“Men Helping Men Through Failure, Encouragement and Restoration”

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Acts 15:36-41, “After a few days of this, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let’s see how they’re doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia to build up and sinew in those congregations.” (MSG)

2 Timothy 4:11, “…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very helpful to me for the ministry.” (AMP)

Remember This and Never Forget It: Every Man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul…at Some Point in Life!

One of the things I absolutely love is to watch a baby learn how to walk. It’s the most funniest thing to me ever! In fact, I like to call it the Frankenstein Walk! It’s so clumsy, so mechanical. It’s kind of a “step, boom” method. Someone comes along and says, “I think it’s about time“, then sets them up on their legs – you know, kind of spaghetti legs – and they take one step, then boom! And, of course, they get up again, and the next time it’s step, step, boom! And then step, step, step, boom! You get the idea. But what I love is that even babies don’t call it quits after a fall! As often as they wobble, step, then go boom, either someone helps them back on their feet or they struggle their way back up to give it another shot! Believe it or not, but it’s like that for many believers as well.

I remember when my youngest was learning to walk, she pretty much had the same step, boom, method as all babies have. But when she went down, you could see her grabbing something and battling to get her muscles going all in one direction so she could get up again. But then there were also those times when you saw her big sister reaching over to give her a hand. Actually, that’s what it takes whenever you go step, boom! Sometimes you can pull yourself up, and other times you need someone else to help you back up again! Are we our brother’s/sister’s keeper? Yes We Are!

And so, I think today is a good day to look at a man who stepped out to serve the Lord and went “step, boom!” His name is John Mark. Acts 15 is where we’re hearing about a missionary journey that Barnabas and Paul were launching. “Barnabas,” it says, “wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it was wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus.

Now, in order to get the full story, realize you need to turn to 2 Timothy 4, where at the end of Paul’s life he is now alone in a Roman prison. He will soon be executed for his loyalty to Jesus Christ, and guess who he mentions? Guess who he wants to see? MARK! The same guy who bombed out earlier in his Christian work, and Paul said, “Boy, I don’t think this guy’s going to make it.” But then Paul writes, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful for me in my ministry.” Wow!

Brothers, it is indeed my prayer that today’s devotional will help you look at yourself and your brothers in a new, and even better, light. I want you to look at these three men and see yourself and your brothers, and possibly began responding to each with a clearer perspective.

First, there’s MARK (HE FAILED). And believe it or not, you’ve failed and so have many of the men you know. Does that mean you or they have to live in failure forever? No! Failure never has to be fatal. It doesn’t have to end your marriage, ministry, career or life. Yes, Mark, went the wrong way, he let people and leaders down, but thank God that’s not how his story ended, and neither will it be the closing chapter of your life. In truth, maybe you did fail at the marriage: (you didn’t give it everything you should have, you weren’t as supportive, or kind, or faithful, or loving, or committed, or encouraging as you should have been); maybe you did fail at fatherhood (you weren’t there for the events, activities, talks, and medals); maybe you did fail at the ministry (you didn’t tithe, you didn’t go to prayer, bible study, Sunday school, or afternoon services, you didn’t support the men’s ministry efforts); maybe you did fail at the business/career (you didn’t pay attention to the over-head, you didn’t handle the budget right, you didn’t do better by your staff, you took advantage of your sick and vacation time, you were late to clock in, early to clock out, and went into overtime on lunch). Let’s say the truth of the matter is, this is the truth of the matter! You Failed! But do you have to stay there, absolutely not! Be honest with yourself first (and then others), that you didn’t get it right. Then, if you can pull yourself up, then pull yourself up! But if not, know that you are not the only one, and that there is help available! Which is why you have to be so careful in how you judge your brothers. You don’t know what led them to where they are, just like they don’t know what led you to your failures. So, instead of gossiping or getting and staying stuck, just turn around and start looking for Barnabas!

Second, there’s BARNABAS (HE ENCOURAGED). Mark may have screwed up, but thanks be to God he wasn’t left to his own devices! And neither are you. There will be times that you and your brothers will be Mark (you will have failed at many things, badly). But there will also be times when Barnabas will come to your aid, and then there will also be those times when you’ll need to be the Barnabas that comes to your brother’s aid. You never want to kick someone when they’re already down. And the best way to keep you from doing this is to remember when you were Mark too.  You needed someone to look beyond the worse in you and still see the best. Well, there are men around you who need the same thing.  Not all men will come to church! And those that do, won’t always come speaking in church lingo. Some will come, but not dressed like you, act like you, conduct themselves as you do. Some will come and they will come with more baggage than the baggage claim at an airport. Some will come from gangs, drugs, alcohol, failed marriages, poor fatherhood, estranged relationships with their children and family. Some will come with no job, no place to live, no hope, no faith. Some will come bitter, discouraged, angry even combative. But Barnabas, if you can encourage the Apostles to take a shot and believe in Paul who was the King of the Killers of Christians, most certainly you can work with these brothers also. Some brothers just need to feel like they’re not going to be picked last to be on the team. Like Barnabas, he could’ve said, listen Mark, I’ve worked with Paul a long time, I’ve built a friendship with him, I trust his leadership, I’m loyal to our covenant. I can’t help you, you should’ve done what you were supposed to do from the beginning. But that was not at all Barnabas response, instead, he picked the one person no one wanted on their team, and he says in essence, ‘I’ll take him’! Brothers, there are some men in your church, in your home, in your family, on your job, in your community that simply need to hear,I’ll take him!” Yep, with all his baggage and all his failures, “I’ll still take him!” Men of God, be the man that watches Mark go “step, boom,”, then go over and help him back up! And do it knowing full-well that he may go down again! But after all, when did you get it perfectly right? You still wobble in some areas, and yet you still have God’s grace, mercy, favor and forgiveness. Are you really going to withhold such a wonderful gift like that from your brother, that you open every new day?

Third, there’s Paul (HE RESTORED). Now, Paul had a two-fold responsibility. Because first of all, as a leader, he had to be honest. Mark did fail! And there’s no such thing as an effective leader who doesn’t correct bad behavior. Paul still had more journey’s to go on, more people to reach, more work to do. He couldn’t just take into account Mark, but the danger of Mark relapsing again in failure that would affect others. So he makes a leadership decision not to take him. But what I love is that even though as a leader, he corrected and reproved Mark, that wasn’t the end of their relationship!

You know what the message is? When you’re following Christ, failure is not final! But it takes two kinds of people to recover someone from a fall. It takes Barnabas to encourage the one who has fallen, to get back up, but it also takes Paul the restorer, to say I’ll give him another chance. I still see hope, a future, a change, some more potential, he deserves another chance.

You know, if that baby goes “step, boom” he can’t just say, “Well, I fell down. I guess I’ll never walk. I’m not cut out for this.” He can’t just keep lying there helpless on the floor. No! Because if he does, he’ll still be there when he’s 18; his Mom will be vacuuming around him! LOL! But no, instead, he gets up and he says in his own little brain, “I will try this walking thing again.But sometimes you need help, you need a Barnabas to Lift and a Paul to Re-Launch!

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’ve been giving up because you failed. But the gospel of Mark’s life is that you can be restored. You can be useful again if you’re willing to battle your way back up, even on wobbly legs. But recovery also requires a brother; one like Barnabas, who will work with you patiently, who will deal with your weaknesses, who will give you an another chance. And it takes a brother like Paul, who though he had his doubts, is willing to accept him once he’s restored, and not to continue to say, “Oh, yeah, he’s the failure.

Now, one of these is you, or it needs to be. Maybe you’re a Mark and you feel that you’ve fallen. But now ask the Lord for the courage and the patience to battle your way back up. Maybe you’re a Barnabas who reaches out to that person that others have given up on, maybe even a member of your own family. Or maybe you’re Paul, who can make or break somebody’s comeback by whether you greet them with open or folded arms.

When one of God’s kids goes “step, boom” there is still hope if there’s a battler determined to walk again and a brother who’s offering a hand of help.

Can we be honest brothers? Life is not easy, and most times it’s horribly unfair. So you never get the opportunity to be Paul all the time. The strong one that restores. But when life happens, you will find yourself being all three of these men, and sometimes you can find yourself being all three, all in the same day. But know this, Mark didn’t die in his failure; Barnabas didn’t overlook him; and Paul didn’t completely give up on him. In fact, the Scripture says, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11 KJV). Let’s look at Paul’s words in a few translations:

 “…Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING.” (ASV);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY.” (AMP);

“…Get Mark, and bring him with you. He has been A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY.” (CEB);

“…Take Mark, and bring him with you, because he is a VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK.” (CJB);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, because he CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK.” (GNT);

“…Bring Mark with you when you come, FOR I NEED HIM.” (TLB);

 “…Bring Mark with you; HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN.” (MSG)

As badly as Mark messed up, Paul says, I need him, he’ll be my right hand man! Can you imagine what those words must be like to hear after you’ve failed so miserably? And more importantly, to hear them from the very person whom you failed! I wonder if the man (who you know) that messed up, but was received like this by the brethren, if he would still be a member of the church today? You know that same ‘Mark’ in your ministry, in your home, on your job, who failed in his leadership; who didn’t complete his assignment; whose wife left him; who’s estranged from his children (by his own fault); whose lost the job. You know, that Mark. What kind of man could he have matured and grown and developed into had he been mentored in his mistakes?

Paul went from, “Acts 15:36-41 saying, “…Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. BUT PAUL WOULDN’T HAVE HIM; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia…” (MSG); to saying in 2 Timothy 4:11, “…Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR SERVICE.” (NASB)

Paul, says, don’t leave him down in his failure, pick him up and bring him to me because even after his failure he is still, “…USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING; … VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY… A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY… VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK… CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK… FOR I NEED HIM… HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN! Now, that’s what you call Restoration!

Men of God, please know that you as well as your brothers will all experience times of being Mark (who failed), Barnabas (who encouraged) and Paul (who corrected and restored). And whichever stage you find yourself in, know that it’s progressive and repetitive. You don’t stay in either stage permanently. As anointed, gifted, talented, powerful and awesome as you are, you will fail again, you will need to be encouraged as well encourage others again, you will need to give and receive rebuke and restoration again. And all of this is a blessing because Mark teaches us Humility; Barnabas teaches us Hospitality; and Paul teaches us Hope. Give these wonderful gifts to yourself, as well as to your brothers!

Life is not easy, and there is no flawless, perfect male specimen walking around on this planet! All have sinned, all have missed the mark, all have made mistakes, all have messed up, all have gotten it wrong at some point in life. Pointing fingers is not a remedy. Gossip, rumors, slander, and lies, is not a remedy. Favoritism, is not a remedy. Encouragement and Restoration, now that’s a Remedy! That’s a Recipe for Greatness and Recovery!

Today, Remember that every man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul at some point from moment to moment in this life. Be as forgiving, encouraging, supportive and strengthening as you would want someone to be to you. Be the living proof that any man can go from failure, to encouragement, to restoration! And make it your business to personally be a part of his process!

Which means you will not only need to be Barnabas and Paul, but you’ll also need to be Peter: Luke 22:32, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen they brethren.” (KJV) Let’s review this text in a few translations:

“but I have prayed [especially] for you [Peter], that your faith [and confidence in Me] may not fail; and you, once you have turned back again [to Me], strengthen and support your brothers [in the faith]” (AMP)

“But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.” (AMPC)

“But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others.” (CEV)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (ERV)

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you recover, strengthen the other disciples.” (GWT)

“but I have pleaded in prayer for you that your faith should not completely fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up the faith of your brothers.” (TLB)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (NCV)

“But I have prayed for you. I have prayed that your faith will be strong and that you will not give up. When you return, you must help to make your brothers strong.” (NLV)

“Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.” (vss. 31-32 MSG)

Brothers, Today, Determine to be There for Your Brothers!

“Conflict cannot continue without your participation.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer)

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” (William James)

“Do not kid yourself, a conflict is never about the surface issue. It’s about issues unsaid, untreated, and unhealed.” (Author Unknown)

“The goal of resolving conflict in a relationship is not victory or defeat. It’s reaching understanding and letting go of our need to be right.”

“Explain your anger, don’t express it, and you will immediately open the door to solutions instead of arguments.” (Author Unknown)

“Conflict is Inevitable, but Combat is Optional.” (Max Lucado)

“Bringing a problem to resolution and closure through continued discussion and compromise is an honorable act as it shows respect for the needs of both partners.” (Lynne Namka)

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” (Albert Einstein)

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

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“The Stretching Is Strengthening Your Faith!”

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“…thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer” (Psalm 4:1)

When God wants to make you a bigger person, He does it through “Distress”! The word “Distress” has an Old French Origin “Destresce”, from Latin “Distringere” which literally means “To Stretch Apart”! And “Stretch” is defined as “To be made or able to be made longer; wider without tearing or breaking; to extend to full length; last longer than expected; extend over a period of time; be sufficient for a particular purpose; extended storage capacity; and to use the maximum of one’s resources”.

