“NEVER Make small requests of a BIG GOD!”

Mark 6:1-6, “Jesus left there and went to His hometown, accompanied by His disciples. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were amazed. Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given Him? What are these remarkable miracles He is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” HE COULD NOT DO ANY MIRACLES THERE, EXCEPT LAY HIS HANDS ON A FEW SICK PEOPLE AND HEAL THEM. HE WAS AMAZED AT THEIR LACK OF FAITH…” (AMPC)

One of my absolute favorite childhood memories is going fishing with my dad. Now, I haven’t done as much fishing over the years as an adult, however, I still have friends who really love to fish! So, in their honor I’ve got to tell you this great fisherman story. It seems that two men were out fishing in separate boats. And one was watching the other with growing curiosity because he’d catch a fish, he’d keep it, then he’d catch another fish and he’d throw that one away. And he just kept doing this, catch after catch. The really strange part was that it was always the BIG ones that he threw away. The other fisherman couldn’t help but wonder, what kind of fisherman is this? Well, finally, the man watching all of that couldn’t contain his curiosity any longer, so he called out the obvious question, “How come you’re throwing away the BIG ones?” The man answered, “Oh, because I only have an eight-inch frying pan!”

Really?!

Wouldn’t it have made better sense to simply buy a larger frying pan? One that made room for something BIGGER!

I guess if small is what you’re prepared for, then small is all you’ll ever get. Well, that’s what the people of Nazareth found out when Jesus came home. In Mark 6:1-6, the Bible says, “Jesus left and returned to his hometown with his disciples. The next Sabbath he taught in the Jewish meeting place. Many of the people who heard him were amazed and asked, “How can he do all this? Where did he get such wisdom and the power to work these miracles? Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary? Aren’t James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon his brothers? Don’t his sisters still live here in our town?” The people were very unhappy because of what he was doing. But Jesus said, “Prophets are honored by everyone, except the people of their hometown and their relatives and their own family.”JESUS COULD NOT WORK ANY MIRACLES THERE, EXCEPT TO HEAL A FEW SICK PEOPLE BY PLACING HIS HANDS ON THEM…” (CEV)

The King James Version says it pretty bluntly, “HE COULD DO NO MIGHTY WORK THERE BECAUSE OF THEIR UNBELIEF.” WOW!

Look at Mark 6:5-6 in a few translations:

“And because of their UNBELIEF, he COULDN’T do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a FEW sick people and heal them. And he was AMAZED at their UNBELIEF…” (NLT)

“So Jesus could do no powerful works there. But He did put His hands on a FEW sick people and healed them. He WONDERED because they had no faith…” (NLV)

“Now He COULD DO NO mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a FEW sick people and healed them. And He MARVELED because of their UNBELIEF…” (NKJV)

“So Jesus was NOT ABLE TO WORK ANY miracles there except to heal a FEW sick people by putting his hands on them. He was AMAZED at how many people had NO FAITH…” (NCV)

“Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn’t able to do MUCH OF ANYTHING THERE—he laid hands on a FEW sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their STUBBORNNESS…” Vss. 4-6 MSG)

“And because of their UNBELIEF he COULDN’T DO ANY MIGHTY MIRACLES among them except to place his hands on a FEW sick people and heal them. And he COULD HARDLY ACCEPT the fact that they WOULDN’T BELIEVE in him…” (TLB)

“He was NOT ABLE TO PERFORM ANY miracles there, except that he placed his hands on a FEW sick people and healed them. He was GREATLY SURPRISED, because the people DID NOT HAVE FAITH… (GNT)

“He was UNABLE to do any miracles there, except that he placed his hands on a FEW sick people and healed them. He was APPALLED BY THEIR DISBELIEF…” (CEB)

“And He was NOT ABLE TO DO EVEN ONE WORK OF POWER THERE, except that He laid His hands on a FEW sickly people [and] cured them. And He MARVELED because of their UNBELIEF (THEIR LACK OF FAITH IN HIM)…” (AMPC)

Let me tell you, it’s a pretty scary incident for those of us who are church folks. Because the people who knew the MOST about Jesus back then expected the LEAST and they got it! “…except that He laid His hands on a FEW sickly people [and] cured them…” Can you imagine? Jesus (all powerful) is in the midst of them, in their very presence, and all He could do was heal a FEW people! They had a very small frying pan, and it wasn’t BIG enough for the kinds of things Jesus could do! NAZARETH WAS THE ONE PLACE JESUS WENT WHERE THEY HAD TO SETTLE FOR THE NATURAL AND MISS THE SUPERNATURAL. And the scary part is that today we’re Nazareth! We Bible-believers, we’re the ones who know a lot about Jesus, just like His neighbors in Nazareth. We analyze things just like they did. But those kinds of people are often so close, so used to Jesus, they put Him in a box, limiting Him to work the way they’ve always seen Him work before, or the way they think He ought to work. I’ll tell you, He will not stay in our limited little box! There’s nothing Jesus can’t do, and yet, here, in His own home-town, among people He knew and those who knew Him, He couldn’t do any more than heal a few folks! They missed out on receiving the “mighty miracles and mighty works” and instead their unbelief caused them to settle for receiving small from a BIG God!

“Unbelief” is defined as “skepticism especially in matters of religious faith”. “Skepticism” is defined as “a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions; a person who doubts the truth of Christianity and other religions; an atheist.” Its Greek origin ‘skeptikos’, from ‘skepsis’ literally means ‘inquiry; doubt’. “Disbelief” is defined as “inability or refusal to accept that something is true or real; lack of faith.” In case you were unaware, this is NOT to be the mindset of believers! We don’t have to question our God, and even when we don’t always understand Him, we yet trust Him! We are NOT to be a people who walk in doubt, disbelief, or a lack faith! Quite the contrary, we walk BY faith!

2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we WALK BY FAITH [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus WE WALK] NOT BY SIGHT OR APPEARANCE.” (AMPC)

As believers, our lifestyle, mindset, and conduct are all to hold the conviction of walking by faith! We don’t focus on sight or appearance, we focus on our God! We don’t allow disbelief to distract us! Hebrews 12:1-3, “Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, LOOKING AWAY [FROM ALL THAT WILL DISTRACT] TO JESUS, WHO IS THE LEADER AND THE SOURCE OF OUR FAITH [GIVING THE FIRST INCENTIVE FOR OUR BELIEF] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds.” (AMPC)

Let this serve as your encouragement to trust God no matter what or who you’re facing! Regardless of the tests, the diagnosis, the financial struggles (God is still able to do something BIG on your behalf)!

We don’t want to position ourselves where Jesus is “amazed, marveled, surprised and appalled” at our unbelief! Instead, let’s pray that God increases our faith (Luke 17:5, “The apostles said to the Lord, INCREASE OUR FAITH (that trust and confidence that spring from our belief in God).” (AMPC); renews our hope (Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, TO GIVE YOU HOPE IN YOUR FINAL OUTCOME.” (AMPC); deepens our trust (Proverbs 3:5-6, “Lean on, TRUST IN, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” (AMPC); and strengthens our conviction (Hebrews 10:35, “DO NOT, THEREFORE, FLING AWAY YOUR FEARLESS CONFIDENCE, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.” AMPC)

Let this be the year of not just renewed faith, but increased faith. We lived by our mustard seed faith long enough in many areas of our lives. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with mustard seed faith! (Matthew 17:20, “He said to them, Because of the LITTLENESS OF YOUR FAITH [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have FAITH [THAT IS LIVING] LIKE A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED, YOU CAN SAY TO THIS MOUNTAIN, MOVE FROM HERE TO YONDER PLACE, AND IT WILL MOVE; AND NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE TO YOU.” AMPC) Yes, mustard seed faith can move mountains, but our faith should be growing and not stagnant at the same level as when we first believed! We need a faith that grows and levels up! Romans 1:17, “For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both SPRINGING FROM FAITH and LEADING TO FAITH [DISCLOSED THROUGH THE WAY OF FAITH THAT AROUSES TO MORE FAITH]. As it is written, The man who through FAITH is just and upright shall live and shall live by FAITH.” (AMPC) Last year will be the LAST YEAR that we walk in fear instead of faith! Whether there’s a layoff; a diagnosis; the loss of a loved one; the car wrecks; the lights are shut off; WE WILL WALK BY FAITH, AND WE’LL EVEN WALK IN INCREASED FAITH AS THE MONTHS GO BY!

Let us cry out collectively this year, “LORD, HELP MY UNBELIEF!” Mark 9:24, “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; HELP THOU MINE UNBELIEF.” (KJV)

“The father instantly cried out, “I DO BELIEVE, BUT HELP ME OVERCOME MY UNBELIEF!” (NLT)

“At once the father cried out. He said with tears in his eyes, “LORD, I HAVE FAITH. HELP MY WEAK FAITH TO BE STRONGER!” (NLV)

“Immediately the father cried out, “I DO BELIEVE! HELP ME TO BELIEVE MORE!” (NCV)

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “THEN I BELIEVE. HELP ME WITH MY DOUBTS!” (MSG)

“The father instantly replied, “I DO HAVE FAITH; OH, HELP ME TO HAVE MORE!” (TLB)

“The father at once cried out, “I DO HAVE FAITH, BUT NOT ENOUGH. HELP ME HAVE MORE!” (GNT)

“The child’s father cried out at once, “I BELIEVE! HELP MY LACK OF FAITH.” (GWT)

“Right away the boy’s father shouted, “I DO HAVE FAITH! PLEASE HELP ME TO HAVE EVEN MORE.” (CEV)

“At once the father of the boy gave [an eager, piercing, inarticulate] cry with tears, and he said, LORD, I BELIEVE! [CONSTANTLY] HELP MY WEAKNESS OF FAITH!” (AMPC)

Many of us have faith, but this is the year of faith expansion! This is the year that our faith is going to grow to the point that we simply believe God no matter the situation or circumstance. We will not allow doubts; fears; lack of faith; nervousness; panic attacks and anxiety to shake our faith! This year, our faith will be unwavering and unmovable!

Mark 11:23-24, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ AND DOES NOT DOUBT IN HIS HEART [IN GOD’S UNLIMITED POWER], BUT BELIEVES THAT WHAT HE SAYS IS GOING TO TAKE PLACE, IT WILL BE DONE FOR HIM [IN ACCORDANCE WITH GOD’S WILL].  For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], BELIEVE [WITH CONFIDENT TRUST] that you have received them, and they will be given to you.” (AMPC)

Romans 4:18-22, “[For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, HOPED IN FAITH that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised, So [numberless] shall your descendants be. HE DID NOT WEAKEN IN FAITH when he considered the [utter] impotence of his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or [when he considered] the barrenness of Sarah’s [deadened] womb. NO UNBELIEF OR DISTRUST MADE HIM WAVER (DOUBTINGLY QUESTION) CONCERNING THE PROMISE OF GOD, BUT HE GREW STRONG AND WAS EMPOWERED BY FAITH as he gave praise and glory to God, Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised. THAT IS WHY HIS FAITH WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS (RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD).” (AMPC)

People of God, be encouraged! No matter what you face, God is there to face it with you, and He will ALWAYS be BIGGER than anything you face! So whatever requests you need to make of God this year, make them BIGGER! Why? Because He’s BIGGER! Abraham had big, wide and deep faith that was unshakeable, unmovable, and unquestioning! He simply believed that the Promises of God are still Yay and Amen! And those same Promises are yours too! I reiterate, whatever small request you were going to make of God…MAKE IT BIGGER! Do Not Allow Disbelief to Insult Your God!

In Mark 6, Jesus could do no miracles and only heal a few due to Unbelief. Just imagine the size of the Miracles He COULD do and the Many Healing’s He COULD accomplish if you would simply Believe!

Remember the opening story? It’s not that the fisherman didn’t catch BIG fish, he just didn’t make sure he had a frying pan BIG enough to accommodate the catch! This my friend will be your Rehoboth year! This will be your year of God Making Room for your Blessings! Genesis 26:22, “And he moved away from there and dug another well, and for that one they did not quarrel. HE NAMED IT REHOBOTH [ROOM], SAYING, FOR NOW THE LORD HAS MADE ROOM FOR US, AND WE SHALL BE FRUITFUL IN THE LAND.” (AMPC) Pay attention, God made the room, but Isaac named it Rehoboth! It’s time you start speaking by faith your Rehoboth! For not only will God make room for you this year, but you will be fruitful as well! You will receive the blessing with a bonus, and all you have to do is BELIEVE!

