“Pretty Container, But Poisonous Content!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“You Can Stop Hiding Now”

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“…the Lord God called out to the man, asking him, ‘WHERE ARE YOU?” (Genesis 3:9 ISV)

The first recorded question God ever asked was, “[Adam]…WHERE ARE YOU?” And it’s a question you need to stop and ask yourself today: “Where Am I…Honestly?” If you don’t know the answer, or you do, but you don’t like it, then today’s devotional is for you!

When God asked Adam, “Where Are You?” he responded by saying, “I HEARD YOU in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (vs. 10 NIV). The New King James Version says it like this, “…I heard Your Voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I HID MYSELF”  

I find it amazing that USUALLY when we get into trouble, God’s Voice is the Only One We Want To Hear! When we’re sick, in danger, need protection, feel confused, lonely, depressed, discouraged etc…the First Thing We Cry Out Is SPEAK LORD! However, that wasn’t the case with Adam…not when he messed up! And just like Adam, many of us go into HIDING when we mess up! We run away FROM instead of TO the Voice of the Lord! If we could only reach a place of understanding that God is NOT LIKE MAN, we would learn to take our mess to Him instead of trying to hide it from Him (as if that were even possible!)  For even the Psalmist declared:  “Is there ANYPLACE I can go to avoid Your Spirit? To be out of Your sight? If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute – You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You” (Psalm 139:7-12 MSG)

Sorry Saints, But There Is Absolutely NO Hiding From God! So Give It Up!

He Sees You…All Of You…And Yet, Loves You Still! The Bible says, “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. BUT GOD PUT HIS LOVE ON THE LINE FOR US BY OFFERING HIS SON IN SACRIFICIAL DEATH WHILE WE WERE OF NO USE WHATEVER TO HIM.” (Romans 5:6-8 MSG)

He Loved You BEFORE You Did What You Did, BEFORE You Said What You Said, BEFORE You Thought What You Thought! AND HE EVEN LOVED YOU AFTERWARDS! He Simply Loves You…All Of You…Mistakes, Mess and All! So Stop Trying To Hide From Him! Please understand, God is NOT LIKE MAN!

Man will bring it up again; hold it over your head; brow beat you to death with it; belittle you by it…BUT NOT GOD! HE HAS SAID: “If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—HE WON’T LET US DOWN; HE’LL BE TRUE TO HIMSELF. HE’LL FORGIVE OUR SINS AND PURGE US OF ALL WRONGDOING. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of Him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.” (1 John 1:8-10 MSG) Beloved, God Is Ready to Forgive You, Purge You and Clean You of All Wrongdoing! So Why Are You Still Trying To Hide From Him? Isn’t Forgiveness and Cleansing What You Want? Well, You Can’t Get It From Him While Trying to Hide From Him!

Listen To How Much He Loves You: “BUT, I, YES I, AM THE ONE WHO TAKES CARE OF YOUR SINS – THAT’S WHAT I DO. I DON’T KEEP A LIST OF YOUR SINS” (Isaiah 43:25 MSG). Now that’s what you call Simply Amazing! If God, of All People, Doesn’t Keep a List, Why Do You Allow Others, and Yourself, to Keep You Stuck In What You Did, Where You Were, Who You Were With etc…? God Himself Said “…I DON’T KEEP A LIST OF YOUR SINS” So Throw Your List Away, And Throw Away The List Others Keep Trying To Keep On You As Well!

Now, this does Not in any way give you a clean slate just so you can dirty it again, for the Word of God Declares:  “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! NEVER AGAIN LET ANYONE PUT A HARNESS OF SLAVERY ON YOU” (Galatians 5:1 MSG) The Amplified Bible says it like this: “In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]” (AMP) In other words, He didn’t Redeem You for You to Return to Mess! The Bible says, “As a dog eats its own vomit, so fools recycle silliness” (Proverbs 26:11 MSG) When He Restores You…Don’t Be a Fool and Recycle Your Silly Ways! When He Redeems and Restores You…DON’T RECYCLE YOUR REFUSE! And “Refuse” is defined as “Matter Thrown Away As Worthless” It’s Old French Origin “Refusè” Literally Means “REFUSED”! So Unlike What the Sanitation Department Would Say: I’m Telling You DO NOT RECYCLE! OR BETTER YET, REFUSE THE REFUSE!

I also find it amazing the lengths we will go to in order to “HIDE”! We’ll bury ourselves in work, or get involved in an affair, or build a wall around our hearts, or leave a marriage, leave a job, leave a ministry – anything but face the truth! And that’s not what God wants you to do! After all His Word says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NLT) So Why “HIDE” From What You Need To Set You FREE?! Truth and Nothing Else will set you free! And whether you are Embraced or Embarrassed by it, as long as you acknowledge it, you will be set free! Some will talk, some will speculate, some will add scenes to your story that were never part of the plot…but THEY are not the focus….You and Your Truth Are! Man Does Not Have a Hell To Put You In Or A Heaven To Keep You Out Of…SO WHY LET THEIR OPINION CARRY SO MUCH WEIGHT?!

REMEMBER, THE BIBLE SAYS: “But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll ALL have to face God, regardless of our conditions. WE will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to US as a result of OUR actions, either good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 MSG) Did You Catch The Bonus In That Scripture?! It says “…WE’LL ALL HAVE TO FACE GOD, REGARDLESS OF OUR CONDITIONS. WE WILL APPEAR BEFORE CHRIST AND TAKE WHAT’S COMING TO US AS A RESULT OF OUR ACTIONS, EITHER GOOD OR BAD” Saints, NO ONE IS EXEMPT FROM ACCOUNTABILITY BEFORE GOD! SO THE NEXT TIME SOMEONE ATTEMPTS TO BRING UP YOUR STUFF…REMIND THEM THAT THEY HAVE A DATE OF ACCOUNTABILITY BEFORE GOD TOO! DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT I DID, WHAT I’M DOING OR WHAT I WILL DO…JUST MIND YOUR OWN STUFF! 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “Stay calm; MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS; DO YOUR OWN JOB. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts…” (MSG)

IN ADDITION…THE BIBLE SAYS, “So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, WE’RE ALL GOING TO END UP KNEELING SIDE BY SIDE IN THE PLACE OF JUDGMENT, FACING GOD. YOUR CRITICAL AND CONDESCENDING WAYS AREN’T GOING TO IMPROVE YOUR POSITION THERE ONE BIT. Read it for yourself in Scripture: “As I live and breathe,” God says, “every knee will bow before Me; Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God.” So tend to your knitting. YOU’VE GOT YOUR HANDS FULL JUST TAKING CARE OF YOUR OWN LIFE BEFORE GOD.” (Romans 14:10-12 MSG)

That’s a Good Spot For a Praise Break! Now, After You Sit Down and Pull Your Neighbor Down, The Lesson Continues:

You see, God wasn’t trying to find Adam; He just wanted Adam to find himself! Yep, that’s it! God Is Simply Trying to Get You To Be Honest About Where You Really Are and What You Really Did! And not so He can hold it over your head, but so you can finally come to full Maturity! After All, Accountability is the Basis of Maturity! You can’t be trusted with More Until You can be trusted to be honest about the Least You Already Messed Up! Yes, You Get a Second Chance…But Do You Realize If You Keep Starting Over…You Never Get Farther Then The Spot You Messed Up In?! Can you imagine your church transitioning every 5 years losing and gaining the same folks like recycling? How is that growth? The same goes for you! You have to Gain Ground Then Establish Your Footing! Psalm 18:33, “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly and tread safely on paths of testing and trouble]; He sets me [securely] upon my high places.” (AMP); Habakkuk 3:19, “The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].” (AMP); 2 Samuel 22:34, “He makes my feet like the doe’s feet [firm and swift]; He sets me [secure and confident] on my high places.” (AMP) God has already done His part in securing our footing on high places, according to the Word of God, so we can confidently walk forward! Therefore, why are we constantly walking backwards or in vicious cycles to nowhere?!

Look at it this way: If you were given a Billion Dollars in your bank account, and had only 5 minutes to get it out and your bank is across the street, but you only run in place…what’s going to happen? The truth is, you were given the blessing, it’s yours, got your name on it, and it’s even in your bank account, and you have the bank card and access code! The only problem? You have to leave where you are and take steps (progress) across the street to attain it! If not, you can’t complain that you never received the blessing…you just didn’t progress in steps to take hold of it! Maturity is the same! You have to gain ground by taking steps towards Accountability for your deeds, words and speech! “Adams”, you have to grow up and not point fingers at Eve! Likewise, let God take care of your haters, gossipers, tale-bearers and the like! You Are Responsible For YOU and Accountable to GOD! That’s What Matters! So Come Out Of Hiding and Be Truthful You! Even If Your “Truthful” Is Painful and Not So Pretty! Until you do that, you’ll remain where you are, running in place and gaining muscle and strength that is applied to absolutely nothing!

Another problem is, when you “HIDE you become a “PHONY”! And the word “Phony” is defined as “To Be a Fraudulent Person”. And “Fraudulent” means “To Be Dishonest”. Going back a bit, remember John 8:32? “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”? People of God, That’s Your Hindrance Right There! Being Phony! Because Being Phony Is Being Fraudulent and Being Fraudulent Is Being Dishonest! And Dishonest Means “Not Honest, Trustworthy, Sincere, or Truthful”! In a Nutshell: Hiding Leads to Phoniness That Causes You To Be Dishonest With Yourself, Others and God! And the Danger of Your Dishonesty Is That It Keeps You From Being Truthful…And Only TRUTH CAN SET YOU FREE! Are You Getting This? UNTIL YOU’RE TRUTHFUL YOU WILL NEVER BE FREE FROM THE TRAPS OF SIN AND DISOBEDIENCE?! And besides that, do you have any idea how much emotional and mental energy it requires of you to keep up a Charade for others? Only two things are worse: being a phony with yourself, and being a phony with God! Furthermore, you’ll find it difficult to be honest with others or look them in the eye. Why? Because you’ll be afraid they might look into your heart and see the real you! Is that where you are today? Afraid to look into your own heart? Or afraid someone else will? 