You see saints, when you look at “Distress” in its Proper Perspective it doesn’t seem all that bad at all now does it?!

The Psalmist was “…Enlarged…” when he was in “…Distress…”! Trust me, you’re going to want to remember that! To “Enlarge” is defined as “To Make Bigger”! So the Psalmist was Made Bigger By God’s Distressing Stretches which resulted in him being made longer, wider (without tearing or breaking apart), he now also has the ability to extend to his full length, and even last longer than others expected and over a good amount of time as well, not to mention being sufficient in his purpose and having more than enough in his storage capacity to use to the max all of his resources!

In other words, Stop Complaining About Your Distress…It’s the Place Where God Enlarges You! I Bet You’re Ready To Be Distressed Now Aren’t You?!

You see, the way to build a stronger muscle is to lift more weight! Now, when a muscle is put under stress, you groan. But if you persist, that muscle grows stronger and what you were groaning about last week you are smiling about this week, because you can now handle what you couldn’t get a hold of before! Which is why I’m still trying to figure out who said the Christian Life was supposed to be easy? Because It Certainly Was NOT God! His Word actually compares the Believers Life to a Battlefield, not a Bed of Roses! The Bible even declares: “…endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

Let’s look at how a few other translations word this text:

“Take [with me] YOUR SHARE of the hardships and suffering [which you are CALLED TO ENDURE] as a good (FIRST-CLASS) soldier of Christ Jesus” (AMP);

“Accept YOUR SHARE of suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (CEB);

“As a good solder of Christ Jesus YOU MUST endure your share of suffering” (CEV);

“Thou therefore suffer affliction as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (GNV);

“JOIN ME in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (GWT);

“TAKE YOUR PART in suffering, as a loyal soldier of Christ Jesus” (GNT);

Hopefully you noticed a few things:

1.       YOU SHOULD’VE NOTICED PHRASES LIKE: “YOUR SHARE” and “JOIN ME”, in the translations above. And why is that relevant? Because, believe it or not, you are not in your Distress ALONE! When God calls you to endure hardness, He does not send you as a lone soldier and call you an Army! So before you start complaining, realize that you are not the only one! Here’s a perfect Scriptural Example: Elijah said, “I am the ONLY ONE LEFT, and now they are trying to kill me, too” (1 Kings 19:10, 14) And God’s reply? “Yet I will preserve 7,000 OTHERS in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” (1 Kings 19:18). Right when you think you’re the ONLY ONE, God will show you He has 7,000 More, Just Like You! As hard and lonely as your distressing moment may feel, you are not alone! You have other brothers and sisters in distress with you! If you stop your self-made pity party, you could celebrate the presence of your comrades! You are not the only one struggling in marriage; you are not the only one praying the Lord has mercy on your children’s idiotic decisions; you are not the only one battling loneliness in the midnight hour; you are not the only one unemployed; taking medication; surviving an illness; dissatisfied with the reflection they see in the mirror; heartbroken or trying to figure out how do I get myself out of what I got myself into?! Listen, the military does not call one soldier an army! Neither does God! You have soldiers who are fighting day-to-day just like you to win the battles of life. And just like them, YOU must take YOUR SHARE and JOIN in the warfare with the rest of God’s Army! So no more murmuring and complaining, as the Word of God admonishes you, JOIN In the Suffering and TAKE YOUR SHARE As a Good Solider!

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” (Zig Ziglar);

“If you’re not going to put forth any effort to change it, don’t waste your efforts complaining about it.” (Author Unknown);

“Complaining is draining. Complaining only takes away energy from today and never solves the problems for tomorrow.” (James Altucher);

“If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” (Dr. Maya Angelou);

“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” (Teddy Roosevelt);

“If you’re not helping to make it right, then stop complaining about it being wrong.” (Author Unknown)

2.       DID YOU NOTICE THAT THOSE WHO “ENDURE” are “CALLED to Endure”? Read the text! “Take [with me] YOUR SHARE of the hardships and suffering [which you are CALLED TO ENDURE]…” (AMP) I find it absolutely Amazing that we don’t mind being called to preach, teach, prophesy, pray, preside, lay hands, lead the solo, sit in the pulpit, in the big, special chair, or on the front pew or to wear all sorts of titles, positions, offices, rings, robes and bedazzled crosses, but we Complain About Being Called To Endure! Oh, you can CALL us Apostle, Prophet, Bishop, Pastor, Elder, Evangelist, Minister, Deacon, Missionary, Director…Just Don’t CALL Us to Endure! Oh, you can CALL us blessed, anointed, gifted, talented, awesome, phenomenal, handsome, beautiful, smeared in blessed oil…Just Don’t CALL Us to Endure! Listen, “Endure” simply means “to suffer (something painful and prolonged) PATIENTLY; to TOLERATE; and to Remain in Existence” In other words, NO you’re not going to come out of it in 2 days, you are Called to Endure…Patiently! Tolerate it, Handle It, Remain in its Existence or in other words, Stop Trying to Outrun Suffering and Hardness That Is Your Share to Carry! Stand Still and Handle It, That’s What Good Soldiers Are Commanded To Do!

In addition, God Would Not Give You A Calling He Didn’t Equip You To Answer! Listen to the Word of God: “Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it).” (Hebrews 13:21 AMP); “ And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (Philippians 1:6 AMP); “And those whom He thus foreordained, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified (acquitted, made righteous, putting them into right standing with Himself). And those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity and condition or state of being].” (Romans 8:30 AMP) People of God, You Are Not In Your Distress Alone and God Called You to Endure It! And Last I Checked, Obedience Is Still Better Than Sacrifice!

“Without patient endurance, even the smallest thing becomes unbearable. A lot depends on our attitude.” (Dalai Lama);

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a difficult thing, but to turn it into glory.” (William Barclay);

“Don’t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” (Bruce Lee);

“Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen.” (Oswald Chambers);

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, Yet, I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” (Og Mandino);

“I’m a distance runner. I’ve been trained to keep going, even when it’s hard. When it hurts. When it sucks. When I don’t want to. I look past it. Relentless forward progress to the finish. Call it what you want; stubbornness, endurance, determination, guts. Deep down, I don’t know how to give up.” (Author Unknown)

3.       ONE OF THE TRANSLATIONS DECLARES, “…you MUST endure your share of suffering”(CEV)  The word “MUST” is defined as “To be obligated”. “Obligated” has a Latin Origin “Obligare”, from “Ligare” which literally means “To Bind”!  It’s root is found in the legal field and is called a “Binding Agreement/Contract”, and in a nutshell it is defined as: “An agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit known as consideration”. It also carries the definition, “An agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law”. If anyone in the Bible was the epitome of a “Binding Agreement/Contract”, it was the Apostle Paul! And even he was not alone, both Timothy and James were called Bondservants as well, and a Bondservants’ main purpose is to be Obedient To Their Master! When something is Binding Nothing Should Separate It! It’s an Agreement a Contract that Serves to Benefit Both Parties! You are indeed called to endure hardness and handle your place of distress, which means you are obligated to this also! This is not an option! This is a requirement! It’s a legal, written (the Bible) Law, Agreement and Contract between you and your God! So as Distressing as it may be, You MUST Endure It! Never Forget, Every Binding Agreement Comes With a Promise Attached!

“Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience.” (Steven Furtick);

“We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.” (Boyd K. Packer);

“Obedience is an act of faith; disobedience is the result of unbelief.” (Edwin Louis Cole);

“Obedience doesn’t make God love you more, but it does show that you love God.” (Greg J. Barber);

“Be obedient even when you do not know where obedience may lead you.” (Sinclair Ferguson);

“Obedience is a choice. It is a choice between our own limited knowledge and power and God’s unlimited wisdom and omnipotence.” (L. Tom Perry);

“Let the consequences of your obedience be left up to God.” (Oswald Chambers);

“God is awesome. He doesn’t need you to be awesome; He needs you to be obedient.” (Matt Chandler);

“There will be no peace in any soul until it is willing to obey the Voice of God.” (D.L. Moody);

“In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact.” (D. Todd Christofferson);

“Selective obedience brings selective blessings.” (Jorg Klebingat);

“When the Holy Spirit lays something in your heart, move without hesitation. You have no idea who may be depending on your immediate obedience.” (Author Unknown);

“He who refuses to obey, cannot command.” (Author Unknown)

4.       I’VE ALWAYS LOVED THE SAYING, “GOD DON’T MAKE NO JUNK!” And that’s the truth! One of the translations above even calls us, “…FIRST CLASS SOLDIERS…Even in Distress, We Are Still First-Class! We May Have to Endure Sitting In Distress, But At Least We Do It Sitting In First-Class! Listen, God Called You and Equipped You, Therefore, You Can Endure It! Yes, Your Uniform Has Been Beaten, Battered and, Torn, But Don’t You Dare Take It Off and Don’t You Dare Abandon It! You Are a First-Class Soldier and You Can Endure! So Act Like It!

“Don’t ever make the mistake of telling God that you have nothing to offer. That simply is not true. God does not create any junk.” (Dr. Myles Munroe);

“I am somebody cause God don’t make no junk.” (Ethel Waters);

“I am a Citizen of a Kingdom that Cannot be Shaken. A Child of a King with No Limitations.” (Author Unknown);

“You have something to offer that nobody else can offer. Nobody has your exact personality or your gifts. You are more than average. You are one-of-a-kind.” (Author Unknown)

And What Has All of That to do with Strengthening Your Faith? Well, Satan’s number one target is your FAITH! And if you don’t learn how to stand your ground in the midst of distressing seasons, he will aim at, and hit the target of your faith, piercing it through-and-through every time! Just ask Peter!

Jesus said to Peter, “…Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your FAITH should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32 NKJV). In the same way you separate wheat from chaff, Satan wants to separate you from your Faith!  Don’t Let It Happen! No Matter How Deep the Distress, No Matter How Far The Stretch, No Matter How Enormous The Endurance Must Be…Don’t Let Your Faith Fail!

Listen: Not only did Peter survive this attack, and strengthen his brothers, but he also grew through it and wrote: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12 NKJV). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

In other words, “There Will Be Glory After This!” And It’s Coming, Just Around the Corner! So remain steadfast on your journey! Fight, Endure, and While You’re Strengthening Your Faith, Strengthen Your Brothers, And Before You Know It, God Will Enlarge You IN Distress…And When It’s Done He Will Have Glory Waiting to Greet You…Just Around the Corner!

If Satan can destroy your confidence in God and His Word, he wins and you lose! So the Word for you today is to be encouraged because “The Stretching is Only to Strengthen Your Faith!

“You have to sweat for it. HE requires an investment from you. The miracle is in your discomfort. Stretch!” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“The circumstances of life will shrink or stretch your faith. Either way, the choice is always yours.” (James MacDonald)

“Sometimes God stirs us out of comfortable situations in order to stretch us and cause us to exercise our faith. We may not like it, and it may not always be comfortable, but God loves us too much to just leave us the way we are.” (Author Unknown)

“The stretching of your faith is an immediate pain that results in ultimate gain. It is in the waiting that we become who we are meant to be.” (Mandy Hale)

“This season, God is stretching you. You won’t pop, but you will stretch in your faith, dreams, vision, and goals. Trust God and stretch.” (Author Unknown)

“For God’s purpose to Spread, God’s people must Stretch.” (Steven Furtick)

“God doesn’t always take you out of the problem. Sometimes, He stretches your faith by taking you through the problem.” (Rick Warren)

“If God is stretching you, He’s transforming you.” (Author Unknown)

“You can’t grow without being stretched.” (Amy Gatliff)

“God’s plan is so big for you that it’ll require you to Stretch!” (Author Unknown)

“When God is stretching you, expect great things on the other side.” (Author Unknown)

“When God stretches you beyond your comfort zone, He’s preparing you for greater.” (Dianna Hobbs)

“God wants us to be constantly stretching and growing. There are new levels for you to rise up to. There are new treasures within you to discover. Explore what God has placed within you because He has purpose for everything within you.” (Victoria Osteen)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “8 Secrets of People Who Never Miss a Workout”

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“You Can’t Be the SAME, and Make a DIFFERENCE”

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2 Corinthians 6:17-18, “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)

Years ago some friends who lived near a heavy industrial area where the mills filled the air with a shall we say very distinctive aroma; well, actually, smell would be a better word for it. It was sort of a sulfur-like, rotten eggs type of odor. When you first went there, you would sniff and you’d go, “What is that?” And the people who lived there would say, “What’s what?” See, they’d lived around the stink so long, it didn’t even register any more. Well, in my humble opinion, there are simply some smells you should never get used to!

