, and my weakness. Now, I could have been thinking about my sore throat that day. I could have been focused on the fact I only had three hours of sleep that day. But instead of the negative I said, “No, today I’m just going to keep thinking about the strength of Jesus, not the weakness of myself.” I’ve got to tell you, I found myself energized for that whole long day by choosing to focus intentionally on the joy of the Lord. I can’t tell you how many days there have been like that since. It works! “The joy of the Lord is your strength.

Now, is this easy? Absolutely not! I wish I could tell you that it is. But truth is, it takes a lot of deliberate decision making to stand firm that ‘I will not complain about this. I will trust the Lord in this. I will not give up, give out or give in. I will not throw in the towel. I will not be disheartened and discouraged. But having done all to stand, I’ve deliberately decided to Stand!’ This takes daily practice and daily focus. It’s by no means easy, but it’s not impossible, and the end results are well worth it.

Eeyore was known for complaining, moping, looking depressed, and living under a consistent dark cloud. And if you’ve become Eeyore, today is your day to change characters. As silly as it sounds, every dark cloud does have a silver lining, but when you’re so consumed with chasing down gold, you end up missing it. You have to deliberately find even the smallest of things to celebrate and smile about daily. Sometimes you don’t get the whole ‘pot of gold’ at the end of the rainbow, sometimes you only get a coin or two. And still I admonish you, celebrate that! You remember the blessing of the woman with just 2 mites! No matter the size of the blessing, remember it’s a blessing, and deserves to be celebrated!

Listen, the truth is, last night was someone’s LAST night, but not yours! So learn to be content and grateful.

Think about this: At the moment you’re reading this, someone just received the phone call that their loved one has passed away; someone’s home is being foreclosed on; someone is being evicted; someone is battling with addiction; someone was just diagnosed with a terminal disease; someone’s marriage just ended; someone’s child has run away from home; someone just committed suicide; someone is beating and abusing their own wife; someone is scraping together coins to get a can of corn for dinner; someone needs a coat for the changing season but doesn’t have one; someone woke up on the park bench; someone received a pink slip after 20 years on the job; someone is getting prepped for surgery; someone’s church or business doors are closing…and again, the list is endless.

So today, step back from worrying, fretting and fussing about everything, and find something to be grateful for. Even when life bends your shoulders, remember God is still the lifter up of your head! It doesn’t matter how big or how small it is, just be grateful for it and watch your gratitude turn into joy that will ultimately turn your day and life completely around for the better!

Today Deliberately Decide to Be Joyful! It’s the Cure for Eeyore-itis!

“Dear Jesus, how foolish of me to have called for human help when You are here.” – Corrie ten Boom

2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed…” (AMP)

2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day.  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]! So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.” (AMP)

Psalm 34:19, “Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, But the Lord rescues him from them all.” (AMP)

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

Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.” (AMP)

John 16:22, “So for now you are in grief; but I will see you again, and [then] your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away from you your [great] joy.” (AMP)

Psalm 30:5, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may endure for a night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (AMP)

Psalm 30:11, “You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,” (AMP)

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

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“Don’t Let the Pressure Stop Your Press!”

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“I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience His resurrection power, be a partner in His suffering, and go all the way with Him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.” (Philippians 3:10-11 MSG)

While John was a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos, far from his loved ones and surrounded by the cries of abused captives, he had a vision of Jesus. He writes, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if dead…” (Revelation 1:17 AMP). He received an incredible revelation in the midst of confinement, chaos and pain – and isn’t that often how revelation works? God certainly has an amazing way of showing Himself mighty in the midst of our misery. The problem is however, we don’t respond like John. Despite what John was facing and surrounded by, when “…he saw Him…[he]…fell at His feet as if dead…” Let’s be honest, how many of us actually fall into worship mode when in the midst of struggles? Truth is, far more often, we become snappy, our attitudes get out of control, our emotions are doom and gloom, our faith falters, our countenance falls, our hope becomes helplessness, we invite family, friends and even foes to our self-proclaimed pity party. It’s sad but true. Rarely do we immediately fall into worship when life hits us with its worst!

But even Jonah learned to worship in the worst of it! “Jonah 2:2-6, Describes Jonah’s Fish Temple of Worship: The Bible says, “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ’Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, With ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me. I said, ’I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever…” (MSG).

And you think you’ve got problems??!!  Jonah worshiped in the midst of fish guts and seaweed, and you mean to tell me you can’t worship God in the midst of what you’re going through? Look at what Jonah worshiped in the midst of! But yet in still, you cancel your worship due to rolling eyes and attitudes; over what someone said or didn’t say; because they didn’t sing your song or preach you happy; because it’s raining outside; because they sat in your seat; because of what the doctors said. Tell yourself from this day forward, the devil is a liar! I’ll let nothing and no one cancel my worship again! Not their words, facial expressions, opinions, criticisms, discouragement, or bitterness! If Jonah could worship with his head tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea; surely you can continue to worship God as He keeps your head above the waters that He promised you would not drown you! Isaiah 43:1-4, “…Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to Me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” (MSG) And yet, you would allow worries to steal your worship, problems to steal your praise, fear to steal your faith, hurt to steal your hope and circumstances to steal your commitment?!

