“When God Speaks to Men”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Speak Lord. Your servant is LISTENING.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Don’t Make These Morning Health Mistakes”

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“How to Establish Quiet Time With God?”

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“O GOD, YOU ARE MY GOD, EARNESTLY I SEEK YOU.” PSALM 63:1 NIV

When you come to meet with God you should have an Attitude of:

1…EXPECTANCY: Expect to ‘give and get’ from your time together. And make it a time of Intimacy. Now, intimacy wasn’t designed to be found in a crowd or a public place; intimacy calls for being alone with the one you love. The Bible speaks about Christ as the groom and us (the church) as His bride. Therefore, the groom has an Expectancy when it comes to His bride. He Expects us to go out of our way to be with Him, to spend valuable time with Him, to talk with Him, to share with Him, to love Him. He Expects us to show and prove our love for Him. He Expects words of appreciation, adoration and admiration from His bride. Without a doubt, He as our groom, has already given us this and much more, so don’t you think by now He deserves to really be loved by us in return?And, behold, a woman…brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:36-38) Intimacy with God is Important!

2…REVERENCE: Don’t clumsily rush into God’s presence! Prepare your heart by being Still before Him and letting the Quietness clear away the thoughts of the world. Remind yourself Who it is you’re meeting with – GOD! Once me and my husband took an evening and went out to dinner, for no other reason than just to spend some quiet, quality time together. You would’ve thought we were going to a 5-star restaurant by how we were carrying on trying to make sure we picked out just the right outfits and shoes. We almost choked our children to death with cologne and perfume spraying all over the place. And we only went to BBQ’s! In other words, this wasn’t a “Special Event”, but it was Special. We loved each other enough to take the time to look especially nice, for no-one else but one another. And likewise, when you enter the presence of God, that set aside time for just you and Him, take the time to Prepare Yourself.You are Worthy…to receive Glory and Honor” (Revelation 4:11 NIV). Make sure you have enough praise and worship; enough thank you Jesus’; enough I love you Lord. Remember, He’s Worthy! Take the time to present Him with a clean and a pure heart. Present Him with a mind that is focused on Him alone. Truth is, we’ve been giving God a lot of Entertainment, but not enough true, heartfelt Endearment. “Worship the Lord in Holy Clothing. May all the earth shake in fear before Him” (Psalm 96:9 NLV). “Bravo, GOD, bravo! Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!” In awe before the glory, in awe before God’s visible power. Stand at attention! Dress your best to honor Him!” (Psalm 29:1-2 MSG). If He means what you say He means to you, love Him enough to enter His presence at your Best! You can’t Rush Reverence!

3…ALERTNESS: Get to bed early so you’ll be in good shape to meet God in the morning! He deserves your Full Attention. Give God the Best part of your Day – when you are the Freshest. Follow the example of Christ:VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING…Jesus…went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV). Hudson Taylor said, “You don’t tune up the instruments after the concert is over…you tune them up before you start.I don’t know about you, but when I was single and dating, I made sure my make-up was flawless, no bags under my eyes, breathmints in my bag, changing my outfit ten times to get just the right look. I wanted my date to see me at my Peak, at my Best. I made sure, when I enter and when I leave your presence, You Will Remember Me! Well, I’ve learned to give God even Better than that! I’ve learned to be Alert to His presence. When I know I’m going to meet Him in morning prayer I get to the bathroom and get myself together! Why? Because if I gave flesh that much, surely I should give Spirit that and much more! If you really think about it, we cost God too much to short-change Him now!Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be Alert servants of the Master, cheerfully Expectant…” (Romans 12:11) Don’t give God your Aloofness when He deserves your Alertness.

4…WILLINGNESS: This Attitude is Crucial: Because you don’t come to your quiet time to choose what you will or won’t do, but with the purpose of doing anything and everything God wants you to do. So come to meet with the Lord, possessing a mindset to do His will—no matter what! Determine that I’m not just going to enter His presence and laugh, and jump, and shout, but He has something Vital to tell me. Therefore, I’ve got to be ready to receive and willing to fulfill whatever the day’s assignment might be.Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. BUT PLEASE, NOT WHAT I WANT. YOU, WHAT DO YOU WANT?” (Matthew 26:39 MSG). One of the questions that should always be on your lips when you enter your quiet time with God is, “What Do You Want From Me God?

Take special time to increase your Expectancy, Reverence, Alertness and Willingness to God. Go out of your way for Him, like you’ve never done before. Make a sacrifice to spend quality time with Him. Seek Him with all you’ve got. Pursue Him as if it’s your last time to grasp Him. Love Him enough to be quiet before Him and hear what He has to say.

Remember: There is no greater Return, than Investing in Quiet Time With God.

Stephen Olford said, “I want to hear God’s voice before anyone else’s in the morning. And His is the last voice I want to hear at night.

David and Daniel met with the Lord three times daily: EVENING, and MORNING, and at NOON, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” [Psalm 55:17] “Now… Daniel… kneeled upon his knees THREE TIMES A DAY, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aftoretime.” [Daniel 6:10].

So does that mean the rule of thumb is to meet with God three times daily? No. What it does mean is whatever time you set, Simply Be Consistent! Put it on your calendar if need be! In honesty, we put far less important stuff on our calendars (hair, nail and feet appointments, lunch dates, sales at Macy’s etc.) Therefore, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to make an appointment with God, certainly our Daily Protector is more important than a Perm! And just like you’ll rearrange your schedule to keep all your other appointments, do what you need to, to keep this one! You didn’t stand up Tyrone or Tasha, so whatever you do, Don’t Stand God Up!

As women, we keep better hair and nail appointments than we keep God appointments. As men, you keep better barber and basketball appointments than God appointments. As youth, you keep better girlfriend/boyfriend appointments than God appointments. In other words, we’ve ALL messed up our appointments with God, whether it be through cancellations, lateness, fatigue, change in plans etc… But if the truth be told, even if you are the President and CEO, you will Never have a more important appointment than the one you schedule with God! 

Make a firm commitment like the Psalmist. He said,My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” [Psalm 5:3]. That word “shalt” is the same as “shall” and the word “shall” means “expressing a strong assertion or intention” more importantly its Origin is Old English meaning “Owe“. The word “Owe” means to “Be Required to Pay (money or goods) to (someone) in Return for Something Received“. And the word “Required” means “To Expect Someone to Do SomethingAnd all of that sums up to mean the Psalmist Expressed a Strong Intention to Give God What He Owes Him (His Time), Because He is Required To Pay God In Return For all the Goodness, Blessings, Miracles, Provision, Protection…He Has Received. And Most Important God is Expecting Him to do It! And the Psalmist Has Vowed that it Shall be Done! My Voice SHALT Thou Hear In the Morning, O LORD; In the Morning Will I Direct My Prayer Unto Thee, And Will Look Up” Does meeting with God in Quiet Prayer Time Mean that Much to You?!  Do you realize you OWE God? Do you realize just how much you OWE God? Do you realize that God is REQUIRING this of you? Do you realize that God EXPECTS this from you? The Amplified Bible reads that same verse like this, “In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart.]There’s a few things I want to point out here:

(a) The Psalmist makes an Appointment with God:My voice SHALT thou hear In The Morning, O LORD…

(b) The Psalmist takes the time to Prepare Himself and what he wants to Offer God: …I PREPARE [a Prayer, a Sacrifice]…

(c) The Psalmist makes it clear that it’s not about himself: …For YOU…

(d) The Psalmist knows that his Appointment with God is not just about what he has to give to God, But What God Has to Give to Him Also: …watch and wait [For You to SPEAK to My Heart.]

I cannot stress enough the Importance of making and keeping your Quiet Time Appointments With God! If David could do this, certainly you can do the very same! Remember You OWE God That Much! You Are REQUIRED to Pay Up and He’s Waiting In EXPECTATION!

Now, let’s look at a few ‘time’ tips for our Quality Time With God:

1…DON’T START WITH A TWO-HOUR QUIET TIME: You’ll quickly get discouraged. You’ll create memories of failure rather than memories of success. You must grow in this relationship as you do in any other. So begin with a few minutes and let it grow. You don’t plant your seed Monday and look for a harvest on Tuesday. It takes time. So be patient and pace yourself. The more faithful you are in keeping your Quiet Time Appointments With God the more appointments you’ll want to make and the longer you’ll want to stay.

2…DON’T CLOCK-WATCH: That’ll ruin your quiet time faster than anything else. Decide what you can do in God’s Word and prayer during the time you’ve selected; then do just that! Sometimes it’ll take more time than you have set aside, sometimes less. But don’t clock-watch! When on a date with that special somebody that you’re enjoying spending time with, you don’t watch the clock waiting for it to be over. No, you enjoy every minute. In fact, if it’s really good, the first things you say are: ‘Where did the time go?’ ‘And I wish this night didn’t have to end.’ God is simply looking for the same attention. The more quiet, intimate time you spend with God, the more in love with Him you’ll become. Therefore, you’ll automatically want to increase that time. It’s a process. So enjoy each stage.

3…EMPHASIZE QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY: It’s what you do during your quiet time – whether 15 minutes or 2 hours – that’s important. Whatever time frame you set, simply give your full attention to Him. My husband knows not to talk to me while I’m watching TV. I’ll nod my head the whole conversation through, but I guarantee you when I’m asked later about it, I have no idea what he’s talking about. Why? Because I Wasn’t Paying Attention! So don’t try to be super-deep and lay in prayer for 4 hours when you don’t do 4 minutes consistently. It’s unrealistic, and what’s unrealistic goes unmet. So whatever time frame you set, just give God your full attention and when it’s done, it’s done, until the next time. There’s nothing worse than to read ten chapters and not even retain ten verses. Why not commit to one chapter and let it minister to you? Remember, QUALITY will always over-ride QUANTITY when it comes to spending time with God.

