“Pretty Container, But Poisonous Content!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“I’ve Fallen…BUT I WILL Get Up!”

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Micah 7:8, “My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I MAY HAVE FALLEN, BUT I WILL GET UP; I may be sitting in the dark, but the Lord is my light.” (CEV)

Truth is, I’m not a big fan of the Olympics, but every now and then I catch them and always manage to learn something from them (either natural or spiritual). And one of my absolute favorite lessons was the final event of the men’s gymnastics competition in the 2004 Athens Olympics. American Paul Hamm’s hopes for the gold medal seemed to come crashing down. He made a lopsided landing and actually toppled into the judges’ tables. That gave him a disappointing 9.137 score that virtually doomed his chances for a first place finish. After some moments of what he described as “depression,” he decided to fight back with what would have to be the best two performances of his life, just to win the bronze!

Paul took a deep breath and he began to move powerfully through the air with a routine that was filled with technical challenges. It was a nearly perfect performance with a solid landing at the end. His score: 9.837. At first, he didn’t know what that meant in terms of a medal. Then he heard his coach screaming, “Olympic champion!The gold medal was his!

Paul Hamm messed up, but he didn’t give up! He fell down, but he didn’t stay down! And Neither Should You!

Maybe that’s a picture of you, or it’s going to be a picture of you because you’ve messed up. You’ve made some mistakes. You’ve experienced making some bad choices and worse decisions. You’ve failed. You’ve fallen. And truth is, that failure could be final, but only if you let it be! In other words, you can get up and make a defiant comeback at any moment in which you CHOOSE to! Which is exactly what the devil is counting on you NOT Doing! He got you down, and he’s hoping you’ll be so discouraged, so defeated, you’ll give up and stay down. But this is your day to say, “Not a chance Satan! In my weakness, and in His strength, I will make a comeback!

And that kind of comeback defiance is powerfully expressed in Micah 7:8: “Do not gloat over me, my enemies! FOR THOUGH I FALL, I WILL RISE AGAIN. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” (NLT)

Let’s look at this in a few translations:

“Enemy, don’t laugh at me. I HAVE FALLEN, BUT I WILL GET UP AGAIN. I sit in the shadow of trouble now, but the Lord will be a light for me.” (NCV);

“Don’t, enemy, crow over me. I’M DOWN, BUT I’M NOT OUT. I’m sitting in the dark right now, but God is my light.” (MSG);

“Our enemies have no reason to gloat over us. WE HAVE FALLEN, BUT WE WILL RISE AGAIN. We are in darkness now, but the Lord will give us light.” (GNT);

“I have fallen, but enemy, don’t laugh at me! I WILL GET UP AGAIN. I sit in darkness now, but the Lord will be a light for me.” (ERV)

You see, sometimes you have to learn how to speak up for yourself and talk to the devil at the same time! Truth is, I HAVE FALLEN! However, that’s nothing more than a mere fact. And for some of us, if we’re to be completely honest, OUR FALL WAS NOT ACCIDENTAL! Let’s be real, the sin in our lives is not new! We are repeat offenders against God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness! Either we puffed again; drank again; had an affair again; lied again; gossiped again; stole again; cussed again…the bottom line, WE DID IT AGAIN…DELIBERATELY! And when you learn how to acknowledge and admit your Sin for what it really is, you’ll begin traveling down the right road to recovery!

One of the worse things you can do is to ACT LIKE YOU DON’T SIN! None of us is sinless! Not even on our best day, dressed in our best attire, hanging around the best people, on our best behavior… still Sin is ever present in us! So, if you want to do something to help yourself get up, be honest that no one knocked you down in the first place (MANY OF US DELIBERATELY LAID DOWN!) So step one, BE REAL WITH YOU! Step two, BE REAL WITH OTHER’S (after all, we ALL have our OWN sin and some of that sin is the identical twin to yours…in a nutshell, we’re in no position to judge!) Third, BE REAL WITH THE ENEMY! See, you have to remember who Satan is!

Revelation 12:10, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom (dominion, reign) of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come; for the ACCUSER of our [believing] brothers and sisters has been thrown down [at last], he who ACCUSES them and keeps bringing charges [of sinful behavior] against them before our God day and night.” (AMP)

That’s Satan and his job description all rolled up into one! He is an Accuser who does nothing but Accuse! And the Scripture even goes so far as to say he does this day and night. Isn’t that just like an enemy to bad mouth you day in and day out as though it were a full-time job that they received a paycheck, bonus and increase from?!  

Now, that word “Accuser” is defined as “to blame (someone) for something wrong or illegal; to say that someone is guilty of a fault or crime; to condemn; criticize; damn; denounce; prosecute, implicate; impeach; indict; defame.” It’s Middle English, from Anglo-French “accuser” from Latin “accusare” which means “to call to account”. It’s the combination of “ad” and “causa”, which together mean “lawsuit.” And that’s what the enemy attempts to do to us daily, accuse us of wrong doing day and night. He wants to prosecute us and condemn us and bring us up on lawsuit charges of guilt. But I love the Word of God!

Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now NO CONDEMNATION [NO GUILTY VERDICT, NO PUNISHMENT] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior].” (AMP)

That’s one of those Scriptures the enemy hopes you will never read, never learn, never memorize, and certainly never apply! Why? Because, when you admit your wrong before God, the enemy can accuse night and day, and still for the believer, THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION! And that word “condemnation” is defined as, “to express complete disapproval of; to sentence to a punishment, especially death; to endure something unpleasant; to officially declare to be unfit for use; to prove the guilt of.” Its Latin Origin ‘condemnare’, from ‘damnare’ literally means ‘to inflict loss.’ The penalty we SHOULD receive, we DON’T! And even though the enemy accuses us before God day and night, and desires that condemnation would ‘sentence us to a punishment especially death’, it’s NOT going to happen! You know why? Because the Bible says, “The thief comes only in order to STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY. I came that they may HAVE AND ENJOY LIFE, HAVE IT IN ABUNDANCE [TO THE FULL, TILL IT OVERFLOWS]” (John 10:10 AMP) I Reiterate…” THEREFORE THERE IS NOW NO CONDEMNATION [NO GUILTY VERDICT, NO PUNISHMENT] FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS [WHO BELIEVE IN HIM AS PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR]” Which is why we should never be ashamed to admit our mistakes, bad choices, and even willful sin! Because as Guilty as we are, we still have an ADVOCATE!

1 John 2:1, “My little children (believers, dear ones), I am writing you these things so that you will not sin and violate God’s law. And if anyone sins, we have an ADVOCATE [who will intercede for us] with the Father: Jesus Christ the righteous [the upright, the just One, who conforms to the Father’s will in every way – purpose, thought, and action]” (AMP)

For this very reason, we can always come clean with the mess we’ve made in our fall! So, do not be ashamed to acknowledge, admit, and confess to yourself; to others and even to the enemy, YEP, I have fallen, but I CAN and I WILL get up!

Don’t allow yourself, other’s or even Satan to make you think you have to stay down, because you went down! No, you make a deliberate decision that I will not stay down here! I’ll admit I messed up, and when I do, that will be the strength my legs need to get me back up on my feet!

People of God, never worry about the Accusers when you have an Advocate!

The word “advocate” is defined as, “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy; a person who pleads a case on someone else’s behalf; to publicly recommend or support.” Its Latin Origin ‘advocare’ literally means ‘to call to one’s aid’. A few synonyms are: ‘apostle; backer; booster; champion; friend; gospeller; herald; high priest; promoter; true believer; white-knight; applauder; cheerleader.’ That’s what our Advocate is for us! He PUBLICLY supports us, pleads for us and comes to our aid! And truth is, there are some people who will ‘say’ they support you…quietly, under their breath; in a corner of a room where no one can see or hear them. But not Jesus! He’s Our Public Advocate! He doesn’t care who sees or hears His support and defense of us, no matter what the charges may be! Now are you understanding why the enemy hates us so much! We’re Guilty; He Accuses Us; Yet Jesus Steps In….”Satan, I Publicly Denounce Their Condemnation!” Which is further reason for you to remind yourself today, “ENEMY, YES, I’VE FALLEN, OH’, BUT I CAN AND I WILL GET BACK UP!”

You see, getting up again, coming back again – that’s a choice, and one you need to make this very day. Serve notice that the devil’s victory is a temporary victory. You’re not staying down! And you know how I know? I’ll tell you!

Micah says in verse 8, “My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I may have fallen, but I will get up; I may be sitting in the dark, but the Lord is my light.” (CEV) But keep reading, because he doesn’t stop there! He goes on to verse 9: “I have sinned against the Lord. And so I must endure His anger, until He comes to my defense. BUT I KNOW THAT I WILL SEE HIM MAKING THINGS RIGHT FOR ME AND LEADING ME TO THE LIGHT.” (CEV).

In other words, yes I got it wrong, but thank God He can make things right! And yes indeed He will do that even for the likes of someone like me! Listen to the translation:

“I have sinned against the Lord. So I will endure His fury UNTIL HE TAKES UP MY CAUSE AND WINS MY CASE. He will bring me into the light, and I will see His victory.” (GWT);

“We have sinned against the Lord, so now we must endure His anger for a while. BUT IN THE END HE WILL DEFEND US AND RIGHT THE WRONGS that have been done to us. He will bring us out to the light; WE WILL LIVE TO SEE HIM SAVE US.” (GNT);

However, my favorite reads: “Don’t, enemy, crow over me. I’M DOWN, BUT I’M NOT OUT. I’m sitting in the dark right now, but God is my light. I can take God’s punishing rage. I deserve it – I sinned. BUT IT’S NOT FOREVER. HE’S ON MY SIDE AND IS GOING TO GET ME OUT OF THIS. He’ll turn on the lights and show me His ways. I’ll see the whole picture and how right He is. AND MY ENEMY WILL SEE IT, TOO, AND BE DISCREDITED –YES, DISGRACED! THIS ENEMY WHO KEPT TAUNTING, “SO WHERE IS THIS GOD OF YOURS?” I’M GOING TO SEE IT WITH THESE, MY OWN EYES – MY ENEMY DISGRACED, TRASH IN THE GUTTER.” (8-10 MSG)

You see my friends, we’ve all sinned; missed the mark; fallen short of His glory; messed up; fell down, and even laid down! And yet God loves us so, that He will not leave us there! No matter how the enemy accuses and taunts, in the end, our Father will raise His children up again! And worse yet, THE ENEMY WILL HAVE TO WATCH HIM DO IT JUST FOR US! “THEN MY ENEMIES WILL SEE THIS, AND THEY WILL BE COVERED WITH SHAME, BECAUSE THEY ASKED ME, “WHERE IS THE LORD YOUR GOD?” NOW I LOOK AT THEM. THEY ARE TRAMPLED LIKE MUD IN THE STREETS.” (vs. 10 GWT)

How befitting that the enemy that tried to shame you will have to cover his face in shame instead…how befitting that the enemy that tried to get dirt on you will be trampled like mud in the streets instead. The devil’s been trying to use your dirt to bury you in its shame. Well, that’s over and done with as of today! You need to get up; remove whatever junk might bring you down again, and then declare, “Lord, I am going to make the devil sorry he ever messed with me. I’m going to push back the darkness and I’m going to take prisoners away from him! He’s going to be the one who ends up covered with shame!” Can you do it? Sure you can!

You are the walking, talking proof of the grace, the love, and the restoring power of Jesus Christ; who can turn your fall into a mighty testimony for new followers of Christ! That voice that’s telling you, “It’s over. What’s the use? God doesn’t love you after what you’ve done.” That’s the voice of hell, and those are lies! The truth is that according to the Bible, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “But the Law came to increase and expand [the awareness of] the trespass [by defining and unmasking sin]. BUT WHERE SIN INCREASED, [GOD’S REMARKABLE, GRACIOUS GIFT OF] GRACE [HIS UNMERITED FAVOR] HAS SURPASSED IT AND INCREASED ALL THE MORE.” (AMP)

And because of God’s amazing grace, your fall does not have to be final or fatal! You went down, but you’re not staying down! You’re going to come back more of a winner, and more of a warrior than ever before! Just look at Paul Hamm. Can you even imagine how embarrassing it must have been to not only mess up and fall, in the Olympics of all places, but to fall so bad that you fall right into the judges table?! And yet, he went from the Ground to the Gold…AND SO CAN YOU!

Listen, whatever your sin may be, you can recover! Whether it was substance abuse; fornication; adultery; a baby out of wedlock; lying; stealing; cheating; hatred; sowing discord among the brethren, even murder (the Apostle Paul is proof), you can still get back up! Proverbs 24:16, is one of my favorite Scriptures, and here’s why:

“For a just man falleth seven times, AND RISETH UP AGAIN: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” (KJV)

Here’s a few translations:

“For a righteous man falls seven times, AND RISES AGAIN…” (AMP);

“The righteous may fall seven times BUT STILL GET UP…” (CEB);

“Even if good people fall seven times, THEY WILL GET BACK UP…” (CEV);

“Good people might fall again and again, BUT THEY ALWAYS GET UP…” (ERV);

“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them. No matter how many times you trip them up, GOD-LOYAL PEOPLE DON’T STAY DOWN LONG; SOON THEY’RE UP ON THEIR FEET, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” (vss. 15-16 MSG)

You my friend may have fallen, even seven times, and still I reassure you today…YOU’VE FALLEN, BUT YOU CAN AND WILL GET UP…SO GET UP!