“I will not talk to God about how big my problems are. I will talk to my problems about how BIG my God is. This is my declaration.” (Joel Osteen)

“How big is your God? The size of your God determines the size of everything.” (Howard G. Hendricks)

“Sometimes when we get overwhelmed we forget how BIG God is.” (Aiden Wilson Tozer)

“I think God calls and encourages us to dream big, but sometimes we put God in a box in a very small  way, when God wants us to look outside the box.” (Jodi Benson)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “BEST and WORST Salads For Your Health”

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“Lift, Look and Live!”

John 3:14-16, “And just as Moses LIFTED up the serpent in the desert [on a pole], so must [so it is necessary that] the Son of Man be LIFTED up [on the cross], In order that everyone who believes in Him [who cleaves to Him, trusts Him, and relies on Him] may not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] LIVE forever! For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” (AMPC)

During Pete’s college years, his wife Nina spent part of a summer as a counselor at a Bible camp that was buried deep in the mountains. I mean like deep in the mountains – deep enough in the mountains that the rattlesnakes are plentiful and feel right at home! One day as she was hiking with her girls through the woods, they all heard what they thought was just a branch or a stick breaking. Until they realized that one of the girls had been struck in the leg by a rattlesnake. Now Nina was someone you wanted to have around you when there was a crisis because she’s always a cool head. She ran to the nearby camp and immediately went for the box in the infirmary that said Snake Bite Kit on it. But her heart sank when she opened it. Why? Because the LIFE-SAVING KIT WAS EMPTY! Thankfully, they were able to get that girl to a hospital in time to save her life, NO THANKS TO THE EMPTY SNAKE BITE KIT!

It’s a terrible thing to realize that the thing that CLAIMS to be able to SAVE YOUR LIFE really has NOTHING THAT CAN HELP! As you read the pages of the Bible, you discover that the religions of the world are much like that. Every religion motivates its followers with the same promise – some form of heaven, and eternal life if you’re a “good follower” of “whatever” or “whoever.” But sadly, religion does not, for the most part, offer a cure for the deadly infection we have which is SIN AND ITS ETERNAL DEATH PENALTY. And just in case you didn’t know it, there’s a huge difference between RELIGION and RELATIONSHIP!

“Christianity is not a religion or a philosophy, but a relationship and a lifestyle. The core of that lifestyle is thinking of others as Jesus did, instead of ourselves.” (Rick Warren)

“Religion wants to see your report card, but Jesus wants to see your heart.” (Jarrid Wilson)

“Jesus didn’t come to start a religion. He came to have a relationship with you. He has a purpose and a destiny for your life.” (Author Unknown)

“Jesus wants a Relationship; Satan wants Religion.” (Author Unknown)

“Jesus didn’t die so you can have a religion, He died so you can have a relationship with your Heavenly Father.” (Author Unknown)

“Christianity is a relationship not a religion. I did not convert, I was reborn.” (Author Unknown)

“Religion puts you in bondage, while Jesus sets you free. Religion makes you blind while Jesus makes you see” (Tia Pugh)

“Salvation is not a religion. It’s not rules or regulations or rituals. Salvation is a relationship. That relationship doesn’t begin when you get to Heaven; it begins here on Earth.” (Rick Warren)

“Religion can be anything! But true Christianity is God coming to man in a personal relationship.” (Billy Graham)

I Reiterate, There’s a HUGE Difference Between Religion and Relationship!

Speaking of relationship, there may be no more famous verse in all the Bible than John 3:16. It says, “GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON, THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.” Interestingly enough, the verses that immediately precede that description of God’s plan for saving us talks about a snake. In John 3:14-15, He says, “Just as Moses LIFTED UP the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be LIFTED UP, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal LIFE. God so loved the world…”

In order to understand this snake thing, and more importantly, to understand the only way your sins can be forgiven and you can go to heaven, is to go back to Numbers 21 in the Old Testament where this snake incident took place. Venomous snakes have attacked God’s people in the desert, and many of those people are dying. So, God says to Moses, “‘make a snake and PUT IT UP ON A POLE; anyone who is bitten can LOOK at it and LIVE'” (Numbers 21:8-9). The Amplified Bible reads like this: “And the Lord said to Moses, Make a fiery serpent [of bronze] and SET IT ON A POLE; and everyone who is bitten, when he LOOKS at it, shall LIVE. And Moses made a serpent of bronze and PUT IT ON A POLE, and if a serpent had bitten any man, when he LOOKED to the serpent of bronze [attentively, expectantly, with a steady and absorbing gaze], he LIVED.” (AMPC) Their only hope was to LOOK at what God told Moses to LIFT up to save them.

FOR US, THAT IS JESUS, GOD’S SON, DYING ON THAT CROSS. John 12:32, “And I, if and when I am LIFTED UP from the earth [ON THE CROSS], WILL DRAW AND ATTRACT ALL MEN [GENTILES AS WELL AS JEWS] TO MYSELF.” (AMPC) We’ve all been bitten by the deadly snake called SIN. None of the great moralities, none of the great religions can possibly pay the death penalty for our sin. You see, getting to Heaven isn’t just about putting enough good on one side of the scale to balance the bad on the other; it’s about satisfying a death penalty, and it took Jesus Christ’s death to do that. You have to LOOK to Him as the ONLY ONE who can save you. John 14:6, “JESUS SAID TO HIM, I AM THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE; NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT BY (THROUGH) ME.” (AMPC); Acts 4:12, “AND THERE IS SALVATION IN AND THROUGH NO ONE ELSE, FOR THERE IS NO OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN GIVEN AMONG MEN BY AND IN WHICH WE MUST BE SAVED.” (AMPC); Romans 10:9-10, “BECAUSE IF YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND CONFESS WITH YOUR LIPS THAT JESUS IS LORD AND IN YOUR HEART BELIEVE (ADHERE TO, TRUST IN, AND RELY ON THE TRUTH) THAT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, YOU WILL BE SAVED. FOR WITH THE HEART A PERSON BELIEVES (ADHERES TO, TRUSTS IN, AND RELIES ON CHRIST) AND SO IS JUSTIFIED (DECLARED RIGHTEOUS, ACCEPTABLE TO GOD), AND WITH THE MOUTH HE CONFESSES (DECLARES OPENLY AND SPEAKS OUT FREELY HIS FAITH) AND CONFIRMS [HIS] SALVATION.” (AMPC); Matthew 1:21, “SHE WILL BEAR A SON, AND YOU SHALL CALL HIS NAME JESUS [THE GREEK FORM OF THE HEBREW JOSHUA, WHICH MEANS SAVIOR], FOR HE WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS [THAT IS, PREVENT THEM FROM FAILING AND MISSING THE TRUE END AND SCOPE OF LIFE, WHICH IS GOD].” (AMPC)

One of the First things you need to keep in mind is that JESUS is your ONLY means to Salvation! No matter how many other ‘ways’ you may hear about, it is Jesus Alone! MATTHEW 17:8, “AND WHEN THEY RAISED THEIR EYES, THEY SAW NO ONE BUT JESUS ONLY.” (AMPC) Which reminds me of the old hymn “Jesus Only” by Charles P. Jones. Just one verse says: “JESUS ONLY is my motto, JESUS ONLY is my song, JESUS ONLY is my heart tho’t, JESUS ONLY all day long. NONE BUT JESUS, Savior, Captain, NONE BUT JESUS help me sing, fill me ever with They presence, Jesus, Jesus, Lord and King.” If you take nothing else away from this devotional, remember always, that Jesus ONLY is your way to Salvation!

Truth is, we the CHURCH have to get back to this being our job and responsibility, to make sure that we’re LIFTING up JESUS ONLY in our Houses of Worship. We’ve become so focused on lifting names; positions; and gifts, that we’ve lost sight of LIFTING Jesus! But the Scripture says: “AND I, IF AND WHEN I AM LIFTED UP FROM THE EARTH [ON THE CROSS], WILL DRAW AND ATTRACT ALL MEN [GENTILES AS WELL AS JEWS] TO MYSELF.” (John 12:32 AMPC) Jesus was already lifted up on the cross, He was crucified and resurrected and now sits at the right hand of the Father ever living to make intercession for us. So, Jesus is NOT being crucified again.

THEREFORE, IT’S OUR JOB AND RESPONSIBILITY AS BELIEVERS, THE CHURCH, AND CHRISTIANS TO LIFT HIM UP! Remember These Scriptures About Lifting! Nehemiah 8:6, “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, LIFTING up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with faces to the ground.” (AMPC); Psalm 63:4, “So will I bless You while I live; I will LIFT up my hands in Your name.” (AMPC); Lamentations 3:41, “Let us LIFT up our hearts and our hands [and then with them mount up in prayer] to God in heaven:” (AMPC)

WE ARE NOT TO LIFT UP OURSELVES! Psalm 75:4-7, “I said to the arrogant and boastful, Deal not arrogantly [do not boast]; and to the wicked, LIFT NOT UP THE HORN [OF PERSONAL AGGRANDIZEMENT]. LIFT NOT UP YOUR [AGGRESSIVE] HORN ON HIGH, speak not with a stiff neck and insolent arrogance. FOR NOT FROM THE EAST NOR FROM THE WEST NOR FROM THE SOUTH COME PROMOTION AND LIFTING UP. BUT GOD IS THE JUDGE! HE PUTS DOWN ONE AND LIFTS UP ANOTHER.” (AMPC); Isaiah 2:12-14, “For there shall be a day of the Lord of hosts against all who are proud and haughty and against all who are LIFTED UP—and they shall be brought low— [The wrath of God will begin by coming down] against all the cedars of Lebanon [west of the Jordan] that are HIGH AND LIFTED UP, and against all the oaks of Bashan [east of the Jordan], And [after that] against all the high mountains and all the hills that are LIFTED UP,” (AMPC); Daniel 5:20, 23, “But when his heart was LIFTED UP and his mind and spirit were hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was deposed from his kingly throne and his glory was taken from him;… And you have LIFTED YOURSELF UP AGAINST THE LORD OF HEAVEN, and the vessels of His house have been brought before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know; but the God in Whose hand your breath is and Whose are all your ways you have not honored and glorified [but have dishonored and disgraced].” (AMPC);

HOWEVER, GOD IS SO GREAT THAT EVEN WHEN WE LIFT HIM, HE IN TURN LIFTS US! 1 Samuel 2:7-8, “The Lord makes poor and makes rich; HE BRINGS LOW AND HE LIFTS UP. He raises up the poor out of the dust and LIFTS UP the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with nobles and inherit the throne of glory. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He has set the world upon them.” (AMPC); 2 Samuel 22:49, “Who brought me out from my enemies. You also LIFTED ME UP above those who rose up against me; You delivered me from the violent man.” (AMPC); Job 5:11, “So that He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn HE LIFTS to safety.” (AMPC); Psalm 3:3, “But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the LIFTER of my head.” (AMPC); Psalm 18:48, “Who delivers me from my enemies; yes, You LIFT me up above those who rise up against me; You deliver me from the man of violence.” (AMPC); Isaiah 11:11, “And in that day the Lord shall again LIFT up His hand a second time to recover (acquire and deliver) the remnant of His people which is left, from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam [in Persia], from Shinar [Babylonia], from Hamath [in Upper Syria], and from the countries bordering on the [Mediterranean] Sea.” (AMPC); Mark 9:27, “But Jesus took [a strong grip of] his hand and began LIFTING him up, and he stood.” (AMPC); 1 Corinthians 2:7, “But rather what we are setting forth is a wisdom of God once hidden [from the human understanding] and now revealed to us by God—[that wisdom] which God devised and decreed before the ages for our glorification [to LIFT us into the glory of His presence].” (AMPC); James 4:10, “Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will LIFT you up and make your lives significant].” (AMPC)

I Reiterate, We Are to LIFT JESUS; We Are Not to LIFT Ourselves; and God in Turn Loves Us Enough to Even LIFT US!

