“Are You FOLLOWING the Right LEADER?”

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John 3:30, “He must increase [in prominence], but I must decrease.” (AMP); The Message Bible reads like this: “This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.” (MSG)

I am definitely one of those people that has to check and double-check everything I buy at the supermarket. Especially when it comes to dairy, meats, fresh fruit and vegetables. After all, when you’re raised in a house of two great cooks as parents, you come to believe that there really is an art to shopping for food. Some may not know any better, but truth is you can’t just grab the first apple or tomato you see! You have to learn to smell and squeeze the produce. And where did I get that from? My mom. She taught me how to do that as well as the importance of doing that. She taught me that you have to learn how to check for holes and dents in apples and peaches; you don’t just take the first one off the pile. You have to check to see how yellow those bananas are, or how green, or how black. In other words, there are ways to tell whether a fruit or vegetable is one you should buy. However, it’s much tougher to shop for a spiritual leader that’s a good one you can trust. Oh, but there is a way to tell!

Now if we are to be brutally honest, it’s getting tougher and tougher to know which spiritual leaders you can actually trust. After all, we’re living in a time when a lot of Christian heroes have let us down, right? People who say spiritual things, lead spiritual causes, give spiritual counsel, and then all of a sudden something happens that exposes their fleshy hypocrisy. In a way, it kind of makes a lot of us hold back and wonder who can we trust to govern, keep and protect our soul and that of our families?

Now, another truth we need to keep in mind is this, we’re not supposed to have our eyes on man in the first place! Jeremiah 17:5-6, “God’s Message: “Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight. He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.” (MSG). Surely you don’t want that to be your testimony!

The Bible makes it clear that our focus should never be on flesh! 1 Samuel 16:7, “But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” (MSG). That word ‘eliminate’ is defined as: ‘to completely remove or get rid of; to reject or exclude from consideration or further participation.’ Its Latin Origin ‘eliminare’ literally means ‘to turn out of doors.’ You see, this man wasn’t just rejected, but he was completely removed, God got rid of him, He made sure he was excluded from any consideration or participation; he was in essence kicked out his own house, turned outdoors! Therefore, if God doesn’t entertain ‘flesh; looks and stature’, why should we?

So, our focus on spiritual leadership shouldn’t be on the flesh, but on the spirit! God does give His people leadership; He does raise up leadership for the benefit of the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13,And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct],  [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church];  until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity].” (MSG)

In other words, there are authentic spiritual leaders who are doing their job. God does want us to be able to get His teachings and see His love coming through people, but so many have let us down. How can you tell whether a pastor is a leader from God or a person who’s simply doing his own thing in God’s name?

Well, there’s one person that Jesus really held up as a model leader. It was John the Baptist. He said, “There has been no greater man born among women.” (Matthew 11:11) Now I cannot think of a stronger endorsement than that. Jesus said John the Baptist was the real deal; a real spiritual leader, worthy of following. And why was John the Baptist an ideal leader? In John 3:30, speaking of Jesus, John said this, “He must become greater; I must become less.The King James Version says, “He must increase; I must decrease.” 2 other translations read like this:

“Jesus must become more important, while I become less important.” (CEV);

“He must increase in importance, while I must decrease in importance.” (GWT);

You know how to test a spiritual leader? Well, one of the tests is this: Does he/she leave you thinking more about him/her or more about Jesus? Where is the spotlight focusing most and shining brightest, on him/herself, or God? Is it more about his organization, his goals, his ministry, his programs, or more about Jesus and the Great Commission He assigned for us to fulfill? An authentic man or woman of God, like John the Baptist, puts himself or herself in the background, on the sidelines, making sure that JESUS is the one who’s made to be Greater and More Important, in the very center. However, the leader doing his own thing is heavy on sentences that have: “I”, “me”, and “mine” in them, but rarely, “HIM”.

Is this the only test? No, but it’s a pretty good start. If you’re in leadership, measure yourself that way. Who is getting the attention, you the leader or the Savior? The real spiritual leaders, the ones you can trust, are the ones who put Jesus in the spotlight and make you think about Him and forget about them. They’re not seeking accolades and applause and amen’s. They don’t need their names called for everything, anything and nothing. They don’t need their picture posted on every wall nor do they need their name written on every piece of paper. They don’t need a chair the size of the Throne of God. Their main focus is that you focus mainly on Jesus! If that’s not the type of leader you are under, get out now!

Years ago I read about a man who maybe a hundred years ago had lived in the countryside in England. He traveled to London and wrote to his wife and said, “Honey, today I went to two of the great churches of London. This morning I heard Dr. Cartwright and he is a great preacher. Tonight I went to Metropolitan Tabernacle and I heard Mr. Charles Spurgeon.” He said, “Mr. Spurgeon has a great Savior.Leaders, after you’re done speaking, teaching or preaching, do you want them to remember a great preacher, or do you leave them thinking about a great Savior? I never like to leave a church or service feeling like I was just greatly entertained by an outstanding cast of performers. I don’t want to remember the songs, the dances, the praise breaks, the garments, the titles, the beauty of the sanctuary. But what I want to leave with is conviction that I can be a better believer than I have been. It’s rare these days that I actually hear sermons that speak on holiness, sanctification, repentance, sin, hell, consequences of bad choices, or even chastisement. Instead, messages focus more on houses, cars, land, spouses, promotions, increase, harvest, blessings, abundance, and the like. But what happened to using the Word to do what it was originally designed to do? And what’s that you ask? Well, 2 Timothy informs us:

2 Timothy 3:14-17, “But as for you, continue in the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced [holding tightly to the truths], knowing from whom you learned them, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings (Hebrew Scriptures) which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus [surrendering your entire self to Him and having absolute confidence in His wisdom, power and goodness].  All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (AMP)

The Message Bible says it like this: “But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (MSG)

For some reason I don’t think the Word is being preached or taught in this manner anymore. Because everyone is happy, over-joyed and excited to leave church when the Word is done. However, the Word says when the Word comes forth it will instruct, convict, correct, train, and exposeSo if that’s how the Word is coming forth, why are we so happy after every sermon, every week? We should leave after the Word feeling as though we’ve received instructions since we’ve been convicted and corrected of wrongs, and now we’re being trained to be better since our worst has been exposed. We should leave with pad and pen in hand and a list of what we need to make our own lives better.

Now, I certainly don’t believe you should spend Sunday after Sunday being busted upside the head with the Bible. But shouldn’t something be said week after week that makes you better week after week? And not “feel” better, but “be and do better.” There is indeed a difference.

Maybe you’ve been burned by Christians, by a Christian leader, many of us have. I’ve certainly had the experience of being hurt by spiritual leadership. But don’t let them cause you to miss Jesus in the midst of it all. Sometimes I think we get so lost in “Following Them”, that we forget Jesus said, “Follow Me.” Does that mean we ignore spiritual leadership? Absolutely not! Romans 13:1-7, “Every person must obey the leaders of the land. There is no power given but from God, and all leaders are allowed by God. The person who does not obey the leaders of the land is working against what God has done. Anyone who does that will be punished. Those who do right do not have to be afraid of the leaders. Those who do wrong are afraid of them. Do you want to be free from fear of them? Then do what is right. You will be respected instead. Leaders are God’s servants to help you. If you do wrong, you should be afraid. They have the power to punish you. They work for God. They do what God wants done to those who do wrong. You must obey the leaders of the land, not only to keep from God’s anger, but so your own heart will have peace.  It is right for you to pay taxes because the leaders of the land are servants for God who care for these things.  Pay taxes to whom taxes are to be paid. Be afraid of those you should fear. Respect those you should respect.” (NLV);

Hebrews 13:17, “Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?” (MSG).

In other words, leadership be it in the church or in the land is to be respected. Now, you don’t have much say so in the leaders of the land, but you have a lot of say so under which leader you submit to in any given church. You are not their by force but by choice, so choose your place of worship wisely. Don’t make a selection as though it were an arena, museum, palace, stage or theater. But ask God for godly wisdom that you make the right choice to serve in the right house of worship under the right leader.

And what are some signs that you have the right leader? Just listen to Scripture:

Matthew 17:6-8, “When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. “Don’t be afraid.” When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.” (MSG) You need to be submitted under a leader that makes you see Only Jesus. Not them, their accomplishments, titles, positions, vestments, rings, robes, initials, degrees, collars, etc…But Only Jesus!

1 Corinthians 2:2, “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.” (MSG) You need to be submitted under a leader whose preaching and teaching is about who Jesus is and what Jesus did. Not who they are (or think they are) not on what they’ve done (or think they’ve done). But a leader who keeps the name of Jesus on his/her lips when preaching or teaching. Not someone using Greek, Latin, and Hebrew in every other sentence, and certainly not someone who you need to keep the Webster’s Dictionary on hand every other 2 lines to know what 23 letter words they keep using every 5 minutes to be verbally impressive! A good leader keeps it “plain and simple.” And to those of my preacher friends who stand flat foot and preach and teach the ‘plain and simple’ Gospel, without hoop and holler, please do not compare yourselves to those who do. A hoop and holler are not the equivalent or evidence of the Holy Ghost, it is but a person’s preferred style of execution. It’s apart of their personality in how they choose to deliver. So, never feel as though you are not making the same, or even a greater impact on the lives of your hearers, just because your delivery is packaged differently. You don’t have to yell, scream, sweat, do back-flips, bang the podium, spin around in circles with fancy footwork, flying hands and spit spreading everywhere. You can still, speak what God gave you and go sit down without breaking a sweat, and still watch souls be added to the Kingdom of God. Remember, whatever your ‘preferred style’, the importance is on the Message being delivered in its most plain and simple form. Look at it like this: If a person who’s diabetic has their glucose levels shoot up through the roof, do you really think at a time like that, they want someone to hand them a pen of insulin and teach a 2 hour, detailed tutorial on the history of insulin, before they use it? No, they need a straight shot! Stick pen now! And truthfully there are a lot of people coming to our churches that are leaving empty because we’ve over-complicated the message. You can’t properly apply what you don’t clearly understand. Therefore, I reiterate, what your ‘preferred style’ is, for the sake of the people’s soul and eternity, keep it ‘plain and simple.’

Galatians 1:10-12, “Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ.” (MSG) You need to be submitted to a leader that is void of intimidation and manipulation. A leader that doesn’t need and seek applause and popularity. A leader that doesn’t attempt to impress with 9 titles and 14 initials (half of which were bought, not earned). A leader that hears from God and speaks the unadulterated Word of God to His people. A leader who is not into people pleasing, is sure to help you grow to your full potential.

Colossians 3:23-25, “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” (MSG) You need to be submitted to a leader that knows who the real Master is (and that it clearly is not them). Working in the church they pastor, still means you are working for God! Avoid leaders who make you feel as though you work personally for them. The work of the ministry has nothing to do with mere man. The work of the ministry is adding souls to the Kingdom. And even in this work, we are to put forth our best effort, remembering WHO it is we’re working for. Avoid leaders who act as though the Church is their personal incorporation. A leader of humility and servanthood is who you sit under submissively. A leader that does his/her best which brings out the very same in you! That’s the leader you follow.

2 Timothy 4:3-4, “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.” (MSG) You need to be submitted to a leader that will feed you the unadulterated Word of God. I love the word “unadulterated” because it’s simply defined as “having no inferior added substance.” In other words, you need a leader that will call it “Adultery”, not “An Affair”; “Sin” and not “An Issue”. You need a leader that possesses the wisdom of when to cover you and when to expose you. You need the bread of life, not a cake of compromise. A leader that will tell you when you’re wrong, not help you try to justify it as right. You need a leader that will continue to serve you the Solid Meat of the Word even when your flesh only wants to Digest Spiritual Junk Food!

Galatians 2:19-21, “What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.” (MSG) You need a leader just like that!

If you see a leader who leaves you thinking about Jesus, in the crowded spiritual supermarket that you and I shop in, you’ll know that’s one worth buying into. So, after this little lesson, it is my prayer that you will carefully, thoroughly, honestly re-evaluate your spiritual leadership. Make sure you are in the right house with the right head. The loss of your soul is too costly!

Remember our opening text:

John 3:30, “He must increase [in prominence], but I must decrease.”; (AMP);

“This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.” (MSG);

“Jesus must become more important, while I become less important.” (CEV);

“He must increase in importance, while I must decrease in importance.” (GWT).