“Falling down is an accident; staying down is a choice.” (Pinterest)

“Life has knocked me down a few times. It has shown me things I never wanted to see. I have experienced sadness and failures. But one thing is for sure…I Always Get Up!” (Author Unknown)

“Struggles are required in order to survive in life, because in order to stand up, you gotta know what falling down is like.” (Pinterest)

“I’ve fallen, cried, been angry and afraid. But even when I was hurting, I always found a way to keep going. A strong person never gives up.” (Simple Reminders)

“What defines us is how well we rise after falling.” (Pinterest)

“Falling down is part of life. Getting back up is living.” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes you fall down, because there is something down there that you are supposed to find.” (Pinterest)

“Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get back up.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“3 Reasons You Keep Losing the Battle”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now Soldiers, FIGHT AND WIN!

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

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“Don’t Forget to Meet With God”

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Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for the living God. When can I go to meet with Him?”  (ERV).

I’m definitely one of those people who’s always trying to cram one more thing in before I leave for an appointment. And if I can’t, then I make the fools attempt to make it up while I’m on the road! And to be honest, that’s OK, when the weather’s on my side! But on those days when it’s as they say, ‘raining cats and dogs’, that doesn’t exactly work out in my favor! You see, I’ve actually attempted to travel in one of those types of rain storms, while I was already running late mind you, and still trying to squeeze in another project, on my way to a project! I ended up zipping down the highway at top speed, and suddenly I felt myself losing control of the rear wheels! Now, if you’d like a fancy word for that experience, it’s called “hydroplaning”! What happens is, water builds up under your tires so you’re skimming along on water rather than pavement! In case you are unaware, THIS IS NOT GOOD! The rear of your car starts to go somewhere you don’t want it to go and never intended for it to go! If that’s ever happened to you, you know it’s a scary feeling to start hydroplaning – because you’re going too fast, your losing control, and then you end up in a place you didn’t schedule on your agenda! For many foolish drivers like myself, you could end up where I ended up once, driving my first car, a Buick in 1993. Want to know where I ended up? In a ditch! That may be part of the reason I don’t drive today! LOL!

For my sake the Chinese Proverb proved to be true:A fall into a ditch makes you wiser.

With that memory in mind, I thought of King David. King David was ‘hydroplaning’ when he wrote Psalm 42:1-5. You see, things were moving really fast and he was losing control, especially of his emotions. David says, “A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I’m thirsty for God-alive. I wonder, ‘Will I ever make it – arrive and drink in God’s presence?’ I’m on a diet of tears—tears for breakfast, tears for supper. All day long people knock at my door, Pestering, ‘Where is this God of yours?’ These are the things I go over and over, emptying out the pockets of my life. I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd, right out in front, Leading them all, eager to arrive and worship, Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving – celebrating, all of us, God’s feast! Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?…” (MSG).

David’s hurting, David’s crying – morning, noon and night, David is an emotional wreck, David has people looking at him and his situation and so they began pestering him: ‘where is this God of yours?’ Which is how some people may view you and what you’re struggling with: ‘Where is this God of his?’ ‘Where is this God of hers?’ They say things like, ‘I thought you said God was all-powerful; all-knowing; ever-present; almighty; awesome; powerful; your provider; your healer; your protector; your deliverer; your way-maker; your loving and altogether wonderful Heavenly Father. But, if He is in fact all those things, and He’s your God, where is He in your situation? Where is His help in your time of need?’ And David was clearly so friendless while battling this ordeal that he in fact started talking to his own soul: ‘why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues…?’ David’s slipping, David’s overwhelmed, David’s emotions are hydroplaning out of control! Are Yours Too? It’s okay to be honest. After all, only the truth sets you free. Masking, masquerading, pretending, faking it till you make it, are all nothing but chains of bondage. Don’t allow them to keep you bound any longer.

If the truth be told, I was there not too long ago. My challenges were a lot bigger than my resources. I felt like my faith was like a twin-sized fitted sheet on a king-sized mattress; it just couldn’t stretch far enough to cover! I was overwhelmed and anxious. I felt like I’d never catch up on anything. I was falling behind in school work, devotionals, proper scheduling of engagements, etc…Everything just seemed too much! It felt like having 2 body parts being stretched into 20 different directions! The stress of it all had me losing weight, gaining weight, breaking out in acne, losing hair and sleep, and if I kept at it, I could’ve lost my sanity!

But, I must say, I’ve been there before, and if truth be told, I can’t honestly say that I will absolutely never be there again. But that day I wandered into this psalm, Psalm 42, where I was hit with a probing question which turned out to be the answer for me. Now, if you’re feeling yourself hydroplaning right now, maybe it’s an answer for you, too. In Psalm 42:2, David asks an extremely important question, that I had to learn to ask likewise, he asked: “…When can I go and meet with God?” (NIV).

Like David, I needed to stop my spinning world and simply get away with God. So I got away with just my Bible and my notepad, and I met with God. That may be your Lord’s prescription for all that’s ailing you right now as well. Although many of you may respond, “No way! There’s just too much for me to do to just stop everything!” Well, that’s exactly why you need to! Whether you know it or not, you’re losing control. You have to slow down to listen to your Lord for an extended, uninterrupted, unhurried period of time if you’re ever going to get back on track! Trust me, I’m the Queen of, ‘I don’t have time!’ But that’s why you have to be proactive. Purposely Schedule Time With God! That word ‘schedule’ is defined as, ‘a set plan for carrying out a process or procedure; arranging a timetable.’ And what’s the first thing you need to do in order to start scheduling anything? You have to figure out what your priorities are! A ‘priority’ is defined as, ‘something that is regarded as more important than others; something that is superiority in rank, position, or privilege; preferential; something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives; something that is deemed urgent; supreme and most valued.’ And shouldn’t that be descriptive of our God as our priority before any other person, place or thing? Isn’t He more important than the hair and nail appointment you scheduled? More preferred than your brunch date? Higher in rank and position than going to the laundry, movies, supermarket, or even a church or ministry event? Shouldn’t God be the first person we give preference and privilege to? After all He’s done for us, and means to us, doesn’t that merit giving Him our attention instead of all the other competing alternatives in life? And certainly in these end times, wouldn’t you say that meeting with God consistently is urgent?!

You see, my former pastor used to say, ‘people do what they want to do.’ And it’s true. A lot of the things we say are out of our control, and out of our hands, are not. We’ve simply chosen them as higher on the priority chain than God. How insulting is that to one who laid down His life that we might live?!

Truth is, I understand. Life can become overwhelmingly busy. But nothing in life should become so busy that we have no time to spend with God. And that means outside of Sunday morning services; Wednesday night prayer and bible study; Sunday school or other ‘church/ministry’ activities. But this spills over into purposely getting up at 5am just to sit in quiet time with God. Not to repent; not to ask for stuff; not to seek His favor; but to sit and listen to the heart of God. I’m persuaded we can no longer hear God because we talk too much! We can sit in prayer for a whole hour, and we’re the only ones talking. Then we say ‘amen’, and off to the races. But God has things He wants to say too. How much of God’s directions, wisdom and guidance are you missing out on simply because you can’t be quiet and listen? But no, we can’t sit and wait for God to speak, because we have to beat the clock coming and going every day!

But here’s a quote that has come to be one of my favorites: “Nature does not hurry, yet Everything is accomplished.” (Lao Tzu). If you think about it, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, all come year after year, and neither ever rushes to get here, yet they come faithfully and consistently! “For as long as Earth lasts, planting and harvest, cold and heat, Summer and winter, day and night will never stop.” (Genesis 8:22 MSG).

In other words, all the things that God has set or better yet “pre-ordained” in life and for your life, Will Occur, in their Proper Season! 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); Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: (MSG) That word ‘opportune’ is defined as, ‘done or occurring at an especially appropriate time.’ Its’ Latin Origin ‘opportunus’, comes from the combination of: ‘ob’ (meaning ‘in the direction of’) and ‘portus’ (meaning ‘harbor’). Which is descriptive of the wind driving towards the harbor, hence the idea ‘seasonable.’ It’s when something happens at the right time and season, so it’s effortless, even a simple blow of the wind can send it off in the right direction. It’s timely and well-timed. It’s appropriate; fitting, proper, suitable, fortunate and seasonable. And ‘seasonable’ is defined as, ‘something appropriate for a particular season.’ That’s why you have to stop running around trying to make everything happen for yourself overnight! What God deems necessary to happen in your life will happen when it’s the right season for it to happen! You don’t have to be so busy trying force what is going to fail because you’re attempting to make it come to pass, out of season! What God has ordained for your life, will have to happen by His hands, not yours. And when you leave it in His hands, you can be assured that it’s already Handled With Care! You Just Have to Wait For Your ‘Due-Season’, which means, ‘a good and appropriate time.’ Saints, God has something Good in store for you, you just need to wait for the right, appropriate, good time for it to come to pass! Remember, God knows seasons, which is why you don’t have 90 degree weather in winter; nor do you have snow in summer! God has ordained the seasons in the earth and in your life! Trust Him, and Trust His Timing.

Therefore, you need not hurry, rush, or attempt to bring forth fruit in the wrong season! If it is to happen, it will! Don’t make the mistake that many, especially those in ministry, are making…and that’s driving so fast up the mountain to reach the top, that they’ve missed the breathtaking scenery along the journey! In their hurry to reach the top of the mountain, to mount a flag of victory, to make a name for themselves, they missed all the “little miracles” along the way! They missed the clouds and the silver lining, they missed the calming powder-blue sky, they missed earth’s most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, they missed the flowers that determined to push their way through the dirt and sprout forth anyhow, they missed all of the creatures, the creation and the Creator rushing to “create” something themselves!

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).

People of God, slow down! Reprioritize your schedule and pend down more time with God. You need His guidance and direction. You need His instruction and wisdom. You need to hear His voice. And you cannot get any of that rushing into prayer and rushing out. You can’t get that while having a to-do-list longer than your time spent with God.

I came to a startling revelation in my quiet time with God recently. He reminded me of all the doctor and specialist appointments, all the ‘abnormal’ reports, the pseudo tumor, all the migraines, the heart murmur, the ectopic pregnancy, the breast surgery, and other surgeries etc…and then He reminded me that TODAY not a one of those things is a problem for me. Why? Because He healed and delivered me and granted me wholeness! And for what purpose? That I run around the earth, under the disguise of “ministry” or “kingdom” work? No, so that I would be mindful of His promise to me:…I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” (John 10:10 AMP).

Now, does that mean ministry/kingdom work is unimportant? Not at all! But the Scripture gives us the best advice:Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!” (Matthew 5:6 AMP).

And to add gravy to your mashed potatoes:If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:30-33 MSG).

SAINTS, STOP HYDROPLANING, GET IN HIS PRESENCE AND HUSH!

Stop running around, in my father’s words, like a chicken with his head cut off! Life goes by fast enough, don’t rush and hurry through it, and don’t busy yourself so much that you have no idea where 10 years went! God will provide for you naturally and spiritually, so stop hydroplaning in all the wrong directions, stop wasting your time and your life!  Both of which you cannot get back once they are gone!

Take the time this week to write down what you’re feeling and thinking as you make it your most important business to meet with God and listen to Him. Ask Him for a fresh look at the people in your life, at the pressures, and at your priorities. Ask Him to help you see the forest as a whole again; because if the truth be told, you’ve been overwhelmed by focusing on all the individual trees!

In His presence, set some priorities. Make some plans and weed some things out. You can trust what you’re sensing in an extended time with God. Which needs to be on a more regular basis. Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG) If you want to learn how to live freely and lightly without being tired, worn out, burned out and weighted down with a life that is heavy and ill-fitting, then do what Jesus invited you to do: “COME TO ME; GET AWAY WITH ME; WALK WITH ME; WORK WITH ME; WATCH ME; KEEP COMPANY WITH ME!” That a lot of ‘ME’! Which tells us just how important Jesus feels about our relationship with Him. He desires to spend time with us and He makes it a priority because He wakes us up every morning without fail; keeps us safe throughout the day; and blesses us with sweet sleep every night. How can we NOT desire to spend time with Him…On Purpose?!

And I’m not talking about spending time with God when the doctor gives you a bad report; or you’ve lost a loved one; or the job laid you off; or the kids are acting up; or the marriage is about over; or the bank accounts have a whole lot of zero’s but with no other number in the front! No, that’s the times when we always go running to God. Then, He’s a Priority, Because for Us Our Problem is a Priority. But that’s not how you build a solid relationship. Spending time with God has to be purposeful and consistent. Spend time with God when everything in your world for a change seems to be going ‘right and good.’ Since those are the times when God is greatly ignored. God has already promised to meet our every need, but that doesn’t mean we treat Him like that’s all we need Him for. He desires a relationship, and a relationship requires time. Make sure you’re not short changing God on your end!