However, in this scenario, we are to focus on LIFTING JESUS!

John 3:14-16, “And just as Moses LIFTED up the serpent in the desert [on a pole], so must [so it is necessary that] the Son of Man be LIFTED up [on the cross],In order that everyone who believes in Him [who cleaves to Him, trusts Him, and relies on Him] may not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] LIVE forever!For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” (AMPC)

Jesus Loved Us Enough to Be Lifted On the Cross, and Now It’s Our Turn to Lift Him in Our Prayers, Praise, Worship, Services, Lives and Lifestyles. There are lives and souls at stake! There are still sheep that have yet to be added to the Lord’s fold, and it’s our responsibility (as sheep) to make sure they SEE HIM LIFTED UP HIGH! Our sermons and Sunday school lessons need to LIFT JESUS; the songs the praise teams and choirs sing need to LIFT JESUS; the way we treat people (friends, family, foes, coworkers, and even the unsaved needs to LIFT JESUS! Our behavior and conduct and mindset should all LIFT JESUS! We are created in His imagine and likeness; we are His believers, church, disciples, witnesses and ambassadors. And with that comes the responsibility to ensure everything about us LIFTS JESUS! Why? Because when we LIFT HIM; the people LOOK ON HIM; the people are SAVED BY HIM; and the people LIVE FOR HIM for all eternity! Isn’t that worth us focusing more on LIFTING JESUS instead of focusing so much on lifting ourselves!?

God’s people in the desert suffered snake bites, and there was no snake bite emergency kit to reach for. No, Moses had the responsibility to LIFT up the serpent that the people would look upon it and be healed. If God can provide healing by the people looking up at a serpent on a pole; imagine what He can provide for the people who LOOK to JESUS and LIVE! They will be healed; saved; delivered; restored; redeemed; forgiven; justified; made whole; have peace and joy added to every part and portion of their lives. And all we need to do is to make sure we LIFT HIM so the people can LOOK to HIM and LIVE!

Let us not be so concerned with people lifting us and looking up to us! WE are not the focal point! (2 Corinthians 4:7)

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. THIS MAKES IT CLEAR THAT OUR GREAT POWER IS FROM GOD, NOT FROM OURSELVES.” (NLT)

“We have this light from God in our human bodies. THIS SHOWS THAT THE POWER IS FROM GOD. IT IS NOT FROM OURSELVES.” (NLV)

“But we have this treasure in earthen containers, so that the EXTRAORDINARY GREATNESS OF THE POWER WILL BE OF GOD AND NOT FROM OURSELVES;” (NASB)

“…If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. THAT’S TO PREVENT ANYONE FROM CONFUSING GOD’S INCOMPARABLE POWER WITH US. AS IT IS, THERE’S NOT MUCH CHANCE OF THAT. YOU KNOW FOR YOURSELVES THAT WE’RE NOT MUCH TO LOOK AT…” (vss. 7-12 MSG)

“But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. EVERYONE CAN SEE THAT THE GLORIOUS POWER WITHIN MUST BE FROM GOD AND IS NOT OUR OWN.” (TLB)

“Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, IN ORDER TO SHOW THAT THE SUPREME POWER BELONGS TO GOD, NOT TO US.” (GNT)

“Our bodies are made of clay, yet we have the treasure of the Good News in them. THIS SHOWS THAT THE SUPERIOR POWER OF THIS TREASURE BELONGS TO GOD AND DOESN’T COME FROM US.” (GWT)

“We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. THE REAL POWER COMES FROM GOD AND NOT FROM US.” (CEV)

“However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, THAT THE GRANDEUR AND EXCEEDING GREATNESS OF THE POWER MAY BE SHOWN TO BE FROM GOD AND NOT FROM OURSELVES.” (AMPC)

CHURCH, ITS NOT ABOUT LIFTING US, IT’S ABOUT LIFTING JESUS! Let’s shift our focus back to where it should be, on JESUS!

John 12:30-33, “Jesus said, “The voice didn’t come for me but for you. At this moment the world is in crisis. Now Satan, the ruler of this world, will be thrown out. And I, as I am LIFTED up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me.” He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death.” (MSG)

Jesus knew He came to DIE that we might LIVE, and all we have to do is LIFT Him! Let our Houses of Worship not be like the opening story where a person in dire need to be saved, had someone reach for what would save them, and unfortunately it was empty! Let our churches not be emptied of the name of Jesus! Not the man upstairs; not ‘Him’ or even just using a vague term as ‘god’, but let’s make sure we are LIFTING the name of JESUS! We don’t want our churches to be FILLED with music, dancing, clapping, spinning, speaking in tongues, running, leaping, jumping, hollering and falling out. None of that saves souls. It’s not bad in and of itself, but people are saved by JESUS not our JUMPING! This weekend as we celebrate once again the Lord’s Supper, let’s remember the life, death, burial, resurrection and second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we LIFT the wafer (His Body) and the juice (His Blood), let’s remember to LIFT HIM and HIS NAME. As we LIFT HIM; the people will LOOK to HIM; and LIVE!

Matthew 19:29, “And anyone and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for My name’s sake will receive many [even a hundred] times more and will inherit ETERNAL LIFE.” (AMPC)

Acts 13:48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified (praised and gave thanks for) the Word of God; and as many as were destined (appointed and ordained) to ETERNAL LIFE believed (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Jesus as the Christ and their Savior).” (AMPC)

Romans 6:22-23, “But now since you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is ETERNAL LIFE. For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is ETERNAL LIFE through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord.” (AMPC)

Galatians 6:8, “For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap ETERNAL LIFE.” (AMPC)

1 Timothy 1:16, “But I obtained mercy for the reason that in me, as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might show forth and display all His perfect long-suffering and patience for an example to [encourage] those who would thereafter believe on Him for [the gaining of] ETERNAL LIFE.” (AMPC)

Titus 3:7, “[And He did it in order] that we might be justified by His grace (by His favor, wholly undeserved), [that we might be acknowledged and counted as conformed to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action], and that we might become heirs of ETERNAL LIFE according to [our] hope.” (AMPC)

1 John 5:13, “I write this to you who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) the name of the Son of God [in the peculiar services and blessings conferred by Him on men], so that you may know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have life, yes, ETERNAL LIFE.” (AMPC)

SAINTS, LET’S LIFT JESUS, LOOK TO HIM AND LIVE!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “What Happens When You Lose A Lot of Weight?”

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“ALWAYS the VICTOR, NEVER the VICTIM”

Romans 8:37, “The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties.” (GWT)

Now, CNN doesn’t often do news stories about high school football players, but there was something very special about this South Carolina player they described this way: “Sometimes the biggest heart on the field can fit into the smallest player.” Well, the name of the player – Kos, a Siberian orphan, adopted by an American family, and as they told the story, he has no legs. He lost them the day he and his friend decided to hop aboard a freight train. For some reason, his friend pushed him, and he landed under the wheels of the train. Now, in this story, he was playing nose tackle on one of his high school’s football teams. As hard as that might be to imagine, he had several solo tackles the past season; he recovered two fumbles; he was such a threat that other teams had to assign two players to defend against him. He would just swing into the fray and knock them down with his strong arms and his head.  His heart on the field and his infectious personality affected more than one school. The football coach at Clemson University brought Kos in to demonstrate his skill to that college team. The coach said, “If my players would max out on what they can give like this young man has, we’d win a lot of games.” By the way, Kos’ goal is to get a good job and make enough money to build a big house with several bedrooms, so he can provide a home for as many disabled Russian orphans as possible. 

VICTIM: That’s what a lot of people in our world feel like. And many of them have been victims of neglect, abuse, gossip, a broken family, tragedy, or rejection. The wounds are real. But that young football player is living proof that your wounds don’t have to define who you are. They don’t have to decide how you handle your life. If you’re living your life saying, “I’m a victim”, it’s ultimately not the fault of the people who hurt you. You have made the choice to let those who’ve hurt you and the wounds they gave you to define your life.

THAT OVERCOMING FOOTBALL PLAYER? He had the resume of a victim: no parents, no legs, abandonment, and disability. BUT he made another choice. He said in his interview that he could see how God was working in his life. He sounds like the great Apostle Paul, who had been through more hurt and abuse than most of us could imagine: whippings, prison, injustice, slander, hit squads determined to kill him, shipwreck, an incurable and painful physical condition. Better yet, let’s see how the Bible states it: 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, “…I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches…” (MSG) And as bad as that sounds, listen to what he says in Romans 8 beginning with verse 31, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?…Can anything ever separate us from God’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger?…No, despite all these things, (Paul says) overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” The Amplified Bible reads like this: “What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?]Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are regarded and counted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (AMPC)

Paul, and a Russian orphan who chose to live as an overcomer instead of a victim show us the secret of rising above our hurt and our limitations. First, choose to be defined by your love relationship with Jesus Christ, which is disease-proof, terror-proof, disaster-proof and death-proof. Secondly, focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. Thirdly, dedicate yourself to use what you have and what you’ve been through to help other hurting people.

You decide what you’re going to let define you: your pain or your possibilities, your environment or your attitude, your past or your future, your wounds or Jesus’ wounds when He died for you. You can be, as one version says, “…more than conquerors and gain a surpassing VICTORY through Him Who loved us.” (Romans 8:37 – AMPC). You Have VICTORY, Therefore, You Are NOT a VICTIM! You Are More Than a Conqueror, You Are an Overcomer! Look at Romans 8:37 in a few translations:

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (NLT)

“But we have power over all these things through Jesus Who loves us so much.” (NLV)

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (NKJV)

“But in all these things we are completely victorious through God who showed his love for us.” (NCV)

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” (NASB)

“No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!” (GNT)

“The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties.” (GWT)

“In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us.” (CEV)

“But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us.” (CEB)

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].” (AMP)

“Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.” (AMPC)

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (Romans 8:31-39 MSG)

Champions, instead of sitting on life’s sidelines, nursing your wounds and making excuses, you can get in the game and you can play to WIN! How do I know? Because the Bible says so! You are a Victor, and Victor’s have Victories, and Victories are celebrated Win’s! And You My Friend WILL Win Again!

Luke 21:19, “By your steadfastness and patient endurance you shall WIN the true life of your souls.” (AMPC)

Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to WIN the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.” (AMPC)

1 Peter 5:4, “And [then] when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will WIN the conqueror’s crown of glory.” (AMPC)

2 Peter 1:8, “Look to yourselves (take care) that you may not lose (throw away or destroy) all that we and you have labored for, but that you may [persevere until you] WIN and receive back a perfect reward [in full].” (AMPC)

Listen, whether your struggle is physical, spiritual, financial or emotional, your struggle is no match for your victor’s mentality! Never let what you’re going through to give you an attitude of loss, failure and victim. Remember the Word of God always: “For whatever is born of God is VICTORIOUS over the world; and this is the VICTORY that conquers the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4 AMPC);  “Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], BECAUSE HE WHO LIVES IN YOU IS GREATER (MIGHTIER) THAN HE WHO IS IN THE WORLD.” (1 John 4:4 AMPC); “I HAVE STRENGTH FOR ALL THINGS IN CHRIST WHO EMPOWERS ME [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” (Philippians 4:13 AMP)

Not even having a handicap should hinder you from pursuing greatness and God’s best, purpose and plan for your life. Don’t you dare give up! And do not throw yourself anymore pity-parties! You may not be first or best, but you can still be an overcomer who walks in victory!

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

God can use you, yes, even you! No matter what you come with! God is not fearful of your past, mistakes, failures, baggage, sins, or screw-ups. He’s not limited by your limitations!

“VICTIM” is defined as “one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions; one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment; one that is tricked or duped; a casualty, fatality, loss or prey.”

“VICTOR” is defined as “one that defeats an enemy or opponent in a battle, game or competition; winner; beater; conqueror; master; subduer”. It’s Latin Origin, ‘vincere’ literally means ‘conquer.’

Since we as believers are more than CONQUERORS, then we are ALWAYS VICTORS…and NEVER VICTIMS!