Well Today, STOP IT! Be Truthful With You, God and Others and then MOVE ON…

Look at it this way: Neither God, Adam, Eve or Even the Serpent Stayed in the Garden After the Fall! There Was Far Too Much of a Story That Had To Continue to Be Lived and Written! Everything Didn’t Stop In the Garden When Adam and Eve Fell, And Your Whole Life Has No Reason To Be Put On Permanent Pause Because of Your Failures or Falls Either! So, Keep Moving! There’s More Story To Tell! The Good News is, Adam was naked but God clothed him; he was guilty but God cleansed him; he was anxious but God comforted him. And if you come to Him today God will cleanse you, clothe you, and comfort you too! He’s just waiting for the opportunity to do it! So when are you going to finally give it to Him?!

Listen: “Hide” means “To Camouflage” and “Camouflage” Old French Origin “Camoufler” means “To Disguise” and “Disguise” means “To Alter In Appearance or Nature So as to Conceal the Identity Of” And that’s what you are doing and allowing others and the enemy to do to you… when you’re in hiding…it Alters and Conceals Your Real Identity In God”. Yes, You Messed Up! Yes, You Got It Wrong! Yes, You Were Disobedient, Sinned and Broke Commandment and Covenant! But Is It Fatal? NO! Your Failure Does Not Make You Illegitimate! You Still Belong to the Body of Christ! You Are Still The Child of the King, Your Father Is Still Enthroned In Heaven, You Are Still An Heir, Joint Heir and Your Inheritance and Your Identity Are Still Your Possessions!

Yes, Adam messed up, but how wonderful to know that he was only the First Adam!

Romans 5:12-21, “You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. BUT ADAM, WHO GOT US INTO THIS, ALSO POINTS AHEAD TO THE ONE WHO WILL GET US OUT OF IT. Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, JUST THINK WHAT GOD’S GIFT POURED THROUGH ONE MAN, JESUS CHRIST, WILL DO! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin AND THIS GENEROUS, LIFE-GIVING GIFT. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; THE VERDICT ON THE MANY SINS THAT FOLLOWED WAS THIS WONDERFUL LIFE SENTENCE. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, CAN YOU IMAGINE THE BREATHTAKING RECOVERY LIFE MAKES, SOVEREIGN LIFE, IN THOSE WHO GRASP WITH BOTH HANDS THIS WILDLY EXTRAVAGANT LIFE-GIFT, THIS GRAND SETTING-EVERYTHING-RIGHT, THAT THE ONE MAN JESUS CHRIST PROVIDES? Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, ANOTHER PERSON DID IT RIGHT AND GOT US OUT OF IT. BUT MORE THAN JUST GETTING US OUT OF TROUBLE, HE GOT US INTO LIFE! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; ONE MAN SAID YES TO GOD AND PUT MANY IN THE RIGHT. All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call GRACE. When it’s sin versus grace, GRACE WINS HANDS DOWN. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. GRACE, BECAUSE GOD IS PUTTING EVERYTHING TOGETHER AGAIN THROUGH THE MESSIAH, INVITES US INTO LIFE—A LIFE THAT GOES ON AND ON AND ON, WORLD WITHOUT END.” (MSG)

In other words ‘Adam’s, the whole world does not cease to exist because you messed up! As long as you have JESUS, there is always recovering grace just waiting to grasp you! No matter how bad or how hard your fall, you don’t have to hide! People of God, You Are the Heritage of the Lord…So Stop Hiding…Come Out And Reclaim Your Proper Place In the Kingdom! Don’t Allow What Happened in YOUR Garden of Eden to Make You Forget What Happened in HIS Garden of Gethsemane! YOU ARE GRACE COVERED…SO DON’T HIDE, BE HONEST, AND BE HEALED!

Jeremiah 23:23-24, “I am everywhere – both near and far, in heaven and on earth. There are no secret places where you can hide from Me.” (CEV)

Job 34:21, “God watches everything we do.” (CEV)

“The person who surrenders absolutely to God, with no reservations, is absolutely safe. From this safe hiding-place he can see the devil, but the devil cannot see him.” (Soren Kierkegaard)

“Ever since the days of Adam, man has been hiding from God and saying, ‘God is hard to find.” (Fulton J. Sheen)

“We cannot hide, deny, or cherish sin and expect the Lord to hear and answer our prayers.” (Dr. Charles Stanley)

“Religion is one of the safest places to hide from God.” (Richard Rohr)

“Our huffing and puffing to impress God, our scrambling for brownie points, our thrashing about trying to fix ourselves while hiding our pettiness and wallowing in guilt are nauseating to God and are a flat denial of the gospel of grace.” (Brennan Manning)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “34 Sleep Hacks For Your Most Restful Night Ever”

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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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Checklist For Staying Healthy”

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“The Power of Influence”

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1 Corinthians 8:8-9, “But fortunately God doesn’t grade us on our diet. We’re neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can’t stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.” (MSG)

My girlfriend Charlene relocated from the big city to live in the South with her parents who inherited a huge family-owned country estate. Now, the estate, including a farm, doesn’t have any cows on it, but the place is surrounded by cows on all sides (after all, it is the country). Charlene would often say that it made her feel so peaceful when she could sit on the porch and see the cows inside the fence across the road, just quietly grazing or sitting in the shade. However, it didn’t make her feel peaceful when she got up one morning and saw one of her neighbor’s cows in her front yard grazing and leaving little ‘souvenirs’ of her visit.

You see, her neighbor left his pasture gate wide open, but that’s OK. The cattle guards are there in the ground; you know that little grate that cows are afraid to cross for fear of getting a hoof stuck. Well, they’re supposed to be afraid. But this one cow had somehow found her way to pick her way across the cattle guard, which left her free to wander all over the countryside! Charlene even named her – ‘Grazing Gloria’. But then, pretty soon, another cow saw what ‘Grazing Gloria’ did and managed to navigate that cattle guard too; this one she named ‘Copy-Cat Cathy’. After that, a little black calf followed ‘Copy-Cat Cathy’ out. In the end, several cows ended up wandering everywhere, even up toward the main highway, which is dangerous!

Moral of the story: As soon as one cow ignored the boundaries, others followed her, without question, where they were never meant to go (even into places that could’ve easily taken their lives)!

Now, it isn’t just cows that follow cows out of bounds. Which is why Paul issues this warning in 1 Corinthians 8 beginning with verse 9. “Be careful that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” As is my custom, let’s view this verse in a few translations:

“Only be careful that this liberty of yours [this power to choose] does not somehow become a stumbling block [that is, a temptation to sin] to the weak [in conscience].” (AMP);

“Only be careful that this power of choice (this permission and liberty to do as you please) which is yours, does not [somehow] become a hindrance (cause of stumbling) to the weak or overscrupulous [giving them an impulse to sin].” (AMPC);

“But watch out or else this freedom of yours might be a problem for those who are weak.” (CEB);

“But be careful that by using your freedom you don’t somehow make a believer who is weak in faith fall into sin.” (GWT);

“Be careful, however, not to let your freedom of action make those who are weak in the faith fall into sin.” (GNT);

“Since you are free to do as you please, be careful that this does not hurt a weak Christian.” (NLV)

You see, the danger for us is that we have the right of choice. We have freedom and we have liberty to choose as we please. But one of those translations reads, “…this POWER to choose…”, and where there’s power there’s responsibility. Because our power is influence (whether good or bad), and we are to be held accountable (especially as LEADERS) with how we exercise our rights, choices, power and influence, because others are watching, listening and following our lead. Yes, we can choose as we please, but we bear the responsibility to make choices that don’t cause catastrophic consequences to the lives of others who emulate our examples. We are to avoid tempting anyone to sin; influencing anyone to sin; or justifying others while they sin.

Our Strength of Choice should never Weaken a Fellow Believer!

Which is why Paul addresses a lifestyle choice he made, simply based on how a certain behavior would affect other believers. Now, that’s responsible leadership!

A little background: The issue back then had to do with whether or not Christians should eat meat that had been offered to idols in pagan ceremonies. Apparently, some felt they could eat that meat in good conscience – after all, it was just a piece of meat. But for others, it might be the first step backwards toward the darkness that Christ had delivered them from. So Paul says, “If what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” Paul says in essence, “I can’t make my choices based only on how it will affect me. If I go there, someone else may follow me…and worse, fall!”

Listen to Paul in, 1 Corinthians 8:10-13, “For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, SOMEONE WHO LOOKS UP TO YOU AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong. Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals IF THERE IS ANY CHANCE IT WILL TRIP UP ONE OF YOUR BROTHERS OR SISTERS.” (MSG)

This is the danger of being irresponsible with our power of choice and influence. There are people around us (some we know, some we’ll never know), that see us, according to the text, as, “…SOMEONE WHO LOOKS UP TO YOU AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE…”, which in a nutshell tells them, “if you hear them say that…you can repeat it, without question…if you see them do that…you can do the same, without question…” Why? Because we’re, “…SOMEONE TO LOOK UP TO AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE …” So, naturally we can be trusted, obeyed, followed, and imitated, because clearly with so much knowledge and maturity, we wouldn’t lead them astray now would we?

Now back to Charlene’s wandering neighbor, ‘Grazing Gloria’. I don’t think she ever thought about a calf or any other cows following her outside the fence. All she knew was there was something she wanted that was beyond the boundaries. Actually, she should never have crossed the cattle guard herself (remember, most cows are afraid to cross it because they know they can be hurt). But what made it worse was that her example emboldened other cows to go where they shouldn’t go; to go where they could get hurt! And all because one cow decided to graze beyond the boundaries.

There’s a term “out of bounds”, that’s often used particularly in sports. A portion of its definition reads like this, “to be outside of specified or prescribed limits; to enter forbidden territory; to cross a boundary line; something that is not allowed or approved; to go beyond established limits; to break rules; to do what is unreasonable; to violate or exceed acceptable rules or standards.”

People of God, we are to set standards, not step outside of them! And certainly we are not to leave footprints for others to follow us in our folly! Which is why we need the Word of God so desperately in our daily lives and lifestyles.

Psalm 119:105-112, “By Your Words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by Your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again with Your Word. Festoon me with Your finest sayings, God; teach me Your holy rules. My life is as close as my own hands, but I don’t forget what You have revealed. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, but I don’t swerve an inch from Your course. I inherited Your book on living; it’s mine forever – what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing exactly what You say – I always have and always will.” (MSG)

Listen, if we are to be living epistles, we have to know what the Word of God says. We have to read it, apply it, practice it, share it and above all, live it! If we are to lead those that follow us, we need to be sure that our feet don’t go out of bounds of what the Bible says! We need to live and lead in such a way that those who follow us will know that we obey the specified and prescribed limits of the Bible; we do not enter forbidden territory; we do not cross the boundary lines; we do not transgress what is allowed or approved; we do not go beyond established limits; we do not break the rules; we do nothing unreasonable; and we certainly do not violate or exceed the acceptable rules or standards of the Word of God! We Do Not Live Out of Bounds, We Do Not Lead Out of Bounds, and We Will Have No One to Follow Us Who Desires to Go Out of Bounds!