There are many things you can use to measure good leadership, but why not follow the ruler Jesus Himself used? He used John the Baptist because He wasn’t out to compete with Him, he was out to make Jesus the most prominent; the center; and the most important, even if that meant he was to decrease; slip off to the sidelines and become less important. If you dare find a leader like that, follow him/her closely, you’ve indeed found the right one!

Charles H. Spurgeon Quotes:

“A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.”

“That very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors.”

“Satan, he can make men dance upon the brink of hell as though they were on the verge of heaven.”

“I believe that one reason why the Church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the Church.”

“The preaching of Christ is the whip that flogs the devil. The preaching of Christ is the thunderbolt, the sound of which makes hell shake.”

“The Word of God is like a Lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose and the lion will defend itself”

“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible”

“If you are idle in Christ’s work, you are active in the devil’s work”

“If sinners be damned at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped around their knees. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let no one go unwarned or unprayed for.”

“People, like sheep, tend to follow a leader – occasionally in the right direction.” (Alexander Chase)

“According to Scripture, virtually everything that truly qualifies a person for leadership is directly related to character.” (John MacArthur)

“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” (Bill Bradley)

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” (Tom Peters)

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” (Max Lucado)

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” (John C. Maxwell)

“To become a leader worth following, you must give time and attention to the inner man. To leave a legacy that goes beyond accomplishments alone, a leader must devote himself to matters of the heart.” (Andy Stanley)

“Christian leadership is a privilege of being in the service of influencing God’s people to achieve divine vision and purpose.” (Tionge Matela Msiska)

“Most Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead. Many Christian empire-builders have been people unable to give and receive love.” (Henri Nouwen)

“A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.” (Leroy Eims)

“Leadership is not about positions and having people bow to you. It’s not about having titles conferred on you. Leadership is about service. It is about helping people fulfill their God-given purpose.” (Pastor Mensa Otabil)

“To keep the wrong leader in the wrong place prevents the right leader from being in the right place.” (Aubrey Malphurs)

“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“Those of us who have been privileged to receive education, skills and experiences and even power must be role models for the next generation of leadership.” (Wangar Maathai)

“Leadership is all about people. It is not about organizations. It is not about plans. It is not about strategies. It is all about people-motivating people to get the job done. You have to be people-centered.” (Colin Powell)

“Your gifts are not about you; leadership is not about you; your purpose is not about you. A life of significance is about serving those who need your gifts, your leadership, your purpose.” (Kevin Hall)

“A big part of leadership is recognizing that your fruit often grows on other people’s trees.” (Todd Adkins)

“True leadership is the authority given by the trust of the followers to use power for the benefit of all.” (Dr. Myles Munroe)

“Every local church has a leader, but it seems so few local churches are being led.” (Andy Stanley)

“Leadership in church is one of the biggest challenges that the church is facing because without strong leadership, the church rarely lives out its redemptive potentials.” (Bill Hybels)

“Spiritual leadership is knowing where God wants people to to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power.” (John Piper)

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” (John Maxwell)

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” (James C. Humes)

“The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis.” (Brian Tracy)

“The story of the church, as depicted in the book of Acts, is one of a community of faith directed by a team of leaders working together toward a common vision. Had the church relied upon a single, incredibly gifted, magnetic individual to replace Jesus, the church would surely have collapsed.” (George Barna)

“Integrity is the most valuable and respected quality of leadership. Always keep your word.” (Brian Tracy)

“If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you.” (Bishop Dale C. Bronner)

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

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“Leadership Must Be TESTED, Not Just TITLED!”

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“TEST ME, O Lord…Examine my heart and my mind.” (Psalm 26:2)               

Tests are Designed to Reveal and Validate What You’ve Learned. Therefore, Until You’ve Been Tested, You Really Don’t Know What You Know—and More Importantly, WHAT YOU DON’T! Tests are Opportunities to Prove Your Growth, Maturity, Obedience, Discipline, Faithfulness and Potential!

So remember the following in times of TESTING: 

1…YOU’LL EXPERIENCE TESTS AT EACH STAGE OF YOUR GROWTH: Just like children in school, they don’t get to take an ELEMENTARY EXAM, pass, go to JUNIOR HIGH and say, “I took a test in 6th grade, I don’t need to take this one!” NO! AT EACH STAGE A TEST, THAT FITS THAT STAGE AND PREPARES YOU FOR THE NEXT, HAS TO BE TAKEN AND PASSED, IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE PROMOTED AND ELEVATED…DESERVINGLY! In a Nutshell: You Can’t Prepare For College, Based Off a 6th Grade Exam, Even If You Passed it at the Top of Your Class! It Still Doesn’t Count! Likewise the Test You Passed as a Minister Doesn’t Qualify You for Eldership. Nor does the Test You Passed as an Elder Qualify You For Pastoralship! Neither Does Your Physical, Mental, Emotional, Financial, Psychological, Social or Spiritual Tests That You Passed In 1990 Mean Anything in 2020! So, Stop Whining and Crying, and Instead Buckle Down and Prepare to Pass Your Test Knowing that Tests Are Only Given When There’s Potential Proof that You’ve Outgrown Your Current Placement!

2…YOUR GOAL SHOULD ALWAYS BE TO PASS THE TEST, OTHERWISE, YOU GET TO TAKE IT REPETITIVELY UNTIL YOU DO: You Do Not Get the Opportunity to Fail Your Test and Pass On to the Next Level Anyhow…(Despite What You See In Our Public School Systems and Church Leadership Today)! Now, if You Fail It’s Alright, Because if the Truth Be Told, We Have ALL Failed on One Test or Another! HOWEVER, As Soon As You Fail, At Least Be Smart Enough to HIT THE BOOKS AGAIN (the Word of God), MEET WITH YOUR TUTOR (the Holy Spirit), STUDY (2 Timothy 2:15), and then Reschedule to Take Your Test AGAIN! You may Fall Down, but Each Time You Get Back Up, POINTS ARE ADDED TO YOUR GRADE! YES, YOU GET BONUS POINTS FOR GETTING BACK UP! Extra Work Earns Extra Credit! Bottom line, You Don’t Get to Go to the Next Level, Without Passing What You’ve Failed! And if you are in the UNFORTUNATE position of being under a LEADER who will pass you anyway (based on how you treat them, your attendance, your gifts, charisma, tithes and offering etc…), HAVE ENOUGH SENSE TO NOT ALLOW IT! IN THE END, YOU WILL ONLY SET YOURSELF UP FOR A FOOLISH AND FATAL HARD FALL! Think about it: Would you allow someone to pass you to Advanced Algebra WHILE YOU’RE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE TIME TABLE CHART IN THE BACK OF YOUR COMPOSITION NOTEBOOK!? NO! WHY? BECAUSE YOU’LL ONLY FAIL, AND LOOK FOOLISH WHILE DOING IT! LIKEWISE, MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT GRADE, TAKING AND PASSING THE RIGHT TESTS, AT THE RIGHT TIME! DON’T BE QUICK TO MOVE UNTIL YOU’RE QUALIFIED!

3…TESTING ALWAYS PRECEDES PROMOTION: Actually, it PREPARES You For It and PROVES You’re Ready to Handle It! If You Cheat, or Try to Copy Somebody Else’s Answers, You May Temporarily Seem to Succeed. But Eventually Time and Circumstances Will Reveal You For What You AreWhich Is Someone Who Can’t Handle What They Manipulated Their Way Into Getting! Here’s Biblical Proof: “Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but Who Are You?” Then the man with the evil spirit Leaped On Them, Overpowered Them, and Attacked Them With Such Violence that They Fled From the House, Naked and Battered.” (Acts 19:14-16 NLT). People of God, Pass Your Test Before Attempting to Pass Out Ministry Cards! If Not, You’ll Quickly Find Yourself Being the “Eighth Son of Sceva!”

4…SELF-PROMOTION CAN NEVER REPLACE DIVINE PROMOTION: So, Don’t Attempt to Rush Ahead of God’s Plans; Wait and Allow Him to Open the Door In the Right Season! Look at it this way: Even after a child passes their exam, all their paperwork has to be Looked Over, Graded and Accounted For! What They’ve Done Throughout the Year Has to Be Reviewed. What were All of Their Test Scores? How did they handle Their Projects? Were they Late? How many times were they Absent? How well did they work with their classmates? Likewise, God Will Examine and Evaluate Your FULL FILE, to Determine Whether or Not You’re Ready for the Next Level. And just because you passed ‘A’ Test, Don’t Mean You’re Ready to Pass the ‘GRADE’! “But God hasn’t moved to the mountains; his holy address hasn’t changed. He’s in charge, as always, his eyes taking everything in, his eyelids Unblinking, Examining Adam’s Unruly Brood Inside and Out, Not Missing a Thing. He Tests the Good and the Bad Alike; If Anyone Cheats, God’s Outraged. Fail the Test and You’re Out, Out in a Hail of Firestones, Drinking From a Canteen Filled With Hot Desert Wind.” (Psalm 11:4-6 MSG). Saints, God Will Exam You Inside and Out, Test You, Watch If You Cheat and Give You the Boot if You Fail!  You May Impress People, But God On The Other Hand Is Not Impressed At All! Therefore, Don’t Get Caught Up In the “Laying On of MAN’S Hands”! It Means Nothing Compared to the Laying On of GOD’S HANDS AND HIS COMMISSIONING!

5…A PRODUCT CANNOT BE SAFELY AND PROFITABLY USED, UNTIL IT’S BEEN THOROUGHLY TESTED, AND NEITHER CAN YOU! God’s Not a Hard-Hearted Parent Who Enjoys Seeing His Children Struggle Through Life’s Tests. If He were to visit you in person, He’d probably say: “I don’t enjoy making you go through this, but it’s the only way to prove you’re ready for what’s ahead. Before I can use you greatly—I must test you thoroughly!” Here’s a tip for your next test – Generally, God’s Tests for Elevation are Based On Your CHARACTER! And like any Good Actor in a stage play, Your Job is toSTAY IN CHARACTER!” Regardless of what anyone else does, FOLLOW GOD’S SCRIPT FOR YOUR LIFE! I understand everybody’s becoming a Pastor, Bishop, Apostle, Overseer, Prophet, etc…OVERNIGHT WITHOUT QUALIFICATION, CREDENTIALS, CALLING OR CHARACTER…HOWEVER, DON’T YOU DO IT!…These were Asher’s sons, all of them Responsible, Excellent in CHARACTER, and Brave in Battle—Good Leaders…” (1 Chronicles 7:33-40 MSG); “Be Wary of False Preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t Be Impressed With Charisma; Look For CHARACTER. Who Preachers Are Is The Main Thing, Not What They Say. A Genuine Leader Will Never Exploit Your Emotions or Your Pocketbook. These Diseased Trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.” (Matthew 7:15-20 MSG); “There was a Man by the Name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a Man of Good Heart and Good CHARACTER…” (Luke 23:50 MSG); “So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with Good CHARACTER, Spiritual Understanding, Alert Discipline, Passionate Patience, Reverent Wonder, Warm Friendliness, and Generous Love, Each Dimension Fitting Into and Developing the Others. With these Qualities Active and Growing In Your Lives, No Grass Will Grow Under Your Feet, No Day Will Pass Without Its Reward As You Mature In Your Experience of Our Master Jesus. Without These Qualities You Can’t See What’s Right Before You, Oblivious That Your Old Sinful Life Has Been Wiped Off The Books.” (2 Peter 1:5-9 MSG). People of God, You Will Never Be Used Greatly, Until You’ve Been Tested Thoroughly! And Your Testing Will Be Largely On the Maintenance of Your CHARACTER! Therefore, Possess Good Character, and You Won’t Have To Pray God Grades On A Curve!

If You’re On the Verge of Elevation, then You should be Real Uncomfortable Right About Now! You should feel the Squeezing and the Pressures of Preparing for and Taking God’s Exam! Truth Is: Growth and Maturity Means there’s some Stretching and Expanding! In other words, things are Getting Bigger! Just like in the natural your feet and hands get larger, you get taller, your body develops those things that were once hidden, and brings them to the surface. Likewise, in the Spirit, when You’re Growing and Maturing, Your Faith is Stretched, Your Humility is Increased, Your Accountability is More Severe, Your Responsibility is Expanded, Your Prayers are More Fervent, Your Fasting Becomes More Frequent, Your Studies Become More In Depth. Growth, Maturity and Elevation Are Some Great, Big Blessings, However, They Do Not Come Easily or Comfortably! So, if You’re on the Verge of Elevation and the Weight is becoming Heavier, that’s a Pretty Good Sign that You’re on your way to an A+ On Your Test! On the Other Hand, if You’re on the Verge of Elevation, and All is Smooth Sailing, I’m No Guidance Counselor, but I’d Advise You to Keep All Your Books From this Current Grade! Why? Because I Got a Feeling You’re Going to Need ’em…Again!

