“Don’t Let a Dark Past Dim Your Bright Future!”

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1 John 1:5-7, “This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in Him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with Him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth – we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God Himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” (MSG)

So, anyone that really knows me knows, I Hate Scary Movies! It’s just not my thing! And truth is, the reason I hate them, is my own fault! You see, there were some pretty scary (in my opinion) movies when I was younger (there was, Friday the 13th; the Exorcist; Carrie; the Shining; Halloween; the Lost Boys, the Omen, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre; Child’s Play; Nightmare on Elm Street; Hellraiser, to name a few). But what got me in trouble was the first scary movie I watched (that I was told by my parents specifically NOT to watch, and that was Cujo!) Now, in my little head, I didn’t get the big deal, after all, it was just a crazy movie about dog, right? I mean how bad could it be?! Well, can I tell you, I swore off all dogs after that movie! In fact, I watched it and refused to go anywhere near my own dog anymore! In the end, I was grounded and sent to bed. Oh sure, Mom and Dad thought I could watch that kind of movie and drift right off to sleep in la la land. But that was NOT my sweet, peaceful night at all! The problem is, adults don’t believe what kids know to be the awful truth – that there are monsters in your closet at night! And in my case, the monster was on four legs, named Cujo and was waiting in my closet for me to go to sleep! But my parents expected me to close my eyes and just start having sweet dreams? Come on!

Actually, I really had nothing to fear from those monsters that lived in my overactive imagination. But then there are real monsters that a lot of us have locked in a closet somewhere in our heart: the secret pain, the secret sin, the secret darkness of that unforgiving heart. They’re like vampires. They live in the darkness. But as I came of age, I discovered that they start to lose their power when you drag them into the light.

My parents were indeed upset that I disobeyed them and watched a movie they forbade me to see. But they also loved me too much to let me have nightmares. And so, they took a flashlight from the garage and turned it on (in my closet). Believe it or not, but knowing that as long as that light was on, the dark monsters couldn’t get me, gave me a pretty good night’s rest!

However, when it comes to life’s experiences with pain, I’ve found that getting rid of my ‘monsters’ wasn’t as easy or as simple as turning on a flashlight. The monsters of molestation, rape, domestic violence, health battles, homelessness, and the like didn’t exactly go away as quickly as the flip of a light switch for me. Nor did they for my friend Tynelle.

Tynelle, was abandoned, often physically abused by a drunken father, and cocaine addicted mother. Then she was horribly betrayed by her sister’s boyfriend. She trusted him so much as the brother she never had, and yet he sexually violated her. It was the final chapter in a story that told her a cruel lie, “Tynelle, you are worthless.” A story line that brought her to the brink of suicide not once, but three times. She took pills the first time, slit her wrists the second, and the third time she held a gun to her own head literally.

Thank God, Tynelle came across some wonderful people who led her to Jesus who did what no one and nothing else could do, He saved her! However, there was a few ‘monsters’ left living in her closet; bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear of rejection, not to mention, hatred that she harbored in her heart. Now, all of her feelings and emotions were understandable. But unforgiveness never hurts the person we refuse to forgive. No, instead it eats us alive and, strangely, it ties us to the very person we can’t stand!

Like so many of us who have had to endure mistreatment in whatever form, many of us did like Tynelle and stuffed it in the closet. But there is where it grows into a monster of ungrieved grief, unrepented sin, and unforgiven hurt; a monster that morphs into all kinds of anger, rage, depression and self-loathing.

SIDEBAR: I love plants as much as my mom did (okay, maybe not quite as much as she did), but I do love them. I have one in my office that my boss gave me years ago. At that time, it was the only plant I had in my office. I would water it, and make sure it was placed in a safe location where no one could cause any damage to it. It was absolutely a beautiful plant. But as the weeks went by I noticed it started to look as if it were dying, and it was. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and so I asked my boss to take a look at it. I told him I was doing everything you’re supposed to do to keep a plant alive. What he said still helps me today, he said: “If you want it to grow, you have to move it from that dark corner and bring it into the light.” Sounds simple enough. But the way it helped me besides helping my plant, was I’ve learned that if I’m going to heal from hurt, I can’t keep hurt tucked away in a dark corner somewhere. I have to physically bring it out of a dark place and bring it into the light. When I brought my plant into the light it began to heal and grow. When I brought my hurt, pain, discouragement, disappointment, and past into the light it healed and I grew. But it took me to physically move my plant, and to physically move my pain. And it’s going to require you to likewise physically move what’s hurting you to a place where it can heal. Those monsters of yours need to be brought out of the dark and into the light, it’s the only way to get rid of them. Now, before you think my plant was an easy task, let me be the first to tell you, it was not. From the floor to about my shoulder was its height (and I’m only 5 foot 2 inches by the way) so that gives you an idea of how big my ‘little’ potted plant was! Moving it took hard work, and moving my hurt was even harder work. But it needed light, and so did I, so a move had to take place!

Remember This: “Nothing Happens Until Something Moves!” (Albert Einstein)

Listen to our text again:

1 John 1:5-7, “This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in Him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with Him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth – we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God Himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” (MSG)

Once you’ve made the decision to make Jesus Lord of your life, you have LIGHT! And in Him there’s not a trace of darkness! But in us, oh yes indeed there is. That’s why it’s so important to take our darkness to Him. After all, why should we keep stumbling around in the darkness of hurt, heartache, let-downs and disappointments when we can simply come to Him so that His light can outshine our darkness? Why dwell in the darkness of sin, when we can dwell in the light of our Savior?

And just as moving my plant required work, so does walking in the light of God requires work. The Scripture says, “…But if we WALK in the light…”Walk” is present tense. Meaning, this is a daily requirement! In order for this to work, I have to walk, every day. I have to make a deliberate decision to come out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Be warned, this will not be easy, and you’re not going to feel like doing it all the time. But if you are to grow and heal, it is a necessity. When you look at 1 John, it reveals to us that walking in the light brings us out of darkness; brings us into admittance and acceptance; it brings us into a wonderful shared bright light of life with other believers not to mention it grants us a clean slate by purging all our sins. And all we have to do is bring our darkness to His light.

John 8:12, “Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows Me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” (MSG) Therefore, I must ask, why are you living in darkness when you can live in perpetual light? That word “perpetual” is defined as “never ending or changing; occurring repeatedly; seemingly continual.” Its’ Latin Origin ‘perpetualis’, from ‘perpetuus’ literally means “continuing throughout.That’s what you could have if you’d simply bring your darkness to His Light! He Himself is LIGHT! And therefore He promises that if you follow Him, you won’t stumble around any longer in the darkness. And aren’t you finally tired of stumbling around in the darkness? Every time you hear a particular song; see a specific scene in a movie; or hear someone’s voice that sounds like theirs, you return to that dark place, when you could live in the perpetual, never ending, light of the Lord!

NOTE: Once You Start Living in the Light, You’ll Stop Letting Darkness Visit!

Jesus provides plenty of light to live in, what better motivation than that to move out of darkness?

My pastor said something one Sunday that blessed me tremendously. He said, “if the dark cloud you’re under doesn’t move, then YOU move.” And that’s something I’m encouraging you to do today. YOU MOVE! Remember: “Nothing Happens Until Something Moves” (Albert Einstein). And oftentimes that ‘something’ is YOU! So, why live in that darkness a moment longer than you have to? Remember the hard truth is, sometimes you can move IT, and sometimes you simply have to move YOU! Which may require a great deal of separation! Like, moving from those contacts, connections, phone calls, text messages, pictures and emails. Move from that place, from that thing, from that person. Move from re-imagining memories in a prettier light than they actually were. Move from those feelings, that conversation, move from repetitive bad decisions and choices. Move your dark into His light.

Today: Take all of your Monsters out of your Past Closet, and put them in your Prayer Closet instead! Take the regret, the remorse, the bitterness, the anger, the hatred, the revenge, the unforgiveness. Take the broken heart and the broken spirit. Take the fractured mind and the bruised ego. Take what they said and what they did. Even take the part you played in your own self-inflicted pain. Take it all to Him. There is no greater Light than the Lord!

1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him WHO CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT. Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (AMP). God Himself Called You Out of Darkness, So Why Are You Still Trying to Live There?

Don’t you see that inspite of where you’ve been, what you’ve done and what was done to you, He yet calls you Chosen; a Royal Priesthood; a Consecrated Nation; a Special People; His Own Possession. As dark as you were, He still called you out of darkness!

People of God, He Called You OUT…So Why Are You Allowing Your Past to Keep You IN?!

Despite the Mess, you have since received Mercy, so why not live in it?

That same text in the Message Bible reads like this: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you – from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (MSG) That’s talking about YOU! The night-and-day difference that God desires to make in your life if only you’ll simply move your feet! Walk out of darkness and into His marvelous light…and all of this awaits YOU! No More Rejection, Just Acceptance. And All You Have to Do is WALK!

And just in case you need DIRECTIONS for your walk, here they are: “BY YOUR WORDS I CAN SEE WHERE I’M GOING; THEY THROW A BEAM OF LIGHT ON MY DARK PATH. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by Your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again WITH YOUR WORD. Festoon me with Your FINEST SAYINGS, God; teach me YOUR HOLY RULES. My life as close as my own hands, but I don’t forget what you have REVEALED. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, BUT I DON’T SWERVE AN INCH FROM YOUR COURSE. I inherited YOUR BOOK ON LIVING; it’s mine forever – what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAY – I always have and always will.” (Psalm 119:105-112 MSG) That’s how you govern your walk in the light, you use the Word of God as your lamp! It’s your map, your GPS to guide you out of darkness and into light!

Listen, you’ve been under that dark cloud long enough! You’ve been scared of those monsters in that dark closet long enough! Today is a new day, and one in which you need not give old days the opportunity to rob you of. Whatever happened, happened. You can’t undo it; you can’t change it; you can’t go back and alter some of the details of it. But you can decide today, that I’m not going to give another moment to those monsters. My body, soul, spirit, heart, mind and emotions deserve to live in light. I deserve peace, joy, laughter, unconditional love and complete healing and wholeness, and I’ve decided it will start today!

Now, remember, sometimes that will require you to delete the photos, messages and contact information. It may require you to stop talking to that person, or going back to that place. Because you can’t ask God to bring you into the light while you bring darkness with you, still clutched tightly in your hands! No, you have to make the deliberate decision to loose your grip on darkness and let it go! 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “…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?…” (MSG) The answer, NO! So you cannot ask God to bring you out of darkness, when you refuse to let darkness go! Know today that you can’t take that dark past with you into a bright future!

Whatever your ‘monsters’ are, bring them out of your past closet of darkness and into your present prayer closet of light. You’ve dealt with enough torment, torture, self-doubt and self-pity. You’ve been under that dark cloud far too long. You’ve cried long enough; been depressed and discouraged long enough; you’ve been lonely, angry and bitter long enough; you’ve replayed their role in your drama long enough; you’ve renewed the issues to your past publications long enough. You’ve complained and talked about it long enough. Do some spring cleaning during this summer season! Clean all that old junk out of your closet! Stop allowing hurt to hang around in your closet! Those skeletons in your closet don’t pay rent, and yet you’ve been paying a great price for them to live there, free of cost to them, hefty cost for you! Today serve them their eviction notice, pack them up and put them out!

Bigger, better and greater are waiting for you, just around the bend! Today, determine to make it your turn to change direction! Stop going backwards and start moving forward! Don’t allow that dark past to dim your bright future! Shine His Light on Your Dark Monsters and Finally Be Free From What’s Hiding in the Closet!

John 8:32, “And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].” (AMP)

1 John 1:9-10, “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His Will and purpose]. If we say that we have not sinned [refusing to admit acts of sin], we make Him [out to be] a liar [by contradicting Him] and His Word is not in us.” (AMP)

“Don’t get stuck in your past, use it to fuel your future.” (Pinterest)

“The only way to get over the past is to leave it behind. If you spend your time re-living moments that are gone forever, you might miss out on the special moments that are yet to come.” (Pinterest)

“Don’t let past relationships and old mistakes ruin your future. Don’t let someone or something that didn’t make it in your life continue to hurt you. If you do, you’re still giving a portion of your life to something that no longer exists – it’s like letting your happiness slip into a black hole. Learn the lesson, release the pain, and move on. Scars remind us of where we have been, not where we are headed.” (LessonsLearnedInLife)

“Being stuck in the past is like walking forward with your back facing the front. You’ll always miss out on what’s in front of you.” (Pinterest)

“You can get over a broken past if you decide to believe that there’s nothing in your past that can keep you from having a great future.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could’ve been any different.” (Oprah)

“If you want to get over a problem, stop thinking about it. Your mind affects your mouth and your mouth affects your mind. It’s difficult to stop talking about a situation until you stop thinking about it.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Sometimes you have to make peace with your past in order to keep your future from becoming a constant battle.” (Susan Gale)

“Sometimes we get so addicted to murmuring about the past and blaming the past for everything that we miss our whole future. You’re not going to enjoy your future, and you’re not going to enjoy your right now, if all you can do is be guilty and ashamed and afraid of your past.” (Joyce Meyer)

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

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“POUR On the SALT, TURN On the LIGHT”

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I’m such a lover of history! So today I invite you to take a little trip with me!