4…CHOOSE A SPECIAL PLACE: Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to THE PLACE where he had stood before the Lord.” [Genesis 19:27 NIV]. Your special place ought to be a place where: (a) You can pray aloud without embarrassment; (b) You’re comfortable. But for some of us I must stress the point: Don’t have your quiet time in bed – that’s far too comfortable! Trust me, I’ve tried it! Now, as for me, my special place is in my livingroom at 5am. I anoint myself and walk the floor of my livingroom in prayer while the house is asleep. And even when the house wakes up, no one disturbs my special place of prayer until I’m done. As the days go by your special place will come to mean everything to you, because it will become your meeting place with God. It will become your sacred, set aside, consecrated, personal holy ground. Now, don’t think this place has to be perfect, it just has to be a place where you can enjoy your Quiet Time in the Presence of the Lord.

All of that sounds wonderful preacher, but what happens When Noise Interrupts Your Quiet Time With God?!

“O GOD, You Are My GOD, Earnestly I Seek YOU.” PSALM 63:1 NIV

Let’s address some “Quiet Time Problems/Interruptions.”

The Problem of Discipline is a Major one! This is better known as “The Battle of the Blankets.” It faces you the moment you wake up! The devil will Exaggerate just how tired you really are. And when he and your flesh team up, it’s a battle to just get out of bed! So here are some tips on Overcoming this problem:

(1) GO TO BED ON TIME! Too many of us stay up late watching TV, therefore we have a hard time getting up in the morning. (I confess, Law & Order at 11pm has gotten me in a lot of prayer time trouble). But Dawson Trotman lived by the Scripture,Early will I seek thee.You see, even if he had company the night before, he would excuse himself and go to bed because his top priority was meeting with God each morning.  Ask yourself, is meeting with God that important to me?

(2) GET UP IMMEDIATELY UPON WAKING! If you wait to think about it, you’ve already lost the days battle! Furthermore, when you wake up in the morning it’s not the time to pray that you’ll have willpower to do it. In other words, Plan It! Be Intentional! Resolve like the Psalmist,In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice.” (Psalm 5:3 NIV). Make it a Mandatory Meeting!

(3) GO TO BED WITH THOUGHTS OF SCRIPTURE! Fall asleep with the attitude of, ‘See you in the morning, Lord.’ Ask Him to wake you up with thoughts of Him. One of the best ways to do that is to go to sleep with a Scripture verse on your mind. Remember You’ve Been Commanded:Do not let this Book…depart from your mouth; meditate on it DAY AND NIGHT.” (Joshua 1:8 NIV).

You say you’re not getting much out of your quiet time? Well, Rick Warren refers to this as “The Battle of the Blahs.” He writes: “You can never judge your quiet time by your emotions. Emotions may lie; feelings may come and go. If you only have a quiet time when you ‘feel’ like it, the devil will make sure you never feel like it. Some days will seem bland. On other days you’ll think heaven has opened up to you. So don’t expect a glorious ‘experience’ every morning. Not having goose-bumps doesn’t mean God is not present.

However, dry spells can be caused by a few things:

(a) DISOBEDIENCE:  Because God won’t bless you beyond your last act of disobedience. And He won’t reveal step two until you’ve effectively climbed past step one. So repent and get it right.

(b) BEING IN A HURRY: Samuel Chadwick said, “Hurry is the death of prayer.So go for meaningfulness, not mileage!

(c) BEING IN A RUT: When your quiet time becomes a Ritual instead of a Relationship, it dies! So be flexible; change your routine, keep it interesting. Now men you would do it for your woman; and women you know you would do it for your man. So learn how to do it for your God. Besides, you’ll never have a better or more lasting relationship than that you have with God. So don’t you think it’s worth it to do whatever it takes to make your relationship work?

Sorry, it’s not over yet! Because once you’ve wonThe Battle of the BlanketsandThe Battle of the Blahs,you’ll have to fightThe Battle of the Brain.” Your mind will wander off in 101 directions during your quiet time! The devil will make sure of it! You’ll find yourself distracted by noises, lack of sleep, tensions with others, work, things you ‘just can’t forget,’ and even things you haven’t thought about all day. So here are some helpful suggestions:

1…BE SURE YOU’RE THOROUGHLY AWAKE! Take a shower, splash cold water on your face, or do some exercises. Get the Adrenalin flowing! The Psalmist writes,As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1 NIV). A deer being pursued by a hunter has only one thing in mind; getting to the stream where its wounds can be healed, its thirst quenched, and its strength renewed. Therefore, panting does not mean entering your quiet time dragging in, mumbling half a scripture, and dozing back off to sleep. There is a hunger and a thirst an urgency to get to God. So Wake Up and get to Panting and Pursuing after Him!

2…USE A MEMO PAD: When you decide to spend time with God you’ll suddenly ‘remember’ everything you have to do, or have left undone. So write things down as they come to you, then tell yourself, “I’ll get to that later,” and go back to prayer. Don’t let the devil distract you!

3…WALK WHILE YOU’RE PRAYING: You won’t fall asleep while standing up, (at least I hope not), so move around. And while you’re moving quote scriptures like,…I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised…” (Joshua 1:3 MSG) You’ll pray more purposeful and powerful then won’t you?

4…PERSONALIZE THE SCRIPTURES: Pray them back to God. Since God’s Word is always in line with God’s Will, your prayers will be answered. For example, use Psalm 23: “Lord, You are my Shepherd, therefore I shall not want for anything. Thank You for leading me in paths that are right when I don’t know which way to go.” It reminds you that you’re talking to SOMEONE who loves you and protects you and wants the best for you.

Who wouldn’t want to spend more quiet time with a Person like that?

If truth be told, nothing is more difficult to maintain than your quiet time with God. When pressures mount, what’s the first thing you’re tempted to drop? Time With God! Satan knows if he can keep you from it, he’s already won the battle, because he’ll have no opposition from you. Many of us who have messed up and missed the mark can honestly say, “It all started when I began to neglect my time with God.” So let’s look at some more ways to Overcome this problem.

1…MAKE A COVENANT WITH GOD! And be serious about it:When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it…It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 NIV). In the end, you need to remember that you’re in a relationship with a Covenant-Keeping God. Therefore, it’s not enough to make the vow, You’ve Got To Keep It!

2…PUT IT ON YOUR SCHEDULE: Block out time to meet with God each day, just like you plan a doctor’s appointment or a business luncheon. Think about it: We will run for a bus, jump on a train, chase down a taxi just to make it on time for an appointment with man. But we can’t roll over out of bed to meet with God in our own house? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that to be my track record with God. Being known more for my cancellations than actual kept appointments with Him.The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any who…sought after God, inquiring for and of Him…requiring Him [of vital necessity].” (Psalm 14:2 AMP) God is Seeking for those who are Seeking for Him! Are you seeking?

3…BE READY FOR THE DEVIL’S EXCUSES AND ATTACKS: To be forewarned is to be forearmed! So follow the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared!Dr. Robert G. Lee used to say,If you wake up in the morning and don’t meet the devil face on, it means you’re headed in the same direction!So don’t wake up with the mentality that the heavens are going to open up, and the angels are going to descend and lead praise and worship while you enter your Quiet Time with God! If this is what you’re looking for when you open your eyes, then you are in for a very Rude Awakening! Often times you’ve got to fight for your Quiet Time With God! But the rewards you receive for winning the fight are invaluable! So let the boxer in you rise up and let the devil know you’ve still got another round in you!I praise you, LORD! I prayed, and you rescued me from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:3 CEV).

4…LEAVE YOUR BIBLE OPEN THE NIGHT BEFORE AT THE PASSAGE YOU INTEND TO READ IN THE MORNING: When you wake up it will serve as a reminder to have your Quiet Time With God. Believe it or not, I use to sit my open Bible on top of my alarm clock, this way I had to pick up my Bible, to shut off my alarm clock. And it takes a pretty crazy person to pick up their Bible and throw it to the side, unread, when you realize God’s Grace and Mercy gave you another day to open your eyes! So whatever it takes… don’t miss out on your Quiet Time With God!…I have treasured the Words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12 NIV).

But what if I miss a day?Don’t worry about it, and don’t go on a guilt trip over it! If you miss a meal it doesn’t mean you gave up eating, does it? You’ll simply be a bit more hungry, so eat a little more at the next meal. Just don’t make a molehill a mountain! You can trip over a molehill and get some scrapes, dust yourself off and keep going. But a mountain will kill you! So stop treating your missed time with God as if you’ve fallen from Mt. Everest!The LORD’s kindness never fails! If He had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 CEV).

Listen: Psychologists say it takes up to three weeks to get familiar with a new habit; then another three weeks before it takes root. So the goal is to get beyond that six-week barrier!

Here’s a simple formula for developing a habit:

(1) MAKE A STRONG RESOLUTION: If you begin half-heartedly you’ll never succeed. The Bible says,Encourage one another daily.” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV). So become accountable to someone. Ask them to encourage you, and to remind you of the promise you made to God. I’m a witness, I have some Covenant Friendships that don’t let me get away with nothing! It works!

(2) NEVER ALLOW AN EXCEPTION: A habit is like a ball of twine: every time you drop it some of the strands unwind. So never allow ‘just this once’ to occur. Each act of yielding weakens your will and causes you to lose ground!

(3) SEIZE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICE YOUR NEW HABIT: Whenever you get the slightest urge to practice it, do it right then. Don’t wait, use that moment to reinforce it. It doesn’t hurt to overdo a new, and good, habit.