If you’re traveling at a high speed right now and you feel yourself losing control, first of all, SLOW DOWN! You need to carve out time away where your Lord can show you what He wants, what He sees when He looks at the people in your life, when He looks at the situations in your life, and when He looks at the needs in your life. Remember, you have to be still to know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”). Here’s some instructions for you everyday from the varying translations of that Scripture: “Be still…” (AMP); “Let be and be still…”; (AMPC); “Our God says, ‘Calm Down’…” (CEV); “Let go of your concerns…” (GWT); “Stop your fighting…” (CSB); “Stand silent!…” (TLB); “Cease striving…” (NASB); “Be quiet…” (NLV). And lastly the Message Bible says, “…“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at Me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” (MSG) That’s what you need to do today: Be still, calm down, let go, stop fighting, be silent, cease striving, be quiet and step out of the traffic, take a long, look at God, your High God, and know that He alone is Above Everything! Even Your Schedule!

There is more to life than increasing its speed.” (Gandhi).

Stop allowing your entire life to be arranged around trying to get something done, outside of God’s Will, God’s Plan, God’s Purpose, and God’s Timing. It’s all futile, and you’re missing out on life and more importantly, you’re missing out on a relationship with God! Therefore, today, I challenge you to slow down long enough to ask a simple question:…When can I go and meet with God?” Then, if you’re smart, you’ll also take time to answer it by saying, ‘Right Now’!

Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for the living God. When can I go to meet with Him?”  (ERV). The word ‘thirst’ is defined as, ‘a sensation of dryness; parched; deficient of moisture; eager; hunger; restless; breathless; longing; pining; dehydrated.’ And ‘dehydrated’ is defined as, ‘burned out; drained; exhausted; fatigued; sapped; weakened; worn out; discouraged; disheartened; dispirited.’ That’s how David described his soul. Maybe that’s how you can describe yours too. And if that is the case, all you need to do to quench your soul’s thirst is meet with the Living Water. When your well is empty, you need to know where to go: John 4:14, “But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.” (AMP)

David experienced a crazy emotional roller coaster ride throughout Psalm 42:1-5. But the last part of Psalm 42:5 says this, “…Fix my eyes on God – soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” (MSG) This is how you bounce back like David did. You meet with God and fix your eyes on Him alone. You purposely remove all the distractions and see and hear only Him. You Get In His Presence and You Stay Present. And if you do, the conclusion of your meeting with God will be, “…I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Check your calendar, this is One meeting you can’t afford to miss, rain-check, reschedule, or cancel!

Saints, Schedule Time With God, Your Soul (And Your Life) Needs a Drink of His Living Water!

“If you find yourself a bit irritated or overwhelmed, it’s a sign that you’re spending less time with God and more time with the world.” (Author Unknown)

“Spending time with God is the key to our strength and success in all areas of life. Be sure that you never try to work God into your schedule, but always work your schedule around Him.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Look at your ministry as a marathon not a sprint – build deep foundations of intimacy with God and never let your public schedule get fuller than your time alone with God.” (Vicky Beeching)

“We schedule meetings to keep our business going in the right direction – we need to schedule meetings with God to help keep our lives going in the right direction.” (DeVon Franklin)

“Christian, your time is not your own. You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your schedule.” (David Mathis)

“The biggest battle you will face in life is your daily appointment with God; keep it, or every other battle will become bigger.” (Ravi Zacharias)

“It is not easy to shut out the world, set aside a few minutes by yourself, and spend time in God’s Word and prayer. But it is essential if we are to grow in our relationship with God and be strengthened for the battles ahead. Don’t delay. Begin now to spend time alone with God every day.” (Billy Graham)

“It is impossible for a believer, no matter what his experience, to keep right with God if he will not take the trouble to spend time with God. Spend plenty of time with Him; let other things go, but don’t neglect Him.” (J. Oswald Sanders)

“To hear the whisper of God you must turn down the volume of the world. Find time to disconnect from everything around you and be still in His presence today. He is waiting for you to draw near.” (Author Unknown)

“We can be tired, weary and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength.” (Charles Stanley)

“We simplify, not just to be less busy…rather, we simplify to remove distractions from our pursuit of Christ.” (Donald S. Whitney)

“Perhaps we should stop talking about being faithful to have a quiet time with God each day, as if we were doing something to earn a reward. It would be better to talk about the privilege of spending time with the God of the Universe and the importance for our own sake of being consistent in that practice.” (Jerry Bridges)

“When you spend time with God and open your heart, your mind and your spirit, He will unfold dreams and images before you. He wants you to see what will happen on the inside before you see it happen on the outside.” (Terri Savelle Foy)

“The time you spend alone with God will transform your character and increase your devotion. Then your integrity and godly behavior in an unbelieving world will make others long to know the Lord.” (Charles Stanley)

“More is accomplished by spending time in God’s presence than by doing anything else.” (Heidi Baker)

“Spending time with God isn’t a magic formula for a perfect life; it’s a rock-solid foundation that will hold you up when everything around you is shifting sand.” (Author Unknown)

“Reduce your stress level by taking time to unplug from the world, open your Bible, and listen to what God has to tell you.” (Author Unknown)

“God wants more than five minutes of your day. He wants to be part of your every moment. Your highs and lows, and everything in between.” (Author Unknown)

“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)

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” (Stephen Covey)

“Every one of your Disappointments is Your Appointment with God.” (Author Unknown)

“Time spent with God is never wasted.” (Author Unknown)

“Spending time with God, puts everything else in perspective.” (Author Unknown)

“God is never too busy to listen. Never be too busy to talk to Him.” (Author Unknown)

“Prayer is the time you spend alone with God.” (Art Hochberg)

“Nothing will help us grow spiritually more than spending time alone with God every day, reading His Word and praying. Time alone with God is essential to our spiritual welfare.” (Billy Graham)

“When we choose to consistently spend time with God, we will bit by bit begin to find Him present in every area of our lives.” (Sally Clarkson)

“The reason we spend time with God is not so that we will feel invigorated and ready to face the day and get through our agenda; the reason we spend time with God is so that He can set the agenda.” (Author Unknown)

“You don’t need a diploma to preach about Jesus, you just need to spend time with Him.” (Author Unknown)

“There is also a third blessing that comes from spending time alone with God. When we spend time alone with Him, this releases all God’s potential, His power, grace and anointing, all of which are so essential for doing work for the Kingdom of God.” (Sunday Adelaja)

“Stop spending quality time with unqualified people.” (P.L. Wilson)

“You may think you do not have time to feed yourself spiritually, but I assure you that you cannot afford not to.” (Crystal Paine)

“Spend your time in nothing which you know must be repented of; in nothing on which you might not pray for the blessing of God; in nothing which you could not review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed; in nothing which you might not safely and properly be found doing if death should surprise you in the act.” (Richard Baxter)

“Folk spend so much time trying to be connected to people because of who they are; what that relationship represents to them or what they think that person can do for them. Just give me people who I know in my heart know God personally. That’s the greatest human connection I can have. That’s real networking.” (Jason M. Lee)

“If God has called you, do not spend time looking over your shoulder to see who is following you.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

“As you read or listen to God’s Word and spend time talking to Him in prayer, your spirit will eventually become stronger than your flesh.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Do you spend more time focusing on the circumstances of your life instead of on the Almighty God who has chosen every path for you?” (Marci Ferrell)

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

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“Hold Onto Your Hope, Help is Coming”

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

I have friends that literally live all of the world! No matter the state, country, or island, I am assured to have a friend with that as their residence. From Belize to Norway, from South Korea to Pakistan, from Russia to Sweden, from Switzerland to Botswana, from Roosevelt to New Jersey, I have a friend! If only I could finally start to make time for visiting!

Anyway, I have one particular pastor friend who lives in a beautiful spot in the country! Daily he sees things there that I would never see in New York City. The bird life there is pretty much limited to sparrows, and there are a few rowdy crows, an occasional robin or blue jay. Oh, yeah, and then the parrot (kept in his kitchen). He’s able to see all of those beautiful birds daily, including one of the classiest birds around – the hummingbird. Now, I’m pretty sure at one time or another, you’ve seen them probably doing their amazing hovering thing and flying from one flower to the next. But what I love most about them, is their ability to always be attracted to the most beautiful things in the yard. My friend loves watching the hummingbird above all the others, for that one reason too, it’s always attracted to that which is beautifully scented. Now, as much as he loves to watch the classiest of birds (the hummingbird), he also, unfortunately, gets to see one of the un-classiest birds around too – the buzzard. I mean, what an amazing contrast. You’ve got the hummingbird (attracted to that which has the fragrance of life) and the buzzard (attracted to that which has the fragrance of death), flying over the same ground! The hummingbird looks for the beauty in life; the buzzard only looks for the ugliness of death!

Thinking of these two birds made me also think of the book of Lamentations, written by the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, who wrote from a broken heart. You see, his country is devastated, and likewise, his personal life is devastated as well, and so he talks about his feelings in chapter 3, verses 19-20. He says, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” (NIV). We’re talking about a depressed prophet here! And he’s thinking about all of the negatives and the pain and the failures. Listen to him in the following translations:

“Remember [O Lord] my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and the gall (bitterness). My soul continually remembers them and is bowed down within me.” (AMP);

“The memory of my suffering and homelessness is bitterness and poison. I can’t help but remember and am depressed.” (CEB);

“Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed.” (CEV);

“Remember my suffering and my aimless wandering, the wormwood and poison. My soul continues to remember these things and is so discouraged.” (GWT);

“The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed.” (GNT);

“Oh, remember the bitterness and suffering you have dealt to me! For I can never forget these awful years; always my soul will live in utter shame.” (TLB);

“The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.” (NLT);

“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom.” (MSG)

Jeremiah is in deep pain! In this moment he has ‘buzzard vision’! He’s looking at the ugly, looking at what’s dying, or looking at what’s dead. He sees affliction, wandering, homelessness, bitterness, depression, troubles, loneliness, misery, discouragement, grief and loss. But before we judge him too harshly, can’t we all be honest and admit we’ve felt some of those things too? And some of us felt many of those emotions for a long time, and even at the same time, for a long time. We’ve all had those moments when we couldn’t walk by faith, because we were stumbling in fear. When the loved one died, when the marriage is looking at divorce, when the children are struggling with sin and peer pressure, when we were afraid we’d lose the house or the car, afraid that we might have to pull the aspiring student out of college because we couldn’t pay the tuition. Or the moment when the doctor gave the diagnosis. When our strong parents, have become so weak and frail with age and ailments that they’re now weaker than we were as babies. When business fails, the church declines, the job lays off. The long-time friendship/relationship ended in the blink of an eye. We’ve all had something, (whether it’s listed above or not), that dampened our spirit and deflated our faith. So, let’s not judge Jeremiah too harshly. After all, when you’ve sat where someone else is sitting, shouldn’t it bring out compassion, empathy, concern, patience and understanding?

So, Jeremiah the prophet is depressed and in pain. And before we move on from here, can I say this…Leaders Are Not Exempt From These Same Emotions! Jeremiah, THE PROPHET, the mouthpiece of God, proclaiming God’s word and directions to the masses, still battled pain and depression, loss and discouragement. Therefore, never let anyone tell you to just ‘get over it’ (no matter what your ‘it’ may be.) Believe it or not but Apostles deal with ailments; Bishops battle discouragement; Pastors press through pain; Elders have to endure suffering; Deacons go through bouts of depression; Ministers have countless miserable moments. In other words, we ALL, even LEADERS, have to deal with LIFE, and all that it brings. Which means you should never feel guilt, shame or embarrassment when hurting. Don’t masquerade, don’t hide, don’t pretend, don’t cover up. And despite what most will tell you, don’t make the fools mistake of ’faking it till you make it’. Please hear me, nowhere in all of Scripture does God tell any of His children to pretend to be okay! What He does say is this:

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

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” (1 Peter 5:6-7 AMP);

“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.” (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)

Nothing about that says ‘fake it till you make it’! No, instead you’re admonished to be honest about how you’re feeling, what you’re feeling, and then to take it all to God. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to play a role and perform for God? He loves you, as is, and that’s a wonderful feeling! So leader, and laity, alike…don’t let anything or anyone shame you because of what you’re dealing with right now. Be honest about where your emotions are visiting right now, because that’s all they’re doing is Visiting! They will not, cannot, stay and Live here!

That’s the danger of ‘buzzard vision’, it doesn’t just look for something dead, it Always looks for something dead. Neither its vision or focus ever change. That cannot be you! It’s one thing to deal with hurt, pain, and discouragement, but it’s another thing to let that be all you see! And no one can better show us how to shift our vision and focus from ‘buzzard vision’ (only looking for ugly death) to ‘hummingbird vision’ (only looking for beautiful life)!