When in the midst of what John was surrounded by, he still fell at the Lord’s feet. In the midst of what Jonah faced, he still worshiped. So what’s your excuse? Do you really believe that trials, troubles, struggles and tribulation are all bigger than the God you say you serve? Well, if that’s your belief, than I’m here to tell you your broken belief system needs repairs!

Please understand that the difficult circumstances you’re going through right now can actually clear your perceptions, cause you to seek God as never before, and find answers for your life, to questions that have been bombarding your sanity! John’s predicament proves that negative experiences don’t hide the Lord – they reveal Him! The Bible reads:I saw this and fainted dead at his feet. His right hand pulled me upright, His voice reassured me: “Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last, I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and My life is now forever. See these keys in My hand? They open and lock Death’s doors, they open and lock Hell’s gates. Now write down everything you see: things that are, things about to be…” (Revelation 1:17-19 MSG). As bad as it was, John saw the Lord, bowed before Him in reverential fear and had the Lord Himself to encourage him: “…His voice reassured me: “Don’t fear…” That’s the beauty of being a child of the King, even when all of the Kingdom of Darkness is against you! He Always Reveals Himself to the Righteous, Regardless of How Bleak Their Circumstances May Appear.  After all, the One Whom we serve is still the first and the last, which encourages us to know that no matter what transpires in the middle, God got it covered from beginning to end! And He’s so awesome that He admits Himself, that He died and came back to life and now lives forever. He’s reassuring John (and us) of just how powerful He really is! All He desires is that we trust Him and believe Him! And then, if that weren’t enough to increase our faith, lift up our heads, square off our shoulders and straighten up our back, He goes on to say in His hand are keys, and He alone has the access to open and lock death’s doors and Hell’s gates, so you’re afraid of what? Right! Absolutely Nothing! Because this is the God you serve!

I think sometimes we unfortunately forget the Lord’s promise to us: “…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) How do you read a promise like that and fear anything or anyone? The Lord Himself DELIBERATELY REFUSES to fail you; give you up; leave you without support and will under no circumstances leave you helpless; nor will He forsake you; let you down or relax His hold on you! You are so loved, cherished, treasured and protected by God that He Initiated This Promise To You! You didn’t have to ask Him to do it, you didn’t have to ask Him for it, He Chose To Give it to You Himself! So regardless to what you’re in, what you’re surrounded by, what you’re going through, who you’re up against or what you’re facing, you have full CONFIDENCE that God’s Got You COVERED!

Hebrews 10:35, “Do not, therefore, fling away your FEARLESS CONFIDENCE, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.” (AMPC) The Message Bible says it like this: Hebrews 10:32-39, “Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion. It won’t be long now, he’s on the way; he’ll show up most any minute. But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust; if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy. But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.” (MSG) 

No Matter Your Circumstances, Never Cast Away Your Confidence in the God That Has You Covered!

I love the way Joseph words it: “…Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” (Genesis 50:20 MSG). Not even the Best attack of the enemy against you can stop all the Good God is going to make happen towards you because of it! And He’s so awesome as God that He only needs ONE plan for your life, and No Back-Up! Why? Because the ONE plan He has for your life is more than sufficient! “…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 29:11 MSG). Who needs a back-up plan to that?! God will in fact shame your enemies so that He will even use THEIR PLANS FOR YOUR DESTRUCTION AS THE BRICKS TO BUILD YOU UP IN THE END! Joseph’s brothers had some Bad plans for him, but God used them to Bless Joseph Real Good! And He will do the very same for YOU! So lift your bowed down head, square your shoulders, straighten your back and put a smile on your face, God is not done blessing you yet!

Instead of destroying you, Satan’s attacks can actually develop you. Yes, it STRESSES you, but it also STRETCHES you spiritually. In Hebrews Chapter 11 we see two things:

  1. The Deeds of Their Faith; and
  2. The Depth of Their Faith.

It always amazes me how God’s saints of old could worship Him in the midst of absolutely anything, and we can’t seem to worship in anything. They pursued God on just promises, and even the ones that weren’t fulfilled in their lifetime, they never lost their appetite for God. They continued to hunger and thirst after Him. Maybe that’s why they were so Full and we’re so Empty. The depth of their faith propelled them to continue in their deeds for Him, despite what was being done to and against them. They maintained such a Faith Under Fire That No Fierce Attack Could Put it to Ashes! They mastered how to Press In and Press On…Anyhow!