“TEST ME, O Lord…Examine my heart and my mind.” (Psalm 26:2)

                 Let’s look at some of the TESTS God Uses to DEVELOP Us: 

1…THE TEST OF SMALL THINGS: This TEST comes when we’re asked to do something We Consider to be BENEATH OUR ABILITY AND POTENTIAL. It Proves how Faithful we are to Our Commitments. It also Reveals whether or not we’re Ready for Greater Responsibilities. Jesus said, “Whoever can be Trusted with VERY LITTLE can also be Trusted with VERY MUCH” (Luke 16:10). You Don’t get to Oversee Much Until You’re Willing to Undertake Little! In other words, if you can be an Elder and still clean the church bathroom, you can be trusted with More! If you can be the Women’s Ministry Director, and serve food at a women’s shelter, you can be trusted with More! If you can be the Chairman Deacon and still mop up a spill in the vestibule, you can be trusted with More! If you can be the Minister of Music, and play no different in front of 2 people than you would 2,000, you can be trusted with More! If you can be the Dean of the Christian Education Ministry and not get an attitude when asked to teach 3 four year olds a Sunday School lesson, you can be trusted with More! Are You Starting to Get the Picture? Can You See It Clearly? You Don’t Get Anything Big Until You Can Be Faithful Over the Small You’ve Already Been Given! If your Pastor was asked if you qualify for More, based off this little summary, would he/she give you a yes or a no? An A+ or an F-?

2…THE MOTIVE TEST: This TEST comes to us when we’re doing all the right things—BUT NOT NECESSARILY FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS! For example, it’s right to Pray. YET Jesus Warned: “When you Pray, DO NOT BE LIKE THE HYPOCRITES, FOR THEY LOVE…TO BE SEEN BY MEN(Matthew 6:5) That’s why we need the mirror of God’s Word: “For the Word of God is…able to JUDGE THE THOUGHTS AND INTENTIONS OF THE HEART.” (Hebrews 4:12) When you stand before Christ to be evaluated and rewarded, the question will Not only be, ‘WHAT did you do,’ but also, ‘WHY did you do it?’ A good question that Pastors should ask of their leaders a little more often than most do.

3…THE STEWARDSHIP TEST: Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you.” (Luke 6:38). Only when your Empty Hand is Open, can you Receive More From God. The Practice of Giving on a Regular Basis Prevents You from Being Owned By What You Own! Money is called Currency because it’s supposed to Flow Through You Into the Lives of Others! Abraham Was Blessed For the Sole Purpose To Be a Blessing! So Are You! When you Withhold out of Fear or Greed, you Limit what God Wants to Give You. So become a River (one that flows), Not a Reservoir (one that withholds)!

4…THE WILDERNESS TEST: This test comes when we feel Spiritually Dry and our joy level is Low. It Reveals Our Ability to Adapt to Adversity and Change, and as a Result, Enter a New level of Growth! It Proves We’re Able to Perform Even When Life and Ministry Aren’t Fun. “He led you through the vast and dreadful desert…To…TEST You So…In the End it Might Go Well With You.” (Deuteronomy 8:15-16). Remember: Short-term pain, Long-term gain! You Don’t Get to Inherit the Wealthy Place Until You Can Endure the Wilderness!

5…THE CREDIBILITY TEST: Nothing matters more than your Confidence Before God—and Your Credibility Before People! When Lot tried to rescue his sons-in-law from the destruction of Sodom: The Bible says, “He seemed as one that mocked.” (Genesis 19:14) As a result he Lost Credibility When it Mattered Most! Make Sure You Don’t! The Last thing You want is to tell people in a Burning Building where the Exit is, But They Don’t Believe You, So They Don’t Listen to You or Follow You! When You Lose Credibility, You Lose Lives!

6…THE AUTHORITY TEST: Before Paul took the Gospel to the Gentiles he First went to Jerusalem and Submitted His Plan to the Apostles, Asking For Their Blessing. There wasn’t a “Nobody is going to tell me what to doAttitude! When You Fail to Submit, You Forfeit Your Opportunity to Pass On to the Next Level! Look at it this way: God placed David under a Flawed Leader named Saul that wanted to Kill Him! Proving you can Learn As Much From the Mistakes of a Failure As You Can From the Achievement of a Success! Because David Submitted, He Qualified to Sit on Saul’s Throne! An Effective Follower Becomes an Effective Leader!

7…THE OFFENCE TEST: Jesus said, “Offences Will Come.” (Luke 17:1) So Be Ready! Those who Lead Always Take the Brunt of It! The Front Line is No Place for the Weak-Willed or Weak-Kneed! So, When Offences come are you going to: Get Mad and Get Nowhere; Get Even and Get in Trouble; Or Get Over It By Forgiving? “If you hold anything against anyone, Forgive Him, So…Your Father In Heaven May Forgive…Your Sins.” (Mark 11:25). If You Can’t Handle Offence You Can’t Handle the Opportunity of More!

8…THE WARFARE TEST: This test is for those who Claim to be Strong in Faith, but Prove to be Weak in Fight! “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, Though that was Shorter. For God said, ‘If They Face War, They Might Change Their Minds and Return to Egypt.’” (Exodus 13:17). Now, you Haven’t been called to be Insensitive and Abrasive, But if Your Destiny Is Worth Pursuing—It’s Worth Fighting For! So, Toughen Up! It’s a Battlefield, Not a Bed of Roses! You must Engage the Enemy Daily Using Every Spiritual Weapon at Your Disposal! If Not, He’ll Steal, Kill and Destroy You! This test Demonstrates Your Ability to Continue in Your Vision, Even While Experiencing Disappointment and Opposition! So remember, the Level of Attack is the Best Indicator as to the Level of Blessing that Awaits You, Beyond It! Your Wealthy Place Is Just On The Other Side Of Your Warfare! Don’t Fail This Test! It Will Cost You Too Much!

9…THE TEST OF TIME: This test has Two Dimensions. One Reveals the Strength of Your Life’s Impact, the other Reveals the Length of It! Each Calls For Your Signature of Excellence On All that You Do. Listen: The electric light still burns even though Edison has left the building! The needy are still being cared for even though General Booth is in Heaven. Now, even if your Legacy Doesn’t Reach Those Heights, Your Influence Can Still Outlive You! The test of Time has a second dimension—An Eternal One. How You Live Your Life Today, Determines Your Rewards In Heaven. “Eventually there is going to be an Inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out.” (1 Corinthians 3:12-13). Therefore, Live a Life and Lifestyle that Others Will Deem Worthy of Continuing as a Legacy, Far After Your Earthly Life Is Over!

10…THE LORDSHIP TEST: Simon Peter passed this test by Obeying a Command that Seemed to Make No Sense At All: Jesus said to him, “Pull out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But Because You Say So, I Will Let Down the Nets.When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” (Luke 5:4-6). First, Peter tried fishing Alone and Failed. Next, He Tried it With Jesus and Succeeded. Same Fisherman. Same Fish. Same Boat. Same Nets. What changed? He Was Willing to Do it God’s Way! If You want to Succeed, Talk to God, Listen to God—and Do What God Says

With 10 points per test, what does your grade look like so far? Note: If you’re going to Be Helped, you have to First Be Honest. So if you haven’t made 100% yet, you still have the Opportunity to do so. Just hit the books (Your Bible), meet daily with your tutor (The Holy Spirit), study diligently (2 Timothy 2:15), and retake the test! There’s a 100% Within Your Reach….Grasp It!

Church, don’t just walk around with Titles that have never been Tested! Make sure you’re proven and qualified. Don’t just go with the latest fad of adding on more Initials yet making no Impact. Maturity, Responsibility and Growth have to take place on your Current Level of Leadership before you attempt Skipping Steps that will eventually lead you to Demotion! Leadership is not an Entitlement, nor is it a Competition. Respect God’s Process of Testing, Time and Choice. It’s not about your Platform, but His Plan. Follow it to the letter, do not deviate! God does not need your help, and knows exactly what’s best for you! Trust Him to do what’s Right, so you won’t have to suffer being Left Back!

2 Timothy 2:15 (various translations)

“Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [TESTED by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” (AMP)

“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (TESTED by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.” (AMPC)

“Work hard so God can say to you, “Well done.” Be a good workman, one who does not need to be ashamed WHEN GOD EXAMINES YOUR WORK. Know what his Word says and means.” (TLB)

“People who are given whatever they want soon develop a sense of entitlement and rapidly lose their sense of proportion.” (Sarah Churchwell)

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” (Brene Brown)

“Gratitude begins where my sense of entitlement ends.” (Steven Furtick)

“Entitlement is a delusion built on self-centeredness and laziness.” (Pinterest)

“Teach your children gratefulness. Do all you can to deliver them from our culture’s poisonous entitlement mentality.” (Randy Alcorn)

“Don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for.” (Marian Wright Edelman)

“Service and gratitude will fuel your relationship; entitlement and expectation will poison it.” (Steve Maraboli)

“One of the consequences of such notions as ‘entitlements’ is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.” (Thomas Sowell)

“Having a sense of entitlement is upheld by the belief that WE are the center of the universe.” (Aletheia Luna)

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him people of conviction who will carry on.” (Walter J. Lippmann)

“Leadership is less about your credentials, creativity or charisma; and more about your credibility, compassion and character.” (Alex Ihama)

“God never uses anyone greatly until He tests them deeply.” (Aiden Wilson Tozer)

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

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“Men Helping Men Through Failure, Encouragement and Restoration”

dose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“The Protocol of the Anointing”

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“…It’s like costly anointing oil FLOWING DOWN head and beard, FLOWING DOWN Aaron’s beard, FLOWING DOWN the collar of his priestly robes.” (Psalm 133:2 MSG)

A Well-Known Fact Is This: If People Can Lift You Up, They Can Also Very Well Let You Down! Remember That!

In April 1993, after Steve Morrow scored the goal that gave the Arsenal Football Club England’s Championship Cup, his teammates tossed him into the air in ritual celebration. BUT…they failed to catch him when he came down, and an embarrassed Morrow was carried off the field on a stretcher with a broken arm and an oxygen mask over his face! Can you imagine the feeling after such a great victory, to walk away looking more like the loser than the winner? And if that’s not bad enough, what’s worse is that it wasn’t those AGAINST him that hurt him, but it was those FOR him, those on his OWN TEAM!

The Psalmist writes: “How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! It’s like costly anointing oil FLOWING DOWN head and beard, FLOWING DOWN Aaron’s beard, FLOWING DOWN the collar of his priestly robes. It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon FLOWING DOWN the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.” (Psalm 133:1-3 MSG).

The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment poured on the head, that RAN DOWN on the beard, even the beard of Aaron [the first high priest], that CAME DOWN upon the collar and skirts of his garments [consecrating the whole body]. It is like the dew of [lofty] Mount Hermon and the dew that comes on the hills of Zion; for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, even life forevermore [upon the high and the lowly].” (AMP).