Read where Jeremiah’s vision shifts, it’s found in verse 21. He says this: “YET this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.” (NIV) Let’s look at this in more detail:

“Then I remember something that fills me with hope” (CEV);

“The reason I can still find hope is that I keep this one thing in mind” (GWT);

“Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing.” (GNT);

“Yet there is one ray of hope” (TLB);

“But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope” (MSG);

“Yet I still DARE TO HOPE when I remember this.” (NLT)

You see, after all of that “affliction, wandering, homelessness, bitterness, depression, troubles, loneliness, misery, discouragement, pain, grief and loss”, Jeremiah says there’s ONE thing he remembers, and it’s that ONE thing that gives him hope! I must say, that ONE thing must be something absolutely awesome and powerful, to only be ONE thing, and yet when he remembers it, all the rest is irrelevant! I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to find out what that ONE thing is!

Jeremiah, goes from downcast to hope; from slumped shoulders to his chin held high! Reminds me of the Scripture, “But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory [and my honor], and the ONE who lifts my head.” (Psalm 3:3 AMP).

But, what made the difference for Jeremiah? What lifted his downcast soul to an uplifted position? Let’s read and find out: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him.’” (NIV) The Message Bible says it like this: “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, His merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great Your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.” (MSG)

What a change here! Jeremiah starts looking at the HOPE factors instead of the HURT factors! Can you believe it? As much pain as he was in, all it took was ONE thing, HOPE in God for HELP, to shift his entire perspective! And that’s all you need today as well! HOPE in God for HELP with what’s HURTING You!

NOW, before you get to running and praising…here’s a tough question to ask Jeremiah: Has the situation changed? And his answer? NO. But his focus is about to, because he talks first of all about the margin of difference when times are tough. He says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed.He is suddenly deciding to focus on the Lord’s great love. When you realize just how much the Lord loves you, it deepens your hope in Him. Because when you think about it, when it comes to the people we love, what do we do? We guard them, treasure and cherish them, protect them, provide for them, help them, encourage and strengthen them. And likewise, God loves us so much that he doesn’t leave us in our helplessness, He steps in with a reminder of His love that brings back to our remembrance…HOPE! A hope that reminds you that you won’t always feel this way, you won’t always be in this place. A hope that reminds you that change is still possible. A hope that reminds you that no matter how long you’ve been driving down this dreary, miserable road, there is yet a TURN coming! “You have TURNED my mourning into dancing for me; You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy” (Psalm 30:11 AMP) Your Turn is Coming! You’ve Endured, now get ready to Enjoy! “Weeping may ENDURE for a night, but a shout of JOY comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 AMP) In a nutshell: GOOD MORNING SAINTS!

And not only does Jeremiah now focus on Hope and God’s Great Love, but then he talks about the Lord’s Compassions that are new every morning. Those compassions, I think, are like specific, customized actions of love from God that are in each 24-hour period of time. And you’ll see them if you’ll look for “God sightings” every day. They’re God’s little interventions and sometimes big interventions. And Jeremiah has decided to look at those instead. And because they’re new every morning, God never misses a day of making sure you have Hope, which is your reminder of His Great Love and Great Compassion! There’s always some to see, but you have to look for them!

God always supplies us with mercies for what this day will need. The Bible says it like this: “Give us THIS DAY our DAILY bread.” (Matthew 6:11) The New Living Version says it like this: “Give us the bread we need TODAY.” (NLV). How wonderful to know that God looks after us DAILY! He provides and protects us DAILY! He hears us DAILY! He grants us His Great Mercy, Great Compassion, Great Love DAILY! No matter what a day may bring, you are never in that day without God! Which is why you need not worry, fret, fear, or be discouraged. God is with you every-day! Don’t worry about yesterday or even today or even tomorrow, God has them all covered on your behalf!

Here’s Proof: “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. YOU’LL FIND ALL YOUR EVERYDAY HUMAN CONCERNS WILL BE MET. “Give your entire attention to what God is doing RIGHT NOW, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:25-34 MSG)

Yet another reminder of the Lord’s Great Love, Great Hope, Great Provision, Great Compassion and Great Faithfulness Towards YOU!

Maybe you’ve been dwelling on the pain, you’ve been kind of falling into the identity of being a life-long victim. Maybe the monster of self-pity is consuming you. You’ve been focusing on your failures and building this wave of self-doubt and paralysis of faith. Well, if that’s you, know this: It’s only Satan who focuses on the past, because it can’t be changed. A portion of John 10:10 says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…” Satan focuses on the past (and tries to get you to do the same), that which is done and over with. Those issues that are dead and not to be revived. He has ‘buzzard vision’, all he looks for is the bad and the unchangeable. He focuses on dead things, but You Don’t Have To! Why? Because the rest of that Scripture reads, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Satan and his ‘buzzard vision’ only focuses on the dead, but God in His ‘hummingbird vision’ only focuses on life! God points to the future that has yet to be written, and so should you. After all, aren’t you tired of just seeing the carnage, the ugly, the hurting, the negative? Why don’t you choose to focus on what you can thank God for each morning? Look for His love. Review His interventions and His blessings and you’ll feel wind start to rise under your wings instead of weights growing on them pulling you down! It’s a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute, second-by-second deliberate choice! And Only You decide what you want to focus on as you fly over today’s ground!

Don’t be a buzzard! Go for hummingbird vision! Look for the beauty. After all, when you can wake up in the morning knowing that Last Night wasn’t your LAST Night, why would you want to dwell on anything negative? You made it over into a new day, leave the old behind!

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, BE PRESENT. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say ‘THANK YOU!’ —the coyotes and the BUZZARDS—
Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.” (Isaiah 43:16-21 MSG)
How funny that you get to enjoy forgetting about old history…but even the ‘buzzards’ will have to tell God ‘Thank you!’ And surely if God can cause ‘buzzards’ to tell Him Thank You, so can you! Today, make a deliberate decision to be happy and joyful and content. Today, remember the Lord’s Help, Hope, Compassion and Care. Today, remember the Lord’s Great Love and Great Faithfulness that are yours for the taking! Today, Dare to Hope Because God is There to Help!

“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom…”

Yes, like it or not, but we will ALL have moments just like the prophet of utter hopelessness because of varying life struggles. However, we must do as the prophet did, keep moving forward as you remember:

“…there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, His merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great Your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly HOPE FOR HELP FROM GOD. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.” (MSG)

Saints, stick it out through the hard times knowing that you have God’s loyal love, His mercy, His faithfulness, His goodness! And all you have to do is passionately wait and diligently seek God knowing that your quiet hope is bringing some loud help from God that all will hear! Keep trusting and relying on God; keep pressing through the pain; keep releasing all your hurt in prayer, your turn around will come right on God’s schedule, and He is never late!

Dare to Hope, God is There to Help!

Romans 5:5, “Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (AMP)

Psalm 62:5, “For God alone my soul waits in silence and quietly submits to Him,
For my hope is from Him.” (AMP)

“Though our faith may waver, God’s faithfulness will not.” (Alicia Bruxvoort)

“Disappointments are just God’s way of saying, ‘I’ve got something better.’ So be patient, have faith and live your life.” (Author Unknown)

“God has a purpose for your pain, a reason for your struggle, and a reward for your faithfulness. Don’t give up.” (Dave Willis)

“Your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.” (Author Unknown)

“Never let a bad situation bring out the worst in you. Choose to stay positive and be the strong person that God created you to be.”  (Author Unknown)

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

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“Turning a Mess Into a Masterpiece!”

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Then I [Jeremiah] went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? Saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” (Jeremiah 18:3-6)

If you’re asking today, “Why am I going through all that I’m going through?” the answer is, you’re “IN THE HAND OF THE POTTER! 

Knowing that alone helps, especially when you’re on the wheel and everything in your life seems to be spinning and spiraling completely out of control! I use the word “seems”, because in Actuality, your life is not spinning and spiraling completely out of control. ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS LOOK UNDER THE TABLE AND SEE WHOSE FOOT IS ON THE WHEEL! “…behold, HE (THE POTTER) wrought a work ON THE WHEELS” Many of us have seen wheels spin on bikes, motorcycles, cars, trains and the like, and when those wheels get to spinning, if you stare at them long enough it can make you dizzy! The speed is swift as it goes around and around in circles! And sometimes, as believers, that’s how our lives feel when God has His foot on the potter’s wheel! Everything feels like it’s spinning completely out of control, but the potter has been doing this far too long to not know how to control the speed of the spin! And God likewise, has not loss control of your life even when the marriage, kids, family, job, finances, health, business and church all seem to be spinning at 200 MPH in all different directions at the exact same time! But be encouraged, the Potter’s foot knows how to handle the speed of the wheel!

“…behold, HE (THE POTTER) WROUGHT a work on the wheels” Now the word “Wrought” means “Beaten Out Or Shaped By Hammering.” This may hurt you, but it will eventually help you, listen, the pain you THINK is the devil, is REALLY JUST THE POTTER RESHAPING YOU! Think about it, IF THE ENEMY HAD BEEN IN CONTROL OF YOUR SITUATION, HE’D HAVE THROWN YOU OFF THE WHEEL A LONG TIME AGO! BUT HE CAN’T, BECAUSE THE POTTER CONTROLS THE PROCESS, THE WHEELS AND THE WROUGHT! And all this time you’ve been giving the devil credit for a work he didn’t do! The devil wants to steal, kill and destroy you, not work on you for the better! Yes, the hammering hurts, it’s painful, it’s difficult, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s God’s process! And most important, the Hammer is in the Hand of God! Which should serve as great encouragement to you that no hurt, harm or hindrance will come of it. He’s simply shaping you to become the masterpiece He already designed you to be! 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) That’s what all the hammering is about! It’s transforming us, renewing us, and making us ready to be used by God for good works as His workmanship, His own Master Work, His own Work of Art! And you really thought the devil was behind all of that goodness?! Absolutely not! Stop adding skills to the devil’s resume for work he couldn’t and didn’t do!

But listen to what the devil would have you focus on: … And the vessel that he made of clay was MARRED in the hand of the potter…” The devil doesn’t want you to focus on the Masterpiece God is creating you to be, he wants you to focus on the fact that you’ve become Marred in the Potter’s Hand! But what he doesn’t know however, is that God is Monitoring Your Every Move! Now, I know how messed up you think you are because you’ve been “Marred”, but understand that when something is “Marred” it’s defined as “to Harm the Appearance or Quality of.” And let’s be honest, the devil isn’t trying to simply HARM YOU, OR HARM YOUR APPEARANCE, OR HARM YOUR QUALITY, he’s trying to DESTROY YOU! Which is why the Bible forewarns us: “THE THIEF’S PURPOSE IS TO STEAL, KILL AND DESTROY…” (John 10:10 TLB). THEREFORE, IF IT WAS THE DEVIL’S FOOT ON THE WHEEL, YOU WOULD BE DEAD BY NOW! But since he can’t kill you, he tries to distract you by getting you to focus on stuff that matters to you, but doesn’t matter to God, stuff like your marring, your mess up, your mistakes, and especially your past! But beloved, before you go and lose heart, know this, you’re simply “Marred” and Fortunately, God is Not Intimated By Your “Marring”. He’s not intimidated by the clay regardless of where He finds it or how flawed and out of shape it is. Truth is: WE SERIOUSLY GIVE OUR PAST WAY TOO MUCH POWER, BECAUSE GOD IS NOT AT ALL INTIMIDATED BY IT OR WHAT IT HAS CAUSED US TO LOOK LIKE! He’s not intimidated by our past promiscuity, addictions, mess-ups, screw-ups, or mistakes. He’s not intimidated by our ex friends, lovers or spouses. He’s committed to working on us until we become what He wants or better yet, “As Seemed Good to the Potter…”  

Listen: I don’t care what you’ve done, who you did it with, how long you did it or where, no man has the right or authority to hold you captive by your past, neither the devil, not even you! Your “Marring” did not mess you up for all eternity! There is no accidental mistake, or deliberate bad decision that you’ve ever made (or will make) that the Potter cannot make over into what seems Good to Him! You still have use, you still have value, you still have worth, you still have purpose! So let nothing and no one (not even YOU) allow your past to make you believe that you have no future! The Word of God still holds true for you, regardless to your past: “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.” (Jeremiah 29:10-11 MSG). In the words of my pastor, you need to start saying daily to yourself: “I SEE MYSELF IN THE FUTURE AND THINGS LOOK SO MUCH BETTER. I’M EXPECTING A MIRACLE, AND MY MIRACLE IS EXPECTING ME!” (Bishop James R. Chambers). So you see, if God Himself is not hindered by your Past, why should you be? “He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12 TLB). Therefore, marred vessels, keep moving forward, “Marred” and all! God can still make you the light of the world, no matter how dark your past was! God Still Uses Cracked Pots!

Listen: A water bearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it. While the other pot was perfect, and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the mistress’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to her master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream: “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said. The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in her compassion she said, “As we return to the mistress’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? “That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. “For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my mistress’s table. Without you being just the way you are, she would not have this beauty to grace her house.”

Moral of the story: Just as the water bearer knew of the flaw in the cracked pot, God knows about our flaws too. The water bearer continued to use the cracked pot, knowing full well of its flaws, and God uses us just the same, even with full knowledge of our every flaw! It’s US who focus on our flaws more than we focus on fulfilling our purpose in God.

