“Let God Handle the Payback”

Proverbs 20:22, Do not say, “I’ll PAY YOU BACK for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and He will deliver you” {NIV}

Contrary to popular belief, REVENGE ISN’T SWEET; in fact it actually makes us SOUR! Marcus Aurelius, said it best: “The best revenge is to be UNLIKE him who performed the injury”

Furthermore, studies have shown an association between negative emotions such as Anger and Revenge with a variety of Destructive Physical Symptoms, including headaches, backaches, allergic disorders, ulcers, nausea, high blood pressure and heart attacks! Sadly, while vengeful people plot another’s demise, they are unaware that for themselves they often develop a painful health problem! In a nutshell, they don’t realize that Paybacks have a way of Paying You Back Too!

Mahatma Gandhi gave us this insight: “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind”. Which is why it’s vital that you Remember for every Payback there is a Surcharge YOU will have to Pay Also!

Revenge is an outward manifestation of an underlying problem: ANGER! Anger left unchecked will deepen into bitter roots of resentment or even jealousy. And when these Unbiblical attitudes are full-grown, the desire for revenge springs up! I agree with Buddha, at least in this respect: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; When You Are The One Who Gets Burned”! Your anger is Definitely Doing Damage, the problem is, You’ve Overlooked the Burn Marks In Your Hands to Prove to You WHO Really Received the Damage!

Revenge Opposes the Golden Rule: “Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). Another translation says it like this: “So then, whatever you desire that others would do to and for you, even so Do Also To And For Them…” (AMP). Therefore, if you seek Forgiveness when you are in the wrong, don’t expect to get it if Revenge is the Seed You’ve Sown in the Lives of Others!

My mama would say: “Give What You Want to Get!

You see, instead of taking things into our own hands, this proverb encourages us to let go and let God deal with our enemies! Because God is Just, those who are wicked will eventually get their “just due!” Therefore, You are Never to Exercise Vengeance because God said: “Beloved, Never Avenge Yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance Is MINE, I Will Repay (requite), says the LORD” (Romans 12:19 AMP). Vengeance Belongs to God, and He Alone Has the Right to Exercise It! And Unless You Can Prove You Are Indeed GOD, You Have No Rights to Vengeance! Another translation reads like this: “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; THAT’S NOT FOR YOU TO DO. “I’LL DO THE JUDGING,” SAYS GOD. “I’LL TAKE CARE OF IT” (MSG). Did you catch all that? You don’t get to hit back, you don’t get to get even, you don’t get to judge and you don’t get to take care of it! That Is All In God’s Authorization and Under His Jurisdiction Alone! The word “jurisdiction” means: “the official power to make legal decisions and judgments; the territory or sphere over which the legal authority of a court or other institution extends” It’s Latin Origin comes from “Jus” meaning “Law” and “Dicere” meaning “Say”. In other words, When It Comes to Vengeance, God Alone Has Jurisdiction to Make Decisions! Why? Because that’s what the Law (Bible) Says!

In a nutshell: Get Angry if you must, But You Can’t Get Even!

“Revenge is always the weak pleasure of a little and narrow mind” (Juvenal) And surely You’re Smarter Than That?!

Louis XII of France is said to have treated his enemies in an Unexpected Manner after ascending to the throne. Before coming to power, he had been cast into prison and kept in chains. Later when he did become king, he was urged to seek revenge on those who had opposed him, BUT HE REFUSED! Instead, he prepared a scroll on which he listed all who had perpetrated crimes against him. Behind every man’s name he placed a Cross In Red Ink! When the guilty heard about this, they feared for their lives and fled. Then the king explained, “The Cross which I drew beside each name was not a sign of punishment, but a pledge of forgiveness extended for the sake of the crucified Savior, who upon His Cross Forgave His Enemies and Prayed For Them.

Moral of the Story: Just because you have a RIGHT to be angry, doesn’t mean you can exercise it to cause injury! In God’s Book, that’s still WRONG!

“Anyone who angers you, conquers you!” (Author Unknown) And last I checked, the Bible Still Says, You Are to Be Led or Controlled By the Holy Spirit ONLY, Not Your Emotions, Feelings or Hurts! So stop allowing your anger, resentment, and attempts at revenge to become your mini-god! You’ve bowed down to it long enough and often enough already! Cast down the idol of your anger, resentment and revenge, and serve the Lord as His True Disciple: “Let me give you a new command: Love One Another. In the Same Way I loved you, you Love One Another. This is how everyone will Recognize That You Are My Disciples – When They See The Love You Have For Each Other” (John 13:35 MSG)

You can’t say out of one side of your mouth that you love God, but out of the other side say you hate your brother or sister! The Bible reads: “If anyone boasts, “I Love God,” and goes right on Hating His Brother or Sister, Thinking Nothing of It, HE IS A LIAR. If he won’t Love the Person He Can See, How Can He Love the God He Can’t See? The Command We Have From Christ Is Blunt: Loving God Includes Loving People. You’ve Got to Love Both” (1 John 4:20 MSG).

In a Nutshell: You can’t PRAISE God and CURSE Your Brother or Sister! “My dear friends, with our tongues we speak Both Praises and Curses. We Praise Our Lord and Father, And We Curse People Who Were Created To Be Like God, AND THIS ISN’T RIGHT” (James 3:9-10 CEV). Like it or not, if you’re going to Love God, You’ve Got To Love LIKE God!

“Revenge is often like biting a dog because the dog bit you” (Austin O’Malley). And just as stupid as that sounds, is just as stupid as you sound when you desire revenge! You want to payback someone with evil for evil they’ve done to you! Yep, that sounds just as stupid as biting a dog that bit you! And surely you don’t want to walk around with stupid written across your forehead!

Listen, I’ve learned that getting revenge may get us even with our enemies, but forgiveness Places Us Above Them! In fact, we are never more LIKE God than when we turn the other cheek!

In the Lord’s Prayer, the Only petition that is Conditional is Forgiveness! “Forgive Us Our Debts, As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors” (Matthew 6:12) Another translation says it like this: “And Forgive Us our debts, As We Also HAVE FORGIVEN (LEFT, REMITTED, AND LET GO OF THE DEBTS, AND HAVE GIVEN UP RESENTMENT AGAINST) Our Debtors” (AMP). Did you get that? Forgive Us Because We’ve ALREADY FORGIVEN THEM FIRST! Now That’s Within Your Jurisdiction!

Hear the Word: “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and WHAT YOU DO. YOU CAN’T GET FORGIVENESS FROM GOD, FOR INSTANCE, WITHOUT ALSO FORGIVING OTHERS. IF YOU REFUSE TO DO YOUR PART, YOU CUT YOURSELF OFF FROM GOD’S PART” (Matthew 6:15 MSG). However, I don’t think we fully grasp this Scripture!

Look at it this way: If you are angry with your brother or sister over what he or she did to you November 1, 2009, and you haven’t forgiven them since, all the wrong YOU’VE done since November 1, 2009 HAS NEVER BEEN FORGIVEN BY GOD NO MATTER HOW MANY PRAYERS YOU’VE PRAYED! BECAUSE YOUR FORGIVENESS HINGES ON THEIR FORGIVENESS! I’ll reiterate the text: “In prayer there is a CONNECTION between what God does and WHAT YOU DO. YOU CAN’T GET FORGIVENESS FROM GOD, FOR INSTANCE, WITHOUT ALSO FORGIVING OTHERS. IF YOU REFUSE TO DO YOUR PART, YOU CUT YOURSELF OFF FROM GOD’S PART” (Matthew 6:15 MSG). I don’t know about you, but I do too much wrong from day-to-day that needs the forgiveness of God, that I can’t afford to go year-by-year Living Outside of the Forgiveness of God! 

REMEMBER: IT’S CONDITIONAL! YOU ARE FORGIVEN AFTER YOU’VE FORGIVEN!

People of God, the Scripture Will Not Change Just Because You’ve Been Wronged! The Fact Is, If You Don’t Forgive Them, HE Will Not Forgive You! Now, Do You Really Want To Take Chances Living Outside The Forgiveness of God?! Are You Really That Angry With Someone That You Would Rather Walk Around Unforgiven By God?! I don’t know about you, but Absolutely No One Can Make Me That Mad! Anger, Revenge, Resentment, Unforgiveness are All Expensive! They Will Cost You God’s Forgiveness; Heaven as Your Home; a Crown; a Robe; Your Name Written In the Lamb’s Book of Life; Peace; Joy; Contentment etc…

Therefore, I ask you again, Is Payback Really Worth That Much To You That You Would Pay This High Price to Bankrupt Your Own Soul By Losing So Much of God’s Goodness!?!

Take some time today to really think that over!

Someone may ask you, why should we forgo revenge and offer forgiveness? Tell them it’s simple, Because We Have Been Forgiven Repeatedly and Completely By God! Therefore, We Can’t Live Anyway Contrary! We Must Do For Others What Has Been Done For Us, Forgive, Repeatedly and Completely!

To Issue Payback Is Human, But To Pardon Is Divine!

Let’s go a little further:

Matthew 18:15-17, “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him – work it out BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.” (MSG).

Saints, Don’t Be Messy! Don’t allow your hurt to make you act out of character. If there should be in issue between you and another, take it to them alone! Don’t make a scene; don’t make a show; this is not about a performance, but repositioning two people at odds so they can call it even. Don’t get caught up in the cliques; don’t involve anyone that’s not a part of the problem and solution.

You see, this is where the church often gets messy at. Because we talk to everybody about the situation, except the one person it truly involves. And of course we only give our side, which is the side that shows us in the best light, although this light is usually a lot more dim than we’d really like to  admit. We want to hear everybody tell us we’re right and we deserve to pay them back for what they did. And truthfully, it’s okay to feel hurt even angry when someone wrongs you, but you still have to go about handling it the right way. You can’t say you love God while you curse them out. You can’t say you live for God when you’re trying to destroy someone else’s life. You can’t say you want to be like God while your characteristics are contrary to His character. Take the issue to whom it belongs and resolve it in a godly manner where God would be able to look and say, ‘My children are acting like they belong to Me now.’ Stop inviting outside guests to see you act a fool. Make amends even if you weren’t the one that caused the breach. Remember, you don’t receive forgiveness when you don’t give it.

Matthew 18:21-22, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when my fellow believer sins against me, how many times must I forgive him? Should I forgive him as many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive him more than seven times. You must forgive him even if he wrongs you seventy times seven” (NCV).

To many this seems unfair. It seems wrong. It seems unjust. However, what if God only forgave us seven times, then stopped, where would we be? Can you imagine God saying ‘sorry, you’ve maxed out your forgiveness benefits.’ And Peter only offered seven times. But from birth, how many times have we wronged God? If this were the case, a lot of us wouldn’t be forgiven past our youth! You’re not going to want to hear this, but as a believer, you don’t get to put a limit on forgiveness. Why? Because God doesn’t put a limit on your forgiveness. And since your forgiveness is directly connected to theirs, do you really want God to cut you off as Peter would suggest, at seven?  I think not. Because as saved as we are, we sin beyond seven times by the time we wake up in the morning! We need God’s constant forgiveness, and likewise our brothers and sisters need our constant forgiveness. Pray and ask God to give you a heart of compassion like His. To give you tougher skin to handle offense, because offense will come, and most often by those we love most. Think of Jesus. After all He did among the 12, three of them couldn’t even stay awake for Him in prayer, one would doubt Him, one would betray Him and only one could be found at the foot of the cross at His death! And yet, He didn’t replace them; didn’t cut them off; didn’t destroy the friendship; didn’t keep rehearsing what they did and didn’t do. No, He continued to be with them, to reveal more of Himself to them, He still loved them and loved them so much so, that He forgave them. Let us as Christians, start acting more Christ-Like. Stop keeping a head count on who hurt you and how many times. Because if God were to count how many times you’ve hurt Him, what would that number look like?

Today, forgive greatly because you have been greatly forgiven.

Ephesians 4:32, “Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (MSG).

Don’t let your mouth get messy! Keep your mouth off people’s lives, and yes that includes those who have hurt you. The Bible clearly speaks against us, Believers, using cutting words, backbiting and profane talk against anyone. That’s not how we speak. That’s not our language. Our words have life and death power, and because we belong to Him, and are to act like Him, our words need to speak life. Not gossip, not slander, not rumors, not lies, not belittling. We are to speak life, and do so in a manner that is both gentle and sensitive. After all, you can’t be nasty towards someone who you’re mad at because they were nasty towards you. We don’t get to play tit-for-tat. We should have put all our childish ways aside long ago. We are mature, character and integrity driven saved folks. And it’s high time we act like it. Use your speech for conversation not cursing.

In addition, remember, once again, to not only forgive, but to do so quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Don’t hold anymore grudges! Don’t keep replaying the wrong in your mind. Move quickly and thoroughly in forgiveness, which also means you forgive Completely! Don’t use the cowardice way of ‘I’ll forgive but I won’t forget’. That’s a back-handed insult to God. That’s a form of godliness while denying it’s full power to transform you. Live and forgive just as God did for you…quickly and thoroughly!

Luke 6:27-36, “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat- stuff. Live generously. Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never – I promise – regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.” (MSG).

Does this really need any further comment?!

2 Corinthians 5:18, “God has done all this. He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships” (GWT)

People of God, we are not in the business of recklessness, but restoration. Therefore, today, stop tearing down people, stop hurting others because they hurt you. Stop causing discord and division. We are the body of Christ, and as such we are to maintain Its’ health and well-being. And that’s hard to do when you keep pouring the poison of revenge into the Body of Christ. Remember you’ve been called to the ministry of reconciliation, not the messiness of retaliation. Jesus laid down His life to restore our relationship with the Father. And now it’s time for us to follow suit. Let’s restore our relationship with our brothers and sisters, after all, wouldn’t that be what our Father wants of us His children, especially since He used His own Son to do this very thing on our behalf?

1 Peter 3:8-12, “Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless – that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth. God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he’s asked; But he turns his back on those who do evil things.” (MSG)

People of God, for us, pay back is a blessing! No exceptions! This is our lifestyle, this is our conduct, this is our behavior. Does it take away the sting of the hurt? Nope! Does it please the Father? Yes! And isn’t that what this is all about? Doing what pleases the Father? It’s what Jesus did, it’s how Jesus lived. Today, let us follow in His footsteps behaving the very same way. Let’s give unbelievers reason to want to inspect our faith further. Let’s live in such a right way, even when we’ve been done wrong, that makes those who hurt us question their own actions. Let’s be a healthy Body of Christ. A healthy church. Healthy believers. After all, if sin is sickening to death, how can an unhealthy Body help bring the cure to the World that needs it? We can’t try to save them, heal them, deliver them, and our conduct says nothing of salvation, healing and deliverance, but instead it represents malice, anger, revenge and unforgiveness. Let’s live in such a way that we Shine, and not have that shine dimmed by pay back.

Pay Back is a Blessing, So if You are to Pay Anyone Today, Make the Payment a Blessing, and Watch God Add to You a Bonus!

You Handle Forgiveness, Let God Handle Payback!

“Don’t treat people the way they treat you. Treat people the way God treats you.” (Davis Willis)

Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.” {Corrie ten Boom}

Revenge has no more quenching effect on emotions than salt water has on thirst” {Walter Weckler}

When we take revenge against another, we lose some of our innocence.” {Patrice Redd Vecchione}

Revenge converts a little right into a great wrong” {German Proverb}

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward” {Author Unknown}

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Best Household Cleaners For Different Jobs”

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“God’s Got Good News For You”

Psalm 143:8, “Let the morning bring me Word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life.” (NIV).

I’ve come to find out that something very interesting happens at night while I’m sleeping. There are people all over the world, near and far, making news (good and bad)! I’ve also discovered that the world is very different from the time I close my eyes at night, until the time I wake up in the morning. And as nosy as I am, I certainly want to know what’s happened in the night while I was asleep. I think a lot of people do. That’s probably one of the first things many of us do, we make sure to check in with one or more of the news channels in the morning, or maybe we get a paper, or maybe check the Internet or even our Smartphones. But one way or another, we’ve got to find out what’s going on in the news. Personally, I get my newspaper early in the morning, and I like that because I can quickly check out the headlines! The word “headline”, is defined as “a heading at the top of an article or page in a newspaper or magazine.” However, I prefer its secondary definition which means “a summary of the most important items of the news.” I’ll come back to that little part in a minute.

In a nutshell: I love to get my morning news as early as possible because I want to see what the overnight headlines will read. Of course, I like it better when the headlines are good news, unfortunately, that’s not often enough.

But I found out that God has Good News for me Every Morning! And one of His consistent daily headlines is found in Psalm 143:8. Listen to this: “Let the morning bring me Word of Your unfailing love. For I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go. For to You I lift up my soul.” Listen to these additional translations:

“Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For I trust in You. Teach me the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.” (AMP)

“Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, for on You do I lean and in You do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my inner self to You.” (AMPC)

“Tell me all about Your faithful love come morning time,because I trust You. Show me the way I should go,because I offer my life up to You.” (CEB)

“Each morning let me learn more about Your love because I trust You. I come to You in prayer, asking for Your guidance.” (CEV)

“Show me Your faithful love this morning.I trust in You. Show me what I should do.I put my life in Your hands!” (ERV)

“Let me hear in the morning of Your steadfast love ,for in You I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” (ESV)

“Let me hear about Your mercy in the morning, because I trust You. Let me know the way that I should go, because I long for You.” (GWT)

“Remind me each morning of Your constant love, for I put my trust in You. My prayers go up to You; show me the way I should go.” (GNT)

“If You wake me each morning with the sound of Your loving voice, I’ll go to sleep each night trusting in You. Point out the road I must travel; I’m all ears, all eyes before You.” (MSG)

God’s inviting us here to check out the news from heaven every new morning. If you do, you will notice that the headline is always the same-God’s Love Is Unfailing, Faithful, Steadfast, Merciful, and Constant. His Loving-kindness never runs on empty and His Loving Voice calls out to you daily. And no matter what went on during the night, even if you were a part of the story, God still loves you very much. His love for you is unfailing (meaning, ‘without error; reliable and constant’); faithful (meaning, ‘remaining loyal and steadfast’); steadfast (meaning, ‘resolutely or dutifully firm, standing firm and unwavering’); merciful (meaning, ‘gives relief from suffering’); constant (meaning, ‘occurring continuously, remaining the same, faithful and dependable, unchanging, firm’)

That’s how dearly and deeply God loves YOU! Now wouldn’t you consider that Good News?!