(4) RELY ON THE POWER OF GOD: When all is said and done, you must realize you’re in a spiritual battle and that you can only succeed by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. So pray that God will strengthen you. Depend on Him to help you develop Quiet Time habits for His Glory.Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (Jeremiah 33:3 MSG).

No Matter How Noisy Life May Become, Prepare And Equip Yourself To Allow Nothing And No One To Disturb Your Quiet Time With Your God!

“O GOD, You Are My GOD, Earnestly I Seek YOU.” PSALM 63:1 NIV

In closing, the word ‘Earnest’ says a lot. In fact, David wasn’t the only one who was ‘Earnest.’ James 5:17 says, “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed EARNESTLY that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.” Now when you study how Elijah prayed, the Bible says he prayed ‘earnestly’ that rain should not fall and God answered his prayer. The Scripture also says he was ‘subject’ to like passions as we are. The term ‘subject’ means ‘likely or prone to be effected by’. In other words, Elijah had some of the same pressures, temptations and conditions of life that we suffer today, and yet, when he prayed, he did it in an earnest, heartfelt manner, regardless to circumstance. Therefore, we have no excuse for our fast food prayer delivery! This isn’t a ‘bless the dinner rolls’ type of prayer. Elijah didn’t simply pray, “Lord, let there be no rain”. The word ‘Earnest’ is defined as ‘with sincere and serious intention’. Therefore, earnest prayer is Continued, Fervent and with Deep Conviction. It’s prayer that pulls on the very heart strings of God. This is the kind of prayer Jesus talked about in Matthew 6:6, …when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.Earnest prayer is Concentrated, Focused, and Deliberate. This kind of prayer is Serious Business! It’s more than saying, “Lord, bless all Christians; bless my family and bless me, in Jesus Name,” and then you’re off to work or to bed! No, it’s Sustained Prayer over a period of time. Earnest prayer, possesses the power to change even the most hopeless of situations. Isaac prayed hard to God for his wife because she was barren. God answered his prayer and Rebekah became pregnant.” (Genesis 25:21 MSG). Even Jesus prayed earnestly, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail.Luke 22:31 (NLT).

When you engage in this kind of prayer, You Don’t Give Up! Every time I enter a new struggle and it gets long and hard, to the point it wearies me, I read Luke 18:1-5. Also [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up). He said, In a certain city there was a judge who neither reverenced and feared God nor respected or considered man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary. And for a time he would not; but later he said to himself, Though I have neither reverence or fear for God nor respect or consideration for man, YET BECAUSE THIS WIDOW CONTINUES TO BOTHER ME, I WILL DEFEND AND PROTECT AND AVENGE HER, LEST SHE GIVE ME INTOLERABLE ANNOYANCE AND WEAR ME OUT BY HER CONTINUAL COMING…” (AMP). My prayer for you today, is that God will mold you into Disciples of Earnest Prayer. I pray that you will develop the characteristic of persistence and tenacity. And regardless to the situation or circumstance, you will not give up, give in or give out!

Now, just as earnest as Elijah, Isaac, Jesus, and even the widow were, particularly in prayer and petition, David was just as earnest in ‘seeking’ God. David does not use past tense, as an sought for the Lord. But the present tense, of I’m still seeking Him. Whether it’s to enter Quiet Time With God, or to enter into your closet of prayer with God, do it earnestly! Seek for Him with diligence.

Listen to David in full, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” The Message Bible says it like this, “God-you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts.”

You’ll know when you’re Earnestly Praying and Earnestly seeking, when your pursuit of God’s presence makes you feel trapped in a desert, hungry and thirsty and He’s your Only source of satisfaction and fulfillment! Somehow the church, the bride, has lost her hunger and thirst, her passion, her desire and longing for God, her bridegroom. Therefore, it is my prayer that this extensive devotional has stirred up a refreshing in your soul for Him. A new hunger and thirst that only He can feed and quench. I pray you will change your schedule in whatever way needed just so you can spend Quality, Quiet Time With God. I pray for a burning fire to be ignited within you that has to reach Him, has to see Him, has to hear from Him. From this day forward, I pray you will open your eyes each morning and say with David, “O God, you are my God, EARNESTLY I seek you…”

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

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“7 Practical Life-Application Lessons From the Cross”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practical Life Applications:

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “It’s Time to Declutter!”

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“Calling All Caleb’s, Let’s Do This!”

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Numbers 13:30, “Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, “Let’s go up and take the land – now. WE CAN DO IT.” (MSG)

Looking over the course of my life I realized that just about everything I’ve done and accomplished, came through risk. Even my love of teaching came through risk. You see, I was a Minister-in-Training and one of the responsibilities was to teach. The problem? I wasn’t raised in church and had no experience teaching, especially of all things the Bible! Truth is, I was still trying to teach it to myself! But there was no way around this whole teaching thing, not if you were going to be in leadership. And it’s not the teaching alone that was terrifying, but the thought of the students not liking me or worse, not understanding what I was teaching. And to make matters worse, I was a bit self-conscious because I had horrible acne, a chipped tooth and the podium was almost as tall as I am (so, even if they could hear me and understand me, could they see me?)! I was worried, scared and quite insecure about my appearance, about my knowledge of what I was teaching etc. There was this one line that rang over and over in my head, ‘I don’t think this is a good idea.’ And if that wasn’t bad enough, the only advice my leader gave me was ‘there’s no reward without risk. Just give it a chance. You’ll never know if you never try.’ Needless to say, I’ve been teaching ever since! But how did that first session go? Absolutely horrible! LOL! I forgot everything but my name! But my leader kept pushing me week after week. ‘You can do this…you’ll stumble, fall, cry, get a badly bruised ego, but you’ll also dust off, get back up and keep walking…trust me, you’ll get there.’ Guess what? It worked! It was worth the risk! Because now, I have the limitless opportunity to travel anywhere and teach, train, develop, lead…to prepare curriculum’s, seminars and workshops. In church, at work, in schools. And all because the reward was worth the risk. I would never be able to do what I do now, if I didn’t take the risk then.

So, what rewards are you missing out on in life, because you’re too afraid to take the risk?  

Well, how about we start with the definition of ‘risk’? It’s defined as, “a situation involving exposure to danger, injury or harm; the possibility that something unpleasant will happen; the possibility of loss.” Its’ French Origin ‘risque’, from its Italian Origin ‘risco’ literally means ‘danger.’ And a few synonyms are ‘hazard; pitfall; threat; and trouble.’ Trust me, I hear you screaming, ‘that’s why I’m not risking it!’ Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong my friend.

Truth is, anything worth having is worth the risk to get! And yes, that risk will include putting you in situations that can be dangerous (after all, you may fall on your face in front of everybody); the risk can cause injury and harm (especially to your ego, conceit, arrogance, high-mindedness and pride); something unpleasant can happen (you can forget the words, freeze up, stutter, faint, be talked about, gossiped about); you may even encounter loss (especially of the security you had in your comfy, comfort zone); it may be hazardous (because you just may find out that those in your circle were the very ones keeping you boxed in); you may even come across a pitfall (which is defined as ‘a hidden or unsuspected danger or difficulty; a covered pit for use as a trap.’ Yep, the very ones who give you the opportunity may actually be setting you up for a great, unsuspected fall); you may actually experience threats (especially if you happen to become better than the others who just knew you’d try, fail and give up…but you didn’t! And so you will have to deal with the oppression that comes with every opportunity.); and lastly, you will have some trouble (after all, did you really think you’d achieve something great without it?)

Yes, my friend, you will have to risk it to get it, but once you do, you’ll realize it was worth it!

Remember this: You Can’t Attain What You Don’t Go After! And when what you’re going after is Big, you’ll always be tempted to let Small stumbles stop you dead in your tracks! Don’t You Dare Let It Happen!

You press forward no matter what! Even if the risk means you have to change your circle of friends; you have to try something new or do something different. It’s worth the risk to get all God has for you and to become all that God has called you to be!

There was this striking poster on the wall. It showed two mountain climbers near the peak of this Alpine mountain, straining to reach the top. But it was the inscription that impressed me most. It read: “Conquest without risk is a triumph without glory.” That’s pretty good.

Now, that doesn’t just apply to reaching the top of a mountain. In fact, it pretty much describes everything worth doing in life. No risk, no meaningful conquest – a triumph without glory. Low risk – low return. High risk – high return. It’s a principle that defines Spiritual Greatness or Spiritual Mediocrity.

Whether it’s a relationship, a job, a career, a ministry, a church, a business, you will encounter risk before reward! Which is what we learn from in our lesson today.

In Numbers 13, the conquest was not a mountain; it was the taking of the Promised Land that God had promised. And if you take a moment to think about that, you’ll realize just how ridiculous we can be when it comes to taking a risk. God Himself promised them the Promised Land. So, how could they allow risk to scare them from what God promised them?