For example, Benjamin felt small; Gideon felt insignificant; Moses felt his speech hindered him from being God’s mouthpiece, and yet God used each of them in a big way, flaws and all, and He’s using you the same way! God never asks for our perfection, just our availability. The question is, are we willing to give God our flaws that He may use them to bring Himself Glory?

Think about the above story, the perfect pot delivered a pail full of water. And that’s what it was designed to do. But the cracked pot was designed to deliver water, AND purposed to water the seeds that the water bearer would sow along the journey. So the mistresses house received from the cracked pot, water and flowers for her home. God can do more with your imperfections than He can with your false views and attempts of perfection. Just ask God to use you, available, cracked you. I promise you’ll be amazed by the harvest that’s produced in the lives of others because you gave God your cracked water pot to use!

To take it further, bear in mind: John 1:12 “As many as received him, to them gave he power TO BECOME the sons of God.” ALWAYS REMEMBER: THE BATTLE IS OVER WHO AND WHAT YOU’RE BECOMING! Regardless of what you’ve been up until now, GOD SEES IN YOU THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME! And what are you to become?…a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21). Listen: When you see a can’t in yourself, GOD SEES A “CAN”. When you see a won’t in yourself, GOD SEES A “WILL”. When you see a don’t in yourself, GOD SEES A “DO” When you see a shouldn’t in yourself, GOD SEES A “SHOULD”.

GOD WILL ALWAYS PUT YOUR POTENTIAL ON A PEDESTAL!

IN OTHER WORDS, HE WILL ALWAYS LIFT UP WHAT YOU WILL BE, NOT WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN!

Cracks and all, you are still becoming …a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

Highlight for yourself from John 1:12, “to them gave He Power TO BECOME…” That’s what the devil is after to destroy, WHAT YOU WILL BECOME! Don’t let him do it! Don’t let the devil distract or discourage you! Stay focused on what God Said no matter what the devil would want you to See! You are Becoming a wonderful, useful, cracked vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for your Master’s use, for He is preparing you for every good work! Do not lose sight of the big picture, stay focused on what you are becoming! 

In a Nutshell: The devil’s not intimidated by your Caterpillar stage, because you’re on the ground, low, at his level, defeated, and struggling to crawl by. But what intimidates him is your Butterfly stage, because you then Possess the Ability to Fly, to Soar, to Excel, and to Reach Altitudes He Can’t Reach! You see, some snakes can sliver through trees, but when it reaches a certain height, it can reach no further. But the Butterfly Isn’t Limited to Where the Tree Top Stops! And Neither Are You! That’s why you can’t get distracted from what you’re becoming! Children of God, it’s time for you to soar, but if you keep allowing your past, the devil, discouragement, and low self-worth to hinder you, you’ll remain in a cocoon with undeveloped wings that were designed and destined to soar! You were never meant to stay on this level! The cocoon is only for a time period, then you break out of it fully developed and soar to new heights!

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hind’s feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!…” (Habakkuk 3:19 AMP)

You were made for high places, so stop settling for low positions!

Notice also, that even though the vessel was “Marred”, It Was Still In The Potter’s Hand! God Never Throws Us Away, Nor Is His Plan For Us Thwarted Because We Have a Flaw of Struggle in Certain Areas! Understand that whether you’re being lifted from the mud, turned on the wheel or made over again, At All Times You Are In His Hand, And Always Will Be! “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall Never Perish, Neither Shall Any Man Pluck Them Out of My Hand.” (John 10:28) SO, BE ENCOURAGED: YOU ARE IN THE POTTER’S HANDS, AND HIS HANDS NEVER STOP WORKING!” “But Jesus said, “MY FATHER HAS NEVER STOPPED WORKING…” (John 5:17 CEV) Therefore, even if you continue to mar in the master’s hand, which you will as long as you are still flesh and blood, but the good news is, that can’t hinder the Hand of God on your life! From birth to death and everything in between, God never stops working on you and your life! So even when you make more mistakes, and even deliberate sinful choices, God never stops working on you! Don’t let the devil, your past, or yourself make you believe anything different! There is nothing about you or your life or your past that is powerful enough to Hinder the Hand of God’s Work!

I found yet another little nugget too! Did you know the word “Smith” in “Silversmith” comes from the Old English word “Smite”? Well, in case you didn’t know, Silversmiths are very Accomplished Smiters! AND SO IS GOD! You see, the word “Smite” is defined as “Striking a Firm Blow”. In other words, God Knows the Weight of the Hammer and the Force of the Blow Required to Produce In You Christ-Like Character! And absolutely no one yanks the hammer out of His hand and says, “Go easy on that silver; you’ve pounded it enough!” No, He Buffets the Metal Until He’s Finished With It! And when you “Buffet” something, it means you “Strike It Repeatedly and Violently”. In other words, there is a Determination on the part of the Silversmith to Beat the Silver Into the Design He Envisioned It To Be! And He Will Beat It Until It Conforms to What He has Constructed in His Mind! He Will Beat it Until the Blueprint Comes Off the Pages and Stands Before Him Fully Erected! He Will Beat it Until He Sees With His Eyes What He Saw in His Thoughts! And the Same Goes For You!  

Too often we forget He’s Our Heavenly FATHER! And unlike today, Daddies of old didn’t spare the rod, nor spoil the child! So, keep in mind: He’s Your God, but He’s Also Your FATHER! “But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; A FATHER’S DELIGHT IS BEHIND ALL OF THIS.” (Proverbs 3:12 MSG); “For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes.” (Hebrews 12:6 AMP)

Please Understand that Your God Will Bless You, But Never Forget, Your Father Will Buffet You Too!

In the end, God Alone Knows Exactly What You’re to Look Like. He Was the One that Gathered All Your Materials BEFORE Time! BEFORE I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. BEFORE you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—THAT’S WHAT I HAD IN MIND FOR YOU” (Jeremiah 1:5 MSG). BEFORE YOU BEGAN, HE ALREADY KNEW HOW YOU’D END! SO STOP FRETTING! HE ALREADY KNOWS HOW FABULOUS YOUR FINISHED PRODUCT LOOKS!

I know the Blows come Fast and Hard, and it seems like they’ll never end, but you have to Trust that God Knows What He’s Doing! 

However, sadly enough, I wish I could tell you that after the Hammering and Buffeting is Done You’re Finished, BUT…then there has to be POLISHING!  And when you “Polish” something you “Make It Smooth and Shiny By Continuously Rubbing It!” And the Best of Silversmiths will tell you that they Keep Polishing UNTIL THEY CAN SEE THEIR FACE IN THE FINISHED PRODUCT! So, When Will God Stop Polishing You? When He Sees His Nature and His Likeness Reflected In You! In other words, when He looks at you, He ought to see, Integrity, Faithfulness, Dedication, Power, Consecration, Diligence, Obedience, Honor, Loyalty, Leadership, Commitment and the like. He ought to see “…the Fruit of the Spirit…Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, Temperance… (Galatians 5:22-23)

Simply put, He’s Done When He Looks At You And Sees Himself! 

And if we’re all to be Real Honest, God Is No-Where Near Finished Smiting, Buffeting or Polishing Any Of Us! Jesus said, “My Father Never Stops Working.” Therefore, you need to understand that: The Pounding You Feel Doesn’t Suggest God’s Distance, It Proves His Nearness! So Stop Attributing Everything to the Devil! 

Lastly, after a lifetime of walking with God, Joshua said, “Not a Word Failed of Any Good Thing Which the Lord Had Spoken…All Came to Pass.” (Joshua 21:45 NKJV). 

Understand that Whatever God Has Spoken Over Your Life, He’s Not Stopping Until He Sees It “All Come to Pass”! And If That Takes Smiting, Buffeting and Polishing…He’s Committed To Doing Whatever It Takes, For However Long It Takes and No Matter How Painful It Will Be…”Not A Word Failed Of Any Good Thing Which The Lord Had Spoken…All Came To Pass!” He’s Still Working On You Because All That He Has Spoken Has Yet To Manifest In Your Life! And He Has To Keep His Word! So Endure The Wheel, the Spinning, the Hammering, the Smiting, the Buffeting and the Polishing! In The End It Will Be Worth It To Possess All God Has Promised You! God is the Greatest of Silversmiths. Trust Him as you imagine what you’re going to look like When He’s All Done…In the meantime, Remember: The Potters Hands Are Not Finished Molding You Yet! So, Don’t Be Discouraged In The Process, You Will Produce Something Great After This Is All Over!  

People of God, you are becoming a vessel of honor in the Master’s Hand and for the Master’s use, cracks, flaws, imperfections and all. So, don’t hate the process, because you’re going to love the end product!

As Painful as This is, Be Encouraged My Friend You May Have Been Marred, but Now You’re Being Molded and Made Into a Masterpiece Cracked Vessel of Honor for the Master’s Use and Glory!

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

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“The Year for Bigger, Better and Greater!”

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Psalm 65:11, “You START the NEW YEAR with a good harvest. You END THE YEAR with many crops.” (ERV)

Dr. Robert Schuller’s hobbies include raising koi fish. When asked why some grow BIG while others stay SMALL, he replied with these words, “If a koi fish lives in a small tank it will never grow longer than two or three inches. In a larger pond they can grow up to ten inches long – in ponds the size of mine they’ll get to be eighteen inches long – but if they live in a huge lake where they can swim and stretch, they can grow up to three feet long! The size of the pond determines the size of the fish! Similarly, little ideas in little-thinking minds produce little achievements. However, LITTLE IDEAS embraced by BIG-THINKING MINDS produce enormous achievements.

So How Big Is Your Thinking? Remember: “As a man thinketh in his heart; so he is” (Proverbs 23:7) Therefore, my first admonishment to you is to THINK BIG!

For instance, are you looking to attain a job or begin a career? Are you looking to sing a song or sign a recording contract? Are you looking to work for a company or start one? Are you looking to lease a car or own one? Are you hoping for a grant to add on to the building, or are you looking for an entirely larger space altogether? Are you looking for an apartment to rent or a house to buy? Are you looking to just get started, or do you already see the finished project clearly in view?

Note: The Size of What You SEE Will Determine the Size of What You SEIZE!

The word ‘seize’ is defined as, ‘to take hold suddenly and forcibly; to take forcible possession of; to take possession of by warrant or legal right.’ Its Latin Origin ‘sacire’, in the phrase ‘ad proprium sacire’ literally means, ‘to claim as one’s own.’ And if 2020 is to be for you a Bigger, Better and Greater Year, than this is the mindset you need to cultivate. Big Sight…Big Seize!

Which is why I must also admonish you to stop procrastinating; hesitating; doubting; wavering in your faith; waiting for somebody else to give it to you or give you permission to go get it! Jesus said: “…I came that they may have and enjoy life, AND HAVE IT IN ABUNDANCE [TO THE FULL, TIL IT OVERFLOWS].” (John 10:10 AMP). So, Seize Your Abundant Life That’s Full and Overflowing and Stop Settling for a Mundane, Mediocre Life! Are you meant to have such a  Big Life? Absolutely! The Word of God declares: “Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do SUPERABUNDANTLY MORE THAN ALL THAT WE DARE ASK OR THINK [INFINITELY BEYOND OUR GREATEST PRAYERS, HOPES, OR DREAMS], according to His power that is at work within US.” (Ephesians 3:20 AMP) The word ‘infinite’ is defined as, ‘limitless in space, extent, or size; very great in amount or degree.’ Your Limitless God is Ready to Bless You in a Manner that is Beyond Your Greatest Prayers, Hopes and Dreams! Now is the Time You Start to Embrace It and Live Like You Know it to Be True!

Think of it like this, when shopping, you have to check the size before you make a purchase to make sure the merchandise fits. However, the blessing God is about to release on your life has no size restrictions! It’s too big to even measure! So why are your prayers, requests, petitions, and faith still so very small?!

In 2020, condition your daily mindset to be:  FROM START TO FINISH, 2020 WILL BE FOR ME – A YEAR OF BIGGER, BETTER, GREATER!

Jesus said, “…According to your FAITH be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29). Not according to your bank account, where or how you were raised, if you have a degree, if you’re the right color, if your resume is impressive enough, if you wear the latest fashion, or if you’re in the right circle of people of influence to open closed doors on your behalf. Not according to any of that, But “…According to your FAITH be it unto you” However, The Message Bible says it like this: “He touched their eyes and said, “Become what you believe.” It happened. They saw…” (Matthew 9:29-31 MSG). Don’t miss the vital key:…Become what you BELIEVE.” It happened. They saw…” With that said, perhaps all you’re seeing in your life is all you saw for your life! Because the Bible says, He told them, simply, “…Become what YOU believe…” and guess what happened next? The Scripture says, “…It happened…They saw…They believed in what they could become, and as a result, they became it! Don’t you think it’s high time you start to BELIEVE…so you can finally BECOME?!