It was the early winter of 1994 – the one the Sanitation Department of New York City would not forget for a long while. Much of the East Coast got hit big time with this parade of snow and ice storms. At one point, they were coming about every other day. A hard freeze and frequent storms created layers of frozen precipitation on the ground. Kind of like geological strata except slippery. Olympic skaters could have practiced on Broadway or Fifth Avenue to give you a real good visual!

Needless to say, the sand and salt trucks were working around the clock, and drivers worked such long hours that I’m persuaded they had to wear name tags when they finally got home because they’d been gone so much and so long, it’s a wonder their families remembered who they were! But, ultimately, the slippery stuff wasn’t the biggest problem. No, the real crisis was a salt shortage. Now, snow and ice are bad. But no salt on the snow and ice? Well, that’s horrific! People were saying, “Hey, they ran out of salt!” However, one city official explained that was not the problem. He said, “There’s plenty of salt. The problem is we can’t get the salt from where it is to where it’s needed.

Read with me Matthew 5, beginning at verse 13, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” God goes on to describe us, then, as “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” (vs. 14) And then He says, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (vss. 15-16).

Let’s look at these verses in the Amplified Bible: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste (purpose), how can it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and walked on by people [when the walkways are wet and slippery]. “You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (AMP)

The first thing that struck me is this: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste (PURPOSE)…” And what’s our “Purpose”? Simple: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20); “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:15-20); “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

In a nutshell: It is our responsibility to bring the Gospel to EVERYBODY, EVERYWHERE! If we’re not sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we’ve lost our PURPOSE! And what happens when PURPOSE is lost? …It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and walked on…” It’s dangerous to lose your PURPOSE! Sadly, the church has become so consumed with “Personal Purpose” that we’ve missed out on our “Corporate Purpose”! We’re so fixated on getting people to join our church, that in the end, all we’ll have is a long church roster on earth, but a short roster in heaven! The early church of Acts 2 was so powerful because it possessed a single-minded focus on Corporate Purpose! They were assembled together, of one mind, goal, and purpose. They worked together for all! And what happened? They got 3,000 souls in a day and we can’t get 3 visitors in a year! People of God, our Salty Purpose is to Work Together in Sharing the Good News With All We Come in Contact With! And not for the aim and goal of getting people to join our church, but getting people to have their name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life!

Think about this: When salt loses its purpose, it’s good for nothing but to be thrown out. Well, if we’re not sharing the Good News, which is our purpose, why would God allow us to continue living and breathing on the Earth, when we’re no longer good for anything since we’ve lost our purpose? When something has lost its purpose, why hold on to it? Why keep it around? It no longer serves a purpose! Let that be your days meditation thought…

Now let’s take a look at The Message Bible Translation:

 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (MSG)

 Let’s look at this in a few parts: “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?…” I love Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” But again, Matthew says, “…If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?…” YOU my friend are the key ingredient! Your saltiness gives people a thirst for Living Water! But if you lose your salt, they lose a taste that would’ve led them to a Water in which they would never thirst again! It’s important to ALL that you never lose your saltiness! It’s vital to the salvation of others! You will lead them to Living Waters; You will lead them to Godliness; You will lead them to Experience the Goodness of the Lord; You will lead them to Trust Him! Don’t Lose Your Salt!

Matthew goes on to say, “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a SECRET to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill…” (MSG) So, if God is not a secret to be kept, why do we, as believers, keep Him tucked away quietly within our church walls? The word “secret” is defined as “not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others”. Clearly, God Was Not Meant to Be the Churches Secret! The Scripture Declares, “…We’re going PUBLIC with this, as public as a city on a hill…” (MSG) And do you know what the word “public” means? It’s defined as “available to the people as a whole; involving the affairs of the community; in open view of everything and everybody”. In other words, God is Not a Secret to Be Kept, Nor Hidden or Confined! Which means we, the church, need to get out of the church! We’re preaching, teaching, praying, encouraging just Saved Folks! We’re so busy with protocol, programs, and positions that People are slipping through the cracks and sliding right into hell! Maybe we should stop sitting at the Dais table and go stand in the soup kitchen and serve. Maybe we should stop attempting to out-dress one another, and take those clothes to much needed clothes drives. Maybe we should stop gathering at the church, and gather at the shelters instead. Maybe we should stop having countless praise breaks, and take a break from superficial Christianity and actually live as Christians who really serve Christ.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, there are two things you need to know that your Savior says you are. You are salt and you are light. Now, it doesn’t take a lot of salt to change the environment. Think about it: you don’t need a pound of salt for a pound of meat, right? You don’t have to have as much salt as there is ice. But in order for salt to do any good, it has to be in contact with the thing it is needed to change; on the street or on the meat. It doesn’t do anything in a salt shaker or piled in a salt mountain somewhere in a big storage yard! There needs to be contact! But how can we as salt, season the earth, if we never come in contact?! We have to leave the pews and pulpits if we’re ever going to come into contact with the world!

God’s problem with getting Jesus to lost and dying people is the same as that winter emergency in New York; the salt wasn’t getting where it was needed! We – who know Christ – often are not in enough meaningful contact with the people who need us most. It’s as if there are these great mountains of spiritual salt in a very cold and frozen world. We salt people spend so much time in meetings with each other, doing programs for each other, having concerts with each other, serving on committees for each other, and doing books and music for each other. We’re disconnected from the people who are dying without our Jesus! If we’re to season the earth we need to come into contact with its inhabitants. And YES, that means we need to come into contact with the prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts, alcoholics, gangs, homeless and the like. We need to visit the sick and shut-in, the hospice, the nursing homes, the emergency rooms, shelters, soup kitchens, prisons, asylums, abortion clinics, dialysis and chemo centers. We need to share our salt in the laundromat, the supermarket, on the train, in the cab, or standing in line at the deli! We are constantly surrounded by people who need what we have, and yet we give them nothing, but give each other the same things week after week, behind the closed doors of the church!

Isn’t it time for the salt to get out where it’s needed? We need to leave the comfort of Salt Mountain and dare to risk getting involved in places where lost people are; to look at the unbelieving people around us and start building some bridges into their lives; building intentional rescue relationships. More than picketers, protestors, politickers, or promoters, God needs some of His people to just move close to some people who are not His people…YET!

Listen to Matthew again in The Amplified Translation and then The Message Bible:

You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (AMP);

“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (MSG)

Can you imagine how odd it would look if you walked into a dark room, turned on the lamp, and then put the lit lamp in a closet and closed the door? Sounds silly doesn’t it? But that’s what we’ve been doing. We sing all these wonderful songs about the goodness and faithfulness of God, yet we sing in the church. We preach all these inspiring messages about the salvation, healing and delivering power of God, yet we preach in the church. We teach about the attributes of God, the fruit of the Spirit, the unconditional love of Jesus, yet we teach in the church. We pray until tumors dry up, cancer is cured, Aids no longer exists, the lame are walking, the deaf can hear, the mute can speak, the blind can see, the bound are free, and yet we pray this only in church. Why do we keep light surrounded by more light, when we live in such a dark world? We talk about sagging pants, rebellious youth, broken homes, tattoos, piercings, addictions, and the like, and yet all light does is talk to more light about it, instead of light going out into the world and fulfilling its purpose, “…it gives light to all who are in the house.  ” (AMP); I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!” (MSG) I love one of the definitions of the word “shine” it’s defined as “a torch used to give direction in the dark.” That’s what we’re assigned to do. Give a dark world some light, so that they may see our Jesus! And what happens when we do? “…they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (AMP). When we shine light, they see our Father, and find a path that leads them to Him. And once they find Him, they praise Him, honor Him, and glorify Him!

But I also love the way the Message Bible says it, “…By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (MSG) When we go to where we’re needed, and share our salty testimonies about what God has done for us, we prompt them to do the same. Seek Him, Find Him, Follow and Trust Him. But we have to go to them first, and “open up”.

And an added bonus is this, “it gives light to all who are in the house…” When you share the Good News with just one person, you in fact share it with many more. You see, when you share it with that husband, you have to remember that he’s also a son, a brother, an uncle, a god-father, a teacher, a coach, a friend etc…what does that mean? When you share light with him, he in turn shares it with his wife, children, siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, god-children, students, athletes, friends etc… When you share with him, he shares with a whole host of others! Your light shines on his whole household! “it gives light to ALL who are in the HOUSE…”

Would you dare to ask God today to lay some lost person on your heart? Maybe He already has. Ask Him, “God, go ahead and break my heart for the people within my reach who do not have You.” And then invest yourself in what Jesus did. He came “to seek and to save those who are lost.” If you share your light, they’ll find Him too!

Listen: Too many people are slipping away, falling, and crashing because there is no salt making a difference where they are. Please, if you know Jesus, be where you are needed the most!

Luke 14:34, “Salt is excellent. But if the salt goes flat, it’s useless, good for nothing. “Are you listening to this? Really listening?” (MSG)

Today Determine to Pour On the Salt, and Turn On the Light!

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

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“The Gift of Being Hidden”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Winning Sides, But Losing Souls”

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Now, those of us living in New York City especially, have heard of ‘turf wars’ at some time or another. And more often than not, it’s usually found to be most often between rival gangs. Many of us can say, ‘well, I can see that; or I can understand that; or I’ve heard of that.’ But what do you do when the turf war isn’t between the gangs, but instead it’s between the police department and the fire department? I know, sounds absolutely insane doesn’t it? But truth is, there was an incident when the two departments clashed over whose job was whose. And it caused major damage!

You see, a while back there was a commuter helicopter that crashed in the East River. I’ve never forgotten this incident, it was haunting. The passengers were trapped in that helicopter under water. And here’s what the news reported, “Some police divers arrived on the scene first, and they went right to work. Minutes later, nine divers arrived from the fire department all suited up ready to go, and the police supervisor said, ‘We got it covered. It’s our territory; don’t worry about it.’Well, five passengers were rescued that day, but one man died. He was strapped in under water for an hour and a half while nine possible rescuers stood on the dock and watched, apparently because of a turf battle!

Which immediately brings to mind 1 Corinthians chapter 1. The Apostle Paul says this in, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, “I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common. I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—THAT YOU’RE FIGHTING AMONG YOURSELVES! I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: YOU’RE ALL PICKING SIDES, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.” I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?” I was not involved with any of your baptisms—except for Crispus and Gaius—and on getting this report, I’m sure glad I wasn’t. At least no one can go around saying he was baptized in my name. (Come to think of it, I also baptized Stephanas’s family, but as far as I can recall, that’s it.) GOD DIDN’T SEND ME OUT TO COLLECT A FOLLOWING FOR MYSELF, BUT TO PREACH THE MESSAGE OF WHAT HE HAS DONE, COLLECTING A FOLLOWING FOR HIM. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—CHRIST ON THE CROSS—be trivialized into mere words.” (MSG)

The church sounds a lot like the turf war in the above story, doesn’t it? And sad to say, I’m afraid nothing has changed. Today our turf is denomination, or our organization, or committees, or auxiliaries, or my church. “We’re charismatic.” “We’re not. We’re against that.” Or even a personal empire that someone is building…in Jesus’ name. Or, “Who will get the credit?” “Is my name next to that in the bulletin?” “Are you going to announce who did this?” Much like the Corinthians, all we’re doing is fighting over turf and territory. Who will get the glory? Who will get the recognition? Whose name will be called and acknowledged? Who will receive praise and accolades? Just like the Corinthians, we’re fighting among ourselves and picking sides. Who gets to sit where? Who gets to carry the Pastors whatever? Who gets to oversee the project or ministry? And then we have the pettiness of “but I’ve been here longer; I’m more qualified; I did that before; I started that…I’m the Pastor’s wife…” and the list goes on and on! Then to make matters worse, we have our favorites. We’ll stand and clap for him, but not for him. We’ll support her, but not her. And yet, while all of this transpires, people are dying without the Message of Christ because Christians are too busy being Messy in Church! Why do you think Paul says this is an “urgent matter”? Because people’s lives are at stake. While we’re picking sides, we’re losing souls. We’re worrying about elections and elevations while people are lost for an eternity without Christ.

And I love the way Paul always handles his leadership with love and rebuke. This is an urgent matter indeed, and yet he still gives them encouragement. “…You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common…” But such a relationship is impossible with people who are too busy with being on top, out front, connected to the right people or fighting for the most following.