Numbers 23:19, “God is not man, one given to lies, and not a son of man changing his mind. Does he speak and not do what he says? Does he promise and not come through?” (MSG)

Listen to varying translations of this Scripture:

“God isn’t a man that he would lie, or a human being that he would change his mind. Has he ever spoken and not done it, or promised and not fulfilled it?” (CEB);

“God is no mere human! He doesn’t tell lies or change his mind. God always keeps his promises.” (CEV);

“God is not a man; he will not lie. God is not a human being; his decisions will not change. If he says he will do something, then he will do it. If he makes a promise, then he will do what he promised.” (ERV);

“God is not like people, who lie; He is not a human who changes his mind. Whatever he promises, he does; He speaks, and it is done.” (GNT);

“God is not a human being, and he will not lie. He is not a human, and he does not change his mind. What he says he will do, he does. What he promises, he makes come true.” (NCV);

“God is not a man, that He should lie. He is not a son of man, that He should be sorry for what He has said. Has He said, and will He not do it? Has He spoken, and will He not keep His Word?” (NLV)

Now, how could anyone with this level of Character and Integrity be doubted? How can anyone who serves this God, be fearful enough to forfeit a fruitful future that was guaranteed to be theirs? But can we honest? Are we really any different? That job would have been ours, if we didn’t talk ourselves out of going for it. Didn’t think we were qualified (and sometimes we weren’t, however, if God says go for it, not even that should stop you)! Who knows the house you would already own if you weren’t so sure that your credit score alone was the guaranteed deal breaker. God doesn’t need your credit score to get you to the goal! Who knows what you’d be driving if only you would have trusted God. Who knows who you would be married to, if you only trusted God, heard and heeded His voice, instead of the internal clock in your head telling you to grab Bubba over there because at 30 he’s the best shot you’ve got. Who knows the grants and scholarships that passed you by because you didn’t think you had what it took for them to come your way. Who knows how well that business would be doing today if only you would have trusted God with the blueprints instead of handing them over to your fears to redesign. Who knows where the church or ministry would be if only you would have believed God when the battle raged instead of retreating and running away.

People of God please commit this to memory: God doesn’t make promises He can’t keep! So if He said it’s yours, it’s yours! And that holds true no matter what you see, what you hear, or what they say or what they look like! God keeps His promises; He keeps His Word; He fulfills it and makes it come true, so why are you doubting? Why are you stagnant? Why are you fearful? Why are you not moving forward? Why are you not trying it? Why are you scared? Why are you not taking the risk?

Listen: They were guaranteed the promise of the Promised Land! Problem? It was currently inhabited by fierce people who, of course, didn’t plan to hand it over. And whether or not they would ever experience all God had for them depended on whether or not they would trust Him enough to take some big risks. Now whether or not you experience all God has for you may depend on that same thing.

So, are you willing to trust God with what He promised you even if you’ll have to take some big risks in the process? Are you willing to risk being talked about, walked away from, laughed at? Are you willing to risk having to endure the uncommon, the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable? Are you willing to take the risk that small minds will attempt to shake your confidence and faith in achieving the big dreams that God said can and will become your reality? Are you willing to risk having to go alone? Are you willing to risk going without the full insight to how God is going to make this thing happen? Are you willing to take the risk to go to the bank, to walk into the dealership, to meet with the loan officer, to apply to the school, to show up for the interview, to write the book, to buy that property or that land? Are you willing to take the risk of being misunderstood? Are you willing to take the risk of looking misplaced for the moment? Are you willing to take the risk?

Twelve scouts had explored the land of Canaan, and they reported back on the fabulous beauty and bounty they found there. But ten of those scouts chose to focus on the risks, two on the Lord who had promised them this land. It boiled down to an exchange like this, recorded in Numbers 13, beginning with verse 27, “This was their report: “We arrived in the land you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent country—a land ‘flowing with milk and honey.’ Here is some fruit we have brought as proof. But the people living there are powerful, and their cities are fortified and very large; and what’s more, we saw Anakim giants there!  The Amalekites live in the south, while in the hill country there are the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites; down along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and in the Jordan River Valley are the Canaanites.” But Caleb reassured the people as they stood before Moses. “Let us go up at once and possess it,” he said, “for we are well able to conquer it!” “Not against people as strong as they are!” the other spies said. “They would crush us!” So the majority report of the spies was negative: “The land is full of warriors, the people are powerfully built, and we saw some of the Anakim there, descendants of the ancient race of giants. We felt like grasshoppers before them, they were so tall!” (TLB)

Now, they brought back fruit (Proof) that the land (God Promised to be Theirs) was indeed Flowing With Milk and Honey. And still, in the face of all of this, the Scripture says, “…So the majority report of the spies was negative.” How do you hold the proof in your hand and still say with your mouth, we can’t handle it?! The Proof Was Already in Your Hand! It’s Prosperous and it’s Promised to Us! And yet they forfeit! That’s like receiving a paid in full mansion, your name only on the deed, nothing owed out of your pocket, the keys in your hands, but you spend 40 years standing on the stoop looking at a door you never open to fully possess what’s already yours!

Keep in mind, anytime you’re about to make a positive change, someone will come with a negative report! The choice is yours believe it, or believe God. My suggestion? Believe God!

Isaiah 55:8-11, “…For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” (MSG)

When God sends His Word on Assignment it has no other option than to Fulfill the Assignment! Therefore, you have nothing and no one to worry about when God gives you a Promise! Not the naysayers, not the negative report, not the disapproving stares, or the discouraging words. Nothing can stop what God starts!

Philippians 1:6, “I’m convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus.” (GWT)

God has proven Himself trustworthy to Carry to Completion what He Began! In a nutshell: Nothing and No One Can Stop What God Starts! Now, all you need to do is be just as “Convinced”! The word “convince” means “to cause to believe firmly in the truth of something; to persuade to do something.” Its’ Latin Origin ‘convincere’ literally means ‘to overcome, to demonstrate’, from ‘vincere” which means “to conquer.” Listen, if you’re going to get what God’s got for you, it will take risk, but you will reap a reward! And all you’ve got to do is be convinced that what He promised will come to pass! You’ve got to believe firmly in the Truth, regardless of the Facts! Yes, there were Giants (Facts), but they could never be bigger than God (Truth)! That’s why we are to walk by FAITH, not by Sight! Let your Spirit lead you, not your Senses! Because often when God is about to do something BIG, your senses tell you to Shrink back! Don’t You Dare Do It!

Now, as for them, you probably know the result. The people followed the lead of the ten scouts who said, “The risks are too great.” And they never saw the Promised Land! Be careful who you listen to, who you trust, who you share your vision, hopes and dreams with. Everyone will want to reap the rewards with you, but very few will want you to take the risk, and even fewer will take the risk with you! Caleb says, “yes, let’s do this, we got this, we can do this, we can conquer this”, yet the naysayers respond like this:

“So those men gave a report that discouraged the people…” (ERV)

“So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report…” (ESV)

“So they spread a false report among the Israelites…” (GNT)

“So they began to spread lies among the Israelites…” (GWT)

“They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel…” (MSG)

“So they brought the people of Israel bad news…” (NLV)

When you’re getting ready to take a big risk and get what God’s got for you, look out for people like this! Those who will attempt to discourage you, give you a bad or false report, lie to you, spread rumors of fear and bring you bad news! These are dream killers, and destiny destroyers, avoid them at all costs, or you’ll pay a pretty penny in missing out on the Promises of God for your life!

Unfortunate as it may be, they chose what was safe, and they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. They could have had wonderful; instead, they lived and died in the wilderness! Many of God’s children over the years have made that same tragic miscalculation. And they have lived that same tragic result. Do you really want that to be descriptive of you?

Right now God may be asking you to follow Him into something risky. To obey Him is going to mean taking a financial risk, or a geographical risk, a social risk, doing something that’s way beyond your comfort zone. Something out of the norm and status quo. But when you get serious about obedience to God and the promises of God, usually such a thing involves risk. But the great danger is not in obeying God’s “risky” leading; it is in not obeying because you won’t risk it at all! You’ll miss the top of the mountain if you listen to every little molehill murmurer along the way. You’ll miss the best that God has for you. You’ll miss the Promised Land. Are you really willing to risk that?

Maybe you’re all settled in at your little base camp at the bottom of the mountain. You’re safe, but you’ll never see the view from the top if you stay where you’ve always been. You’ve been stuck there long enough, it’s time to move on before you miss out.

Dream big; broaden your vision; enlarge your territory; go further; reach higher! They’ve got Giants, but you’ve got God, it’s a Fixed Fight and you’ve got the Fruit in Hand to Prove it! Trust God and Take the Risk, the Reward Reaped Will be Well Worth it!

“It is better to make a thousand failures than to be too cowardly to ever undertake anything.” (Clovis G. Chappell)

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” (Christopher Columbus)

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” (T.S. Eliot)

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” (John D. Rockefeller)

“If you are not willing to risk the Usual you will have to settle for the Ordinary.” (Jim Rohn)

“There can be no great accomplishment without risk.” (Neil Armstrong)

“If it’s still in your mind, it is still worth taking the risk.” (Paulo Coelho)

“I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk.” (Oprah Winfrey)

“If we walk away from risk to keep ourselves safe, we will waste our lives.” (John Piper)

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” (William Shedd)

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Anais Nin)

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

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

“Risk more than others think is safe; Care more than others think is wise; Dream more than others think is practical; Expect more than others think is possible.” (Cadet Maxim)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #SowTheRiskReapTheReward
Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Eat Healthy, Stay Fit and Live Well Over 50!”

“You Are STILL Valuable!”

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

I’ve always been a parable preacher and teacher, and I guess you can say a parable writer as well. The reason being, I love using simple, everyday illustrations, to convey a clear, concise word of encouragement. So here I go at it…again…using one that I’ve heard numerous times, and maybe you have too.

I’m holding a $20 bill in my hand (let your imagination follow me). If you were sitting here with me and I offered this $20 bill to you, would you take it? I think you would. Now you’re going to have to use a little bit more of your imagination to picture what I’m about to do, but here goes. I am now crumpling that nice $20 bill and I am crushing it into a little wad. Do you still want this bill? If you were right here, would you still take it? Keep in mind, it’s all wadded up now. OK, say you decide to take it anyway, well, now I’m beating on this wadded up $20 bill, and I am actually stomping on it with my muddy shoes! Now, if I still offered to give you this $20 bill, would you still take it? I mean, it’s been beat up, it’s crushed, stomped on, so would you still want it? Well, of course you would! You know why? Because no matter what happened to that $20 bill, it never lost its value!