I want us to take a look at a few vital lessons found here:

1…According to the Bible, the “COSTLY ANOINTING OIL” is tied directly to “how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in UNITY.” And yet, somehow the church still manages to fight and compete more over the “anointing/anointed” than they are willing to come together and work together on the same team for the same goal. Listen, you can’t tell me you’re anointed and yet you’re at odds with your brothers and sisters in Christ who are connected and fitly joined in the same One Body. The anointing is yoked to your unity, not disunity. So if you’re so “anointed” that you can’t get along with your brothers and sisters, perhaps you’re not necessarily “anointed”, just “oily.” Look at it like this: Pouring oil on raw chicken then serving it to others is unhealthy and deadly. Yet, pouring oil on the same raw chicken, however, placing it in the oven to thoroughly cook until it’s done and then serving it to others, feeds and nourishes them. The difference is one went through nothing, and the other went through a process. With that said, I’ve come to discover that some people are just “oily”, possessing no nutritional value whatsoever, and can be deadly in their words, actions and attitude, because they’ve endured no process. They just threw on some oil and assumed it was the same as the anointing. And yet you also have those who have more than just “oil”, because they’ve been processed. Which is why a lot of “oily” folks are immature; while processed “anointed” folks are mature. You see, they’ve learned to respect process; time; persistence; endurance; patience; and waiting. All things that the immature can’t handle. On the other hand, the maturity of the anointed knows that the key is dwelling and working together in unity with your brothers and sisters. Anything less, is just immature, oily folks who cause malnutrition to the Body of Christ. Which is why it’s so vital to remember: Ephesians 4:16, “From Him the WHOLE BODY [THE CHURCH, IN ALL ITS VARIOUS PARTS], JOINED AND KNITTED FIRMLY TOGETHER by what EVERY JOINT supplies, when EACH PART IS WORKING PROPERLY, CAUSES THE BODY TO GROW AND MATURE, BUILDING ITSELF UP IN [UNSELFISH] LOVE.” (AMP) The Costly Anointing Oil is Yoked to Unity in the Body of Christ;

2…According to the Bible, the “anointing oil” is “PRECIOUS”. It is not to be used as a tool of competition and comparison. It is to be treated as the precious, treasure that it is, not fruitless attempts to out-do, or be better than someone else. We’ve so grievously misused, and mishandled the anointing. But it was never given for the purpose of trying to out-shine anyone else. The anointing serves a purpose and that purpose is not a selfish tool used at your whim. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.” (Isaiah 10:27). Does that sound like the anointing should be used in a common manner? Certainly not. Therefore, today, realize the purpose, plan and power of the anointing, and handle it as the precious oil that it is. It should never be handled haphazardly for it’s the necessity to the destruction of yokes! The word “precious” is defined as “having great value”. Its Latin Origin ‘pretiosus’, from ‘pretium’ literally means ‘price.’ The anointing is too costly to be utilized in such a cheap manner as to degrade it with competition and comparisons. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to out-preach, out-teach, out-pray, out-sing, out-shout, out-praise your brethren! That is not the purpose for something this precious and priceless. The Costly Anointing Oil is Precious;

3…According to the Bible, the “anointing oil” covered “…the collar and skirts of his GARMENTS…Can you imagine the anointing covering your garments? Sometimes I wonder if the anointing is as present on us, in us and with us as we say? Because shouldn’t at some point in time, contact with the anointing alter your garments? Truth is, there’s some attire (on both men and women) in church that confuses me. I don’t understand open cleavage; visible panty-lines; tight clothes that need an oxygen mask of their own. And things have gotten so bad in church, even amongst leadership, that vestments have become “fashion statements”. But in Scripture the “anointing oil” covered “…the collar and skirts of his garments…Shouldn’t the church be seen differently than the world, even in our attire? And if so, why do our “holy garments” look no different than their “fashion statements”? And since when did words like “basic”; “simple”; “fundamental”; “decorum“; “descent“; become curse words? Think about this: Being crafted in His image and likeness; being called the righteousness of God and ambassadors of Christ, shouldn’t we be a bit more cautious and careful in how we present ourselves, or should I say more importantly, how we present and represent HIM? With that said, today, take a double-look at how you “as a believer” dresses (men and women alike). Make sure that you are sending the right message. After all, would you want to be in an emergency situation and the NYPD showed up dressed like the swim team? No, you expect them to be in uniform and to be prepared and equipped, and looking like the distinguished officers they’ve been called to be. Well, people should expect the very same from us as believers, followers, disciples, Christians and Children of God. There should never be cause for people to need to take a double-look or question if we’re a part of the Kingdom of Light or the Kingdom of Darkness. The Costly Anointing Oil Should Alter Our Attire;

4…According to the Bible, the “anointing oil” did something special “…it consecrated the whole body.The word “consecrate” is defined as “to make or declare sacred; to ordain to a sacred office.” Its Latin Origin “consecrare” literally means “to dedicate or devote as sacred.” In this day and age of the church we don’t see much consecration, dedication or devotion to GOD. Can we dare to tell the truth, rings, robes, chairs, positions and titles are all being haphazardly tossed to and fro with no meaning or purpose other than to say from one year to the next, I’ve been elevated…again. But the “anointing oil” is precious and serves to consecrate. It signifies that you’ve been set apart for no other reason, purpose, motive, intention, or agenda than to simply be used of God. “…the whole body…” was consecrated. Head to Toe. Which makes me wonder do we make sure that our minds, thoughts, deeds, actions, words, emotions, and the like are all set apart for God as well as our bodies? Does He have all of us, or just the parts we’re willing to give Him? Think about it: When the Father gave us His Son, He didn’t give us pieces of Him, He gave us His Whole Son. He sacrificed All that He is, just to have all that we are, and to use us to draw in others with the same loving-kindness. Is the anointing that special to you? Does it mean so much to you that you’re willing to give God ALL of you for His use in His service for His kingdom? Or is the anointing just special to you when you’re assigned to preach, to teach, to pray, to lead, or to be visible to others? The Costly Anointing Oil Consecrates the WHOLE Body;

5…According to the Bible, the “anointing oiland the “unity of the brethren” is also tied directly to “the dew of Mount Hermon…that comes on the hills of Zion; for there the Lord has commanded the blessing even life forever more…How amazing that the anointing is attached to a place where the Lord has commanded blessings and eternal life? And yet, we treat it so commonplace. But your anointing is a blessing and its life! Don’t get so caught up in the distractions of treating the anointing as a competitive edge over your ministry colleagues. Your anointing is not so you can preach better, teach awesome, or pray like the intercessor of the month. Your anointing is where the Lord has commanded blessings and life, treat it as such and don’t devalue it by abusing it carelessly. The Costly Anointing Oil Gives Blessings and Life;

6…According to the Bible, the “anointing oil” is “…upon the high and the lowly…The anointing does not discriminate. It doesn’t wait until Sunday morning, special services, consecrations, conferences and convocations to flow. It doesn’t need to be attired in full vestments to flow. It serves 2 people no differently than it serves 200 or 2 million. So, a good question to ask yourself is, do I flow to All, or just stagnate toward a few? The anointing reaches the “…the highly and the lowly…It treats alike the rich and the poor, the white and the black, the educated and the challenged, the sick and the well, the old and the young, the women and the men, all equally. Do you? Honestly, do you teach to the same degree with a class of 3 that you do in a class of 30? Do you preach to a congregation of 12 the same as you would 1,200? Do you carry yourself the same whether meeting with the CEO or the janitor? The anointing is consistent and does not change up roles like characters in a play. And if you are amongst the anointed, neither should you. The Costly Anointing Oil Does Not Discriminate;

7…Lastly, according to the Bible, “the anointing oil” “…FLOWS DOWN…

Despite what you see in a lot of our churches today, God still works through Structure and Order! “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33). The New Living Translation says it like this: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.” (NLT). In other words, the Oil Flows DOWN, Not UP! That would be confusion and contradiction, doing the opposite of what the Word has already declared.

Truth is, it doesn’t matter if those Under you think you’re absolutely wonderful, unless those Above you agree! Like it or not, but leadership and anointing come with the requirement of complete submission and total surrender. I don’t care how many people pat you on your back, never let it go to your head! Meek, lowly, humble are all characteristics that every anointed leader should carry. It keeps you from becoming pompous, arrogant and conceited. Remember: the anointing flowed down from Aaron (the leader, the high priest). It did not flow from Israelite to Israelite. It flowed from the High Priest down…In Order!

Until you understand that, you’ll be susceptible to those who, for their own reasons, and hidden agendas, want to tell you how wonderful you are and how you should be running the show! However, in God’s Kingdom, you’re not approved by people, you’re approved by God: “…This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” (Matthew 17:5); “Fellow Israelites, listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene was a man whose credentials God proved to you through miracles, wonders, and signs, which God performed through him among you. You yourselves know this.” (Acts 2:22 CEB); “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10 NLT); “God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message. Be assured that when we speak to you we’re not after crowd approval—only God approval. Since we’ve been put through that battery of tests, you’re guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen to take advantage of you.” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-5 MSG). Bottom Line: The Anointing is Approved of By God, Than the Leadership in Which You Are Submitted, Subjected and Surrendered to, NOT By the People Who Pat and Applaud You!

Like in the opening story above, the very same people who lifted Steve Morrow UP, were the very same people that let him fall DOWN! And if you think they won’t do the very same to you, just ask Jesus! The same that yelled “Hosanna, Hosanna,” in one breath, were the very same people who inhaled then exhaled “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” God is still a God of structure and order. Let Him Approve of You, Then Be Patient and Wait For His Approval to Pass From His Desk to Your Leaders, and Then On to You. The anointing is not like ordinary oil, it does not run out. So even if you have to wait for the appointed, appropriate time, WAIT. You’re anointing will never be assigned to someone else. Nor will it dry up and deplete itself. Nothing from the Holy Spirit lacks or is deficient in anyway. So I admonish you, don’t allow people, especially your inner circle, clique, crew etc…to push you before God’s allotted time. Respect the process and wait. Let the oil flow DOWN from the head to you!

The word “flow” is defined as “to move steadily and continuously; to move or issue forth freely.In other words, you don’t have to force it, you just have to wait for it!

Remember this: To do anything significant for God you must first submit to leadership that can inspire you, instruct you, and when the time is right, release you into your calling. So don’t leave the church, argue with leadership, get caught up in the gossip mill, resign, walk away, throw in the towel and give up. Just be patient and wait. The anointing oil is still flowing!

And while you wait, learn the protocol that goes with the position. The word “protocol” is defined as “the official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions; the accepted code of behavior in a particular situation.” Its original sense however meant “the original note of an agreement; the first page or flyleaf.” Which is the introduction or beginning of an agreement. It’s the table of contents letting you know all that comes AFTER this first, initial page. It gives the description of what is to come. And the start of any proper protocol to any position is submission and surrender. The ability to wait with expectation and a good attitude. And the first step of protocol to your anointing is to remember that the Oil Flows DOWN! So stay low, stay meek, stay humble. It is after all, the place where the anointing flows and settles.

In conclusion: The “anointing oil” reminds me a lot of the Old Testament leader Joash, who was the keeper of the cellars of oil. When you get a chance make sure you study it, it is valuable information for leaders and laity alike! However, in a nutshell: He was responsible for keeping the oil; making sure it stayed in place; and watching out for intruders. But the downside, as some would say, to his position was that he was unnoticed, uncomfortable, lonely and unappreciated. He couldn’t come out the bottom of the cellar until the king called for him. And much is the same for you, the anointed, possessors of the anointing. The oil flows DOWN, not in a prominent, seen, visible, highly acknowledge position. But it’s lowly and unnoticed until the king calls you forth. Make sure you remember that the very next time someone attempts to “encourage you to follow them instead of the flow of the anointing oil.” Stay low and humble, continue to serve, because even when you think no eyes are on you, they are. When leadership deems it time for you to come to the forefront, your anointing will flow. But until then, stay down until He brings you up!

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

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“Pray For Your Pastor”

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(Ephesians 6:19 AMP), “AND [PRAY] ALSO FOR ME, that [freedom of] utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth to proclaim boldly the mystery of the good news (the Gospel)”

The Message Bible reads: “AND DON’T FORGET TO PRAY FOR ME. Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I, jailbird preacher that I am, am responsible for getting out” (Ephesians 6:19 MSG)

Paul is one of the most tried Pastors of all time! One of God’s most suffering servants! In his own words Paul declares: “I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches.“ (2 Corinthians 11:23-27 MSG).

Paul Was A Pastor Under Pressure! Truth Is, Paul Was Stressed! In essence, Paul started off killing church folks, and now church folks were trying to kill him! And yet, with all Paul’s pressure, problems, perplexities, and stress, all he asked for from the church was PRAYER!

He didn’t ask them to pay his mortgage, he didn’t ask for a down payment on a new car, he didn’t ask for a Pastoral Vacation in Hawaii, he didn’t ask for a bigger ring, a longer robe, or a platinum cross! He didn’t ask for another title, another office, another position! He didn’t ask for another church, another armor-bearer, or another entourage! He didn’t ask for a salary or a raise (and he was qualified and deserved both), he didn’t ask for a special offering, he didn’t ask for an appreciation service, banquet, awards ceremony, Christmas celebration, Birthday Explosion, or anniversary allotment! All the Pastor asked for was PRAYER! Church, the Pastor just asked for PRAYER!

Which Provokes Us To Question: What Was So Vital About Prayer, That With All His Pastoral Pressure, That’s All He Asked For?!