Paul also gives us some insight into a leader’s heart. He says he’s received “…a disturbing report…” Which makes me wonder, is the reason the church is in the poor state it’s in is because the leaders aren’t disturbed by the reports they receive? Has leadership become so complacent? Accepting? Tolerant? Passive? Lazy? Unaffected? Have we become so calloused that as long as it doesn’t personally affect us, it doesn’t personally affect us? Shouldn’t we as leaders be disturbed by all the discord, division, fighting, competing, comparing, and the like in the church? When cliques are formed shouldn’t this be disturbing? When leaders aren’t talking to leaders, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When preachers can sit next to preachers in the pulpit and not once part their lips to speak to one another all service long, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When you can smell the alcohol, weed and cigarettes on the breath of your leaders, shouldn’t this be disturbing? While leaders are sexting parishioners, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When fornication, adultery, lying, gossip, rumors, spite, hatred, vengefulness, jealousy, anger and malicious intent are sitting comfortable in the pulpit and the pews, shouldn’t this be disturbing? When our youth are living in such a way that they look ten years our senior, shouldn’t this be disturbing? To answer, yes, this should disturb us tremendously. And disturb us so much that it compels us to take a stand from where we’ve been sitting so acceptingly for all this time.

Well, the report of the fighting in the church disturbed Paul and it has certainly disturbed me.

And what was all the fighting about? The Bible says, “…I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: YOU’RE ALL PICKING SIDES, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.” I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?”

Now, we have been saved, cleaned, justified, healed, delivered, and yet our focus after all of that is to pick sides of which leader to be found linked to? With all the gifts in this church, the fight was over who to be found in association with. Really? But truthfully, have we changed much from the Corinthian church? Certainly not. We’re still picking pastors, and churches, choirs, praise teams and praise breaks, to determine which we find most favorable. Oh, and the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we’ll get around to that once we’ve settled this (because clearly this is a matter of high importance in the Kingdom, in these last and evil days)!

Saints, this ought not to be so!

Sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ should always be our Primary Purpose. And one in which we carry out together, not divided. It’s not about who preaches or teaches or prays better. It’s not about us at all. We’ve simply been given an assignment to carry out and that is to carry the Cross of Christ to a world that needs to know what unconditional love and sacrifice really look like. It’s not for our vainglory, not for our popularity status, not for our Facebook ‘likes’ quota to be met, no it’s about Him not us, His Kingdom not our little ‘it’s all about me’ world!

Listen to what Paul says: “…GOD DIDN’T SEND ME OUT TO COLLECT A FOLLOWING FOR MYSELF, BUT TO PREACH THE MESSAGE OF WHAT HE HAS DONE, COLLECTING A FOLLOWING FOR HIM. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—CHRIST ON THE CROSS—be trivialized into mere words.” (MSG)

Paul says in essence, “Church, people are dying because they don’t understand what happened on the cross. How can you waste time arguing among yourselves?”

This is not about us personally! This is about HIM! His Message, His Cross, His Life, His Death, His Burial, His Resurrection, His Power, His Glory, His Name! NOT US! And so Paul lets them know there’s no need to fight among yourselves and pick sides, because this is not a popularity contest! I’m not running for office and this is not about who has the most votes! I’m not collecting followers for me, I’m collecting followers for Him! I’m not trying to be seen, I’m not shining my light so others can see me, but so they can see Him in me!

While the church is fighting for turf, the church is losing ground! Satan needs no new weapons, in fact he needs none at all since we’re handing souls to him freely! We’re so focused on who’s right up ahead, that we’re missing whose getting left behind!

Listen, a man died there in New York in the East River while the rescuers argued over territory. But don’t we do that? We’re so concerned about losing our members, or our contributions, or our credit, or our status. And all that really matters is that we’re losing the people around us to a Christ-less eternity. The two factors that really matter are number one, the lost-ness of our neighbors, and number two, the message of the cross whereby they can be found. Those two essentials are bigger than any of our differences, or any of our labels, positions, titles, degrees, initials, robes, rings, crosses, chairs, or any of our personal empires or egos! While we’re trying to find popularity, we’re losing people!

Maybe you and I have cared too much about our group, or our glory. And while we’re building our little kingdoms and our walls, people are dying. We need to get together to make a greater difference. It’s time for the church to stop acting like those officers who were sent to rescue people and save lives, but instead they were found standing on the dock arguing about turf, territory, and who was in charge. Saints, are we all in the river together, rescuing every person we can find, or are we too busy being distracted by turf and territory, fighting and picking sides? Because the truth is, time is running out! Turf is for now; lost is forever! And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to be rerouted back to my place of purpose. Preaching and teaching about the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And doing so without fancy words to entice the educated with eloquence of speech.

Listen again to Paul: “The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It is written, I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head, I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots. So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in His wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb – preaching, of all things! To bring those who trust Him into the way of salvation.” (vss. 18-21 MSG)

This is what we’re called to do, preach the gospel, preach Jesus, preach the cross, preach salvation, and to do so without attempting to sound impressive. Remember, it’s not about us, it’s about Him!

2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “But we have this precious treasure [the good news about salvation] in [unworthy] earthen vessels [of human frailty], so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be [shown to be] from God [His sufficiency] and not from ourselves.  We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed; always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown in our body.  For we who live are constantly [experiencing the threat of] being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be evidenced in our mortal body [which is subject to death]. So physical death is [actively] at work in us, but [spiritual] life [is actively at work] in you.” (AMP)

Church, this is our assignment! Not attempting to look, seem or be grand, but just humble servants diverting the unsaved from hell, no matter how “hellbent” they are. We’re unworthy, earthen vessels of human frailty, nothing impressive, just available to be used by God. And even though we’ll suffer for sharing the Gospel, the suffering is worth it to snatch souls from the devils grasp. Isn’t this why we were saved in the first place?

1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you – from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (MSG)

That’s our assignment! We were brought from dark to light to shine, but not for our own personal glow… but for His glory! People should be able to see the night-and-day difference He made for us, so they can desire the same thing and we can lead them into the salvation that makes it possible. And all of this can easily be accomplished if only we’d stop fighting for turf and losing ground.

People of God, this Journey with God is not about us, it’s about Him. And as soon as we can stop fighting in church we can get back to fighting for the Kingdom. Believe it or not, but there are still souls out there drowning that desperately need rescuing. So, are we going to help save them or watch them drown while we fight over differences on the dock?

Let’s refocus on what we’ve been called to do. Let’s go back to being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  And not so people can get a taste of our favor-flavored life, but that they can “Taste and See, (for themselves), that the Lord is Good.” Let us not shine so people can see us, but so they can see that in our dark lives “He’s still the Light of the World”, that has so graciously desired to live in us (and desires likewise to live in them. Let’s go back to the Great Commission and Fulfill it instead of wasting time becoming Full of ourselves.

Our Master is returning, and He’s going to want an account of what we’ve done. Question is, will we pass His audit or fail?

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let’s determine today that we’ll stop fighting for turf so we can finally stop losing ground. Because according to Acts 1:8, as His Witnesses, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover in sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so, let’s not lose it to the devil through division and distraction.

Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the [consistently] righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise captures and wins souls [for God – he gathers them for eternity].” (AMP);

Acts 13:47, “For that is what the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring [the message of eternal] salvation to the end of the earth.” (AMP);

Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (AMP);

Acts 1:8, “But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about Me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.” (CEV);

Acts 20:24, “But I do not consider my life as something of value or dear to me, so that I may [with joy] finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify faithfully of the good news of God’s [precious, undeserved] grace [which makes us free of the guilt of sin and grants us eternal life].” (AMP);

Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation [from His wrath and punishment] to everyone who believes [in Christ as Savior], to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (AMP);

2 Timothy 1:8-10, “So don’t be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner. Take your share of suffering for the Message along with the rest of us. We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus.” (MSG)

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

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“Don’t Let OLD Destroy NEW”

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Mark 2:21-22, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk (new) cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear becomes worse. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the wineskins. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (AMP)

I absolutely love documentaries and history, simply because I love finding out the origin of things, where they began, why and how. But more importantly, I love to see if there’s been any change from the start of the thing to the present. Sometimes it’s good to see that things are now, just as they were when they began. However, that’s not in all cases.

I watched a documentary on the Revolution, and I learned something I didn’t know before. Question: Why did the American colonists win the Revolution? Well, it wouldn’t surprise you if you saw how the redcoats fought. You see, they fought battles in the OLD FASHIONED European way. They lined up in straight rows. The front row shoots. The next row rotates in while the others reload. Now, the colonists on the other hand, didn’t believe in lining up. They just came from everywhere! So those red uniforms all lined up in a rigid row…well, that’s like target practice, don’t you think? In other words, they were easy to see, easy to aim for, and easy to hit! Their old, outdated, rigid, well-organized, structurally sound way of fighting, didn’t work…any longer! But even though the colonists looked like they were disorganized, their NEW WAY of fighting won the battle!

Let’s listen in on Matthew 5:29-30. This is where the religious leaders are criticizing how Jesus is going about reaching people. The Pharisees and the people who followed them, they’re complaining to Jesus’ disciples: “Levi gave a large dinner at his home for Jesus. Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. The Pharisees and their religion scholars came to his disciples greatly offended. “What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and ‘sinners’?” (MSG). Then the Bible goes on to say, “And Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but [only] those who are sick. I did not come to call the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to repent], but sinners to repentance [to change their old way of thinking, to turn from sin and to seek God and His righteousness].” (vss. 31-32 AMP).

Then later the Bible goes on to further say, “He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old one; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.  And no one, after drinking old wine, wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is fine.’” (vss. 36-39 AMP)

See, Jesus broke out of the religious mold to reach people that no one else was touching – in a nutshell, new wine skins. Now, in those days the bottles in Palestine were really animal skins. And the wine would ferment and it would give off this gas. And if the bottle was new and it had elasticity in the skin, then it gave with the pressure. If it was an old wine skin, it was dry and hard, and of course it burst. And such is the issue with the church! We keep attempting to reach new believers with old behaviors, and it’s no wonder, it’s not working! New wine needs a new bottle to be poured into. If poured into the old, the old is no longer designed to handle the growth of expansion (that’s why it bursts!). It’s become hardened over the years, predictable, unyielding, unbending. It no longer handles the challenge of stress and pressure. So it bursts! And the result? The old is destroyed and the new is wasted!

Sometimes you have to replace an old idea with a new idea if you want God to do a new thing; if you want to reach people no one’s been reaching you have to let go of the old and get a good grip on something new. Like those Revolutionary War soldiers. The redcoats? They were rigid and they lost. The ones who were flexible won the battle. If we want new believers, we have to stop trying to reach them with old, outdated, rigid ways, that clearly no longer work!

Isaiah 43:16-21, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands…I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.” (MSG)

First things first, “FORGET ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENED…It doesn’t matter how your grandma did it, your mama or your daddy, your first church or your third pastor. You will always get the same old results, doing things the same old way. Forget about it! That was then, this is now. We have an entirely different generation in 2020, and the only reason we can’t reach them is because we won’t leave the methods of 1960, in 1960! It doesn’t make the old bad, but we have an opportunity for new, and we need to embrace the necessary change in order to get them.

Secondly, “…DON’T KEEP GOING OVER OLD HISTORY…It’s irrelevant how your Sunday school was taught in 1960; or how the ushers marched in 1970; or how the outreach witnessed in 1980; or how the choir sang in 1990; or how the anointing flowed in 2010! It’s even irrelevant how many souls were added to the kingdom in January, 2016! It’s May, 2020, and we need to constantly be evolving as a church! There’s bigger, better and greater waiting for us, as soon as we finally make the deliberate decision to leave the same, old, comfort zones alone!

Thought: Maybe God is trying to do a new thing in your life, in your church, in your ministry. But could it be that you’re unwilling to go with His flow? Maybe God is trying to do something new in your marriage, on your job, in your career, in your health, in your children, with your finances, in your family…but He can’t, because you can’t let go of what it was before! Which is why I bring the Word to you today, and admonish you, “FORGET ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENED…”; “…DON’T KEEP GOING OVER OLD HISTORY…

Let God Do Something Brand New!

Thirdly, “…BE ALERT, BE PRESENT…” Maybe today’s relationship would work out a bit better for you if you’d finally stop treating Paul like he’s Peter, and Tina like she’s Tracy! Stop reliving your past, and dragging your present into old bondage. You need to be PRESENTLY ALERT! Maybe that’s why you keep missing so much, because you’re focus is so ill-placed. All you see is the past, and God is already done there. Listen to what He says next: 

“…I’M ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING BRAND-NEW. IT’S BURSTING OUT! DON’T YOU SEE IT? THERE IT IS!…” How is it even possible for you not to see something BRAND-NEW, that’s BURSTING OUT?! That’s like standing right next to an erupting volcano, but not being able to see the lava! How can you miss it?! God is screaming, “…THERE IT IS!” But if you’re still stuck on THAT, you most certainly will never see THIS when it comes! And please hear me, you can’t afford to miss THIS!