Today, I want you to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are about to get back off the bench and back into the game! Yes, you have bruises, you’re hurting, you’re in pain, you’re tired, you no longer want to receive anymore blows, but you can’t win a game you’re not playing! So suit up champ, you’re going back in! Victim’s quit, victor’s don’t have quitting in their vocabulary!

2 Corinthians 4:7-10, “However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed; Always carrying about in the body the liability and exposure to the same putting to death that the Lord Jesus suffered, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown forth by and in our bodies.” (AMPC)

“TO or FOR is the difference between VICTIM or VICTOR. VICTIMS say it’s done TO me, VICTORS say it’s done FOR me.” (Nathaniel Bronner)

“Every test in our life makes us BITTER or BETTER, every problem comes to BREAK US or MAKE US. The choice is ours whether we become VICTIM or VICTOR.” (Author Unknown)

“The VICTIM mentality sees itself as helplessly controlled by outside forces. The VICTOR mentality navigates life through the power of internal choices.” (John Mark Green)

“Today you can make the decision to no longer be a VICTIM; of your past, of your mistakes, of your failures, of your bad relationships, of your financial situation, of your weight, of your health, of other people’s opinion of you and even of your own negative self-worth. This day, in this moment; you can decide to no longer be a VICTIM and start being a VICTOR.” (Eddie Harris Jr.)

“Be a VICTOR, not a VICTIM.” (Joel Osteen)

“You can’t expect to be a VICTOR if you’re living with a VICTIM mentality.” (Billy Cox)

“You can be a VICTIM or a VICTOR, the choice is yours.” (Lisa Nichols)

“You are not a VICTIM. No matter what you have been through, you’re still here. You may have been challenged, hurt, betrayed, beaten, and discouraged, but nothing has defeated you. You are still here! You are not a VICTIM, you are a VICTOR! You have a history of VICTORY.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Morning Habits to Help You Lose Weight”

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“The Time is NOW!”

2 Corinthians 6:2, “For He says, In the time of favor (of an assured welcome) I have listened to and heeded your call, and I have helped you on the day of deliverance (the day of salvation). Behold, now is truly the time for a gracious welcome and acceptance [of you from God]; behold, now is the day of salvation!” (AMPC)

It was 3:00 A.M. in the multi-family house in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and a fire started as fifteen residents slept. A Deputy Fire Chief was first on the scene. He arrived alone in his car and discovered a building ablaze with its residents unaware of the deadly danger. The chief realized he didn’t have time to put on his usual protective gear. Minutes were precious at a time like this, so he rushed into that burning building and began pounding on doors and screaming for people to get up and get out. One older man was unable to get out by himself, so this valiant rescuer carried him down the stairs, out to the street and then went in for more. All fifteen people got out alive. However, the man who saved their lives did not! 

One man gave his life so others would not die. I owe my life to someone just like that. Matthew 20:28, “Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to GIVE HIS LIFE AS A RANSOM FOR MANY [the price paid to set them free].” (AMPC); Mark 8:37, “For what can a man give as an exchange (a compensation, a ransom, in return) for his [blessed] life [in the eternal kingdom of God]?” (AMPC); 1 Corinthians 1:30, ” But it is from Him that you have your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our Wisdom from God, [revealed to us a knowledge of the divine plan of salvation previously hidden, manifesting itself as] our Righteousness [thus making us upright and putting us in right standing with God], and our Consecration [making us pure and holy], and our Redemption [providing our ransom from eternal penalty for sin].” (AMPC) Galatians 4:5, “To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons].(AMPC) 1 Timothy 2:6, “Who gave Himself as a ransom for all [people, a fact that was] attested to at the right and proper time.(AMPC) The rescuer who gave His life so I and many others like me would not have to die eternally for the wrong things we’ve done. It’s what the Bible calls sin (rebellion against the God who made us). 

It’s a spiritual death penalty that hangs over the head of every one of us, because the Bible says that by God’s holy standards, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). Which kicks in the head the false hope of somehow, I’m going to pay for my sin by doing a lot of good things. It will never be enough. That’s why God sent the Rescuer: Luke 11:4, “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us [who has offended us or done us wrong]. And bring us not into temptation but RESCUE us from evil.” (AMPC); 2 Corinthians 1:10, “[For it is He] Who RESCUED and saved us from such a perilous death, and He will still RESCUE and save us; in and on Him we have set our hope (our joyful and confident expectation) that He will again deliver us [from danger and destruction and draw us to Himself],” (AMPC); Galatians 1:4, “Who gave (yielded) Himself up [to atone] for our sins [and to save and sanctify us], in order to RESCUE and deliver us from this present wicked age and world order, in accordance with the will and purpose and plan of our God and Father—” (AMPC); 1 Thessalonians 1:10, “And [how you] look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath [bringing punishment] which is coming [upon the impenitent] and draws us to Himself [investing us with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ, the Messiah].” (AMPC); Hebrews 9:15, “[Christ, the Messiah] is therefore the Negotiator and Mediator of an [entirely] new agreement (testament, covenant), so that those who are called and offered it may receive the fulfillment of the promised everlasting inheritance—since a death has taken place which rescues and delivers and redeems them from the transgressions committed under the [old] first agreement.” (AMPC); 2 Peter 2:9, “Now if [all these things are true, then be sure] the Lord knows how to rescue the godly out of temptations and trials, and how to keep the ungodly under chastisement until the day of judgment and doom,” (AMPC)

Because God is holy, our sins can’t be ignored, nor the penalty excused. If any human judge did that, he wouldn’t be worthy to be a judge anymore. 

But because God is love, He didn’t want you and me to pay that awful, hellish penalty, even though we deserve it. So, He sent the only one who could be perfect and have no sin of His own to pay for. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “FOR OUR SAKE HE MADE CHRIST [VIRTUALLY] TO BE SIN WHO KNEW NO SIN, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].” (AMPC)

The Father sent His only Son, Jesus. And He went into that burning building we were in, and He did what it took to get us out and laid down His life to do it. John 3:16-17, “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that HE [EVEN] GAVE UP HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN (UNIQUE) SON, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) BUT HAVE ETERNAL (EVERLASTING) LIFE. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, BUT THAT THE WORLD MIGHT FIND SALVATION AND BE MADE SAFE AND SOUND THROUGH HIM.” (AMPC); John 15:13, “No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to LAY DOWN (GIVE UP) HIS OWN LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS.” (AMPC); Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” (AMPC); Romans 10:9-10, “Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, YOU WILL BE SAVED. For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation.” (AMPC)

Listen to how Jesus Himself describes His rescue mission for you and me in John 10, beginning with verse 10. He says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I lay down my life; no one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” Let’s read a bit more from this same chapter: “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep. But the hired servant (he who merely serves for wages) who is neither the shepherd nor the owner of the sheep, when he sees the wolf coming, deserts the flock and runs away. And the wolf chases and snatches them and scatters [the flock]. Now the hireling flees because he merely serves for wages and is not himself concerned about the sheep [cares nothing for them]. I am the Good Shepherd; and I know and recognize My own, and My own know and recognize Me—Even as [truly as] the Father knows Me and I also know the Father—and I am giving My [very own] life and laying it down on behalf of the sheep. And I have other sheep [beside these] that are not of this fold. I must bring and impel those also; and they will listen to My voice and heed My call, and so there will be [they will become] one flock under one Shepherd. For this [reason] the Father loves Me, because I lay down My [own] life—to take it back again. No one takes it away from Me. On the contrary, I lay it down voluntarily. [I put it from Myself.] I am authorized and have power to lay it down (to resign it) and I am authorized and have power to take it back again. These are the instructions (orders) which I have received [as My charge] from My Father.” (vss. 11-18 AMPC)

Let’s get this straight, NO ONE KILLED THE SON OF GOD! He made the tree He was hanging on! He made the men who put Him there! No, He thought you were worth laying down His life for! And in the greatest act of love in human history, He submitted to that cross to bear in His body and in His soul all the guilt, all the shame, all the pain, and all the hell of your sin and mine. Then He rose from the dead to prove He can be our Life-Giver. He says about those whom He died for and who belong to Him, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” That can be you today! Matthew 19:29, “And anyone and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for My name’s sake will receive many [even a hundred] times more and will inherit ETERNAL LIFE.” (AMPC); Acts 13:48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified (praised and gave thanks for) the Word of God; and as many as were destined (appointed and ordained) to ETERNAL LIFE believed (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Jesus as the Christ and their Savior).” (AMPC); Romans 5:21, “So that, [just] as sin has reigned in death, [so] grace (His unearned and undeserved favor) might reign also through righteousness (right standing with God) which issues in ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) our Lord.” (AMPC); Romans 6:22-23, “But now since you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is ETERNAL LIFE. For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is ETERNAL LIFE through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord.” (AMPC); Galatians 6:8, “For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap ETERNAL LIFE.” (AMPC); 1 Timothy 1:16, “But I obtained mercy for the reason that in me, as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might show forth and display all His perfect long-suffering and patience for an example to [encourage] those who would thereafter believe on Him for [the gaining of] ETERNAL LIFE.” (AMPC); 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the ETERNAL LIFE to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses.” (AMPC); Titus 3:7, “[And He did it in order] that we might be justified by His grace (by His favor, wholly undeserved), [that we might be acknowledged and counted as conformed to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action], and that we might become heirs of ETERNAL LIFE according to [our] hope.” (AMPC); 1 John 1:2, “And the Life [an aspect of His being] was revealed (made manifest, demonstrated), and we saw [as eyewitnesses] and are testifying to and declare to you the Life, the ETERNAL LIFE [in Him] Who already existed with the Father and Who [actually] was made visible (was revealed) to us [His followers].” (AMPC)

You and I are like that man in the burning building in the above story who couldn’t get himself out, and likewise, we can’t get ourselves out either. We have to let Jesus carry us to safety. Which means you have to reach for Him, put your arms around Him, and trust only Him to save you. Have you ever done that? If so, that’s amazing, and I’m glad to call you my brothers and sisters in Christ! But, if not, you’re still in sin’s burning building with time running out! 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first.” (AMPC); 1 Corinthians 15:52, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [in Christ] will be raised imperishable (free and immune from decay), and we shall be changed (transformed).” (AMPC); Matthew 24:29-31, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and beat their breasts and lament in anguish, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory [in brilliancy and splendor]. And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect (His chosen ones) from the four winds, [even] from one end of the universe to the other.” (AMPC); Luke 19:44, “And they will dash you down to the ground, you [Jerusalem] and your children within you; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, [all] because you did not come progressively to recognize and know and understand [from observation and experience] the time of your visitation [that is, when God was visiting you, the time in which God showed Himself gracious toward you and offered you salvation through Christ].” (AMPC)

It isn’t enough just to know that Jesus died to save you. No, you’ve got to put your total trust in Him to save you, and to save you now, today, this very moment! The time of His return is sooner than before, and tomorrow is not promised to no man! James 4:13-14, “Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money. Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air].” (AMPC); Proverbs 27:1, “Do not boast of [yourself and] tomorrow, for you know not what a day may bring forth.” (AMPC)

There’s no time to waste, this could be your day of rescue! This could be the day every sin you’ve ever done could be forgiven. This is the day your hell could be cancelled. 2 Corinthians 6:2, “For He says, In the time of favor (of an assured welcome) I have listened to and heeded your call, and I have helped you on the day of deliverance (the day of salvation). Behold, now is truly the time for a gracious welcome and acceptance [of you from God]; behold, now is the day of salvation!” (AMPC)

Grabbing Jesus to save you means you tell Him, “Jesus, you’re my only hope, and I’m Yours.” If you’ve never done that, please don’t wait another day. That act of faith brings you to safety in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. THE GREATEST TRAGEDY OF ALL WOULD BE IF JESUS GAVE HIS LIFE SO YOU COULD LIVE, AND YOU LIVED AND DIED WITHOUT HIM, PAYING A PENALTY HE ALREADY PAID. The Rescuer has come to you. He’s knocking on the door of your heart. Grab Him while you can. Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.” (AMPC)

Now, if ever you didn’t feel loved, today should be the day that you embrace just how loved you are. Remember this part of the above story: “…Minutes were precious at a time like this, so he rushed into that burning building and began pounding on doors and screaming for people to get up and get out. One older man was unable to get out by himself, so this valiant rescuer carried him down the stairs, out to the street and then went in for more. All fifteen people got out alive. However, the man who saved their lives did not!” 