Which means we need to alter our lifestyles accordingly! Why? Because people are listening, watching and emulating us. So when we (especially as LEADERS), are INVISIBLE in Sunday School, Bible Study, Prayer, Sunday Services, Meetings and Rehearsals, We Are Setting the Example For Others to Follow! When we lie, cheat, steal, gossip, hate, run the rumor mill…we are setting the example for others to follow! When we are stubborn, malicious, disobedient, contrary, jealous, envious, coveting and unkind, we are setting the example for others to follow! When we’re critical, negative, pessimistic, fearful, anxious, mean-spirited, condescending, belittling, backbiting and gossiping we are setting the example for others to follow! When we are argumentative, complaining, murmuring, bickering, divisive, temperamental, moody, and full of attitude, we are setting the example for others to follow! Are you getting this? We are not to become ‘Grazing Gloria’, guiding people to dangerous, out-of-bounds territories of sin!

Now hopefully, you and I are a little smarter than cows! We have to remember that when we do things, people are watching and even following us because of that invisible power called influence. And because we can’t see it, we forget we have it and that it’s affecting people around us. Your behavior? Your choices? You’re giving permission to someone who’s watching you to do the same thing. A child is watching, a younger and weaker Christian, a coworker, a friend, your spouse, your church. Even people in the supermarket, hair and nail salons, barbershop, mall, McDonalds, and the laundromat are all watching you. You step outside the boundaries a little, and they might follow you and end up where they never would have gone otherwise; going farther than even you would ever go. And it’s all because of your choice; your power; your influence.

The word “influence” is defined as “the power or ability to affect someone’s beliefs or actions; the power to produce physical change.” Its origin, ‘influx’; from Latin ‘influere’ literally means ‘to flow in.’ And, ‘to flow in’ is defined as ‘to be encompassed in moving along steadily and continuously.’ When we make choices, and our choices influence others to follow, they are encompassed and moving along steadily and continuously in the choice and consequence that we set as a proper example for them to follow. When we make choices, others can be entrapped by our decisions. They can suffer consequences because of choices we made without responsibility for them. Which is why we need to be very cautious when entering into LEADERSHIP positions. There are many people who will listen to us, and follow us, just because it’s Us! And God help us if we ‘appear’ to be sound, strong, mature and right, they will follow us right into enemy territory and not even know it!

Now, a further danger is this, ‘Grazing Gloria’ never thought about the consequences of her choice; nor did she think about all the old cows and young calf’s that would follow her lead; nor did she ever look back to see the irresponsible and poor choice she made. But since she’s a cow, we can excuse her behavior…but then, what justifies ours?

We must always take time to do self-examination, and inventory so we can make appropriate adjustments before anyone gets hurt by our words, actions, choices or LEADERSHIP. We have to evaluate ourselves:

  1. Am I in the right place?
  2. Am I doing the right thing?
  3. Am I with the right people?
  4. Am I fulfilling the right purpose?
  5. What am I saying?
  6. What am I doing?
  7. Am I helpful, hurtful, or hindering?
  8. Am I lazy, hesitant, or procrastinating?
  9. Am I bitter, angry, hurt, disappointed, or discouraged?
  10. Am I getting stronger?
  11. Am I getting weaker?
  12. Do I have the right vision?
  13. Am I functioning in my gifts, talents, and skill-set?
  14. Am I obedient?
  15. What kind of example am I setting?
  16. Who’s following me?
  17. Who am I following?
  18. Who’s watching me?
  19. Who’s listening to me?
  20. How am I leading?
  21. Who’s keeping me responsible and accountable?
  22. How do I dress?
  23. Am I faithful, committed, and dedicated?
  24. Am I loyal and dependable?
  25. Do I talk to people, or just talk about them?
  26. Do I resolve problems, or am I the problem?
  27. Am I a servant?
  28. Am I trustworthy?
  29. Am I an example worthy of emulating?
  30. If people were asked about my influence, would it be good or bad?

You see, the problem with many of us is that we don’t want anyone to correct us, and we certainly don’t want to self-exam ourselves, because no one knows us better than us, therefore, many tests we already know we’ve failed! But the Psalmist admonishes us by his example: Psalm 139:23-24, “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (MSG)

A Life Unexamined is Unhealthy…be it Leader or Laity!

You see, if we have no check-points, our blind-spots will cause us and others injury…and sometimes the damage is irreparable.

Like it or not, but we are responsible for our influence. We are responsible for the choices we make, even the ones we deem personal. People are watching, listening and following. And at the end of the day, we don’t want to be someone else’s excuse to watch or listen to something questionable. We don’t know where it might take them. So, don’t be someone else’s excuse to swear, or to cheat, to act selfish, to be disrespectful, maybe to flirt with sexual sin or a moral compromise, or just to shade the truth a bit. No, wear your character and integrity like a daily garment. Let people see it on display at all times. Be the example of godliness, holiness, order, obedience, discipline, and the fruit of the Spirit that they should seek to follow. Remember, there are people around you making choices, based on your choices, and they will suffer consequences one way or the other. Make your choices such that they reap gain and not loss.

Could it be that you’ve gotten a little careless, thinking you can wander just a little out of bounds, and you think you’ve found a way to do it where you won’t get hurt, you won’t get stuck, you won’t get caught. Even if that’s true, please look at what you’re doing to those who are watching you, who may follow you. Like ‘Grazing Gloria’s’ gang, you may inadvertently be leading someone down a road they should never be on. Your exercise of freedom could lead someone else into bondage or hurt. If it might cause a brother or sister to fall, don’t even go there! You are your brother and sisters keeper.

1 Corinthians 8:10-13, “For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, SOMEONE WHO LOOKS UP TO YOU AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong. Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals IF THERE’S ANY CHANCE IT WILL TRIP UP ONE OF YOUR BROTHERS OR SISTERS.” (MSG)

Never Be the Reason Someone’s Fall Happened Simply Because They Were Following You!

Job 31:12-31, “If I’ve ever used my strength and influence to take advantage of the unfortunate, Go ahead, break both my arms, cut off all my fingers! The fear of God has kept me from these things – how else could I ever face Him?” (MSG);

Proverbs 11:11, “By the blessing [of the influence] of the upright the city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.” (AMP)’

Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion].” (AMP);

Mark 12:14, “They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and have no personal bias toward anyone; for You are not influenced by outward appearances or social status, but in truth You teach the way of God…” (AMP)

“You don’t have to be a “person of influence” to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” (Scott Adams);

“Never underestimate the influence you have on others.” (Laurie Buchanan);

“Who and what we surround ourselves with directly influences our attitudes, goals and lifestyles.” (Pinterest);

“Attitude is greatly shaped by influence and association.” (Jim Rohn);

“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” (George Eliot);

“It would be difficult to exaggerate the degree to which we are influenced by those we influence.” (Eric Hoffer);

“Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.” (John Maxwell);

“The most important influence in my childhood was my father.” (DeForest Kelley);

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” (Henry Adams)

“As much as people refuse to believe it, the company you keep does have an impact and influence on your choices.” (Pinterest);

“Your circle of influence dictates your path.” (Jon Bielecki);

“Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.” (Billy Graham);

“God chose to introduce Himself to us in the first verse of Genesis as a Creator. And yet so few Christians really understand the power of creativity to influence the culture.” (Phil Cooke);

“Our generation is in need of Christian women who are willing to rise up and show the culture the powerful influence a God-Defined woman can have.” (GirlDefined);

“The schools, the courts, the media – all seem determined to erase Christian influence from public life and confine religion to the four walls of the church or home.” (Bruce L. Shelley)

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

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“What is Your Appetite Costing You?”

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Hebrews 12:16-17, “Watch out for the Esau-Syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a SHORT-TERM APPETITE. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing – but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” (MSG)

To be honest, I am not at all a television junkie. Well…maybe to clarify I should say I am not a television junkie, where today’s television shows are concerned. However, when it comes to old re-runs’, I promise you I should go down as the champion holding the world’s greatest record for watching old-school shows! I could binge watch them for hours…okay, possibly days is more like it. And one of my favorite’s believe it or not is…let’s see…there was Gilligan, the Skipper, too, the movie star, the millionaire and his wife. You know, it was the cast of that eternally rerunning sitcom, Gilligan’s Island. Maybe you remember the story. They boarded the S.S. Minnow that day to take a what? (I want to sing it so bad!) A “Three hour tour.” But little did they know a storm would come up and they’d end up shipwrecked on some desert island, and they’d have to stay there trapped forever in rerun-land!

However, keep in mind, when they boarded that day, they had no idea how far they were going to go or for how long they were going to stay. Some three-hour tour that turned out to be!

Now, Gilligan’s Island was, of course, just a TV show. But three-hour tours that take you too far and keep you too long are very much Real Life. Just ask a man named Esau.

His story is found in Genesis 25, beginning at verse 31. In a nutshell, he’s the older brother in the family, which means in a Jewish family of that day he had the birthright. In other words, he would someday inherit the family leadership and a double portion of the inheritance, and a lot of other wonderful privileges. But before you get excited about all these great things that will happen for this brother, read on first. You see, one day he’s coming in from hunting and he’s really hungry, and his more domestic brother is cooking up his specialty, ‘Stew Ala Jacob’. Here’s what happened in detail: “Jacob had cooked [reddish-brown lentil] stew [one day], when Esau came from the field and was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, “Please, let me have a quick swallow of that red stuff there, because I am exhausted and famished.” For that reason Esau was [also] called Edom (Red). Jacob answered, “First sell me your birthright (the rights of a firstborn).” Esau said, “Look, I am about to die [if I do not eat soon]; so of what use is this birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:29-32 AMP)

Like I said in the opening, I’m not crazy about today’s television, but there is one show that I have watched that can glue me to the edge of my seat. And it’s “Deal or No Deal?” Why does that ring a bell right about now? Because as I read the text I’m ready to scream at the Bible, and yell at Esau, “Don’t do it, man! Deal or No Deal? NO DEAL! It’s a lousy trade!” But unfortunately, Esau can’t hear me. And so the Bible goes on to say, “Jacob said, “Swear [an oath] to me today [that you are selling it to me for this food]”; so he swore [an oath] to him, and sold him his birthright. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and got up and went on his way. In this way Esau scorned his birthright.” (Genesis 25:33-34 MSG)

Esau felt better, for a few hours. But because of that choice, he felt miserable for the rest of his life!