Which brings us to Ezekiel 9:2-4. It’s where the prophet is receiving his instructions from the Lord in the form of a vision, and here’s what it says: “Six men appeared at his call, coming from the upper north gate, each one with his sword. One of them wore linen clothing and carried a writer’s case strapped to his side. They all went into the Temple and stood beside the bronze altar. And the glory of the God of Israel rose from between the Guardian Angels where it had rested and stood above the entrance to the Temple. And the Lord called to the man with the writer’s case and said to him, “Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who weep and sigh because of all the sins they see around them.”

God is saying here, “I’m looking for some people who don’t gloss over the sin around them; people who literally grieve over sin.” Well, they were hard to find then; and truth is, they’re hard to find now. Those kind of people were special then, and they’re special now. People who don’t get so used to being in the middle of sin that they don’t notice the ‘smell’ any more. Do you understand that it was so strange, odd, and unusual to find people who actually grieved over sin that God sent a vision to the prophet about sending out people to scout out the land and “mark” those who were indeed bothered by sin? Let’s look at verse 4 in a few translations to see the type of people God was looking for:

“The Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, throughout all of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who SIGH [IN DISTRESS] AND GRIEVE OVER ALL THE REPULSIVE ACTS WHICH ARE BEING COMMITTED IN IT” (AMP);

“Walk through the city of Jerusalem and mark the forehead of anyone who is TRULY UPSET AND SAD ABOUT THE DISGUSTING THINGS THAT ARE BEING DONE THERE.” (CEV);

“Go through the whole city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is DISTRESSED AND TROUBLED BECAUSE OF ALL THE DISGUSTING THINGS BEING DONE IN THE CITY.” (GNT);

“Go through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is IN ANGUISH OVER THE OUTRAGEOUS OBSCENITIES BEING DONE IN THE CITY.” (MSG);

“He said to the man, “Go through Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the people who GROAN AND CRY ABOUT ALL THE HATEFUL THINGS BEING DONE AMONG THEM.” (NCV);

“The Lord said to him, “Go through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who CRY INSIDE THEMSELVES OVER ALL THE HATED SINS WHICH ARE BEING DONE AMONG THEM.” (NLV)

God was looking for those who were lamenting, crying, groaning, in anguish, troubled, disgusted, repulsed, upset…ABOUT THE SINS OF THE CITY! I wonder if He looked for people like that today, in His church in particular, would He find anyone to mark?

Does the church lament, cry, groan, feel in anguish, troubled, disgusted, repulsed and upset about the sins of the city? Or have we sat amongst it so long that the scent of sin doesn’t even smell to us any longer? Does adultery still stink to us? Does lying still smell funky to us? Does backbiting still offend our nostrils? Does discord still smell foul in the sanctuary? Or have we learned to use religious behavior to act as Febreeze and attempt to mask the smell? Do we spray church lingo over stuff that only needs one word “sin” to describe its scent? Are we bothered, are we disturbed, are we convicted, or have we become so tolerant that we’re no longer even moved by the odor?

I spoke with a friend of mine who so happens to be a sanitation worker. And I asked him, “how in the world do you do a job that smells like this every-day?” He gave me a two-fold response. For one he said, “for the amount of money they pay me, the scent ain’t all that bad”. And then he added something that brought about today’s word, he said “once you’ve been around the stench so much, and so often, and for so long, you literally learn to block out the smell”. Now, I can’t lie to you, I’m still perplexed, because anytime I’ve passed a sanitation truck, I for the life of me can never just block out the scent! However, I’m only around such a stench every now and then, but sanitation workers are around it all the time. Which made me think of something my mother’s doctor said a few years ago. He said, “we have to change her medication because she’s been on it for so long that her body has built up an immune to it, and therefore it no longer works because its’ been in and apart of her make-up for so long now, that her body treats the medication as if it were just one of her vital organs functioning as it should as a part of the rest of her body.” I’m afraid that the church has become just like that! We’ve built up an immune to sin that it no longer looks or smells wrong because we’ve been in it for so long that it doesn’t bother us in the least. Its’ become a part of our make-up. It functions in us as though it were one of the vital organs in the Body of Christ. But this should not be so!

Chances are that you come in daily contact with a lot of sinful garbage; lying that’s considered just to be smart business, an acceptance of adultery (or do we call it “an affair, weakness, or indiscretion”? you know we like to use a prettier sounding term so it doesn’t seem so bad), or just a flippant attitude toward sexual purity. Like the two guys sitting next to me at the pizza place last year. One very casually said to the other one, and pardon my bluntness, but this is the way he stated it, “So, did you get laid yet?” See, that’s casual about something God calls sacred. It’s a flippant “who cares” approach to a sacred act of love, created by God for a lifetime bond. When did we, the church, become so accepting and tolerant of ALL things? What happened to the churches distinction?

Leviticus 10:8-11, “God instructed Aaron: “When you enter the Tent of Meeting, don’t drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons, lest you die. This is a fixed rule down through the generations. Distinguish between the holy and the common, between the ritually clean and unclean. Teach the People of Israel all the decrees that God has spoken to them through Moses.” (MSG);

Leviticus 20:24-26, “I’ve told you, remember, that you will possess their land that I’m giving to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am God, your God, who has distinguished you from the nations. So live like it: Distinguish between ritually clean and unclean animals and birds. Don’t pollute yourselves with any animal or bird or crawling thing which I have marked out as unclean for you. Live holy lives before me because I, God, am holy. I have distinguished you from the nations to be my very own.” (MSG)

From the priests to the people, God has always Distinguished His own! The word “distinguish” is defined as “to recognize, show, or treat as different; to have an identifying characteristic; to be dignified in appearance; to successfully command great respect.” Its Latin Origin “distinguere”, from “stinguere” literally means “to put out.” In other words, to stand out from anything else! Look at it like this: If you visit any jewelry store, you’ll see that the costume jewelry does not mix with the real jewelry! How it’s made, how it’s crafted, how it’s priced and valued, and even where it’s placed at in the store lets you know the difference between the two. And likewise, should be said of the church! The world should be able to see that we don’t mix, don’t match and distinction is why! However, as sad as it may be, you can’t seem to tell the difference anymore between the holy and unholy, the clean and unclean, the fragrant and the funky, because we’ve dwelt together so long in the same space that they all appear one in the same!

I remember buying a bag of mixed bagels. I had everything from plain, to poppy seed, to cinnamon raisin, to onion. But when I opened the bag, all I could smell on all of them was the onion. Because its scent was the most prominent and dominant among them all. Even the ones it didn’t physically touch, still carried its scent because of its closeness in proximity. Makes me wonder if that’s what’s happening with the church? Have we spent so much time marrying, dating, having children, going to church….WITH THE WORLD….that you can no longer tell the 2 worlds apart? Have we gotten so close and comfortable with the world, that you can no longer see the Kingdom in the Church?

What happened to obeying Scriptures like:

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)

With all that said, I must then ask, how did we go from Distinguished and Distinct to Compromise and Conformity?

When did we lose our Sense of the Scent of Sin?

2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.” (MSG)

How did we go from the Exquisite Fragrance of Christ, the Sweet Smelling Scent of God, an Aroma of Life, to smelling like the scent of sin, the stench of a rotting corpse?

We as the church need to regain our Distinction!

The word “distinct” is defined as “to be recognizably different or individual; to be able to be perceived clearly by the senses; a marked difference or contrast; outstanding excellence; special honor or recognition; expressly different from others of its kind” Its Latin Origin “distinctus”, from “distinguere” literally means “distinguish”. Church, we need to be recognizably different from the world! We need a Peter experience!

The Bible says, “And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; FOR THY SPEECH BEWRAYETH THEE.” (Matthew 26:73) Listen to this verse in varying translations:

“…FOR EVEN YOUR [GALILEAN] ACCENT GIVES YOU AWAY.” (AMP);

“…FOR WE CAN TELL BY YOUR GALILEAN ACCENT.” (TLB);

“…WE CAN TELL IT BECAUSE YOU TALK LIKE SOMEONE FROM GALILEE” (CEV);

“…CERTAINLY YOU TOO ARE ONE OF THEM, FOR YOUR ACCENT BETRAYS YOU.” (ESV);

“…IT’S OBVIOUS YOU’RE ALSO ONE OF THEM. YOUR ACCENT GIVES YOU AWAY!” (GWT);

“…OF COURSE YOU ARE ONE OF THEM,” THEY SAID. “AFTER ALL, THE WAY YOU SPEAK GIVES YOU AWAY!” (GNT);

“…IT’S CLEAR FROM THE WAY YOU TALK.” (ERV);

“…THE WAY YOU TALK GIVES YOU AWAY.” (CEB);

“…YOU’VE GOT TO BE ONE OF THEM. YOUR ACCENT GIVES YOU AWAY.” (MSG);

“…FOR SURE, YOU ARE ONE OF THEM. YOU TALK LIKE THEY DO.” (NLV);

“…SURELY YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE WHO FOLLOWED JESUS. THE WAY YOU TALK SHOWS IT.” (NCV);

Peter couldn’t blend in because his distinction wouldn’t let him! Those who were not “with” him knew that something about him being here is simply out of place. They even went so far as to say “We can tell; certainly; it’s obvious; of course; it’s clear; you’ve got to be; and surely you are.” They had absolutely no doubt and no question about the fact that Peter was with Jesus. Therefore, him being there with them, was out place! They said “…surely you are one of those who followed Jesus. The way you talk shows it.” Peter’s distinctive speech betrayed him! He couldn’t blend, couldn’t hide, couldn’t join in, couldn’t go unnoticed, and all because who he really was couldn’t be camouflaged! Would people be able to see the evidence of your relationship to Jesus in your speech and conduct, in spite of where you are or who you’re around?

People of God, you can’t cover up distinction, its visible evidence! So much so, that even the senses can tell something is different!

See, the problem is, we’re around sin so much sometimes it doesn’t break our heart any more, but it breaks God’s heart all the time, and He’s looking for people whose heart it can still break. We hear people treat God’s name, Jesus’ name, like dirt. Jesus, the name at which every knee will bow. There are attitudes that amount to nothing less than idol worship, and we’re no longer bothered by it: living for money, living for a guy or a girl, living for music, careers, and entitlements, living for the next party, living for a ring, robe, positions and chairs. It’s time we prayed, “God, give me back my sense of spiritual smell.

Isaiah 65:1-7, “I’ve made myself available to those who haven’t bothered to ask. I’m here, ready to be found by those who haven’t bothered to look. I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’ to a nation that ignored me. I reached out day after day to a people who turned their backs on me, People who make wrong turns, who insist on doing things their own way. They get on my nerves, are rude to my face day after day, Make up their own kitchen religion, a potluck religious stew. They spend the night in tombs to get messages from the dead, Eat forbidden foods and drink a witch’s brew of potions and charms. They say, ‘Keep your distance. Don’t touch me. I’m holier than thou.’ These people gag me. I CAN’T STAND THEIR STENCH. Look at this! Their sins are all written out— I have the list before me. I’m not putting up with this any longer. I’ll pay them the wages. They have coming for their sins. And for the sins of their parents lumped in, a bonus.” God says so. “Because they’ve practiced their blasphemous worship, mocking me at their hillside shrines, I’ll let loose the consequences and pay them in full for their actions.” (MSG)

If this is how God feels about the stench of sin, why does the odor not bother the Body of Christ any longer?!

People of God, today is a good day to pray and ask God to deliver us, and give us back our distinction. Because the truth is, we can’t be the same as the world and make a difference. They should feel free to come into our church services, but they should feel something that makes them know that they can’t stay the same way they came. We can’t blend, compromise, conform, tolerate, and certainly not water down the Gospel. We have to stand up and stand out so that we might be able to bring them in. Today, determine to be the Fragrance of God, that abhors the Scent of Sin!

“The devil must be daily resisted. The world must be daily overcome. There is a warfare to be waged, and a battle to be fought.” (J.C. Ryle)

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

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“Don’t Miss Your Turn”

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“You have stayed here long enough. TURN…” (Deuteronomy 2:3 TLB)

God’s plan for your life always involves your gifts, His timing, and being in the right place. But three things can keep that from happening:

1…Fear of Failing: (For some reason we’re under the impression that failures are final and fatal, and that is far from the truth. When you read the Bible from cover-to-cover you will quickly discover that all of God’s children failed at some point in time. Absolutely none of them were perfect. They failed as Kings, Priests, Prophets, Judges, Leaders, Fathers, Mothers, Sons, Daughters, Male, Female, Married, Single, Young and Old Alike. No one that is flesh and blood is exempt from failure! However, failure is not to be feared, it’s to be learned from so that you better appreciate the success when it does come)!