Listen: After Wilbur Chapman’s first sermon at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, a man said, “You’re pretty young to be Pastor of this great church. We’ve always had older men. I’m afraid you won’t succeed, but since you preach the gospel I’m going to help you all I can.” Chapman thought, “What a crank”. But the man continued, “I’m going to pray for you, and a few others have covenanted to join me.” Later, Chapman wrote, “I didn’t feel so bad when I learned that they were going to pray for me. Soon the three became fifty, and the fifty became two hundred who met before every service to pray for me. In another room eighteen Elders knelt so closely around me that I could put out my hand and touch them. I always went into my pulpit confident that I would have God’s anointing in answer to the prayers of those people. It was easy to preach – a real joy. And what was the result? Eleven hundred people were saved and joined the church in the next three years, and six hundred of them were men! It was the fruit of the Holy Spirit in answer to prayer. Church members have much more to do than go to church as curious, idle spectators to be amused and entertained. It is their business to pray mightily that the Holy Spirit will clothe the Preacher with Power and make his words like Dynamite!

However, it is unfortunate that the opposite is taking place in many churches today, with many congregants who would rather complain about their Pastor instead of coming into covenant as a church and interceding on their Pastors behalf. And, yes, believe it or not as anointed, gifted, talented, and powerful as your Man and Woman of God is…Even They Need, Require and Desire PRAYER!

It’s hard enough standing before the masses who want you to entertain them, dazzle them, inspire, impact, impart in and empower them!  They want the Pastor to pray, study, meditate, perform signs and wonders, flow in the five-fold ministry and possess all the gifts of the Spirit! They want the Pastor to pray they get a job tomorrow (while they remain stretched out in their bed today) They want the Pastor to pray their throbbing right toe is healed right now (while they yet stand with their hammer toes, bunions, corns, and calloused feet scrunched up in a shoe 2 sizes too small) Not to mention they’re also hopeful that God answers the Pastor’s prayer that they get a new house, new car, new money, new children, new job, new business, and new spouse all by noon…YESTERDAY…

And yet, they never once think to cover their Pastor in PRAYER!

And I’m not talking about that little prayer addendum you make at the end of your hour long prayer FOR YOURSELF! ‘and Lord, bless my pastor too, in Jesus Name, amen’ The devil’s a lie!

Statistically, today, we have Pastor’s walking away from their marriages, ministries, families and churches (they obviously need more than your bless ‘em Lord prayer). Pastor’s are sexting church members, having facebook affairs, tweeting tricks and treats, fondling children, cheating on spouses, absent from their children’s lives (clearly they need more than your touch ‘em Jesus); Pastor’s are depressed, stressed, drinking, on drugs, committing suicide, and going back into the world (surely they need more than your bless ‘em Lord, in Jesus name)! Pastors are trying to pastor through this Covid-19 pandemic, encourage members who have lost loved ones, those battling the illness themselves (besides other health ailments), those who have lost their jobs, those who have no idea where the next mortgage, rent, tuition, gas, light, or meal provisions are coming from, those struggling with depression, fear and suicidal thoughts, not to mention sheer confusion. Yes, your pastor needs more than ‘do it again Lord’ prayers!

SAINTS, PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR!

Clearly It’s Time To Stop Making Petitions OF Your Pastors, And Start Make Petitions FOR them Instead!

Truth is, Pastors are expected to cast out demons, mend messed up marriages, straighten out crooked children, be at the hospital, the morgue, hospice, nursing home, rehab center, the homeless shelter, soup kitchen, jailhouse and in the pulpit, with a smile on their face ready to preach you happy, all at the same time! And yet, nobody shows up for Prayer?!

SAINTS, PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR!

Pastors are expected to help finance congregants bills, the church bills, fix the boiler in winter, the air conditioner in summer, pray away allergies in spring, and clean out the gutters in the fall! They’re expected to donate money for the tuition scholarship fund for your children, cure your car, repair the roof and raise the dead! But dare the Pastor expect the church to PRAY!

One thing I can assure you, no matter how wonderful your Pastor is, your Pastor needs your Prayers! I know they may be so anointed that you can’t see it, but trust the experience of someone who has worked behind the scenes with several Pastors, They Get Tired, Frustrated, Lonely, Depressed, Discouraged, Overwhelmed, and Yes Believe It Or Not They Have Their Own Health, Family and Finance Issues Too! They experience broken hearts, bitter church folks, and dreams that seem as though they will never be birthed into the Land of the Living!

I believe we look at Pastors and only see their robe and forget that they are still very much Human!

Your Pastor cries, Your Pastor gets angry, Your Pastor wants to walk away! Yes, Even Your Pastor Is Human!

It Always Amazes Me That Flaw-Filled Parishioners Always Want a Flaw-Less Pastor!

I’ve watched many churches only shine the spotlight on their Pastor at his/her Anniversary Services and Celebrations! But trust me on this one, your Pastor’s face lights up knowing that he/she is being Prayed for By YOU! Their greatest encouragement comes without the Celebrations…but the quiet Pastor I just wanted to say be encouraged…”  That might not sound like much to you, but to the Pastor who’s expected to daily walk in the shoes of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Paul, and Jesus….It Means The World! An innocent hug, a scripture text, an inspirational card, all give your Pastor a booster shot of encouragement! But absolutely nothing touches the heart of a Pastor like a word of Prayer!

Your Pastor is spending Incalculable Time In Prayer Keeping the Hand, Tactics and Attacks of the Enemy at Bay In Your Life…Are You Doing the Same For Him/Her?

The Enemy Is After Your Pastor Too! He Attacks Your Pastor when he/she is lonely, discouraged, tired, frustrated…and even after a Major Victory…he comes Shooting Off Fiery Darts! And unfortunately, there’s no one standing before him/her with a Shield of Faithful Prayers!

And further still, Pastors are expected to out-preach, out-teach, out-pray, out-gift every other Pastor on planet Earth! Everyone wants their Pastor to be the Best of the Best of Pastors! And with such Expectations, Many Pastors battle with Competition, Comparisons, Self-Esteem and Self-Worth Issues! Yes, Your Pastors Are Human!

Truth is, Many Pastors don’t think they’re good enough, smart enough, gifted enough, anointed enough, or even financially well enough to walk in their gift as Pastor! And worse yet, Many are in debt now, and yes I mean at the Bankruptcy Court filing because of the car, house, church, or clothes they bought attempting to keep up with the appearance of what they perceive a real anointed Pastor’s life should look like”. Want to know how I know? I’ve helped them fill out the papers! 

Many churches have 50 ministries, the appearance of meeting needs and being great, only to look again and no new souls have been added to the church…just recycled members from someone else’s! 

Chapman had eleven hundred New members added to the church in three years and six-hundred of them were men, and it was all the product of what prayer produced! Imagine the schemes, themes, and dreams the church would no longer have to entertain if the focus was simply shifted back to Prayer!

Furthermore, Your Pastor has Gossip filtered in his/her ears while they try to hear clearly from God. They have to keep their mind, heart, emotions, and body under subjection even while battling with Various Temptations…That Are Accidental…But More Likely Deliberate! They have to keep their eyes full of love while looking at a group of sinful folks that he/she is expected to help make Heaven their home!

Much Is Expected of Pastors, And Believe It Or Not, Much Is Expected From You Too!

Here’s a Challenge For You (And I Want You To Keep Me Informed Of How It’s Progressing): Select One Day Out of the Week That Is Designated For Prayer For Your Pastor! Fast That Day, and Keep Him/Her Covered!

What Should You Pray For? You want to pray that your Pastor hears God clearly and follows His directions accurately; pray that your Pastor Walks Circumspectly in this world as the Bible admonishes; pray that your Pastor Lives a Life and Lifestyle that is above reproach (Consecrated, Holy, Righteous, Just, and Clean); Pray that all of your Pastors Gifts are in Full Manifestation; Pray that your Pastor remains in Prayer, and keeps his/her Faith from Faltering; Pray that your Pastor keeps their body under subjection, their will yielded to God, their Spirit fed by God’s Word, their Mind Renewed, their Heart and Hands Clean, their Motives and Intentions Pure, and their Vision Clear; Pray that they remain continuously clothed in Humility, the Garment of Praise and the Whole Armor of God; Pray that they Follow In the Footsteps of Jesus.

But also pray that Your Pastor always takes the way of escape that the Lord has provided for Temptation; pray they are faithful stewards over the family, job, career, ministry, church and finances that the Lord has entrusted to them; pray that their ears and mouth are kept from gossip, rumors, lies, falsehood, deceit, and flattery; pray that they are kept from the failure of favoritism; pray that they are honest when they’re hurting (far too many Pastors are attempting to “Fake It Until They Make ItHowever, God never gave us this as a principle to practice); pray that they take needed physical and mental breaks; pray that they have adequate help in their personal and private lives; even pray that they go to the doctor for annual physicals (you don’t want to know the statistics of Pastors dying under age 50 from poor health); pray that they maintain their joy and their peace of mind!

In other words, Every Part of Your Pastors Life Needs and Requires Prayer!

They endure the same struggles as the congregants, they’re just expected to slap a robe, a cross, a bible and a good sermon over it!

Saints, be your Pastors safe place where they can be honest about their hurts and frustrations (again, you don’t even want to know the statistics of Pastors who are going to Unsaved Psychologists and Psychiatrists because of the stresses of life and ministry).

Your Pastor Needs You and Your Prayers!

Today, Determine to Lighten Their Burden Simply By Bending a Knee In Prayer. You’ll Be Amazed At How Much Better Your Pastor Will Be!

Alarming Pastoral Statistics: 97% of Pastors Have Been Betrayed, Falsely Accused, or Hurt By Their Trusted Friends; 50% of Pastors Marriages End In Divorce; 70% of Pastors Battle Depression; 7,000 Churches Close Each Year; 1,700 Pastors Quit Each Month; 80% of Pastors Feel Discouraged; 94% of Pastors Families Feel the Pressure of the Ministry; 78% of Pastors Have No Close Friend; 90% of Pastors Report Working 55-75 Hours Per Week With Either No Salary, or No Salary Increase; and Only 10% Actually Retire a Pastor. (By Dr. Bill Purvis)

Which is All The More Reason To Pray For Your Pastor!

Prayer is the greatest support for any Pastor.

Your prayers are much like Aaron and Hur: Joshua led the attack as Moses had commanded, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur stood on the hilltop.  The Israelites out-fought the Amalekites as long as Moses held up his arms, but they started losing whenever he had to lower them. Finally, Moses was so tired that Aaron and Hur got a rock for him to sit on. THEN THEY STOOD BESIDE HIM AND SUPPORTED HIS ARMS IN THE SAME POSITION UNTIL SUNSET.  That’s how Joshua defeated the Amalekites.” (Exodus 17:10-13 CEV)

Remember, your Pastor is human, and gets tired too. And when he does, he should be able to count on you to uplift and support him. And that doesn’t mean on Sunday only. After all, Aaron and Hur supported their leader “…IN THE SAME POSITION UNTIL SUNSET.” As long as it takes, keep your leader uplifted, covered and supported in prayer, they need it!

“A pastor never gets to say ‘I’m off duty’. Never gets to punch out at 5. Never gets to have a normal schedule. We don’t know how many sleepless nights they spend on their knees praying for their church. How much opposition they face. How many family opportunities they miss to meet with hurting people. We can’t carry their burden for them but we can do what the Bible tells us to: Pray for them. Encourage them. Support them. By blessing them we will only be blessed in return.” (DaughterByDesign)

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

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“The Purpose of Ministry is to Equip, Not Entertain”

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John 6:30, “What sign (miracle, wonderwork) will You PERFORM then, so that we may see it and believe and rely on and adhere to You? What [supernatural] work have You [to show what You can do]?” (AMP).

Okay, so try to picture this. Here’s a group of maybe a hundred teenagers in a seminar for two hours, sitting on concrete the whole time, taking notes the whole time, and asking for more when the seminar is dismissed! Naturally, your response would be, “What planet were you on?” But that was actually in Haiti when a Pastor friend (Pastor Toonee) was there a few years ago, teaching in a workshop in a gymnasium. You see, the only place to sit was in the balcony, and in the balcony of that gym it was all concrete. And yet they still told him to take two hours to teach! “Wow”! He said, “I could talk here all the time!” He thought, Okay, I could probably figure out something to say for two hours, and he did. Believe it or not, when he was finished, after two hours of teaching, they quickly ran to the next seminar to get some more! These students remind me of the mind-set of those in Acts 17:11, “Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (AMP).

If only the Church, as a Whole, would develop this same mind-set!