He then says, “…I’M MAKING A ROAD THROUGH THE DESERT, RIVERS IN THE BADLANDS…” God is now telling you that He’s Providing For You and Making New Ways For You!

But, He even goes further, “…I PROVIDED WATER IN THE DESERT, RIVERS THROUGH THE SUN-BAKED EARTH…” That new thing He’s doing for you, is literally Brand-New! He’s doing things unseen and unheard of! 1 Corinthians 2:9 says it best, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” He’s doing things that don’t even make sense! And all of these things He’s doing just for you, if only you’d stop focusing on the old, you’ll finally see the new!

Isaiah goes on to say: “…DRINKING WATER FOR THE PEOPLE I CHOSE, THE PEOPLE I MADE ESPECIALLY FOR MYSELF, A PEOPLE CUSTOM-MADE TO PRAISE ME.” (MSG) The term “custom-made” is defined as “made to fit the needs or requirements of a particular person.” God has customized all of us, neither of us (even identical twins) are the same. God is constantly doing something new, and something different, and something out the box. And if we are indeed His children, why are we so opposite our Father? Why are we stuck, complacent, ordinary, the same, comfortable? If the God we serve can make a donkey talk, have a coin found in the mouth of a fish, have a man sit (alive) inside of a great fish, raise a dead man back to life (after 4 days), and birth His son through a virgin woman, why are we trying so hard to be ordinary? Why are we doing the same things, getting the same ineffective results? We are a custom-made people, and we need to start acting like the priceless, designer originals we are! 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

Why do you think people go to these annual fashion week shows? They can’t wait to see what’s NEW and what’s NEXT! And I am fully persuaded that the world is looking to the church for the same things! Something different, something new, something next!

Now, as a disclaimer, there are some things that never change and must never change; the product so to speak, which is the Gospel, the Message, the Doctrine of Jesus Christ. That must never change! It must never be watered-down, altered, customized, changed, added to or taken away from! But the packaging of it? That can change! Never the message, but often the method can and will change. After all, God went from the 12 He selected Himself to preach His Gospel, to someone like Paul! The Message Never Changes, But the Messengers Can and So Can Their Delivery!

If you think about it: The world of lost people and the world of the church have never been so far apart. I call them the new unbelievers, America’s first post-Christians. They’re biblically illiterate. They don’t ever plan to go to a religious meeting to hear a religious speaker talk on a religious subject. It takes new things to reach them. Or else we could just leave them lost like we have been.

In other words saints, we’ve got to leave the church building! We’ll never find the lost, hanging around those who are already found! Truth is, they’re probably not going to come in, so we need to take the initiative and go out! We need to have our outreaches on neutral ground. Am I telling you to go into the crack house, in the club or in the bar? Absolutely not! But we can’t keep sitting at the altar, in the pulpit, in the pews, in Sunday school, bible study, prayer and rehearsals, waiting for them to come in! We have to learn to express Christ without all our religious language, in our religious location. Remember, it’s the language of the natives we’re trying to reach. And all missionaries know that you do it in the language of the person you’re trying to reach. Can you imagine trying to reach the lost in China talking Russian? Can you imagine trying to reach the lost in Africa while speaking Chinese? Can you imagine trying to reach the lost in a homeless shelter, when you arrive in a BMW and dressed in a fur and diamonds? You have to meet on neutral grounds, at their level and in their language, and as hard as it will be for some to do, that has to be done with new ways, not old!

Maybe we need to learn to wrap this gospel that is unfamiliar to so many people in a familiar need that they do know about. We talk about marriage, or parenting, or handling stress, or sex, or singleness. And you move from those things that they do know about into the story of Jesus to show the difference that a Savior like Jesus can make in those areas and others.

In Jesus’ day the religious people totally missed what God was doing because they could not accept a new approach. The British soldiers in Revolutionary War times lost because they were rigid. We’re in a battle for our town, our neighbors, the ever-living, never-dying souls of people. Their eternities are at stake. Therefore, if God says, “I’m doing a new thing”, let’s not lose the battle by insisting on the same old formation!

Listen: I never cared much for seafood as a kid or adult for that matter. I didn’t eat any of it for the majority of my life. I love chicken, steak, hamburgers, ribs and the like. But I could certainly pass on the seafood side of any menu. But then it happened! Somewhere along the way, someone encouraged me to try some fish (Tilapia), and I don’t know why I took the risk, but I tried it, and I liked it. After all those years I could have been eating it and I didn’t know. Now you can’t get me to stop eating it. Then, someone encouraged me to try shrimp (Fried and Grilled). I had avoided seafood for so long, but now, I love them! I could eat grilled shrimp every-day of the week! Then a friend really pushed me to branch out, and they took me to a restaurant and for the very first time, I tried a California Roll! I couldn’t believe what I was missing all those years because I was sure food meant chicken, steak, hamburgers, and ribs. I can’t believe what I missed because I was such a creature of habit. That term “creature of habit” is defined as “a person who follows an unvarying routine; someone who always wants to do the same things in the same way”. Sounds a lot like us church folks, in our old, set ways, that we refuse to alter…even if it means something new, exciting, different, and great! Let’s listen to our text:

Mark 2:21-22, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk (new) cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear becomes worse. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the wineskins. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (AMP)

Here, Jesus is talking to religious folks; Pharisees, scribes, people who had ways in which they thought God would always work. They couldn’t accept the fact that there might be some new things God wanted to try. Now, Jesus came along and blew the walls off the narrow box that they had God in. He wasn’t working in any of the ways that they were used to, they were in essence saying,I don’t know about this, God never did it this way before. I’m not sure this is even God.” But Jesus had a whole new way of doing things, and like it or not, but they were about to experience it!

And that’s exactly what we need to do with our churches, ministries, families, workplaces, we need to be open for new things! Ineffectiveness becomes our casualty, because we’re too comfortable to change. Methods and approaches that once were the new wine skins are now brittle, tired and irrelevant. It’s time we uproot the old, and sow seeds in the new. However, you must be prepared, because most often the gift of new is presented in a surprisingly new package! Don’t become so focused on the formula, that you mess up the fruit! Don’t let your religious habits inhibit the exciting new thing God wants to do in every area and aspect of your life.

You’ll never taste God’s Gourmet Meals if you keep limiting God to the same old Fast-Food Choices on the same old menu.

In this new month, challenge yourself to try something new. Whether it’s a new outfit, new color, new witnessing technique, new food, new activity, new route to work etc… And please know that it doesn’t have to be big and grand. But it does have to be different, if you’re tired of the same!

Matthew 9:17, “Nor is new wine put into old wineskins [that have lost their elasticity]; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the [fermenting] wine spills and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, so both are preserved.” (AMP)

“After a while, the same old song and dance gets a little off key and a little out of step.” (Susan Gale)

“Life is full and overflowing with the new. But it is necessary to empty out the old to make room for the new to enter.” (Eileen Caddy)

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” (Socrates)

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

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“7 Practical Life-Application Lessons From the Cross”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practical Life Applications:

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

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

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

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

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

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LETS STAY CONNECTED!

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“His Hands Will Handle It!”

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…I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, EVER. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. AND ONCE THAT PERSON IS WITH ME, I HOLD ON AND DON’T LET GO…” (John 6:35-38 MSG). 

The events of September 11, 2001, changed a lot of things, including our definition of the word “hero.” Because we saw, up close and personal, what REAL Heroes actually look like – and they look like those police and firefighters, medical personnel and even volunteers, who went into those burning towers, knowing full well that they might not come out alive, yet willingly entered in regardless, for no other reason than the fact that there were people in desperate need of a rescue!  

Immediately, professional football and baseball players began to speak out, telling the world they aren’t the real heroes! The people who risk their lives every day to save others are!  

By that definition, the rescue swimmers of the United States Coast Guard more than qualify! We saw them in action after Hurricane Katrina submerged much of New Orleans! They were the men dangling from those helicopters, scooping desperate people off rooftops! Now, believe it or not, that was easy compared to some of their rescues, like plunging from a hovering chopper into an angry sea to save a life! A movie told the story of these heroes and portrayed how they lived out their motto: “So others may live.” A seasoned veteran training a class of rookies shows them the depth of a rescuer’s life-saving commitment. It’s all about grabbing the hand of a person about to die and making this promise: “I won’t let go.And They Don’t!

Those four words touch a nerve in my heart and I pray they will do the same for yours! Four small words that make a big promise: “I Won’t Let Go.” If we dared to be completely transparent, that’s what we all want: someone that really means business when they say I will never let you go! But unfortunately, our lives are littered with many who shouldn’t have let go, But Did! Promised Not to Let Go, But Did! Vowed to Not Let Go, But Did! Parents who didn’t hold on like you needed them to, spouses who cut their commitment date short, friends you thought would always be there who aren’t anymore, family that became foes, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, or old college pal you thought you’d share fond memories with for a lifetime, co-workers you thought you’d celebrate retirement with or a ministry you thought would support you through it all. It seems as if no one is able to always be there to hold on when we’re going down, even a great husband or wife far too often fall short of fulfilling the vow to never let go. And there are numerous reasons as to why people let go: People change. People leave. People are human. People die. And the list goes on and on.

However, Thanks be to God, HE IS NOT LIKE MAN!

Years ago, there was a movie with a title that stuck with me: “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.” In truth, our hearts are hunting for an anchor person; that one person who will grab our hand and never let go. No matter what changes, no matter how we look or act or evolve down through the years, and especially when the storm is about to sink us! 

In fact, Millions of people have grabbed that ONE hand that will NEVER let go, and HE NEVER HAS! After all, He’s the One who made the Promise: “‘…NEVER will I leave you; NEVER will I forsake you….‘ 

I love God’s use of the word ‘NEVER’, because it means: ‘not ever; not at all; definitely or surely not; at no time in the past, present or future; not under any circumstance or condition; not to any level or degree.’ 

Now that’s what you call an iron-clad-guarantee! Completely unbreakable! 

This is His promise to you and God always keeps His promises! 

…the words that come out of My mouth will not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” (Isaiah 55:11 MSG). 

Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus…” (2 Corinthians 1:20 MSG). 

“God is not a man, that He should tell or act a lie, neither the son of man, that He should feel repentance or compunction [for what He has promised]. Has He said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken and shall He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19 AMPC)

“That’s right,” the Lord replied, “and I always rise early to keep a promise.” (Jeremiah 1:12 CEV)

That’s why you can say with Complete Confidence no matter what you’re dealing with: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Psalm 27:1) A few other translations read like this:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life – Who shall I dread?” (AMP)

“The Lord is my Light and my salvation – whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (AMPC)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation. Should I fear anyone? The Lord is a fortress protecting my life. Should I be frightened of anything?” (CEB)

“You, Lord, are the light that keeps me safe. I am not afraid of anyone. You protect me, and I have no fears.” (CEV)

“Lord, you are my Light and my Savior, so why should I be afraid of anyone? The Lord is where my life is safe, so I will be afraid of no one!” (ERV)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; I will fear no one. The Lord protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid.” (GNT)

“…So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing.” (MSG)

The God that holds your hand, is your HELPER, LIGHT, SALVATION, REFUGE, FORTRESS, STRONGHOLD, PROTECTOR OF YOUR LIFE, AND KEEPS YOU SAFE FROM ALL DANGERS! Therefore, you have no need to be afraid, fearful, dreading, frightened of anything or anyone! Your God who has promised to keep His hand on you, and to keep you in the palm of His hand, will never let you go, no matter what attaches itself to you! That you can take comfort in!

That promise is from Jesus Christ Himself- the One who loved you enough to actually die in your place to pay for the sins that have always put God out of your reach.

Listen to how Scripture says it:

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” (John 3:16 AMP). 

…God put the wrong on Him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 MSG). 

But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.” (Romans 5:8 AMP). 

That’s how much you mean to God! He allowed His Son’s Hands to be Nailed in Excruciating Pain just so those Same Hands could Hold You and Never Let You Go! That’s shouting material right there! Not even nails could make Him let you go!

A lot of people may have failed to hang on. But remember this: JESUS WILL NEVER FAIL YOU! AND HE MOST CERTAINLY WILL NEVER LET GO OF YOU! He says of those who come to Him, “…I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, EVER. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. AND ONCE THAT PERSON IS WITH ME, I HOLD ON AND DON’T LET GO…” (John 6:35-38 MSG). 

LISTEN: If He was ever going to turn His back on you, it would have been when He was enduring YOUR punishment on the cross! But He stayed there so you could live with Him forever! He will not abandon the one He paid for with His blood and life! When He died for you, He proved He’s got love for you that won’t ever let you go!