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” (Thomas A. Edison)

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” (Michael Jordan)

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” (Henry Ford)

“Never Quit! If you stumble, get back up. What happened yesterday no longer matters. Today is another day, so get on track and move closer to your dreams. You can do it.” (Author Unknown)

LESSON TO LEARN: NEVER FEAR FAILURE BECAUSE IT’S NEVER FINAL OR FATAL!

2…Unwillingness to Leave Your Comfort Zone: (Sadly many people have not failed because of where they’ve gone, but because of where they’ve chosen to stay. Truth is, you can’t get THERE, remaining HERE! Which means daily you have to challenge yourself to do, try and experience new, different, uncomfortable and unfamiliar things. You have to learn to broaden your circle by getting out of the box! No one fulfills their Calling in a Comfort Zone. Jesus walked the world over healing and delivering, but it was the shedding of blood that brought salvation. Last I checked, the cross was not the most comfortable way to the crown, but He endured it, and whatever your cross is, endure it! Get out of your comfort zone, so you can finally fulfill your calling)!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. You won’t find glory at the center of safety, but at its edge. You won’t find love at a place where you are covered, but in the space where you are exposed. You gotta take some risks. You have to not only pick up the dice, but roll ’em. So go ahead, take the gamble. You have nothing to lose except the chance to win. Life is not long enough to spend it on the sidelines.” (Neale Donald Walsch)

“Step so far outside your comfort zone that you forget how to get back!” (Author Unknown)

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

“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)

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

“Sometimes it takes us traveling outside our comfort zone, to discover the abilities we never knew we had.” (Robert M. Hensel)

Lesson to Learn: Your Calling Will Not Be Fulfilled in Your Comfort Zone!

3…Being Swayed By the Opinions of Others: (Another sad commentary is that many people accomplish only minimal greatness because they’re so busy ignoring Christ and listening to Critics! If you are to do great things, you have to get past the opinions of people. And it doesn’t matter whether those opinions are good or bad. Even Jesus had Hosanna’s turn to Crucify by the same mouths! So likewise, you have to learn to do what God has called you to do, and be who He has called you to be, without the need for people opinions, validations, confirmations, seal of approval and pat on the back. When God gives the go ahead, only a fool allows others to stop him!

“I used to care about what people thought about me until one day I tried to pay my bills with their opinions and quickly realized how worthless their opinions really are.” (Author Unknown)

“Your opinion is not my reality.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Don’t let the noise of other peoples opinions drown out your inner voice.” (Steve Jobs)

“Don’t worry about other people’s opinions of you. God never told you to impress people; only to love them.” (Dave Willis)

“Leave people to their opinions and judgements. They cannot harm you; it is their understanding that is faulty, Not Yours.” (Leon Brown)

“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.” (Plato)

“The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.” (Osho)

Lesson to Learn: Don’t Allow the Opinions of Others to Hinder Your Obedience to God!

Remember This: Use Your Gifts, Move in God’s Timing, and Make Sure You Are Always in the Right Place! Never Allow Fear of Failure, The Crippling of Your Comfort Zone or the Opinions of Others to Stop Your Forward Progression!

In focusing on our text, there came a point where in order to enter the Promised Land, God said to Israel, “You have traveled around this mountain long enough. Now TURN…” (NLV). Please understand, that when you reach this point it’s crucial that you say yes to God and be willing to step out in faith! Whether God is directing you, or redirecting you, listen, heed and immediately obey!

Think about it, and let’s be honest, we can all admit that we’ve stayed in places longer than we should have. And to be even more brutally honest, many of us have stayed in stuff we should’ve never been in, in the first place! But how much longer do you intend to miss God? God said to them, “You have traveled around this mountain long enough…” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a “small mountain”. In other words, mountains are by definition Big! In fact, it’s defined as, “a mass of land rising abruptly and to a large height from the surrounding level.” That doesn’t sound too tiny to me! Can you imagine traveling around “a mass of land rising abruptly and to a large height from the surrounding level”? A mountain is massive! And the word “massive” means “large and heavy; solid; exceptionally large, intense, or severe.” So, people of God, I say to you, as God said to them, “You have traveled around this mountain long enough…” Or better yet, you’ve traveled around this massive, large, heavy, intense and severe situation long enough…WHEN DO YOU PLAN TO HEED GOD’S DIRECTION AND TURN?! It’s been a burden, it’s weighed you down, it has caused you to lose sleep, weight, hair, and peace. How much longer are you going to endure self-inflicted-suffering? God Himself is giving you permission to go in another direction, so what are you waiting for? Why are you still facing a dead-end? Why are you still standing by the cliff? Why are you stuck in park? MOVE! Better Yet…TURN!

I love the definitions of the word “Turn”: “to move into a different position; to go in the opposite direction of where you are currently; to change in nature, state or form.” However, my favorite is: “a place where a road meets or branches off into another; a turning point.” Another favorite: “a time when one period of time ends and another begins.” And that phrase “turning-point” is another favorite of mine: It’s defined as “a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.” Now, please tell me with all of that said, why have you yet to TURN?! People of God, it’s time for you to stop blaming, pointing fingers, complaining, having good intentions with no plans, a long list of “one day I’m going to…” and “I promise…” and finally you make a deliberate decision to do something! Based on the above definitions, it’s time for you to move into a different position, go in the opposite direction of where you’ve been traveling, make a change! In a nutshell: TURN!

The word “reposition” is a good one, it means “a strategic move to alter and adjust to a different position.” In other words, no I am by no means saying this will be easy, but I am definitely saying it will be worth it for you to deliberately make a strategic move and alter and adjust to different people, places and things! After all, the people, places and things that you’ve become accustomed to, have obviously not worked for you, so why not quit and get work elsewhere?! You’ve been doing this long enough, putting up with this long enough, tolerating this long enough, suffering because of this long enough! Now is the time to Reposition and Turn! Remember: “turn” is also “a place where a road meets or branches off into another; a turning point.” And a “turning-point” is “a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.”

In a nutshell: This Turn Is To Your Benefit, So What Are You Waiting For…TURN!

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the TURN” (Helen Keller)

During a famine God said to the prophet Elijah, “And the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Leave here and TURN east. Hide yourself by the river Cherith, east of the Jordan.  You will drink from the river. And I have told the ravens to bring food to you THERE.” So he went and did what he was told by the Word of the Lord. He went and lived by the river Cherith, east of the Jordan.  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and in the evening. And he drank from the river.” (1 Kings 17:2-6 NLV).

God’s PLAN for your life is always connected to a PLACE!

“…Leave here and TURN EAST…”; (1 Kings 17:2-6 NLV);

“You have traveled around this mountain long enough. Now TURN NORTH”; (Deuteronomy 2:3 TLB);

“The Lord said, “Ezekiel, son of man, TURN TOWARD THE SOUTH…” (Ezekiel 20:45-46 CEV);

“Moses…led the flock to the WEST…The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire…” (Exodus 3:1-2 MSG)

Are You Getting This? From all 4 corners of the Earth, God’s people are charged and challenged to make a TURN! EAST, NORTH, SOUTH, WEST! Likewise, it’s vital for your life and calling that you are always in the Right Place at the Right Time! This week is a good time to take a look around at the people, places and things in your life, and see where you need to make a Beneficial TURN for yourself!

Think about it: Elijah would’ve missed his provision in the EAST if he didn’t TURN; Israel would’ve missed the Promised Land if they didn’t TURN to the NORTH; Ezekiel would’ve missed his ministry opportunity to deliver a prophetic word if he didn’t TURN to the SOUTH; and Moses would’ve missed the burning bush if he didn’t TURN to the WEST! What are you missing out on because you have yet to TURN in the direction God has commanded?!

Listen, Even Jesus “…HAD to go through Samaria…” (John 4:4 NIV). The Message Bible says it like this, “TO GET THERE, HE HAD TO PASS THROUGH SAMARIA…” (MSG). In order to get THERE, you have to leave HERE! And why did Jesus have to go through Samaria? To meet a woman who was destined to reach that city with the Gospel. Can you imagine, a whole city would’ve missed out on hearing the Good News of the Gospel, if Jesus didn’t go through Samaria?! Believe it or not, but you being in the right place at the right time, is not just about you! There are some people who won’t receive what they need to until you get there! Some people won’t make a turn for the better until you’ve finally decided to make a turn from the worse! Some won’t get a turn, until you make you a turn! And do you really want to be held responsible for a whole city missing God because you missed your turn?!

And will all of your turns feel good? Absolutely not! However, you can’t just go where you like, God honors you when you’re where HE wants you to be! “Tell me,” Samuel said. “Does the Lord really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey Him.” (1 Samuel 15:22 CEV). So whether you’re being sent to the North, South, East or West is irrelevant! What’s important is that you obey the direction of the Lord when He tells you it’s time to make a TURN!

God has promised to bless you, but sometimes He has to reposition you in order for you to receive His blessing! Just ask Peter. He went from I’ll live and die with you Jesus, to being warmed by strange fire, with strange people, and lying about his identity to Jesus. However, it’s never too late to make a TURN, because he’s later restored, repositioned, and preaching redemption to thousands! Paul went from killing Christians to speaking life and resurrecting them! It’s amazing what just a little TURN in the right direction can accomplish! In other words, it’s not too late for you either! So, MAKE THE TURN…BEFORE YOU MISS YOUR TURN!

Think about this as well: It was when Ruth moved to Bethlehem that she met Boaz and married him; it was when Bartimaeus went to where Jesus was that he received his sight! In a nutshell: You Don’t Want to Miss Your Turn Because You Missed Your Turn! Make sure you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, doing the right thing! After all, to miss God, is just wrong!

In closing, can you imagine how Abraham’s story would’ve read had he missed his TURN in Genesis 12:1? “Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.The Living Bible says it like this, “God told Abram, “Leave your own country behind you…” (TLB). And the Amplified Bible reads, “…Go for yourself [for your own advantage] away from your country…” (AMP). Abram had to leave some people, places and things BEHIND HIM and FOR HIS OWN ADVANTAGE, AND TURN IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION ALTOGETHER! And what was the blessing for his obedient TURN? “If you do, I will cause you to become the father of a great nation; I will bless you and make your name famous, and you will be a blessing to many others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; and the entire world will be blessed because of you.” (Genesis 12:2-3 TLB).  And All Because He Refused to Miss His Turn By Missing His Turn! Verse 4, is the bonus, “SO ABRAM LEFT JUST AS GOD SAID…” (MSG). What Blessings Are You Missing Out On Because You’re Still In the Same Place?! What Blessings Are You Missing Out On Because You Didn’t Listen When God Spoke?!

And was this the only time Abram would have to make a TURN? Absolutely Not! He would eventually have to TURN away from Lot, who was originally granted permission by Abram to go with him! However, Once Again, Do to Making Another Timely TURN, the Word of God Declares: “After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, “Open your eyes, look around. Look NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, AND WEST. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever. I’ll make your descendants like dust—counting your descendants will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. So—on your feet, GET MOVING! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17 MSG)

Abram Made a Timely TURN, and God Made Abram a Timeless Promise! If You Don’t Want to Miss Yours As Well, Today, Determine to MAKE A TURN!

“No matter how far you go in the wrong direction, there’s always a chance to TURN your life around.”  (Author Unknown)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Women’s Hair Loss: Thinning Hair, Causes and Solutions”

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“No More Shallow Living For You!”

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I have quite a few social media sites. With that said, unfortunately, it gives people the misconception that I’m Ms. Technology, when that couldn’t be further from the truth! For instance, as much as I use my cellphone, I know very little about how it really functions, or how to use it to its full capacity. And the reason why? Because outside of making a call, receiving a call, or sending a text, I really don’t care to know much else! However, I’ve come to find out that is to my own loss. You see, there are so many buttons and gadgets that I really don’t want to take the time to figure out. I look at them and ignore them. And what makes matters worse is that my phone wasn’t just handed to me. It came in a box with a Manual for Maximum Usage! Have I read the manual? Absolutely not!

Finally, I got tired of everybody telling me how awesome my phone is and all the great things it’s capable of doing. So I enlisted the help of one of my IT guys to pick his brain. And to my amazement, I could not believe all the things I was able to do, that I wasn’t doing, only because I didn’t know I could! I was so comfortable with what I knew, that I didn’t want to put in the work to find out what I really needed to know. And that was that my comfort was crippling my capability!

However, now, at the click of one button I can access all of my schedules (and finally avoid so many scheduling conflicts because who knew my phone could organize my dates in priority without my help?). With one button I can check all of my email accounts. With one button I could have all of my social media sites on one page. I could even control what goes on in my house, while I’m away, by my phone! And all of this was at my fingertips, but I was too complacent to grab a hold of its full capability!

Now, let’s see what the Bible has to say about this.

Matthew 14:25-29, “And in the fourth watch of the night (3:00-6:00 a.m.) Jesus came to them, walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately He spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!” Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.”  He said, “Come!” So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” (AMP).