Back to that word “headline”…Psalm 143:8 is “a summary of the most important items of the news.” In other words, the most important information God wants you to wake up to every morning is that His Love is Still Unfailing! No matter what went on in the night, every morning you wake up, God says, ‘I still love you, and I’ll never stop.’ Can you imagine being so important to God, that morning by morning He wants to make sure that you know He Still Loves You?!

And can we be real honest? Truth is, sometimes we’re a part of the nights most horrible stories! Sometimes instead of being the one fast asleep, we’re the ones spreading gossip, rumors and lies. We’re the ones in the wrong bed with the wrong person. We’re the ones causing the verbal, emotional, physical or mental abuse. We’re the ones who said such hateful, hurtful things. We’re the ones that broke someone’s heart and spirit. We’re the ones who should’ve been there, could’ve been there, but were very much absent. We’re the ones who sent the mean email, the painful text, left the horrible voicemail. We’re the ones who were fighting, cursing, back-biting and belittling. Believe it or not, but the night’s news isn’t always about someone else. Sometimes it really was US! And YET, God in His Grace, Mercy, and Favor, still wakes us up to a New Morning with the Same Old News…His Love For Us is Unfailing! How Much More Thankful and Grateful We OUGHT to Be!

I absolutely love the word “unfailing”, it’s defined as “without error; reliable or constant.” Isn’t it wonderful to know that daily God wakes us up to remind us that His love for us is “without error; reliable and constant”? Who else do you know can give such an unfailing guarantee of their love for you like God?!

Often many of us spend much of our lives seeking for that one special person who will love us perfectly for the rest of our lives! However, more often than not, we often end up disappointed, hurt, distraught, and once the tears dry up, we’re back to the old drawing board again trying to find someone that can love us without fail! Which reminds me a lot of Jeremiah 17:5-6, “Thus says the Lord, “Cursed is the man who trusts in and relies on mankind, Making [weak, faulty human] flesh his strength, And whose mind and heart turn away from the Lord. “For he will be like a shrub in the [parched] desert; And shall not see prosperity when it comes, But shall live in the rocky places of the wilderness, In an uninhabited salt land.” (AMP). In other words, stop looking for unfailing love from flesh and bones, because only God can guarantee such a love. And He guarantees it every morning! Now how’s that for Morning Good News?!

In this particular Psalm, David is simply saying, “That’s all I need to know about this day. This day may be filled with stress, and pressure, and danger, and challenges. But all I need to know is that I’m covered again. I am covered by the unfailing love of my Heavenly Father.” Why? “Because I’ve learned to put all my trust in Him.See, it means hanging everything on the protection and the provision of a God whose love for me is uninterrupted and impossible for me to lose. Now that’s what you call security!

Something else I love about this Psalm is this, not only the fact that God’s love for me is unfailing, but He will show me the way I should go for this particular day. Now, that’s the way to have a day where you have peace no matter what; joy no matter what. Why? Because God is directing my entire day! And my day starts off with His Unfailing Love is Still Mine! “Let me hear of Your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting You. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to You.” (NLT). Sometimes our day goes in the wrong direction because we didn’t seek God for the right direction when we woke up to start our day! Which is why we need to obey the admonishment and wisdom of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!” (MSG). Trust God, Talk to God, Listen to God, Obey God…That’s the Best Healthcare Plan Available Because it Guarantees: “…Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!”

Remember to Ask God to Direct Your Day. Why? Because, “The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord, And He delights in his way [and blesses his path].” (Psalm 37:23 AMP). If You Want to Have a Good Day, Ask Your Good God For Some Good Direction!

Once again, can we be honest though? Truth is, there are those days where we’re ruled by our worry, or our weakness, we’re ruled by our pain, our guilt, by our To Do List, our responsibilities, our stress, our moods, our erratic emotions. The problem is that we choose early in the day to focus on the other headlines, instead of God’s. It’s like having this important front page story, but when you look to the left, you see the one day sale at Macy’s and so your focus shifts, and you ignore what was most important. Or, instead of focusing in on God’s unfailing love, we fill our heart with a headline like this: The money is failing! The interest rate is failing! My strength is failing! My health is failing! My loved ones are failing! My dream is failing! The one I trusted is failing me! The church is failing me! However, remember this: every earth thing, every earth person will fail you sometimes. You can ONLY get Unfailing Love From God!

Many mornings you will waken to a headline about something or someone who has failed you. But God’s Word offers you a headline that never changes; the unsinkable anchor to this particular turbulent day. His unfailing love is still unfailing. Reminds me of the promise of Hebrews 13:5,…He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” (AMP). Now, that’s security, that’s encouragement, that’s good news!

Remember: Many people will fail you, but not the Lord!

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble in dread before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you…It is the Lord who goes before you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 AMP);

“My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the rock and strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26 AMP);

[God Is Gracious and Just] Therefore the Lord waits [expectantly] and longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed (happy, fortunate) are all those who long for Him [since He will never fail them].” (Isaiah 30:18 AMP)

Are you getting this?! God, again this morning, whatever’s happened still loves you very, very much! You are covered by that love!

None of us knows what news will break in our life on any given day. When a parent will get sick, a sibling dies, a child goes astray, you lose the house or job, your diagnosis is steadily declining, your marriage ends, your church doors close for a final time, the car crashes, the stray bullet comes through the wrong window…the list is endless of what could happen from day-to-day. That’s why I love the security of Hebrews 6:19, that says, speaking of Jesus, “This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells],” (AMP). His love is one love that will never leave. One unmovable relationship. One unloseable (my word, lol) security. How wonderful it is to wake up in the morning and go, “I KNOW He loves me.

John 3:16, “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (AMP);

John 15:13, “No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends.” (AMP);

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);

2 Chronicles 6:12-16, “God, O God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below, who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and unfailingly loves them while they sincerely live in obedience to your way.” (MSG);

Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.” (AMP);

Your Daily News Headline Will Always Be God’s Unfailing Love is Still Yours!

Therefore, every morning, empty your mind, your emotions, your attitudes, your fears, your worries, to the headlines from heaven. They overrule every other headline. The morning news is always this: God Loves Me Today! And there will never be a moment that He doesn’t. This day I am incredibly loved by an incredible God. Now That’s Good Morning News…And I Receive It…Everyday!

Psalm 30:5, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may endure for a night, But a shout of joy comes in the MORNING.” (AMP)

Lamentations 3:19-27, “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember,and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s LOYAL LOVE couldn’t have run out, his MERCIFUL LOVE couldn’t have dried up. THEY’RE CREATED NEW EVERY MORNING. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.” (MSG).

So, how can you ensure you hear good news every morning? Simple, here’s the 4 steps from  Psalm 143:8,

1…“Let the morning bring me Word of your unfailing love…” Know that no matter how bad life gets (or even how bad you get), God loves you and His love for you is unfailing.

2…“…for I have put my trust in You…” If ever you want to hear good news, here it is, you can trust God! When you stop flipping through the countless depressing news articles from your life, and simply focus on the one that matters, God loves you and you can trust Him, then you’ll stop being so overwhelmed by bad, and instead you will be overwhelmed by His Goodness!

3…“…Show me the way I should go…” You will never have to worry about the slips, stumbles, falls and traps if you trust God enough to ask Him to show you the way you should go every day. Truth is, a lot of our suffering is self-inflicted, because we place our feet on paths they were never meant to be. Trust God for His guidance and direction, and even when your surroundings are bad, He’ll ensure your footsteps are good.

4…“…for to You I entrust my life.” Don’t pick and choose what you will give to God and don’t give to God in prayer then take it back in panic. Give God the entirety of your life to provide and protect and you’ll be able to say with confidence, ‘God’s got me no matter what it looks like. I’m good!’

Now make sure you put this into practice as soon as you wake up tomorrow morning, and it will indeed be a Good Day, filled with Good News, from your Good God!

“God’s love is like an ocean. You can see its beginning, but not its end.” (Rick Warren)

“God’s love is unrelenting as the waves against the shore.” (Holley Gerth)

“God is love. He loves us and He pursues us with that love.” (Jeanette Duby)

“Be so busy loving God, loving others, and loving your life that you have no time for regret, worry, fear, or drama.” (Author Unknown)

“We love others best when we love God most.” (Kyle Idleman)

“God’s love for us is proclaimed by each sunrise.” (Author Unknown)

“God is not waiting to love you until you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits. He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

“God’s love did not begin at the cross. It began in eternity before the world was established, before the time clock of civilization began to move.” (Billy Graham)

“Understand that God is always faithful in His love for you.” (Karen Middleton)

“God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.” (Max Lucado)

“The best way to find love is to find God.” (Author Unknown)

“Agape love is selfless love…the love God wants us to have isn’t just an emotion but a conscious act of the will…a deliberate decision on our part to put others ahead of ourselves. This is the kind of love God has for us.” (Billy Graham)

“Love is the greatest gift that God has given us. It’s free.” (Taraji P. Henson)

“Run after the hurting, go after the broken, the addicted, those that have messed up, that society has written off. Go after them with love, with mercy, with the goodness of God.” (Joel Osteen)

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” (Augustine)

“Falling in love with God is the most important thing  a person can do.” (John Eldredge)

“God loves you. He wants you to succeed. He wants the best for you.” (Norman Vincent Peale)

“It is the love of God and neighbor that gives meaning to life.” (Cheryl A. Esplin)

“No matter what storm you face, you need to know that God loves you. He has not abandoned you.” (Franklin Graham)

“You are loved beyond measure. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.” (Author Unknown)

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.” (St. Augustine)

“God’s love is unchangeable; He knows exactly what we are and loves us anyway.” (Billy Graham)

“God loves you more in a moment than anyone could in a lifetime.” (Mella Reese)

“God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.” (President Thomas S. Monson)

“God proved His love on the cross.” (Billy Graham)

“God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever.” (D. Todd Christofferson)

“God loves you simply because He has chosen to do so. He loves you when you don’t feel lovely. He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, but God will love you always. No Matter What!” (Max Lucado)

“God loves you unconditionally. Always remember that no matter what situation you’re in.” (Author Unknown)

“God loves you even in your darkest hours. He comforts you even in your darkest moments. He forgives you even in your darkest failures.” (Author Unknown)

Psalm 107:1, “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His compassion and lovingkindness endure forever!” (AMP)

1 Corinthians 8:3, “But if anyone loves God [with awe-filled reverence, obedience and gratitude], he is known by Him [as His very own and is greatly loved].” (AMP)

1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].” (AMP)

1 John 3:17-18, “But whoever has the world’s goods (adequate resources), and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him? Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].” (AMP)

Psalm 97:10, “You who love the Lord, hate evil; He protects the souls of His godly ones (believers), He rescues them from the hand of the wicked.” (AMP)

Romans 8:31-39, “What then shall we say to all these things? If God is for us, who can be [successful] against us? He who did not spare [even] His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect (His chosen ones)? It is God who justifies us [declaring us blameless and putting us in a right relationship with Himself]. Who is the one who condemns us? Christ Jesus is the One who died [to pay our penalty], and more than that, who was raised [from the dead], and who is at the right hand of God interceding [with the Father] for us. Who shall ever separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Just as it is written and forever remains written, “For Your sake we are put to death all day long; We are regarded as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us]. For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (AMP)

THE EXCELLENCE OF LOVE: 1 CORINTHIANS 13

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]. And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing.  If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all. Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. But as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for the gift of special knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete]. But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away.When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God]. And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.” (AMP)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “16 Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol”

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“God Sees Your Potential”

Judges 6:15-16, “But Gideon said to Him, “Please Lord, how am I to rescue Israel? Behold, my family is the least [significant] in Manasseh, and I am the youngest (smallest) in my father’s house.” The Lord answered him, “I will certainly be with you, and you will strike down the Midianites as [if they were only] one man.” (AMP)

There was a sign that read Antique Auto Show, so Rob and his wife decided that they’d take fifteen minutes and stop at this car dealership and look at the antique autos. They were really interested in seeing the ones that went back to the 50s and 60s. And as they continued looking, there was this one car that stood out amongst all the rest. It was a sleek, black ’66 Mustang that had a flawless exterior, a rich interior, and the hood was even open so you could look at the horsepower underneath. However, there, sitting on the engine block, was a thick book of photos. And it wasn’t the guy’s wife, children or grandchildren. But it was his car! And at the beginning of this photo album there were BEFORE pictures of the car. Let me tell you, it was trash when he started! The first pictures were of this rusted, wrecked, banged-up Mustang that no one in their right mind would claim as their property! Come to find out, it was the car he bought. And as you looked through the book, step by step you could see the car was slowly being Transformed. It took months, maybe years for the owner to give patient attention to get this beautiful classic to where it stood now before them. I believe that when the owner saw that wreck, he saw more than a wreck. He actually saw something that others didn’t see. What he saw was Potential.

Well, that leads us straight to Judges 6. God is looking for a general for His troops, someone who will be a mighty commander and beat the Midianites who have intimidated and terrorized the Israelites for years. And He speaks to Gideon in verses 11-12, “The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, MIGHTY WARRIOR.” (NIV).

And what was Gideon’s response? Verse 13 reads, “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” (NIV).

However, verses 14-16 declare, “The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this strength of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” But Gideon said to Him, “Please Lord, how am I to rescue Israel? Behold, my family is the LEAST [SIGNIFICANT] in Manasseh, and I am the YOUNGEST (SMALLEST) in my father’s house.” The Lord answered him, “I will certainly be with you, and YOU will strike down the Midianites as [if they were only] ONE MAN.”” (AMP).

Okay, here is Gideon. He’s hiding in a pit. He doesn’t look like a mighty warrior…at all. And God comes along and says, “Mighty warrior!Surely, you’re thinking just like I’m thinking, this is no mighty warrior! But God didn’t see what Gideon WAS. He saw what he COULD BE, what he WOULD BE and what He intended to MAKE HIM. And that’s the very same place where many of us mess up and get stuck at! We get so consumed by where we ARE, and where we’re NOT; who we ARE, and who we’re NOT; what we CAN and what we CAN’T do…that we never consider a vision from God’s point of view. I find it absolutely amazing that BEFORE Gideon does anything, God calls him a “Mighty Warrior”, IN ADVANCE! Unlike us, God doesn’t get stuck in what we ARE, but His focus remains on what we CAN BE! And so God speaks contrary to Gideon. Gideon sees someone insignificant, unimportant, irrelevant, small even, yet God sees him as a “Mighty Warrior”! Question: How do you see yourself? How do you speak to and about yourself? What do you see for yourself? Do you consider yourself “mighty”? Gifted? Smart? Beautiful? Well, in case you don’t, I’ve stopped by to inform you that you need to check your eyesight! Situations and circumstances should never distort how you see yourself, because they certainly do not distort how God sees you! No matter what your marital status is, how many children you have, you don’t have or that you’ve aborted or miscarried. No matter your education, employment, ethnicity, or back ground. No matter what your father was, what your mother did, you are still a “mighty warrior” in the eyes of God…NOW it’s time that you see yourself the very same way. Stop spending so much time focusing on what you’ve done or left undone that you become stagnate between the two. There’s so much more to you then yesterday. Today is a new day and with it needs to come a new outlook on your life, despite your mistakes, flaws, failures, bad decisions, errors in judgment and the like.

Just look at Peter.

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

I imagine when people heard this they said, “Did He just say Peter? He’s not a rock!” Truth is, when he came to Jesus he was sort of a flake. He was always up and down and inconsistent. But Jesus saw the rock He was going to make him into. And that’s the problem with us, we remember (and certainly everybody else remembers) how bad we’ve messed up, what we did, when we did it, who we did it with, how often we did it, where and why, and YET, Jesus looks beyond our hard heads and still sees a Rock! How awesome to know that regardless of how messy we’ve been, God still sees a masterpiece in us! In fact, He looks at us the way that Mustang owner saw that banged-up car. He sees the value in us more than we do. He knows the person He created us to be. And in God’s words, “For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. FOR WE ARE HIS WORKMANSHIP [HIS OWN MASTER WORK, A WORK OF ART], CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS [REBORN FROM ABOVE-SPIRITUALLY TRANSFORMED, RENEWED, READY TO BE USED] FOR GOOD WORKS, WHICH GOD PREPARED [FOR US] BEFOREHAND [TAKING PATHS WHICH HE SET], SO THAT WE WOULD WALK IN THEM [LIVING THE GOOD LIFE WHICH HE PREARRANGED AND MADE READY FOR US].” (Ephesians 2:8-10 AMP) Even as messed up and banged up as we were, God still saw in us “…HIS WORKMANSHIP, HIS OWN MASTER WORK, A WORK OF ART…”

How can you possibly view yourself as junk, when God Himself sees you as “…A WORK OF ART…”? YES EVEN YOU!

Like the Mustang owner, God’s photo album shows where you were and His step-by-step rebuilding.

See, if you believe how God sees you, then there are some important changes in how life should look to you. First, when you’re down about who you are, look back at the old pictures. Look at what you used to be. You’re becoming something aren’t you? Remember what you used to do, how you used to act, where you used to be, and see where you are now. No, you haven’t made it all the way yet, but neither has any of us! So learn to celebrate where you are, and where you’re heading, knowing that God sees the Best in you always!

Psalm 103:6-18, “God makes everything come out right; He puts victims back on their feet. He showed Moses how he went about His work,opened up His plans to all Israel. God is sheer mercy and grace;not easily angered, He’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth,so strong is His love to those who fear Him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset,He has separated us from our sins…” (MSG) So, stop holding your past and mistakes over your own head, when they’re under God’s feet! He remembers them no more, now it’s time that you do the very same thing!

Today is a good day to move forward! A good day to start over fresh without yesterday’s baggage! Your problems don’t hinder your potential. It’s still there. God sees it, and so should you!