There’s even a tragic “P.S.” to Esau’s life in the New Testament in Hebrews 12:16-17. It says, “Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.” (NLT)

Two other translations read like this:

“None of you should fall into sex sins or forget God like Esau did. He had a right to get all Isaac had because he was the oldest son. But for one plate of food he sold this right to his brother. You know that later he would have received everything. But he did not get it even when he asked for it with tears. It was too late to make right the wrong he had done.” (NLV);

“Watch out for the Esau-syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing – but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” (MSG)

There’s so many lessons in just these few short lines of Scripture, but let’s take a glance at a few:

1…Esau had the right to inherit everything of his father’s, but he traded his prosperity for a plate of food! And before you get on Esau to railroad him, let’s self-exam first, shall we? What have you forfeited of your Father’s blessings and inheritance, because you traded it for a ‘plate of food’? Did you allow one more drink, one more smoke, one more hit, one more affair, one more night, one more slip, one more lie? What did you trade in the moment, assuming you would have another moment? Listen, I don’t care what the offer is, if it causes you to miss out on what God has purposely laid up for you, then the only thing that should come out of your mouth is, “No Deal!” You have too much to lose on a bad trade! Ephesians 1:3-6, “How blessed is God! And what a blessing He is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, AND TAKES US TO THE HIGH PLACES OF BLESSING IN HIM. Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, HE HAD US IN MIND, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to ADOPT US INTO HIS FAMILY through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of HIS LAVISH GIFT-GIVING BY THE HAND OF HIS BELOVED SON.” (MSG) People of God, I don’t know about you, but there is nothing the devil or this world has to offer me that would be deemed a fair or even trade for the Family of God’s Blessings and Inheritance! So the next time temptation rears its ugly head like it did with Eve and the Serpent, don’t hold a long conversation, just simply say, “No Deal”! I can’t afford to trade my Father’s Inheritance to me!”

2…Esau had it all, and didn’t lose it or have it taken or stolen, but he freely gave his rightful blessings away! Again, before you judge him too harshly, there are some blessings that your Father had in hand to bestow on you, and unfortunate as it is, you halted His hand. How? Willfully trading your spiritual prosperity for a plate of flesh! Listen, it’s one thing to go to the police and say my car was stolen (and it really was); however, it’s something altogether different when you go to the police and tell them, my car was stolen (but I gave them the keys, and permission to take it). Can you imagine what the officers’ face would look like? In fact, he would probably have you arrested for impersonating someone with common sense! People of God, your Father has blessings that He desires to bestow on you simply because you’re His sons and daughters. Don’t blow your benefits by getting caught up in a moment. It’s dangerous thinking you have one more moment, one more minute, or just a little, or just this one last time, or I’ve got time to make this right…and so you trade…only to never recover! Don’t think it can happen to you? Just listen to another of your brothers, who stepped out of line and lost it all in just one brief moment. The Bible reads: “That was stupid!” Samuel said. “You didn’t obey the Lord your God. If you had obeyed Him, someone from your family would always have been king of Israel. But no, you disobeyed, and so the Lord won’t choose anyone else from your family to be king. In fact, He has already chosen the one He wants to be the next leader of His people.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14 CEV). Can you imagine, once again, having it all, then giving it all away with just one foolish act? Or in the words of Samuel, one stupid act! And sadly, in Saul’s case, his foolish act didn’t just affect him, but no one else from his lineage would be able to be king. Even if they did absolutely nothing wrong, the family as a whole suffered from Saul’s moment of impulsiveness and disobedience. Children of God, let that also be a lesson for you, you have husbands and wives, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters and the last thing you want to do is put your whole family in a position of loss, because you couldn’t find a way to say “No Deal!” Don’t give away your Father’s blessings and inheritance! Don’t allow your appetite to be the liability that takes away your asset!

3…Esau couldn’t even make his wrong…right, because even with tears and repentance, he was already rejected, there was no more time left. And isn’t that like a lot of us, we willfully sin, and then assume we’ll have time to repent. Well, what happens when you find yourself walking in Esau’s shoes? “… afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.” (NLT) The term “too late” is defined as, “after the proper or available time; or when the time or opportunity is past” And that’s exactly what happened to Esau, he missed the opportunity to inherit his father’s blessing. And worse, he didn’t get to make his wrong, right. Don’t Let This Happen to You! Yes, repentance gives you the opportunity to turn, but sometimes time will cause you to miss your turn! So whatever you’re in today, if it would cause you to lose what you’ve found in God, turn now, while you still have time left!

4…Listen to this again, “Watch out for the Esau-syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing – but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” (MSG) The word “impulsive” is defined as “doing things or tending to do things suddenly and without careful thought; done suddenly and without planning; to be rash, quick or hasty.” Sounds just like Esau! “…and Esau said to Jacob, “Please, let me have a QUICK SWALLOW of that red stuff there, because I am exhausted and famished.” Saints, what’s important to know is this, Esau was not in the dark about his birthright and inheritance. He knew at a young age, because they are informed of it at a young age. And yet, even knowing what he would be trading (and ultimately losing), he did it anyway. Likewise, brothers and sisters, you already know the blessings God desires to give you, you know that because reading your Bible tells you that. So you are in no position to say “Oops, I didn’t know.” Yes, you did, and you went on and did that anyway. Be careful about picking up the “…Esau-Syndrome, of trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite…” You already know what you’ve gained, and therefore, what you stand to lose, so when the opportunity of trade comes up, turn it down fast! Don’t allow your impulsive flesh to cause you to miss out on your inheritance.

With one short-sighted decision, Esau entered the Gilligan Zone. Which is that place where you decide to do something that will feel good for a while, thinking it will only be a three-hour tour. But you end up in the Gilligan Zone, farther than you ever wanted to go, staying longer than you ever wanted to stay. And for you, that may be no TV plot! It’s happened to you. It all starts when we pull an Esau. We do something because it will get us through the moment. It will meet a need for us for now, only to hurt for years to come.

That’s the ugly secret about sin. It looks like it will get us through something. That deceit, that giving in to the pressure, that compromise of your integrity, that drink, that sexual sin, or cutting corners to get ahead or get accepted. Something appears in front of you that looks like it might meet a need, it might relieve the pain or help you get ahead. And you only mean for it to be just a little while, maybe just this once. Right? Just a three-hour tour.

But sin does not let you go once you let it out of the box. It will take you farther, it will keep you longer than you ever bargained for. Thus bringing out the truth of, James 1:15, “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” The Message Bible reads like this, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from US AND ONLY US. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of OUR OWN lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (vss. 13-15 MSG)

Too many people never make it back from sin’s three-hour tour! In the power of Jesus the Savior, you can resist sin, you can resist that compromise that looks so good but will cost you so much. James 4:7 says, “So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you.” (AMP) A moment of relief is not worth a lifetime of regret. Especially when you willingly made a bad trade!

Proverbs 5:21-23, “Mark well that God doesn’t miss a move you make; He’s aware of every step you take. The shadow of your sin will overtake you; you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark. Death is the reward of an undisciplined life; your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.” (MSG) Do you really want that to be descriptive of you? Sinful; Undisciplined and Foolish? Of course not. So today, determine that you will not suffer from the “…Esau-Syndrome, of trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite…” Because ultimately Esau was full, for the moment, but at the cost of being empty for a whole lot longer. And not only did he give his birthright away freely, but he also suffered later when he wanted the opportunity to make his wrong, right, but it was too late, repentance had run its course, and Esau was left in tears. Friends, can you honestly say that “him, her, them, or it” would be worth that as a trade-off for what God has to offer? Let me be the first to tell you, no it is not! So the next time the offer to sin, or accept anything that would hinder the Hand of God bestowing His blessings on your life shows up, I strongly suggest you remember Gilligan Island’s three hour tour…that was a whole lot longer! And then respond with “No Deal!”

Anything or anyone that would cause you to lose your Father’s Inheritance to You, is not a good trade, is not beneficial, is not promising, is not worth it!

Lastly, the word “appetite” is defined as “a natural desire to satisfy a bodily need, especially for food.” However, its’ Latin Origin “appetitus” means “desire for”, coming from “appetere” meaning “to seek after”. Listen, your appetite is what you desire when you’re seeking after something. Which is why it’s so important to be careful when you’re seeking comfort, love, friendship, marriage, money etc…because sin, according to James, comes from within us, our own lusts, enticements and desires. All things of the flesh, in which no good thing resides. Esau’s momentary appetite for food, caused him to lose his inheritance. Be mindful in the things/people/places you desire, you seek after and want for yourself…even if but for the moment. It will cost you, and cost you big. And sometimes, just like Esau, there is no recovery from the loss! Check your appetite, and make sure that you hunger more for the things of God than the things of your faulty flesh.

Galatians 5:16-18, “But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds IMPULSIVELY without regard for God and His precepts].  For the sinful nature has its DESIRE which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [DESIRE of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do.  But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.” (AMP)

Start to Walk Habitually in the Spirit, and You’ll Stop Impulsively Stepping Into Satan’s Traps for Your Flesh!

“You are free to make whatever choice you want, but you are not free from the consequences of the choice.” (Author Unknown)

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” (Author Unknown)

“What you feed your mind determines your appetite.” (Tom Ziglar)

“We must be careful not to let our Current Appetites steal away any chance we might have for a Future Feast.” (Jim Rohn)

“The key to Christian living is a thirst and hunger for God. And one of the main reasons people do not understand or experience the sovereignty of grace and the way it works through the awakening of sovereign joy is that their hunger and thirst for God is so small.” (John Piper)

“God releases more of His power and presence according to the measure of our hunger for Him.” (Mike Bickle)

“It’s abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible. It has been written into our spiritual DNA to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow at the name of Jesus.” (Bill Johnson)

“Worship and spiritual hunger make you so attractive to God that your circumstances cease to matter anymore. He will move heaven and earth to find a worshiper. When you begin to worship with all your being and desire, your heart turns Him toward you. You capture His attention and attract His affection.” (Tommy Tenney)

“Neglecting proper biblical nourishment spoils the spiritual appetite, and the result is theological malnutrition.” (Alistair Begg)

“When it comes to satisfying our spiritual appetites, there is no such thing as excess. There are no restraints placed on us by God. There are no rules of temperance or laws requiring moderation or boundaries beyond which we cannot go in seeking to enjoy Him. We need never pause to inquire whether we’ve crossed a line or become overindulgent. You need never fear feeling too good about God.” (Sam Storms)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How to Do Laundry When Someone’s Sick?”