In fact, what do you believe for yourself and your life?! And believe me when I tell you, that’s a vital question you need to ask and answer yourself today! Because YOU can only BECOME what YOU BELIEVE! No one can do it for you, YOU have to BELIEVE it and BECOME it YOURSELF! Which is why you need to be mindful that you will Never Become successful or accomplished, if you don’t First Believe That You Can! This is where our childlike faith steps on stage and begins singing “I Think I Can, I Think I Can!” Why? Because, YOU CAN! “I CAN DO ALL THINGS [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose – I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” (Philippians 4:13 AMP) BELIEVE YOU CAN…BECAUSE YOU CAN!

Listen, if it was possible for those fishermen in Luke 5, please know that it is certainly possible for YOU! The Bible says: “When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper and let down your nets and you will catch a lot of fish!” (Luke 5:4 TLB) And what was Simon’s response? “Sir,”…we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, we’ll try again.” (vs. 5) And what was the result? “And this time their nets were so full that they began to tear!..” (vs. 6) People of God bear in mind: Just because it didn’t happen before, doesn’t mean it can’t happen now, and happen just like that, just for you! How do I know? Because the Bible says, “…Jesus doesn’t change – yesterday, today, tomorrow, He’s always totally Himself” (Hebrews 13:8 MSG) Your God is the same yesterday, today and forevermore! He’s not changing! What He Did THEN He can still do NOW! The issue is Do YOU BELIEVE It?! The Bible states this: “A man cannot please God unless he has FAITH. Anyone who comes to God must BELIEVE that He is. That one must also know that God gives what is promised to the one who keeps on looking for Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NLV); “Only it must be in FAITH that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord,” (James 1:6-7 AMP); “For the one right with God lives by FAITH. If anyone turns back, I will not be pleased with him.” (Hebrews 10:38 NLV); “…The just shall live by FAITH” (Romans 1:17); “…but the just shall live by his FAITH.” (Habakkuk 2:4)

Are you getting this? In other words, you must walk, move and live by FAITH! BELIEVE IT AND BECOME IT! The Opportunity For You to Experience a Year of Bigger, Better, and Greater is Just One Faith Belief Away!

Please understand, those fishermen were no better or no worse than YOU! So keep in mind: “…God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from – if you want God and are ready to do as He says, the door is open…He’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.” (Acts 10:34-36 MSG) God Can and Will Do It For YOU! Unlike man, He doesn’t play favorites! The door is open for the janitor, the bus driver, the teacher, the waiter, the preacher and the singer alike! So what are you waiting for? Believe God and Launch Out Into the Deep! A BIGGER, BETTER, AND GREATER YEAR IS WAITING FOR YOU TO ARRIVE!

Remember: The size of your faith and your vision determines the outcome of your idea! So stretch yourself and reach your greatest potential!

Listen: Edison had to install electric lights for free in an office building before anyone even came to look at them. The first sewing machine invented was destroyed by a mob in France. Morse waited for ten years before the world showed any interest in his telegraph. And when the idea of traveling by railroad was introduced, people scoffed because it was widely believed that traveling at thirty miles per hour stopped blood circulation in the human body. In other words, YOU are no exception! It will be just as hard for you as it has been for anyone else, but the level of Belief you have in your Beliefs is what makes the difference! All you have to do is maintain your faith, even in the midst of failure and fear, believing that God is still able to produce what He promised you! Which means you need to ask yourself a few questions: Will I still hold on when the contract doesn’t come through? When the mortgage is not approved? When the idea breaks down? When the plans go south? When the direction is changed? When my favorites walk out? When I’m overlooked, unappreciated, taken for granted, mishandled, misused, underestimated, and passed over…Will I still Hold On To What I Believe God is Able to Do for Me?

Ronald E. Osborn said, “Undertake something difficult; it will do you good. Unless you try something beyond what you have already mastered, you’ll never grow.Therefore, Get out of your Comfort Zone and Stretch yourself into uncommon, unknown, and unfamiliar territory! Walk where you’ve never walked, go where you’ve never gone, try what you’ve never tried! You never know the unforeseen blessing you may finally discover!

Hebrews 11:8-10, “By an act of FAITH, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an UNKNOWN PLACE that would become his home. When he left HE HAD NO IDEA WHERE HE WAS GOING. By an act of FAITH he lived in the country PROMISED HIM, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same PROMISE. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an UNSEEN city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.” (MSG) In other words, when you walk with God by faith, even in an unknown place, God can still connect your path to His promise for your life! All you have to do is commit to believing it!

With that said, Yes, you can attend that school, Yes, you can start that ministry, Yes, you can own that company, Yes, you can live in that house, Yes, you can travel this world over, Yes you can receive an unqualified promotion and position, Yes, you can drive that car, Yes, you can experience financial independence, Yes you can purchase that building and start that business, Yes, you can finally walk in complete and total healing, wholeness and deliverance! Yes, you can finally be happy, have unspeakable joy, and rest in the comforting peace of God! Yes, you can do it, achieve it, accomplish it, and overcome it! Yes, you can, and all you have to do is Believe it!

I had a great friend Dr. Walter Seymore say something to me 10 years ago that I still hold dear today! He said “just because you’re a preacher doesn’t mean you hang around only preachers. You’ll never grow or stretch beyond the circle you surround yourself with. Instead befriend doctors, lawyers, politicians, athletes, sanitation workers, bank tellers etc…this way your growth, potential and open doors are limitless because they’ll come from every walk of life. If you want to make a big mark, you can’t make small moves in little circles. Diversify your connections!”

Now, anyone who really knows me knows I am a “Parable Preacher/Teacher”. I’ve preached and taught on everything from trees, ants, spiders, conies, and rock badgers, to eagles, termites, donkeys, gerbils, heifers, and snakes, to sewage, ice, storms, birds, ticks, planes, football, and even the one word “AND”!  And the only reason I’m able to do what I do and do it effectively is because I broadened my circle! I learned to talk with NON-PREACHERS! That’s what sharpened my skills and gifts for teaching! Think about it, if I’m preaching about elephants, why talk to another preacher when I can get better substance from talking with a veterinarian? I was able to get out of debt because I stopped talking to preachers only, about tithes and offerings, and I learned to make friends with those who are financial counselors; loan officers and CFO’s! Talking to different people from different walks of life, different backgrounds, upbringing, employment etc…is what Jesus did too! He talked to the blind, lame, deaf, mute, adulterous, thieves, trees, wind, waves and even the dead!  Why should we do anything different?!

And with that as a thought, perhaps your stunted growth is because you won’t stretch yourself beyond the comfortable comfort zone of your current inner circle!

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

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” (Author Unknown)

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

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” (John Maxwell)

“Do not allow your comfort zone to prevent you from adapting to change or from trying new ventures.” (Byron Pulsifer)

“Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than you are to your comfort zone.” (Author Unknown)

In other words, IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE BIGGER, BETTER AND GREATER, YOU WILL HAVE TO MAKE THE DECISION TO FINALLY GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE! Like the Fisherman in Luke 5, IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO LEAVE THE SURFACE AND GO OUT INTO THE DEEP! IF YOU WANT BLESSINGS WITH DEPTH, YOU WILL NEED TO GO OUT INTO THE DEEP! Consider this: your promotion, mortgage approval, career, new job, degree, car, business etc…may all be in the Deep…But You’re Too Surface To Get It! Sometimes it’s really not Satan, sometimes it’s just your shallow-surfaced mindset. So, are you really willing to pass all that up just because you’re afraid to go where you’ve never gone and try what you’ve never tried?! Don’t Allow Your Limits to Limit You! Broaden Your Circle So You Can Embrace Bigger, Better, and Greater!

Look at it this way: In all these years, if you haven’t gained what you desired yet…what have you got to lose?! So Go for it! Launch Out! Remember This: You attain in direct proportion to what you attempt, which is why Jesus said to His disciples: Launch out into the DEEP”…You Will Not Attain Greater Until You’re Willing To Attempt Greater! So the next time you’re asked to preach, teach, pray, preside, oversee, lead, sing, dance, paint, draw, build, etc…Don’t Hold Back! Loose Yourself and Let Your Own Self Go! Do Something Different and Go Deeper! Stop being complacent, comfortable, fearful, and timid!

Go Deep In Faith, and You Won’t Drown in Fear!

Look at the text of Luke 5 in these two translations:

“…Now GO out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” (NLT)

“…PUSH out into deep water, and lower your nets for a catch.” (ISV)

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

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

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

Another translation says it like this:

“…Take the BOAT into deep water, and lower your NETS to catch some fish.” (GWT)

KEY: Only take what you need into the deep! They took the BOAT and NETS! Make sure you only take WHAT and dare I say WHO is Essential to Your Catch! Don’t take family because you assume that they’re family so they must go! That is not always the case! Sometimes Family Will Sink Your Boat the Fastest! Don’t take all your friends because all your friends are not there to help you catch or clean the fish…they just want to fry it up and eat your spoils! So be careful! In the words of my Professor…You Only Need What You Need! Don’t attempt to take extra!

If you think about it, that’s the first thing they do when a boat is sinking, they begin to unload unnecessary cargo! Sometimes you have to throw overboard your overload! Jonah 1:15, “They took Jonah and threw him overboard. IMMEDIATELY the sea was quieted down.” (MSG) However, you are getting your warning in advance of your trip to Bigger, Better and Greater! So, before you even go out into the deep, make sure you only have on your boat WHAT and WHO you NEED for the Catch! In case you don’t know “Need” is defined as “Something Required Because It Is Essential or Very Important”. And “Essential” means “Absolutely Necessary”! So Whether It Is a Person, Place or Thing, You Only Need What You Need!

Remember the Koi Fish Enlarges Itself Based Off What It’s In! So Make Sure You Are Deep In Prayer, Faith, the Word of God, Wisdom, And a Good Surrounding of Sound-Minded People!  You Will Either Stretch or Shrink Depending On What You’re Surrounded In! So Get Off the Shore, Get Out of the Surface and Launch Out Into the Deep…Taking Only What and Who Are Absolutely Essential! THEN OPEN YOUR ARMS WIDE TO EMBRACE 2020, YOUR YEAR OF BIGGER, BETTER AND GREATER!

Here is Your 2020 Scripture to Crown Your Entire Year! Psalm 65:11:

“You crown the YEAR with Your bounty and goodness, and the tracks of Your [chariot wheels] drip with fatness.” (AMPC) – GET READY, BECAUSE YOUR ENTIRE 2020 YEAR WILL BE FILLED WITH BOUNTY, GOODNESS AND FATNESS! BELIEVE IT!

“You START the NEW YEAR with a good harvest. You END THE YEAR with many crops.” (ERV) – GET READY, BECAUSE YOUR ENTIRE 2020 YEAR FROM START TO END WILL POSSESS HARVEST AND CROPS! BELIEVE IT!

“You crown the YEAR with Your bounty; Your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.” (ESV) – GET READY, BECAUSE YOUR ENTIRE 2020 YEAR WILL OVERFLOW WITH ABUNDANCE! BELIEVE IT!

“You crown the YEAR with Your goodness; and richness overflows wherever You are.” (GWT) – GET READY, BECAUSE YOUR ENTIRE 2020 YEAR WILL HAVE THE TESTIMONY THAT EVERYWHERE YOU GO YOU WILL BE SURROUNDED BY RICHNESS! BELIEVE IT!

“You give the YEAR a good harvest, and You load the wagons with many crops.” (NCV) – GET READY, BECAUSE YOUR ENTIRE 2020 YEAR WILL NOT ONLY HAVE HARVEST, BUT A GOOD HARVEST, NOT JUST CROPS, BUT MANY CROPS! BELIEVE IT!

“You crown the YEAR with Your good gifts. There is more than enough where You have been.” (NLV) – GET READY, BECAUSE YOUR ENTIRE 2020 YEAR, YOUR GIFTS WILL BE USED, AND YOU WILL BE FILLED WITH MORE THAN ENOUGH! BELIEVE IT!

“You crown the YEAR with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.” (NLT) – GET READY, BECAUSE YOUR ENTIRE 2020 YEAR WILL BE COVERED WITH A BOUNTIFUL HARVEST, AND NO MATTER HOW HARD THE HARD TIMES GET, YOU WILL STILL HAVE EVERY HARD PLACE OVERFLOWING WITH ABUNDANCE! BELIEVE IT!

And All You Need to Do is Believe It, Receive It, and Live In the Abundance of It!

GOD HAS ALREADY DONE HIS PART, NOW IT’S YOUR TURN. HAVE FAITH IN IT, BELIEVE IT, EMBRACE IT!

HAPPY BIGGER, BETTER, GREATER, PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!

I SEE YOU IN THE FUTURE (20/20 IN 2020) AND THINGS LOOK SO MUCH BETTER! YOU’RE EXPECTING A MIRACLE, AND YOUR MIRACLE IS EXPECTING YOU!

ENJOY YOUR CROWNED YEAR, ALL YEAR!

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 OLD Me is Ready For NEW!”

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“What YOU Have is Enough!”

dose2

The Bible says: When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.  He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it.  Then Samson said: “With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men!” And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place Ramath Lehi.” (Judges 15:14-17 NKJV).