All the other disciples were just trying to ride out the storm. But Peter suddenly got a glimpse of the power of his Master and of something supernatural he could do if he risked everything on Jesus. And suddenly Peter was doing what people don’t do. He was walking on water!

The fact is that Jesus may be preparing you to step up to something far more supernatural than you’ve ever been or you’ve ever done before. In fact, if you’re anything like me, He’s made your heart restless for more so you would get out of the boat and start walking toward Him in an exciting new way. Truth is, there are quite a few endeavors that I’ve had my heart set on for quite a while. And fear and nervousness about stepping into something new, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar is honestly terrifying! BUT I don’t want to miss a moment because of a minute of insecurity.

Peter found out that day that if Jesus wants you to do it – no matter how beyond your capability it may be – He will give you whatever it takes to do it.

A lot of our Christian lives are like my multi-faceted cellphone. We’re settling for a level that is far below where we could be living. We’re looking at all those spiritual buttons. Maybe we know some other people who have tapped into those capabilities, but we’re settling for a powerless life when Christ in us wants to make our life really powerful. We’re settling for the mediocre when we’re wired for the miraculous.

Look at it like this: Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and apply for the mortgage, the business, student or car loan? Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and head that ministry or start a new one? Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and try that, or go there? Truth is, being inside the boat, especially during a storm, seems like the safest, best and most comfortable, and sensible place to be. But if Jesus isn’t in the boat, do you really think it’s the best place to be? If He’s outside the boat, even in the storm, don’t you think it’s better to be where Christ is than where your cushion is?

You have the Holy Spirit of the Almighty God living in you. You have backing you up the authority that Jesus has over everything in this universe. You have Jesus’ resurrection power in your life. Question is: So why aren’t you living like it?

Are you settling for only pushing a couple of God’s buttons when there are so many more that could open up a whole new frontier for you?

You need to be reading the Manual. You know that’s the Bible, and you need to be reading it every single day. Not just for theology, not just for a lesson to teach or a Word to preach. But looking for the keys to powerful faith and then using them to unlock your bound-up greatness. Tell the Lord, Lord, I want the “something more” you’ve made my heart hungry for. Then surrender yourself in a new, fresh way to Him. With all the things that are going on in your life now, update that old surrender. Let go of those areas that you’ve insisted on controlling. Get out of that safe little boat and dare to walk where you’ve never walked before!

In a nutshell: You will never get THERE staying HERE! Yes, this requires chance, risks, the probability that it won’t work, even failure. And yet I challenge you to try it anyway!

Think about it: Can you imagine how David’s story would’ve turned out if he stayed in the field with the sheep because he’d become comfortable in what he’s used to doing? What if Abraham decided not to leave his people and country? What if Noah decided he didn’t want to chance looking silly building an ark? What if Moses’ stutter held him captive? What if Esther thought that she wasn’t good enough since she was an orphan? What if Deborah said ‘no thanks, I’ll just stay in the back since men go in the front’? What if Paul thought his past was too bad for him to have a better future? What if Peter thought his denial would lead to the Lord’s ultimate denial? What if Hannah decided to accept her barrenness as this is just the cards I’ve been dealt? What if Joshua and Caleb agreed that the majority is always right? What if Rahab thought my profession will hinder me from protection? What if Mary said the public scandal would be too much for me to bear, kindly use someone else?

Can you imagine the tragedy of having their stories re-written with the pen of fear?

Listen to what your manual is telling you:

Matthew 19:26, “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible.” (AMP);

Matthew 17:20, “… for I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have [living] faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and [if it is God’s will] it will move; and NOTHING will be impossible for you.” (AMP); (Question: Do you know how silly it sounds that you can have enough faith to move a mountain, and yet you allow a little fear to keep you immobile?) Selah…

Mark 11:23, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s UNLIMITED POWER], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with God’s will].” (AMP);

Philippians 4:13, “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.]” (AMP)

Ephesians 3:20, “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,” (AMP).

Like my cellphone, when you read the manual, you’ll be amazed at all you’re capable of doing!

So stop allowing your comfort to cripple your capability!

The word “cripple” is defined as “unable to walk or move properly through disability or injury; to make someone unable to move or walk properly; to cause severe and disabling damage to something”. And that’s exactly what your comfort is doing! It’s crippling your spiritual walk! When something or someone is cripple, their walk is unsteady and unstable. Reminds me of James 1:8, “being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides]” (AMP). Which is why you never want fear and comfort to cause you to be unstable, because that will cause you to think ‘I can’t do this’; to feel like ‘I’m not strong enough to accomplish this’; and then to make poor decisions like ‘let someone else who is more qualified attempt this.’

However, that’s not how your story is going to end! Today is the day you find your courage, your strength and your faith. Today is the day you deliberately decide I’m not staying in this comfort zone any longer. I may fall, I may fail, I may get it wrong, but I won’t get stuck in this place of mediocre any longer. Today, I’m getting out of the boat! Yes, I know no one has ever done it before; yes, I know it’s safer in the boat during the storm; yes, I know I’m taking a big risk and chance; yes, I know those who are in the boat are probably talking about me making the dumb decision to do something new, uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and different; yes, I know they’re sitting in the boat thinking I’m crazy for even trying this; yes, I know they’re waiting for me to sink so they can say I told you so; yes, I know getting out of the boat to walk on water is strange, nuts, odd, and even dangerous. AND YES, I’M STILL GOING TO DO IT ANYWAY!

For a minute, just think of all the inventors and inventions. Can you imagine if they allowed the ridiculousness of doing something different to stop them from trying? We wouldn’t have lights, trains, planes, cars, computers, medicine, washing machines, or cellphones! People on transplant lists would just have to die because who’s crazy enough to try and replace a heart or kidney?

Saints, it’s a new day, a new month and a new year! Don’t you want better this year than last year? Well then, do something better! Do something different! Do something new!

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” (Albert Einstein) Therefore, for the remainder of this year, stretch yourself; challenge yourself; dare yourself; compete with yourself; push yourself; encourage yourself; motivate yourself!

Remember this: There Is No GROWTH In Comfort Zones; Only Stagnation!

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.

In closing, let’s look briefly at Luke 5:4:

“…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 Where You Are! 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 pleased 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 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! Warning: Gossip Garbage Is 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!

You’ve been HERE too long, today we’re moving over THERE!

The word “shallow” is defined as “of little depth; not going far; small distance; having little extension inward or backward; to be superficial; surface-focused.” Do you really want that to be descriptive of you, your life and dreams? That there’s little depth; you’re not going far, only small distances, you have little in you or behind you, your superficial and only focused on the simple, small, things that are easily attained. Surely you want more for yourself than that! Peter walked on the ocean, not the shallow end of the pool, and it’s time you did the same! If you are to attain depth, you have to go out into the deep! No more shallow living for you!

TODAY, WE DARE TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, NEW AND EVEN UNCOMFORTABLE AND UNFAMILIAR, SO THAT WE CAN FINALLY WAKE UP AND LIVE OUR DREAMS!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” (Author Unknown)

“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)

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

“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” (Thomas Edison)

“God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, He will increase our capability.” (Neal A. Maxwell)

“Don’t limit yourself to someone else’s opinion of your capabilities. Be you. Dream, plan, execute!” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“The only permission, the only validation, and the only opinion that matters in our quest for greatness is our own.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Don’t you dare shrink yourself for someone else’s comfort – Do not become small for people who refuse to grow.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

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: “What is Situational Depression?”

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“WHO Is HE To YOU?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Your Storm is Keeping You On Course”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Storm is Keeping You On Course!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Surviving Disappointment”

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Proverbs 13:12, “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a…good break can turn life around.”

If you’re still living—then disappointment is inevitable! Webster defines disappointment as,When expectations fail to be met, producing anger, frustration, sadness and discouragement.

With that said, here are some examples to help you when:

1.. YOUR DISAPPOINTED WITH THOSE YOU LOOK UP TO: Think of Samuel and Eli (1 Samuel 1-4). Samuel’s mother entrusted her child to Eli the High Priest, confident he’d mentor and prepare him for God’s service. But Eli had a serious character flaw! He was a weak, passive parent who stood by while his own sons abused their priestly privilege, bringing shame and disrepute to the family and ministry! There’s a very befitting quote that says,He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk.” (Author Unknown) I believe it’s fair to say that Eli was…only taking a walk.I mean with a “mentor” like Eli, who’d have even blamed young Samuel for taking a nose dive right into the very heart of immorality, when the man he looked up to failed him so badly?! But no, instead he fielded his disappointment and kept his eyes on God: The Bible says,…Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him.” (1 Samuel 3:19). And as a result, God turned him into one of Israel’s Greatest Prophets! Henry Ward Beecher accurately stated:Ones best success comes after their greatest disappointment.Well Done Samuel, Well Done! So, how are we to deal with the disappointment we feel in those we look up to, that let us down? Because it’s bound to happen at some point in life. Whether it’s a parent, clergy, family, friend, business associate, spouse, governmental official, etc, we are bound to be let down by those we look up to. But does that give us license to lower our standards because they didn’t raise theirs? Absolutely Not! Samuel grew and the Lord was with him. You see, even when Eli messed up his Role, Samuel maintained his Character. He never attacked Eli, he didn’t bash him, he didn’t talk about him, he didn’t spread rumors, lies, gossip or even Truth about him. No, Samuel just lived the life of a good leader, which reminds us that we can point fingers and lay blame, but where does that get us, even if we’re in the right?! The better bet is to take the high road. Live right, think right, speak right, behave right, no matter how wrong your surroundings or the people in them. So the next time someone you look up to let’s you down, keep them in prayer and be a mirror to them showing them the reflection of what good (not perfect) looks like. Why? Because Eli died and missed out, but the person you look up to doesn’t have to. So, share your heart with them gently and honestly, then whether they agree or disagree, you move onward showing everyone that you can learn a good lesson even from a bad example! Don’t judge them, just refuse to make their same errors in judgment. You can do it, I know you can!

2.. YOU’RE DISAPPOINTED IN THOSE YOU LIVE WITH: If anyone wouldn’t let you down, surely it would be your family, right? Wrong! Just ask young Joseph. When his father favors him and God promised him a big dream you’d think his own blood brothers would celebrate him, and celebrate with him! But instead they responded with jealousy, anger, spite, bitterness, ridicule and resentment, while dropping him in a pit, then selling him into slavery! Far from friends and home he languished in prison for a crime he didn’t commit! What an invitation to bitterness, and an opportunity to rehearse the wrongs done him while plotting his revenge. But if he’d done that, he’d have died an innocent, unknown convict in a foreign jail! Instead he allowed God to vindicate him, using his circumstances to position, prepare and promote him to being Egypt’s Prime Minister—now that’s how you deal with disappointment! Robert Kiyosaki said: “The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.Well Done Joseph, Well Done! So, how do you deal with family, your own blood, that stabs you in the back? What happens when the attack is from an assailant under your own roof? What do you do when it’s your sibling that drops you in the pit, or your cousin that sells you out, or your auntie that lands you behind bars?! How do you recover when it was a relative that inflicted the hurt?! You do as Joseph did, you trust God throughout the entire process! Nowhere do we read that Joseph cried out ‘why me God’; he didn’t blame dad for not being there to protect him; he didn’t retaliate against the cup-bearer who forgot him; he didn’t get angry with the whole world and try to issue his own form of the big payback. As he went from disaster to disaster God never left his side. In every bad, God produced something good. Now, is it easy, especially when it’s blood, to just trust the vindication and vengeance to God alone, no! But it’s the best way to handle it, to put what you will mishandle in the hands of God! In the end, those same relatives had to come and bow before Joseph, will that happen with you, probably not, but isn’t it worth it to trust God and let Him work? Maybe, just maybe, you’ll at least get the apology and more importantly, you’ll get the reconciliation. Saints, take the high road my friends, even when it’s family that’s trying to drive you off course!