Unfortunately, for many of today’s churches, you’d better be done in 20 minutes or you’ll be talking to yourself! Unless, of course, you’re funny enough to be like a Christian comedian! I call it a Disease that’s been afflicted on the whole American church! And the name of it isEntertainitis.”

Our Scripture follows the feeding of the 5,000, where it says in John 6:14, “When the people saw the sign (miracle) that Jesus had performed, they began saying, Surely and beyond a doubt this is the Prophet Who is to come into the world.’” (AMP). Another translation says it like this: “The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!” (MSG).

Well, they chased Him all the way across the lake of Galilee, and when they found Him on the other side of the lake, it says they asked Him, “‘Rabbi! When did You come here?’ Jesus answered, ‘I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, you have been searching for Me, not because you saw the miracles and signs, but because you were fed with the loaves and were filled and satisfied.’” (vss. 25-26 AMP).  Another translation states it like this: “When they found him back across the sea, they said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free.” (MSG).

Then, in verse 30 they asked Him, “What sign (miracle, wonderwork) will You PERFORM then, so that we may see it and believe and rely on and adhere to You? What [supernatural] work have You [to SHOW what You can do]?” (AMP). Another translation reads: “…Why don’t you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what’s going on? When we see what’s up, we’ll commit ourselves. SHOW us what you can do.” (MSG).

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!

They Were Looking For Jesus to PERFORM and Give Them a SHOW! Mere Entertainment! But When Jesus Attempts to Equip Them Instead, Watch What Happens:

Finally, after Jesus begins to talk to them about the SHEDDING OF BLOOD AND A CROSS, verse 66 says, “AFTER THIS, MANY OF HIS DISCIPLES DREW BACK (RETURNED TO THEIR OLD ASSOCIATIONS) AND NO LONGER ACCOMPANIED HIM” (AMP). Another translation states: “AFTER THIS A LOT OF HIS DISCIPLES LEFT. THEY NO LONGER WANTED TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH HIM” (MSG).

Now, here’s a crowd, and they are ready to follow Jesus AS LONG AS THERE WAS A GOOD SHOW: Miracles, Excited Crowds, Cheers, Surprises, Songs, Good Feelings! BUT AS SOON AS IT GOT SERIOUS OR DEMANDING, AS SOON AS IT COST SOMETHING, AS SOON AS A HINT OF SACRIFICE WAS SMELT IN THE AIR, THEY CHECKED OUT – This Is The First Known Case of “Entertainitis”!

Interested In Spiritual Input AS LONG AS IT’S EASY TO TAKE!

And what does the Bible say about folks like this? “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Hebrews 5:12 NIV). Another translation reads like this:  “I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.” (MSG).

I didn’t realize how shallow our faith here (in the States) is until I met Christians in other countries! They Know How to Pray Powerfully, and Extensively! They’re Hungry, Not For Jokes and Stories, BUT For Solid, Biblical Teaching! They believe wholeheartedly in what the Word of God Commands: “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP).

Unlike many of us, they’re interested in the Substance of Christianity, NOT the Style of the Speaker! Therefore, while we’re having Church Gathering Socials, they’re having Revolutionized Revivals! While we Accept Ministry Mediocrity, they’re Expecting and Experiencing Miracles!

Unfortunate for today’s church, we’re a product of a Media Culture; kind of a Sesame Street, Internet Pop-Up Approach that changes the subject every 60 seconds! Compared to believers in the rest of the world, we have a Sesame Street faith! Many will follow as long as its ENTERTAINING, but as soon as it Gets SERIOUS, They Change the Topic, Bring out the Puppets, and Act a Fool all for the purpose of Keeping Church Folks ENTERTAINED!

Listen: Both Adults and Children can watch Sesame Street. But ONLY the Children should be Learning From It! As an Adult you may find portions that ENTERTAIN You, but there should be Absolutely No Moments Where You Seek It To Help You Grow! Why? BECAUSE IT’S A STAGE YOU SHOULD’VE OUTGROWN BY NOW!

Children learn their Basic Necessities there (abc’s, 123’s, colors, shapes, sizes etc.) You on the other hand should NOT be learning anything! It’s Basic, For Children, For Those Who Know No Better, For The Immature! It Can Only ENTERTAIN You!

Likewise, stop sitting under teachers and preachers, that LEAVE YOU ILL-EQUIPPED BUT WELL ENTERTAINED!

The Word of God has a Definite Purpose When It Goes Forth, and here it is: “Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and Profitable for Instruction, for Reproof and Conviction of Sin, for Correction of Error and Discipline in Obedience, [and] for Training in Righteousness (in Holy Living, in Conformity to God’s Will in Thought, Purpose, and Action), So that the Man of God May Be Complete and Proficient, Well Fitted and Thoroughly Equipped For Every Good Work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMP).

No Where In That Long Laundry List of Purpose For the Word of God Do You Find, “TO ENTERTAIN THE SAINTS!”

The First Step toward the Cure of Entertainitis is to Recognize the Disease and to Want a Cure! We need to begin to Re-Train Our Hearts to Look for the Treasurable Truth in a Message, Not the ENTERTAINMENT Value; to Look for the Bible in a Song, Not the Beat; to Quit Expecting Preachers to Do All the Study Work For Us; to Pack the Congregation for a Concise Word From the Lord, Not Just For a Concert or Special Event; to Understand this is a War, Not a Walk Through the Park!

Most Important, we need to Commit Ourselves to the Spiritual Discipline of a Personal Bible Study Time With Jesus that starts Every Day! That’s the Anchor of an Authentic Christian Life!

Maybe it’s time we simply say, “Lord, I’m SICK of Suffering in a Shallow, Entertaining Faith. I want to Get Rid of this DISEASE of Entertainitis….NOW. DELIVER ME!”

Special Note: Preachers/Teachers, Don’t Be Discouraged When You Switch From Being ENTERTAINING to IMPACTING! Like Jesus, Many Will Walk Away And Leave You! But That’s Quite Alright!

Those Who Really Want The Substance Will Stay With The One Effectively Wielding The Sword of the Spirit!  “After this, many of His disciples drew back (returned to their old associations) and no longer accompanied Him. Jesus said to the Twelve, Will you also go away? [And do you too desire to leave Me?] SIMON PETER ANSWERED, LORD, TO WHOM SHALL WE GO? YOU HAVE THE WORDS (THE MESSAGE) OF ETERNAL LIFE. AND WE HAVE LEARNED TO BELIEVE AND TRUST, AND [MORE] WE HAVE COME TO KNOW [SURELY] THAT YOU ARE THE HOLY ONE OF GOD, THE CHRIST (THE ANOINTED ONE), THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD” (John 6:66-69 AMP).

Only A Fool Would Walk Away From the Hand That Feeds Them!

Listen: We are to be Ministry Gifts that EQUIP the Body of Christ, Not Ministry Puppets that merely ENTERTAIN It!

“And His GIFTS were [varied; He Himself Appointed and Gave Men to Us] Some to be Apostles (Special Messengers), Some Prophets (Inspired Preachers and Expounders), Some Evangelists (Preachers of the Gospel, Traveling Missionaries), Some Pastors (Shepherds of His Flock) and Teachers. HIS INTENTION WAS THE PERFECTING AND THE FULL EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS (HIS CONSECRATED PEOPLE), [THAT THEY SHOULD DO] THE WORK OF MINISTERING TOWARD BUILDING UP CHRIST’S BODY (THE CHURCH)” (Ephesians 4:11-12 AMP).

The word “intention” is defined as “an aim or plan”. Therefore, God’s aim and plan for the five-fold ministry is to serve for the purpose of, “…THE PERFECTING AND THE FULL EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS (HIS CONSECRATED PEOPLE), [THAT THEY SHOULD DO] THE WORK OF MINISTERING TOWARD BUILDING UP CHRIST’S BODY (THE CHURCH)”

That’s the aim and plan: Equipping, NOT Entertaining!

The word “equip” is defined as “to supply with the items needed for a purpose; to prepare someone for a task; to furnish for service or action by appropriate provisioning; to make ready.” Its Old French Origin “équiper”, is from a modification of the Anglo-French “eskiper, eschiper” meaning “to load on board a ship, to embark, to man a ship.It is in essence, to provide a ship with everything it needs to embark on its journey successfully and efficiently. That is our responsibility, to provide people with what they need to carry, to accomplish their purpose and calling in God. It is not, however, to hear as many amen’s as possible; it’s not to see people run, jump, leap, clap, yell, spin, dance and fallout. It’s not to proclaim houses, cars, land, spouses, promotions, possessions and money. It is to prepare people for purpose! Whether it’s preaching or teaching, to 2,000, 200 or 2, we are to prepare them with what they need to produce God’s purpose in their lives. That’s our responsibility. Not to hit the right key, the right note, perfect the perfect moan. No, it’s to Equip the people, not Entertain them!

The word “entertain” is defined as “to provide with amusement or enjoyment.” Its Middle English “entertinen”, from Middle French “entretenir”, means “to hold”. It serves as a purpose of holding a person’s attention for no other reason than to “DISPORT (‘enjoy oneself unrestrainedly’), DIVERT (‘cause to change course or take a different route; distract; entertain’), AMUSE (‘cause someone to laugh; to entertain’. Its Old French ‘amuser’ means ‘to entertain or deceive’ from ‘muser’ which means ‘to stare stupidly’), REGALE (‘to entertain with conversation’) or SOLACE (‘to comfort’).” And what does that mean? “It means to pass or cause to pass the time pleasantly; to have one’s attention be engaged in humor; to distract the attention from worry or routine occupation especially by something funny.” And is that bad? No, not in and of itself. But when it comes to our responsibility of preaching, teaching, equipping and preparing people, yes, it is quite bad. Entertainment has its place, however, it is not our responsibility when it comes to the people, to ensure that they have a good laugh. No, we are to ensure that they have what they need to live a godly life.

When you look at the day and time we’re living in, you must agree that the times are dangerous and very serious. The devil is playing for keeps. He’s not playing with our lives, he’s looking to take our lives. And if we as the church, do not become more grounded in our responsibility, he won’t have to fight too hard to win. Our children need to know the importance of the Word of God, prayer, righteousness, holiness and proper leadership. How do they get that though, from perfecting praise breaks? No! We need to teach them how to feed their soul, not have fabulous fancy foot-work. We need to prepare the next generation to enter the government, heads of state, to make laws, to change laws, to serve in other areas, outside of the pulpit, if the world is to ever change for the better. And they will receive none of this equipping if we keep entertaining them, Sunday-after-Sunday. If marriages are to remain intact, we need to equip, not entertain. If singles are to remain holy, and set-apart, we need to equip, not entertain. If the disciples are to turn the world upside down, we need to equip, not entertain. If leadership is to be effective and efficient, we need to equip, not entertain. If the unbeliever is ever to become a believer, we need to equip, not entertain.

We are the Church, not Comedy Central. There has to be a distinction in what we do, say, believe and live. We are to be Salt and Light, not Sugar and a Dimmer.

People of God, we have to do better, and Leaders, it begins with us. 1 Peter 4:17, “For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God?” (AMPC)

Church, judgment will begin with US. Therefore, now, is the time to get this thing right. Remembering that we are Representatives of Heaven, Ambassadors of Christ, and Created in the Image and Likeness of the God-Head. Now, is the time to look like it, sound like it, act like it, and live like it.

Preachers, now is the time to follow the admonishment of the Apostle Paul: “And [pray] also for me, that [freedom of] utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth to proclaim boldly the mystery of the good news (the Gospel)” (Ephesians 6:19 AMPC)

Let the church-house resemble Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were assembled was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak the Word of God with freedom and boldness and courage.” (AMPC)

Not song and movie titles; not the latest celebrity in the news; not the latest slang or cliché. But to preach the Word of God, with boldness, freedom and courage. Not jokes, just the Word. We are not a circus, we are not performing puppets. We’ve done more than enough ACTING, now let us ACT OUT THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.

Leaders/Preachers/Teachers/Believers, Let’s Start Equipping and Stop Entertaining!

Now is the time to Soar towards being Fully Equipped instead of Foolishly Falling for being Merely Entertained!