Second, when you’re down on yourself, realize you’re not finished yet! The rebuilder is in the process! Look at it like this, have you ever taken the time to look at a construction site? It’s an absolute mess! There’s dust, dirt, debris, everywhere! Nothing is together, nor does anything look anywhere near what the blueprint suggests it should! There are people in hard hats, dirty clothes, they’re sweating, tired, yelling, there’s signs of danger up everywhere because the site isn’t finished yet! And even at the end of the day when they go home, they don’t forget about the site! They come back the next day and work some more. Why? Because what’s on blueprint has to become a building! And God is no different with you! You may not look like much in the eyes of some, or even in your own view. But God is still at work! Daily He’s making you better! Daily He’s adding, subtracting and dividing just so you can be multiplied in the end. Daily what you are to become is seen more and more by many! So stop fretting yourself and judging yourself by what you see today! God isn’t finished yet, but He’s promised He will! The Bible says in Philippians 1:6, “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].” (AMP). You have God’s Word that He will finish what He’s started in you so don’t you dare consider giving up in the middle of the process again! Can you imagine if after day one on a construction site that the construction workers said, ‘that’s it, I quit! I refuse to work on this project any longer. We’ve been working at this thing all day and into the evening and still it looks nothing like the blueprint!” Listen: Any building that goes up in one day, is guaranteed to come down in one day!  There’s a reason construction is such a slow process. The foundation is the most vital to be established and you can’t rush foundation! The wiring is essential, the plumbing is important, walls, floors and ceilings need great attention to detail. And why is all of this significant? Because if it’s not done right, somebodies going to be severely hurt! And that’s what happens when people attempt to rush God’s process of rebuilding for their lives. They want to run out and preach, teach, prophecy, travel the country, lay hands and overseer mega ministries. And yet, they want to do all of that without being properly processed! The end result, they hurt themselves and everyone attached to them because they rushed a process that needed proper timing to be fully established!

1 Peter 5:10, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself COMPLETE, CONFIRM, STRENGTHEN, AND ESTABLISH YOU [MAKING YOU WHAT YOU OUGHT TO BE].” (AMP)

Listen, I get it, it’s been some years now and you’re still wondering God what is going on?! Please believe me, your God does not have Dementia! Your God does not have Alzheimer’s! He remembers every word He spoke to you and about you and every single word will come to pass, in season! Let God finish the work He started without your doubt delaying it’s development!

And third, when you’re dealing with other people, look for and encourage the person God is building in them. Be part of His rebuilding project in their life. Tell people what they could be. Tell them the good you see in them – the potential. You see, the word “potential” is defined as “having the capacity to develop into something in the future; qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.” And to take it a step further, its Latin Origin “potentialis,” from “potentia” literally means “power”. People of God, no matter how bad off a person may be, they still have potential, they still have the power to become better! So don’t judge them, don’t put your negative mouth on them, don’t keep bringing up their past! Like You, they still have the power to become more! I’m here to tell you from personal experience, there’s nothing worse than an individual holding another person hostage by their past. Let them grow, evolve, and change for the better…in their time, in God’s time, not yours! So back off a bit! Give them space and room, just like you needed!

You see, when you take dirt and throw it on a fire it’s called “smothering”. In throwing dirt on a fire you smother it, you extinguish it, which means you stifle or suffocate it, you cut off the air and prevent it from breathing, which prevents it from growing. That’s what you do to people when you keep harping on them for their mistakes. You smother them! You suck the life right out of them. You hinder them from glowing and growing. Stop It! Even embers that have dimmed down, are still hot to the touch! They just need a little stoking. And so do people! To “stoke” is to “encourage, incite, or add to”. And that’s all most people need to find their potential again. They just need someone that will see past their Gideon and see a “mighty warrior”; they need someone who will see past their Peter and see a “rock”. And often stoking doesn’t take much. You would be absolutely amazed at the fire that could return from just a few empowering pokes of encouragement.I believe in you; I’m proud of you; you’re doing great; keep pressing; don’t give up; you can do this; you’re getting better; look how strong you’ve become; look how much wisdom that taught you…” Try it on someone today and you’ll be just like Peter: “but I have prayed [especially] for you [Peter], that your faith [and confidence in Me] may not fail; and you, once you have turned back again [to Me], STRENGTHEN AND SUPPORT YOUR BROTHERS [IN THE FAITH].” (Luke 22:32 AMP). That’s what we should all do daily, as God betters us, we should help others get better too!

Think about it like this: Can you imagine the mental stress it would put on players if they were in their own home-court advantage, yet their own fans boo them the whole game?! Even when they’re winning, all they hear is a constant stream of boo’s! Would you be encouraged by that? Then why do it to others? Realize that people are trying their best, and many after several losing games, are still coming back again and again, giving it everything they’ve got. Don’t smother their future success with the ashes of their past failures! Encourage your brothers and sisters so that their faith and hope stay intact in the process! Let them know that you’ve got them covered! That you have their back! That you’re on their team! That you believe in them! Isn’t that what you would want to Receive? Then Give it! You can’t expect to throw dirt on someone else’s potential and think that God is going to allow you to grow from it!

Like the Classic Mustang in the above story, we ALL have a beginning that we’re not so proud of. We all of chapters in our book of life that we don’t read aloud or share with anyone else. We all have flaws, mistakes, and failures. We’ve all made bad decisions and judgements. We’ve all fallen far short of God’s grace, characteristics, standards and mark. And yet in His eyes, we’re still a masterpiece! It takes time to take mess and make it a masterpiece, but God is willing to put the time in. So, no more complaining about yourself (or others). Let God complete the work He began. Enjoy the step-by-step process. And when you get a moment, just reflect back over your life, and see just how far God has already brought you. You may be more inclined to ease up on yourself and others. Your potential is still intact, just wait and watch God produce something powerful with it!

“God’s plan is always the best. Sometimes the process is painful and hard. But don’t forget that when God is silent, He’s doing something for you.” (Author Unknown)

“Trust the process. Once you have prayed, let it go. Have faith that God heard you the first time, and is working on your prayer right now.” (Author Unknown)

“God’s purpose and process are tied together.” (Author Unknown)

“God knows your value; He sees your potential. You may not understand everything you are going through right now. But hold your head up high, knowing that God is in control and He has a great plan and purpose for your life.” (Joel Osteen)

“Don’t squander your potential living a life that amounts to far less than the one you are capable of living.” (Zero Dean)

“Potential is a priceless treasure, like gold. All of us have gold hidden within, but we have to dig to get it out.” (Joyce Meyer)

“The big challenge is to become all that you have the possibility of becoming. You cannot believe what it does to the human spirit to maximize your human potential and stretch yourself to the limit.” (Jim Rohn)

“There is no man living who isn’t capable to doing more than he thinks he can do.” (Henry Ford)

“I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” (President Abraham Lincoln)

“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.” (John Maxwell)

“There is no heavier burden than an unfulfilled potential.” (Charles Schulz)

“Look past the exterior, and see that there is so much more within. Then decide to unleash that potential to the fullest.” (Lincoln Patz)

“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.” (Winston Churchill)

“People who repeatedly attack your confidence and self-esteem are quite aware of your potential even if you are not.” (Author Unknown)

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” (Wilma Rudolph)

“Each person has the potential of making a positive impact on the world. It all depends on what you do with what you have.” (Gary Chapman)

“Most of your potential is trapped behind other people’s opinions. Some of those people love you, they just don’t understand you. The other group don’t want to see you win and they’re hoping their opinions will hold you back. Neither group’s opinion matters more than your own.” (Author Unknown)

“Your potential is endless. Go do what you were created to do.” (Author Unknown)

“Questions provide the key to unlocking our unlimited potential.” (Anthony Robbins)

“To unlock your potential in anything you do is going to require practice, consistency and patience.” (Simeon Panda)

“We are all strangers to our hidden potential until we confront problems that reveal our capabilities.” (Apoorve Dubey)

“You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You are not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.” (Rumi)

“A strong woman knows that she has the potential to shine in this world, but true strength lies in her ability to lay down her life so that God can shine through her.” (Darlene Schacht)

“Potential means nothing if you don’t do anything with it.” (Author Unknown)

“Your potential will haunt you until you take steps towards realizing it.” (Author Unknown)

“Action breeds potential; potential changes the world.” (Jordan Ring)

“True success is reaching our potential without compromising our values.” (Muhammad Ali)

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.” (Goethe)

“There lies within each person a huge reservoir of untapped potential for achievement, success, and happiness.” (Jim Rohn)

“Focus on the possibilities for success, not on the potential for failure.” (Napolean Hill)

“It takes drive and focus to move from potential to reality.” (Author Unknown)

“People don’t get promoted for doing their jobs really well. They get promoted by demonstrating their potential to do more.” (Tara Jaye Frank)

“Maybe this year…we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives not looking for flaws, but for potential.” (Ellen Goodman)

“Difficulties in your life don’t come to destroy you, but to help you realize your hidden potential.” (Author Unknown)

“Discipline is the key to unlocking your true potential.” (Author Unknown)

“It’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.” (President Barack Obama)

“You have the potential for greatness.” (Steve Harvey)

“Greatness is more than potential. It is the execution of that potential. Beyond the raw talent. You need the appropriate training. You need the discipline. You need the inspiration. You need the drive.” (Eric A. Burns)

“God never loses sight of our eternal potential, even when we do.” (Carole M. Stephens)

“Once I got a glimpse of my potential, the desire to be great was born.” (Andre Ferguson)

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

“It’s not enough to just have potential. You also need to know what to do with it.” (Susan Gale)

“Everyday has the potential to be the greatest day of your life.” (Lin-Manuel Miranda)

“To reach your greatest potential you’ll have to fight your greatest fears.” (Author Unknown)

“If you really want to live your life to the fullest and realize your greatest potential, you must be willing to run the risk of making some people mad. People may not like what you do, people may not like how you do it, but these people are not living your life. You are.” (Iyanla Vanzant)

“No one lacks potential. You can lack will or skill, but everyone has potential.” (Author Unknown)

“Fear and self-doubt have always been the greatest enemies of human potential.” (Brian Tracy)

“You’re so busy doubting yourself while so many others are intimidated by your potential.” (Author Unknown)

“Our Heavenly Father knows our divine potential. He rejoices every time we take a step forward.” (Larry R. Lawrence)

“Acknowledging you have areas to work is not an admission of failure; it is an admission that you have more potential.” (Carrie Cheadle)

“Mediocrity is living below our known, true potential.” (Dr. Myles Munroe)

“Your potential is the sum of all the possibilities God has for your life.” (Charles Stanley)

“Your God-Given potential is far too great to ever dare to bargain for anything less than a victorious life. Therefore, it’s time to rise to the challenge and push beyond your fears and doubts.” (Edmond Mbiaka)

“Every day, I wake up with one goal; to make sure our children and generations yet unborn will reach their God-Given potential and that the future we are creating is a brighter one for every child.” (Representative Elijah Cummings)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Types of Dietary Fats”

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“Pass the Plate Please”

2 Kings 7:9, “Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news AND WE ARE KEEPING IT TO OURSELVES…(NIV)

So, Thanksgiving is almost here and it immediately makes me think about sitting at the family table. You see, somewhere in the ‘Fathers Handbook, I’m convinced it says that the father automatically gets to carve the turkey, or the ham, or the roast. And most men don’t mind; they actually feel very fatherly when they get to do that, very manly sitting at the head of the table with their super carving knife. But I have observed something rather odd. Now, if you come from a huge family like mine, you’re accustomed to large portions of chicken, turkey, ham, ribs, rice, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, cornbread, yams, and the like. In other words, you’re used to there being a lot of food! Yet, even with all of this food available, often someone ends up with an empty plate! See, sometimes at a large dinner gathering, you’ve got someone who loads up their own plate, starts chowing down and shortstops all the food where they are! Ever notice that it all seems to pile up sometimes in a corner and doesn’t get moved past there? After all, it’s not going to bother the person whose plate is piled high, and they’re satisfied stuffing their face! But while they’re enjoying a full plate of food, some of us end up with nothing in our corner, because they got there’s, but didn’t continue to pass the trays to those who didn’t! However, the way this should work is that you take what you need and you pass it on to others who don’t have any yet. Sad to say but when you’ve got plenty, it’s awfully easy to forget those who haven’t been served anything as yet!

With that in mind, I want you to travel with me to Matthew 10. Jesus is speaking to His disciples, who have in a sense been sitting at the dinner table and being very well fed. They have sat in many meetings with Jesus, they have heard, seen and received a lot, and now He calls them together in Matthew 10:8 and says, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons…” (NIV) He’s sending them out now. And He does so with these added words, “…Freely you have received; FREELY GIVE.” (NIV) In other words, Jesus is saying, “Look, I passed it to you, not just so you could be full (especially of yourselves), but you’re supposed to pass it on to others!” But the problem comes in because we, as His disciples, get so satisfied with OUR healing; OUR restoration; OUR renewal; and OUR salvation and deliverance, that we forget that we have been commissioned to ensure that others receive all of these same blessings too. It’s wonderful that we’re healed, restored, renewed, saved and delivered, but what about those who don’t have that testimony yet?

The word “selfish” is what immediately comes to mind. The word “selfish” is defined as “to be concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure at the expense and consideration of others.”

Which takes us to Deuteronomy 15:7-9, “When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Don’t keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. Don’t count the cost. Don’t listen to that SELFISH voice saying, “It’s almost the seventh year, the year of All-Debts-Are-Canceled,” and turn aside and leave your needy neighbor in the lurch, refusing to help him. He’ll call God’s attention to you and your blatant sin.” (MSG).

For Those Who Don’t Know: Selfishness Is Sin! Which takes me back to the family table. Remember now, this is the FAMILY TABLE. Which makes this behavior all the more worse! How do you sit at a table with more than enough, and yet allow your FAMILY to go without?! Likewise, how do we, as believers who serve a self-sacrificing Savior, have all that we have, and yet we’re Selfish?!

Galatians 5:16-18, “My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of SELFISHNESS. For there is a root of SINFUL SELF-INTEREST in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with SELFISHNESS. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?” (MSG)

In other words, if we imitate how our Savior lived, we can then live better. He was forgiving, loving, compassionate, gentle, kind, patient, and giving. I wonder would the people around us be able to say that they see those very same attributes in us, His disciples?

John 13:34-35, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. IN THE SAME WAY I LOVED YOU, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they SEE the love you have for each other.” (MSG).

Do we love as unconditionally as Jesus? Of course not, that’s why so many are sitting at the corner of the family table with no provision while we pig out in our little section of the family table! As believers, we are indeed held to a higher standard in society, no matter how bad the society may get. We as believers, are to be “…recognized…” as forgiving, loving, compassionate, gentle, kind, patient, and giving. And the word “recognize” is defined as, “to clearly identify; to acknowledge or take notice of in some definite way; to perceive without question; to discern.” People should be able to look at our characteristics as Christ-like believers, and clearly see; take notice of; perceive without question and easily discern that we are in fact who we say we are and belong to who we say we belong to! In addition, we are “…commanded…” to love others “…IN THE SAME WAY…” that Jesus loved us. And a “command” is not a suggestion! A “suggestion” is defined as “an idea or plan put forward for consideration.” But we have not received a “suggestion” to be considered as a possible good idea. No, we’ve been given a Command! And a “command” is defined as, “to give an authoritative order with the expectation that it will be followed.” And our Authority is Jesus Christ as Lord, King, Savior, Master, God, Chief, and Commanding Officer! We are Commanded to Love Others “…IN THE SAME WAY…” that Jesus loved us! And that can’t be done by starving family members at the family table!

Even Judas was provided for at the family table, how much more should we then provide for the least, the lost, the lonely, the last, the looked over, and the left out?!

Galatians 6:7-8, “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants SELFISHNESS, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.” (MSG)

If You Don’t Want to Reap Selfishness, Stop Sowing It!

Let’s travel back to our opening text. There’s a story in the Old Testament in the book of 2 Kings. It tells about four lepers who lived outside a city that was being starved to death by an enemy siege. Finally they decided just to surrender to the enemy thinking, “Well, you know what? We’re probably going to be killed anyway, or we’re going to die of starvation. So, maybe they’ll take us and feed us, or we’ll just die like we’re going to die here. However, what happened was they found out that God had performed a miracle and driven the enemy out. The camp was empty. And they ended up with all of this food that had been left behind! They’re sitting there eating and chowing down all night long while people are still starving to death in the city that they just came from!

Finally, by the morning light, one of them says, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news AND WE ARE KEEPING IT TO OURSELVES.(7:9 NIV) What a picture of us as American Christians! Think about it: We’re the spiritually wealthiest Christians in all of history: We have seminars, and workshops, and radio programs, and TV programs, and conferences, convocations, magazines, books, blogs, iPods; iPads; tablets; laptops; and websites. It’s just so easy to get caught up in a comfortable cycle of listening and just saying, “Well, you know, that was a nice sermon, wasn’t it?” Going to Bible study, and attending a fellowship we enjoy, going to concerts, and feeling real spiritual a lot of the time. And honestly with all of this at our disposal, we ought to be growing. We ought to be filling up with spiritual resources– and loading up on the Lord, loading up on His truth-HOWEVER NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS! “…Freely you have received all of this; FREELY GIVE.

Now some may not like what I’m about to say, but I will say it anyhow, and I stand by it 100%! Everything we do as Christians CANNOT have a price tag attached to it! We say we want unbelievers saved, but they have to pay for the Gospel we received for free! Well, what happens when the book would be a tremendous blessing to them, but they can’t afford the $19.99 price tag? What happens when that conference would’ve changed her life, but she couldn’t afford the registration, hotel rate and air fare to attend? What happens when he would’ve been greatly encouraged, but couldn’t attend your men’s retreat because he’s unemployed? Jesus met people where they were! Why don’t we?

I’ve been asked for the last 13 years why I don’t turn the devotionals into a book? Or why haven’t I published my book yet? Or why do I post all of my bible studies, sermons and devotionals on my website for free? Well, this is the reason in a nutshell: Not everyone can afford a price tag! But what I’ve found personally priceless is the Pastor in Nambia who emailed his thanks for allowing him to use a bible study series that brought souls into his church. Or the missionary in Botswana that used a devotional to teach the children about having dreams. Or the Evangelist in Brooklyn that preached a devotional because it encouraged her heart personally. Or the Sister in Detroit that rediscovered Worship through the ‘Quiet Time With God Series’. Or the Brother in Atlanta that’s newly married and follows faithfully every ‘Manhood Monday’s Devotionals for Men’ to see how he can apply the lessons to his life and become a better father, husband and man.

Those things were possible because what they needed was within reach and free. When I hear that it encouraged, empowered or inspired someone to do and be better, that’s the gift to me! Because when I was unsaved it was a Deaconess who shared a Free Scripture with me from John 1:12, when I told her I wasn’t the type of person Jesus of all people would want to associate with. And yet she quoted, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” At the time I was homeless with 2 toddlers in a shelter. She invited me to her church, and I told her I couldn’t come because I didn’t have any money or the right clothes to wear. She picked me and my girls up, took us to her apartment, introduced us to her family, fed us and clothed us. I had nothing to give her in return, but my thanks and friendship, which remained intact until her passing. In fact, she became the matron of honor at my wedding 20 years ago and her husband served as my husband’s best man!