Think about it: Where did God prove His faithfulness to Daniel? In the Lion’s Den! “The king caved in and ordered Daniel brought and thrown into the lions’ den. But he said to Daniel, “Your God, to whom you are so loyal, is going to get you out of this.” A stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel’s fate. The king then went back to his palace. He refused supper. He couldn’t sleep. He spent the night fasting. At daybreak the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. As he approached the den, he called out anxiously, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve so loyally, saved you from the lions?” “O king, live forever!” said Daniel. “My God sent his angel, who closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. I’ve been found innocent before God and also before you, O king. I’ve done nothing to harm you.” When the king heard these words, he was happy. He ordered Daniel taken up out of the den. When he was hauled up, there wasn’t a scratch on him. He had trusted his God.” (Daniel 6:16-23 MSG). My favorite part? “…HE ORDERED DANIEL TAKEN UP OUT OF THE DEN. WHEN HE WAS HAULED UP, THERE WASN’T A SCRATCH ON HIM. HE HAD TRUSTED HIS GOD.” Daniel was able to trust God in the midst of his attack, why can’t you do the same? After all, He is still the SAME GOD! We need to learn like Daniel to pursue God, to trust Him, rely on Him, rest in Him no matter what, because He’s Got Us…No Matter What or Who is Trying to Get at Us!

Remember: He’ll Do Anything For You, So Why Won’t You Do Anything For Him?!

Let’s Recall Paul’s Words: “I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience His resurrection power, be a partner in His suffering, AND GO ALL THE WAY WITH HIM…” (Philippians 3:10-11 MSG) He’ll clearly go all the way to life, death, and life for you, won’t you even go to prayer, praise and worship for Him? Won’t you follow and obey His commandments? Won’t you read and apply His Word? Won’t you go to His house of worship and celebrate and serve Him and His people? Won’t you give up anything for Him since He’s given up everything for you?

Likewise, think about this: Where did the Lord reveal Himself to the three Hebrew boys? In a fire that was heated seven times over! “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, IT WOULDN’T MAKE A BIT OF DIFFERENCE, O KING. WE STILL WOULDN’T SERVE YOUR GODS OR WORSHIP THE GOLD STATUTE YOU SET UP.” Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?” “That’s right, O king,” they said. “But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!” Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire. All the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them! Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants WHO TRUSTED HIM! They ignored the king’s orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own. “Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”  (Daniel 3:16-30 MSG).

Why don’t you trust God like that? John bowed, Jonah worshiped, Daniel trusted, the three Hebrew Boys maintained their resolve, and yet you do none of the above when the circumstances of life attack you? But I Reiterate, HE IS STILL THE SAME GOD…YOUR GOD! So, whether He takes you out, or leaves you in, you ought to serve Him with gladness anyhow, because He’s already promised to never leave you or forsake you, so why do you keep leaving and forsaking Him? He’s proven time and time again that He will do anything for you, when will you start to at least do something for Him?

You have to leave Circumstantial and Conditional Faith, and Finally Attain Concrete Faith!

Listen: Believe it or not, but there’s a place in God where fiery trials consume everything Except your desire to know Him. And though that place may sometimes escape your grasp, never let it escape your gaze. It was Paul’s all-consuming goal: “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power out-flowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].” (Philippians 3:10-11 AMP)

Paul desired to know God intimately. No matter the circumstances, no matter the obstacles, no matter the pain, suffering or tragedy of death. It was all worth it, just to know Him! Paul would do anything for HIM! Will you? And just in case you think Paul had a cake-walk to getting to know God, listen at his testimony: 2 Corinthians 11:21-29, “… I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones…” (MSG) AND YET, PAUL WOULD ENDURE ALL OF THIS AS LONG AS HE GOT TO KNOW GOD! SO, WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE AGAIN FOR WHY YOU “CAN’T” MAKE THE SAME SACRIFICE?! WHY CAN’T YOU ENDURE? WHY CAN’T YOU PRESS AND PRAISE THROUGH? WHY CAN’T YOU WORSHIP STILL? WHY DON’T YOU TRUST REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU SEE?

Listen, I know struggles and attacks can make it hard sometimes to press in, but you’ve got to press anyhow! No matter how bad it may become, remember your God is always good and will always bring about good on your behalf: “AND WE KNOW THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THEM THAT LOVE GOD, TO THEM WHO ARE THE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.” (Romans 8:28) YES, THAT DOES SAY ALL THINGS (GOOD, BAD, UGLY, BEAUTIFUL, ETC…) WORK TOGETHER FOR YOUR GOOD! So continue to trust God no matter what you’re in, He’s a proven provider and protector of His people! “The Lord is my light and my salvation; He protects me from danger—whom shall I fear?  When evil men come to destroy me, they will stumble and fall!  Yes, though a mighty army marches against me, my heart shall know no fear! I am confident that God will save me. The one thing I want from God, the thing I seek most of all, is the privilege of meditating in His Temple, living in His presence every day of my life, delighting in His incomparable perfections and glory.” (Psalm 27:1-4 TLB).

If You Don’t Have This Level of Confidence in God…GET IT!

Remember This: Fiery Trials Work For You, Not Against You!

“Dear friends, don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you.  Instead, be really glad—because these trials will make you partners with Christ in His suffering, and afterwards you will have the wonderful joy of sharing His glory in that coming day when it will be displayed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13 TLB);

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

SAINTS, EVEN BAD WORKS FOR THE GOOD OF THE BELIEVER!

So Give God Your Very Best in Serving Him, Because He’s Given You His Very Best in Saving You!

Remember: He’ll Do Anything For You,  Won’t You Now Do Anything For Him?!

And what’s one thing you can start doing today? DON’T LET THE PRESSURE STOP YOUR PRESS!

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

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