When He walked out of His grave He proved He’s got the power to hold onto you through everything life and even death can throw at you! Which means the government shutdown can’t release His hand; the foreclosure can’t release His hand; the diagnosis and disease can’t release His hand; the bankruptcy can’t release His hand; the divorce can’t release His hand; the layoff can’t release His hand; the addiction can’t release His hand; the bad habits can’t release His hand; the temptation can’t release His hand! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AND NO ONE, NOT EVEN YOU, CAN RELEASE THE HOLD OF THE HAND OF GOD ON YOUR LIFE!

So, stop crying; stop fretting; stop walking in fear; stop panicking; stop pacing the floor; stop losing sleep; stop pulling out your hair; stop trying to come up with a back up plan for God; stop hoping for human hands to fix it; stop reading the horoscopes; stop stalking the Prophets! JUST STOP!

And then START praising God; worshiping God; walking by faith and not by sight; trust God for favor; live in peace; kneel in prayer; rest in God’s faithfulness; remember that He has numbered every strand of hair on your head and hasn’t lost count of one, nor will He ever lose sight of you! Trust the plan, power and purpose of God; fulfill the will of God; seek Him, not them; read the Word of God; and get somewhere and be still and quiet and remember that He is still God, the same God that has been holding you all this time and will not ever let you go!

Yes, I know it’s too much for you to handle, but thanks be to God that you don’t have to handle it! You serve a God with Hands bigger and stronger than yours, and He’s got it and you right in the palm of them. You are safe; you are good; you are well; you are healed; you are delivered, you are whole; you are peaceful; you are joyful; you are confident; you are reassured; you are now walking into a new level of trusting God with everything and all things!

SO REMEMBER TODAY, THAT NO MATTER WHAT’S GOT A HOLD OF YOU…HE WILL NEVER LET YOUR HANDS GO! USE PRAYER TO RELEASE IT FROM YOUR HANDS INTO HIS AND THEN DON’T ATTEMPT TO TAKE IT BACK OR CHECK UP ON IT OR SEE HOW GOD’S DOING WITH ALL YOUR STUFF! PUT IT IN HIS HANDS BECAUSE HE CAN HANDLE IT! THEN REST WELL TONIGHT KNOWING WITH UNSHAKEABLE CONFIDENCE, THAT IT IS HANDLED!

“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!]  So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6 AMP) 

Isaiah 41:13, “For I the Lord your God keep hold of your right hand; [I am the Lord], Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.” (AMP) 

Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation]’” (AMP) 

Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble in dread before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.” (AMP) 

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (AMP) 

Psalm 16:8, “I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (AMP) 

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

Hebrews 10:12, “whereas Christ, having offered the one sacrifice [the all-sufficient sacrifice of Himself] for sins for all time, sat down [signifying the completion of atonement for sin] at the right hand of God [the position of honor],” (AMP) 

Job 27:11, “I will teach you regarding the hand (power) of God; I will not conceal what is with the Almighty [God’s actual treatment of the wicked].” (AMP) 

1 Peter 3:22, “who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God [that is, the place of honor and authority], with [all] angels and authorities and powers made subservient to Him.” (AMP) 

Isaiah 49:16, “Indeed, I have inscribed [a picture of] you on the palms of My hands; Your city walls [Zion] are continually before Me.” (AMP) 

John 10:28, “And I give them eternal life, and they will never, ever [by any means] perish; and no one will ever snatch them out of My hand.” (AMP)

“When we put our problems in God’s hands, He puts His peace in our hearts.” (Author Unknown)

“Be silent, only the hand of God can remove the burdens of your heart.” (Rumi)

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” (Mother Teresa)

“Nothing can shake those who are secure in God’s hands.” (Author Unknown)

“God has you in the palm of His hand today. He does not make any mistakes. He only makes masterpieces.” (Victoria Osteen)

“My unknown future is in the hands of the all-knowing God.” (Author Unknown)

“The mighty hand of God is upon me. I shall not be shaken.” (Lailah Gifty Akita)

“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.” (Martin Luther)

“A broken life in the hands of God is ripe for a blessing.” (Joni Eareckson Tada)

“Don’t worry. Relax, your problems are in My hands now. Love, God.” (Author Unknown)

“I feel the healing hands of God touch my heart and kiss my soul.” (Harley King)

“Place yourself as an instrument in the hands of God, who does His own work in His own way.” (Swami Ramdas)

“It takes the hand of God to deliver the plan and purpose of God, but it takes faith to move the hand of God. Prayer is impotent without faith.” (E.A. Adeboye)

“Those who leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything.” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes prayer moves the hand of God, and sometimes prayer changes the heart of the person who is praying.” (Mark Driscoll)

“If we want to know the Glory of God; if we want to experience the Beauty of God; and if we want to be Used by the Hand of God, then we must LIVE in the Word of God.” (David Platt)

“Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where there are treasured the boundless resources of the Omnipotent One.” (Ellen G. White)

“When God wants us to surrender one dream, it’s because He wants to hand us a bigger and better one.” (Mandy Hale)

“Surrender the thing you fear into the hands of God. Turn it right over to God and ask Him to solve it with you. Fear is keeping things in your own hands; faith is turning them over into the hands of God.” (E. Stanley Jones)

“Become willing to see the hand of God and accept it as a friend’s offer to help you with what you are doing.” (Julia Cameron)

“The strong hands of God twisted the crown of thorns into a crown of glory; and in such hands we are safe.” (Charles Williams)

“It is in those times of hopeless chaos when the sovereign hand of God is most likely to be seen.” (Thomas Chalmers)

“Your past can never dictate your future when you put it in the hands of God.” (Author Unknown)

“If GOD could close the mouth of the lions for Daniel; part the red sea for Moses; make the sun stand still for Joshua; open the prison for Peter; put a baby in the arms of Sarah; and raise Lazarus from the dead; then He can certainly take care of you! Nothing you are facing today is too hard for His Hands to Handle!” (Author Unknown)

“Hope is faith reaching out in the darkness knowing the hand of God is reaching back.” (John Hagee)

“You are created by the hand of God, on purpose. You are an unrepeatable miracle.” (Author Unknown)

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

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“God is On the Move!”

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Psalm 68:7-10, “God, when you took the lead with your people, when you marched out into the wild, Earth shook, sky broke out in a sweat; God was on the march. Even Sinai trembled at the sight of GOD ON THE MOVE, at the sight of Israel’s God. You pour out rain in buckets, O God; thorn and cactus become an oasis For your people to camp in and enjoy. You set them up in business; they went from rags to riches.” (MSG)

Narnia was a mythical land, created by C. S. Lewis, where the animals talk and where four children experience this series of incredible adventures. The seven-part series, “The Chronicles of Narnia,have long fascinated children and adults alike.

And then came Disney’s movie version of the first Narnia story, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,and it was a blockbuster. In the story, the wardrobe is the closet through which the children discover Narnia. The witch is the evil ruler of the land. She’s creating an endless winter where it is “always winter but never Christmas.” And the lion is Aslan, the great son of the Emperor from across the sea. He is, in C. S. Lewis’ imagery, the Christ-figure of Narnia. As the children begin to experience the icy and dangerous world that Narnia has become under an evil ruler, one of the animals announces that there is hope on the horizon. Hope turns out to be five words: “ASLAN IS ON THE MOVE“. Indeed, he was, and Narnia would soon be set free because of it!

Five words may explain the strange stirring that you’ve been feeling in your spirit lately. Five words may mean hope for you. And what are those five words? “GOD IS ON THE MOVE!

The One of whom the Bible says: “…the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has Overcome and Conquered…” (Revelation 5:5 AMP). And today, I’ve come to encourage you to know, that GOD IS ON THE MOVE in your personal life as well! And His move is about to set you free!

What He’s moving to do, is pictured in Exodus 3:7-10. God is speaking to Moses from an amazing burning bush in the wilderness. And He says, “…I have in fact seen the affliction (suffering, desolation) of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters (oppressors); for I know their pain and suffering.  SO I HAVE COME DOWN TO RESCUE THEM FROM THE HAND (POWER) OF THE EGYPTIANS, and to bring them up from that land to a land [that is] good and spacious, to a land flowing with milk and honey [a land of plenty]—to the place of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.  Now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me; and I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them.” (AMP)

And that’s exactly what God is doing in your life as well! He’s heard your cry, plea, suffering, pain, depression, discouragement, hurt, loneliness, abandonment, abuse, and HE’S ON THE MOVE to Get to You So He Can Rescue You From What’s Holding You in Bondage!

Truth be told, many of us feel this way. Feel as though we’ve been locked up in this prison of pain for so long, and we’ve cried out to God for so long, and nothing has happened for so long, and therefore we tend to be deceived into thinking that God has forgotten to come and see about us. We look around us and it appears as if the Hand of the Lord is moving so graciously and quickly in the lives of others, but when it comes to OUR personal life, it’s like He’s allergic and can’t come near!

However, before you beat up on yourself, I want you to know that your feelings are not crazy, sinful, or outrageous, they are simply real! And if you ever take a moment to quietly sit and read through the Psalms you will be tremendously amazed by the emotions of David. He was indeed a man after God’s own heart, but he certainly didn’t hide his heart or his feelings from God either, and neither should you. It takes nothing away from you as a Child of God, to cry out in desperation for your Father’s help. After all, isn’t that what natural children do…naturally? As soon as a child is in pain, hurting, suffering or scared, be it mom or dad, but one of their parents is guaranteed to hear and heed their holler for help! Therefore, this is your reminder that it’s alright to be real, even if that “real” happens to be “real” hurt, real angry, real miserable, real lost and real confused. No matter how much it hurts, or how bad it hurts, or how long it’s been hurting, God wants your Hurt to Call out to Him for Help! He’s Always Ready, Willing and Able to Rescue His Children!

You see, when God starts moving, He’s actually on a rescue mission every time! In fact, the name Mary and Joseph were to give God’s Son was, “JESUS”, literally meaning “JEHOVAH RESCUES.Matthew 1:21, “She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus [HE SAVES], because he will save his people from their sins.” (GWT). The Living Bible says it like this, “And she will have a Son, and you shall name him Jesus (MEANING ‘SAVIOR’), for he will save his people from their sins.” (TLB) What I love most is the statements: “…BECAUSE HE WILL…”; and “…FOR HE WILL…” Meaning, this is not something you have to worry about because, HE IS ON THE MOVE TO RESCUE AND SAVE YOU! And what I love about one of the definitions of the word “Will” is “expressing facts about ability and capacity” In other words, it’s a FACT that God CAN and WILL SAVE and RESCUE YOU! He has the ABILITY and the CAPACITY to do so! It is without question!  That alone, should encourage you to know that even if it hasn’t happened yet, oh, it WILL happen!

The problem with us though is that we call out the name of our problems, circumstances, situations, troubles and struggles, MORE than we call out the name JESUS! But why in the world should we do that? I mean, knowing that His name means He Saves and Rescues, why are we calling out the name of what we’re drowning in instead of calling on the name of the Lifeguard that Walks on Water to Pull Us Out!

Isaiah 43:1-4, “But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. WHEN YOU’RE IN ROUGH WATERS, YOU WILL NOT GO DOWN. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” (MSG).

I don’t care how much your mama, daddy, spouse or children love you, NO ONE LOVES YOU MORE THAN JESUS! AND NO ONE WILL GO TO THIS EXTREME TO KEEP YOU SAFE BUT HIM! SO WHY CALL ON EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING ELSE, WHEN ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS CALL ON JESUS…THE ONE WHO SAVES AND RESCUES?!

Every time we say “Jesus,” we’re saying why He came – To Rescue!

In Moses’ day, God was coming down to rescue His people from slavery in Egypt. Today, God comes down to rescue people from the bleakness and the bondage’s of a life lived outside of His purposes; the kind of “my way” living that the Bible calls sin. Sin robs this life of its meaning and joy, and it condemns us to the death penalty of an awful eternity. Jesus came like the rescuers went into the fallen towers on that dark September 11. He risked His life to save us from a deadly situation from which we could never save ourselves. And He’s on the move right now, and He’s got rescue on His mind! And He’s heading your way! No matter how rough it’s been, or how “…ROUGH THE WATERS, YOU WILL NOT GO DOWN” Because when they LIFTED HIM UP, HE DREW YOU TO HIMSELF! IN LIFTING HIM UP, YOU WERE LIFTED UP TOO! That’s why you have no need to walk around with your head bowed down, your shoulders slumped, your back bent, or your tears falling, JESUS IS ON THE MOVE, and Heading in Your Direction!