This rescuer didn’t even have time to put on protective gear before heading into a burning building to save lives. He simply responded as any first responder’s would. He sees and knows the dangers and screams for everyone to get up and get out. But then he takes it a step further because there’s a man who cannot get out of danger by himself and so the rescuer carries him out of danger and saves his life…even though his heroic sacrifice took his own life. Sounds so much like our loving Savior Jesus. The dangers of hell are real and He of all people knows it. Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter [Greek, Petros—a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra—a huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, AND THE GATES OF HADES (THE POWERS OF THE INFERNAL REGION) SHALL NOT OVERPOWER IT [OR BE STRONG TO ITS DETRIMENT OR HOLD OUT AGAINST IT].” (AMPC); Revelation 1:18, “And the Ever-living One [I am living in the eternity of the eternities]. I died, but see, I am alive forevermore; and I POSSESS THE KEYS OF DEATH AND HADES (THE REALM OF THE DEAD).” (AMPC) Jesus built up His church and not even hell would take it down, why? Because Jesus possesses the keys of death and hades! Now, you would think that Jesus possessing the keys of hell would be enough for Him, but He goes on to say: Matthew 16:19, “I WILL GIVE YOU THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven.” (AMPC) Jesus doesn’t just possess the keys of hell, but He wants us to possess some keys too, the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven! See, you are not to be possessed by hell, you are to belong to Jesus who possesses the keys of hell, so you can stay hell-free! Jesus took the keys of hell, now you take the Keys to the Kingdom!

Let today be your day of salvation! Receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior! And should you already be saved, let this devotional encourage you to encourage someone else to receive Jesus Christ! Don’t wait; don’t hesitate; to procrastinate; don’t delay. Tomorrow is NOT promised! While you have today, receive Him today! Receive His Life-Saving Love Today! The Time is NOW!

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

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“The Wilderness is Working For Your Good”

Deuteronomy 1:30-33, “The Lord God is your leader, and he will fight for you with his mighty miracles, just as you saw him do in Egypt. And you know how he has cared for you again and again here in the WILDERNESS, just as a father cares for his child!’ But nothing I said did any good. “They refused to believe the Lord our God who had led them all the way, and had selected the best places for them to camp, and had guided them by a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of cloud during the day.” (TLB)

I have a close friend who moved from Arizona to the Midwest. She loves the green. There’s not much of that in the semi-arid area that she’s from. And she loves all the things that bloom in that new part of the country, but that’s not to say she doesn’t miss what she grew up with. She really misses the beauty of the Southwest. Some might travel through the long, largely barren stretches of her part of the country and not see much beauty, but it’s there. Yeah, it’s a different beauty from the lush, green parts of America, but there is a stark, wild, wide-open majesty in the desert. It’s got a beauty all its own.

Every one of us gets to spend some time in the desert, or the wilderness, as it’s often called in the Bible. It’s not our permanent home, but it is a temporary part of the journey. Maybe you’re in one of those difficult dry spells right now. If so, then it’s time to remember that while the desert is hard, it does have a beauty all its own. There are things you see there that you can’t see when you’re in the green and blooming times.

God’s ancient people learned that when they spent their time in the wilderness. God describes some of that in Deuteronomy 1:30-33. “The Lord your God Who goes before you, He will fight for you just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, And in the WILDERNESS, where you have seen how the Lord your God bore you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place. Yet in spite of this word you did not believe (trust, rely on, and remain steadfast to) the Lord your God, Who went in the way before you to search out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night, to show you by what way you should go, and in the cloud by day.” (AMPC)

Wilderness times can be tough for several reasons: you feel depleted, stressed, anxious, lonely, confused, not to mention the fear of what may happen next starts to take over, and sometimes it just plain hurts. And top it all off, the devil’s doing everything he can to exploit this vulnerable time in your life, just ask Jesus: Luke 4:1-2, “Then Jesus, full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was LED IN [BY] THE [HOLY] SPIRIT. For (during) FORTY DAYS in the WILDERNESS (DESERT), where He was TEMPTED (TRIED, TESTED EXCEEDINGLY) BY THE DEVIL. And He ATE NOTHING DURING THOSE DAYS, and when they were completed, HE WAS HUNGRY.” (AMPC) Yes, even Jesus knows what it feels like to have a wilderness experience. Not only are you in the desert, but you also feel deserted! But notice, the Holy Spirit led Jesus there! And isn’t that one of the scariest things? I mean you expect the devil to come after you, but how do you fight a desert experience when it was the Holy Spirit that led you there in the first place?! Well, as hard as it is to embrace, but the truth is sometimes the Person who ushers you into the desert/wilderness, is the Holy Ghost! That’s why you have no reason to fear the experience. The Holy Spirit would never lead you to a place of destruction. It may break you down, but it will eventually build you back up and better than before, especially if you learn all the lessons from the experience! However, another hard fact is that sometimes your desert/wilderness is not going to be a few days, or even a few months. The Bible says, “…For (during) FORTY DAYS in the WILDERNESS (DESERT)…” Jesus could’ve snapped His fingers and a legion of angels would’ve come to His aid, but instead, He endures the desert/wilderness for 40 days. With that, He teaches us how to persevere, endure, go in, go through, and eventually get out! Now, many of us are going through varying levels of pain, hurt, struggle, confusion and the like, and still I encourage you to hang in there. Jesus did, and He is our example of how to hold on to God when you’re ready to let go of life! For 40 days Jesus was “…TEMPTED (TRIED, TESTED EXCEEDINGLY) BY THE DEVIL…” The word ‘exceedingly’ is defined as ‘to an extreme degree; awful; badly; deadly; seriously; terribly; and wickedly.’ This was no cakewalk! And I’m sure yours isn’t either. The devil was harsh towards Jesus, and he will most certainly be harsh towards you!

Jesus and Job have a lot in common don’t you think? Job 1:6-12, “Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and SATAN (THE ADVERSARY AND ACCUSER) ALSO CAME AMONG THEM. And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it. And the Lord said to Satan, HAVE YOU CONSIDERED MY SERVANT JOB, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face. And the Lord said to Satan (the adversary and the accuser), Behold, all that he has is in your power, only upon the man himself put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” (AMPC) Like Jesus being personally escorted into the desert/wilderness by the Holy Spirit, Job was personally recommended to Satan by God Himself! After all, Satan didn’t come before God and ask for Job, he simply said that he had come “…from going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it…” He didn’t request Job. He could’ve grabbed anybody on earth, but God recommends Job, and not because he deserved to have so much pain and suffering and loss, but because he has already proven that his possessions did possess him. And not only that but he was found faithful when many of us would’ve thrown in the towel, cursed God and called it quits! So, maybe a good question to ask yourself is am I in this desert/wilderness because of something bad I’ve done, or because of something good that God is working in my life? Job loss family, property, his wife’s respect, finances, and even impaired health and horrible friends. And yet the Bible says of Job’s experience: Job 42:12-17, “AND THE LORD BLESSED THE LATTER DAYS OF JOB MORE THAN HIS BEGINNING; for he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. And in all the land there were no women so fair as the daughters of Job, and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers. AFTER THIS, JOB LIVED 140 YEARS, AND SAW HIS SONS AND HIS SONS’ SONS, EVEN TO FOUR GENERATIONS. SO JOB DIED, AN OLD MAN AND FULL OF DAYS.” (AMPC) and what about Jesus? Luke 4:13-14, “And when the devil had ended every [the complete cycle of] temptation, he [temporarily] left Him [that is, stood off from Him] until another more opportune and favorable time.” THEN JESUS WENT BACK FULL OF AND UNDER THE POWER OF THE [HOLY] SPIRIT INTO GALILEE, AND THE FAME OF HIM SPREAD THROUGH THE WHOLE REGION ROUND ABOUT.” (AMPC) Will I say the desert/wilderness is a wonderful experience? Absolutely not! But when God is in it, can it turn out to be a wonderful outcome? Yes Indeed!

Deuteronomy 1:29-33, “I tried to relieve your fears: “Don’t be terrified of them. God, your God, is leading the way; he’s fighting for you. You saw with your own eyes what he did for you in Egypt; you saw what he did in the WIDERNESS, how God, your God, carried you as a father carries his child, carried you the whole way until you arrived here. But now that you’re here, you won’t trust God, your God—this same God who goes ahead of you in your travels to scout out a place to pitch camp, a fire by night and a cloud by day to show you the way to go.” (MSG)

 When we read from God’s Word about desert times it reminds us of several very important encouragements which the dry times tend to make us forget. First, THE DESERT IS PART OF THE PLAN. It’s God who leads you into a wilderness time, knowing that it will take a wilderness to take you to your next level in Him. Even though the devil was all over Jesus when He spent forty days in the wilderness, the Bible makes it very clear that the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness. The God who loves you passionately has decided that the wilderness is what will bring you the greatest good and Him the greatest glory at this point in your life. So even when God leads you into the desert/wilderness, trust Him and follow with confidence and faith, knowing that God will NEVER lead you astray! Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].” (AMPC); Psalm 18:33, “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places.” (AMPC); Proverbs 3:5-6, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” (AMPC); 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.” (AMPC); Exodus 14:26-31, “Then the Lord said to Moses, Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and horsemen. So Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its strength and normal flow when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled into it [being met by it]; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians and shook them off into the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that pursued them; not even one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore. And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did against the Egyptians, and the people [reverently] feared the Lord and trusted in (relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord and to His servant Moses.” (AMPC) Trust God and Follow His Lead, He Will NEVER Lead You Astray!

Secondly, THE WILDERNESS IS A PLACE OF MIRACLES! It was in a wilderness that God’s people saw manna from heaven, water come from rocks, and a pillar of cloud and fire providing daily guidance. If you’ll remain faithful, even when you don’t have the feelings, God will show you His power in the desert in ways you will never see in the Promised Land. Embrace this, the miracles were revealed in the WILDERNESS, not the Promised Land! And truth is, sometimes you have more meaningful experiences and encounters with God in the Valley more than on the Mountain! Yes, it’s a hard place, but it will also be a blessed place! Don’t quit in the wilderness, don’t give up in the desert. There’s a miracle on the way, even BEFORE you reach the promised land!

The third desert encouragement is that THE WILDERNESS IS A GROWING TIME. Paul saw his greatest revelations of God (the things you read in the New Testament now) while he was in the desert. But listen to this Scripture in particular: 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, “I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, ENDANGERED BY DESERT SUN and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches…” (MSG) Yes, Paul is yet another example of someone who had to endure the desert, but look at all he accomplished, not just after the desert, but IN it! Reminds me of Romans 8:37, “Nay, IN all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (KJV) Remember this: God Can Bless You While You’re Still IN the Desert! Don’t be in such a hurry to flee the desert/wilderness experience, wait for God to finish all that He’s doing in you, with you and for you while you’re still there! James 1:2-4, “[Faith Under Pressure ] 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)

And we dare not forget that Jesus emerged from the wilderness, “FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND POWER” and He exploded into His public ministry! God wants to use the desert time to drive you more deeply into Him because He’s all you’ve got there. And as you go deeper, you develop a new spiritual power that prepares you for a whole new level of impact on the other side of the wilderness. This is your encouragement that you will EXIT the desert/wilderness BETTER than you ENTERED it!