3.. YOU’RE DISAPPOINTED IN THOSE YOU WORK WITH AND DEPEND ON: To succeed, you need people; you can’t make it without them! And when those people fail you, it’s painful. Imagine Moses’ disappointment. He leaves his brother Aaron in charge while he attends a summit conference with God and receives the Ten Commandments. Returning, he finds Israel in anarchy, idolatry and unspeakable perversion! And where’s Aaron you ask? Leading the Rebellion! When Moses needs him Most, Aaron fails him Miserably! But watch Moses; true leadership shines even in darkest of disappointment! He confronts Aaron, takes the mess to God for resolution, and prays forgiveness for Israel! God listens, then reminds Moses of his assignment! [It’s disappointing, Moses, but…] –…go, lead the people…my angel will go before you…” (Exodus 32:34 NIV). People of God, disappointment doesn’t cancel your assignment—nor does it close the door on God’s presence! So, go forth, even in the midst of disappointment, and do what He sent you to do!Man must be disappointed with the lesser things of life before he can comprehend the full value of the greater.” (Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton). Well Done Moses, Well Done! So leaders, dare I even ask if you’ve ever been disappointed by your leaders? Surely you have, many of us have. But that doesn’t mean you disown them; you don’t give up on them; you don’t give them the cold shoulder; you don’t attempt to replace them; you don’t ignore them; and certainly you don’t retaliate tit-for-tat with them! No, you follow Moses’ example. Take the issue before God! Let Him tell you how to handle it, not your ‘inner circle’; not your clique; not your buddies and pals; not people you know don’t like them; and certainly you don’t attempt to get back at them from over the pulpit! Moses took the issue he had with Aaron his leader, to God. And God could’ve told Moses get rid of Aaron, you don’t need him, you’re the key person to this assignment anyhow. No, He simply tells Moses to not focus on the attack but on his assignment, …go, lead the people…my angel will go before you…Leaders, I do not have to tell you just how difficult it is to lead people, especially those who are stiff-necked, hard headed and rebellious! But do you get to retaliate? Nope! You are still held accountable for your leadership, your life and lifestyle and your responses to offense. Your character and integrity must remain intact. You must still be above reproach, even when those you lead keep falling under it! Yes, the disappointment hurts, but you can’t let the wound infect your assignment. Do what Moses did, take it to God, receive His directives, and continue on. Why? Because God said, …go, lead the people…which means others will be affected by how you respond when disappointed. Don’t let childish immaturity be the only way your followers can describe your leadership. Handle it, rise above it and keep moving the people forward! Don’t mess up your ministry because you’re mad!

4.. YOU’RE DISAPPOINTED IN THOSE YOU’VE POURED YOUR LIFE INTO: Let’s check in again with Moses, Founding Pastor of the First Church of the Critical and the Ungrateful, a congregation of former slaves, delivered, abundantly blessed, en route to the Promised Land, but without a shred of loyalty or gratitude for the man who put everything on the line to make it all possible! Fresh out of Egypt they turn on Moses, accusing, blaming and berating him (Exodus 14). Was Moses disappointed and hurt by it? Sure, who wouldn’t be?! But each time he wanted to quit he’d discuss it with God, pray for his complaining flock, receive fresh orders from headquarters and return to work! It’s what “God-Called” men and women do when they’re disappointed and feel like giving up!If you use disappointments as sort of mid-semester exams, for learning, you will learn that every disappointment you overcome makes you stronger—and wiser. The greatest success stories have been lived by those who had to grow strong and wise in that very way.” (Loretta Young). Once Again, Well Done Moses, Well Done! Leaders, once again I want to encourage you, because it’s not easy to take one vision and try to get an entire house to see and follow it. I know it would be absolutely wonderful to have the whole house on the same page, however, realistically, our churches are family trees with a whole lot of mixed nuts! One person wants the school; the other person thinks the school won’t work; the other person doesn’t mind a school, but doesn’t like the blueprint of the school, and all the while you wish you could throw all of them in detention and keep building the vision by yourself. But unfortunately pastors, it doesn’t quite work out that way. We’re apart of One body with many members, and every member is vital to the health and well being of the whole. So even when it seems like you can’t get one good solid supporter, remember you always have God and with Him you are in the majority! Moses led a frustrated, frustrating bunch of complainers, but did he throw in the towel? No, and neither will you. Like it or not, but you will pour even more of your life into the people, and some of them have eternal leaks, but that’s not your problem! Their capacity is for God to handle, you simply pour of yourself into them. God will never allow you to dry out and die, He will continue to replenish you, His Chosen Vessel of Honor. Therefore, understand that disappointment will visit, but don’t let it move in! Stay the course, God’s got you!  

Now take a moment and look at 1 Samuel 15:10-12,…God spoke to Samuel: “I’m sorry I ever made Saul king. He’s turned his back on me. He refuses to do what I tell him.Samuel was angry when he heard this. He prayed his anger and disappointment all through the night…” (MSG). As already stated, if you’re still living—disappointment is inevitable! But might I add, it’s not ‘Impregnable, which meansUnable To Overcome! You see, when anger and disappointment threatened Samuel, he fought back in Prayer! If you’re smart, you’ll do the same! Disappointment only delivers a death blow to those who don’t fight back! You can literally read those verses and feel Samuel’s anger, after all, do you know how mad you have to be to pray angry and disappointed…All Through the Night?! But sometimes prayer is the best thing, because when you’re hurt, angry and disappointed, your mouth runs faster than your mind. So you have a tendency to say some things that you meant to say and a whole lot more that you didn’t! But when you empty all of that out to God in prayer, He’s a master-sorter, He knows how to pick through that prayer for what’s really needed. Therefore, no matter how great the disappointment, take it to God FIRST in prayer, even if you have to enter your prayer closet hurt, disappointed, bitter, angry, confused, rejected, abandoned, used, betrayed, lied on, suicidal, take it all to God in prayer, even if that prayer will last long into the night! Thank God, He never sleeps or slumbers! Take it to Him, then rest in Him, knowing He’s going to bring something good, out of your something bad!

Now, we’ve talked about disappointment with those we look up to; those we live with; those we work with and depend on and those we’ve poured our life into. But, there’s one last disappointment I want us to dig into, and that’s:

5.. DISAPPOINTMENT IN OURSELVES! It’s potentially the most debilitating kind of disappointment because it can throw you into a downward spiral that’s hard to stop or recover from! Rollo May said: “Depression is the inability to construct a future.And for most of us, who can tell the whole truth, we’ve had so many little disappointments along the way that we can’t even fathom a pencil-sketch of a big future! Well, there’s an even better quote that I want you to hold on to by Albert Ellis, he said:You largely Construct your depression. It wasn’t given to you. Therefore, You can Deconstruct it.You see, mounting disappointments are a map with all directions pointing towards the destination of depression! But remember, anything you can CONSTRUCT, you can also DECONSTRUCT, or ‘cause the destruction of”. The other definition I like is, “to dismantle and expose the workings of.” If you’ve built up and constructed disappointments in your life, you can also grab your toolkit and deconstruct those same disappointments. Take them apart, dismantle them and expose the works behind them, so you can ensure that what worked before in building that disappointment, won’t ever work again! And even if “YOU” brought the discouragement, disappointment and depression on yourself, there is still a way to recover! JUST ASK PETER! Peter had sworn undying love and fidelity to Jesus.Lord, everybody else may abandon you, but not me! I’m yours till death.” (Read—Matthew 26:33-75). And he meant every word of it! But under the pressures surrounding the crucifixion, he yields, and three times denies knowing Jesus. Later, remembering Jesus’ words,Before the rooster crows, you’ll deny me three times,Peter, heartbroken BY HIS OWN DISMAL FAILURE,went outside and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62 NIV).

Have you ever been there, asking:God, how can You possibly use someone as messed up as me? I lost the job; I flunked out of school; I had this baby out of wedlock; I have a prison record; I fell off the wagon again; I’ve destroyed my finances; my health is falling apart; my marriage is on life support and we’re both ready to pull the plug; I can’t even remember the last time I prayed or fasted or studied Your word; I can’t remember the last time my hands clapped, my feet danced or praise was on my lips and worship in my spirit. Lord my family is a feuding mess; the loans were denied; the bills are about to drown me; there’s so much to pray for regarding my kids, I don’t even know where to start; my parents are getting sicker; God I can’t get two sentences to make sense in my head, Lord, why are you still trying to use me?!

Listen, Peter failed to meet his own expectations, but Jesus was never shocked! He was well aware of Peter’s flaws when He called him into the ministry. He knew that His blustering, outspoken disciple had a tender heart, so He extended grace to him rather than remove him from office! And as disqualified as you may feel from all of your disappointments in life, God is not going to remove you from office or your assignment either!  

When Christ gave post-resurrection orders to…tell His disciples and Peter…” (Mark 16:7 NIV) to meet Him in Galilee, He reaffirmed His choice of the failed disciple! The rest of Peter’s story is New Testament History!

So, Yes, You Can Recover Even From Disappointment In Yourself!

Never forget, God is the Master Potter, and no matter how many times we His clay become marred in His hands, He never throws us away! We’re never discarded! He simply molds us again into another vessel He can use again.

Jeremiah 18:1-6, “God told Jeremiah, “Up on your feet! Go to the potter’s house. When you get there, I’ll tell you what I have to say.” So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, THE POTTER WOULD SIMPLY START OVER AND USE THE SAME CLAY TO MAKE ANOTHER POT. Then God’s Message came to me: “Can’t I do just as this potter does, people of Israel?” God’s Decree! “Watch this potter. In the same way that this potter works his clay, I work on you, people of Israel. At any moment I may decide to pull up a people or a country by the roots and get rid of them. But if they repent of their wicked lives, I will think twice and start over with them. At another time I might decide to plant a people or country, but if they don’t cooperate and won’t listen to me, I will think again and give up on the plans I had for them.” (MSG)

So let up on yourself! If you think you’ve ruined God’s purpose and plan for your life because of your screw ups, you clearly have underestimated God’s love, care, protection and provision for you! You are not strong enough on your worst day to dismantle God’s assignment on your life! Neither your mistakes nor your deliberate, willful sin, can hinder what God has for you! So know this, today is the day you forgive yourself and determine to be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you’ll be today! Every day He gives you brand new mercies, and not so you can keep going over old disappointments.

Friends, if last night wasn’t your LAST night, God still has much in store for you! So stop beating yourself up, sometimes God uses our greatest disappointments as reappointments to life and ministry! He hasn’t given up on you, so don’t give up on yourself! It’s a new day, make a renewed you, and fulfill your purpose in life! God is waiting to hand you your next assignment, now get back to work!

THIS IS THE YEAR YOU OVERCOME AND SURVIVE EVERY DISAPPOINTMENT!

Anytime you suffer a setback or disappointment, put your head down and plow ahead. (Les Brown)

“When you believe in your purpose, you can work through obstacles, overcome disappointments, and endure hardships.” (Billy Cox)

“There will be disappointments in life. It’s okay to feel sad, just don’t wallow for longer than necessary.” (Author Unknown)

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

“Disappointments are natural life occurrences. Their lifespan depends on how long they dominate your thoughts. The shorter…the better your life will be.” (Dodinsky)

“Disappointments were not meant to destroy you. They were meant to strengthen you and give you fortitude to accomplish your destiny.” (Joel Osteen)

“Disappointments are inevitable, Discouragement is a choice.” (Author Unknown)

“It is how you handle your disappointments that define you as a person. If you get up after the fall or just lay there in defeat.” (Author Unknown)

“When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to makes mistakes. Disappointments, defeat and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.” (Paulo Coelho)

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

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

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“Don’t Let Comfort Cripple Your Capability!”

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I have quite a few social media sites. With that said, unfortunately, it gives people the misconception that I’m Ms. Technology, when that couldn’t be further from the truth! For instance, as much as I use my cellphone, I know very little about how it really functions, or how to use it to its full capacity. And the reason why? Because outside of making a call, receiving a call, or sending a text, I really don’t care to know much else! However, I’ve come to find out that is to my own loss. You see, truth is, there are so many buttons and gadgets that I really don’t want to take the time to figure out. Honestly, I look at them and simply ignore them. And what makes matters worse is that my phone wasn’t just handed to me. It came in a box with a Manual for Maximum Usage! Have I read the manual? Absolutely not!

Finally, I got tired of everybody telling me how awesome my phone is and all the great things it’s capable of doing. So I enlisted the help of one of my IT guys to pick his brain. And to my amazement, I could not believe all the things I was able to do, that I wasn’t doing, only because I didn’t know that I could! I was so comfortable with what I knew, that I didn’t want to put in the work to find out what I really needed to know. And what I needed to know was that my comfort was crippling my capability! Now, at the click of one button I can access all of my schedules (and finally avoid so many scheduling conflicts because who knew my phone could organize my dates in priority without my help?). With one button I can check all of my email accounts. With one button I could have all of my social media sites on one page. I could even control what goes on in my house, while I’m away, all by my phone! And all of this was at my fingertips, but I was too complacent to grab a hold of its full capability!

Now, let’s see what the Bible has to say about this. Matthew 14:25-29 reads, “And in the fourth watch of the night (3:00-6:00 a.m.) Jesus came to them, walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately He spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!” Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.”  He said, “Come!” So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” (AMP).

All the disciples were trying to do is ride out the storm. But Peter suddenly got a glimpse of the power of his Master and of something supernatural he could do if he risked everything on Jesus. And suddenly Peter was doing what people don’t do. He was walking on water!