“The Devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. Providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt that it sets men afire.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)

“A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)

“If you were God’s children you would loathe the very thought of the world’s evil joys, and your question would not be, “How far may we be like the world?” but your one cry would be, “How far can we get away from the world? How much can we come out from it?” (Charles Spurgeon)

“The Word of God will be to you a bulwark and a high tower, a castle of defense against the foe. Oh, see to it that the Word of God is in you, in your very soul, permeating your thoughts, and so operating upon your outward life, that all may know you to be a true Bible-Christian, for they perceive it in your words and deeds.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“For the church to turn aside from its divine work to furnish amusement and recreation is to pervert its true mission. It is to degrade its mission. Amusement and recreation should stem from the home or individuals rather than the church. The church, like Nehemiah, has a great work to do; and it should not come down to the plains of Ono to amuse and entertain.” (Goodpasture, Gospel Advocate)

“If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“A church is not a Fortune 500 company. It’s not simply another nonprofit organization, nor is it a social club. In fact, a healthy church is unlike any organization that man has ever devised, because man didn’t devise it.” (Mark Dever)

“God’s church is not a social club. It’s not a building, and it’s not an option. The church is life and death. The church is God’s strategy for reaching the world. What we do inside the church matters.” (Francis Chan)

“We have taken the command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations, and mutated it into a comfortable call to come, be baptized, and sit in one location.” (David Platt)

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

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“When God Speaks to Men”

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Professor Sheringham is on the road a lot, so the phone in his hotel room is a very important tool, (especially when he’s in those areas when he doesn’t have a cellphone signal). But years ago, even before cell phones, (if you dare to believe there was such a time), it was even more frustrating for Professor Sheringham. One time in particular he shared with us his students. He was staying in this campus guest room provided by the school where he was lecturing. Now, he appreciated the room; he just didn’t appreciate the phone. The problem? He couldn’t call out, not even collect or with a credit card! You see, the school had programmed the phone so it blocked any outgoing calls, because he guessed they didn’t want to get stuck with long distance bills.

However, for him it was absolutely frustrating! Especially early in the morning or late at night when he wasn’t dressed and couldn’t easily get down to the public phone seven floors down in the “good old days.” Well, one morning they were in the middle of something that required daily communication with his office, and he literally prayed that someone from his team would call and deliver him from this one-way telephone prison. And God answered the prayer – they did call. Then they called the people that he needed to hear from. In essence, he could receive calls; he just couldn’t initiate them. So he was stuck being able to talk only when someone wanted to talk to him! I guess it was too bad if he wanted to talk to them!

From his experience he then taught our class from 1 Samuel 3:8-10. It was a time right at the beginning of Samuel’s life as he is a young man staying with the priest, Eli. And it says this, “God called again, “Samuel!” – the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, “Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am.” That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” Samuel returned to his bed. Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” (MSG)

See, God wanted to talk to Samuel, but He had a little difficulty getting the call through. He had to dial three times after all. Likewise, God has some things He’d like to say to you about your future, your pain, your questions, the decisions you need to make, the struggle you’re going through. But maybe there’s just a one-way phone most of the time. Oh, you’re calling God whenever you feel like it (or feel you need to). You’re talking about whatever is on your mind. But maybe you’re not allowing much opportunity for God to whisper something quietly to your soul.

1 Kings 19:11-14, “Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire A GENTLE AND QUIET WHISPER. When Elijah HEARD the QUIET VOICE, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A QUIET VOICE asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” Elijah said it again, “I’ve been working my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.” (MSG)

Elijah only heard the quiet whisper of  a voice because he was listening. Which means there will be times when you have to ignore the distractions of the “hurricane wind…shattered rocks…earthquake…and fire”! Sometimes hearing God means you will have to make the deliberate decision to block anyone, any thing and any place out that would distract you from Hearing Him! The Bible says, “…Elijah Heard the Quiet Voice…” Do you hear it too, or are you too busy being distracted by your own voice or that of others?

Remember: He wants prayer to be a dialogue, not a monologue.

The dangerous problem is that we unfortunately rewrite this verse to say, “Listen Lord. Your servant is speaking.” Oh, and make no mistake about it, He does. He listens. We initiate a call to God, we say what we want to say and hang up. But we miss so much when we don’t allow God to call us with important things that He wants to show us.

Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is God’s Message…’Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (MSG)

But unfortunate for us, we call God, tell Him what we want to, then hang up!

Imagine if we did this in other areas of our lives: For instance, what would happen if you called the fire department, told them there’s a fire, then hung up? What would happen if you called the police department, told them there’s a robbery, then hung up? How about your child calling you and telling you they’re in danger, then they hang up? None of these scenario’s would end very well. You’re on the phone with people who you’ve got to talk to AND listen to if help is to be reached!

But instead, we call God and say, “Lord, help me meet the mortgage this month; how am I going to pay tuition at these new rates; how am I supposed to put these 3 children through college when they’re stair-steps in age; what am I going to do when this last check runs out? Lord, my marriage is letting go of the last string it had to hold onto, what now? Lord, I went to the doctor for that, and now they say I’ve got this too, what’s going on? God, I give my full tithe, and yet my financial future is looking more and more empty. God, I can’t get this weight off; God I’m tired of being single; God when will we have a baby? God, will I ever get this promotion? God, when can I open the church, start the business, have peace of mind?!”

We talk to God only to tell Him to, “fix it God; heal it God; save it God; deliver it God; promote it God; protect it God; provide for it God; send him/her God; close that door God; open that door God; forgive me God; punish them God…” And our ‘to-do-list’ for God goes on and on and on!

But when do we take the deliberate, undisturbed time to listen to God?

Samuel said, “…Speak. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” (MSG) Are you just as READY TO LISTEN? The word ‘ready’ is defined as ‘prepared for an activity or situation; made suitable and available for immediate use; easily obtained; within reach; willing to do or having a desire for; quick; prompt; prepared mentally or physically for some experience or action’ So, I ask again, are you READY TO LISTEN? Have you entered into prayer prepared to listen to God? Are you within reach of God’s voice, or is His voice muffled by all the other voices vying for your attention? Do you even have a desire to hear God speak? Are you mentally, physically and spiritually prepared for an experience with God? Are you ready, quick and prompt, or are you hesitating, procrastinating, dragging, slothful, and lazy in your approach to God? Have you made yourself suitable and available for God’s immediate use when He talks to you and tells you what He wants you to do?

Listen to Samuel again: “The Lord then stood beside Samuel and called out as He had done before, “Samuel, Samuel!” “I’M LISTENING,” Samuel answered. “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?” (vs.10 CEV) Is that your response to God? Or do you end your prayer with, “God, here’s what I want YOU to do!” There is a difference you know?

Brothers, you give your ear to many people throughout the day: Your spouse; your children; your family; your friends; your coworkers; your bosses; your church family; the news; sports; even the latest gossip (believe it or not, but men gossip too)…but are you giving your ear to God? Does He have your undivided attention? Do you take time to hear His voice? Just imagine the great things God wants to say to you, but you won’t LISTEN. You have a one-way calling system…you talk to God, He listens to you, you hang up!

But what happens when you install a new, two-way calling system? What happens when you have a two-way phone system from earth to heaven and heaven to earth? Well let’s see what verse 11 has to say, God said to him, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it tingle.” Let’s take a listen to a few translations:

“…Samuel, I am going to do something in Israel that will shock everyone who hears about it!” (CEV);

“…Listen carefully. I’m getting ready to do something in Israel that is going to shake everyone up and get their attention.” (MSG)

God is about to tell Samuel about something BIG He’s getting ready to do in Israel, and when it is heard, it will shock people, shake people and get everyone’s attention! And all Samuel has to do is LISTEN! Samuel is getting insider information because he’s attentive enough to LISTEN…are you? I mean, this is about to be some exciting news! Likewise, God wants to show you some amazing things, but you have to stop talking to hear Him tell you what they are! Samuel let’s God know, “I’m listening, I’m paying attention, speak Lord, talk to me, share with me the great things You’re about to do!” Have you positioned yourself in like manner?

LISTEN: When you pray about something, allow some silent time at the beginning and at the end. Allow a space where God could call you. You won’t always hear an audible voice like Samuel; that’s not needed so much today when God lives inside His children through the Holy Spirit. But He’ll speak to you as you meditate on a verse of Scripture. He’ll light up your situation suddenly with a personal application of those words or maybe as you’re praying. As for me, I tend to trust the ideas or the insights that come into my mind while I’m talking to God about an issue, when I’ve turned off everything else, not looking at my cell phone, not responding to texts, not listening to the radio, not watching TV, nothing else around, and I’m just listening to God solo – to let Him say something to my soul. I can trust pretty much what I hear then, and so can you.

As a man, you need to listen for what God tells you to do concerning your family, health, finances, schooling, church, personal salvation, and deliverance. You need to hear what He has to tell you about raising sons and daughters, about loving your own, one wife. You need to hear what He has to tell you about being effective in your church, your community or even as you rise on the corporate ladder. You need to hear what He has to tell you to tell another brother, as iron still sharpens iron. You have to hear what He has to tell you about leading and following; and spear-heading; working solo and a part of the team. You have to hear what God needs to tell you about your ministry, anointing, and gifts. You have to hear God’s instructions concerning your every assignment, the ones to take and the ones to leave. You have to hear God clearly say, ‘she’s the one!’ You have to hear God say, ‘save this; spend that; invest there.’

You will never be a man with an effective vision who has impaired hearing to God’s voice!

You need to hear God when He tells you, ‘sign that contract; get out of that contract; lay hands on that building; go to that dealership; that’s the school; that’s the job; go to this doctor; see that specialist; start now; stop now; wait now; not now.’

John 10:27, “…My sheep RECOGNIZE my voice. I know them, and they follow Me…” (MSG)

Do you recognize God’s voice? Do you know God’s voice? Do you follow God’s voice? The word ‘recognize’ is defined as, ‘to identify; to acknowledge the validity and legality of to show official appreciation of.” Its Latin Origin ‘recognoscere’, from ‘cognoscere’ literally means ‘to learn.’ You need to learn how to recognize God’s voice, and the best way to do that is to make it a daily habit of listening to it! For example, I’ve been with my husband over 20 years, married 19. That’s a lot of time to spend talking to and listening to this one person’s voice! Now, we both have family members, jobs and church responsibilities in leading people, so we both hear varying voices every day. However, we’ve spent so much time with one another in a personal, intimate, and focused manner, that even in the midst of a crowded, talkative bunch, we can recognize each other’s voices without having to turn around! But that took years, of talking, listening, and arguing to develop! It took time, so much time, that now we can have a full conversation in the middle of folks without saying a single word to each other! You see, when you invest time into the communication of your relationship, and yes, in your relationship with God as well, there’s a depth that grows from such nourishment. It develops level by level. You learn to become more familiar with the person and the voice, even with the things that are being communicated in a non-verbal manner. But you’ve got to invest in the communication if you want to reap the benefits from such an investment!

We spend a lot of time in prayer only to talk to God, but there’s much God wants to say to us as well, if only we’d listen. Jesus said, My sheep Recognize My Voice, they Know My voice, they Follow My voice. If you take the time to recognize, know and follow the voice of God, you’ll stop following your own voice as well as that of others. Truth is, many of us will listen to family and friends before we listen to the Father. This should not be so! Just think, your God, your Father, the one who has created all things, wants to talk to YOU! Now, if President Obama called you up and asked to speak with you, you’d be all ears! But God, who is more important wants to talk to you, and you have to check your schedule to see if you have time (unless of course you’re experiencing trouble)…

Brothers, communication with God has to become as vital to you as breathing. Not just talking to Him, but listening to Him. What does He want you to do? Where does He want you to go? Who does He want you to take? When are you supposed to go? How are you supposed to go? God desires to give you guidance and direction, but you have to listen first! Imagine if you listened to God the way you listen to your GPS when you’re trying to figure out where you’re going or where you are. You pay attention to every detail, you turn down the radio just in case there’s an unforeseen turn up ahead…but when God speaks, we have selective hearing!

Listen: I know the frustration of just receiving information without being able to send any, and so does God. If your heaven-link phone has only been calling out, why not try Samuel’s prayer every new day, “Speak Lord. Your servant is LISTENING.” It’s important that God receives calls from you; however, it’s much more important that you get those calls from God!

Brothers, you can’t pass on God’s Voice through God’s Word to the next generation of boys to men, if you don’t listen and receive it for yourself first. And truth is, there’s some young boys in sports and school, young men in the military, brothers in the neighborhood, at work, in church and even standing on the street corner that need you to hear God so they can hear God when you speak! There are men in the barbershop getting their hair cut right next to you, and he needs a word so bad from God that he doesn’t know what to do. What if you were praying and listening for God before you ever left the house. What if God would’ve revealed to you the word of encouragement that that man needed at just the right time. You could’ve literally been apart of a God team that turned that man’s entire world around for the better! What if you listened to God before you head to the mechanic, who knows what assignment God would issue to you while you’re there. What if you listened for God before going to work, who knows what word of life you could’ve spoken to that colleague that gets on your last nerves!