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“The Danger of Shallow Roots”

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Colossians 2:6-7, “As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. HAVE THE ROOTS [OF YOUR BEING] FIRMLY AND DEEPLY PLANTED [IN HIM, FIXED AND FOUNDED IN HIM], BEING CONTINUALLY BUILT UP IN HIM, BECOMING INCREASINGLY MORE CONFIRMED AND ESTABLISHED IN THE FAITH, JUST AS YOU WERE TAUGHT, AND ABOUNDING AND OVERFLOWING IN IT WITH THANKSGIVING.” (AMPC)

I must admit, I’m not exactly what you would call an outdoors kind of gal. Now, I love long walks (but taking them up mountains, in valleys or through the woods…not my cup of tea)! But as always I love talking about my wonderful friends from all over the world, and today I’ll introduce you to Madeline. I love her dearly (however, I will never travel anywhere on this earth with her!) Sounds a little harsh I know, but then you’ve got to know Madeline to understand why I feel the way I do. You see, Maddy (as we call her), loves hiking! She absolutely adores rock climbing, hanging from the mountains on wires, tracking through the forest in hopes of meeting Smokey the Bear or Yogi I presume. In other words, Maddy loves the great outdoors, and if she could hike 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she would!

But even though I will never go hiking with Maddy, the nerdy, curious kid in me who’s always ready to learn something strange and new, always listens to Maddy’s discoveries. Mostly so I can find a way to weave them into an analogy for the devotionals (which her last hiking expedition has allowed me to do today).

So, Maddy on one of her many ‘see the world’ journey’s, found out a tidbit that of course she shared with my teachers brain. She learned about two kinds of trees: First, there were the beautiful White Alder trees. They grow lushly by the river bed and they wave their leaves. And she said what’s most interesting about them is that they can evaporate up to 400 gallons of water a day!

However, even with that amount of daily water as its’ intake, the roots of the White Alder are still very shallow. They get plenty of water, but have shallow roots. So, when the floods come in, they’ve got a serious problem! We’ll talk more about that problem in a minute.

Next, Maddy said she also learned about the desert zone trees. Now, these trees are ones in the desert that survive on only 40 gallons of water…a year! What happens is, they use everything they get, so their roots are deep! They don’t allow the water they receive to evaporate like the White Alder trees do, no, they use theirs instead! The White Alder allows what it receives to be evaporated (even though what it receives is more than enough)! Which leaves it with shallow roots. The desert zone trees, use every drop of water it receives, therefore it has strong roots!

With that said, guess which one is still standing after a violent storm? Yep, you guessed it, the one with strong and deep roots!

Our text today is also about roots. Not so much the roots of trees in the desert or trees by the river bed, but God’s trees–that would be you and me! Let’s take a look at our text: Colossians 2:6-7, “As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.” (AMPC)

The first important thing to note is this: “As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord…” In other words, church, disciples, children of God, believers, this is speaking to US! To those who have received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, this message is to US! And what message is that? “…walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.”

This speaks of what we are to look like and live like. This speaks of our conduct, behavior, character, growth and development. This speaks of the examples and standards that we are to set. This speaks of the image, likeness, reflection and representation we are to show forth. We are to walk as one with Him. Conform to Him. Look, think and act like Him. And how do we do this? We do so by having our roots (the core of who and what we are) being firmly and deeply planted in Him, fixed and founded in Him. That sounds like we need to put some serious work in! Which means this is not for the lazy, or the weak. To make something firm or to give something depth or to ensure something is planted, fixed and founded, requires work! This doesn’t happen overnight. Nor can you snap your finger and have growth, maturity, and development appear. As believers, this will take the consistency of bible study, Sunday school, prayer, fasting, devotional time, and consecration to the Lord to attain. You cannot however, get this by showing up part-time on the most celebratory services of the church. You can’t get this by the position or title you hold, or the chair that happens to hold you. You don’t get this via popularity or electoral vote. You don’t get this because of how long you’ve been there, who you’re connected to, or who you are (or think you are) in your own high-minded imagination. No, this comes through servanthood, humility, obedience, discipline, diligence, perseverance and faithfulness!

And by no means, think that once you’ve gotten a little growth under your belt that you are allowed to become stagnant. No, the Bible goes on to say: “…BEING CONTINUALLY BUILT UP IN HIM, BECOMING INCREASINGLY MORE CONFIRMED AND ESTABLISHED IN THE FAITH, just as you were taught, and ABOUNDING and OVERFLOWING in it with thanksgiving.” In other words, our work of growth, maturity and development never stop this side of heaven! We then have to “CONTINUALLY” which is defined as, “NON-STOP and TIME WITHOUT END”, be built up in Him.

Think about this: Have you ever seen a clean construction worker, sitting on the sides of a site? No, in order to build, they have to work, sweat and get dirty! This is not a walk in the park or a bed of roses. This is work! This is construction! And the importance of building it correctly is found in the wording: “…confirmed and established.” Ponder this: would you want to live in a house where the staircase, floor, walls, plumbing, wiring, and roof are all a hit or miss, if they will remain confirmed and established? Of course not, so why are you asking God to live in you if you are not going to put in the work to be a home of residence where He can dwell in that is “built, confirmed, and established”?

Furthermore, it is to be “…increasingly…abounding…overflowing…” Does anything about those words sound stagnant to you? Of course not!

Increase” is defined as “to make or become greater in size, amount, or degree.” Its Latin Origin “increscere”, from ‘crescere’ literally means “TO GROW.

Abound” is defined as “to exist in large numbers or amounts.” Its Latin Origin ‘abundare’ literally means “TO OVERFLOW.

Overflow” is defined as “to flow over the brim of a receptacle; to be excessively full or crowded; to be very full; to have an excess not able to be accommodated by a space.

This all describes how we the church are to be built up in HIM! This all describes how we the church are to be built up in our FAITH! This all describes how we the church are to be built up in THANKSGIVING! Continually being built, confirmed and established; continually increasing, abounding and overflowing, in Him, in Faith and in Thanksgiving! And we can’t even use the lame, repetitive, excuse of ‘I didn’t know’, because the Scripture clearly states, “…JUST AS YOU WERE TAUGHT…”! In a nutshell: We KNOW Better, So Why Aren’t We Doing, Growing, Being and Living Better?! We Can’t Say We Didn’t KNOW! And what does the Bible say about KNOWING what to do and NOT doing it? James 4:17, “REMEMBER, IT IS SIN TO KNOW WHAT YOU OUGHT TO DO AND THEN NOT DO IT.” (NLT) Disobedience is Still Sin! Selah…

Do you remember when you opened your life to Christ how dependent you were on Him; how hungry you were to get into His Word; how boldly and frequently you prayed; how trusting you were? Well, you see, these verses are necessary to talk to us about our roots because we have a tendency to get lazy about those spiritual roots! There was a time when you couldn’t kick us out of the church; we left school, work and anywhere else to be in the House of the Lord…and now people don’t even know if we’re still members because they rarely, if ever, see us in attendance. Many believers today behave like unbelievers, we’ve become annual holiday visitors to church! But when we first believed, we lived to be in the church. We were at every meeting; every rehearsal; every lesson; every sermon; every outreach program. We had a hunger and thirst to be in the House of the Lord, building the House of the Lord! There was a desperation that has since evaporated! What happened? There was a time when we were so close to the Living Waters, digesting every drop, flourishing and waving our leaves of victory…and then all of a sudden everything evaporated!

One of the definitions for the word “evaporate” is “TO CEASE TO EXIST.” But with so much Living Water supposedly flowing in us, how did we get to the place of the White Alder tree, we’re by the water, taking in the water, but when a storm hits, we go under because we’ve developed such shallow roots. Much about believers today has become shallow with no depth. Nothing to steady and keep us rooted, grounded and planted. How did we get here?

See, in many ways, we American Christians, are the White Alder tree that was described earlier–the one that has all that nourishment that evaporates up to 400 gallons of water a day, lives by the river bed, saturated with water, yet maintaining weak roots. And that’s the part that makes absolutely no sense because, we’re saturated with Christian resources on every hand! We’ve got Christian radio, and websites, and books and blogs, and TV, and Bible studies, and seminars, and conferences and convocations, we’re live streaming all over the world. Like the White Alder tree, we’re waving leaves and we’re celebrating. But we’re depending on temporary emotions and momentary good feelings, and popular events, and hopeful ‘just for me’ miracles, and experiences with the prophetic. Yet, with all of that, we’ve still got weak, shallow roots and we’re vulnerable to every life storm, because when we get in over our head, we’re guaranteed to drown since there’s no depth to anchor us.

Now, you talk to Christians in the desert places like China, for example, and they know where their roots are: consistent, personal Bible study every day; fervent prayer; deep roots in the church; always learning…always growing…inspite of the dangers they face for doing so. But we get lazy here in our spiritual rain forest. It takes a heavy hit to show us that what we have is broad, but not very deep, and maybe by then it’s gravely too late.

Oh, we know how to run, jump, spin, leap, dance, speak in tongues, hit the right cord, hoop on the perfect spot in the text. We know how to lay hands, fall out at the altar, pray loud enough to be seen, and perform well enough to be retweeted, liked and tagged. We know how to dress to impress (although I wonder if Jesus ever wore such elaborate ‘civics; vestments and garments’ in order to ‘do ministry’?) We know how to do protocol, programs and praise. We know how to sit in the right chair, and to stand in ovation for the official offices and officers. We have fancy footwork, loud clapping, and man we can holler! We can high-five, nudge, tag, tap and tell ya neighbor from the opening invocation to the closing benediction! Let us tell it, we are the most wonderful, awesome, great, famous, anointed, gifted, powerful, miracle-working, signs and wonders saints of all time!