I know many of you are saying, ‘but you don’t know how bad it is, or how long it’s been this bad’; ‘you don’t know how long I’ve waited, cried, bargained, and all I heard from Heaven was Silence’; ‘you don’t know how far behind the mortgage and rent are; how late the car note and insurance is; how much the tuition has increased to.’ ‘You don’t know what the doctor diagnosed; what the lawyer said; or what the job did to my life when they went out of business.’ ‘You don’t know the level of life support my marriage is on; you don’t know how hard I’ve prayed for my children who were raised in church, but now run from God.’; ‘You don’t know how suicidal I feel; how much medicating I do (whether alcohol, pills, food, sex etc…)’ And you are absolutely right, I don’t know. But I do know WHO does, and He’s Not Leaving You Stuck Here! He’s On the Move IN, and Because of it, You’re On the Move OUT! Which is why I love today’s text so much:

Psalm 68:7-10, “God, when you took the lead with your people, when you marched out into the wild, Earth shook, sky broke out in a sweat; God was on the march. Even Sinai trembled at the sight of GOD ON THE MOVE, at the sight of Israel’s God. You pour out rain in buckets, O God; thorn and cactus become an oasis For your people to camp in and enjoy. You set them up in business; they went from rags to riches.” (MSG)

Let’s look at this text in parts:

“God, when you took the lead with your people…”: Isn’t it amazing that even when we don’t go to God, HE COMES TO US? How encouraging to know that no matter what, He refuses to leave us where we are. And while we’re calling on psychics, horoscopes, and our friends (who are sinking in the same boat of debt and discouragement as we are), He’s on the move taking the lead to come and see about His followers. I’m so grateful that God doesn’t wait on me! He initiates and makes the first move and gives the most effort to reach and rescue little ole me. If you didn’t feel special before today, you should certainly feel special now!

“…when you marched out into the wild…”: I love that God loves me so much that He’ll risk anything to rescue me! He’ll march out into the wild, just to win me! That word “wild” is defined as “of animals or plants living or growing in the natural environment (not domesticated or cultivated)” Well, that definition I knew, but looking further at more definitions, I found “wild” to also mean “desolate-looking; uncontrolled; unrestrained; and dangerous” And yet, God doesn’t care! I’m important, I’m worth it, I’m loved enough for Him to risk any danger just to rescue me! I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling more and more special as the verses go on!

“…Earth shook, sky broke out in a sweat…”: Listen, when God enters your life, everything and everyone in your life better beware! Can you imagine that all because “God Was on the MOVE” The Earth shook and the sky began to sweat! Well, the devil and his imps and any enemies you may have picked up along life’s journey better know that God is On the Move in Your Life, and if they do not mean you well, they might want to leave you alone right about now! This is not a game to God by any means. He loves us enough to come and get us, and anyone around us causing harm is about to shake and sweat!

“…God was on the march…”: I love the word “march” (and not just because I’m a March baby) but more so because of its definition: It means, “to walk in a military manner; to proceed quickly and with determination; to take part in an organized procession to make a protest.” I reiterate, God is Playing No Games! He’s coming in military style to go to war…OVER YOU! And He’s not dragging His feet either, He’s moving quickly and with determination to get you out of whatever you’re in! He’s protesting your imprisonment of pain. You can’t stay there! He’s dressed, armed and ready to do battle, and win! So even when you experience those moments when you think no one loves you enough to fight for you, know that God is not included in that number! He Will March In and Fight For You Because the Battles Not Yours Anyway…It’s the Lord’s!

“…Even Sinai trembled at the sight of GOD ON THE MOVE, at the sight of Israel’s God…”: Can you imagine a MOUNTAIN trembling because of the SIGHT of God On the Move?! “Trembling” is defined as “to shake involuntarily with quick, short movements, as from fear; weakness; to quake or quiver;” Something as Big as a Mountain even Trembles at the Sight of God On the Move! Once again, everything and everyone in your life, will tremble with excitement or fear, at the Sight of God On the Move in Your Life! How Powerful For Everything to Be Affected When God Moves! And so will your emotions, finances, marriage, children, job, dreams, etc…they will all be Moved by the Move of God in Your Life!

“…at the sight of Israel’s God…”: What excites me about this part is how repetitively Israel messed up with God, and still He came to their rescue over and over again! Which is of great encouragement to you and I, as we’ve messed up with God multiple times as well. And yet, as many times as we’ve gotten it wrong, He still exercises His right to rescue us! We’ve had to go in a 40-year circle due to our disobedience, bad choices, and the like, and still God Has Not Forgotten About Us! He’s still Israel’s God, and He’s still ours!

“…You pour out rain in buckets, O God; thorn and cactus become an oasis For your people to camp in and enjoy. You set them up in business; they went from rags to riches”: As empty and depleted as we’ve felt, God is about to March and Move On Our Behalf to Pour Out Buckets of Blessings! Even though we’ve been suffering in the Desert of Despair, Depression and Discouragement, yet God is about to Bathe Us in Living Waters! We’re about to be immersed in an Oasis of Healing Waters. And we won’t be there for 2 minutes either. We’re going to “…CAMP IN AND ENJOY…” And He doesn’t stop there!  But as broke, bankrupt and in debt as we’ve been, He’s about to “…SET US UP IN BUSINESS; WE’RE GOING FROM RAGS TO RICHES”

Listen, I get it, I know it’s been a rough time, a hard time, a time of hardship, trial and struggle. But be encouraged, GOD IS ON THE MOVE, AND HEADING IN YOUR DIRECTION! IT WON’T STAY LIKE THIS AND NEITHER WILL YOU! YOU WILL MOVE FROM HERE AS SOON AS GOD MOVES! You’ve cried, prayed, fasted, read the bible, pleaded with heaven, summoned all the angels, and still nothing has happened…UNTIL NOW! But Now Is Your Time of Transition!

The word “transition” is another one of my favorite words. By definition it means, “the process of changing from one state or condition to another.” And that perfectly defines you today my friend, you are transitioning! God is on the move, heading in your direction to make a change in your life for the better! You’ve settled and suffered here for far too long, and now it’s time to change and transition out of this mess into your miracle!

Remember, Every Time You Call On the Name Jesus, You Call On the Savior’s Help and Rescue! So don’t throw in the towel and give up! NO! Remember, We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight. So no matter what you see, remember what His Word has said: Psalm 68:7-10, “God, when you took the lead with your people, when you marched out into the wild, Earth shook, sky broke out in a sweat; God was on the march. Even Sinai trembled at the sight of GOD ON THE MOVE, at the sight of Israel’s God. You pour out rain in buckets, O God; thorn and cactus become an oasis For your people to camp in and enjoy. You set them up in business; they went from rags to riches.” (MSG)

Let Nothing and No One Move You Anymore From This Day Forward! The only important move for you to keep in my mind is the Movement of God…because It’s Coming…And So Is He! Right to Your Rescue!

Be Encouraged, GOD IS ON THE MOVE…AND HEADING IN YOUR DIRECTION!

“God is constantly on the move. I cannot stay where I am and follow God at the same time; responding requires movement.” (Margaret Feinberg)

“Do not ask God to guide your footsteps if you’re not willing to move your feet.” (Pinterest)

“Sometimes God closes doors because it’s time to move forward. He knows you won’t move unless your circumstances force you. Trust the transition. God’s got you!” (Pinterest)

“God is on the move to rescue people from misery to everlasting happiness, which can only be found in Him.” (John Piper)

“God doesn’t move in your life when you struggle. He moves when you pray.” (Pinterest)

“God has great things in store for us, but we have to keep moving forward to get where He wants us to be.” (Pinterest)

“Today is a new day, so rise up and move forward into the victory God has prepared for you.” (Joel Osteen)

“God was on the move; God is on the move; and God will always be on the move. Those who walk with God and listen to God are also on the move. Reading the Bible so we can live it out today means being on the move always. Anyone who stops and wants to turn a particular moment into a monument, as the disciples did when Jesus was transfigured before them, will soon be wondering where God has gone.” (Scot McKnight)

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

“You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.” (Pinterest)

“Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed, and rearranged to relocate us to the place we are meant to be.” (Pinterest)

“Perfect faith is not faith that moves God. Perfect faith is faith that moves us to trust God when He doesn’t seem to be moving.” (Andy Stanley)

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

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“Drowning Christians in a Thirsty World”

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Psalm 42:1-3, “ A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I’M THIRSTY for God-alive. I wonder, “Will I ever make it—arrive and drink in God’s presence?” I’m on a diet of tears—tears for breakfast, tears for supper. All day long people knock at my door, Pestering, “Where is this God of yours?” (MSG)           

You know, after about a week of rain, you start to forget what the sun looks like. And we experienced something just like that a few Spring seasons ago, that we had no other choice but to endure! I mean it got to the point where you didn’t even have to listen for the weather forecast any longer; I think they just had “duh, it’s going to be rainy today” on repeat tape! After a consistent rainy forecast day-after-day, you simply knew what it was going to be like the very next day.  

Well, I glanced at these stretch of hotels that were along the road on the way home. And what to my wondering eye should appear, but Sprinklers! Yeah, all their lawn sprinklers were out and going Full Blast, Watering a NOT so Thirsty Lawn! I couldn’t believe it, after a week of torrential rain, and on a day when the rain was still pouring down, these companies had the Sprinklers On Full Blast! In essence, they were Saturating What Was Already Saturated!

According to the Powerful Word of God: “Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who Needs a Doctor: the Healthy or the Sick? Go figure out what the Scripture means: “I’m After Mercy, Not Religion.’ I’m Here to Invite OUTSIDERS, Not Coddle Insiders.” (Matthew 9:12 MSG). In other words, I came as the Living Water for those who are Spiritually and Eternally Dying of Thirst, not those who Already Have a Well of Water Bubbling Up On the Inside! There’s no need to water a lawn that’s already drowning in water! What then is a better use of the water? To water what’s dry and dying of thirst!              

In Romans chapter 15, we read about the Magnificent Obsession of the Apostle Paul. Beginning with the 17th verse, Looking back over what has been accomplished and what I have observed, I must say I am most pleased—in the context of Jesus, I’d even say proud, but only in that context. I have no interest in giving you a chatty account of my adventures, Only the Wondrously Powerful and Transformingly Present Words and Deeds of Christ in Me that Triggered a Believing Response AMONG THE OUTSIDERS. In Such Ways I Have Trailblazed a Preaching of the Message of Jesus All the Way From Jerusalem Far Into Northwestern Greece. This Has All Been Pioneer Work, Bringing the Message Only Into Those Places WHERE JESUS WAS NOT YET KNOWN AND WORSHIPED. My Text Has Been, THOSE WHO WERE NEVER TOLD OF HIM—They’ll See Him! THOSE WHO’VE NEVER HEARD OF HIM—They’ll Get the Message!” (vss. 17-21 MSG).  

Paul Obviously here has a Magnet Inside of Him that is Drawing Him to a Particular People. It’s Pulling Him Toward a People Who Do Not Yet Know His Christ! You see, he’s not traveling from church to church to only preach the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to church folk! He’s going where the people have not known nor heard of Jesus! These are the people who need to hear the message! Which is why the Bible reads: “But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One Who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?” (Romans 10:14-17 MSG). Church, we are the Sent Ones with a message to deliver to those who have yet to hear that our Jesus is still alive and is still saving, healing, delivering, forgiving, restoring and redeeming! Saints, we’re spending far too much time feeding the Word to those who eat it daily already! But what about those who have never had a Crumb from the Master’s Table?! Man cannot LIVE by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God! But how can we expect a people to live for God who are dying because of the church?! They don’t know to trust Him, unless we tell them. They don’t know who to call for help, unless we tell them. They will never hear, unless we tell me! But the problem is, unfortunately, we’re only talking to those who have already heard and believed! 

Paul continues to not only be called to a people who don’t yet Know Jesus, but also to PLACES where Christ is not yet Known! The Bible says, “He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What You’ll Get Is the Holy Spirit. And When the Holy Spirit Comes On You, You Will Be Able to Be My Witnesses In Jerusalem, All Over Judea and Samaria, Even To the Ends of the World.” (Acts 1:8 MSG). The disciples were sent as far as to the ends of the world with the message of Jesus Christ, and we can’t get folks to go into their own neighborhoods! Listen, Jesus is not expecting us to hop on a plane and travel to every city, state and country, but He does expect us to share the message where we can! Believe it or not, but there’s people in the supermarket you go to that don’t know your Jesus; when you dropped off your car to the mechanic, there are people there who don’t know your Jesus; when you go to the doctor’s office, there are people there who don’t know your Jesus; when you go to work and spend some 8-12 hours daily, there are people there who don’t know your Jesus; when you go to the gym and talk to everybody about everything except your Jesus, you do know that there are people there who don’t know your Jesus; when you get in the cab, board the plane, hop on the bus or train, you do know that they are filled with people who don’t know your Jesus; in the prisons, at the hospitals, in the nursing homes, sitting at the dialysis center, laying in chemo therapy, struggling in rehab, waiting in line at the unemployment office, social services office, the homeless shelter, the soup kitchens, in the mall, at the movies, in the deli, at the cleaners, are all places filled with people who do not yet know your Jesus, how then can you afford to be silent…until Sunday…in Church…with people who Already know your Jesus!              