Two other desert encouragements; THE WILDERNESS WILL NOT LAST FOREVER. There’s a Promised Land on the other side! And the desert is a place where God will carry you when you’ve got nothing left – like a daddy carries a tired little boy to places that little boy could never go in his own strength. And there’s something very special about collapsing on the shoulder of your all-loving, all-powerful Heavenly Daddy. Deuteronomy 32:10-14, “HE FOUND HIM OUT IN THE WILDERNESS, IN AN EMPTY, WINDSWEPT WASTELAND. HE THREW HIS ARMS AROUND HIM, LAVISHED ATTENTION ON HIM, GUARDING HIM AS THE APPLE OF HIS EYE. HE WAS LIKE AN EAGLE HOVERING OVER ITS NEST, OVERSHADOWING ITS YOUNG, THEN SPREADING ITS WINGS, LIFTING THEM INTO THE AIR, TEACHING THEM TO FLY. GOD ALONE LED HIM; THERE WAS NOT A FOREIGN GOD IN SIGHT. GOD LIFTED HIM ONTO THE HILLTOPS, SO HE COULD FEAST ON THE CROPS IN THE FIELDS. HE FED HIM HONEY FROM THE ROCK, OIL FROM GRANITE CRAGS, CURDS OF CATTLE AND THE MILK OF SHEEP, THE CHOICE CUTS OF LAMBS AND GOATS, FINE BASHAN RAMS, HIGH-QUALITY WHEAT, AND THE BLOOD OF GRAPES: YOU DRANK GOOD WINE!” (MSG)

Your assignment in the desert? Keep showing up, keep being faithful even when you don’t feel it. If you’re in a desert stretch, trust the One who’s allowed or directed you to be there. And while you’re there, don’t miss the strange beauty of the desert. Remember: God is Using the Wilderness to Work for Your Good!

Isaiah 40:3-5, “Thunder in the desert! “Prepare for God’s arrival! Make the road straight and smooth, a highway fit for our God. Fill in the valleys, level off the hills, Smooth out the ruts, clear out the rocks. Then God’s bright glory will shine and everyone will see it. Yes. Just as God has said.” (MSG)

Isaiah 43:16-21, “…Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the DESERT, rivers in the badlands…” (MSG)

Jeremiah 31:2-6, “This is the way God put it: “They found grace out in the desert, these people who survived the killing. Israel, out looking for a place to rest, met God out looking for them!” God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love! And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again, dear virgin Israel. You’ll resume your singing, grabbing tambourines and joining the dance. You’ll go back to your old work of planting vineyards on the Samaritan hillsides, And sit back and enjoy the fruit—oh, how you’ll enjoy those harvests! The time’s coming when watchmen will call out from the hilltops of Ephraim: ‘On your feet! Let’s go to Zion, go to meet our God!’” (MSG)

Hosea 13:4-6, “I’m still your God, the God who saved you out of Egypt. I’m the only real God you’ve ever known. I’m the one and only God who delivers. I took care of you during the wilderness hard times, those years when you had nothing. I took care of you, took care of all your needs, gave you everything you needed. You were spoiled. You thought you didn’t need me. You forgot me.” (MSG)

Hosea 2:14-15, “And now, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to start all over again. I’m taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I’ll court her. I’ll give her bouquets of roses. I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope. She’ll respond like she did as a young girl, those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.” (MSG)

“Keep bubbling over with abundant joy, peace, and love. You may be the only well-watered oasis for someone going through a DESERT in their lives.” (Caroline Naoroji)

“There is purpose in the WILDERNESS, even when it doesn’t feel that way.” (Author Unknown)

“One of the purposes of the WILDERNESS is for God to show you that He is God.” (Tony Evans)

“God is a Father who is good to His children, even in the WILDERNESS” (Author Unknown)

“The work God does in the WILDERNESS is preparing you for what’s on the other side of it.” (Author Unknown)

“God takes us into the WILDERNESS, not to abandon us, but to be alone with us.” (Ann Voskemp)

“The same God that made a way through the waters will make a way through the WILDERNESS” (Author Unknown)

“We rely only on God in the WILDERNESS” (Lailah Gifty Akita)

“Take courage. We walk in the WILDERNESS today and in the Promised Land tomorrow.” (D.L. Moody)

“I know this to be true: even in the WILDERNESS, God is at work even here.” (Diana Trautwein)

“The WILDERNESS is a place of dying. Where all things that cause you to stumble in your walk with God are killed.” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“The WILDERNESS is not punishment. It’s God’s preparation for His promise.” (Author Unknown)

“No one escapes the WILDERNESS on the way to the Promised Land.” (Annie Dillard)

“God reveals His plan; then He prepares you to carry out His plan. As you are waiting for that to happen, He sends you through the WILDERNESS of testing to grow, refine, and strengthen you. When you come out of the WILDERNESS, you are ready to be used for His Glory!” (Cathy Deaton)

“Take comfort not in knowing that the WILDERNESS will pass, but that God will meet you in it.” (Author Unknown)

“God may lead you into the WILDERNESS, but He won’t leave you in the WILDERNESS” (Author Unknown)

“The WILDERNESS is a place of preparation, not permanence.” (Lisa Appelo)

“If you’re in the WILDERNESS now, remember that through it God will test and reveal your heart, provide for you, confirm your identity in Him, and transition you to something new.” (Sheridan Voysey)

“The WILDERNESS experience is a time period in your life where God will kill your flesh, teach you and allow you to be tested into maturity.” (Apostle Grace Lubega)

“God can transform your DESERT into fields of blessing.” (Micca Campbell)

“The WILDERNESS is a time of letting go of everything that has sustained you other than God.” (Author Unknown)

“The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a WILDERNESS” (Author Unknown)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “High-Antioxidant Foods to Try”

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“A BLESSING In DISGUISE”

Leviticus 26:12-13, “And I will walk in and with and among you and will be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the Lord your God, Who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that you should no more be slaves; and I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect [as free men].” (AMPC)

A good friend of mine had been doing a lot of remodeling in his house, including some in his five-year-old son’s room. They were building a little room inside his room that would have its own window and desk, and it would sort of be Williams’ own little space. Of course, at that point, it was just a frame with no walls. So, Dad took William in there one day to see the work that he’d been doing. The little guy went into the frame of what would soon be his personal space. He came out with his lower lip out so far, he almost tripped over it. Dad couldn’t figure out why this nice thing they were doing for him would make him so sad. However, he quickly found out why. William said, “Dad, is this going to be my cage for my timeouts when I’m being bad?”

Poor little guy. He thought his father had built a cage to punish him when his Dad was really building something special for him to enjoy. You could smile at a five-year-old’s misread of what his father was doing for him, but all too often WE make that same mistake with our Heavenly Father!

Maybe you have a tendency to think that God is usually mad at you or punishing you. But, more often than not, our feelings about God are based on our experiences with family, friends, coworkers, church members, people who’ve hurt us, or on our immediate circumstances that may seriously be trying our faith right now. And so, we end up missing the love that our Heavenly Father is trying to show us because we’re lost in fear instead. We expect the worst like little William in thinking he was getting a cage for times when he was being bad. Which is why we need to remind ourselves daily of 1 John 4:18, “THERE IS NO FEAR IN LOVE [DREAD DOES NOT EXIST], BUT FULL-GROWN (COMPLETE, PERFECT) LOVE TURNS FEAR OUT OF DOORS AND EXPELS EVERY TRACE OF TERROR! FOR FEAR BRINGS WITH IT THE THOUGHT OF PUNISHMENT, AND [SO] HE WHO IS AFRAID HAS NOT REACHED THE FULL MATURITY OF LOVE [IS NOT YET GROWN INTO LOVE’S COMPLETE PERFECTION].” (AMPC) Our Father loves His children PERFECTLY! Therefore, we need never fear people, places or things, ever!

The plan our Father has for His children is unfolding in your life right now, and it’s designed ultimately to release you, not to restrict you. It’s a blessing in disguise! Don’t let your current circumstances fool you! God can still make bad…GOOD, no matter how bad it is! Genesis 50:20, “Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? DON’T YOU SEE, YOU PLANNED EVIL AGAINST ME BUT GOD USED THOSE SAME PLANS FOR MY GOOD…” (MSG); Romans 8:26-28, “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. THAT’S WHY WE CAN BE SO SURE THAT EVERY DETAIL IN OUR LIVES OF LOVE FOR GOD IS WORKED INTO SOMETHING GOOD.” (MSG)

God’s intentions for you are expressed in words He originally spoke to His Old Testament people. But if you know Jesus Christ, you also know that you are one of those God calls “my people”.

Leviticus 26:12-13 – “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt” (now, your Egypt is whatever has been a place of bondage or despair for you) “so that you would no longer be slaves. I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” Your Father is committed to releasing you from those old habits, the old mental programming, the old ways of thinking and reacting that have caged you for far too long. And He’s also committing to taking you through experiences with Him, some of which will be painful, to purge some of the ugly stuff out of you, as well as to change your view of Him.

Maybe the reason God had to remind His ancient people that He was about releasing them and not restricting them, was that their journey included plagues and the wilderness. In other words, in order for them to be free, they had to go through all those plagues in Egypt and a very difficult time through the wilderness. And possibly you’ve been having your own share of plagues and wilderness experiences. But that’s not because God doesn’t love you; IT’S BECAUSE HE DOES! He loves you enough to take you through the processes that will set you free and ultimately lead you to the better life He has planned, prepared, prearranged, promised and predestined just for you. Jeremiah 29:10-11, “This is God’s Word on the subject… I’ll show up and take care of you as I PROMISED and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all PLANNED out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, PLANS to give you the future you hope for.” (MSG); Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God PREDESTINED (PLANNED BEFOREHAND) for us [taking paths which He PREPARED ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He PREARRANGED and made ready for us to live].” (AMPC); Romans 8:29-30, “For those whom He foreknew [and loved and chose beforehand], He also PREDESTINED to be conformed to the image of His Son [and ultimately share in His complete sanctification], so that He would be the firstborn [the most beloved and honored] among many believers. And those whom He PREDESTINED, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified [declared free of the guilt of sin]; and those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity].” (AMP)

So, don’t be confused by the pain of the plagues or by the wounding of the wilderness. Your Heavenly Father has some awesome plans for you, and He’s not building a cage to contain your life. He’s making something very special for you. After all, you are His child purchased with the blood of His Son! Is there any question how He feels about you?

Therefore, I want you to change your perspective today. Know that like William, your Father is not building you a cage, He’s building you a room! Genesis 26:22, “And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it REHOBOTH; and he said, FOR NOW THE LORD HATH MADE ROOM FOR US, AND WE SHALL BE FRUITFUL IN THE LAND.” (KJV) Let’s read this verse in a few translations:

“He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over that one; so he named it REHOBOTH (BROAD PLACES), saying, “FOR NOW THE LORD HAS MADE ROOM FOR US, AND WE SHALL BE PROSPEROUS IN THE LAND.” (AMP)

“And he moved away from there and dug another well, and for that one they did not quarrel. He named it REHOBOTH [ROOM], saying, FOR NOW THE LORD HAS MADE ROOM FOR US, AND WE SHALL BE FRUITFUL IN THE LAND.” (AMPC)

“He left there and dug another well, but they didn’t argue about it, so he named it REHOBOTH and said, “NOW THE LORD HAS MADE AN OPEN SPACE FOR US AND HAS MADE US FERTILE IN THE LAND.” (CEB)

“He moved away from there and dug another well. There was no dispute about this one, so he named it “FREEDOM.” He said, “NOW THE LORD HAS GIVEN US FREEDOM TO LIVE IN THE LAND, AND WE WILL BE PROSPEROUS HERE.” (GNT)

“Abandoning that one, he dug again, and the local residents finally left him alone. So he called it, “THE WELL OF ROOM ENOUGH FOR US AT LAST!” “FOR NOW AT LAST,” HE SAID, “THE LORD HAS MADE ROOM FOR US AND WE SHALL THRIVE.” (TLB)

“He went on from there and dug yet another well. But there was no fighting over this one so he named it REHOBOTH (WIDE-OPEN SPACES), saying, “NOW GOD HAS GIVEN US PLENTY OF SPACE TO SPREAD OUT IN THE LAND.” (MSG)

“He moved from there and dug another well. No one argued about this one, so he named it ROOM ENOUGH. Isaac said, “NOW THE LORD HAS MADE ROOM FOR US, AND WE WILL BE SUCCESSFUL IN THIS LAND.” (NCV)

“He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it REHOBOTH, saying, “NOW THE LORD HAS GIVEN US ROOM AND WE WILL FLOURISH IN THE LAND.” (NIV)

“And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name REHOBOTH, because he said, “FOR NOW THE LORD HAS MADE ROOM FOR US, AND WE SHALL BE FRUITFUL IN THE LAND.” (NKJV)

“He moved away from there and dug another well. And they did not argue about it. So he gave it the name REHOBOTH. For he said, “NOW THE LORD HAS MADE A LARGE PLACE FOR US. WE WILL GROW MUCH IN THIS LAND.” (NLV)

“Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place REHOBOTH (WHICH MEANS “OPEN SPACE”), for he said, “AT LAST THE LORD HAS CREATED ENOUGH SPACE FOR US TO PROSPER IN THIS LAND.” (NLT)

And that’s what I want to leave with you today, a new and better perspective that your Father has built ROOM for you this year, and the space will be a Big Blessing, even if the Blessing is in Disguise at the Moment. Stay Greatly Encouraged!