And that’s the point, isn’t it? No matter how abused and beat up that $20 bill is, it’s still worth just as much as it always did, and in case you were wondering, so are YOU!

I don’t have to guess, assume, ask questions, or look prophetically into anything. I can guarantee you, someone today feels just like I just treated that $20 bill. They feel beat up, mishandled, treated badly, they’ve been crushed, crumpled and trampled on. And when someone’s been treated like that, they begin to believe a lie that they’re not worth much. If they were, why would anyone treat them like that? People like this begin to feel like, ‘If I was so loved, why would he hit me; why would she leave me? If I’m so valuable, why would they treat me like trash? If I’m so important, why did they reject and abandon me? If I’m so beautiful, why doesn’t anyone tell me so? If I’m so needed, why do I feel so lonely?’

And what’s worse about people who feel like this is that when you think you’re worthless, you start making choices based on unworthiness. You start throwing yourself away, settling for junk, doing anything for a little love, a little affection, a little attention. Think about it: No one treats a fake fur the same as a real one; no one handles real diamonds the same as fake ones; no one treasures a brand new top of the line car the same as they do a 30 year old (raggedy, hope it makes it to the next corner) vehicle. If you want to know how much someone values a thing, just pay attention to how they treat it.

Which is also the mindset of people who feel unworthy. They will accept any kind of treatment from anyone, because they are under the faulty impression that they’re not of any value.

But the truth is, you’re just like my beat-up $20 bill. No matter how you’ve been treated, you are still just as valuable! You’re still precious because no one on earth gave you your worth – God did! So no one on earth can take it away! So, if you’ve found yourself in the unfortunate predicament of allowing people to treat you as less than, today is your day to Stop It!

We’ve got to go to God’s Book to get the real truth about your value! And when we do, we find three worth-givers that can’t be taken from you:

FIRST, YOUR WORTH IS BASED ON BEING MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE: In Genesis 1:27, the Bible says, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” God made you as a reflection of Himself, so don’t tell me you’re not worth much! Listen to the verse in a few translations:

“God created humanity in God’s own image, in the DIVINE IMAGE God created them, male and female God created them.” (CEB);

“So God created humans to be LIKE HIMSELF; He made men and women.” (CEV);

“So God made man LIKE HIS MAKER. Like God did God make man; Man and maid did He make them.” (TLB);

“God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, MAKE THEM REFLECTING OUR NATURE.” (MSG);

Did you catch all of that? YOU are created, crafted, designed, and made in the DIVINE IMAGE OF GOD, TO BE LIKE GOD YOUR MAKER, REFLECTING THE NATURE OF THE GODHEAD! Yep, that’s VALUE! No matter what you see or don’t see, like or don’t like when you look in the mirror, the bottom line is YOU ARE THE REFLECTION OF THE GODHEAD, WHICH MAKES YOU IMPORTANT, SIGNIFICANT, WORTHY AND VALUABLE! LET NOTHING AND NO ONE TREAT YOU LESS! YOU ARE TO BE TREASURED!

Think about it: When we think of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Ghost), what are some of the things that come to mind? Almighty, Powerful, Awesome, Dynamic, Creative, Anointing, Gifts, Strength, Protection, Victorious, Ability…Well, You My Friend Are a Reflection of All of That! Stop under-estimating and under-valuing yourself! You are powerful, victorious, anointed, gifted, strong! You are Worthy!

SECONDLY, YOUR WORTH IS BASED ON GOD’S ONE-OF-A-KIND MASTERPIECE: In Psalm 139:13, David says to God, “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful. I know that full well” (NIV). Listen to the Message Bible, “Oh yes, You shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank You, High God – You’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation! You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before You, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” (MSG) Does that sound like a nobody to you? Does that sound like someone unimportant, unworthy, and without value? Absolutely Not! When you believe you’re not worth much, you are insulting the One who designed you. From the moment that egg and sperm came together to start your life, you have been God’s unique creation. If you don’t believe it, look at your fingerprints. There’s no one else on earth like you! You are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. God Himself Made You Bit-By-Bit, He Sculpted You From Nothing Into Something, How Dare You Demean Such Tremendous Creation! Your Mess Can Never Mess-Up His Masterpiece! And Don’t You Dare Forget It Again!

I love the way the Psalmist says it, “…YOU KNOW EXACTLY HOW I WAS MADE, BIT BY BIT, HOW I WAS SCULPTED…” The word “exactly” is defined as “in exact terms.” And “exact” is defined as “not approximated in any way; precise; accurate or correct in all details down to the most minute.” And “sculpt” is defined as “to create.You my precious, priceless friend, are so valuable that God Himself created you in no approximate way, but precisely, accurately, correctly in all detail, down to the most minute! And you still think you’re of no value?! Every part of you, as the psalmist declares it, bit by bit, God Designed!

Think about this: Luke 12:6-7, “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.” (MSG) He not only knows how many hairs are on your head, but each individual hair has its own number! That’s what you call Detail! And “detail” is defined as “a small individual item or fact; a small part.” It’s French Origin “détail”, from “tailler” literally means “a cut”. The smallest detail, item, fact about you is carefully crafted by your Creator! Every cut of you is precisely sculpted! And even when you mess up, STILL, you are His useful masterpiece! Jeremiah 18:1-4, “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.” (MSG)

The Potter Uses the SAME Clay Even When it Messes Up! In other words, God values you so much that He doesn’t even discard you when you mess up! He goes right back to work, remaking you again! I reiterate, YOU STILL HAVE VALUE, NO MATTER HOW MESSED UP YOU ARE, OR THINK YOU ARE!

AND NOW, MOST IMPORTANTLY, YOU ARE INFINITELY VALUABLE BECAUSE GOD PAID FOR YOU WITH THE LIFE OF HIS SON: Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been put up on the cross to die with Christ. I no longer live. Christ lives in me. The life I now live in this body, I live by putting my trust in the Son of God. HE WAS THE ONE WHO LOVED ME AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME” (NLV). I want to invite you to walk with me right now up a hill near Jerusalem called Skull Hill. At the top, imagine there’s this blood-stained cross. That’s where God’s one and only Son thought you were so precious that He poured out His life for every wrong thing you have ever done, and will do. Why? Because that’s the only way you could ever be forgiven of your sins; the only way you could ever have the love relationship with Him you were made for; the only way you could be with Him in heaven forever.

The children are so right when they sing that little song “Jesus loves me, this I know.” And in case you didn’t know it before today, He really does love you too! And you can never experience how much you’re worth until you experience the One who gave you your worth. That’s what Jesus has come to give you today. He stands ready to enter your life upon your invitation, to begin that love relationship He gave His life to give you. Today, why don’t you reach out to Him if you never have before; He’s reaching for you. The life you were made for, the love you were made for, begins when you let Jesus Christ into your life because no one loves you like He does. If you aren’t saved, please don’t make it complicated. Pray, repent, confess, accept. That’s it! And if you need further details look on this same website under the tab “Salvation”, for some great information, Scriptures and a prayer! He’s the One who makes you valuable, without Him, you have none. Accept Him Today!

However, for those who are already saved, by no means are you exempt from moments of feelings of unworthiness. And yes, that even means knowing the Scriptures and what they say concerning you. Truth is, life still has a way of chipping away at your value, worth and treasure. Many things transpire in life that attack your self-esteem like a sledge-hammer. Sometimes it’s your hair, your skin, your acne, your stretchmarks, your past, your mistakes, your divorce, your break-up. Sometimes it’s being single, sometimes it’s being married. Sometimes it’s having no children, sometimes it’s having children. So much goes on in life that not even the prettiest of women or the most handsome of men feel that way all the time. The key is you can visit there, but you can’t live there! We all have our down moments, our days when we second-guess ourselves, and doubt ourselves, even belittle ourselves with unbelief. But please know that’s how WE see ourselves, BUT GOD NEVER DOES!

Can you imagine being so valuable that to purchase you it took the Heavenly Father giving His Beloved Son to Sacrifice His Life! You were worth LIFE! You were worth blood, mockery, spit, nails, thorns, spears, gall. You were worth the torture, the whipping, the mangled body. You were worth the cross. You were worth Life, Death, Burial, Resurrection, and Return! You were worth the Heart of the Gospel! You were worth Redeeming, Saving, Justifying, Loving Unconditionally! You were worth the angels given charge to keep you. You were worth having unlimited access to heavenly resources on earth!

YOU ARE WORTHY, TREASURED, AND STILL VALUABLE!

It is my prayer that this little reminder will put a smile on your face. No matter what you’ve done or left undone, no matter where you’ve been or why. No matter how many times you’ve fallen and failed…YOU ARE STILL VALUABLE!

No matter how many mistakes and even deliberate bad decisions you’ve made; no matter what you look like, where you’re from, your marital, social, or financial status…YOU ARE STILL VALUABLE!

With an education, without one; with a job, without one; with a house, without one; in the car, on the bus, on the train, in the cab, walking down the street…YOU ARE STILL VALUABLE!

Nappy hair, crooked teeth, bad skin…YOU ARE STILL VALUABLE!

Tall or short, fat or skinny, CEO or janitor…YOU ARE STILL VALUABLE!

No matter what or who you’ve lost, never lose your value! And never allow anyone to make any attempts to alter or diminish it.