You know, these days you don’t have to go very far to find the places where Christ Is Not Known: the dry places, the un-rained on places, the un-watered places, the unsaturated places. I mean, our society has basically been divided like a river over recent years. On one side of that river, are Christians Who’ve Got More Christian Stuff Than Christians Have Ever Had: Christian TV, Radio, and Internet, Books, Blogs, Seminars, Magazines and Concerts! There’s so much going on Spiritually! In a way we’re the Most Spiritually Saturated Believers In All of History!              

But now, far across that river, On the Opposite Bank, Are People Who Don’t Know Christ – which in honesty is the Majority of People Around Us! There Have Probably Never Been So Many Lost People In This Country Who Have Known So Little About Jesus As People Today; Who’ve Cared So Little About the Bible, Who’ve Lived So Totally Oblivious to God! In a sense, They Are Dying of Spiritual Thirst! The Bibles says, “Jesus answered her, All who drink of this water will be thirsty again. But Whoever Takes a Drink of the Water that I Will Give Him Shall Never, No Never, Be Thirsty Any More. But the Water that I Will Give Him Shall Become a Spring of Water Welling Up (Flowing, Bubbling) [Continually] Within Him Unto (Into, For) Eternal Life. The Woman said to Him, Sir, Give Me This Water, So That I May Never Get Thirsty…” (John 4:13-15 AMP).              

So, the people with the water, and the people with the thirst, Have Unfortunately Never Been Farther Apart! And what I love about the text in John is the woman is not resistant but ready to receive! How many people are around us day-to-day, ready to receive Jesus, the living water, yet our sprinklers are only turned on, on Sunday, to saturate the already saturated, as others die of thirst! 

Martin Marty, the church historian, said in the Wall Street Journal, If you’re part of the evangelical subculture, it’s your whole life. You go to church, buy the religious books, watch the television programs.But he says,If You’re Not Part of the Subculture, You Don’t Even Know it Exists.              

Well, one reason is that All The Sprinklers Are Being Aimed At The Already Saturated!  

Which is Why Our Great Commission was not to SIT (in the pews and pulpit) but it was to GO (to the people and places)! “Jesus, Undeterred, Went Right Ahead and Gave His Charge: God Authorized and Commanded me to Commission You: GO Out and Train Everyone You Meet, Far and Near, In This Way of Life, Marking Them By Baptism in the Threefold Name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then Instruct Them In the Practice of All I Have Commanded You. I’ll Be With You As You Do This, Day After Day After Day, Right Up to the End of the Age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 MSG). You do realize that we are Charged, Commanded and Commissioned to GO?! It was not an idea, it was not negotiable, it was not a suggestion! We are Charged (which is a Demand); We are Commanded (which is to be given an Authoritative Order); and We are Commissioned (which is to be Issued and Entrusted to Fulfill a Duty)! Does any of that sound like, do this if you feel like it; do this when you feel like it; do this if you should have a little spare time? NO! This is GO RIGHT NOW! Why? Because people’s eternal lives are hanging in the balance, and if we reach them with the message of life, it will tip the scale in the favor of Heaven on their behalf! I mean do you really want someone to lift their eyes in Hell because you were too focused on getting Only You and Yours to Heaven?! No, we are Called to Combat, not Comfort! There’s Thirsty Souls That are Waiting for Us to Show Up With the Living Water, Will We Be Present or Absent?!              

Listen, we can sit in the comfort of our Sunday School Sessions, Bible Study Lessons, and our Christian Websites, and Recordings, and Videos, and Drink It All In and Feel Like We’re Winning the Battle! But the People We’re Next To Every Day Are Dying Right In Front Of Our Eyes! All We’ve Soaked Up Just Drowns Us Unless We Lay It On The Line, Take Some Risks, And Get Involved With Lost People Where They Are, Like Our Lord Did! “Indeed, the Son of Man Has Come to Seek and to Save People Who Are Lost.” (Luke 19:10 GWT). What good does it do the Kingdom for all those who have been Found already, to only Find themselves in church every Sunday, while the Lost wanders their way to Hell all week long! 

Imagine you’re at the mall with your son or daughter and they get lost. How would that make you feel? I know as a parent I would be scared, terrified, worried, telling everybody to help me find them, I would be calling 911, trying to locate the mall security officers so they can review the cameras, the doors, the stores. I would more than likely be in tears and praying and screaming out for them, and God! A million thoughts would attack my mind, did someone take them, are they scared, are they crying, are they hurt. You know why all of this would be happening? Because they’re my children and I love them and want them to always be safe. That’s the kind of unconditional love we need to have for the lost. Because truth is, many of them have no idea of the dangerous games the devil plays. They have no idea that their eternity is at stake. They may yell at people to ‘go to hell’, but do they really know what Hell holds for them? Do they know that Satan is waiting for another notch on his belt? No, but we know! And we didn’t escape his grasp because we’re perfect and wonderful and good, it was only by grace and mercy that we got by and got out! Someone, somewhere, at some point in time told us about Jesus and saved our lives! How can we not love the lost the same way and help save theirs?              

Where are the Christians who will say with Jesus and Paul Alike, I’m Here For Lost People, Not Just to Sit In My Comfort Zone Among Those Who are Already Found?Where are the Churches who will Not Just Aim Their Resources at Watering God’s People, But Who Will Risk Their Buildings and Their Reputations, and Even Their Budgets and Lives to Build a Bridge to Their Lost Community? Not Just to be a Place to Take Care of the Already Rescued, But To Be a Life Saving Station For Their Community!  

It’s Time to Stop Beautifying Our Buildings and Take Our “Beautiful Feet” (Isaiah 52:7), to the Homeless Shelters and Give Them a Makeover With the Message of Love From Our Savior Who Has Promised to “Beautify the Meek With Salvation” (Psalm 149:4).  

Instead of Fish/Chicken Dinners to Purchase a Church Van, why not take the Dinners free of charge to the Park Bench where a man sleeps on an empty stomach because there’s nowhere else to go?!  

Instead of Another Fashion Show, why not a Coat Drive?!  

Instead of praising God for the Healing that has taken place In Your House of Worship, why not take that Testimony to the Hospital and Hospice where all Hope has Vanished that God can still Heal?!   

Instead of rejoicing over God curbing your shoe shopping fetish, why not take the deliverance testimony to the  ones who have no strength left to continue the battle against their addictions?!               

People of God, let’s move past the Sprinklers We Receive from Within Our Local Assemblies, and Go Out Into the Desert Places Where Many Are Both Naturally and Spiritually Dying!  Let’s Supply Natural Food and Quench Spiritual Thirst at the Same Time! After All, It’s the Expectation Our Savior Has for His Sheep! 

When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will Sort The People Out, much as a Shepherd Sorts Out Sheep and Goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, “Enter, You Who Are Blessed By My Father! Take What’s Coming to You in this kingdom. It’s Been Ready For You Since the World’s Foundation. And here’s why: I Was Hungry and You Fed Me, I Was Thirsty and You Gave Me a Drink, I Was Homeless and You Gave Me a Room, I Was Shivering and You Gave me Clothes, I Was Sick and You Stopped to Visit, I Was In Prison and You Came to Me.’ “Then those ‘Sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, What Are You Talking About? When Did We Ever See You Hungry and Feed You, Thirsty and Give You a Drink? And When did We Ever See You Sick or in Prison and Come to You?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m Telling the Solemn Truth: Whenever You Did One of These Things to Someone Overlooked or Ignored, That Was Me—You Did It To me.’ “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get Out, Worthless Goats! You’re Good For Nothing But the Fires of Hell. And why? Because—I Was Hungry and You Gave Me NO Meal, I Was Thirsty and You Gave Me NO Drink, I Was Homeless and You Gave Me NO Bed, I Was Shivering and You Gave me No Clothes, Sick and in Prison, and You NEVER Visited.’ “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, “Master, What Are You Talking About? When Did We Ever See You Hungry or Thirsty or Homeless or Shivering or Sick or in Prison and Didn’t Help?’ “He will answer them, “I’m Telling the Solemn Truth: Whenever You Failed To Do One of These Things to Someone Who Was Being Overlooked or Ignored, That Was Me.’ “Then Those ‘Goats’ Will Be Herded To Their Eternal Doom, But the ‘Sheep’ To Their Eternal Reward.” (Matthew 25:31-46 MSG).               

Saints, We’ve Saturated Ourselves Long Enough! Today Let’s Determine to Leave From Within the Four-Walls of the Church, and Saturate the Dry Places of a Dying People in the Four-Corners of the Earth!  

I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.” (John 10:16 CEV). 

Enough of Drowning Christians in a Thirsty World! Let’s go find the rest of our Shepherd’s sheep and bring them into the safety of the family fold. 

John 3:16-18, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” (MSG) 

Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the [consistently] righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise captures and wins souls [for God—he gathers them for eternity].” (AMP)

Acts 13:46-47, “But Paul and Barnabas didn’t back down. Standing their ground they said, “It was required that God’s Word be spoken first of all to you, the Jews. But seeing that you want no part of it—you’ve made it quite clear that you have no taste or inclination for eternal life—the door is open to all the outsiders. And we’re on our way through it, following orders, doing what God commanded when he said, I’ve set you up as light to all nations. You’ll proclaim salvation to the four winds and seven seas!” (MSG)

1 Corinthians 9:19-23, “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (MSG) 

Acts 3:19-23, “Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you the Messiah he prepared for you, namely, Jesus. For the time being he must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of his holy prophets of old, said it would be. Moses, for instance, said, ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet just like me from your family. Listen to every word he speaks to you. Every last living soul who refuses to listen to that prophet will be wiped out from the people.’” (MSG)

Matthew 9:35-38, “Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” (MSG)

Luke 10:1-2, “Later the Master selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go. He gave them this charge: “What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands.” (MSG)

“The mark of a great church is not its Seating Capacity, but its Sending Capacity.” (Mike Stachura)

“If you are more concerned about politics than saving souls, then you may be a Citizen of the wrong Kingdom.” (Joby Martin)

“At the end of the day, the biggest obstacle to evangelism is Christians who don’t share the Gospel.” (Albert Mohler)

“Whatever we do, we must not treat the Great Commission like it’s the Great Suggestion.” (Charles R. Swindoll)

“Evangelism is not so much about reminding people about how lost they are. But how loved they are.” (Randall Worley)

“Emergency vehicles demand access because human lives are at stake. Evangelism demands the same priority, for the same reason.” (Ray Comfort)

“Everyone has a pulpit to speak from. A pulpit is your sphere of influence. Your platform. Use it and proclaim Jesus.” (Greg Laurie)

“We Christians sometimes think we need a plan for evangelism. I don’t think Jesus had an evangelism plan. I think He just interacted with the people He came in contact with.” (Matt Diaz)

“If you had the cure to cancer wouldn’t you share it? You have the cure to death, get out there and share it.” (Kirk Cameron)

“The way you store up treasure in heaven is by investing in getting people there.” (Rick Warren)

“Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” (D.T. Niles)

“We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.” (John Stott)

“I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ than unravel all the mysteries of the divine Word, for salvation is the one thing we are to live for.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Evangelism is not a professional job for a few trained men, but is instead the unrelenting responsibility of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus.” (D. Elton Trueblood)

“Evangelism is hard, but watching people you love go to Hell is harder!” (Author Unknown)

“Discipleship is a lifestyle filled with relationships; a life of pouring yourself out for others.” (Author Unknown)

“Any method of evangelism will work – if God is in it.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

“Someone asked will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved? It is more a question with me whether we…who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not…can be saved.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“Effective Evangelism depends on faithful proclamation of the Word. God will prepare the soil and bring forth the fruit. We must be faithful to plant the seed.” (John MacArthur)

“Every Christian is either a Missionary or an Imposter.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Our responsibility is to get God’s Word to their ears. Only God can get the Word from their ears to their heart.” (Albert Mohler)

“We are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing.” (Billy Graham)

“I have never known a man who received Christ and ever regretted it.” (Billy Graham)

“Evangelism is not an option for the Christian life.” (Luis Palau)

“Evangelism is not salesmanship. It is not urging people, pressing them, coercing them, overwhelming them, or subduing them. Evangelism is telling a message. Evangelism is reporting good news.” (Richard Halverson)

“It is clear you don’t like my way of doing evangelism. You raise some good points. Frankly, I sometimes do not like my way of doing evangelism. But I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.” (D.L. Moody)

“Spend more time in study and prayer. That’s the secret of successful evangelism.” (Billy Graham)

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

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“Church, Let’s Go Fishing!”