Notice Point #1: SAMSON ALLOWED THE ENEMY TO BIND HIM: …We are come down to bind thee…we will bind thee fast…AND THEY BOUND HIM…” (Judges 15:12-13). If the truth be told, much of what we would like to blame on others, WE need to take Accountability and be Honest that WE Alone are to Blame.

It is not only what we do, but also what we do Not do, for which we are Accountable.” (Moliere).

Samson was not shocked, surprised or caught off guard by his enemies! In fact, his enemies even had the audacity to let him know, IN ADVANCE, that they were coming for no other reason or purpose than to BIND HIM! The bible says, “…We are come down to BIND thee…we will BIND thee fast…AND THEY BOUND HIM… And sadly enough, the enemy was true to his word!

Now, I already know Samson’s story, but might I ask YOU, “what has you tied up today?” Or better yet, “what have you ALLOWED to tie you up today?” “What/Who have you ALLOWED to bind you, tie you up and hold you back from the work assigned to your hands?And before you answer, know that you can’t say you didn’t know that the enemies purpose was to hinder and harm you, because Jesus gave you a heads up: “The thief’s PURPOSE is to STEAL and KILL and DESTROY…” (John 10:10 NLT). So, since you knew, IN ADVANCE, but the enemy was able to bind you ANYWAY, that only means you entered into battle WILLFULLY UNPREPARED! You did not obey the orders of your Commanding Officer:

“…God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. BE PREPARED. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6:10-18 MSG).

People of God, you have Far Too Much Ammunition to Use to Your Advantage to continuously be bound, held captive, restrained and detained from the work of the Lord! Stop putting up help wanted posters on your life for the enemy to answer! Remember the Word of God admonishes: Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [GIVE NO OPPORTUNITY TO HIM].” (Ephesians 4:27 AMP).  Stop Allowing him to turn your life into his career opportunity! Stop offering him room for growth, advancement, increase in pay, vacation, sick, personal and comp time, stop giving him the stocks and bonds in your life that are making him rich and leaving your body, soul and spirit bankrupt! And most of all stop handing him bonuses every time he’s successful at binding you! And all of this is what YOU allow when you keep showing up to battle ill-prepared with no armor or weaponry!

Listen to that text again:

“Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil.” (CEB)

“and don’t give the devil a chance.” (CEV)

“Don’t give the devil a way to defeat you.” (ERV)

“Don’t give the devil any opportunity to work.” (GWT)

The devil is seeking the want ads for employment, stop hiring him! Stop giving him opportunities to keep working to defeat you! Stop extending ‘grace’ to the devil, we give him just as many chances as we ask God to give us! Which is why it’s so vital that you are never without your armor! The devil is always busy, and clearly always employed to wage war on us and win! God said to BE PREPARED, and the best way to BE prepared is to STAY prepared!

Understand that: “When the devil is called the god of this world, it is not because he made it, but because we serve him with our worldliness.” (Symeon). Remember you are in Spiritual Warfare, you can’t keep allowing your flesh to give the devil a foothold or you’ll never win the war!

Church, you can’t get free with SECULAR ANTICS, only with SPIRITUAL ARTILLERY! With that said, if you want to really get free and stay free, I’ll give you a little hint: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, AND THE YOKE SHALL BE DESTROYED BECAUSE OF THE ANOINTING” (Isaiah 10:27).  This might buck up against some folks theology, but you will not get free by running around the church, jumping over pews, singing, dancing, praising, praying, spinning, falling out at the altar, or even worshiping! The Bible says: “…THE YOKE SHALL BE DESTROYED BECAUSE OF THE ANOINTING”! And the Scripture does not say the yoke will be broken, bruised or battered, but DESTROYED! The word ‘Destroy’ means to “put out of existence by severe damage or attack; to completely ruin or spoil. That’s why it’s vital that you locate your anointing and live there! A yoke cannot and will not withstand the presence and power of the anointing! And you’ll always know when you have the right Spirit behind the anointing, because there will always be a RELEASE! The Bible says, “…the Spirit of the LORD entered Samson and gave him great power. The ropes on him weakened like burned strings and fell off his hands!” (Judges 15:14 NCV).  The anointing will destroy anything or anyone trying to bind you to the extent that it will “put out of existence” your yoke of bondage, that it never returns again! Don’t allow the enemy to bind you, and even if he has already, don’t become distressed, depressed, discouraged, dismayed, disheartened or doomed for destruction, simply follow the road-map to release, IT’S FOUND IN THE ANOINTING!

The Bible says: “…He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men…’” (Judges 15:14-18 NKJV). 

Notice Point #2: SAMSON NEEDED TO SEE WHAT HAD ALREADY BEEN GIVEN TO HIM: It was just the jawbone of a donkey, but with God’s help it was enough to win the day! Unfortunately, however, we spend far too much time focusing on what we DON’T have, that we lessen the value in what we DO possess! We focus on the gifting’s that others have, while down-playing the gifts the Holy Spirit has “willed” and “desired” for us to have. We continuously want what’s in someone else’s hand when what we actually need is placed right in our own!

Instead of complaining at his lot, a contented man is thankful that his condition and circumstances are no worse than they are. Instead of greedily desiring something more than the supply of his present need, he rejoices that God still cares for him. Such an one is “content” with such as he has.”  (Arthur W. Pink).

If the truth be told, many marriages and ministries have been destroyed by the foolish assumption that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, when in actuality, if we simply took the time to nurture, weed and water our own lawn, it would supersede even the fantasy-image we have conjured up of someone else’s yard!

Christian Contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” (Jeremiah Burroughs).

Many of you may have looked at the jawbone of the donkey and thought, “what am I supposed to do with that?”; “God you didn’t have anything else you could give me?”; “God you gave Saul full armor, you couldn’t give me the same?”; “It’s just a jawbone of a donkey, are you trying to say that’s all I can handle?Or can we really be honest and bring it home and say: “God I can sing just as good as her, why can’t I lead a song?”; “I worked with women longer than she has, why can’t I be over the women’s ministry?”; “I’m nicer than Sister Celery, why can’t I be on the usher board too?And the list could go on and on forever, because we love to complain about all that we don’t have, or better yet, all that we THINK we don’t have.

Discontent is a sin that is its own punishment and makes men torment themselves; it makes the spirit sad, the body sick, and all the enjoyments sour; it is the heaviness of the heart and the rottenness of the bones. It is a sin that is its own parent. It arises not from the condition, but from the mind. As we find Paul contented in a prison, so Ahab discontent in a palace.”  (Matthew Henry).

Saints, learn to be content both with what God gave you, and with what He saw fit NOT to give you! If you truly trust Him, then you’ll rejoice over what He has approved AND what He has Denied!

“The very first temptation in the history of mankind was the temptation to be discontent…that is exactly what discontent(ment) is—a questioning of the goodness of God.”  (Jerry Bridges).

You see, too many of us would rather preach to 500 people, who don’t care to hear us in the first place, than sing to 5 people who receive fresh strength for the journey from one simple song. Why? Because the pulpit Appears more prestigious, than the podium on the floor, hidden in the corner, unnoticed by the organ! But as for me, I would rather use what God gave me to bless, strengthen and encourage 5 people than waste my time, energy and life doing something for 500 that produces absolutely no fruit! Whatever God has given you is enough! You don’t have to be like him, you don’t have to look like her, you don’t have to act like them, you don’t need to sit over there, you don’t need that title, you don’t require that position, leave their talents, gifts, and skill-set alone. What God assigned to you is all you need to fulfill YOUR assignment! Stop comparing your equipment to others, and simply use what God has equipped YOU with!

God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” (John Piper).

Family, Samson’s “…jawbone of a donkey…may seem little, insignificant, unnoticeable, irrelevant, unimportant, useless and unimpressive. But the Bible states: “…He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, AND KILLED A THOUSAND MEN… Pay close attention, what God provided for Samson appeared, little, insignificant, unnoticeable, irrelevant, unimportant, useless and unimpressive, but, “…HE REACHED OUT HIS HAND AND TOOK IT…

Listen: If you don’t learn anything else, learn to accept what God has given YOU! Accept what God has made available for your use. Accept the road He’s called you to travel and the path He’s allowed you to cross. Whether it’s your spouse, your children, your job or your church, reach out your hand and take hold of what God has blessed you with!

Think about sports, not everyone is holding the ball at the same time. Only those who need to, do. We may praise the quarterback’s position, but not even he keeps the ball. Everybody on the team has their talents, gifts, and assignments, everybody on the team has their role to play and their position to hold. And if winning is key, then you don’t attempt to take someone else’s spot! We have to learn to work together in the Kingdom if we are to advance the Kingdom. We can’t win trying to beat our own teammates! I can’t play the organ, but so what, I don’t need to. But what I can do is join in the singing and praising and worshiping with everyone else. I don’t usher, I’m an Elder. Usher’s have their role in the church and so do I. Our ushers don’t attempt to preach, and I don’t attempt to take their bulletins and tell people where they can and can’t sit! Respect what your brothers and sisters have been assigned to do in the Kingdom of God. Stay your lane so we don’t all crash on impact and die because someone was trying to move over into a lane not needed for them to travel in order to get to their intended destination. I hope you’re getting this. Samson was successful because he used what was made available to HIM! He did not attempt to grab anyone else’s weapon in his warfare! And neither should you! What God Gave YOU Is Enough!

The contented person experiences the sufficiency of God’s provision for his needs and the sufficiency of God’s grace for his circumstances. He believes God will indeed meet all his material needs and that He will work in all his circumstances for his good. That is why Paul could say, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” The godly person has found what the greedy or envious or discontented person always searches for but never finds. He has found satisfaction and rest in his soul.” (Jerry Bridges).

Reach out your hand and take hold of your spouse, children, job and church and don’t try to change them, alter them, or compare them to what others have! His grace is sufficient, and so is all that He has given you (and all that He’s kept from you as well)! Stop complaining and comparing and learn to be content with what you have!

Can you imagine if Samson picked up that jawbone and said, ‘I don’t want this, I want a big, shiny, new spear!’ And so he throws away the very thing that was made available to him to win! Do not discard your ‘jawbone’! You see, jawbone’s are easy to dismiss, after all, who wants one? It’s the remains of something that died! It’s a bone with no life, no breathing, no organs! And since just about everything was dust and dirty then (not like our marbled streets, and paved roads) the jawbone would’ve been dusty and dirty too. Not to mention the bible says it was a ‘fresh jawbone of a donkey.’ So it had rotting flesh and blood on it as well. Surely everybody wants to be given that right? Wrong! But regardless to what was left of it, regardless that it’s no longer what it used to be, regardless that it’s bloody, dirty and dusty and a very little use, still it was what Samson needed to use to kill his enemies and win his battle! Likewise, your spouse is more than likely not as small or as young as they used to be. Wrinkles have formed, bags and sags are so disrespectful since they were not invited to be a part of our bodies. They are no longer 21 and ready to take on the world, no they’re 51 and ready to take on the bed for a nap! Yet, they are who God allowed you to marry and build a family and life with. They are who God allowed to be available to help you build that ministry, that church, that business, that school! And although they may not look like they did 20 or 40 years ago, don’t you dare discard your ‘jawbone’ now! They are a part of your life for the long haul! And since you haven’t fought your last battle with the devil, I suggest you hold on to who helped you win the last fight!

It’s so sad to say, but we’ve become a comfortable circumstantial church of convenience. If we don’t like the circumstances we quit; if it’s not comfortable and convenient, we quit. NO! Believers, that’s not our lot. We value and appreciate what/who God has made available to us to help us and make us better! So don’t be so quick to quit! Don’t throw away your ‘jawbone’, you need it to fight and win!  My dad used to say, ‘don’t chase a shiny penny because you don’t like a crumbled dollar! No matter what either one looks like, their value is still the same.’ And that’s exactly what many of us are doing, casting aside our crumpled dollars for a shiny penny! But you do realize, crumpled or not, the dollar has 99 cents more value over the one shiny penny! Be careful in the decisions you make to discard people! You Have Everything You Need in YOUR Jawbone, Keep It!

Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God.” (William Ward).

Yes, saints, it was just a “…jawbone of a donkey… but it “…KILLED A THOUSAND MEN…”!

So I admonish you today, be careful about underestimating, overlooking, undervaluing and discrediting what God provided FOR YOU, IT JUST MAY BE THE WEAPON YOU NEED TO KILL YOUR ENEMY! Your spouse, children, job and church may not be all that you thought they should be, or all that you wanted them to be, but if God provided them, YOU BETTER BE GRATEFUL, BECAUSE THEY’RE THE WEAPON YOU NEED TO KILL YOUR ENEMIES! Samson had to see what God had ALREADY provided for him, accept it and use it, and so do you! Why? BECAUSE IT IS ENOUGH!  