Now, smile and say, “I’M STILL VALUABLE! And if you must, make it your daily affirmation. Put it on a card, in a place you can read it every day (several times throughout the day if need be). As soon as you wake up in the morning, when you walk past the first mirror you see, look in it and remind yourself…I’M STILL VALUABLE! Yep! In your pj’s, with your head wrap, no make-up and funky breath, remind yourself always, I’M STILL VALUABLE! Don’t ever wait for someone else to tell you what you are responsible to tell yourself…

I’M STILL VALUABLE!

“Value yourself. The only people who appreciate a doormat are people with dirty shoes.” (Leo F. Buscaglia)

“If you are not being treated with the love and respect you deserve, check your price-tag. Perhaps you’ve marked yourself down. It’s YOU that determines what your worth by what you accept. Get off the clearance rack and get behind the glass case where the Valuables are kept.” (Author Unknown)

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” (M. Scott Peck)

“If you don’t value yourself, you’re not going to draw valuable things into your life.” (Robert Tew)

“If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone you have already forgotten your value.” (Author Unknown)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #BeReminded
Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “24 Ways to Cut 500 Calories a Day!”

“Don’t Get Weary While Waiting!”

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Galatians 6:9, “LET US NOT GROW WEARY OR BECOME DISCOURAGED IN DOING GOOD, FOR AT THE PROPER TIME WE WILL REAP, IF WE DO NOT GIVE IN.” (AMP)

As much as I love to cook, I don’t bake! But my friend Yolanda loves to bake! If she could bake an 8-course meal for dinner, she would in a heartbeat! But what I found to be hilarious is when her husband Evan bought her a bread maker one year. However, I’m still not sure who the present was really for – her or him? You see, Evan loves the smell and taste of fresh bread! But honestly, who doesn’t? Personally, my eyes have lit up when piping hot bread was delivered to the table at a restaurant! But I must admit, Evan is worse than I am! I mean I’ve even seen him ask the people at the next table if they were going to eat their bread, and if not could they let him know before it gets cold! LOL! Evan is a character indeed!

Back to Yolanda…since her husband Evan loves freshly, baked bread so much, she prepares it all the time! She pours the mix into the bread machine, punches in all the proper settings, leaves it so it can begin its wonderful three-hour process of becoming fresh baked bread. But naturally, with a couple who has 4 young children, Evan and Yolanda often become busy around the household, and so at times they often forget the bread is baking. But truth is, they don’t have anything to do with it anyway. IT’S SILENTLY GETTING DONE, WITHOUT THEIR ASSISTANCE OR INTERFERENCE!

Now, there are some hints along the way that lets them know what’s happening. For instance, eventually this wonderful aroma starts spreading through the house. But there is one particular time that they were so busy around the holiday season and preparing for the big family gathering that Yolanda had no idea where the noise was coming from when she all of a sudden heard a loud “beep…beep…beep”! So she called from the back of the house, “honey, what’s that sound?” Evan yelled back, “the bread is done!

Remember, they wanted the bread. So, they started the process of having the bread, but they didn’t see or hear anything for quite a while, until suddenly and deliciously, it was ready!

And believe it or not, that wasn’t a cooking lesson, but a Faith Lesson! That bread maker just described the way God works! Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads: “He has made everything beautiful IN ITS TIME.” Or in the Contemporary English Version, “God makes everything happen AT THE RIGHT TIME…” (CEV)

Now, if we’ll dare to be brutally honest, often that time is a whole lot later than we want it to be! Truthfully, if it were my preference, the saving, healing, deliverance, breakthrough, provision, protection, change, turn around, would have all happened for me overnight, not over the course of 47 years! If it had been up to me, I would have had all of my hearts desires requested on Monday and given to me in full on Tuesday morning before my alarm clock even went off! But thank God He not only knows what’s best for us, but WHEN it’s best for us. With that said, I must admonish you: “WAIT ON THE LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: WAIT, I SAY, ON THE LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)

Now, is that easy? Nope! But is it impossible? Nope! Therefore, WAIT!

Another translation says it like this: “DON’T BE IMPATIENT. WAIT FOR THE LORD…YES, WAIT AND HE WILL HELP YOU.” (TLB)

Being honest, we love that He’s going to help us, but we hate having to WAIT for it!

That word “Impatient” is defined as, “not willing to wait for something or someone; wanting or eager to do something without waiting; lack of patience; restless or short of temper especially under irritation, delay or opposition; eager desire for relief or change; intolerant of anything that delays or hinders; to be anxious.” And the word “Anxious” is defined as, “experiencing worry or unease.” Its’ Latin Origin “anxius” from “angere” means “to choke”. And the word “Choke” is defined as, “to prevent (someone) from breathing by constricting or obstructing the throat or depriving of air”. When you’re Impatient, you’re not willing to wait; you’re restless and short tempered (which means you can’t properly handle irritation, delay or opposition); you’re eager for immediate relief and change; you’re worried and uneased; you’re choked! Which means, praise can’t come out; worship can’t come out; exaltation can’t come out; reciting the promises of God can’t come out; declaring and decreeing the Word of the Lord can’t come out; and all because you’ve allowed Impatience to Choke Your Faith to Death!

But what does the Word of God remind us to do when we become Impatient, Worried, or Anxious? “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” (Philippians 4:6-7 AMP)

The Message Bible reads like this: “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.” (MSG)

Now, doesn’t that sound a lot better than choking your faith to death; suffocating your praise; and robbing your worship of breath?!

People of God, don’t let impatience destroy you, or what God has designed to give you, when it’s ready, at just the right time!

Habakkuk 2:2-4, “And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness POINTING TO WHAT’S COMING. IT ACHES FOR THE COMING – IT CAN HARDLY WAIT! And it doesn’t lie. IF IT SEEMS SLOW IN COMING, WAIT. IT’S ON ITS WAY. IT WILL COME RIGHT ON TIME…the person in right standing before God through LOYAL AND STEADY BELIEVING is fully alive, really alive.” (MSG) NOT CHOKED TO DEATH BY IMPATIENCE, WORRY AND ANXIETY!

I REITERATE, WAIT FOR THE RIGHT TIMING OF GOD! YOU WILL GET IT, WHEN IT’S READY!

Now, a baby is healthy, if it comes at the time when it’s READY. However, the baby might not be as healthy if he or she comes PREMATURELY. And often our timing produces just that, a PREEMIE; an answer or a provision from God that really isn’t ready yet, isn’t fully developed for you to receive just yet. It’s PREMATURE. And the word “Premature” is defined as “occurring or done before the proper time.” Its’ Latin Origin “praematurus” literally means “very early.”

Listen, the last thing you want is to receive something before its’ ready! After all, would you cook a whole chicken in the oven for 30 seconds and then serve it to your family to eat? Of course you wouldn’t. You know why? Because it’s not ready, it’s PREMATURE, it’s undone, it can/will hurt them or even kill them, and all because you served them what they wanted, BEFORE it was ready for them to have! And who wants such a thing to happen to the people they love? Therefore, step into your Heavenly Father’s shoes for a moment. Think: Why would He give His children, (whom He loves, and even sacrificed the life of His own Son for), what is NOT READY, PREMATURE, UNDONE, OR COULD POSSIBLY HURT, HARM OR KILL THEM? Why would an INFINITE GOD OF ETERNITY give His children something BEFORE IT’S TIME?

To answer you…HE DOESN’T! He loves us too much to! That’s why as much as it hurts Him, He holds back the healing, provision, breakthrough…UNTIL IT’S TIME! Which may help you better understand why you haven’t received that promotion…yet; that house…yet; that car…yet; that loan…yet; that spouse…yet; those children…yet; that healing….yet; that deliverance…yet; that breakthrough…yet; that ministry…yet! It just may explain why He hasn’t taken you out of that situation, circumstance, hurt, trial, tribulation, or struggle yet! Why? He Doesn’t Want Anything to Happen for You, PREMATURELY!

James 1:2-4, “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.” (MSG)

Keeping you in it, is helping to mature you, develop you and keep you from lacking in any way! It’s not designed to hurt you, BUT TO HELP YOU! So, don’t allow impatience to cause you to step into, or step out of anything…PREMATURELY!

Let God’s Timing Prevail and You’ll Produce What You’ve Been EXPECTING! Romans 8:22-25, “All around us we observe a PREGNANT creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply BIRTH PANGS. But it’s not only around us; IT’S WITHIN US. The Spirit of God is arousing us WITHIN. We’re also feeling the BIRTH PANGS. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for FULL DELIVERANCE. THAT IS WHY WAITING DOES NOT DIMINISH US, ANY MORE THAN WAITING DIMINISHES A PREGNANT MOTHER. WE ARE ENLARGED IN THE WAITING. WE, OF COURSE, DON’T SEE WHAT IS ENLARGING US. BUT THE LONGER WE WAIT, THE LARGER WE BECOME, AND THE MORE JOYFUL OUR EXPECTANCY.” (MSG)

Now, if that don’t make you happy, nothing else will! THE LONGER WE WAIT, THE LARGER WE BECOME AND SO DOES OUR EXPECTANCY!

People of God, Don’t Get Weary While Waiting! Galatians 6:9, “LET US NOT GROW WEARY OR BECOME DISCOURAGED IN DOING GOOD, FOR AT THE PROPER TIME WE WILL REAP, IF WE DO NOT GIVE IN.” (AMP) Listen: You Have Not Come This Far in God to Give Up, Give Out or Give In Now! SO DON’T!