I share all of this because my heart grieves for those who need, but are not being helped! While we’re running, jumping, praising, worshiping, dancing, spinning, speaking in tongues, preaching, teaching and prayingsomeone is wondering where they’re going to live; what they’re going to eat; where will they get coats for a cold season; when will a job finally come through; what will I say to the kids for Christmas, when I have no gifts for them? How do we celebrate Thanksgiving when we don’t feel as if we have anything to be thankful for? How will I get the lights and gas back on? Then, you have those that are trying to pull themselves out of the bed just one more day. Those who are depressed, discouraged, wounded, desperate, in pain, and just all around frustrated with life!

People of God, you have no idea what the planting of your small seed may one day yield for someone else’s harvest. My friend Samantha Gerald had no idea what I would one day become, but she freely sowed anyhow! And I am fully persuaded that had she not sown, I would never have grown into half the woman I am today! For that, I Give God Thanks!

You see, Jesus said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48). Therefore, shouldn’t we (believers; the church; the disciples of Christ; the children of Light; the children of God) then be found giving as much as we’re getting? Honestly, can you imagine for someone like me, with all of that as my testimony, to be selfish? Truth is, I can’t afford to be! Because when I needed God, one of His servants was there and I didn’t need to pay her to be there either! I don’t know what my life would be like had me and Samantha never crossed paths. And I truthfully don’t want to know! But what I learned from her is to always share the unconditional love of God and to do for others as I want done for me. I needed someone, and someone was there. Likewise, I want to be there as God’s mouthpiece for the person who is at the end of their rope. I want to teach them how to hold on even if it’s to the last string. Because that’s what was done for me. There are lost people who need at least a little of what we have a lot of!

So, what did the lepers from 2 Kings ultimately do? “So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them…” (vs. 10 NIV) We need to do the same. Those who are perishing, hurting, depressed, discouraged, need us to call out to them because we remember what it was like on the other side of the wall. We need to tell them what God did. We need to tell them what we’ve found. We need to share our discovery. We need to tell them the Good News. We need to feed those who are so desperately hungry, both naturally and spiritually. Don’t get me wrong, it’s alright to pray for your cup to run over, just make sure you amend your prayer to say and Lord give me a saucer for the overflow so I can pass the blessing on! Don’t sit at the table full, while others are empty, and you have extra!

Pass the Plate Please!

Every believer should be actively involved in reaching the lost; rescuing the dying somehow…including you, in an outreach to people that you are uniquely close to, or by starting or supporting outreach programs through your church, or by giving time or talent to a Christian ministry that is actively rescuing lost people. Maybe even by changing your life plans. But just don’t keep piling it up on your plate, because there are people all around you who are dying of starvation both naturally and spiritually.

Today is a good day to share some of your food, and why not start with some Fruit? Share a pot of love, a plate of joy, a cup of peace, a forkful of longsuffering, a spoonful of gentleness, a glass of goodness, a saucer of faith, a serving of meekness and a good portion of temperance? (Galatians 5:22-23).

Today, Let Us BE the People of God in Both Our Word and Deed!

Today, Let’s Pass the Plate to Those Starving Who Need Sustenance…Naturally AND Spiritually!

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Do all the good you can; by all the means you can; in all the ways you can; in all the places you can; at all the times you can; to all the people you can; as long as ever you can.” (John Wesley)

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” (Pablo Picasso)

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” (Anne Frank)

“Generosity: The habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return.” (Pinterest)

“Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out.” (Frank A. Clark)

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Mother Teresa)

“Generosity is what keeps the things we own from owning us.” (Pinterest)

“The greatest miracle of life is to give generously and see how what you have given returns to you manifold.” (Roxana Jones)

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” (Albert Pike)

“You do not have to be rich to be generous.” (Pinterest)

“True generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it cost you nothing!” (Simone de Beauvoir)

“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” (Bob Kerrey)

“Generosity is the best investment.” (Diane Von Furstenberg)

“The most truly generous persons are those who give silently without hope of praise or reward.” (Carol Ryrie)

“The heart that gives, gathers.” (Marianne Moore)

“God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” (Augustine)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Don’t Wait Until THANKSGIVING to THANK Him”

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“If It’s HIDDEN, It Won’t HEAL”

Hebrews 4:12-13,For the Word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, BUT ALL THINGS ARE OPEN AND EXPOSED, AND REVEALED TO THE EYES OF HIM WITH WHOM WE HAVE TO GIVE ACCOUNT” (AMP)

Truth is, as women, we are Masters of Cover-Up! From make-up (to cover acne, wrinkles, disfigurements); to hair (wigs, weaves, braids, clip-on’s, ponytails, hats, wraps, scarves); to body distortions (girdles, control top pantyhose, waist-trainers)! We have Mastered How to Cover-Up what we consider our “flaws, short-comings, and imperfections.”

In fact, if you think about it, everywhere you look now-a-days you see guys that are wearing baseball caps. But more than ever before, you see more girls and even women wearing them now than they ever did before! And ironically enough, more often than not, the caps really don’t have anything to do with baseball! A dear friend of mine who is a college professor, even wants to ban baseball caps in the classroom! In honesty, from school, to church, to everyday life you’ve got more and more people wearing those caps.

My youngest daughter Ashley a few years ago, actually wore more baseball caps than I’ve ever seen my sons wear. She had them in all shapes, sizes, colors and teams. Now, what bugs me most is that she has a beautiful head of hair! She wears it natural, and when she spends the hours it takes to tame her mass of curls, it always looks like something from the best hair magazines. However, there was one point when she started wearing all those baseball caps. It drove me nuts! Finally, by day 4 I simply got fed up with seeing her every-day, all day in those baseballs caps. So I decided to ask her what was up with her and wearing the baseball caps. Her simple response? You guessed it, “Bad hair day, mom!” As a woman, I can understand that, but 4 days straight? Ugh!

Well, if we are to be completely honest, there are those days when we simply don’t have time to wash our hair or get it to look just right, so what do we do? We cover it up, and some of us with a hat! Now, for a bad hair day, that is acceptable and even understandable, but when it’s time to come to God, cover up is never a good idea.

I don’t believe in exposing others, so I’ll just expose me! There are times when I enter my prayer closet with God, and truth is, I wasn’t on my best of behavior throughout the day. So, talking to God in the evening becomes more eloquence of speech. I ask Him to bless all those who are in lack and in need. To be there for those in the hospitals, nursing homes, jails, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, rehab, etc. I ask Him to provide for those who are without. And all that sounds wonderful. But truthfully, it’s just a mask because I really don’t want to discuss my bad habits, bad judgments, bad decisions and choices that were made all throughout the day, some accidental, but most deliberate. There are times when my prayers are more flattery of speech than true, heartfelt sincerity. Lord, thank You for the roof over my head, the clothes on my back, my job, and family. You’ve been such a wonderful provider, an awesome comforter, a timely counselor…And again, all of that sounds wonderful. But I’m still keeping myself “covered up.

Which made me think of Hebrews 4:12. It says, “For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. EVERYTHING IS UNCOVERED AND LAID BARE BEFORE THE EYES OF HIM TO WHOM WE MUST GIVE ACCOUNT” (NIV).” In other words, “HATS OFF!

No matter how bad your hair day may be, eventually, at some point, if it is to get any better, you’ve got to remove what’s covering it and fix it! Likewise, no matter how bad your attitude, habits, addictions, decisions, choices have been, you can’t keep covering them, at some point you have to uncover them, so they can be fixed!

If you think about it, how retarded are we to think that we can hide, mask, masquerade, shield, pretend or cover up before the One Whom the Bible says, “…EVERYTHING IS UNCOVERED AND LAID BARE BEFORE THE EYES OF HIM TO WHOM WE MUST GIVE ACCOUNT”

Believe it or not, but even with your baseball cap on to cover-up your bad hair day, you do realize that the One Who has numbered the hairs of your head, still sees it all right? Take a look at a few translations of Matthew 10:30:

“But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered [for the Father is sovereign and has complete knowledge].” (AMP);

“Even the hairs of your head are all counted.” (CEB);

“God even knows how many hairs are on your head.” (ERV);

“Every hair on your head has been counted.” (GWT);

“…He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail – even numbering the hairs on your head!…” (MSG)

What I love most about this Scripture translation is the word “Numbered”, it’s defined as “to assign a specific number to or mark with a number”. That literally means that every strand of hair on your head has its’ own specifically assigned number. Look at it like this, many of us use a brush on a daily basis. And for most of us, our brushes are full of hair that has come out over time. Do you know that God can look at that brush and tell you the specially assigned numbers of each strand of hair?! How crazy is that?! He can tell you that hair numbers 4, 39, 1,102, 333, 972, are the numbers specifically in that brush! And what’s even crazier than that is most of us have shared our hair brushes, either with a spouse or children. And do you know that God can differentiate each person’s hairs and the numbers that were assigned to each!? I know, absolutely insane! So, where am I going with this? YOU CANNOT HIDE, MASK OR COVER UP WITH GOD NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY! If He knows the specific numbers to each of your hair strands, surely He knows what you did last night, where, with who, why and how many times. Please understand, you can hide your bad hair from the world, but you can’t hide your bad habits from God!

“God means what He says. What He says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through EVERYTHING, whether doubt or defense, laying us OPEN to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.” (Hebrews 4:12-13 MSG) I love that word “impervious”, it’s defined as “unable to be affected by”. So, you may as well come clean and come uncovered because it is absolutely impossible for you to be a believer, and yet go unaffected by the Word of God! There is nothing you can do to Shield yourself from an All-Seeing God, just ask Hagar! Genesis 16:13, “She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, “YOU’RE THE GOD WHO SEES ME!…” (MSG). Or ask David, “Is there any place 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)

HOW DO YOU ATTEMPT TO HIDE FROM A GOD WHERE NOTHING IS ABLE TO BE HIDDEN FROM HIM?

You see, what we’ve managed to cover up from everyone else, God sees. The covering comes off when you pray…or it ought to. But we have a tendency to get all dressed up for God, and we come to Him with this flowery prayer language. We talk to Him about religious stuff. But real prayer begins when you come into God’s presence with the real you; the one who isn’t together like everybody else thinks you are, the one who’s struggling and honest about it, the one who’s hurting, the one who’s doubting, or the one who’s grieving, the one who’s sinning. Maybe you’re falling. Maybe you’re giving out or maybe even giving up. If in fact any of that describes you, you need to go to God Uncovered in prayer, not Masked in Pretense!

Matthew 6:2-4, “…playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get…” (MSG);

Matthew 6:9-13, “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who You are. Set the world right; Do what’s best—as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with You and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything You want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.” (MSG)

Prayer is never to be a performance. The prayer closet is not a stage and you need no longer be a play-actor. Come to God as you are so He can change you into what you should be. You’ll never find yourself in a better place if you keep hiding yourself in your last bad place. Genesis 3:8, 10, “When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife HID in the trees of the garden, HID from God…He said, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I HID.” (MGS) Adam sounds alot like me in prayer. I know what I’ve done. I know how bad my motives and intentions were. I know I had no business being there, doing that, being with them etc…I knew the mistakes and deliberate bad decisions I made throughout the day. You can hide from other people, but you can never hide from yourself. So going into prayer, I knew exactly who and what I was taking into prayer. And even though I know God sees all things, for some reason, I didn’t want to think that He sawthosethings. And so the performance in prayer. For some of you, you’re in the same position as me and Adam. You realize you messed up and so you immediately go into self-preservation mode (cover-up and hide)! But just as God knew where I was, knew where Adam was, He also knows where you are. And that’s something to take comfort in, not hide from. I always find it amazing that when we mess up, the first person we want to hide from is God. “…the Man and his Wife HID in the trees of the garden, HID from God…” (MSG). That makes as much since as having a toothache but hiding from the Dentist; having a stroke but hiding from the Doctor; having car trouble but hiding from the Mechanic; drowning but hiding from the Lifeguard. In other words, when you’re hurt you don’t hide from the Healer. So, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, fornication, adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, depression, suicidal, lonely, empty, confused, desperate, take it all to God…Uncovered…after all there is Nothing He Does Not See!

See, the first reason to come to God honestly is this: God already knows! That’s what this says, “ALL THINGS are uncovered and laid bare.There’s no point in coming to impress God. You come, not as you ought to be, but as you are! Then in Hebrews chapter 4 verse 15 we’ve got a second reason we can come honestly to God. “We do not have a high priest who’s unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way just as we are yet without sin.The Amplified Bible says it like this, “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [KNOWING EXACTLY HOW IT FEELS TO BE HUMAN] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.” (AMP). And the Message Bible simply puts it like this, “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (MSG).

Isn’t it wonderful to know that you’re going to someone with issues they can relate to? No, Jesus didn’t sin, but how comforting to know that he sympathizes with our weaknesses; He’s been tempted in every way; He understands; and He knows exactly what it feels like to simply be human. The Son of God Himself, as sinless as He is, can relate to us mere humans.

I remember when my dad passed away and all of the wonderful friends, family and colleagues that were so supportive, understanding and encouraging. They were praying and sending strength and love my way. And as much as I needed and appreciated it all, it was my friend Pastor Darren who blessed me the most. And the simple reason is, he had already sat where I was now sitting. Like me, he had to make the final decision of pulling the plug (and we shared all the same emotions of ‘did I do the right thing’?) It was easy to talk to him because he understood through experience. Grant it, my husband was a huge source of inspiration and encouragement, but at the end of the day, he could pick up the phone and call his dad. I needed someone who understood the impact of not being able to do that any longer, ever again.

With that said, you should be encouraged today to go to God just as you are. Why? Because He doesn’t need your façade, your baseball cap, your wigs, weaves, ponytails, scarves, wraps, masks, Maybeline, 3 piece suit and the like. He already knows. He’s already seen. You don’t have to “fix-it-up” for Him. You don’t have to style it or spray perfume or cologne on it. You don’t have to dress it up. You don’t have to give it all the right words. You don’t have to perform. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to worry about your appearance. He wants you…as is! All you have to do is go to Him Uncovered just one time, and empty out. You’ll be amazed at how easy it becomes to continue to do so. He’s easy to talk to, because He understands.

God really understands…

You’re talking to the God who’s been here. He’s been hurt, He’s been lonely, exhausted, and criticized. Jesus was abandoned, slandered, tempted, betrayed, He was beaten, He was stabbed in the side like many of us have been stabbed in the back. What a Savior! We can come uncovered to this Lord because He’s walked this road. Jesus gives us someone who laughs with us, who struggles with us, who cries with us.

And there’s one more reason to come honestly. God responds to it! Verse 16 says, “Let us then approach the Throne of Grace with confidence that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” No condemnation; just understanding. God sends two supernatural resources in response to our honest sharing; mercy and grace aimed right at the honest need you just poured out to Him. The Message Bible says it like this: “So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (MSG).

But God doesn’t impose himself. He only comes by invitation. You’ll only know the empowerment of God’s grace in an area that you have totally opened up to Him. Remember, bring the real you to God. Like the hymn says, “Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me.The “you” that has been hidden from everyone else is the “you” God wants. He wants to carry and He wants to heal that person. He wants you to stop hiding, stop shielding, stop masking, stop covering.

A bad hair day is one thing; it’s the bad heart days that Jesus is concerned about. And when you pray, uncover what’s really there, He’s the master-stylist who can fix anything!

1 Samuel 16:7, “But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” (MSG)

Today, expose your heart issues to God so He can heal you. Truth is, if the heart issues were in the natural, no one could beat you running to the cardiologist! So, treat your spiritual heart issues with the same urgency! Let no one beat you in running to God! Take uncovered you, messy hair, no make-up, run down, tired, frustrated you, straight to God. You’ve been in hiding long enough, it’s time to come out, come out wherever you are and receive the help, healing and wholeness that He is so desperately desiring to give you!

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

“The parts of me I usually like to hide are the very parts where God is working through my life and my story.” (Bonnie Gray)

“You don’t bring glory or pleasure to God by hiding your abilities or by trying to be someone else. You only bring Him enjoyment by being you.” (Rick Warren)

“There are too many over-fed, under-motivated Christians hiding behind the excuse that God has not spoken to them. They are waiting to hear voices or see dreams – all the while living to make money, to provide for their future, to dress well and have fun.” (Floyd McClung)

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

“A Christian who withdraws into himself, hiding all that the Lord has given him, is not a Christian! I would ask the many young people present to be generous with their God-Given talents for the good of others, the Church and our world.” (Pope Francis)

“You needn’t wear a mask; God sees you as you are.” (Sheila Walsh)

“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)

“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)

“Where does your security lie? Is God your refuge, your hiding place, your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer, your Savior, your guide? If He is, you don’t need to search any further for security.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

“I think at times we find ourselves brokenhearted and disappointed because we live in a world where we are taught to find safety and security in people and not God.” (Lauren Baton)

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” (Zora Neale Hurston)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “25 Ways to Find Joy and Balance During the Holidays”

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“The Reason We Worship”

If it’s one man I love and respect, it’s our former President Barack Obama. And I’ve come to discover, that when the President of the United States comes to speak, it’s a rare opportunity. So if you desire to be physically present when he shows up to speak, you better get there hours early because of the mass of people that will be there as well! Think about it, it’s hard to find a place to park, to stand, to sit or to see and hear. Yet, if you should happen to be able to squeeze in and find a spot, you still then have to wait until he arrives! Finally, you can hear a ripple go through the crowd as they hang the presidential seal on the podium. Then comes the announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.” Everybody gives him an ovation that lasts quite a while, and when the applause dies down, he begins to speak. While he speaks, nobody else speaks, nobody leaves, but everybody listens. In a nutshell, when you go to hear someone important, you don’t just applaud and leave. You stay after the applause to hear what they have to say.

You can find in Isaiah 6 perhaps the greatest worship scene in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah says the following in Isaiah 6:1-4 “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw [in a vision] the Lord sitting on a throne, high and exalted, with the train of His royal robe filling the [most holy part of the] temple. Above Him seraphim (heavenly beings) stood; each one had six wings: with two wings he covered his face, with two wings he covered his feet, and with two wings he flew. And one called out to another, saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is filled with His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, and the temple was filling with smoke” (AMP)

This is what you would call true worship! It is getting lost in the worth of who He is, and being overwhelmed by His very presence. It is the place where no flesh glories in His sight. It is the place where the true-worshiper dwells.