You see, Samson used his jawbone to kill a thousand men in chapter 15. But over in chapter 16, he killed more than three thousand! Judges 16:26-30, “Samson said to the young servant who was leading him by the hand, “Place my hands against the pillars that hold up the temple. I want to rest against them.” Now the temple was COMPLETELY FILLED WITH PEOPLE. All the Philistine rulers were there, and there were about 3,000 MEN AND WOMEN on the roof who were watching as Samson amused them. Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.”  Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands, he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.” (NLT)

Samson had to first use that jawbone to kill a thousand before he got to the slaughter of three thousand plus! And sometimes we forget to pay attention to using what has been made available to us in our first battle. You see, if they killed him before the jawbone, he would’ve never gotten the opportunity to slay all of his enemies! Use what God has given you, and use it when He gives it to you and how. There will be more and greater opportunities down the road, but if you don’t handle the little, don’t look for the much!

No more competing and comparing, no more envy and jealousy, no more trying to grab somebody else’s gift (or spouse, yep I said it!) What God has Given YOU is Enough for YOU! Don’t discard your small beginnings and please don’t discard your ‘jawbone’!

Be Warned: “The person with the discontented heart has the attitude that everything he does for God is too much, and everything God does for him is too little.” (Don Kistler).

Be Content With What and Who God Has Made Available for YOU! It is Enough!

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

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“Guard the Word God Gave You!”

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Mark 4:15, “These [in the first group] are the ones along the road where the Word is sown; but when they hear, SATAN IMMEDIATELY comes and takes away the Word which has been sown in them.” (AMP)

When you come from a military family, you learn quite a bit about military lingo. And one of the terms I learned was “beachhead”. Now, since we’re not all military types, it’s probably good to explain what a beachhead is before we talk about one. A beachhead is not where the beach begins (yeah, that’s what I thought it was, so what, don’t laugh!). And for further clarity, it’s also not a guy who just thinks about getting to the beach all the time!

You see, in wartime, a beachhead is pretty serious business! It’s a small piece of ground that you try to take as your first step in taking all the ground that your enemy holds! The dictionary defines it as “a fortified position on a beach taken by landing forces.”

For example, during WWII, two of the world’s greatest generals went against each other when the Allies set out to take North Africa back from the Germans. General Dwight Eisenhower, the commander of the Allied forces, planned to land and take three important beachheads. German general Rommel, the famous “Desert Fox“, basically said, “We must stop Eisenhower within 48 hours of his landing or we won’t stop him.” Needless to say, they didn’t stop him. And five months after Eisenhower successfully captured that first beachhead, Rommel had to flee and surrender everything, including 250,000 soldiers. And he lost it all at that first beachhead!

Satan, the commander of hell’s forces, is determined to stop you from ever becoming what Jesus died for you to be! And like any smart general, he knows he has to stop you at that first beachhead, before you grow and gain any more ground. His strategy is revealed in Mark 4:15. “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. AS SOON AS they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Let’s look at this Scripture in a few translations:

“The ones along the path are those who have the Word sown [in their hearts], but when they hear, SATAN COMES AT ONCE AND [BY FORCE] takes away the message which is sown in them.” (AMPC);

“This is the meaning of the seed that fell on the path: When the word is scattered and people hear it, RIGHT AWAY SATAN COMES and steals the word that was planted in them.” (CEB);

“The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But SATAN SOON COMES and snatches it away from them.” (CEV);

“And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, SATAN IMMEDIATELY COMES and takes away the word that is sown in them.” (ESV);

“The hard pathway, where some of the seed fell, represents the hard hearts of some of those who hear God’s message; SATAN COMES AT ONCE to try to make them forget it.” (TLB);

“The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. NO SOONER DO THEY HEAR THE WORD THAN SATAN SNATCHES away what has been planted in them.” (MSG);

“Sometimes the teaching falls on the road. This is like the people who hear the teaching of God, but SATAN QUICKLY COMES and takes away the teaching that was planted in them.” (NCV)

Listen to what Satan does WHEN YOU HEAR A WORD FROM THE LORD: “AT ONCE AND BY FORCE… RIGHT AWAY SATAN COMES… SATAN SOON COMES… SATAN IMMEDIATELY COMES… SATAN COMES AT ONCE… NO SOONER DO THEY HEAR THE WORD THAN SATAN SNATCHES… SATAN QUICKLY COMES…”

Here’s what happens: God’s Word has landed in your heart. You’re starting to gain some ground spiritually, so hell has been notified and your enemy is alarmed. He comes immediately to try to take away the ground you just gained through God’s Word. This is what causes us to become discouraged so quickly. Because as soon as God gives us a Word, Satan goes to War! God speaks healing, and here comes Satan with another symptom; God speaks wealth, and here comes Satan with an unexpected bill; God speaks promotion, and here comes Satan with a layoff; God speaks a new home, and here comes Satan with a leaky roof; God speaks opportunity, and here comes Satan with obstacles; God speaks calm, and here comes Satan with chaos; God speaks anniversary, and here comes Satan with divorce papers! And he doesn’t drag his feet either, the Bible says, “at once, by force, right away, immediately, no sooner than, quickly, and as soon as” the Word is Sown, here comes Satan with his Shovel!

It’s important to understand that Satan doesn’t want you to gain any more ground!

Remember the beachhead, is “a fortified position on a beach taken by landing forces.” It’s important to know that the beachhead isn’t vulnerable, it is fortified! And the word “fortified” is defined as, “to provide with defensive works as protection against attack.” Its Latin Origin “fortificare,” from “fortis” literally means “strong.” So, General Eisenhower wasn’t landing on a ground that wasn’t protected! It was guarded, just not well enough to stop him from taking it. Which is why Rommel said, “We must stop Eisenhower within 48 hours of his landing or we won’t stop him.Rommel knew Eisenhower was coming, and knew that he was coming to take their ground, their land, their territory, and their beachhead. And he obviously knew how strategic and strong Eisenhower’s troops were, because he immediately tells his own,We must stop Eisenhower within 48 hours of his landing or we won’t stop him.” And surely you recall how this attack ended from the opening statement: “…five months after Eisenhower successfully captured that first beachhead, Rommel had to flee and surrender everything, including 250,000 soldiers.” And he lost it all at that first beachhead!

Because Rommel didn’t stop Eisenhower, he had to flee, and surrender everything, including his soldiers!

Listen: If you don’t Guard the Word God has given you, Satan will come in IMMEDIATELY, and fight to steal it! And in the end, you will be the one fleeing, and surrendering everything, including those attached to you!

In other words, by no means is Satan playing games, in fact, he’s playing for keeps! “The thief’s PURPOSE is to STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY…” (John 10:10 NLT) Nothing about that sounds like child’s play! Which is why it’s so vital that you take the enemy seriously! He has a Purpose just as much as you do! And if you let him, he will fulfill his, leaving you to forfeit yours!

Which may help explain why things have suddenly gotten so tough for you, why things are going wrong, maybe why you don’t have the spiritual enthusiasm you did before. Your logical reaction is, “I’ve been really trying to do what God wants, so what’s wrong here?” The answer is, “‘Nothing’s wrong! It’s because something’s right!

You have a beachhead (‘a promise’; ‘a word from God’) and the enemy is worried and ready to attack because he can’t let you have that ground, then gain more! So suddenly he’s interested in you. He didn’t have to bother you when you weren’t a threat. He didn’t bother you when you stopped fasting, became lazy in reading/studying the Word, started slacking in your prayer/devotion time with God, when you stopped going to Sunday School, and started making excuses for skipping Bible Study. The enemy didn’t think 2 cents about you. You didn’t even appear on his radar, in fact he may have said something like this: “But the evil spirit retorted, “I know and recognize and acknowledge Jesus, and I know about Paul, BUT AS FOR YOU, WHO ARE YOU?” (Acts 19:15 AMP)

The enemy doesn’t bother those who don’t bother him! If you’re not reading the Word, in prayer, fasting, obeying the commandments, fellowshipping with your brothers and sisters in Christ, walking in the Spirit, being directed and guided by the Holy Ghost, what does he want with you? After all, what can you do to attack his kingdom, when you aren’t armed with any of the weaponry of the Kingdom yourself!?

However, for those who have made the decision to LAY ASIDE AND GET RID OF their bad habits, attitudes and addictions (Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (UNNECESSARY WEIGHT) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,” (AMPC); those who have decided to REIGNITE THE FIRE in their gifts, prayer and devotion time (2 Timothy 1:6, “That is why I would remind you to stir up (REKINDLE THE EMBERS OF, FAN THE FLAME OF, AND KEEP BURNING) the [gracious] gift of God, [THE INNER FIRE] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination].” (AMPC); (1 Thessalonians 5:17, “BE UNCEASING IN PRAYER [PRAYING PERSEVERINGLY]” (AMPC); (1 Timothy 2:10, “But by doing good deeds (deeds in themselves good and for the good and advantage of those contacted by them), as befits women who profess reverential fear for and DEVOTION TO GOD.” (AMPC); those spending more time with God, the saints, and in the sanctuary; those hearing from God and following the directives of the Holy Ghost, the enemy is screaming from hell, “READY, AIM, FIRE!”

And by no means should that terrify you, in fact, it ought to excite you, that you’re finally on the enemies hit list! It’s not because of what you’ve done wrong, it’s because you’ve finally got it right!

So now he’s got to get himself in position to make it hard for you! He’s got to stop your forward progress fast or there’s no telling how much ground he’s going to lose! He has to stop you before you start interceding for folks, laying hands on people, speaking in tongues, binding the works of the flesh. He’s got to stop you before you start pleading the blood of Jesus over your family; before you start anointing your children. He’s got to stop you before you start speaking those things that be not as though they were. He’s got to stop you before your hope is renewed and your faith is revived. He’s got to stop you before you start believing that God meant just what He said concerning you. He’s got to stop you before you start dreaming again. He’s got to stop you before you stop living in the past and start seeing yourself in a great future. He’s got to stop you from walking with God, before you gain more ground!

Satan gets busy whenever God has made a major landing in your life. Maybe you’ve recently made a new surrender of your life to Jesus or you’ve said yes to His call on your life. You’ve stepped up to leadership. Could it be that you’ve begun a new work for the Lord? Made a new commitment to be the marriage partner or the parent you should be, to give more to the Lord’s work, to live by new priorities? Guess what? If so, alarm bells are going off in hell!

But don’t get discouraged. Don’t go back to the old ways. This is just your old enemy trying to stop this progress while it’s new and fragile. If you keep going this way, your enemy’s going to lose big time and he knows it. So step up and launch a Biblical counterattack. In the words of James 4:7, “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

Remember, Rommel’s beachhead was guarded, just not well enough to stop Eisenhower’s attack! Which is why you have to be sure you guard well your beachhead (‘your promise/your Word from God’). And how do you do that? By doing your part and allowing God to do His. What I love about James 4:7 is that when I come near to God, He comes near to me. And what greater protection can your beachhead possibly have than to have the Presence of the Lord near? Look at it like this: If there was a thief across the street from you, but you were surrounded by 20 of the NYPD’s finest, armed, locked and loaded…how scared would you really be of that thief? You would probably stand there in full confidence saying, “what you waiting for? Come on over here, in fact, I double-dog dare you!” And why are you able to say that? Because you are heavily guarded and protected! And just so you know that’s not just an illustration, but it’s the truth!

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

That’s the security you have when you come near to God and He comes near to you! Not only is He your refuge keeping you safe, but He’s also Ordered (not asked) His angels to guard you wherever you go! Remember this the next time God gives you a Word. Protect it by remaining in the Presence of God. Knowing that His angels are with you, guarding you, keeping you safe, wherever you go. That’s how you protect your beachhead (‘your promise/your Word from God’). Don’t just let the devil take your property! Fight for it, guard it, and stay as close to God as you can!

Don’t get all excited about the Word from God, and forget to Guard it! Remember the enemy is ready to steal, kill and destroy, and that includes you and the Word of Promise given to you. Don’t let him get it! He’s ready and alert, now make sure you are too!

1 Peter 5:8-11, “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” (MSG) Stay Alert, The Devil Is Poised To Pounce! The Danger for us as believers in becoming lazy, is that the devil never is! He’s Poised to Pounce! He’s in Position to Attack, are you?!

Charles Spurgeon said, “The greatest sign of God’s will and God’s power is the Devil’s growl.” If you’re hearing the “growl” you’re probably on the right track! The battle for the beachhead… it might be raging around you or even in you right now. Hold your ground, soldier! You’re not losing or the enemy wouldn’t bother with you. You’re on your way to some of the greatest victories of your life! Protect Your Word, Protect Your Promise! He’s Only Getting Worse, Because You’re Getting Better! It will be a fight to the finish, but one you will finish and win! Keep your armor on, and fight the good fight of faith!

You’ll Gain More Ground If You Keep the Devil Under Your Feet!

1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of the faith [in the conflict with evil]; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and [for which] you made the good confession [of faith] in the presence of many witnesses.” (AMP)

Psalm 144:1, “Praise and thanks be to the Lord, my rock. He makes my hands ready for war, and my fingers for battle.” (NLV)

2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For 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” (AMP)

1 John 4:4, “Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind].” (AMP)

Therefore, Soldiers in the Lord’s Army, Put Your Warfare Clothes On, Go to Battle and Guard the Word God Gave You!

Ephesians 6:10-18, “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (MSG)

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: “African Americans Face Unique Mental Health Risks”

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