Maybe right now there’s something you’ve been trusting God for, but the wait is getting pretty long: that financial breakthrough, that healing, a husband or a wife, a spiritual awakening in someone you love, a job, that answer to prayer. Well, let’s go back to our bread making machine. Evan and Yolanda started the process of cooking up an answer. For quite a while they didn’t see anything, hear anything, smell anything coming from their efforts to get bread. But silently, invisibly, it was getting done!

Daniel 10:12, “Daniel, don’t be afraid! God has listened to your prayers SINCE THE FIRST DAY…” (CEV) People of God, don’t be discouraged or afraid or worried or impatient…God has listened to your prayers SINCE THE FIRST DAY! He’s heard you, and believe it or not, while you’re waiting, He’s already answered! 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 ABOUT THEIR NEEDS, I WILL GO AHEAD AND ANSWER THEIR PRAYERS!” (MSG) How Amazing is Our Father? While We’re Still Talking About Our Needs, He’s Already Answered Our Prayers, (much like the bread in the maker), Silently, Invisibly, and Yet, IT’S GETTING DONE!

But that’s part of the problem for us…not that it’s being done, BUT THAT IT’S SILENT AND INVISIBLE! We don’t see anything, hear anything, or even smell anything…We can’t see or hear any activity from Heaven at all, it’s as if all the angels are on assignment to everyone, BUT US! It seems like nothing’s happening. It’s as if all of Heaven has gone deaf and mute as soon as we started praying. But I guess a gardener or a farmer could feel that way every year after they plant their seeds! For a while there’s just no VISIBLE SIGN that anything’s happening. But the processes of God most often happen OUT OF SIGHT! Why? Because that feeds and fuels our faith, and certainly guides our spiritual footsteps! 2 Corinthians 5:7, “FOR WE WALK BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT [LIVING OUR LIVES IN A MANNER CONSISTENT WITH OUR CONFIDENT BELIEF IN GOD’S PROMISES].” (AMP)

And then before you know it, the gardener and farmer, who sowed seed, but SAW NOTHING…yet, will soon SEE A WHOLE LOT! (AND SO WILL YOU!)

What we’ve hoped for will start to appear, in time, unless we get impatient and keep digging up the seed to see if God’s really doing anything! Remember, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. That’s Hebrews 11:1. The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality – faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses.]” (AMP) Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there…Focus Your Faith Again!

Your faith is in a Person, not in what you can see them doing. And that Person: well that’s your all-loving, all-powerful, always punctual God and I’ll tell you He’s cooking up something deliciously wonderful just for you. So don’t base your expectations or your emotions on what you can see or how much time seems to be left or if it seems like there’s no time left. You know, God can do in a day what man can’t do in a decade!

God may give you some hints of what’s in the oven, like the aroma that comes before the bread. But when it’s totally ready, – like the beeps on the bread maker – He’ll signal you in a way that you can’t miss. And it’ll be beautiful because it will be time! So, Don’t Get Weary in the Wait…it Will Be Worth it in the End!

Numbers 9:8, “Therefore, Moses said to them, “WAIT, and I will listen to what the Lord will command concerning you.” (AMP);

Job 14:14, “If a man dies, will he live again? I will WAIT all the days of my struggle Until my change and release will come.” (AMP);

Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will prepare [a prayer and a sacrifice] for You and watch and WAIT [for You to speak to my heart].” (AMP);

Psalm 25:3 Indeed, none of those who [EXPECTANTLY] WAIT for You will be ashamed…” (AMP);

Psalm 25:5, “Guide me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You [and only You] I WAIT [EXPECTANTLY] all the day long.” (AMP);

Psalm 25:21, “Let integrity and uprightness protect me, For I WAIT [EXPECTANTLY] for You.” (AMP);

Psalm 31:24, “Be strong and let your hearts take courage, All you who WAIT for and confidently EXPECT the Lord.” (AMP);

Psalm 33:20, “We WAIT [EXPECTANTLY] for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” (AMP);

Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord; WAIT PATIENTLY for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize)…” (AMP);

Psalm 37:34, “WAIT for and EXPECT the Lord and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; [In the end] when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.” (AMP);

Psalm 40:1, “I PATIENTLY WAITED, Lord, for You to hear my prayer. You listened.” (CEV)

Psalm 42:5, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and WAIT EXPECTANTLY for Him, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” (AMP);

Psalm 130:5-6, “With all my heart, I am WAITING, Lord, for You! I trust Your promises. I WAIT for You more eagerly than a soldier on guard duty waits for the dawn. Yes, I WAIT more eagerly than a soldier on guard duty waits for the dawn.” (CEV);

Isaiah 40:31, “But those who WAIT for the Lord [WHO EXPECT, LOOK FOR, AND HOPE IN HIM] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and NOT BECOME WEARY, They will walk and not grow tired.” (AMP);

Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we WAIT EAGERLY for it with PATIENCE AND COMPOSURE.” (AMP)

 “Let God work. Don’t block your blessings by moving too fast. When God is working on your behalf, be patient! Good things take time! Don’t get weary and don’t get in the way!” (Tony Gaskins, Jr.)

“Trust in God’s timing. It’s better to wait a while and have things fall into place, than to rush and have things fall apart.” (Author Unknown)

“Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t. Wait on God’s perfect timing and trust Him for the outcome.” (Pinterest)

“Joseph waited 13 years; Abraham waited 25 years; Moses waited 40 years; Jesus waited 30 years. If God is making you wait, you’re in good company.” (Pinterest)

“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)

“What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.” (John Ortberg)

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Sometimes we don’t understand why we are waiting. Often it is because God has something great in store, it’s just not the right time.” (Joel Osteen)

“The truth is we all get tired, we all get weary. In fact, if you never feel like giving up, then your dreams are too small. If you never feel like quitting, then you need to set some larger goals. When that pressure comes to get discouraged and to think about how you can’t take it anymore, that is completely normal. Every person feels that way at times.” (Joel Osteen)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #BePatient
Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Myths and Facts About Leftovers!”

 

“What is Your Appetite Costing You?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two other translations read like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #GuardYourAppetite
Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Common Plants and Trees That Trigger Allergies!”

“Unmasking Me!”

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Hebrews 4:12-13, “What God has said isn’t only alive and active! It is sharper than any double-edged sword. His Word can cut through our spirits and souls and through our joints and marrow, until it discovers the desires and thoughts of our hearts. NOTHING IS HIDDEN FROM GOD! HE SEES THROUGH EVERYTHING, AND WE WILL HAVE TO TELL HIM THE TRUTH.” (CEV)

I’m not a fan of Halloween, but I learned a lesson from it in a story a friend told. His story goes like this, “I had to stop at a convenience store one Halloween night. I was not “trick or treating” however. I was actually just trying to pay for the gas I put in my car. But that’s when I saw this interesting sign they had posted; it was a sign I had never seen anywhere else before. It simply read, “PLEASE REMOVE YOUR MASK BEFORE YOU ENTER.” However, I wasn’t wearing one. But to be honest, for one brief unhappy moment, I did remember what they used to tell me in school long after Halloween was over, some mean kids would yell, “Hey, Halloween’s over, take off your mask!” I wasn’t wearing one then either (kids can be cruel even when in jest). But the sign in the store was no joke or laughing matter by far. Obviously, they didn’t want someone to try to pull off a Halloween heist, wearing a mask that would conceal their identity from the security cameras. Which is why they were so adamant about no one entering the store that night wearing a mask.”

Well, we both took away the same interesting thought from his experience. We wondered if God feels that very same way about us when we enter prayer. Truth is, I can almost imagine a sign like that one at the store, being displayed at the entrance to the Throne Room of our Almighty God which we enter when we pray: “PLEASE REMOVE YOUR MASK BEFORE YOU ENTER.”

And you know why? Because God is not impressed by our religious words or our religious image. He is not interested in seeing the masks that we sometimes wear around various groups of people. He does not want to hear a recitation of the same tired old prayer script that we often repeat without thinking. He insists that we come as we really are – completely unmasked. You see, YOUR REAL GOD can only help the REAL YOU!

The futility of pretending or masquerading before God is abundantly clear in Hebrews 4, beginning with verse 12. It says: “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.”

In a nutshell, it’s useless to come before God pretending we feel how we’re “supposed” to feel instead of how we really do feel. It’s a waste of time to come with our rationalizations, our excuses and our cover-ups. We are all laid bare before Him! He sees the “COMPLETENESS OF A PERSON”, not a piece, not selected parts, but He sees all of us, our entirety, our complete and whole selves (good, bad, beautiful and ugly), not a piece of us is hidden or concealed from God. Instead we are exposed and revealed to Him! I mean after all, how can you hide any part of yourself from the God who made every part of you?

Psalm 139, “God, investigate my life;
 get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to You; even from a distance, You know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of Your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and You’re there, then up ahead and You’re there, too—Your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in! Is there anyplace I can go to avoid Your Spirit? to be out of Your sight? If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You. Oh yes, You shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank You, High God—You’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before You, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them—any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with You! And please, God, do away with wickedness for good! And you murderers—out of here!—all the men and women who belittle You, God, infatuated with cheap god-imitations. See how I hate those who hate You, God, see how I loathe all this godless arrogance; I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred. Your enemies are my enemies! Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for Yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (MSG)

Who, in their right mind, would ever attempt to hide anything from a God who knows them this well? It’s absolutely pointless! And yet, we still come to God in prayer wearing fig leaves! We’re still trying to play cover-up! We’re still trying to hide behind flawed masks.