John 4:23-24, “But a time is coming and is already here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit [from the heart, the inner self] and in truth; for the Father seeks such people to be His worshipers. God is spirit [the Source of life, yet invisible to mankind], and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (AMP)

KEY: “…the Father SEEKS such people to be His worshipers…”

Can you imagine something being so important and vital to God that He actually comes looking for it? He actually pursues it? He seeks after it? Well, that’s the power and attraction of true-worshipers. There is something so phenomenal about their worship, that God seeks for, looks for, goes after and relentlessly pursues them. Reminds me a lot of ‘new love’. We go so out of our way when it’s ‘new love’. The phone calls are never-ending, the flowers flow in constantly, the ‘I love you’s’ are dear, genuine, passionate and daily, the time together is precious and you never want it to come to an end. You rearrange your entire schedule (and life) just to spend a moment with the one you love. You gaze deeply into their eyes, and smile for no apparent reason at all. You can think of them and butterflies flutter on the inside. You give your everything to them, because you love them. It’s new, exciting, fun, and life-giving. It brings you joy, happiness, contentment, and you can’t stop telling everybody about the somebody that has stolen your precious heart and refuses to give it back. You want to hold hands all the time, your intimacy knows no limits or boundaries. You’re sharing sips of juice and bites of one another’s food in public. You want to eat with them, go out with them, stay in with them. You want to call and leave them a voicemail while they’re sitting right next to you. You text them that you miss them, when all they did was go down the hall to the restroom. All because you love them. And often their response matches yours, because when someone knows just how special, valued, cherished, treasured, important and loved they are, they tend to give even more of themselves in return out of gratitude.

I wonder what would happen if we would dare to love God like that?!

What would it be like for our worship to resemble that kind of ‘new love’ in word, thought, and action? Instead of that old stale familiar ‘I still care about you, God’, kinda ‘love’. Which sounds a lot like Revelation 2:4-5, “But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall! “Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.” (MSG) I don’t know about you, but that encouraged me to love on God afresh, with a NEW love! I want to be one of those true worshipers who God pursues!

Could you imagine how relentless God would pursue us for rendering such worship on Him? If only we would give God even a tenth of what we give to people…Selah…

The God’s Word Translation says, “…The Father is looking for people like that to worship Him…” (GWT). Then the Good News Translation finishes like this, “…God is Spirit, and only by the power of His Spirit can people worship Him as He really is.” (GNT). Which makes me wonder, if we spend no time with God, no time talking to Him and hearing from Him; if we spend no time in prayer, no time in His Word, no time in His Presence, how will we ever be able to worship Him in spirit and in truth? You can’t worship Him when you spend no worthwhile time with Him. How can we worship Him, by His Spirit, when our Spirit takes no time to learn who He really is? Which is hard to do in an era of the church that is “Praise” focused…ONLY. Now, is there anything wrong with praise? Absolutely not! From cover-to-cover of the Bible will you hear about the praises rendered to our God, and His favorable responses to them.

HOWEVER, I’m afraid that we’ve become so Praise-Centered, that we no longer know how to get to the Core of Worship anymore.

There’s a wonderful new emphasis in many places today on praise and worship. And I for one certainly recall it being called “devotion”. You see, it was the time in my former church where the Deacons and Deaconesses led in prayer, praise and worship and testimony service. It was a time when the people remembered to make the Lord the focus, and finally took time to forget themselves instead and experience just how big God is. People from all over the sanctuary would share what the Lord had done for them and their loved ones, their health, their employment and marriage etc. It was wonderful, encouraging, empowering, motivating, faith-building, inspiring. We would sing, and clap and dance, and holler. We would give God our best and noisiest praise! It was sort of our standing ovation for God! Much like the preparation for when the President is about to enter the room and speak.

UNFORTUNATELY though, far too many of us leave after the standing ovation, not realizing that it’s only the beginning. Yes, Praise went forth and Worship went forth, but now God wants to say something; He wants to speak to us. But how can we hear Him if we leave, or start to tune out after the praise break stops? How can we hear Him over all the clapping, hollering, high-fiving,  and ‘tell your neighbor’? How can we hear Him while we’re so busy running, jumping, leaping, dancing, and shouting? Now, is anything wrong with any of that? No, not in and of itself. And if that was the conclusion, it would be fine. HOWEVER, it’s not, it’s only the beginning. Because after the ovation dies down, after the applause stops, His voice speaks, and that’s the most important part of it all. And when you realize that it is, you began to prepare yourself to hear the Lord speak.

Isaiah 6:5 says this, “Woe is me! For I am ruined, Because I am a man of [ceremonially] unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (AMP). Worship is supposed to lead to repentance. When you are in the presence of the Lord, you should see His holiness and the sin that you have not dealt with. You need to make things right with this awesome God. Worship that doesn’t lead to cleaning up your sin is just dead-end applause, and we should not leave until God has spoken. Worship should remind us that we’ve sinned, it should convict us of our unrighteousness when we realize just how righteous He is. It should uncover our unholiness when we realize just how holy He is. Worship should challenge us to change for the better. Worship should remind us that although we serve an awesome, loving and kind, and generous God, He is also HOLY.

“because it is written, “You shall be holy (set apart), for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16 AMP);

“Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14 AMPC)

This is how vital holiness is. We are to be holy, because He Is Holy and without Holiness, No One Will Ever See Him. So, when we worship God, it is a time of preparation to hear from God. We enter that place of holy worship where we acknowledge that we are unclean and need to be bathed in His presence. We need to be made right. We need to begin again. Start afresh, start anew. We need to reevaluate ourselves, our attitudes, our speech, our thoughts, our deeds, our motives and intentions, our desires, our longings, our heart. Because we need to hear Him, we have to come close to Him, and have Him cleanse us and position us. Praise is wonderful, it gets us to the door, thanksgiving opens it up, worship allows us to enter in, and holiness allows preparation to hear God speak.

Isaiah 6:6-7, “Then flew one of the seraphim [heavenly beings] to me, having a live coal in his hand which he had taken with tongs from off the altar; and with it he touched my mouth and said, Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity and guilt are taken away, and your sin is completely atoned for and forgiven.” (AMPC).

A lot happens after the initial cries of “Holy, Holy, Holy”. Just as a lot happens prior to the President speaking. There’s a process before the proclamation. Isaiah didn’t get happy just because of who he was around (the angels, or for us it’s other church folks). He didn’t even get happy because of the ovation and applause (“Holy, Holy, Holy”, or for us it’s our Praise Breaks). But Isaiah declared his sin, I’m unclean and unholy. And since I’m in your presence and have the opportunity to hear you speak, I’m not stopping here, I’m not staying here, I’m leaving here changed and better. And the very thing he declared was unclean (‘I’m a man of unclean lips’), the angels touched him and gave a new declaration, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity and guilt are taken away, and your sin is completely atoned for and forgiven.” And what happens after he confesses and gets cleaned up?

Verse 8 says, “THEN I HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD SAYING, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (AMP). When we see our sin and receive God’s forgiveness, then we should see the people who don’t have a Savior yet. Our heart should ache for those who haven’t seen the King. Worship is not just getting a good feeling because you got close to God. When you see the Lord, it will help you see the lost people who haven’t gotten close to Him yet. Worship that is really worship will lead to repentance and then to evangelism.

Unfortunately, we get so lost in what we desire the Lord to personally do for us, that we assume, when we’ve received what we asked for, then that’s it, I’m good, the day is done, we can go home now. Not so! We don’t get to God, get what we can get from God, then go home. We get in the presence of God, so we can repent, change and get something to give away to somebody else.

“Here am I, Lord. I will go for You into the lives of the people around me who have yet to see the King as I have.”

You don’t get clean just to brag about your cleanliness. You don’t get clean just to hang around other clean folks. You get clean so you can go to them that are still in the filth of their sin, and you tell them I know a Man that can clean your sin better than Tide can clean your laundry! John 4:39-42, “Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him BECAUSE OF THE WOMAN’S WITNESS: “He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out!” They asked him to stay on, so Jesus stayed two days. A LOT MORE PEOPLE ENTRUSTED THEIR LIVES TO HIM WHEN THEY HEARD WHAT HE HAD TO SAY. They said to the woman, “We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We’ve heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Savior of the world!” (MSG) That’s what we’re supposed to do church. Leave worship with the witness that I know a man that can save you, help you, heal you, deliver you, redeem you, forgive you! And that passionate witness will lead them to listen to Him for themselves. See, the people entrusted their lives to Him when they heard what He had to say. We stick around when the President speaks because we want to hear what he has to say. Well, we need to learn to stick around Jesus to hear what He has to say! Why? Because there are far too many lives at stake without Him! And all they need is our witness after worship to lead them to the one who is still the truth, the way and the light! Church, There is So Much More to the Reason We Worship!

You don’t just go to God’s presence to applaud, to run, jump, leap, spin, dance, shout, and praise, though that’s a great place to start. But you go to worship and repent, to receive forgiveness, to be cleansed and changed and to hear Him speak and then to act on what He says! There is so much more to Worship than the water-down version of it that we see in churches today.

Think about this: Can you imagine traveling hours to hear the President speak, stuck in traffic, struggling to find a place to park. Then getting on a long line, and more often than not, having to be security cleared. Then to hear all the chatter from everyone else speaking all at the same time. Then to find you a little spot to try and see and hear him. Then to hear that he’s about to enter in, he’s announced and introduced, you clap and scream and get so excited. And then he comes in, and all the cheering gets even louder. He’s at the podium, then the applause dies down, and you finally get to hear him speak, but he just walks away without a word spoken…how disappointed would you be?

Well, on the reverse side of that, that’s where a lot of us are. We go through all we go through to get to church. Find parking, find somewhere to sit, then there’s the music, the clapping, dancing, praising, and then the mouthpiece of God gets ready to speak and we’ve completely checked out of service. Imagine God’s heart break that you don’t mind applauding Him, you just don’t want to hear from Him. Well, that’s not the purpose. We have to find our way back to what’s important in our churches. And it’s not how awesome the choir is, how amazing the music is, how high the anointing is, how fancy the footwork. None of that has value. We need to enter in with thanksgiving and praise. But we also have to find our place of worship and repentance. So that we can be honest before God, confess and be cleansed and changed before God. Then we can clearly hear from God. And then we can take what we’ve heard from God and share it with others. Don’t lose the core importance of the Presence of God. It is not to tickle your ears or your fancy, it’s not hearing what you want to hear, it’s not about houses, cars, land, business opportunities, checks in the mail, job promotions, ministry elevations and new spouses. It’s about becoming better. It’s about spending so much time with God that you finally start to sound like Him, walk and talk like Him, think and act like Him, reflect Him.

Acts 4:13, “They couldn’t take their eyes off them—Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves! Their fascination deepened when they realized these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education. THEY RECOGNIZED THEM AS COMPANIONS OF JESUS, but with the man right before them, seeing him standing there so upright—so healed!—what could they say against that?” (MSG)

Can you imagine spending so much time with Jesus that even when you’re not with Him, people can look at your life and lifestyle and see the evidence that you’re definitely one of His companions? Look at a few other versions of how this text reads:

“…they were astounded, and began to recognize that they had been with Jesus…” (AMP)

“…They also recognized that they had been followers of Jesus…” (CEB)

“…The officials were certain that these men had been with Jesus…” (CEV)

“…But they knew they had been with Jesus…” (NLV)

“…they were amazed and realized what being with Jesus had done for them!…” (TLB)

Now this is what you can call a great witnessing tool! When you’ve been around Jesus so much so, that even unsaved folks will have no other choice but to say even they can see what being with Jesus has done for you!

So, can people be able to look at you and see, recognize, be certain, know and realize that you’ve spent time with Jesus?! Can they look at you and your lifestyle and be amazed and realize what being with Jesus has done for you? Because that’s the profound product of worship. You walk away reflecting His image and likeness, representing well His characteristics and glory.

Can you imagine spending so much time with Jesus that even your speech betrays you?! Matthew 26:73, “A short time later those standing there came and said to Peter, “You must be one of them. The way you talk gives you away.” (CEB) Listen to these translations:

“…“We know you are one of them. It’s clear from the way you talk.” (ERV)

“…“Of course you are one of them,” they said. “After all, the way you speak gives you away!” (GNT)

“…Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.” (NASB)

“…“Surely you are one of those who followed Jesus. The way you talk shows it.” (NCV)

Peter couldn’t hide his Galilean accent, it came out naturally because it was apart of who he was and where he came from and who he’d been around. Do you spend enough time in worship in God’s presence, that you sound like God? Do you sound like you’ve been among believers and worshipers, praiser’s and faith walkers? Can people see the evidence of your Sunday worship still on you when you’re stuck in Monday traffic; Tuesday conflict; Wednesday stress; Thursday health decline; Friday failures; and Saturday temptations? Can they still hear you speaking faith and not fear; can they still hear your worship and not your worry? Do you still sound like you’ve been with the Savior, even when you’re in the presence of sinners? Or do you lie like Peter and say you don’t even know the man? Or worse yet, are you living so beneath the code of conduct lifestyle of a believer that you don’t even have to open your mouth and say the words, but your lifestyle speaks on your behalf that clearly you don’t know the man? Don’t just talk about God, you ought to spend so much time with Him that you even talk LIKE God!

And then, what happens when your worship experience is written all over your face?! Exodus 34:29-35, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of The Testimony, HE DIDN’T KNOW THAT THE SKIN OF HIS FACE GLOWED BECAUSE HE HAD BEEN SPEAKING WITH GOD. Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, saw his RADIANT FACE, and held back, afraid to get close to him. Moses called out to them. Aaron and the leaders in the community came back and Moses talked with them. Later all the Israelites came up to him and he passed on the commands, everything that God had told him on Mount Sinai. When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face, BUT WHEN HE WENT INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD TO SPEAK WITH HIM, HE REMOVED THE VEIL UNTIL HE CAME OUT. When he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, THEY WOULD SEE MOSES’ FACE, ITS SKIN GLOWING, AND THEN HE WOULD AGAIN PUT THE VEIL ON HIS FACE UNTIL HE WENT BACK IN TO SPEAK WITH GOD.” (MSG)

Is your time in God’s presence this evident on your life from day-to-day? Can people look in your face and see the Glow of God’s Glory? If not, get back to worship until it does!

Saints, enjoy service, enjoy the praises rendered to our God. Give Him the standing ovation and applause you freely give to the President. But remember, if people can stay after the applause to hear what a mere man has to say, surely we should stay after the applause (physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally) to hear what God has to say. Don’t become so entertained in church, that you leave unchanged. Don’t get so lost in the Noise of Praise that you can’t find the Quiet of Worship.

1 Kings 19:11-13, “So He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by, and a great and powerful wind was tearing out the mountains and breaking the rocks in pieces before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, [there was] an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, [there was] a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, [there was] the sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard the sound, he wrapped his face in his mantle (cloak) and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, A VOICE CAME TO HIM AND SAID, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (AMP)

The Contemporary English Bible says, “…Finally, there was a gentle breeze,and when Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his coat. He went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. THE LORD ASKED, “Elijah, why are you here?” (CEV)

There was a Powerful Wind that tore out the mountains and broke rocks in pieces; There was an Earthquake; There was a Fire… In short, there was a lot of Noise and a lot of Action to Be Seen…but the Lord’s voice wasn’t in the noise or the visible action! And truth is, our churches have become quite noisy and visibly active…Selah…

However, the Lord’s voice was in “the sound of a gentle blowing…” if you weren’t quiet and still, you would never hear it or feel it. Makes me ponder if the church needs to quiet down and learn to be still a bit? Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God…” (AMP) Then, maybe, just maybe, we could sense, hear, see and feel the actual presence of the Lord again.

Church, praise is not the only order on the menu of the day. Now, I know praise is more like the steak, potatoes, chicken and rice on the menu. However, worship is more like the vegetables, something that’s so much better, and healthier for you. Does it mean steak is bad? Nope, but it will be better with the balance of broccoli. And with such a simple analogy, our praise is more well-balanced with our worship. Applaud the Lord, but when the applause dies down, worship and listen to what thus saith the Lord, and then act on His Word.

“Just as worship begins in holy expectancy, it ends in holy obedience. If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it has not been worship.” (Richard J. Foster)

“Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship.” (Author Unknown)

“When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words, than my words be without heart.” (Lamar Boschman)

“Worship is so much more than the songs that we sing on Sunday morning. It is the life that we live the rest of the week.” (Daughter By Design)

“Worship: Where God isn’t moved by the quality of our voice but by the condition of our hearts.” (Chris Tomlin)

“We belittle God when we go through the outward motions of worship and take no pleasure in His person.” (John Piper)

“Worship is the Door to God’s Presence.” (Author Unknown)

“Any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship, is not ready for heaven.” (A.W. Tozer)

“It is the pleasing of God that is at the heart of worship.” (R.C. Sproul)

“Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” (A.W. Tozer)

“Worship is the act of the abandoned heart adoring its God.” (John Eldredge)

“If God were small enough for us to understand, He wouldn’t be big enough for us to worship.” (Author Unknown)

“The purpose of this Christian society called the ‘Church’ is, first: to glorify God by our worship. We do not go to church just to hear a sermon. We go to church to worship God.” (Billy Graham)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “20 Holiday Health Mistakes to Avoid”

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“The Secret of Contentment”

Philippians 4:12, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the SECRET OF BEING CONTENT in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” {NIV}

Believe it or not, but sometimes Contentment has 3 Simple Secrets:

1…LEARNING TO BE HAPPY WITH LESS: A hard-charging executive decided to spend a few days in a monastery. “I hope your stay is a blessed one,” said the monk who showed him to his cell. “If you need anything let us know. We’ll teach you how to live without it.” As comical as that sounds, happiness isn’t getting what you want, IT’S ENJOYING WHAT GOD HAS ALREADY GIVEN YOU! Paul said he had learned to be content, “…whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV). The Message Bible says it like this: “…Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite CONTENT whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.” (vss. 10-14 MSG) Could you imagine what life would be like for so many of us if we embraced Paul’s mindset on contentment? He says, “…Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally…” How befitting, since in just a few more verses he would say: “And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) YOUR EVERY NEED according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 AMPC) Paul already knew WHO handled his needs, so he had no sense of needing anything personally. Just imagine how stress free we would be if our faith in God stretched that far? And how can we get our faith to stretch as far as Paul’s did? Just look at the earlier verses in that same chapter! Philippians 4:6-9, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, LETTING GOD KNOW YOUR CONCERNS. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. IT’S WONDERFUL WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHRIST DISPLACES WORRY AT THE CENTER OF YOUR LIFE.Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.(MSG) Paul lets us know that we have to alter our mindset! Too often we try to figure it all out while God is saying, just tell Me, and I’ll handle it, you don’t have to make futile attempts at figuring it all out on your own! Proverbs 3:5-12, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; DON’T TRY TO FIGURE OUT EVERYTHING ON YOUR OWN. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. DON’T ASSUME THAT YOU KNOW IT ALL. RUN TO GOD…” (MSG); Jeremiah 33:3, “…CALL TO ME AND I WILL ANSWER YOU. I’LL TELL YOU MARVELOUS AND WONDROUS THINGS THAT YOU COULD NEVER FIGURE OUT ON YOUR OWN.’” (MSG); Isaiah 65:24, “I will answer them before they even call to Me. WHILE THEY ARE STILL TALKING TO ME ABOUT THEIR NEEDS, I WILL GO AHEAD AND ANSWER THEIR PRAYERS!” (TLB). This is the reflection of Paul’s mindset and why he felt no sense of needing anything personally. He trusted God for everything, no matter what his circumstances were! Do you trust God like that? Or are you still holding pen and pad trying to come up with a solution that only God has? Paul says, “…I’ve learned by now to be quite CONTENT whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am…This is a lesson that is vital for all of us to learn, especially during the upcoming holiday season. You see, so many are exhausting every penny of their finances to purchase gifts, forgetting about the precious gifts that we already have (that many are still praying to receive). We may want a new car, but someone is praying to just get enough coins together to get on the bus and go to work to a job that pays them little more than ‘coins’. We may want a new house, but someone is praying to get a cot at the shelter so they don’t have to sleep under the bridge, on the train, on the platform, in the park, in a cardboard box, for at least one night. We may want to dine at 5-star restaurants, when someone just wants a buttered roll from the deli, instead of the garbage can. We may want a new job, but someone is praying to get a job, ANY job. We may want a promotion, but someone is praying simply not to be laid off. We may want to lose 20 pounds, while someone is receiving dialysis, radiation, or chemotherapy and hopes to merely stay alive, regardless of their weight. Are you getting this? We have so many blessings ALREADY that we don’t appreciate and yet we’re still in high pursuit for MORE, while others are still praying through their LESS. Let’s develop Paul’s mindset on contentment and learn to be content WHATEVER OUR CIRCUMSTANCES ARE, trusting that God knows best and will do His best on our behalf! John Balguy said it best, “Contentment is a pearl of great price, and whoever procures it at the expense of ten thousand desires makes a wise and a happy purchase.Stop carrying your burdens and learn how to cast them instead! Psalm 55:22, “CAST YOUR BURDEN ON THE LORD [RELEASE IT] and He will sustain and uphold you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken (slip, fall, fail).” (AMP) True Contentment is Found in Casting, Not Carrying!