Jesus may be preparing you to step up to something far more supernatural than you’ve ever been or you’ve ever done before. In fact, if you’re anything like me, He’s made your heart restless for more so you would get out of the boat and start walking toward Him in an exciting new way. Truth is, there are quite a few endeavors that I’ve had my heart set on for quite a while now. And fear and nervousness about stepping into something new, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar is honestly terrifying! But I don’t want to miss a moment because of a minute of insecurity. 

Peter found out that day that if Jesus wants you to do it – no matter how beyond your capability it may be – He will give you whatever it takes to get it done!

A lot of our Christian lives are like my multi-faceted cellphone. We’re settling for a level that is far below where we could be living. We’re looking at all those spiritual buttons and gadgets. Maybe we even know some other people who have already tapped into those capabilities, but we’re settling for a powerless life when Christ in us wants to make our life absolutely powerful. We’re settling for the mediocre when we’re wired for the miraculous.

Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and apply for the mortgage, the business, student or car loan. Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and head that ministry or start a new one. Who knows what will happen if you finally decide to get out the boat and try that, or go there. Truth is, being inside the boat, especially during a storm, seems like the safest, best and most comfortable, and sensible place to be. But if Jesus isn’t in the boat, do you really think it’s the best place to be? If He’s outside the boat, even in the storm, don’t you think it’s better to be where Christ is than where your Cushion is?

You have the Holy Spirit of Almighty God living in you. You have backing you up the authority that Jesus has over everything in this universe. You have Jesus’ resurrection power in your life. Question is: So why aren’t you living like it? Are you settling for only pushing a couple of God’s buttons when there are so many more that could open up a whole new frontier for you?

You need to be reading the Manual. You know that’s the Bible, and you need to be reading it every single day. Not just for theology, not just for a lesson to teach or a Word to preach. But looking for the keys to powerful faith and then using them. And tell the Lord, “Lord, I want the “something more” you’ve made my heart hungry for. Then surrender yourself in a new, fresh way to Him. With all the things that are going on in your life now, update that old surrender. Let go of those areas that you’ve insisted on controlling. Get out of that safe little boat and dare to walk where you’ve never walked before!

Facts: You will never get THERE staying HERE! Selah!

Yes, this requires chance, risks, the probability that it won’t work, even failure. And yet I challenge you to try it anyway!

Think about it: Can you imagine how David’s story would’ve turned out if he stayed in the field with the sheep because he’d become comfortable in what he’s used to doing? What if Abraham decided not to leave his people and country? What if Noah decided he didn’t want to chance looking silly building an ark? What if Moses’ stutter kept his mouth shut? What if Esther thought that she wasn’t good enough since she was an orphan? What if Deborah said ‘no thanks, I’ll just stay in the back since men go in the front’? What if Paul thought his past was too bad for him to have a better future? What if Peter thought his denial would lead to the Lord’s ultimate denial? What if Hannah decided to accept her barrenness as this is just the cards I’ve been dealt? What if Joshua and Caleb agreed that the majority was right? What if Rahab thought my profession will hinder me from protection? What if Mary said the public scandal would be too much for me to bear, kindly use someone else?

Can you imagine the tragedy of having their stories re-written with the pen of fear?

Today, listen to what your manual is telling you: 

Matthew 19:26, “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (AMP);

Matthew 17:20, “for I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have [living] faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and [if it is God’s will] it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (AMP);

Mark 11:23, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s unlimited power], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with God’s will].” (AMP);

Philippians 4:13, “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.]” (AMP)

Ephesians 3:20, “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,” (AMP).

Like my cellphone, when you read the manual, you’ll be amazed at all you’re capable of doing! So stop allowing your comfort to cripple your capability!

The word “cripple” is defined as “unable to walk or move properly through disability or injury; to make someone unable to move or walk properly; to cause severe and disabling damage to something”. And that’s exactly what your comfort is doing! It’s crippling your spiritual walk! When something or someone is cripple, their walk is unsteady and unstable. Reminds me of James 1:8, “being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides]” (AMP)

You never want fear and comfort to cause you to be unstable, because that will cause you to think ‘I can’t do this’; to feel like ‘I’m not strong enough to accomplish this’; and then make poor decisions like ‘let someone else who is more qualified attempt this.’ 

However, that’s not how your story is going to end! Today is the day you find your courage, your strength and your faith. Today is the day you deliberately decide I’m not staying in this comfort zone any longer. I may fall, I may fail, I may get it wrong, but I won’t get stuck in this place of mediocrity any longer. Today, I’m getting out of the boat! Yes, I know no one has ever done it before; yes, I know it’s safer in the boat during the storm; yes, I know I’m taking a big risk and chance; yes, I know those who are in the boat are probably talking about me making the dumb decision to do something new, uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and different; yes, I know they’re sitting in the boat thinking I’m crazy for even trying this; yes, I know they’re waiting for me to sink so they can say I told you so; yes, I know getting out of the boat to walk on water is strange, nuts, odd, and even dangerous. AND YES, I’M STILL GOING TO DO IT ANYWAY! Selah!

Think of all the inventors and inventions. Can you imagine if they allowed the ridiculousness of doing something different to stop them from trying? We wouldn’t have lights, trains, planes, cars, computers, medicine, washing machines, or cellphones! People on transplant lists would just have to die because who’s crazy enough to try and replace a heart or kidney? 

Saints, it’s a new day, a new month and it’s about to be a new year! Don’t you want better next year than this year? Well then, do something better! Do something different! Do something new!

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” (Albert Einstein)

So, this year, stretch yourself; challenge yourself; dare yourself; compete with yourself; push yourself; encourage yourself; motivate yourself!

Remember this: There Is No GROWTH In Comfort Zones; Only Stagnation!

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.

Let’s look briefly at Luke 5:4:

“…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 Where You Are! Your Destiny Is Not On a Shallow Shore, It’s Out In The Deep Sea, 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 Do It! Don’t Become Complacent! There Is Far Too Much 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! Warning: Gossip Garbage Is 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!

You’ve been HERE too long, today you’re moving over THERE!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” (Neale Donald Walsch)

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

“The hardest thing to do is leaving your comfort zone. But you have to let go of the life you’re familiar with and take the risk to live the life you dream about.” (T. Arigo)

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

“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)

“Like fish in a bowl, we often just accept it for what it is and always has been, unaware that there’s an entire ocean of possibility out there.” (Kacey Cardin)

“If we are not a little bit uncomfortable every day, we’re not growing. All the good stuff is outside our comfort zone.” (Jack Canfield)

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

“The sooner you step away from your comfort zone, you’ll realize that it really wasn’t all that comfortable.” (Eddie Harris, Jr.)

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for the great.” (Steve Prefontaine)

“Life’s like working out; there’s no pain in the comfort zone, but is that really where you want to live?” (Robin Sharma)

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

“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” (Thomas Edison)

“God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, He will increase our capability.” (Neal A. Maxwell)

“Don’t limit yourself to someone else’s opinion of your capabilities. Be you. Dream, plan, execute!” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

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 Christmas Guest That Will NEVER Leave!”

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“Why is Prayer So Important?”

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REASON #1: SOMEONE NEEDS TO REMAIN STANDING IN THE GAP! “Pray Without Ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Two things about prayer are truly amazing:

(1) GOD LISTENS WHEN WE PRAY!  “…believe that you have received the things you ask for in PRAYER, and GOD WILL GIVE THEM TO YOU” (Mark 11:24 NCV). You may not have much “clout” anywhere else, BUT WHEN YOU PRAY…GOD LISTENS!

(2) AND YET, WE SELDOM PRAY! We have the Greatest Privilege Imaginable—Access to the Control Center of the UniverseYET WE RARELY USE IT! Through the Prophet Ezekiel God lamented: “…I sought for a man among them who would…stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; BUT I FOUND NO ONE.” (Ezekiel 22:30 NKJV). NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED SINCE EZEKIEL’S DAY UNFORTUNATELY!

Upon learning that Sodom and Gomorrah were going to be destroyed, Abraham didn’t rush to warn the cities. No, he chose to “[REMAIN] STANDING BEFORE THE LORD.” (Genesis 18:22 NIV).

When God said the golden calf warranted a nationwide death penalty for Israel, MOSES INTERCEDED AND SAVED THEM! One translation even says, “MOSES SOOTHED THE FACE OF HIS GOD”

An obscure priest by the name of Phinehas begged God not to send the plague, and it was so (Psalm 106:30, “But Phinehas prayed to the LORD, AND THE DISEASE STOPPED” NCV).

You say, “Why place such a premium on prayer?” Simple: BECAUSE WHEN WE WORK…WE WORK! BUT WHEN WE PRAY, GOD WORKS! Scripture attaches breathtaking power to Prayer: “…When two of you get together on anything…and make a PRAYER of it, MY FATHER IN HEAVEN GOES INTO ACTION…” (Matthew 18:19 MSG). Think about it: Does any other activity promise such results? Did God call us to preach without ceasing? Or have committee meetings without ceasing? No, but He did call us to “PRAY Without Ceasing.” But are we?

In 1888 a noted chess master named Paul Morphy attended a dinner party in Richmond, Virginia. During the dinner his attention was drawn to a painting on the wall. The scene portrayed a young man locked in an intense chess match with the devil. The devil’s next move would surely claim victory—entitling him to the young man’s soul. The devil wore a triumphant expression. After dinner the chess champion walked over to the painting, studying the board and the pieces portrayed on it. Suddenly he turned to his host and said, “I can take the young man’s game and win!” “That’s not possible!” his host replied. “Not even you can retrieve that game.” The chess master answered, “yes, I think I can. Suppose we place the men and give it a try.” To the surprise of everyone Morphy bested the smug opponent in the painting. In essence, victory was snatched from the devil and the young man was saved!

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE VICTORY YOUR INTERCESSION COULD BRING ABOUT IN SOMEONE’S LIFE! ONE RIGHT MOVE IN PRAYER COULD SLAUGHTER SATAN AND SAVE A SOUL!

When Chris Milbrath went to work with Co-Mission in the Ukraine, the last thing he envisioned was being hospitalized. He experienced a persistent stomach-ache and his doctor diagnosed a ruptured appendix and told him that without surgery he’d die. Things didn’t go well and infection set in. However, halfway across the world a lady who was one of Chris’s supporters woke suddenly during the night. She didn’t know why, but she knew she had to pray for him. Later, comparing notes and making adjustments for the different time zones, they discovered that her prayer-burden “JUST HAPPENED TO COINCIDE” with the time he was clinging to life. Within 24 hours a missions group in Moscow heard about the situation. A small jet “JUST HAPPENED TO BE AVAILABLE” to airlift Chris to Geneva where one of Switzerland’s best surgeons “JUST HAPPENED TO BE ON CALL” to perform additional surgery that saved his life. Chris later said, “I can’t help wondering what would’ve happened to me if that woman had just rolled over and said, “I’ll pray for Chris tomorrow.”

Imagine how many lives you could have affected for the good if every time you felt the urgency to pray for someone, you actually prayed?

God said, “I sought for a man…who would… stand in the gap…but I found no one.TRUE INTERCESSORS REALIZE WHAT’S AT STAKE AND REMAIN STANDING IN THE GAP UNTIL THEY KNOW THEY’VE BROKEN THROUGH AND GOD HAS HEARD AND ANSWERED THEM!

James writes, “…When a believing person prays, GREAT THINGS HAPPEN” (James 5:16 NCV).

SO THE NEXT TIME GOD PROMPTS YOU TO PRAY FOR SOMEONE, DON’T WAIT, HESITATE, OR PROCRASTINATE—DO IT RIGHT THEN! YOUR PRAYERS MAY BE THE ONLY THING STANDING BETWEEN THAT PERSON AND CATASTROPHE!

REASON #2: INTERCESSION IS POWERFUL! “He told them…STAY HERE AND KEEP VIGIL WITH ME” Mark 14:34 MSG

Dutch Sheets says: “Through intercessory prayer we meet the powers of darkness, enforcing the victory Christ accomplished when He met them in His work of INTERCESSION.

The word Intercession comes from its Latin Origin ‘Intercedere’ meaning to ‘Intervene’.  ‘Intervene’ means ‘to come between so as to prevent or alter the result or course of events.’ It happens every day in the court system when lawyers Intervene on behalf of their clients.

With that said, throughout history God has looked for men and women to Intercede or Intervene on behalf of a lost world. However, more often than not, He’s been disappointed. How do I know? Because God said, “…I sought for a man among them who would…stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; BUT I FOUND NO ONE” (Ezekiel 22:30 NKJV). That Scripture was God’s “Help Wanted” ad and still is today. Sadly, Not Many Believers Are Applying for Employment!