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Luke 5:10, “And so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon (Peter). And Jesus said to Simon, Have no fear; from now on you will be CATCHING MEN!” (AMPC)

I assure you I was not your typical young girl! I didn’t dream of the most beautiful wedding, the most expensive wedding gown with the long train that took 5 people to carry it. I was more of the tom-boy who was climbing up trees and jumping out of them; learning to work on engines since my dad was a mechanic; walking the dogs; chopping wood since I wanted to do everything my dad did, because if you haven’t guessed it, I was indeed the typical daddies’ girl! And one of my dad’s absolute favorite things to do in all the world was to go fishing! So once again you guessed right, I just had to learn how to fish! And it wasn’t a struggle for me either. Before you knew it, I was digging for worms, and baiting hooks, casting my line, and catching some fish!

Now, as for me, catching the fish was fun. Eating them was fun. But, in between, there was this one step that was a lot less fun – cleaning them! But for that fish to realize its culinary destiny, it had to be cleaned.

If you’re a fisherman, you’re apparently Jesus’ kind of person. Four of the twelve disciples He called were fishermen by trade. When He summoned them to His service, He said, “…Follow Me [as My disciples, accepting Me as your Master and Teacher and walking the same path of life that I walk], and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17 AMP). He told Simon Peter, “…Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” (Luke 5:10 NKJV).

So the business of bringing people into a relationship with Jesus Christ apparently has some things in common with fishing. For example, you don’t try to attract the fish with what you’re interested in, but what they’re interested in. For example, I like pizza. I don’t like worms. But if I put pizza on my hook, I’m going home with an empty bucket. I’ve got to offer what will be interesting to the fish that I’m trying to attract. And so it is church, with reaching people for Jesus Christ, especially MEN! Think about it, if all you offer is religious bait, coming to a religious meeting to hear a religious speaker talk on a religious subject in a religious place, you probably won’t attract many of the lost men who need Christ so desperately. But if you’re talking about needs they care about in a place where they feel comfortable, in words they can understand, you have a far better chance of getting them within hearing distance of the Gospel. Now, does that mean if they enjoy the strip club, you go to the strip club to win them to Christ? Uh, No! Your convictions, character and calling should never be compromised! But will an unsaved man be more likely to talk to you over a game of bowling, than an hour of bible study, yes sir! Remember, your bait is not supposed to catch your interest, but theirs.

Now, there’s another very important fishing principle we need to keep in mind as we present Jesus to the people around us. It’s a principle it seems many believers have never thought about. And church, here it is: FISH AREN’T CLEANED UNTIL THEY’RE CAUGHT FIRST! Now that’s pretty deep and profound don’t you think? Nope! Just common sense, that has become way too uncommon in the church!

You see, far too many times, lost people feel judged by us rather than loved by us, because we attack the things they do. But they do those things because they’re lost, which is why instead of judging their lost ways, we should be leading them to the One who will take them from lost to found! However, that’s hard to do because we’re too busy trying to get them in “proper church attire”; trying to change their habits; their mindset; their way of life; their behaviors; and their speech. We’re too busy trying to take out their piercings; cover their tattoos; restyle their hair; and put sheets over their splits, and safety pins to close up their cleavage. Before they get in the church good, we have 5 auxiliaries to put them on; and want to cram tithes and offerings down their throat. Now, let’s be real, how would you feel about a group of people telling you Jesus loves you, now all you have to do is give Him 10% of the paycheck you worked hard to earn, and the one that barely covers your bills as it is? As church folks, we have a tendency of going too far, too soon!

Think about this: No fishermen goes to the water, immediately sticks his hand in the water, snatches out a fish, cleans it, cooks it and eats it. No, there is a process to fishing, and one of the greatest parts to that process is waiting! It doesn’t happen in an instant. And most men, in particular, aren’t going to just pour into the church like a floodgate has opened either. A fishermen knows that he can sit out there for hours and catch absolutely nothing; or just one or two. If only we could learn to be that patient with catching men!

Women have a stronger tendency to fill the church pews, men not so much, not so many, and not so quickly! So, if you’re attempting to grow the men’s ministry, you will need patience and better bait!

And more importantly, it’s vital that you remember: You catch them, then JESUS cleans them!

Take a brief walk with me through Luke 19 beginning with verse 5. The whole town is shocked when Jesus says to Zacchaeus, of all people – the town crook, “I must stay at your house today.” As stunned as anyone, the Bible says Zacchaeus “welcomed him gladly. The people started muttering, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’” But after meeting Jesus and experiencing His unconditional love, Zacchaeus can’t stand his sin anymore. He announces he’s going to make right the dishonest wrongs he has done, “If I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus announced, “Today salvation has come to this house.

Zacchaeus Got Clean, But He Got Caught First!

The problem with the lost people you know is not their profanity or their dishonesty or their immorality – truth of the matter, they’re lost and they’re living like it! So why are we as the church, mad at the world because they behave like the world? That’s like being mad at a dog because he barks; a cat because he purrs; a fish because he swims; or a lion because he roars! It’s the same as being mad at an elephant because he has a trunk; or a giraffe because he’s tall; or a bear because he’s big! You can’t be mad at something or someone that does what it’s purposed to do! And guess what, sinners…SIN! I know, who knew! 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago YOU were on that list. SINCE, THEN, YOU’VE BEEN CLEANED UP AND GIVEN A FRESH START BY JESUS, OUR MASTER, OUR MESSIAH, AND BY OUR GOD PRESENT IN US, THE SPIRIT.” (MSG) So, we can’t be mad at sinners who sin. However, I love the way we, the church, conveniently forget that text also says, “…A number of YOU know from EXPERIENCE what I’m talking about, for not so long ago YOU were on that list. SINCE, THEN, YOU’VE BEEN CLEANED UP AND GIVEN A FRESH START BY JESUS, OUR MASTER, OUR MESSIAH, AND BY OUR GOD PRESENT IN US, THE SPIRIT.” (MSG) Don’t forget, you weren’t born saved! And some of your best sinning even came, AFTER salvation! Therefore, we need not be mad at the world for acting like the world, but we should be mad that the church acts like the world! But dare we address such a controversial matter?! You were just as bad off as they are, but the Godhead was merciful! Jesus  cleaned you up with the Father and the Holy Ghost! And pay close attention to WHO did the cleaning! It was the Godhead! Not the Bishop, Pastor, Overseer, Elder, Evangelist, Deacons, Missionaries; Ushers; Trustees; Mother Board; Music Ministry and the like, no it was the Godhead Alone! Try to remember that the next time you go Man Fishing! You Catch, God Cleans!

You see, sinner’s real problem is that they need a Savior! Yes, they must repent, but that’s part of being rescued by Jesus from their sin! Don’t make their lifestyle the main issue. Make Jesus the main issue, and say with the great spiritual fisherman, Paul, “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 MSG). See church, simple is still best! One righteous man (Jesus) went to an unrighteous man (Zacchaeus) and his life was made the better because of being in the company of a man who didn’t judge him, didn’t try to change him, didn’t bring up his past, his mistakes, his failures, his sins, his habits. No, you simply had one short, unrighteous man that went to great lengths to see Jesus. Jesus looked up, saw him, and talked to him (not about him). The man (Jesus) let’s Zacchaeus know I’m your uninvited guest today, and Zacchaeus was delighted to have Him.

Now, I must note this, as soon as the righteous starts talking to the unrighteous, the so-calledrighteous’ start gossiping! Luke 19:7, “And when the people saw it, they all muttered among themselves and indignantly complained, He has gone in to be the guest of and lodge with a man who is devoted to sin and preeminently a sinner.” (AMP) Now, you would think the “church folks” would be happy to see someone unrighteous come into contact with someone righteous. And not to simply visit a church service, but to receive salvation! You would think this was a good thing! Sad as it is to say, you will experience some of the very same behavior. But remember, you have to catch them, before He can clean them. So, if that means going to their house, instead of the House of Worship, just to have a conversation that may bring about salvation, is worth it, don’t you think? Even if it is done in the midst of muttering church folks!

Well, in spite of those who should have been spreading the gospel, and not the gossip, neither Jesus nor Zacchaeus pays them any attention, nor verbally responds to them! Take note church: There will be some folks who don’t think you should be around such people, even if you are trying to win them to Christ. But don’t you get distracted, you have the right bait available and over the process of time, they will be caught by you, and cleaned by Him, and the naysayers can do nothing about it! After all, is their soul about them, or Him? Remember Paul’s words: “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 MSG). People of God, if you want the same results, follow the same regime: Keep it simple, meet them on their terms, use the right bait, and once they’ve been caught, let Jesus clean them (after all, if you had the power to clean them, you would’ve been able to clean YOU years ago!) #Selah

But just as you needed someone to reach out to you, and you needed time to come to Him, and more time to let Him clean you after you were caught, give your brothers and sisters the same courtesy. Don’t get caught up in protocols, programs, and positions. There simply needs to be one brother/sister telling another brother/sister how they can become family. Don’t complicate the matter about rules, regulations, laws, do’s and don’ts. Do your part, and let God do His. You catch, let Him clean!

Psalm 51:1-2, “Have mercy upon me, O GOD, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions. WASH ME THOROUGHLY [AND REPEATEDLY] from my iniquity and guilt and CLEANSE ME AND MAKE ME WHOLLY PURE FROM MY SINS!” (AMPC);

Psalm 51:7, “PURIFY ME WITH HYSSOP, AND I SHALL BE CLEAN [CEREMONIALLY]; WASH ME, AND I SHALL [IN REALITY] BE WHITER THAN SNOW.” (AMPC);

Psalm 51:10, “CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART, O GOD, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.” (AMPC)

In all of that WASHING; CLEANSING; and PURIFYING, did you note that the ONE who was doing it was: “…O GOD…”! Not, “O James, Jasmine, Edward, Esther, Jeffrey, Juanita, Joseph, Julia, Dwayne, Dorothy, Douglas, Diana, Derrick or Deidra”! Nor was it, “O Apostle, Bishop, Pastor, Elder, Evangelist, Minister, Deacon, Missionary, Brother or Sister”! NO, It Was, “…O GOD…”! Because that’s the Only One Who Can!

It’s simple directives, you catch, He cleans! And as soon as you stop playing God and stay in character with the only role you were cast in, the sooner we can fill the pews with more than just women and babies, but we will see a great catch of men filling the House of God as redeemed Men of God! Church, don’t let any more men and women be left out floating aimlessly in this world, when you have the bait to catch them, and you have the means of getting them to your God so He can clean them! Don’t complicate such a simple process by attempting to be grand. The goal is to make sure your Name is written in the Lamb’s book of Life, not your Accomplishments or Head Count!

Saints, today is a good day to go fishing! And unlike my dad who had his favorite spot to fish in. God has sent us into all the world to fish! Meaning, you need to be casting your line with bait attached to doctors, lawyers, teachers, janitors, bank tellers, cashiers, CEO’s, police officers, fire fighters, and nurses. You need to be casting your line at the supermarket, at the bank, at the laundromat, at school, at work, at home, at the homeless shelter, at the soup kitchen, in the prisons, in the nursing homes, at the hospital, in the emergency rooms, at the rehab, at the dialysis and chemo centers. You need to be casting your line among those married with three children and those divorced with 5; among the unwed mother; the identity and gender confused; among those with 10 piercings and 20 tattoos; among those in Ivy League colleges; among those in community college. Cast your line walking down the street, boarding the bus, train or plane. Cast your line as you share that cab ride. Cast your line as you wait in line at the social services office; while you’re standing in the unemployment line; while you’re getting ready to perform at Madison Square Garden! Are you getting this? Sinners are everywhere, therefore the church needs to be casting her line everywhere! After all, it is what we’ve been commissioned to do, right?

Acts 1:8, “He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.” (MSG)

Mark 16:14-20, “Still later, as the Eleven were eating supper, he appeared and took them to task most severely for their stubborn unbelief, refusing to believe those who had seen him raised up. Then he said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned. “These are some of the signs that will accompany believers: They will throw out demons in my name, they will speak in new tongues, they will take snakes in their hands, they will drink poison and not be hurt, they will lay hands on the sick and make them well.” Then the Master Jesus, after briefing them, was taken up to heaven, and he sat down beside God in the place of honor. And the disciples went everywhere preaching, the Master working right with them, validating the Message with indisputable evidence.]” (MSG)

Matthew 28:18-20, “Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (MSG)

Church, we have work to do! So, Let’s Go Fishing!

Matthew 4:19, “Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.” (MSG)

 “We’ve Strayed From Being Fishers of Men to Being Keepers of the Aquarium.” (Paul Harvey)

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

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