2…REMIND YOURSELF, THINGS COULD BE WORSE: Snoopy was lying on his dog house one Thanksgiving Day, mumbling about being stuck with dog food while all those humans got to be inside with the turkey and gravy. “Of course, it could have been worse,” he finally reflected, “I could have been born a turkey.” Again, as comical as it sounds, reminding yourself that the statement “IT COULD BE WORSEcan be a powerful developer of contentment! Over these last few years it has absolutely dumbfounded me how many famous and wealthy people have committed suicide. You would think with their money, cars, mansions, luxuries, star spouses, well-known brands, that they would be happy. However, they took their own lives anyway. People who have come from well-to-do families, or built legendary careers, even comics that have made their living making us laugh, were unhappy and unfulfilled behind the scenes. So many thought if I just get in that school; get that job; get that man/woman; have that baby; get married; become debt-free; get down to my desired weight; get rid of my acne and stretch marks; buy that house; drive that car, I would be happy. And yet, those same people have attained many of those things to find that their happy was never in them. I have a girlfriend that interviewed for a managerial position at a different job. The position would double her salary! She asked if I would touch and agree with her to get it. But all I would do was touch and agree that the Will of God for her life would be accomplished. She never said she loved the job, that it was a career she’d always wanted to have, she didn’t mention any benefits and perks. The only reason she would take the job offered is because of the money. Well, she got the job! That was 6 months ago, and she’s been miserable ever since. She left a job that she loved, loved her coworkers, even supervisors, managers and bosses. Didn’t mind the workload. The commute was a breeze. The pay was above decent. And yet, when she saw the dollar signs, she left her place of contentment to end up in a place of resentment. She went from working 8 hours to almost 18 including weekends and holidays. She received a new cellphone that would have to be on and accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She began missing out on date nights with her husband, which has since strained their once happy marriage. Her children complain because she no longer can attend any of their school activities, nor is she home for dinner or available to help them with homework. Her sick mother that she used to spend every Saturday with, she hasn’t seen in 2 months. This my friends is why you have to be careful in your pursuit of MORE. Sometimes MORE is simply MORE headaches, heartaches, stress, frustration and loss. Sometimes getting what you want or getting more, can end up being worse, instead of better.  Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.” (Author Unknown). So, appreciate all that you have NOW, even if MORE never comes. God knows what you need and what you can handle. If you trust Him, thank Him, and show Him the gratitude He deserves for all He’s already given you, you may just find a bit more peace of mind, happiness, joy and contentment! Matthew 6:30-33, “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, TO NOT BE SO PREOCCUPIED WITH GETTING, SO YOU CAN RESPOND TO GOD’S GIVING. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. YOU’LL FIND ALL YOUR EVERYDAY HUMAN CONCERNS WILL BE MET.” (MSG); 1 Peter 5:7, “SO BE CONTENT with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; HE’LL PROMOTE YOU AT THE RIGHT TIME. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” (MSG) Things Could Always Be Worse, Make Sure You Learn to Thank God Better For What You Already Have!

3…UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT YOU SEEK IS SPIRITUAL, NOT MATERIAL: Paul says to beware of …greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5 NIV). Our problem isn’t just that we want more, it’s that the condition which underlies all our wanting is that WE REALLY WANT GOD! As Augustine said, “Our souls will never rest, until they rest in Thee.THE TRUTH IS, GOD WILL NEVER GIVE US ALL WE DESIRE TO MAKE US FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD, WHEN THIS WORLD IS NOT OUR HOME! The Bible says: “These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the TANGIBLE fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, AND ALL THE WHILE ACKNOWLEDGING AND CONFESSING THAT THEY WERE STRANGERS AND TEMPORARY RESIDENTS AND EXILES UPON THE EARTH” (Hebrews 11:13 AMP). NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU GET OF THIS WORLD’S GOLD IT CANNOT COMPARE WITH THE GLORY OF RECEIVING GOD’S GRACE IN ALL THAT HE’S ALREADY GIVEN US! SATISFYING YOUR FLESH, WILL NEVER SATISFY YOUR SPIRIT! FRIENDS, THIS WORLD IS NOT YOUR HOME, SO DON’T MAKE YOURSELVES COZY IN IT. DON’T INDULGE YOUR EGO AT THE EXPENSE OF YOUR SOUL. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” (1 Peter 2:11 MSG). In short, if there’s anything we should be longing for it should be: “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NIV). While we’re so busy trying to attain Old Testament Deuteronomy 28:1-14 blessings, God says this to us in the New Testament: Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed and worthy of praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has BLESSED US WITH EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS IN CHRIST.” (AMP) SAINTS, STOP CHASING STUFF, WHEN YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN GIVEN EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS IN CHRIST! Do Not Belittle What Jesus Paid So Much to Give You!

In closing: Michael Drosnin wrote a book about a man who wanted more wealth, so he built one of the biggest financial empires of his day. He wanted more pleasure, so he paid for the most glamorous women money could buy. He wanted more adventure, so he set air speed records, built and piloted the world’s most unique aircraft. He wanted more power, so he acquired political clout that was the envy of senators. He wanted more glamour, so he owned film studios and courted stars.

Then, Drosnin tells how this man’s life ended: “He was a figure of gothic power, ready for the grave. Emaciated, only 120 pounds stretched over his six-foot-four-inch frame…thin scraggly beard that reached its way onto his sunken chest, hideously long fingernails in grotesque yellow corkscrews…Many of his teeth were black, rotting stumps. A tumor was beginning to emerge from the side of his head…innumerable needle marks…Howard Hughes was an addict. A billionaire junkie.

So here’s the question: If Hughes had pulled off one more deal, made one more million and tasted one more thrill, WOULD IT HAVE EVER BEEN ENOUGH?!

You see, the illusion of gratitude is that we will experience it more, IF WE GET MORE! NO, that’s the same as making sure a child gets everything which will eventually destroy their initiative and dull their sense of gratitude and contentment! Mark 8:34-37, “Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. WHAT GOOD WOULD IT DO TO GET EVERYTHING YOU WANT AND LOSE YOU, THE REAL YOU? WHAT COULD YOU EVER TRADE YOUR SOUL FOR?” (MSG)

 “The most valuable things in life are not measured in monetary terms. The really important things are not houses and lands, stocks and bonds, automobiles and real estate, but friendships, trust, confidence, empathy, mercy, love and faith.” (Bertrand Russell).

Don’t you find it interesting that the man who wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content” also wrote, “IN EVERY THING GIVE THANKS: FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS CONCERNING YOU” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)?

I know today’s church is all about financial prosperity, break-through’s, seasons, harvest, turn-around’s, and financial abundance, but I like God’s Prosperity a whole lot more:  “BELOVED, I WISH ABOVE ALL THINGS THAT THOU MAYEST PROSPER AND BE IN HEALTH, EVEN AS THY SOUL PROSPERETH” (3 John 1:2). Another translation puts it like this: “DEAR FRIEND, I HOPE ALL IS WELL WITH YOU AND THAT YOU ARE AS HEALTHY IN BODY AS YOU ARE STRONG IN SPIRIT” 

THEREFORE, REGARDLESS TO WHAT PULPIT PIMPS ERRONEOUSLY PROCLAIM AND FALSELY PROPHESY…CONTENTMENT, NOT CASH, IS TRUE PROSPERITY!

DON’T LOSE YOUR SPIRIT’S PEACE, CHASING FOR FLESHLY PIECES OF MATERIAL PROSPERITY!

Here’s a little hymn that will remind you to protect your contentment and peace:

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. Refrain: It is well with my soul, It is well, it is well with my soul. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live: If Jordan above me shall roll, No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait, The sky, not the grave, is our goal; Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord! Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul! And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.” (Horatio G. Spafford, 1873)

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].” (AMP)

Psalm 23:1, “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!” (TLB)

1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God].” (AMP) The Message Bible says it like this: “A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.” vss. 6-8 MSG)

Let that be our goal, the one in which we set our sights on going into 2021. Whatever my lot, whatever my circumstances, whatever I have or don’t have, it is well with my soul!

Church, Embrace the Secret of Contentment, For it is to Simply Thank God For All Things and to Trust Him In All Things!

“To be content doesn’t mean you don’t desire more, it means you’re thankful for what you have and patient for what’s to come.” (Tony Gaskins)

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.” (Author Unknown)

“Contentment is an attitude that says, ‘I will be satisfied with what God has given me.” (Jennifer Booth)

“Contentment is the only real wealth.” (Alfred Nobel)

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” (Epicurus)

“A harvest of peace is produced from a seed of contentment.” (Proverb)

“Contentment makes a poor man rich, discontent makes a rich man poor.” (Benjamin Franklin)

“There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment.” (Swami Sivananda)

“Fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress.” (Epictetus)

“Contentment is a state of the heart, unaffected by outward circumstances.” (Crystal Paine)

“A contented heart is a calm sea in the midst of all storms.” (Author Unknown)

“Contentment is natural wealth. Luxury is artificial poverty.” (Socrates)

“Happiness comes after contentment.” (E.A. Cabaltica)

“May we never let the things we can’t have, or don’t have, spoil our enjoyment of the things we do have and can have.” (Richard L. Evans)

“Contentment always eludes those who don’t count themselves blessed for what they already have.” (Author Unknown)

“Life is better if you are satisfied and happy with what you do and what you have.” (Dr. T.P. Chia)

“There is no treasure equal to contentment and no virtue equal to fortitude.” (Sarada Devi)

“Simplicity is the first cousin of contentment.” (John Stott)

“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.” (Plato)

“Contentment is the equilibrium between the enjoyment of life now and the anticipation of what is to come.” (Priscilla Shirer)

“Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.” (Epictetus)

“Happiness can only be achieved by looking inward and learning to enjoy whatever life has and this requires transforming greed into gratitude.” (John Chrysostom)

“Contentment is not by addition but by subtraction: seeking to add a thing will not bring contentment. Instead, subtracting from your desires until you are satisfied only with Christ brings contentment.” (Jeremiah Burroughs)

“Be happy with the little that you have. There are people with nothing that still manage to smile.” (Author Unknown)

“Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.” (Og Mandino)

“Contentment, then, is the product of a heart resting in God. It is the soul’s enjoyment of that peace that passes all understanding. It is the outcome of my will being brought into subjection to the Divine Will. It is the blessed assurance that God does all things well, and is, even now, making all things work together for my ultimate good.” (Arthur W. Pink)

“Contentment with life is not a feeling, but it is a decision we must make.” (Joyce Meyer)

“He who is contented is rich.” (Lao Tzu)

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

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Healthy Food Swaps to Try for the Holidays”

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“Don’t Let the Pressure Stop Your Press!”

“I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience His resurrection power, be a partner in His suffering, and go all the way with Him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.” (Philippians 3:10-11 MSG)

While John was a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos, far from his loved ones and surrounded by the cries of abused captives, he had a vision of Jesus. He writes, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if dead…” (Revelation 1:17 AMP). He received an incredible revelation in the midst of confinement, chaos and pain – and isn’t that often how revelation works? God certainly has an amazing way of showing Himself mighty in the midst of our misery. The problem is however, we don’t respond like John. Despite what John was facing and surrounded by, when “…he saw Him…[he]…fell at His feet as if dead…” Let’s be honest, how many of us actually fall into worship mode when in the midst of struggles? Truth is, far more often, we become snappy, our attitudes get out of control, our emotions are doom and gloom, our faith falters, our countenance falls, our hope becomes helplessness, we invite family, friends and even foes to our self-proclaimed pity party. It’s sad but true. Rarely do we immediately fall into worship when life hits us with its worst!

But even Jonah learned to worship in the worst of it! “Jonah 2:2-6, Describes Jonah’s Fish Temple of Worship: The Bible says, “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ’Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, With ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me. I said, ’I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever…” (MSG).

And you think you’ve got problems??!!  Jonah worshiped in the midst of fish guts and seaweed, and you mean to tell me you can’t worship God in the midst of what you’re going through? Look at what Jonah worshiped in the midst of! But yet in still, you cancel your worship due to rolling eyes and attitudes; over what someone said or didn’t say; because they didn’t sing your song or preach you happy; because it’s raining outside; because they sat in your seat; because of what the doctors said. Tell yourself from this day forward, the devil is a liar! I’ll let nothing and no one cancel my worship again! Not their words, facial expressions, opinions, criticisms, discouragement, or bitterness! If Jonah could worship with his head tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea; surely you can continue to worship God as He keeps your head above the waters that He promised you would not drown you! Isaiah 43:1-4, “…Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place,it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God,The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you:all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to Me!That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,trade the creation just for you.” (MSG) And yet, you would allow worries to steal your worship, problems to steal your praise, fear to steal your faith, hurt to steal your hope and circumstances to steal your commitment?!

When in the midst of what John was surrounded by, he still fell at the Lord’s feet. In the midst of what Jonah faced, he still worshiped. So what’s your excuse? Do you really believe that trials, troubles, struggles and tribulation are all bigger than the God you say you serve? Well, if that’s your belief, than I’m here to tell you your broken belief system needs repairs!

Please understand that the difficult circumstances you’re going through right now can actually clear your perceptions, cause you to seek God as never before, and find answers for your life, to questions that have been bombarding your sanity! John’s predicament proves that negative experiences don’t hide the Lord – they reveal Him! The Bible reads:I saw this and fainted dead at his feet. His right hand pulled me upright, His voice reassured me:“Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last, I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and My life is now forever. See these keys in My hand? They open and lock Death’s doors, they open and lock Hell’s gates. Now write down everything you see: things that are, things about to be…” (Revelation 1:17-19 MSG). As bad as it was, John saw the Lord, bowed before Him in reverential fear and had the Lord Himself to encourage him: “…His voice reassured me: “Don’t fear…” That’s the beauty of being a child of the King, even when all of the Kingdom of Darkness is against you! He Always Reveals Himself to the Righteous, Regardless of How Bleak Their Circumstances May Appear.  After all, the One Whom we serve is still the first and the last, which encourages us to know that no matter what transpires in the middle, God got it covered from beginning to end! And He’s so awesome that He admits Himself, that He died and came back to life and now lives forever. He’s reassuring John (and us) of just how powerful He really is! All He desires is that we trust Him and believe Him! And then, if that weren’t enough to increase our faith, lift up our heads, square off our shoulders and straighten up our back, He goes on to say in His hand are keys, and He alone has the access to open and lock death’s doors and Hell’s gates, so you’re afraid of what? Right! Absolutely Nothing! Because this is the God you serve!

I think sometimes we unfortunately forget the Lord’s promise to us: “…for He  [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (Hebrews 13:5 AMP) How do you read a promise like that and fear anything or anyone? The Lord Himself DELIBERATELY REFUSES to fail you; give you up; leave you without support and will under no circumstances leave you helpless; nor will He forsake you; let you down or relax His hold on you! You are so loved, cherished, treasured and protected by God that He Initiated This Promise To You! You didn’t have to ask Him to do it, you didn’t have to ask Him for it, He Chose To Give it to You Himself! So regardless to what you’re in, what you’re surrounded by, what you’re going through, who you’re up against or what you’re facing, you have full CONFIDENCE that God’s Got You COVERED!

Hebrews 10:35, “Do not, therefore, fling away your FEARLESS CONFIDENCE, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.” (AMPC) The Message Bible says it like this: Hebrews 10:32-39, “Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion. It won’t be long now, he’s on the way; he’ll show up most any minute. But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust; if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy. But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.” (MSG)

No Matter Your Circumstances, Never Cast Away Your Confidence in the God That Has You Covered!

I love the way Joseph words it: “…Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” (Genesis 50:20 MSG). Not even the Best attack of the enemy against you can stop all the Good God is going to make happen towards you because of it! And He’s so awesome as God that He only needs ONE plan for your life, and No Back-Up! Why? Because the ONE plan He has for your life is more than sufficient! “…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I HAVE IT ALL PLANNED OUT – PLANS TO TAKE CARE OF YOU, NOT ABANDON YOU, PLANS TO GIVE YOU THE FUTURE YOU HOPE FOR.” (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG). Who needs a back-up plan to that?! God will in fact shame your enemies so that He will even use THEIR PLANS FOR YOUR DESTRUCTION AS THE BRICKS TO BUILD YOU UP IN THE END! Joseph’s brothers had some Bad plans for him, but God used them to Bless Joseph Real Good! And He will do the very same for YOU! So lift your bowed down head, square your shoulders, straighten your back and put a smile on your face, God is not done blessing you yet!