And yet, our attitudes haven’t improved; our dress attire looks no different than it did when we were unsaved in the club; we still cuss, drink, smoke (you know, all those things we like to call our ‘struggles and strongholds’, when in fact they’re more like our comfortable habits and addictions that we have no intentions on changing (especially if no one else finds out about them). We can’t reflect the image and likeness of Christ, but we can sure selfie. We can text in church, but can’t properly expound on a sermon text. We have thousands of friends in our social media circles, but can’t count 10 people in our church circle that can confirm our character. We can network on the web, but not meet the needs of the needy in our neighborhoods. We have more saints on ‘facebook live’ then we have ‘living epistles’ in the church.

Church, what has happened to us?

Makes me think of 2 Corinthians 11:1-3, “…The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you so much—this is the passion of God burning inside me! I promised your hand in marriage to Christ, presented you as a pure virgin to her husband. And now I’m afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ.” (MSG) How did we go from being presented to Christ as a pure virgin to her husband, to being beguiled and tricked into having an adulterous affair with Satan via his ‘smooth patter’? And what does ‘patter’ means? It’s defined as, “rapid continuous talk, such as used by a salesman; trivial jargon.” Satan pitched us a quick line of flattery about all he can offer us in this world, and just like that we traded the Kingdom for a cheap earthly thrill! How unfortunate that Christians aren’t more like their Christ when tricks of temptation rear their ugly head?! Because the Bible reads: “Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights HE WAS TESTED BY THE DEVIL. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry. The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.” JESUS ANSWERED BY QUOTING DEUTERONOMY: “It takes more than bread to really live.” For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.” JESUS REFUSED, AGAIN BACKING HIS REFUSAL WITH DEUTERONOMY: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.” For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?” “YES,” SAID JESUS, “AND IT’S ALSO WRITTEN, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’” That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.” (Luke 4:1-11 MSG)

JESUS WASN’T LURED BY THE SMOOTH PATTER OF THE DEVIL’S TONGUE…SO WHY ARE WE (WHO HAVE HIS POWER WITHIN) SO EASILY BEGUILED?

Which is why I reiterate, how did we get here Church? How did we reach such heights, with no depth? How did we get to this place of importance that we traded it for significance? When did we become so engrossed in becoming the same, that we’ve forfeited making a difference? When did entertainment supersede education, encouragement and empowerment? When did our calendars becoming busier than our calling? When did our fruit began rotting?

I find this most terrifying because in the same breath, we can look around us at what’s happening, and listen to the radio and see all that’s going on in the news and in our government and still we’ll say ‘we’re living in the end times.’ But if in fact we are, is this what the church should look and live like? Is this what we as believers should reflect in our public and private lives and lifestyles?  Makes you wonder, when the trumpet sounds, can we honestly say that we’ve made the people aware, and that we’ve lived in a state of readiness? When He returns, are we really sure that we’ll return with Him?

The White Alder trees, live by the waters, take in 400 gallons of water daily, they wave their leaves…they have the very appearance of health, height and depth. They look as if when the storm hits, we’ll remain standing. But sadly, what they take in they don’t use, so when the storm hits, the beautiful rain forest that they’ve imagined themselves to be in, will become a desolate swamp. Why? They had a whole lot of height, but no depth at all.

You know, maybe it’s time now for us to see that our roots need to be growing, and not just our leaves. You see, the White Alder tree, has leaves that are constantly waving, though on the inside they’re wilting. The word “wilt” is defined as “to become limp through loss of water; to droop; to lose energy.” Its Origin ‘welk’ means ‘TO LOSE FRESHNESS.’ And that’s what’s happening to us church. We’re wilting. We have all the resources at our fingertips, and still we’ve lost our green-thumb. Do you know some things about the Lord that you didn’t know a month ago? Have you given Him some new ground that He didn’t have a month ago? Are you praying in fresh, new ways? Is your relationship with God mostly vertical…not horizontal, just when you’re with His people? In the right social settings and circles. Can you say that you’re growing in God daily and not just giving the appearance of growth?

Well, you could be saturated all day, every day, and still not be strong enough to withstand the storms of life. Which is why I stopped by today to admonish, you and me, to build our roots. So when the storm or the drought comes, we’ll stand tall through it all. Today, is a great day for us to begin again. A day to repent, turn and change. A day to restore, revive, renew, and redeem the remainder of our days that we will have made an impact on the world, instead of just an impression. Let today be the day that you go deeper in God. Not just Sunday services, but personal devotional services with just you and God in your prayer closet. I know in this day and age, everything has to be seen. But sometimes you need a moment away from the limelight and spotlight, and simply spend quiet time with God in your dim prayer closet. Ask Him to develop your negatives in the darkroom so you can become the light of the world that you should have been all along.

Instead of being a show for the world, let’s show the world Him. No personal glory, just God. Let’s show them what humility looks like. What servanthood looks like. What discipleship looks like. What growth, maturity and development looks like. What faith, hope, trust, and obedience looks like. What unconditional love looks like. What accountability and responsibility looks like. What change looks like. What depth and roots look like. Today, Let’s Not Worry About Going Higher, But Going Deeper!

Ephesians 4:13-15, “[That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead. Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).” (AMPC);

1 Corinthians 3:1-2, “However, brethren, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to nonspiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [unable to talk yet!] I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]; but even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it]” (AMPC);

1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.” (AMPC);

1 Corinthians 14:20, “Brethren, do not be children [immature] in your thinking; continue to be babes in [matters of] evil, but in your minds be mature [men].” (AMPC);

2 Thessalonians 1:3, “We ought and indeed are obligated [as those in debt] to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing exceedingly and the love of every one of you each toward the others is increasing and abounds.” (AMPC);

Proverbs 1:5, “The wise also will hear and increase in learning, and the person of understanding will acquire skill and attain to sound counsel [so that he may be able to steer his course rightly]” (AMPC);

Acts 12:24, “But the Word of the Lord [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] continued to grow and spread.” (AMPC);

Hebrews 5:12-14, “For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food. For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]! But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.” (AMPC);

1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation,” (AMPC);

Luke 8:14-15, “And as for what fell among the thorns, these are [the people] who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked and suffocated with the anxieties and cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not ripen (come to maturity and perfection). But as for that [seed] in the good soil, these are [the people] who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in a just (noble, virtuous) and worthy heart, and steadily bring forth fruit with patience.” (AMPC);

Colossians 1:10, “That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition].” (AMPC)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Health Benefits of Soy”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“3 Reasons You Keep Losing the Battle”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now Soldiers, FIGHT AND WIN!

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

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“Big Man, Big Head, Big Fall!”

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2 Chronicles 26:11-18, “On the military side, UZZIAH had a well-prepared army ready to fight. They were organized by companies under the direction of Jeiel the secretary, Maaseiah the field captain, and Hananiah of the general staff. The roster of family leaders over the fighting men accounted for 2,600. Under them were reinforcement troops numbering 307,000, with 500 of them on constant alert—A STRONG ROYAL DEFENSE AGAINST ANY ATTACK. Uzziah had them well-armed with shields, spears, helmets, armor, bows, and slingshots. He also installed the latest in military technology on the towers and corners of Jerusalem for shooting arrows and hurling stones. HE BECAME WELL KNOWN FOR ALL THIS—A FAMOUS KING. Everything seemed to go his way. BUT then the strength and success went to his HEAD. ARROGANT AND PROUD, HE FELL. One day, contemptuous of God, he walked into The Temple of God like he owned it and took over…” (MSG)

More than likely you’ve heard many nursery rhymes growing up. Either your parents have shared them with you or you’ve shared them with your children. Some of the most popular ones are: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”; “Three Little Kittens”; “Three Blind Mice”; “This Little Piggy”; “Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”; “Row Row Row Your Boat”; “Rock-a-Bye Baby”; “Rain Rain Go Away”; “Pop Goes the Weasel”; “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater”; “Old Mother Hubbard”; “Mother Goose”; “Mary Mary Quite Contrary”; “Mary Had a Little Lamb”; “London Bridge is Falling Down”; “Little Bo Peep” and the list can go on forever! However, there is one particular nursery rhyme that crossed my mind today: “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpy Dumpty had a great fall; all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

But Wait! I thought Humpty Dumpty was just a nursery rhyme. You know, the big egg who sat on a wall, but had a great fall. But as it turns out, Humpty has got a lot of company these days from men sitting on a high wall, and smashed by a big fall!

Take one of the world’s most powerful financial figures, for example, in a $3,000-a-night Manhattan hotel suite one night, and then the next night, in a tough New York jail. He stood accused of serious sexual violation of a hotel maid. Now, those accusations had to be proven in court, but they did resonate with a reputation for mixing power with sexual aggression.

But then that story isn’t what we want to focus on. That’s just the latest of many high-profile stories of a powerful man who has taken a precipitous (‘dangerously high or steep; hasty; sudden and dramatic’) Humpty Dumpty crash! You can think about athletes, politicians, financial high-rollers, and yes, even prominent men in ministry!

Now, at the root is a time-bomb mindset identified by a man who knows this scenario all too well–Tiger Woods. After his darkest secrets spilled out of the closets for all the world to see, here’s what he said: “I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I felt I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me.” Now, listen to his key phrase: “I felt I was entitled.

The word “entitlement” is defined as “to give someone a right to do or have.” In a nutshell, entitlement is the gateway to moral disaster. Entitlement says, “My position means the rules don’t apply to me. I have a right to go out of bounds.” You know, in 2 Chronicles 26:16, the Jewish king Uzziah had led his nation to a new pinnacle of greatness, all the while, he was deeply reliant on God UNTIL the Bible says, “He became successful” and “pride became his downfall.” The Amplified Bible says it like this: “But when Uzziah became strong, he became so proud [of himself and his accomplishments] that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful and sinned against the Lord his God…” (AMP)

He walked into the temple and began to take privileges that God had clearly given only to His priests. And like Icarus flying too close to the sun, Uzziah came crashing down.