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” (Oscar Wilde)

“Instead of looking around at your circumstances, look up and discover blessings in disguise.” (Author Unknown)

“Many of our problems are blessings in disguise.” (O. Leslie Stone)

“Cherish your enemies; they may be blessings in disguise.” (Woodrow Kroll)

“Everything in our lives, without exception, is either a blessing, or a blessing in disguise.” (Joel Fotinos)

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

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“How Getting WORSE Led to Getting WELL?”

2 Kings 4:8-36, “One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a rich and influential woman lived, who insisted on his eating a meal. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he stopped there for a meal. And she said to her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God who passes by continually. Let us make a small chamber on the [housetop] and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp. Then whenever he comes to us, he can go [up the outside stairs and rest] here. One day he came and turned into the chamber and lay there. And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. When he had called her, she stood before him. And he said to Gehazi, Say now to her, You have been most painstakingly and reverently concerned for us; what is to be done for you? Would you like to be spoken for to the king or to the commander of the army? She answered, I dwell among my own people [they are sufficient]. Later Elisha said, What then is to be done for her? GEHAZI ANSWERED, SHE HAS NO CHILD AND HER HUSBAND IS OLD. He said, Call her. [Gehazi] called her, and she stood in the doorway. Elisha said, At this season when the time comes round, YOU SHALL EMBRACE A SON. She said, No, my lord, you man of God, do not lie to your handmaid. BUT THE WOMAN CONCEIVED AND BORE A SON AT THAT SEASON THE FOLLOWING YEAR, AS ELISHA HAD SAID TO HER. When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father with the reapers. BUT HE SAID TO HIS FATHER, MY HEAD, MY HEAD! THE MAN SAID TO HIS SERVANT, CARRY HIM TO HIS MOTHER. AND WHEN HE WAS BROUGHT TO HIS MOTHER, HE SAT ON HER KNEES TILL NOON, AND THEN DIED. And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him and went out. And she called to her husband and said, Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may go quickly to the man of God and come back again. And he said, Why go to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath. AND SHE SAID, IT WILL BE ALL RIGHT. Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, Ride fast; do not slacken your pace for me unless I tell you. So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel. When the man of God saw her afar off, he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite. RUN TO MEET HER AND SAY, IS IT WELL WITH YOU? WELL WITH YOUR HUSBAND? WELL WITH THE CHILD? AND SHE ANSWERED, IT IS WELL. When she came to the mountain to the man of God, she clung to his feet. Gehazi came to thrust her away, but the man of God said, Let her alone, FOR HER SOUL IS BITTER AND VEXED WITHIN HER, and the Lord has hid it from me and has not told me. THEN SHE SAID, DID I DESIRE A SON OF MY LORD? Did I not say, Do not deceive me?Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up your loins and take my staff in your hand and go lay my staff on the face of the child. If you meet any man, do not salute him. If he salutes you, do not answer him. The mother of the child said, As the Lord lives and as my soul lives, I will not leave you. And he arose and followed her. Gehazi passed on before them and laid the staff on the child’s face, but the boy neither spoke nor heard. So he went back to meet Elisha and said to him, The child has not awakened. WHEN ELISHA ARRIVED IN THE HOUSE, THE CHILD WAS DEAD AND LAID UPON HIS BED. So he went in, shut the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. He went up and lay on the child, put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself on him and embraced him, THE CHILD’S FLESH BECAME WARM. Then he returned and walked in the house to and fro and went up again and stretched himself upon him. AND THE CHILD SNEEZED SEVEN TIMES, AND THEN OPENED HIS EYES. Then [Elisha] called Gehazi and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. AND WHEN SHE CAME, HE SAID, TAKE UP YOUR SON.” (AMPC)

Before we address the above story, listen to this.

For a while, it seemed like it was just a head cold. But I’m not one who gets sick. However, this felt like a cold and the flu teamed up to take me out! It started as a headache, then coughing and a sore throat. Next was diarrhea and vomiting. Then I had the sweats and a fever, not to mention not being able to hold down any food or drink for days. Next was the scariest of all, because that’s when I started to struggle with my breathing. Day one was tolerable, but then a few more days in (or should I say sadly on my birthday), all of the symptoms tripled to the tenth degree. Finally, I told my husband that I needed to go to the hospital. He took me to the emergency room, however, he couldn’t come in with me due to the COVID restrictions. After being there for a little while, I had x-rays, blood-work, and then I was put on an IV and oxygen. Then the words that shook me to my core, the doctor said, ‘I want to test you for Coronavirus.’ Well, I received the test, and my chest x-rays showed fluid and pneumonia. I was given an inhaler and some pills to go home with because the doctor said the worst place I could possibly be was the emergency room. I cried all the way home. Truthfully, I felt like they were sending me home because of the color of my skin. I’m being very honest with you. I felt as though I was not a priority and if I was a white woman they would have treated me better. (Being honest again, our current times against black and brown people are a real struggle for me and hard not to connect just about everything to the color of skin). Well, that night at home, I coughed so bad and struggled to tears to breathe, and I asked my husband to pray for me. Now, for us, that’s really nothing special. Me and my husband of 21 years have always prayed for each other, but with a whole different depth when we’re sick. This time though, my husband’s prayers gave me chills like the words of the doctors at the hospital. We’ve been together 25 years and married this year for 21, so I’ve heard my husband pray many times for me before, especially while I was sick. But it was different this time. My husband prayed, pleaded, begged and cried (which is something he rarely does). He prayed with such a nervous energy that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was definitely not waking up in the morning. With that said, I did wake up the next morning, even worse, and my husband called the ambulance this time. When they arrived they checked my oxygen and it was at 80. However, the EMT said the same words as the doctor, ‘you really don’t want to be in the hospital right now.’ So, I stayed home and struggled. Then in a few hours, the hospital called to tell me that I tested positive for COVID!

Long story short, I saw varying doctors over a few months, took several medications, had to be re-tested and took some time off from work. Within a few months, I was slowly getting back to feeling better and I even re-tested negative twice. Today, I feel awesome, healed, healthy and WELL!

You see, I thought it was a mere cold. However, if it didn’t get WORSE, I would never have gone to the hospital in the first place. Sometimes, it’s the WORSE that happens that positions you for WELL to come to past! I had to endure the WORSE but I also had to take my WORSE to the right people so they could lead me to WELL!

And maybe you’re in a similar situation. Be it physical, emotional, mental, financial, spiritual, you have many symptoms that you may have thought were small and unimportant and insignificant…at first. However, now a lot more time has passed and things aren’t getting BETTER…but WORSE! Well, sometimes our symptoms have to get so severe, so painful that we just have to finally go to find out what’s wrong, and to be healed by the only One who can heal us! For me, it was the doctors. However, there are some things that only the Great Physician can fix, heal, make whole and well!

But, before we get to talking about our Great Physician, let’s talk about our Scripture above.

The Shunammite Woman did such a wonderful thing for Elisha the Prophet. In return, he asked his servant Gehazi what can be done for her for her kindness. Gehazi notes that she does not have a child. And then the prophecy goes forth that she would embrace a child. In time, she does, a son. I guess you would ask what’s so bad about that? Well, nothing is….until you keep reading. “…When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father with the reapers. BUT HE SAID TO HIS FATHER, MY HEAD, MY HEAD! THE MAN SAID TO HIS SERVANT, CARRY HIM TO HIS MOTHER. AND WHEN HE WAS BROUGHT TO HIS MOTHER, HE SAT ON HER KNEES TILL NOON, AND THEN DIED…” Can you imagine losing a blessing that you didn’t even ask for in the first place? She didn’t ask for a son, but she was given one. And in old age no less! She goes from having her LIVE son CARRIED to her to having her DEAD son LAID on her knees. From GOOD to BAD in one moment! How many of us can relate to that?! One moment all is WELL and then in the blink of an eye, all is HELL! That’s like having a job today and standing on the unemployment line tomorrow; having a refrigerator full of food today to standing in line waiting to be next at the soup kitchen tomorrow; from having a clean bill of health to the doctor diagnosing a disease; from a happy marriage to a miserable divorce; from well-adjusted children to pregnant and drug addicted teens; from visiting your parents at home to visiting their graves in the cemetery; from having a best friend to having the worse enemy; from purchasing a house to reading the eviction notice on the front door; from starting a ministry to watching it stop; from opening a business to watching it close; from attending school to dropping out; from expecting a baby to leaving the hospital empty-handed. Truth is, we’ve all been there, and to tell a harder truth, many of us are STILL there. So, clearly we can all relate to this woman’s hurt, pain and frustration.

Then, the Bible goes on to say: “…THAT I MAY GO QUICKLY TO THE MAN OF GOD and come back again. And he said, Why go to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath. AND SHE SAID, IT WILL BE ALL RIGHT…” For one, I love that as painful as the situation was for her, she immediately went into action. And that action wasn’t to her family and friends, but she went straight to her husband and didn’t even ask questions or hold a full conversation about what happened. Nope, she went straight to the Man of God. And one of the things we have to learn to do is to go straight to God. Not even to family, friends and certainly not to social media or to host a pity party for our feelings/emotions. No, head straight to God! And do so without delay! She not only wanted to get to the Man of God, but the Scripture says: “…THAT I MAY GO QUICKLY…” Enter into prayer with God as quickly as this woman went to enter the presence of the prophet! Don’t try to figure anything out, don’t listen to any second-hand advice, especially from people who have never walked in the shoes your feet are in. Go straight to God…QUICKLY!

Now another thing to acknowledge is her speech, she says, “…IT WILL BE ALL RIGHT…” Now, how can this woman make such a strong declaration that “…IT WILL BE ALL RIGHT…” and the son just died! I will be the first to tell you that words of faith are not the first words that precede out of my mouth when a life struggle hits. But I am encouraged by this woman to work on changing the declaration of my lips when life hits below the belt. She already spoke a word of faith, before she even left the house! She didn’t even get to the prophet yet, and still she spoke “…IT WILL BE ALL RIGHT…” The term ‘All Right’ is defined as: ‘satisfactory; agreeable; safe; a term of approval; beyond doubt; certainly; fine; good; and WELL’ She spoke an IT IS WELL, while she was still in the WORST of it! Let this be your encouragement today that you too can speak words of faith that “…IT WILL BE ALL RIGHT…” it is WELL already! Ask God to increase your faith; renew your hope and deepen your trust. Call out to God quickly with everything you have within you! And speak your words of faith BEFORE anything about your situation even changes!

The Bible continues: “…Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, RIDE FAST; DO NOT SLACKEN YOUR PACE FOR ME unless I tell you. So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel…” Another thing you need to beware of is distractions when you’re trying to get to God! Let nothing and no one hinder you from reaching your help in God. And there’s a statement that people make that is not necessarily a bad statement, but one you should pay attention to. People will say, ‘I know what that’s like, I’ve been there, I’ve experienced that too.’ They’re not being mean at all, and many are really and honestly trying to be of assistance and comfort and encouragement. However, when you have a situation that nobody but God can fix, don’t waste your time listening to the stories about other folks tools in their toolbox that they used to fix their situation. No, ignore all distractions and get to God quickly!

And what blesses my soul is not even the son being revived, but listen to the Word of God: “…RUN TO MEET HER AND SAY, IS IT WELL WITH YOU? WELL WITH YOUR HUSBAND? WELL WITH THE CHILD? AND SHE ANSWERED, IT IS WELL…” For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why this woman could respond to the prophet like this, because in my eyes, it was not well at all! No, it wasn’t well with her, she just loss her son; and the husband likewise loss his son as well as his wife just took off to see the prophet and left him back at the house with the dead son; and clearly if the child is dead, there’s no way it’s well with him! And still she responds: “…IT IS WELL…” Could you respond “…IT IS WELL…” like this even BEFORE the situation changes? Let today be the day that we all increase our words of faith, no matter what we’re facing!