Instead of destroying you, Satan’s attacks can actually develop you. Yes, it STRESSES you, but it also STRETCHES you spiritually. In Hebrews Chapter 11 we see two things:

  1. The Deeds of Their Faith; and
  2. The Depth of Their Faith.

It always amazes me how God’s saints of old could worship Him in the midst of absolutely anything, and we can’t seem to worship in anything. They pursued God on just promises, and even the ones that weren’t fulfilled in their lifetime, they never lost their appetite for God. They continued to hunger and thirst after Him. Maybe that’s why they were so Full and we’re so Empty. The depth of their faith propelled them to continue in their deeds for Him, despite what was being done to and against them. They maintained such a Faith Under Fire That No Fierce Attack Could Put it to Ashes! They mastered how to Press In and Press On…Anyhow!

Think about it: Where did God prove His faithfulness to Daniel? In the Lion’s Den! “The king caved in and ordered Daniel brought and thrown into the lions’ den. But he said to Daniel, “Your God, to whom you are so loyal, is going to get you out of this.”A stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel’s fate.The king then went back to his palace. He refused supper. He couldn’t sleep. He spent the night fasting.At daybreak the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. As he approached the den, he called out anxiously, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve so loyally, saved you from the lions?”“O king, live forever!” said Daniel. “My God sent his angel, who closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. I’ve been found innocent before God and also before you, O king. I’ve done nothing to harm you.”When the king heard these words, he was happy. He ordered Daniel taken up out of the den. When he was hauled up, there wasn’t a scratch on him. He had trusted his God.” (Daniel 6:16-23 MSG). My favorite part? “…HE ORDERED DANIEL TAKEN UP OUT OF THE DEN. WHEN HE WAS HAULED UP, THERE WASN’T A SCRATCH ON HIM. HE HAD TRUSTED HIS GOD.” Daniel was able to trust God in the midst of his attack, why can’t you do the same? After all, He is still the SAME GOD! We need to learn like Daniel to pursue God, to trust Him, rely on Him, rest in Him no matter what, because He’s Got Us…No Matter What or Who is Trying to Get at Us!

Remember: He’ll Do Anything For You, So Why Won’t You Do Anything For Him?!

Let’s Recall Paul’s Words: “I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience His resurrection power, be a partner in His suffering, AND GO ALL THE WAY WITH HIM…” (Philippians 3:10-11 MSG) He’ll clearly go all the way to life, death, and life for you, won’t you even go to prayer, praise and worship for Him? Won’t you follow and obey His commandments? Won’t you read and apply His Word? Won’t you go to His house of worship and celebrate and serve Him and His people? Won’t you give up anything for Him since He’s given up everything for you?

Likewise, think about this: Where did the Lord reveal Himself to the three Hebrew boys? In a fire that was heated seven times over! “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, IT WOULDN’T MAKE A BIT OF DIFFERENCE, O KING. WE STILL WOULDN’T SERVE YOUR GODS OR WORSHIP THE GOLD STATUTE YOU SET UP.” Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?” “That’s right, O king,” they said.“But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!”Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.All the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants WHO TRUSTED HIM! They ignored the king’s orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own.“Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this.”Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”  (Daniel 3:16-30 MSG).

Why don’t you trust God like that? John bowed, Jonah worshiped, Daniel trusted, the three Hebrew Boys maintained their resolve, and yet you do none of the above when the circumstances of life attack you? But I Reiterate, HE IS STILL THE SAME GOD…YOUR GOD! So, whether He takes you out, or leaves you in, you ought to serve Him with gladness anyhow, because He’s already promised to never leave you or forsake you, so why do you keep leaving and forsaking Him? He’s proven time and time again that He will do anything for you, when will you start to at least do something for Him?

You have to leave Circumstantial and Conditional Faith, and Finally Attain Concrete Faith!

Listen: Believe it or not, but there’s a place in God where fiery trials consume everything Except your desire to know Him. And though that place may sometimes escape your grasp, never let it escape your gaze. It was Paul’s all-consuming goal: “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power out-flowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].” (Philippians 3:10-11 AMP)

Paul desired to know God intimately. No matter the circumstances, no matter the obstacles, no matter the pain, suffering or tragedy of death. It was all worth it, just to know Him! Paul would do anything for HIM! Will you? And just in case you think Paul had a cake-walk to getting to know God, listen at his testimony: 2 Corinthians 11:21-29, “…I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones…” (MSG) AND YET, PAUL WOULD ENDURE ALL OF THIS AS LONG AS HE GOT TO KNOW GOD! SO, WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE AGAIN FOR WHY YOU “CAN’T” MAKE THE SAME SACRIFICE?! WHY CAN’T YOU ENDURE? WHY CAN’T YOU PRESS AND PRAISE THROUGH? WHY CAN’T YOU WORSHIP STILL? WHY DON’T YOU TRUST REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU SEE?

Listen, I know struggles and attacks can make it hard sometimes to press in, but you’ve got to press anyhow! No matter how bad it may become, remember your God is always good and will always bring about good on your behalf: “AND WE KNOW THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THEM THAT LOVE GOD, TO THEM WHO ARE THE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.” (Romans 8:28) YES, THAT DOES SAY ALL THINGS (GOOD, BAD, UGLY, BEAUTIFUL, ETC…) WORK TOGETHER FOR YOUR GOOD! So continue to trust God no matter what you’re in, He’s a proven provider and protector of His people! “The Lord is my light and my salvation; He protects me from danger—whom shall I fear? When evil men come to destroy me, they will stumble and fall! Yes, though a mighty army marches against me, my heart shall know no fear! I am confident that God will save me.The one thing I want from God, the thing I seek most of all, is the privilege of meditating in His Temple, living in His presence every day of my life, delighting in His incomparable perfections and glory.” (Psalm 27:1-4 TLB).

If You Don’t Have This Level of Confidence in God…GET IT!

Remember This: Fiery Trials Work For You, Not Against You!

“Dear friends, don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you. Instead, be really glad—because these trials will make you partners with Christ in His suffering, and afterwards you will have the wonderful joy of sharing His glory in that coming day when it will be displayed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13 TLB);

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG)

SAINTS, EVEN BAD WORKS FOR THE GOOD OF THE BELIEVER!

So Give God Your Very Best in Serving Him, Because He’s Given You His Very Best in Saving You!

Remember: He’ll Do Anything For You,  Won’t You Now Do Anything For Him?!

And what’s one thing you can start doing today? DON’T LET THE PRESSURE STOP YOUR PRESS!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “12 Mistakes Women Make in Middle Age”

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“Yes, GOD Can STILL Use YOU!”

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, READY TO BE USED] for good words, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” (AMP)

When David first arrived at King Saul’s palace he was a simple, unknown shepherd boy. But he had an impressive rèsumè nonetheless! God, in essence, said, ‘I saw you kill the bear and the lion; I was watching your courage, leadership, fighting ability and strength when you didn’t even realize I had my eye on you.‘ Solomon wrote, ‘A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.‘ (Proverbs 18:16). David’s ‘gift’ may have only been the ability to accurately swing a slingshot, but it opened the door to his future as Israel’s king! So even though what you’ve got doesn’t seem like much, give it to God and watch what He can do with it! You say, ‘But I’m not formally trained.But All God requires is that you show up, say yes, and make yourself available! When you give God what you’ve got, He gives you what He’s got; and that alone makes your odds unbeatable! ‘But I don’t have the right credentials,‘ you say. So what? Benjamin Franklin had less than two years of formal schooling yet at 25 he founded America’s first library, at 31 he started its first fire department, at 36 he designed a heating stove that’s still in use today, at 40 he harnessed the power of electricity, at 45 he founded the nation’s first university, and at 79 he invented bifocals! He was an economist, philosopher, diplomat, inventor, educator, publisher and linguist who spoke and wrote in five languages. Chances are, you already have more education than he had when he was your age and yet look at all he was able to accomplish!

People of God, regardless of where you come from, your family structure, gender, ethnicity, age, education, employment, handicaps or even failures, you still have enough to accomplish great things!

Now, just in case Mr. Franklin wasn’t enough and you need some ‘biblical’ examples instead, here’s a few you should always revert back to when you feel unqualified or unequipped:

1…Joseph becomes the Pharaoh’s right hand man. He can interpret dreams and he saves Egypt from a famine. But before that, Joseph was two things that weren’t all that great. He was a slave and a prisoner! Yet, look how God used him and blessed him! The Bible says, “So Pharaoh commissioned Joseph: “I’m putting you in charge of the entire country of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his finger and slipped it on Joseph’s hand. He outfitted him in robes of the best linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He put the second-in-command chariot at his disposal, and as he rode people shouted “Bravo!” Joseph was in charge of the entire country of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:41-43 MSG). Not bad for a former slave and prisoner! Likewise friends, regardless of your past, you too can have a great future ahead of you. Even if you dropped out of high school; didn’t go to college; can’t find a job; battled with addictions and habits; lived in the projects; come from a broken home; and even have a criminal record! You are still a vessel that God can use! Jeremiah 18:1-6, “God told Jeremiah, “Up on your feet! Go to the potter’s house. When you get there, I’ll tell you what I have to say.”So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot.Then God’s Message came to me: “Can’t I do just as this potter does, people of Israel?” God’s Decree! “Watch this potter. In the same way that this potter works his clay, I work on you…” (MSG) My favorite part? “…USE THE SAME CLAY TO MAKE ANOTHER POT…” Aren’t you glad that God’s isn’t like people? People will find one flaw or one crack and discard you and your entire life. But not God! He doesn’t make any attempts to replace you or use something or someone else. No, He uses the SAME old you to make you a better you! God doesn’t throw us away when we mess up, after all Jesus was a carpenter! Why would He throw away what He possesses the ability to fix?! You are never so badly damaged that God can’t repair you! And no matter what ‘labels’ people put on you (even the ones that are true), cannot hinder you from still being a work-in-progress workmanship of God’s! Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, READY TO BE USED] for good words, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” (AMP) No matter who you used to be; no matter what you used to do; God Still Wants to Use Even You! Will You Let Him?!

2…If you were a shepherd and your daily work consisted of leading a bunch of sheep around you’d probably be shocked if God not only talked to you directly and revealed Himself to you, but also told you that you were going to lead His people to the promised land! So just because you flip burgers for a living, don’t you underestimate what God can do even with that! The Bible says, “Naaman was general of the army under the king of Aram. He was important to his master, who held him in the highest esteem because it was by him that GOD had given victory to Aram: a truly great man, but afflicted with a grievous skin disease. It so happened that Aram, on one of its raiding expeditions against Israel, captured a young girl who became a maid to Naaman’s wife. One day she said to her mistress, “Oh, if only my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease.” (2 Kings 5:1-3 MSG). Could you imagine if this no-named, imprisoned, slave girl never opened her mouth, how would the story of Naaman have ended? One thing’s for sure, Naaman would still be a Leprous Leader! In fact, she didn’t mumble under her breath either! She went straight to the Lady of the House and spoke! So if he can use Moses, with a stutter to still declare the 10 commandments, and a no-named servant girl to bless a highly named general, surely he can use you just the same, no matter what you do for a living! You don’t have to be a preacher to share the good news of the gospel, you can be a bus driver! Just imagine how many people a bus driver comes into contact with every day!? What about a janitor or teacher at a school? They come into contact with hundreds of people (young and old, and of every ethnicity) on a daily basis! Imagine if they talked about Jesus! Not to mention a cashier! And they don’t even have to turn into the early church evangelist on the job either. As a former cashier myself, I’ve watched what a kind greeting and smile can do for someone’s day. In other words, it doesn’t matter what your occupation is (or lack thereof), God can use you as long as you are available to be used! He doesn’t ask for perfect vessels, just clean ones! 2 Timothy 2:20, “Now in a large house there are not only vessels and objects of gold and silver, but also vessels and objects of wood and of earthenware, and some are for honorable (noble, good) use and some for dishonorable (ignoble, common).” (AMP) God will use a gold or silver vessel just like He’ll use a wood or earthenware one. The importance is on the vessel being available and clean! So He’ll use you if you’re a dog walker or a police officer; a CEO or a chef; a firefighter or a mechanic; a senator or the fry cook at Applebee’s; a professor or a high school dropout; young or old; educated or uneducated; wealthy or poor; from the white house or the poor house! God has no favorites! He’ll use any clean vessel! 2 Timothy 2:21, “Therefore, if anyone CLEANSES himself from these things [which are dishonorable – disobedient, sinful], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified [set apart for a special purpose and], USEFUL TO THE MASTER, prepared for every good work.” (AMP) No matter what you do for a living, as a clean vessel, you can still work for the Lord! Yes, God Can Still Use, Even You!

3…God used Gideon to deliver Israel from Midian, but before that Gideon was nothing more than a farmer! But when it comes to sowing or reaping a plenteous harvest, no one goes looking for the CEO, they go looking for a farmer! So, don’t undervalue your gifts, talents or skill-set! The Bible declares, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” (Proverbs 22:29 NASB). Whatever your gifts, talents, skill-set’s or abilities, God wants to use them. And that doesn’t mean you have to be a part of the five-fold ministry! People who are orderly God can use; people who are good thinkers and strategist, God can use; people who can sow; stitch; teach; bake; do laundry; work at the bank; restock the shelves at the supermarket, can all be used by God. All you have to do is know what your skill-set is, and then hone in on perfecting it through practicing it. Truth is, we spend so much time trying to get people into a black robe and into the pulpit, that we’re no longer preparing the next generation to put on a black robe and get into the government where they can change this world for the better! Yes the church has need of you; but so does this world. We are not citizens of it, but while we’re strangers passing through, let’s use our gifts and talents to leave it better than we found it. And that means telling God, ‘use me and my gifts and talents, wherever and however you see fit!’ After all, every ounce of work I do, no matter what it is, is for You! Colossians 3:22-25, “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” (MSG) Let everything you do reflect that you represent Jesus in everything you do! Yes, God Desires to Use, Even You!

4…Jephthah is used by God to deliver Israel from the Ammonites. Before that, Jephthah was only known as being the son of a prostitute! Listen: Don’t you dare let your past identify you! Don’t let your families’ highs or lows give you your value, or diminish it! Look at this: Ruth was a Moabite, a pagan, and yet her genealogy changes drastically with a son from her own womb: “…they named him Obed He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. “ (Ruth 4:17 NASB). So, don’t let where you started dictate where you’ll finish! If you have to start broke, just get started; if you have to start living out of your car, just get started; if you have to start right after the divorce, just get started; if you have to start with no help or support, just get started; if you have to start with the odds against you, just get started; if you have to start as you get off the bus, just get started; if you have to start while having chemo, radiation, dialysis, just get started; if you have to start with cancer, heart disease, lupus, unemployed or homeless, just get started! Think about it, everyone knew Jephthah was born of a prostitute, and yet when the people had to go to war who did they come looking to lead them into battle? You guessed it, the prostitute’s son! So no matter what your lot in life has been (you don’t have to keep living there); no matter the cards you’ve been dealt (you can play well and turn it into a winning hand)! Just Never Allow Where You Start to Dictate Where or How You’ll Finish! Philippians 3:12-14, “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out to me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (MSG); Isaiah 43:18-19, “…Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?…” (MSG) Start from wherever you are, and keep moving forward! Remember, Yes, God Wants to Use, Even You!

5…Like Moses, David was also a shepherd, but David was also just a boy! But that same little boy would defeat Goliath and he would eventually become king! So, don’t you dare let anyone limit you because of your age! Be it youngster or senior! Truth is: Joash was king at 7! (2 Chronicles 24:1, “Joash was seven years old when he became king; he was king for forty years in Jerusalem…” MSG) and the priest Aaron died at 123 (Numbers 33:39, “…Aaron was 123 years old when he died on Mount Hor.” MSG) So don’t you dare let anyone limit you! Remember the Word of God Declares God Can Use You and Bless You At ANY Age! The Bible Reads: Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are YOUNG. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12 NLT). Church, use our young people in God’s service! They can do more than sing on the choir and usher. Train them how to handle the security of the building; how to count money with the trustees; teach them how to teach; how to clean the House of God; how to play an instrument; how the sound equipment functions; you can even use them to bring forth a sermonette or meditation on a youth Sunday. Don’t despise their youth! If they can learn trigonometry, they can learn theology! “Even in OLD AGE they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” (Psalm 92:14 NLT). Do not cast our seniors aside! Their wisdom; experience; knowledge; understanding; and guidance are all valuable to every generation! Don’t let them get to 65 and then try to retire them from the Lord’s Service! Joash served at 7 and Aaron served up until he turned 123 years of age! If God’s not putting time constraints on people, who are you to think you can? God Will Use Even You, at Any Age!

6…Like Joseph, Esther was a slave before God used her to save her people from being massacred! Women of God, who you were can’t stop who you’re destined to become! Eve had a hunger that cost her a garden; Potiphar’s wife had an unlawful sexual appetite; Lot lost his mate when she couldn’t get her eyes off the rear-view mirror; Delilah should’ve left the hairstyles to the professionals; Sapphira needed a financial consultant; Jezebel should’ve remained single; Tamar never recovered from her brother’s rape; and Michal didn’t value the worth of her husband’s worship! These women didn’t get to redeem themselves, but you can! Take your past to the cemetery and start living life to the full! It’s time to fulfill your purpose! Esther 4:14, “For if you remain silent at this time, liberation and rescue will arise for the Jews from another place, and you and your father’s house will perish [since you did not help when you had the chance]. And who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this [and for this very purpose]?” (AMP) You are still here on purpose, for a purpose, now fulfill it! God Wants to Use Even You, On Purpose!

7…Who did God choose to be the mother of Jesus? A famous actress? A celebrity? A great athlete? A famous politician? Nope, the mother of Jesus (Mary) was a peasant girl! Please understand greatness is not attached to Wealth, it’s attached to Willingness! “Then Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said…” (Luke 1:38 AMP). God is not looking for great achievements, just availability! Are you willing to let God use you? Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (AMP) Is that your declaration too? Or are you like Saul hiding behind stuff? 1 Samuel 10:22, “So they asked the Lord, “Where is he? Is he here among us?” And the Lord replied, “He is hiding in the baggage.” (TLB) Is that where you are today, hiding in the baggage? When God needs your gifts, talents, skill-set, know how, ability and availability, are you hiding in the baggage? Hiding in the baggage of your past; failures; bad choices; and the like? Well today is your day to come out of hiding and leave the baggage in the past! God has need of you, Yes Even YOU!      