Even the great King David must have felt that he’d won so many victories and done so much good that, well; he was entitled to sex with the wife of a trusted friend. However, his life was never the same: 2 Samuel 12:15-18, “After Nathan went home, God afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he came down sick. David prayed desperately to God for the little boy. He fasted, wouldn’t go out, and slept on the floor. The elders in his family came in and tried to get him off the floor, but he wouldn’t budge. Nor could they get him to eat anything. On the seventh day the child died…” (MSG)

It’s just all too easy to succumb to that feeling of entitlement, especially when you’ve escalated in rank, order and position. Some feel entitled because of the position they’ve achieved, or some because of the pressures they face: “If you only knew what I’m going through….I deserve this…I need this…” And even some because of the pain they’re going through. It can be a high-flying leader, a lonely wife, a much-loved pastor, or a very busy, very tired man. Entitled to some relief, some attention, some affection, some stolen pleasure, some reward, a spiritualday offif you will. And it is those detours at Entitlement Junction where lives and families and reputations and ministries are ripped apart.

In this day and age of the church, every other day it seems you hear of someone else with a ring, robe, cross, church, position, title, chair, elevation etc. However, the danger is that titles have a tendency to make one feel entitled, even to the things and people they know not to touch. Everyone is important, powerful, anointed, gifted and the like. Everyone is walking around with 20 people following behind them wiping their sweat, pouring their tea, carrying their bible, chauffeuring them around as if they can’t get in their own car and drive from one location to the next. The church has become full of stages, performances, shows, roles, and characters with no Character.

You can’t find humility, servanthood, or anyone willing to work behind the scenes, because they’re all too busy fighting for the starring role and lead! Pride has become prevalent and even acceptable as we make failed attempts to cover it up withself-confidence”.

However, God really is “no respecter of persons.Romans 2:9-11, “If you go against the grain, you get splinters, regardless of which neighborhood you’re from, what your parents taught you, what schools you attended. But if you embrace the way God does things, there are wonderful payoffs, again without regard to where you are from or how you were brought up. Being a Jew won’t give you an automatic stamp of approval. God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind.” (MSG); Acts 10:34-36, “Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from – if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message He sent to the children of Israel – that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again – well, He’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.” (MSG);

In other words, as entitled as you may think you are, God doesn’t think so! So whatever pedestal you’ve put yourself on or allowed others to put you on, get off it before God helps you down! Proverbs 16:18, “First pride, then the crash – the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (MSG).

And, as Warren Wiersbe says, “A lifetime of obedience will not buy you one hour of disobedience.” Just ask King David. God made it clear “your sin will find you out.” Why? Because He loves you too much to let you keep getting away with what will ultimately destroy you. And sad to say, but we really don’t have leaders who are correcting, we just have leaders who are covering! And as my mother always said, “what’s covered won’t heal.” Sounds like she paraphrased that from Proverbs 28:13, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But whoever confesses and turns away from his sins will find compassion and mercy.” (AMP).

Brothers, you don’t need anyone else giving you pats on the back, you need to instead surround yourself with those who will give you a swift kick in the behind when you’re heading the wrong way and doing the wrong thing! You need a brotherhood that will be the epitome of James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].” (AMP)

Listen, can you imagine how things would have turned out for Uzziah had he had another brother give him a swift kick when he needed it? He wouldn’t have ended up with a Humpty Dumpty irreparable crash! And the worse part isn’t that he fell, but that his fall was so great that he wasn’t able to recover from it. Reminds us a little of King Saul:

1 Samuel 13:8-14, “Now Saul waited seven days, according to the appointed time which Samuel had set, but Samuel had not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering away from Saul.  So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering [which he was forbidden to do].  As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel finally came; Saul went out to meet and to welcome him. But Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “Since I saw that the people were scattering away from me, and that you did not come within the appointed time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash,  therefore, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked for the Lord’s favor [by making supplication to Him].’ So I forced myself to offer the burnt offering.”  Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for [if you had obeyed] the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man (David) after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as leader and ruler over His people, because you have not kept (obeyed) what the Lord commanded you.” (AMP).

One bad decision, one act of disobedience and Saul lost everything forever! Men of God, surely you don’t want this to be your testimony!

Which is why it’s a must that you build walls high around the places where you’re most vulnerable. And fall to your knees in repentance where you’ve strayed out of bounds before any more damage is done.

1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” (AMP). Make one of your simple 911 prayers, “Lord, in the midst of this temptation, bring back to my remembrance that you’ve already provided me with a way of escape. Grant me the discernment to see it and the wisdom to take it, NOW!”

Don’t allow pride, temptation, or disobedience to be your downfall! Because as much as we like to teach and preach the “fluff” messages that God will restore all things, truth is, sometimes that is not the case. Humpty Dumpty NEVER recovered! Remember? “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpy Dumpty had a great fall; all the king’s horses and all the king’s men COULDN’T put Humpty together again.” I reiterate, Humpty Dumpty NEVER recovered and neither did Uzziah or Saul, and David barely made it by!

Brothers, don’t take your chances! Don’t assume that you are simply entitled to do whatever you want to do, for that is far from the truth. Your every choice comes with a consequence, and some of those consequences are not temporary. Therefore, never get so caught up in who you are or who you think you are. Never become so consumed by your accomplishments or their accolades and applause. After all, even Jesus had those cry out Hosanna and Crucify Him in the same breath! Never become so big-headed that you become hard-hearted. Uzziah did and look what happened to him: 2 Chronicles 26:16, “But then the strength and success went to his head. Arrogant and proud, HE FELL.” (MSG). Other translations read like this:

“Uzziah became proud of his power, and this led to his DOWNFALL…” (CEV);

“But when Uzziah became strong, his pride caused him to be DESTROYED…” (ERV);

“But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his DESTRUCTION…” (ESV);

“But when he became powerful, his pride DESTROYED him…” (GWT);

“But when he became strong, he grew arrogant and it led to his own DESTRUCTION…” (HCSB);

“But when Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his RUIN…” (NCV);

“But when he became strong, Uzziah’s heart was so proud that his actions were SINFUL…” (NLV)

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

Men of God, don’t let this happen to you! Always remain humble and obedient and use godly wisdom for every decision. And before every choice, weigh out the consequences. Remembering that although some may be temporal, others will be permanent and eternal and unable to be undone. In doing this, you won’t end up the Big Man Whose Big Head Caused Him a Big Fall!

“Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.” (T.S. Eliot)

“The truth is hard to swallow when you’re choking on your pride.” (LiveHappyNow)

“God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.” (Dwight L. Moody)

“Arrogance is the camouflage of insecurity.” (Tim Fargo)

“Arrogance is out of fashion. It is just a façade used by the ego to hide your most authentic you.” (Roxana Jones)

“Pride will cost you Everything but leave you with Nothing.” (Author Unknown)

“Arrogance requires advertising. Confidence speaks for itself.” (TheGoodVibe)

“Arrogance is just insecurities playing dress up.” (Author Unknown)

“I wish you self-esteem so high that you’re humble.” (Author Unknown)

“Knowledge makes people humble and arrogance makes people ignorant.” (Author Unknown)

“Arrogance is an unhealthy ego in need of repair.” (Thomas Faranda)

“Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil’s reach as humility.” (Jonathan Edwards)

“Swallow your pride. You will not die. It’s not poison.” (Bob Dylan)

“When one lives attached to money, pride or power, it is impossible to be happy.” (Pope Francis)

“For pride is a spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” (C.S. Lewis)

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

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“How God Makes a BIG Ego…small”

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Genesis 11:1-9, “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.  And as men traveled in the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and made their home there.  They said to one another, “Come, let us make blocks and burn them until they are hard.” They used blocks for stone, and tar to hold them together.  Then they said, “Come, let us build a city FOR OURSELVES, with a tower that touches the heavens. Let us make a name FOR OURSELVES, or else we may be sent everywhere over the whole earth.” Then the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of men had built.  And the Lord said, “See, they are one people, and they all have the same language. This is only the beginning of what they will do. Now all they plan to do will be possible for them.  Come, let Us go down and mix up their language so they will not understand what each other says.”  So the Lord sent them everywhere over the whole earth. And they stopped building the city.  So the name of the city was Babel, because there the Lord mixed up the language of the whole earth. The Lord sent the people everywhere over the whole earth.” (NLV)

Key Verse: Genesis 11:4, “Then they said, “Come, let us build a city FOR OURSELVES, with a tower that touches the heavens. Let us make a name FOR OURSELVES, or else we may be sent everywhere over the whole earth.” (NLV) 

Louis Sullivan, the inventor of the modern skyscraper, said, “The tall building…should be a proud and soaring thing that makes a powerful appeal to the architectural imagination.

Well, today, many WOMEN embody the same spirit of Pride and Self-Sufficiency that is represented in the lofty towers that make up our cities. Unfortunate as it may be, many Bible toting, Scripture quoting WOMEN of God are Focused on Personal Perfection MORE THAN Pleasing the One Whom They Call Their “Personal Lord and Savior”.

Truth be told, there is a Multitude of Women who seek the pinnacle of age-defying beauty through creams, procedures or surgeries. Some even become obsessed with fashion or feel that they must conform to some media-driven image. Now, it’s one thing for the “World” to act in such a manner, but when the “Church” behaves in such a manner it Delivers a Critical Blow to the Conduct that is Called “Christ-Like”!  And as Women of God, We are Never Called to Compromise or Conform! Romans 12:1-2, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (MSG)

However, as women, we’ve become so diligent in working on our outer man that the inner woman of God is slowly decaying! Yes, our make-up is flawless, our hair doesn’t have a strand out of place, our clothes have every “known” name across the country, our smiles are picture perfect, our speech drips with honey-flavored eloquence, we’ve mastered poise and yet we’ve become a slave to pretense!

We “look” so much the “part” that we no longer even know how to end the “scene” of “playing church” when Sunday’s “role” is over. And then matters are made worse because others believe the “role” of religion we “play”, and so they give us “standing ovations, grand applause, beautiful flowers thrown at our feet,” compliments instead of criticisms and pats on the back instead of swift kicks in the behind! Our egos are stroked while our spirits are struggling to survive the strangulation of conformity! Who we are is slowly dying because we continue to breathe life into who we “pretend” to be!

“God, Church and Hell are all real. People claim they love God, but is God in them? They go to church to play church. But if you go to hell will you still be playing?” (Author Unknown)

I don’t think we’re fully aware, ladies, of the dangers of “playing church”. We can pretend all day long here on earth, but there comes a day of reckoning, and God is not going to ask about who and what you pretended to be, but who you really are and what you really did! 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, “But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.” (MSG) You have to get yourself together in this life, because the afterlife is too late! When you play with church, and play with your soul, you’re playing with your eternity! Today is the day we take off all the masks and stop with the pretense and get real! It’s time to work on ourselves, instead of simply covering up an ugly construction site of sin and foolishness. We’ve pretended to be healed, whole, saved and delivered for long enough. It’s time to get ourselves right before that last trumpet sounds! This is NOT a dress rehearsal! There are no shows and curtains in heaven waiting for you to come out playing a character instead of actually possessing Character! 