Matthew 9:35-38, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and every weakness and infirmity. When He saw the throngs, He was moved with pity and sympathy for them, because they were bewildered (harassed and distressed and dejected and helpless), like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.” (AMPC)

Unfortunately, the most depressing part of the Scripture in Ezekiel 22 is the reality that one: God was only looking for ‘…A MAN…’, Just ONE MAN! And two: the man he was looking for was supposed to come from ‘…AMONG THEM…’! WARNING: Be careful if you’re surrounded by a company of folks and not even ONE of them knows how to INTERCEDE! Why is that so dangerous? Listen to what God says, “I looked for Someone to stand up for Me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for Me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn’t have to destroy it. I COULDN’T FIND ANYONE. NOT ONE. SO I’LL EMPTY OUT MY WRATH ON THEM, BURN THEM TO A CRISP WITH MY HOT ANGER, SEVER THEM WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF ALL THEY’VE DONE…” (Ezekiel 22:30-31 MSG).

Think about how much stuff and how many people are being destroyed around you SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU WON’T STAND IN THE GAP FOR THEM! TRY TO WRAP YOUR HEAD AROUND THE FACT THAT LITTLE OLE YOU COULD SAVE A NATION JUST BY STANDING IN THE GAP IN PRAYER!

That’s why I don’t do anything without Intercessors! Why? BECAUSE BY THEIR VERY DESCRIPTION AND DEFINITION, THEY ‘INTERVENE’ ON MY BEHALF! AND IN DOING SO THEY ‘ALTER THE VERY PLAN OF THE ENEMY AGAINST ME’! THEY THWART HIS DEVICES AND SCHEMES! Remember to ‘INTERVENE’ IS ‘TO COME BETWEEN SO AS TO PREVENT OR ALTER THE RESULT OR COURSE OF EVENTS’! THAT’S WHY I TAKE THE INTERCESSORS WHEREVER I GO, BECAUSE WHATEVER THE ENEMY HAD ON HIS AGENDA TO ANNIHILATE ME WITH, THE INTERCESSORS ARE GOING TO COME IN BETWEEN ME AND HIM AND PREVENT OR ALTER THE RESULT OR COURSE OF EVENTS! YES, THAT’S HOW POWERFUL TRUE INTERCESSORS ARE!

Listen: The disciples were willing to go with Jesus into the garden of Gethsemane. YET, IN SPITE OF KNOWING THE URGENCY OF THE HOUR, THEY STILL FELL ASLEEP! Even Peter, James and John, THE ONES IN THE “INNER CIRCLE”, THE SO CALLED “ARMOR-BEARERS”, THOSE THAT “APPEAR” TO BE CLOSER TO HIM THAN ANYONE ELSE, STILL DIDN’T GET IT, AND SO IN THE END, JESUS PRAYED ALONE! That’s why so few want to do it, because INTERCESSION IS OFTEN A VERY LONELY ASSIGNMENT!

You can go for months and years before seeing the fruits of your labor. However, WHEN YOU GO DEEPER WITH GOD, YOU GET TO SHARE THINGS THAT THE ANGELS ALONE WERE PRIVY TO THAT NIGHT IN THE GARDEN! JUST IMAGINE WHAT THE DISCIPLES MIGHT HAVE SEEN, HEARD OR EXPERIENCED, HAD THEY ENOUGH SENSE LIKE JESUS TO SIMPLY GO A LITTLER FARTHER AND PRAY! The Bible says, “Jesus told His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with Him. He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony. He told them, “I feel bad enough right now to die. Stay here and keep vigil with me.” (Mark 14:32-34 MSG). That word ‘VIGIL’ has a Latin Origin meaning ‘AWAKE’! And “AWAKE” by definition is ‘a period of staying awake during the time usually spent asleep, especially to keep watch and pray’. IMAGINE WHAT YOU COULD ACCOMPLISH IF YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH FOLKS THAT WILL STAY AWAKE AND ALERT AND INTERCEDE FOR YOU! IMAGINE THE VICTORIES YOU’D ATTAIN IF YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH FOLKS THAT EARNESTLY HOLD VIGIL ON YOUR BEHALF!

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)

Listen, at this late hour, not even babes in Christ can afford to act like kindergartener’s waiting to take an afternoon nap! All Satan needs is to catch us snoozing so he can start slaughtering! Remember, his goal is “to steal, kill and destroy…” (John 10:10) so act like you’re ready to make certain his goal is Never accomplished! And how will you do that? INTERCESSION!

When Pastor Jim Cymbala took a broken-down church in a bad neighborhood, there were fewer than twenty-five members. Now, twenty-five years later, over 6,000 people attend Brooklyn Tabernacle! He says, “It didn’t happen because of programs, it happened because of intercessory prayer.

I reiterate: INTERCESSION IS POWERFUL!

REASON #3: THERE’S POWER IN GATHERING PRAYER REINFORCEMENTS! Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19 NIV

Sometimes you need somebody to agree with you in prayer—somebody who knows how to stand on God’s Word and Intercede with Him for Your finances, Your children, Your marriage, Your health, Your job, Your ministry, Your habits, etc.

Now I don’t mean folks who simply know how to PRAY, because praying folks MAY call out your needs, but they’re DEFINITELY going to call out their OWN as well! But I mean INTERCESSORS who go so far as to ask you to step out of your own shoes so they can step in them and go to God on your behalf when you no longer have the strength to press in on your own! INTERCESSORS who put their life and all its contents on the back-burner, while seeking the presence of God to manifest in YOUR situation NOT THEIRS!

Characteristics like that make it hard to find True Intercessors in this day and time because of the high price you pay for interceding! Oh yes, to be an intercessor is going to cost you and sometimes, BIG! Why? BECAUSE IT REQUIRES SACRIFICE, AND SELF-DENIAL, IT KILLS SELFISHNESS AND REFOCUSES YOUR ATTENTION OFF YOUR OWN FLESH TO ENCOURAGE THE SPIRIT OF YOUR BROTHER OR SISTER IN CHRIST! It means ‘God I know you can and will do this for me, BUT I PREFER YOU DO IT FOR MY BROTHER OR SISTER INSTEAD!That’s why the Bible says, “Love each other as brothers and sisters and HONOR OTHERS MORE THAN YOU DO YOURSELF” (Romans 12:10 CEV). True Intercessors forget about their blessings and miracles, their house and car, their breakthrough and victory. And instead they end up being the loudest cheerleader in the bleacher’s screaming, ‘Bless THEM Jesus, open the door for THEM Jesus, make a way for THEM Jesus, promote THEM Jesus…’ True Intercessors know that it’s NEVER about them, but ALWAYS about others!

Let’s look a little further: James had just been executed and Herod was planning to kill Peter in the morning. Now, you’d think Peter would have been up all night praying, but he wasn’t. The Bible says he was SLEEPING! Acts 12:6, “Then the time came for Herod to bring him out for the kill. That night, even though shackled to two soldiers, one on either side, PETER SLEPT LIKE A BABY” (MSG). Now I’ve heard of confidence in God, but I honestly thought Peter was stone-crazy! I know for a fact I would’ve flipped out!

So where did Peter get such faith? The Bible says: “Peter therefore was kept in prison: BUT PRAYER WAS MADE WITHOUT CEASING OF THE CHURCH UNTO GOD FOR HIM” (Acts 12:5).

But you have to see in the various translations how these intercessors REALLY PRAYED for Peter:

The Amplified Bible says, “…FERVENT PRAYER for him was PERSISTENTLY made…” (AMP);

The Message Bible says, “All the time …Peter was under heavy guard…the church prayed for him MOST STRENUOUSLY” (MSG);

The New Living Translation says, “…the church prayed VERY EARNESTLY…” (NLT)

And the Contemporary English Version says, “While Peter was being kept in jail, the church NEVER STOPPED PRAYING to God for him.” (CEV)

Now I understand why Peter could sleep like a baby! If I had intercessors going before God on my behalf doing warfare in prayer “FERVENTLY”, “PERSISTENTLY”, “STRENUOUSLY”, “VERY EARNESTLY” and above all “NEVER STOP PRAYING”, I COULD SLEEP LIKE A BABY TOO!  In the midst of fierce enemy attacks and bondage, I too would be catching some serious Z’s…

Understand that any time you can sleep in the face of danger and experience grace in the midst of chaos, it’s one of two things:

(1) You know God well, you’re standing on His promises and you’ve handed the situation over to Him;

(2) Somebody is interceding for you, and I mean somebody with “clout” in the heavenly realm.

Notice, the church didn’t say, “If Peter was in God’s Will, he wouldn’t be in this mess right now,” or “Since Peter’s in jail, who’s going to preach for us next Sunday?” No, while they were praying in faith for a breakthrough, GOD WAS AT WORK ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CITY DISPATCHING AN ANGEL TO SET PETER FREE! The Bible says: “…THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CAME upon him…light shined…he smote Peter on the side…RAISED HIM UP…AND HIS CHAINS FELL OFF FROM HIS HANDS” (Acts 12:7) That’s how powerful prayer works!

John Wesley said, “We can do great things when we pray; but we can do nothing great until we pray!

SO, GATHER YOUR REINFORCEMENTS AND LET THE DEVIL KNOW YOU DON’T NEED ARMOR FOR YOUR BACK, BECAUSE THE INTERCESSORS GOT IT COVERED!

SO, I ASK AGAIN, WHY IS PRAYER SO IMPORTANT? ANSWER: BECAUSE OTHERS ARE DEPENDING ON YOU TO REMAIN STANDING IN THE GAP ON THEIR BEHALF; AND EVEN WHEN GOD DETERMINES TO DELIVER HIS WRATH, INTERCESSION IS POWERFUL ENOUGH TO HALT IT; ONLY ONE PERSON STANDING IN INTERCESSION WOULD HAVE TURNED GOD’S WRATH IN ANOTHER DIRECTION AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, BUT THERE IS SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE WHO NEEDS YOU TO GATHER SOME PRAYER REINFORCEMENTS BECAUSE THEY’VE BEEN LIKE PETER LOCKED UP IN PRISON (BE IT PHYSICAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL, FINANCIAL ETC) AND THEY NEED TO BE SET FREE! AND THEY NEED TO HAVE THE CONFIDENCE IN THE CHURCH THAT PRAYER MEANS SO MUCH TO US, THAT EVEN WHILE THEY ARE IN PRISON, UNDER GUARD, THAT THEY CAN REST AND SLEEP AS SOUND AS A BABY, BECAUSE OUR PRAYERS FOR THEM WILL NOT CEASE UNTIL THE ANGELS COME AND GIVE THEM SWEET RELEASE!

YES, YOUR PRAYER LIFE IS THAT IMPORTANT! SO HOW WILL YOU DETERMINE TODAY TO STRENGTHEN IT ALL THE MORE?

“The Church has not yet touched the fringe of the possibilities of intercessory prayer. Her largest victories will be witnessed when individual Christians everywhere come to recognize their priesthood unto God and day by day give themselves unto prayer.” (John Mott)

“To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them.” (John Calvin)

“Jesus Christ carries on intercession for us in heaven; the Holy Ghost carries on intercession in us on earth; and we the saints have to carry on intercession for all men.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Jesus’ intercession for us is stronger than Satan’s accusation against us.” (Mike Bickle)

“God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Discernment is God’s call to Intercession, never to Faultfinding.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

“Prayer must be broad in its scope – it must plead for others. Intercession for others is the hallmark of all true prayer. When prayer is confined to self and to the sphere of one’s personal needs, it dies by reason of its littleness, narrowness and selfishness.” (Edward McKendree Bounds)

“All vital praying makes a drain on a man’s vitality. True intercession is a sacrifice, a bleeding sacrifice.” (John Henry Jowett)

“Our prayers lay the track down on which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, His power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails.” (Watchman Nee)

“If you are an intercessor, you see many needs, but you will also see many answered prayers.” (Prophetic Crossroads)

“History belongs to the intercessors – those who believe and pray the future into being.” (Walter Wink)

“God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight.” (Author Unknown)

“Worship is agreeing with who God is, while Intercession is agreeing with what God promised to do.” (Author Unknown)

“Intercessory prayer might be defined as loving our neighbor on our knees.” (Charles Bent)

“Intercession is truly universal work for the Christian. No place is closed to intercessory prayer. No continent – no nation – no organization – no city – no office. There is no power on earth that can keep intercession out.” (Richard Halverson)

“The power of intercession is the fruit of intimacy. There’s no difference between the two.” (Corey Russel)

“Intercession is the most unselfish thing anyone can do.” (Paul Billheimer)

“The more time we spend in prayer interceding for those in authority; the more we are actually interceding for ourselves.” (Carol Helmick)

 “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Christ’s intercession is the continual application of His death to our salvation.” (John Calvin)

“Every kind of prayer, not intercessory prayer only, which is the highest kind of prayer, but all prayer, from the lowest kind to the highest, is impossible in a life of known and allowed sin.” (Alexander Whyte)

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

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