8…Matthew was one of the 12 disciples and wrote one of the Gospels that told about the life of Jesus. But before Jesus asked Matthew to join Him, he was a tax collector! Don’t under-value what you do from day-to-day, God is still watching, and He’ll call you and use you even while you’re doing your little day-to-day (seemingly unnoticed) job! Nothing you do is irrelevant, no matter how little! “His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness) which your master enjoys.” (Matthew 25:23 AMP). Furthermore, there are some jobs that people hate, just like that of the tax-collector. Dog walkers, they stop every few minutes so dogs can poop and they can clean it up, who wants to do that? Janitors and sanitation workers have to clean up and pick up some gross stuff, who wants to do that? But when you’re faithful to do even menial, not so glamorous jobs, God blesses you even in that. So never think that God is checking your employment status to bless you or to use you. God has proven time and again that He can use anybody, anywhere! And yes, that includes you!

9…Luke traveled with Paul giving him a companion to journey with and Luke would also write one of the four Gospels. But Luke was a simple physician! But what God uses your hands to heal in the natural, can’t compare to what He’s going to use your hands to heal in the spiritual! You see, Paul was known for killing folks in the natural, but that wouldn’t compare to the resurrection power he would possess in the spiritual! The Bible says, “…Paul talked on, way past midnight…A young man named Eutychus was sitting in an open window. As Paul went on and on, Eutychus fell sound asleep and toppled out the third-story window. When they picked him up, he was dead. Paul went down, stretched himself on him, and hugged him hard. “No more crying,” he said. “There’s life in him yet.”…Paul going one way, the congregation another, leading the boy off alive…” (Acts 20:9-11 MSG) Whether your hands cut people in the prison yard; sold drugs in the backyard; was rebellious in the schoolyard, God can still clean those hands and use them for His work and His glory! God doesn’t hold you to your past, so release yourself too! Your hands are the hands God will use to transform this world; yes even your hands!

10…Many of the disciples were just common fisherman and would go on to do God’s work. Peter is the best example as he would be an Apostle, a leader of the early church and he would write two letters in the Bible! “…Peter stood up and…spoke out with bold urgency…That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles!…Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.” (Acts 2 MSG). Not bad for a former fisherman! Believe it or not, but Great Leaders were once Great Laity! So, don’t count your fisherman status as unworthy, there’s a valuable Fisher of Men in you yet to be revealed! Remember this, some of God’s greatest preachers deliver messages every week, from the pew and not the pulpit!

The very next time you doubt whether you have enough to do a work for God or dare to under-estimate yourself, your worth and value, just remember this: Jacob was a Master of Deception; Gideon was a Self-Doubter; David was a Premeditated Sinner; Solomon was an Unwise Lover; Paul Was an Adversary; Elijah was Suicidal; Noah was Drunk; Abraham was Old; Jeremiah was Young; Timothy had Ulcers; Job Went Bankrupt With Boils; The Disciples Fell Asleep During Intercession; Isaiah Preached Naked; Leah wasn’t exactly a Beauty Queen; Naomi Lost All the Men in Her Life; John the Baptist was Beheaded at a Birthday Party; The Samaritan Woman Had Too Many of Other Folks Men; Saul was Tall; Zacchaeus was small; Samson was a Womanizer; Rahab was a Prostitute; Jonah was a Prejudiced Prophet; and Lazarus was Dead and yet God used each of them greatly! So why can’t He use even you?!

Add to that these two promises, ‘The Lord is my helper… ‘ (Hebrews 13:6 NKJV) and ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me(Philippians 4:13), and you have what’s required!

Believe it or not, but YOU HAVE ENOUGH! YOU ARE ENOUGH! AND GOD DESIRES TO USE, EVEN YOU! YES, EVEN YOU! 

“You don’t have to have a great gift for God to use you in a great way.” (Joel Osteen)

“I used to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say ‘Yes.’” (Bob Goff)

“There are times when God wants to use you in someone else’s life; it may not be pretty or comfortable, but they need to see Jesus.” (Author Unknown)

“The more you’re willing to risk, the more God can use you. And if you’re willing to risk everything, then there is nothing God can’t do in you and through you.” (Mark Batterson)

“God is not looking for gold vessels or silver vessels. He is looking for willing vessels.” (Kathryn Kulman)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “15 Portion Control Tips From Nutritionists”

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“Don’t Save the Flowers For Their Funeral”

1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.” (AMP)

If it’s one day I remember vividly it is the day it aired that our beloved Princess Diana had died. Yet, when Princess Diana died, I still don’t believe anyone could have ever predicted the massive public outpouring of love and grief that came from the British people in the week following her death. Maybe you remember that sea of flowers that enveloped the front of Buckingham Palace and Diana’s personal residence at Kensington Palace. You couldn’t get anywhere near the gates! The flowers seemed to stretch out endlessly! Someone who had been close to the Princess said, “Diana had no idea she was loved like this.That’s sad but not unique!

I’ve never been to a funeral anywhere near the scale of Princess Diana’s. But I have been to a lot of funerals. And there are lots of flowers there. Not just the kind with petals, but I mean verbal flowers! You hear people talking about how much that person meant to them, about their strong points, about special qualities or experiences that touched the life of the one who was giving the tribute.

However, it would be much more affirming to that departed person if only they could’ve received those verbal flowers in life. If only they could, in essence, smell all the flowers that are suddenly coming their way. I can’t help but wonder -and even consider for myself how many of us have told him/her these wonderful things while they could still appreciate them?

One of my devotional Scriptures for today was 1 Thessalonians 5:11. It’s simple, but it’s strong medicine. “…encourage and comfort one another and build up one another.” That needs to be shared in every home; every work place; every classroom; every church. “…encourage and comfort one another and build up one another.” That’s one of those commands from God that would be really great to display wouldn’t it?

However, too often, we are very communicative about what we don’t like that a person is doing. The criticisms, the put-downs, the sarcasm, the complaining, oh they come pouring out really quickly. So most of us have a good idea of what’s wrong with us, because we have a lot of help finding that out from others. But you literally have to train your mind and train your mouth to look for and to express what you do like about that person; what strengths God built into them; what they do right. Things you should thank them for, what they’ve done that’s helped you or ministered to you. Instead of waiting to hear the words, “in profound sorrow…” In essence, let’s stop saving the flowers for their funeral!

People are by no means perfect, NONE OF US ARE! We are all flawed, broken, damaged, and imperfect. We get things wrong, we think, speak, feel and act wrong. But that’s not all the time! Everyone has something absolutely wonderful about them. How great would it be to highlight that, just once, while they’re still alive to appreciate it?

At funerals, and home-going services, I’m often floored by the great words people speak, the experiences they share, and the emotions they express. But I can never shake the question from my mind, “I wonder if they did all that while the person was still living?”

Think about it: How many people in your life help you, support you, encourage you, provide for you, protect you, love you, laugh with you? How many people in your life are you able to call and talk to, to share, to lean on, to depend and rely on? How many people in your life have been there for you during the ups, downs, mean in between times; the good, the bad, the ugly, the insane? Now think, do they know you appreciate it and them? Have you told them? If not, what are waiting for? If so, why not tell them again?

As for me, I’ve always been the type of person who’s not all that crazy about receiving gifts, words and cards on valentine’s day, my birthday, mother’s day, Christmas etc…No, I’m a bit more mushy! I love flowers (just because it’s Tuesday); I love hearing I love you (in the laundromat); I love dressing up and going out to dinner (at Applebee’s); I love an unexpected gift (for absolutely no reason); I love cards (that aren’t attached to any holiday, and especially cards that are written from the person, not the perfectly worded Hallmark tradition). I love hearing ‘thank you’, and when I ask ‘for what?’ the response is simple, ‘for everything.’ I love random hugs that have nothing to do with ‘turn to your neighbor and embrace them.I guess in essence, I love those imperfect, untimely gestures of affection and appreciation. Not those attached to a time of year, a birth, holiday or worse a death. Think about it, the last time someone showed you a sign of love and appreciation, that was completely unexpected and not related to anything in particular, how great did that make you feel? Now, wouldn’t it be awesome to do that for someone else, so they can join in on such a great feeling?

I wonder what would Princess Diana’s response have been, if she simply woke up one morning and looked out her window and saw that massive parade of flowers, for no other reason than ‘we love you and want you to smell your flowers while you still can?’

Well, truth is, you don’t have to do anything quite that elaborate, but there are people in your life that need to hear your love, see your love, feel your love, and even smell your love. And why not express it NOW, when you get to SEE the joy it brings them, while they are alive!

Why wait until the funeral to bring beautiful flowers that they can’t see, smell or appreciate? Why wait until the funeral to tell the whole sanctuary and all of social media how wonderful a mother she is; how great a father he is; how beautiful your children are; how loving your church family is; how compassionate your leaders are, how phenomenal your wife is; how loving your husband is. Why wait to tell them they preached a great sermon, taught an inspiring lesson, prayed a powerful prayer, cooked a delicious meal? Why wait to tell him how handsome he is or how beautiful she is? Why wait to say good job, well done, you did great, I’m proud of you, I knew you could do it? Why wait to buy flowers; a card; dinner; go to the movies; out dancing; sight-seeing; skating; skiing; painting? Why wait to call, leave a voicemail, send a text, email or letter? Why wait to pay them a visit, buy a silly gift in their favorite color or cartoon that will be sentimental, thoughtful, loved and appreciated? Why wait? Because one day, you’ll wait too long and miss a moment that becomes only a memory.

The people in your personal world are people in desperate need of regular encouragement. So might I ask you a personal question: How well are you doing with that?

You know, I love what the word “encourage” means. It’s defined as “to give support, confidence, or hope to; to help or stimulate the development of.” Its French Origin “encourager”, from “corage”, literally means “courage.” And “courage” is defined as “the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief.” It’s Old French Origin “corage”, from Latin “cor” literally means “heart.” And that’s exactly what you give to people when you encourage them, you literally give them your heart, which is literally to give them your love! Your heart is the very core of you, how special it is to share with someone the very center of you? Can you imagine how special someone would feel to know they have your heart? Well, that’s what you give people when you encourage them, your heart, your love. And something that tender, meaningful, and special should never be held hostage until the words “in profound sorrow…” are spoken.

When you encourage someone, you are literally putting courage into them. You ever see the face of a child who is terrified at something, only to have them look towards the voice saying “go ahead, you can do it, I’m right here, I won’t let it hurt you, I’m not going anywhere, go for it, I believe in you.” With that thought, there’s a commercial that I love. It’s a mom holding onto her son’s bicycle, and he turns and looks at her and says, “don’t let go!” She responds, “I won’t!” (But she does anyway…lol) However, he doesn’t fall, but neither does he turn around to see if she was still holding on. Makes me wonder, if just hearing her say she wouldn’t let go, was enough? Just those few words of confidence and encouragement, and off he went peddling his heart out with a smile!

How many people in your life need to hear you speak words of confidence and encouragement like that to them?

Let’s be honest now, truth is, we all have a terrible tendency of getting familiar, comfortable, used to and even too busy for. And that can be a disaster to any relationship/friendship. It’s good ground for sowing bad seeds of complacency, taking advantage of and taking for granted. You almost get into a place of expectancy: (‘that’s what they always do, that’s what they should always do’), even without your thanks and appreciation. But what happens when the husband who rubs your feet at night doesn’t wake up the next morning? What happens when the wife who keeps the household afloat, closes her eyes for the last time? What happens when the children don’t make it home from school? What happens when the fire and flood destroy all the things you never took time to notice and appreciate before? What happens when the friend moves, and the friendship moves on too? What happens when mom doesn’t return from her usual doctor’s visit? What happens when the bus jumps the curb where dad was standing? What happens when grandpa now has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t remember you? What happens when grandma is bound to her wheelchair and can no longer get to all the family functions? What happens when you promised over the last 6 months that you would call your favorite aunt, only to hear the sad news that she’s passed on? What happens when the uncle who took a million pictures at your every function has now lost his sight?

You see, in the blink of an eye, anything can happen! So, why assume and take for granted that you will always have tomorrow, when there’s nothing further from the truth?

Job 14:1-2, “Man who is born of woman lives only a short time and is full of trouble. He grows up and dries like a flower. He leaves like a shadow and does not stay.” (NLV);

Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to use wisely all the time we have.” (CEV);

James 4:14, “Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air].” (AMP)

Yes, that’s just how life is! Short, full of trouble, grows, dries and leaves. Nothing and no one is secure, for we don’t know the least thing about tomorrow (if it ever comes around again). Which is why we should use wisely all the time we have.

Would I consider this a gloomy message? Absolutely not! It’s a challenge, it’s an empowerment, it’s an opportunity, it’s a message to rethink and appreciate those you ‘say’ you love. It’s motivation to celebrate life (and all those who make up your life). It’s to shift you from the temporary to the eternal. It’s to make you change for the better. Sadly enough, we as believers, live in this world as if we’re never to leave it. And that my friend is a dangerous way to live. Our goal isn’t a house on the earth, but a mansion in the sky. Heaven is our hope and home. We are mere travelers, visitors, aliens, guests, sojourners temporarily walking through this earth. The goal isn’t to build a life you can’t leave, but to build up loved ones, who know how much you really love them (no matter who leaves here first). I’ve always said, I want to take care of my parents in such a way, that when they leave this earth, I can laugh more than cry because I did right by them. And I pray you will live the same way. Encourage others, appreciate them, celebrate them, thank them, build them up, after all, it’s what we are commanded to do (not suggested)!

And truth is, some of us come from a background where there wasn’t much praise, there wasn’t much encouragement, so it’s hard for us to give what we never got. But you of all people should know then how much it hurts not to get it. So, today, ask the Lord to give you eyes to see the positive in the people around you and to give you the words to tell them what you see (while they can still hear your words, apply them, appreciate them, and become better because of them).

When you praise someone, thank someone and compliment that person, when you tell them the good things you see in them, you are doing what the Bible calls “building them up.” What’s the alternative? Tearing them down. However they treat you, your job is to be like Jesus and to give them the gift of encouragement. Some of the difficult people in your world may be difficult only because they’ve had so little encouragement.

Whatever nice things you might say at a person’s funeral, why not decide Today to say them Now, to their Face? A pile of flowers after they’re gone won’t do a thing for them. But your flowers now could make a big difference if you give the flowers to them when they can still enjoy them.

The person you’ve been saying for the longest “I’m going to call her, visit him, go out to eat with them”….GO!!! Stop hesitating, stop procrastinating, stop making excuses, stop assuming tomorrow is guaranteed on your to-do-list, because it’s not, not for any of us!

Don’t Save Anymore Flowers; Don’t Wait For Anymore Holidays, Events or Special Occasions! Don’t Save the Best China For Once a Year! Don’t Assume They Know How You Feel About Them and What They Really Mean to You! Today, Express It, Show It, Say It, Share It!

I’m sure Princess Diana knew she was loved, but certainly not to the degree that was expressed…when it was too late for her to see it, hear it, feel it, or smell it!

So, I’m here as your little reminder to enjoy life and to enjoy your loved ones (expressively, verbally and if you’re anything like me, in the silliest ways possible!) Don’t hide your love, release it, show it, TODAY!

In closing, my children think I go a bit overboard on this one! Because my daughters are 31 and 28 and I still kiss them, hug them, play in their hair, send them silly text messages, cook their favorite foods, tell them I love them, buy them silly stuff, and even wait up for them to get home. Because I never want them to wonder about my love, care and appreciation for them in my life. As for my husband, he can’t eat beef or pork, so when I cook dinner (which is almost every night), even if I cook pork or beef for myself, I still cook a separate meal for him. Why? Because even the smallest of gestures convey love and appreciation for the people in your life that you ‘say’ you love. And sometimes that will require you to do a little more than you really feel like doing on somedays. However, when he praises my cooking ability, and even goes so far as to take pictures of his dinner and keep them stored in his phone in a “my wife’s dinner” file, something about that just makes me smile and feel appreciated, valued and loved. You see, it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate! Most often people just need to hear “I love you, you’re important to me, I value you, I missed you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, can we start over, can I help you with that?” Or maybe just a post it on the fridge as you’re leaving the house before your spouse or children that says, “I love you, enjoy a great, safe day!” It doesn’t take much to do something simple, yet heartfelt to convey to your loved ones that you do in fact love them. You can pull out her chair; you can iron his slacks; you can open the door for her; you can pour a glass of juice to go with his dinner; you can bring a stuffed animal home for the kids (and not because it’s their birthday or holiday, but simply because you want them to See that you think about them throughout the day. And believe it or not, but kids need that kind of reassurance of your love too!) You can pick up dinner on the way home or make surprise reservations or whip up some franks and beans (if you’re really not skilled in the kitchen). The whole point is for your loved ones to see, hear, feel, taste and smell your verbal expression of flowers! Why wait for “in profound sorrow”, when you can show love “just because it’s Saturday”?

Family and Friends, enjoy a beautiful day and please know my heart of thanks to you for your friendship, following, support and encouragement are dear to my heart. You don’t have to do what you do, but you do…lol! And so today is my day to practice my own preaching…I LOVE YOU, I THANK YOU, I APPRECIATE YOU, I CELEBRATE YOU, I LOOK FORWARD TO ALL THE GREAT THINGS GOD IS GOING TO DO THROUGH YOU, I BELIEVE IN YOU! Please receive this as my verbal flowers to you this day!

“We’re here to give you your flowers while you live.” (Barbara Knox)

“Don’t come to my funeral to show how much you cared about me. Show how much you care about me now…while I’m alive.” (Daily Inspirational Quotes)

“Appreciation is learning to give flowers while people are still living.” (Joel Osteen)

“Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones because regret is stronger than gratitude.” (Anne Frank)

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.” (Luther Burbank)

“Appreciate the people in your life now, you have no way of knowing how long they’ll be here. Show your love now. Before someone’s tomorrow has been taken away, cherish those you love, they can be gone in an instant.” (LoveAndSayings)

“Appreciate the people who fill the spaces in your life or one day, when you least expect it, those spaces will be empty.” (LoveAndSayings)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “A Guide to Understanding Lupus”

Feel free to join us at: http://www.chefshermainesbiblecafe.home.blog Today’s Chef Special Word: “APOSTLE”

LETS STAY CONNECTED!

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