But what you will have to embrace is that once you’ve pretended for so long, the real you gets lost! And people become comfortable and familiar with who you’ve pretended to be all this time. So it will not be an easy or quick process to unveiling the real you! But if you are to please God, it is a must!  

You see, gradually, over time, it becomes easier and easier to build monuments to ourselves. After all, as the famous ad says to women, “Because, I’m Worth It”. Well, the builders of the tower of Babel shared a key aspect of Sullivan’s vision of the tall building: PRIDE! And they had one purpose: TO BUILD A NAME FOR THEMSELVES! They wanted to claim glory that rightly belonged to God Alone – but after all, they ‘were worth it’ too, right?

However, the longing to climb higher than God didn’t begin in Babel. Before time began, Lucifer said, “…I will RAISE MY THRONE ABOVE THE STARS OF GOD; I will SIT ENTHRONED ON THE MOUNT OF ASSEMBLY, on the UTMOST HEIGHTS OF MOUNT ZAPHON” (Isaiah 14:13 NIV). And to this day, we still have women who are doing whatever it takes to raise themselves up to sit enthroned amongst the assembly and be treated as Queens of the utmost heights of elevations, promotions, titles and positions, rings, robes, and royal seating in the sanctuary!

So you see, it didn’t begin with Babel, BUT, it didn’t end with Babel, either.

Here’s a little history for you. The pyramids of Egypt proclaim the power of the rulers buried beneath them. Many lives were lost in the building of the pyramids, “collateral damage” to the princes who built them. Often Egyptian slaves were killed when their masters died and were buried alongside them. But just as the Egyptian kings sacrificed everything to their own legacy, women often sacrifice the good of those around them for fleeting recognition, not to mention the humble spirit God desires. The rulers of ancient Egypt were not all-powerful – they died the deaths of mere men. So, don’t you dare be deceived, your soul will not be saved by flawless skin or the perfect career any more than the towering mountains of stone raised over the mummies of kings saved them!

Women of God, it’s one thing to have pride in yourself, your appearance and even your accomplishments. However, you must never let your pride get out of control. Don’t be like those who attempted to “BUILD FOR THEMSELVES” and “MAKE A NAME FOR THEMSELVES”! Truth is, It’s Not About You! Your Talent, Gifts, Skill-Set, Anointing etc…are for the Building of the Kingdom of God, Not a Personal Cathedral to You! Building a Legacy is not about Your Name being left behind for generations after you to talk about! A Legacy has Purpose; It Has Action! Legacy is for People who have Done Something! Your name on a building is useless, if what you Did wasn’t useful! Sisters, let your work speak for you, it has a loud and powerful voice that will not and cannot be silenced! 

However, you have to put in the work! And that work is not FOR you, it’s FROM you! It’s to build a better generation (not so you can take credit for it) but simply because you care about what the Lord’s heart desires. Every time Jesus came into a person’s life (even if it was briefly passing through it) their life was made better. They were made better. Ladies, if you want your name to say something, let it say Character; Integrity; Sincerity; Excellence; Modesty; Dignity; Help; Support. Let your name say something about what you Do for Others (that you look for no recognition or credit for). 

Women of God, the best handiwork is when your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand is doing! “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” (Judy Blume) Which means we have to stop taking up so much of our time daily applying makeup and masks, so that we can put our hands to better use, as in touching the lives of others and leaving that as our legacy! Ego’s and pride have had us to focus on ourselves long enough!

Also, be careful not to lose yourself trying to find yourself in places God never intended you to be! Hint: lofty, high places certainly is not it! If you want to really find yourself, just locate the places your God has been (after all, you were made in His image and likeness). Remember, He dwells in Humility; He hangs around the Poor and Meek; He lends a Helping and Healing hand to those who are hurting and struggling. He’s aiding the bound to become free; He’s feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. He’s providing shelter for the homeless and a protective hedge for those under attack. 

Believe it or not, the real Heights are when you delve into the Depths of despair to help someone who cannot help themselves!

In closing, I understand the commercial ad “Because, I’m Worth It”. But that is a motto for the World! When it comes to Believers, our Motto is more like “Because, He’s Worth It!”  

So, what do you take pride in? What keeps you from glorifying God? Has your focus become self-absorbed? Have you become self-glorifying? If so, the solution to the problem is simple: Whatever is keeping you from God, give it to Him for His glory! Let your relationship with Jesus be the source of your significance. 

The Word of God does not lie, when you humble yourself Before God, He Will Lift You Up! However, a high ego will bring you down mighty low! 

“…Come, let Us go down and mix up their language so they will not understand what each other says.”  So the Lord sent them everywhere over the whole earth. And they stopped building the city.  So the name of the city was Babel, because there the Lord mixed up the language of the whole earth. The Lord sent the people everywhere over the whole earth.” (NLV)  

Don’t allow your pride and ego to steal your voice! There’s so much for you to speak into the lives of the current and future generations that you can’t afford to let your ego ‘babble’ your purpose. These were a people that were sent by the Lord everywhere over the whole earth. But what purpose did it serve them, since their language was mixed up and served nothing of value to themselves or to those generations to come. You have an opportunity to be sent to all the corners of the earth. In fact, you have that as a command!

Acts 1:7-8, “He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses IN JERUSALEM, ALL OVER JUDEA AND SAMARIA, EVEN TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.” (MSG) 

Matthew 28:19-20, “Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train EVERYONE YOU MEET, FAR AND NEAR, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (MSG) 

Mark 16:14-16, “Still later, as the Eleven were eating supper, he appeared and took them to task most severely for their stubborn unbelief, refusing to believe those who had seen him raised up. Then he said, “GO INTO THE WORLD. GO EVERYWHERE and announce the Message of God’s good news TO ONE AND ALL. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned.” (MSG)

You can either maintain your ego and cause God to send your babbling, unproductive self all over the globe, or you could humble yourself and cause God to send you all over the globe fulfilling His Will and Purpose, however, the choice is always YOURS! You can have a global ministry that takes you all over the globe filled with purpose, or a global ministry that takes you all over the globe and it’s pointless.  

Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” (AMP) So, what are you going to allow your ego to use your words for, death or life? Because as you go day-by-day in your work for the Lord, you will daily have to make that decision. And your ego or humility is the determining factor as to which it will be. 

Women of God, there’s nothing wrong with building, but it has to always keep God in proper perspective with every brick! Proverbs 16:3, “Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His Will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.” (AMPC) 

The danger for the people in our text was that they were focused on building for themselves and they failed. Just think of what you could accomplish and succeed at if only you’d keep the Lord as your tunnel vision focus?! Remember, no matter how the Lord chooses to use YOU, it is always about HIM! Don’t let your ego rob you of a great work you can accomplish for God. There are people who have need of you and all that God put in you. Don’t let your ego be the roadblock that keeps you from going forward into a fruitful destiny. Keep the Lord at the center, and everything else around you will fall into place and, “…so shall your plans be established and succeed.” Instead of “…and they stopped building the city…”  

Reflection Questions:

  1. What kind of “towers” have you built? (your business, your career, your talents, your ministry etc…) Who really gets the glory from your labors, you or God?
  1. Would those who know you best, say you are Selfless or Selfish?
  1. If you had to be truthful with yourself, would you honestly say you are Selfless or Selfish?
  1. How much time do you spend on beautifying your inner man compared to the time you spend beautifying your outer man?
  1. How would you honestly handle working hard behind the scenes, and yet never having your name come up in the credits?
  1. When is the last time you did something good for someone who still has no idea it was you?
  1. Do you ever find yourself in comparison and competition with the “image of beauty” in the world? How do you handle it?
  1. What does the word Legacy mean to you?
  1. If there were only 3 things that someone would be able to share as your lasting legacy, what would those 3 things be?
  1. If you were to be known for a specific Fruit of the Spirit, which would it be and why?

Psalm 86:8-10, “There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord. And there are no works like Yours.  All the nations You have made will come and worship before You, O Lord. And they will bring honor to Your name.  For You are great and do great things. You alone are God.” (NLV);

Proverbs 18:10-12, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The man who does what is right runs into it and is safe. The rich man’s money is his strong city, and he thinks it is like a high wall. The heart of a man is proud before he is destroyed, but having no pride goes before honor.” (NLV);

Matthew 23:12, “The person who thinks he is important will find out how little he is worth. The person who is not trying to honor himself will be made important.” (NLV)

1 Peter 3:1-6, “The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated.” (MSG)

1 Timothy 2:8-10, “Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” (MSG)

Titus 2:1-6, “Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.” (MSG)

Proverbs 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house [on a foundation of godly precepts, and her household thrives], But the foolish one [who lacks spiritual insight] tears it down with her own hands [by ignoring godly principles].” (AMP)

Proverbs 3:13-18, “You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight. She’s worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary. Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition. Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete. She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her. Hold her tight—and be blessed!” (MSG)

“The one sole thing in myself in which I glory is that I see in myself nothing in which I can glory” ~ Catherine of Genoa

“Swallow your pride occasionally, it’s non-fattening!”  ~Author Unknown

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”  ~Benjamin Franklin

“Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self.”  ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.”  ~Author Unknown

“It is always the secure who are humble.”  ~Gilbert Keith Chesterton

“Few are humble, for it takes a self-esteem few possess.” ~Robert Brault

“We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.”  ~Rabindranath Tagore

“Nobody stands taller than those willing to stand corrected.”  ~William Safire

“One learns to ignore criticism by first learning to ignore applause.”  ~Robert Brault

“Don’t look for more honor than your learning merits.”  ~Jewish Proverb

“The man who thinks he can live without others is mistaken; the one who thinks others can’t live without him is even more deluded.”  ~Hasidic Saying

“When someone sings his own praises, he always gets the tune too high.”  ~Mary H. Waldrip

“None are so empty as those who are full of themselves.”  ~Benjamin Whichcote

“People that put themselves above others will fall longer and harder.”  ~Gina Lindley

“When science discovers the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to find they are not it.”  ~Bernard Baily

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

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