But, there’s no point in attempting to play dress up when you’re spiritually and emotionally naked before Him anyway! So stop trying! Don’t cover it, dress it, lie about it or attempt to mask it! He knows all, so go ahead and tell it all! Let it go, for good and for real! Be real with Him. He won’t love you any less. I’ve discovered that sometimes we treat God as if He’s like people, and He’s not! He’s not waiting to drop on your head all the sins you’ve ever committed that He’s been holding over your head! He’s not waiting to use the information you share with Him against you. He’s not waiting on stand-by for just the right moment to trip you up. God does not delight in watching His children stumble, fail and fall. He’s waiting with arms open wide for us to run to Daddy and tell Him all about it…so what are you waiting for?

He already knows what’s behind the mask you show everyone else. You can’t and you won’t shock Him, no matter what you have to tell Him. You won’t surprise Him! But you will insult Him by coming to Him as if you’ve got it altogether! Because, if it’s one thing God does not appreciate its Performance! Don’t believe me? Listen to His Word:

Isaiah 1:13-17, “Quit your worship CHARADES. I can’t stand your trivial RELIGIOUS GAMES: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings – meeting, meetings, meetings – I can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You’ve worn Me out! I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next PRAYER-PERFORMANCE, I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I’ll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody. Go home and wash up. Clean up your ACT. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.” (MSG)

Now, does anything about that sound like God is interested in attending another Prayer Performance? Absolutely Not! He already knows we’ve got blood on our hands so why do we attempt to come to Him sounding like we’ve been spic-and-span clean all day long? And what’s worse is that He even tells us pray as long and as loud and as often as you like, I Will Not Be Listening! So what’s the point, I ask yet again, aren’t you tired of pretending with God in prayer? Because He’s clearly fed up with our pretense, so much so, that He’s even turned a deaf ear to us! Is that really the relationship you want with Him?

Listen, God desires to talk with us about absolutely anything, however, God operates on an invitation basis. He comes into your life when you open it up to Him. So He’s asking you to check your mask at the door of His Throne Room and come, as the hymn says, “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me.” That’s the relationship God is looking for. One of sincerity, one that is authentic and real. One without hypocrisy and pretense and performance! And yet, the one He’s getting instead says this in the Bible:

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

You see this is where we find ourselves when God is finally fed up! This is a people that either ignored God, or gave Him a religious performance, or sought after help from everyone and everything else but Him. And as the old saying goes, “even nice people have their limit.” Well, so does God! We love to talk about God’s love, mercy, grace and favor, but you do know He’s also Just? Think about it: If you were in a relationship with someone who never talked to you, shared anything with you and spent no time with you, how much longer would you actually stay in that relationship? How long before you have to say something…do something about it? Well, stop treating God any different. He’s screaming “I’m Right Here”, says the Word of God, and still we either go to the horoscopes, popular preachers, or we go to Him in pretense or we ignore Him altogether. Exactly how much longer do you think God will tolerate this kind of “relationship”, when if this was the treatment you received from a MAN/WOMAN relationship, you wouldn’t dare accept it!

We serve a God who is touchable, available, accessible, so why are we being distant or disguised? He’s waiting in the Throne Room for us to come and visit, what are we waiting for? After all, He only desires that you take off your mask before entering, is that really that hard?

Truth be told, He already knows about the affair, the habit, the addiction, the lie. He knows where you were, who you were with and what you did. So what exactly do you think you can hide from Him? How can you possibly think you can hide what can only be exposed and revealed before Him?

So why not go to Him, honestly, and tell Him that you were jealous, envious, coveting, malicious, angry, bitter, resentful? He knows already, He’s only trying to talk with you to make you better. He understands your failures, your stumbles, even your deliberate sin! And yet with knowing all of that the Scripture goes on to say:

“Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior]. 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.  Therefore let us [WITH PRIVILEGE] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and WITHOUT FEAR, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].” (Hebrews 4:14-16 AMP)

He knows exactly how it feels to be human! How can you ask for anymore encouragement than that? He knows, He understands, so you can come to Him Honestly about Anything! You will not catch Him off guard, you will not shock Him, you will not disappoint Him, you will not (and cannot) make Him love you any less, no matter what you tell Him, and that’s Good News! He loves us unconditionally! He doesn’t have hidden agendas and secret motives. He simply loves us His children and wants to Father us. The problem? We won’t let Him!

I’ll tell you this, I entered this New Year a whole lot lighter and only because I got sick and tired of going to God covered up! I was exhausted always trying to find the right words without sharing all of my wrong. I was tip-toeing around the throne room hoping He wouldn’t notice all the detours my feet had made from the path He laid out for my life. I love talking to God, I just didn’t want to take my mask off to do it! I didn’t want Him to see all the mistakes, missteps, mess, and misery! But I determined that going into this New Year my relationship with my Father was going to be better by being real! And I can honestly say I love talking to God now more than I ever have in the past. I mean the real me. All of the real me. The things that scare me, the things that cause me to panic and get nervous and anxious. I tell Him all the things that make me walk in fear. I’ve shared with God all of my insecurities. It honestly amazed me that I was saved for so long, and yet didn’t have a Real relationship with God where I could be naked and not ashamed and tell Him everything! Big things, little things, silly things. It doesn’t matter what it is, the point is I’m His daughter and He’s my Dad and at any given moment He wants to hear from the real me! My prayer life has become more personal, real, and practical. I feel God’s love and see His guidance and hear His compassion. I dropped a lot of weight when I took off my mask before Him! I finally felt safe, protected, and lovingly carried.

Which reminded me of my niece. She got into trouble in school and she had to tell me what happened. I told her, go ahead, tell me (as she stood in front of me). She said, “okay, but can I sit on your lap where it’s safe to talk.” I thought it was funny and adorable. But it also reminds me of how I feel in my prayer life with God now. It’s not standing in the pulpit with the mic and proclaiming an awesome prolific, eloquent, heart-wrenching prayer. Nope, it’s me climbing into my Dad’s lap, where it’s safe to talk, so I can tell Him all that I’ve done wrong so He can help me get it right. If you don’t feel that way when you pray, let this be your admonishment to change that today.

Take your mask off and go to God for real! Pour it all out to Him, He won’t drown in your sorrows and woes I promise you. Nothing you say to Him will take Him under. He can carry it and you. So today, no mask, no cover-up, no disguise, no make-up, no pretense, no performance. Just you, the real you. The at home in pajamas, scarf, no make-up, lounging on the sofa watching television eating ice cream YOU! The one that’s not in hiding, but comfortable in their safe place. God is your safe place. You can take your ugly to Him, and you don’t even have to get pretty to do so! Tell Him the truth about how it and they made you feel; tell Him about the job (or lack thereof); tell Him about the kids, the marriage, the waiting, the loneliness, the money, the depression. Tell Him about the decisions you have to make; tell Him what happened at school, at church, at your friend’s house. Tell Him what happened last night. Tell Him about your hurts, even the ones from decades ago. Tell Him all about your fears and tears. Tell Him about the midnight worries; the overeating; the substance indulgences. Tell Him that you’ve lost your way; that your fire has dimmed to ashes; tell Him about your lukewarm feelings about church; tell Him that you have no idea what your gifts or purpose is.

Sons and Daughters, Your Dad wants you, the real you! So why walk around broken when He’s the mender of all things broken? Give Him your fragments; your pieces; all the chipped parts of your life that look like they’ve been over-due for a make-over long ago! Remove the mask and talk to your Father. No need for an eloquent speech; no need to try to be deep and spooky; no need to speak in ten thousand tongues of fire; no need crawl in fear into the Throne Room; no need to put your ‘church clothes’ on to meet with God; just take YOU, all of YOU, the real YOU to Him! Take Him all of your issues, problems, worries, struggles, complexities. All of it!

Take it to Him, Today, Unmasked, God is Waiting to See and Hear From the Real You!

Luke 12:1-3, “[CAN’T HIDE BEHIND A RELIGIOUS MASK] By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee PHONINESS. YOU CAN’T KEEP YOUR TRUE SELF HIDDEN FOREVER; BEFORE LONG YOU’LL BE EXPOSED. YOU CAN’T HIDE BEHIND A RELIGIOUS MASK FOREVER; SOONER OR LATER THE MASK WILL SLIP AND YOUR TRUE FACE WILL BE KNOWN. YOU CAN’T WHISPER ONE THING IN PRIVATE AND PREACH THE OPPOSITE IN PUBLIC; THE DAY’S COMING WHEN THOSE WHISPERS WILL BE REPEATED ALL OVER TOWN.” (MSG)

Listen: No More Pharisee Phoniness, No More Religious Masks, No More Hidden You! Today is Your Day to be Unmasked and Real! No Act, No Roles, No Lines, No Script, No Performance, No Costumes, Just the Unmasked and Real 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)

“Find God – He isn’t hiding from you, you’re hiding from Him.” (Paramahansa Yogananda)

“You can run with a lie but you can’t hide from the truth. It will catch you.” (Author Unknown)

“You can speak with spiritual eloquence, pray in public, and maintain a holy appearance, but it is your behavior that will reveal your true character.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“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)

“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)

“In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of Christ’s hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds on His hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robe of His righteousness.” (Jonathan Edwards)

“Christian, that sin which first came between you and God is bad, but that is not the last step in the progress of sin. The most guilty part in this quadruple sin is to hide it, deny it, ignore it, refuse to confess it, refuse to repent of it.” (John R. Rice)

“Don’t hide your scars, wear them as proof that God heals.” (Author Unknown)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #BeReal
Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Foods With Vitamin C, Besides Oranges!”

“The Danger of Shallow Roots!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church, what has happened to us?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #BeDeeplyRooted
Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “12 Powerhouse Vegetables You Should Be Eating and Why?!”

 

“Winning Sides, But Losing Souls!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saints, this ought not to be so!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged
Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “15 Signs You May Have an Iron Deficiency!”