Men, God loves you and He listens to you. But if you love Him as much as you say you do, you will do likewise, listen! Why? Because listening to God keeps you from marrying the wrong woman; having kids at the wrong time; falling down every time a new temptation comes up; wasting money that you should be investing; attending the wrong school; applying for the wrong job; going to the wrong dealership; making the wrong friends; requesting a loan from the wrong bank; signing papers out of season; turning down the wrong block! Listening for God is your Privilege, your Protection and your Power! Don’t Discard It!

Your vision needs God’s voice; your family needs God’s voice; your ministry and church needs God’s voice; your business needs God’s voice; your children need God’s voice; your marriage needs God’s voice; your health needs God’s voice; your promotion needs God’s voice! Guidance, Direction and Wisdom all come from Listening to God’s voice, so are you listening?!

“Speak Lord. Your servant is LISTENING.”

“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue; God’s voice is its most essential part. Listening to God’s voice is the secret of the assurance that He will listen to mine.” (Andy Murray)

“Prayer is not the answer. God is the answer. Prayer is the vehicle by which we reach God.” (Greg Laurie)

“When you pray be sure that you listen as well as talk. You have things you want to say to God, but He also has things He wants to say to you.” (Joyce Meyer)

“God want us to talk to Him as to a friend or father…authentically, reverently, personally, earnestly.” (Bill Hybels)

“There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.” (Simon Sinek)

“God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening, is the beginning of prayer.” (Mother Teresa)

“Not many were hearing from God. Not because God was not speaking. It was because the people were preoccupied with other things. We are very good at talking, but not so good at taking the time to wait on God’s presence and listen.” (Jeff Syverson)

“Prayer is not a ‘spare wheel’ that you pull out when in trouble. But it is a ‘steering wheel’ that directs the right path throughout.” (Daily Inspirational Quotes)

Proverbs 3:5-12, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. LISTEN for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all…” (MSG)

Proverbs 12:15, “A fool thinks he needs no advice, but a wise man LISTENS…” (TLB);

Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.” (CEV);

Proverbs 28:9, “God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t LISTEN to Him.” (MSG)

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

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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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“Sometimes, You Just Don’t Feel Like It”

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Every one of us has at least one (or truthfully many) strange friends! And I my friend am no different. You see, I have a friend who oddly enough, feels the need to remind me, every winter, “January is a bad month for me.” I thought, maybe she gets the credit card slips from Christmas, or something. But before I could ponder it too long, she says, “My biorhythms are always down in January. I feel unmotivated; everything just simply goes wrong for me in January.” Needless to say, I don’t spend a lot of time with her in January.

Well, I’m not sure about the biorhythms being the reason for a bad January, but there is an interesting new area that scientists have explored. The biorhythm idea is that our lives are significantly affected by predictable, physical cycles, intellectual cycles, emotional cycles etc. Actually, a biorhythm could be just a fancy new word for a condition that’s as old as mankind. It goes like this, “I just don’t feel like it.” Maybe that’s what we’re really talking about here. Because truth is, that’s the reason for a lot of things we do or fail to do. Simply Put, With No Scientific Babble Attached: “I Just Don’t Feel Like It.

I guess that’s why couples promise to keep their marriage vows: “as long as we both shall live“, instead of “as long as I feel like it.” Because in honesty, “feelings change” and can you imagine if marriages ended in divorce every time a spouse no longer “felt like it?” After all, I’ve been married almost 20 years, and truthfully, there have been times when I didn’t “feel like it” 20 times in one hour, one day, one week, one month and one year! Maybe that’s the reason why so many marriages, especially and unfortunately, but Christian Marriages are ending in divorce at the rapid pace they are. You see, over the years we simply alter our vows from, “till death” to “till I no longer feel like it.

Listen, your life depends greatly on what you do on those days when you simply feel flat and fatigued. Think about it: Who would have a job if they quit every time they no longer “felt like it?” Who would Pastor the church if every minister of the Gospel closed the church doors every day they simply “didn’t feel like it anymore?” What would we do with our children if all the teachers decided not to show up at school because they “no longer felt like it?Where would our public transportation be if all the transit workers decided, “today is just not a good day for me. My biorhythms are off this month. I’m staying home for a while, because I just don’t feel like it”. And dare we even imagine what the hospitals and clinics would be like with all the doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and nurses out for a 3 month long “I just don’t feel like it” break?! How about if all the lawyers, police, fire department, correction officers, judges, janitors, and government officials, all decided “I need a break” and stay home on the couch for the next 6 months, because “I just don’t feel like it”?! In other words, if left unchecked, that “I don’t feel like it” can grow into a terminal disease that kills you and everything and everyone attached to you!

In 1 Corinthians chapter 4, if biorhythms are accurate, I would have to suggest that Paul’s biorhythms were extremely low at the time of this letter. I don’t know whether it was a bad month in his life or a bad time, but listen to this and think about how he must have been feeling. He says, “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.” (vs. 11 NIV). Now, it may just be me, but Paul doesn’t sound like he’s feeling the greatest at this moment. I don’t think he was necessarily feeling like treating people gently and kindly…wanting to work on what needed to be done. You ever feel like that? “I just don’t feel like doing what I have to do. I don’t feel like praying. I don’t feel like being very unselfish right now. I don’t feel particularly ‘churchy’ at this moment.” And could we honestly blame him? After all, at that very moment he was hungry, thirsty, dressed in raggedy clothes, brutally treated and homeless! Now if anybody had a right to a bad day and a bad attitude it was Paul!

However, here’s how he operated. It says in verse 12, “We work hard with our own hands…” (NIV) even though he was experiencing all of that, he continued to work and the Bible continues to read, “…When we are cursed, we bless. When we are persecuted, we endure it. When we are slandered, we answer kindly…” (NIV). You say, “What in the world has kept Paul functioning so victoriously when he probably doesn’t feel like it?” Because truthfully, we’ve all had days that were no-where near this bad, and yet if we could’ve thrown in the towel and walked away we would have. And many of us can be brutally honest, and admit that we did just that. But in the midst of how Paul may have justifiably been feeling, he didn’t curse, he blessed, when persecuted, he endured it, and when slandered he yet answered kindly.  I don’t know about you, but the question in my mind when I read this was “How In The World Can You Respond Like This, After Dealing With All Of That?!

Well, I learned just a few verses up the vital key. It’s found in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (NIV). There is the word that takes over where your feelings leave off – FAITHFUL. When you don’t feel like it, you must remain faithful to the call you answered. 

Look at this same verse in a few translations:

“Now the most important thing about a servant is that he does just what his master tells him to” (TLB)

“A servant must be faithful to his owner. This is expected of him.” (NLV)

“Moreover, it is [essentially] required of stewards that a man should be found faithful [proving himself worthy of trust].” (AMP)

“In this kind of situation, what is expected of a manager is that they prove to be faithful.” (CEB).

“The one thing required of such servants is that they be faithful to their master.” (GNT).

Are you getting it? Regardless to feelings, you are charged to remain faithful!

Maybe you’re in a time right now where you just don’t feel like doing what you’re supposed to do. You started when the feeling was there, but now you feel flat; you just don’t feel like following through on your school work, or your job, or that ministry or marriage that you were once so excited about. You’ve lost your enthusiasm, your zeal, your momentum. You don’t feel like reaching out to the people in your family or your community. Maybe you feel more like withdrawing into a cave somewhere. You simply don’t feel like finishing what you started. You don’t feel like keeping your commitment or you don’t feel like taking your time away with Jesus.

You’re at a crossroads right now, and that crossroads will determine whether you’re a roller coaster Christian or a solid rock Christian. See, the difference in the people God can trust and can’t trust is that word FAITHFUL. You’ve been given a trust. Will you be faithful to that trust even when the feeling isn’t there and depend on His resources because now you don’t have any?

And what’s the big whoop about being faithful even when you don’t feel like it? God’s reward will be these words, “…Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I’ll make you ruler over many…” (NKJV) Another version says it like this: “…His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.” (Matthew 25:23 MSG). Can you imagine GOD of all people wanting to partner up with YOU and all because you were FAITHFUL when you didn’t FEEL like it?! If that’s not incentive, I don’t know what is!

You see, whether the feelings come back or not, you keep moving faithfully toward your goal. Finish the project, hang in there at the job, keep pressing on in the ministry, keep praying over your marriage. No matter what you feel like, remember the fruit of faithfulness is hearing His well done and becoming His partner!

And please believe me, this is not just encouragement nonsense, but I’ve had to force this lesson on myself many of times. It’s not easy receiving a diagnosis from the doctor that turns your world upside down; it’s stressful trying to maintain a marriage, with two spouses in leadership and raising 6 kids, and still go to church, work and school and find two seconds to say hi to each other. Working for the government is no picnic in the park, I have one job title and description and yet I have 10-20 things that have to be completed by the close of each business day. I’m proud of my education and degrees, but they did not come without price (and that has nothing to do with the tuition), the long nights, and longer papers can take an extreme toll on your body, mind and spirit. Having sickly parents was hard. Having six children grow to adulthood and go in 12 different directions in life, none of which even slightly resemble what you’ve taught them, can rack the last of your brain cells! Then you have family members and friends who need counsel, advice, prayer, guidance, not to mention the church that expects you to teach them happy and preach them happier, week after week without fail! And truth is, if I listened to my biorhythms, I would have thrown in the towel on all of it years ago! Why? Because there are times when I JUST DON’T FEEL LIKE IT!

But like you, I don’t get to negotiate my faithfulness to God. I expect Him to do what He’s promised He’d do, and likewise, He expects me to do what I promised I’d do. And sometimes that requires being faithful even when I don’t feel like it. It means going to prayer when I’d rather go to bed; it means reading my Bible when I’d rather watch ‘Scandal’; it means talking to God when I’d rather get on the phone and play catch up with my girlfriends; it means working on my marriage when I’d rather pack my tools away and quit the project; it means continuing to advise my children even when it seems like the advice goes in one ear and immediately falls out the other one. It means going to work when I’d rather go to the airport and hop on a plane to ANYWHERE ELSE! It means going to the gym when I’d rather go to Baskin & Robbin! It means paying my bills when I’d rather go get those shoes I saw in Macy’s window! It means being obedient when I’d rather seek out another option!

Are you getting this? None of us are exempt! We all have moments when we don’t feel like it, yet, God requires of us His children AND His stewards to be found faithful always!

I mean truthfully where in Scripture does it say Jesus went skipping up to Golgotha? Where does it say He was laughing while carrying His cross? Where does it say His obedience and faithfulness were not painful? Where does it say He sung praise and worship songs all the way to the grave? Where does it say He stretched out His arm on the cross and loved every minute of it? Jesus had it harder than any of us ever have or ever will, YET, He remained as much human as divine. He wept; slept; ate; drank; got hungry; was thirsty; had to pray; got frustrated with the people He led; laid hands on people no one else would; restored folks; healed folks; forgave folks; delivered folks; saved folks, and still He never discarded His humanity. And neither should you!

Press on in your faithfulness to your assignment even when you don’t feel like it in your flesh! HOWEVER, you still need to know when to slow down; when to rest; when to sleep and eat, and certainly when to say no, without excuses, apologies or reasons. But even when you take a break, your break shouldn’t be so long that the Holy Ghost has to come and reset a brand new fire under you to get you back up and back to work in the Kingdom!

People of God, no matter what readings you may be receiving from your biorhythms, you remember to be faithful, even when you don’t feel like it. Faithfulness will always be rewarded! Don’t you dare come this far in God only to miss reaping your reward now! Even when your flesh feels weak, make sure your spirit stays willing!

“To that one soul reading this. I know you’re tired. You’re fed up. You’re so close to breaking but there’s strength within you even when you feel weak. Keep fighting.” (Author Unknown)

“If you’re tired, learn to rest, not quit!” (Author Unknown)

“In place of our exhaustion and spiritual fatigue, God will give us rest. All He asks is that we come to Him…that we spend a while thinking about Him, meditating on Him, talking to Him, listening in silence, occupying ourselves with Him – totally and thoroughly lost in the hiding place of His presence.” (Charles R. Swindoll)

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

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