One of the things I think really messes us up is our lack of exposing vulnerabilities. Listen to this: “…When she came to the mountain to the man of God, she clung to his feet. Gehazi came to thrust her away, but the man of God said, Let her alone, FOR HER SOUL IS BITTER AND VEXED WITHIN HER, and the Lord has hid it from me and has not told me. THEN SHE SAID, DID I DESIRE A SON OF MY LORD? Did I not say, Do not deceive me?” She stayed on her feet when it first happened, but when she gets to the prophet, her vulnerability and pain are revealed. She clings to his feet. And even the prophet declares that she’s bitter and vexed. Yes, we need to speak words of faith, however, don’t silence your vulnerable voice either. Yes, get to God, and when you do, don’t attempt to put on any airs, be honest with God about everything you’re experiencing. All of it! Because there’s truthfully no point to coming to God and then not being honest about all you’re coming to Him with.

“…The mother of the child said, As the Lord lives and as my soul lives, I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU.” The prophet gave his servant Gehazi an assignment concerning the son, and you would think that the woman would be so happy that the servant had a plan from the prophet to help the son, and so she would cling to servant and head out with him back to the house, but nope! She says, “…I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU.” Listen, you’ve gone through too much to leave the presence of God now with anyone BUT God! So what’s the prophets response? “…And he arose and followed her…”

Now, listen to how all this ends: “…WHEN ELISHA ARRIVED IN THE HOUSE, THE CHILD WAS DEAD AND LAID UPON HIS BED. So he went in, shut the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. He went up and lay on the child, put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself on him and embraced him, THE CHILD’S FLESH BECAME WARM. Then he returned and walked in the house to and fro and went up again and stretched himself upon him. AND THE CHILD SNEEZED SEVEN TIMES, AND THEN OPENED HIS EYES. Then [Elisha] called Gehazi and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. AND WHEN SHE CAME, HE SAID, TAKE UP YOUR SON.” (AMPC)

There are times when I am the most impatient person in all the world, especially when I’m going through a hard place and need God to fix it! In my head, I left the house, went to the prophet (who represents and speaks on God’s behalf as His mouthpiece), the prophet has returned to my home with me, so surely my son will revive as soon as the prophet walks through the door, but not so! It was a whole process that the prophet went through before the son’s flesh even gets warm. Which is why I love the fact that the prophet went in with the dead son and shut the door on the two of them. Sometimes, not only am I impatient in waiting through the process, but I also want to be in the room so I can micro-manage God! How ridiculous is that?! But what ultimately happens is that at the right time she’s called into the room to see that her son is back well, she can once again take up her son. The same son that was carried to her alive, and laid on her and died, would once again be taken up by her hands very much alive yet again. I am so extremely encouraged to know that no matter how WORSE things get, in God’s time He will make ALL THINGS WELL AGAIN, for He still does ALL THINGS WELL!

I thought last year that I simply had a cold, but then things got WORSE really fast, and instead of a COLD it was COVID-19! But if things didn’t get WORSE, I never would’ve went to the hospital where I could find those who could help me to get BETTER. Yes, it got WORSE…but my WORSE led me to getting WELL!

And no, it was not an overnight miracle change, it was a process and a long, painful one. But I’m so glad that I get to type to you that I am alive and well, and not that someone else has to type on my behalf that my home-going service went well.

Embrace the hard times in life, no matter how bad they get. You still serve a very good God and there’s nothing so bad that He can’t make better…including YOU!

Romans 8:28, “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (AMPC)

We all go through tough seasons in life, just remember WHO is in charge of the seasons and changing them!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, “TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON, AND A TIME FOR EVERY MATTER OR PURPOSE UNDER HEAVEN: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away, A time to rend and a time to sew, a time to keep silence and a time to speak, A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What profit remains for the worker from his toil? I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. HE HAS MADE EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IN ITS TIME. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but GOD ALONE CAN SATISFY], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (AMPC)

Jeremiah 30:17, “FOR I WILL RESTORE HEALTH TO YOU, AND I WILL HEAL YOUR WOUNDS, SAYS THE LORD…!” (AMPC)

“God wants you well. God wants you prosperous. God wants you a whole person.” (Oral Roberts)

Let This Be the Year That No Matter What You Face, You Will Face it With the Declaration That it is Already Alright! Even When it Gets Worse, I Know God Will Eventually Make it Well…in His Time, in His Way!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “10 Ways to Avoid Living Paycheck to Paycheck”

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“Avoid the Valentine’s Day Crash”

2 Samuel 11:2-4, “One night he couldn’t get to sleep and went for a stroll on the roof of the palace. AS HE LOOKED out over the city, HE NOTICED a woman of unusual beauty taking her evening bath. He sent to find out who she was and was told that she was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah. Then David sent for her and when she came he slept with her. (She had just completed the purification rites after menstruation.) Then she returned home.” (TLB)

Talk about a lot of stuff going on in just a few verses! 

Well, before we get to that, listen to this…

I haven’t done a radio broadcast in a long time. However, there’s one broadcast that I will never forget! You see, I was invited to speak on a radio broadcast with a ministry colleague. At the time we were both spear-heading the women’s ministries at our separate churches, and this broadcast was focused on our views and vision for women’s ministry. We were in the studio getting ready to tape a live broadcast. But what made this program so exciting is that we also had a live studio audience filled with a lot of women in ministry. 

However, this particular session was to include a specific church whose women’s ministry was coming to be a part of the audience. This particular women’s ministry we both knew quite well, since we’ve both fellow-shipped numerous times with them.

We were so excited! It was the first radio broadcast for either of us and to have a live audience at the same time was crazy!

We were excited…they were excited…the audience was excited… 

HOWEVER, we waited, and we waited, and they never showed up! 

Consequently we never got to do the program that we planned so diligently for months to do! No one had even called us to inform us of anything! Now, either they were pretty irresponsible, or maybe something major had happened! 

Then, we found out, that in fact, something major had happened. The man driving them to the studio had looked down for just a brief second and they plowed into the rear of a construction truck!  

Thankfully no one was seriously injured, and they even came back another time to do a program.

Now, to this day, I’m still grateful that no one was injured, but I could never figure out what was so important that the driver took his eyes off the road, knowing he had a van load of women to get to an event safely?!  

Well, I found that out a little later. Believe it or not, he had just entered into a new relationship, and it was her who had called him. His phone rang, he looked down and her face was on the phone. In his own words, “I got distracted when I saw her…”  

However, that minor distraction caused him major damage!  

Women were not seriously hurt, but they were injured. They were supposed to be somewhere, and due to his distraction, they didn’t make it (which was a domino effect of disappointment for them, for us, for the audience, for the studio and staff etc…) Not to mention he lost his job, destroyed the church van, and the woman whose face was such a beautiful distraction, caused him an ugly break-up in the end!

Who knew just a brief look could distort and destroy vision and destiny?!

If you think about it, it really didn’t take much to cause that crash – actually, it just took one moment to look away! Indeed, that’s been the cause of many accidents, physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Which shifts our focus to 2 Samuel 11:1. I find this one of the saddest chapters in all of the Bible, it reads: “Then it happened in the spring, AT THE TIME WHEN THE KINGS GO OUT TO BATTLE, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all [the fighting men of] Israel, and they destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbath. BUT DAVID REMAINED IN JERUSALEM” (AMP) David’s job was to be out there fighting God’s battles right alongside the other fighting men. But instead he decided he would take a day off in more ways than one.

Not Being On His Assignment, Allowed an Attraction to Distract Him!

Beginning at verse 2 it reads: “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof HE SAW A WOMAN bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘She is Bathsheba, THE WIFE OF URIAH,’who, by the way, was ONE OF HIS TRUSTED MEN. She came to him and he slept with her.” 

The danger? “…HE SAW A WOMAN…”

The Next danger? “…THE WOMAN WAS VERY BEAUTIFUL…”

The Next danger? HE FOUND OUT WHO SHE WAS, KNEW SHE WAS OFF LIMITS, AND YET HE SLEPT WITH HER ANYHOW!

However, the initial danger that started it all was… “…HE SAW A WOMAN…”

Let’s read this again: “One night he couldn’t get to sleep and went for a stroll on the roof of the palace…” Well David, if you were where you were supposed to be in the first place you wouldn’t be in this predicament! The Bible says, “Then it happened in the spring, AT THE TIME WHEN THE KINGS GO OUT TO BATTLE…BUT DAVID REMAINED IN JERUSALEM” David, you couldn’t sleep because you weren’t supposed to be sleeping, you were supposed to be fighting! Temptation always rears its ugly head when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing; and when you’re not in the place you should be! Don’t Let the Rooftop Ruin You! When you’re supposed to be on the Battleground, be there! Because oftentimes when you go out of position, you go out of line!

So, while David is inactive and out of place, “…HE LOOKED out over the city, HE NOTICED a woman of unusual beauty taking her evening bath…” I reiterate David, if you were on the battlefield, WHERE YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN, you would never have taken notice of the unusual beauty taking a bath! David was supposed to be NOTICING the ENEMY, not the ENTICEMENT to WILLFULLY SIN! Don’t Let Sin Catch You in the City When You Should Be Out in the Field!

“…He sent to find out who she was and was told that she was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the WIFE OF URIAH…” The worse part about it all is that DAVID FOUND OUT WHO SHE WAS, AND WHOSE SHE WAS, AND STILL HE HAD TO HAVE HER! Not that it makes it any better if it were a stranger, but David, Uriah was one of your TRUSTED MEN. How do you allow your character to have such a tremendous flaw that the one you trusted, couldn’t trust you?! The one out fighting your battle has no idea that you’re watching his wife bathe! Instead of Doing What KINGS Do, David Was Doing What JOKERS DO! How do you stab in the back the very one who covers you from all sides? David had full control of what and who he saw, and what he deliberately decided to do with it. No excuse, no justification, no reasoning, no ‘oops my bad’ etc…  

“…Then David sent for her and when she came he slept with her. (She had just completed the purification rites after menstruation.) Then she returned home.” (TLB) Yep, there’s a whole lot going on here. She’s coming off her menstrual, she takes a customary purification bath, the king sends for her, she goes, she has sex with him, and she goes back home. Well, ain’t that just an interesting night? Grant it, when the king sent for you, especially as a woman in that time, you went to him no questions, arguments, refusals or negotiations. They didn’t have the protection we have today as women. The saying goes, ‘when a woman says ‘no’, it’s no.’ But unfortunately, that did not apply in Bathsheba’s day. Nor did they have the ability to make a lot of their own decisions. Many of the women then were seen as property and possessions not as a person. And I get all of that. But my focus isn’t on Bathsheba right now anyhow. It’s on David. All of his actions were his own, they were focused, calculated, manipulative, deliberate and entitled.

In a nutshell: There was a moral crash that night that David could never have foreseen and all the damages that would follow simply by not being where he should have been, and doing what he should have been doing. Take that as a warning for yourself too…selah…

Chapter 12, the prophet says to David, “You despised the Word of the Lord.” In other words he got tempted and he stopped caring what God would think. The word “despise” is defined as “to feel contempt or repugnance for.” It’s Latin Origin “despicere” literally means “to look down.” The word ‘repugnance’ is defined as, ‘intense disgust.’ Its Origin means, ‘opposition’ from Latin, ‘repugnare’ meaning ‘to oppose.’ And lastly, the word, ‘opposition’ is defined as, ‘disapprove of, resist, or be hostile to; to compete with or fight; contrasting or conflicting; opposite.’ Its Old French Origin, ‘opposer’, from Latin ‘opponere’ literally means ‘to set one’s heart and mind against.’ When David made his deliberate and willful decision to sin, he did so despising the Word of the Lord. Which means he looked down on God’s Word; he held it in intense disgust; he was in opposition to God’s Word; and he set his heart and mind against God’s Word!  

How is it possible that the man after God’s own heart, took his eyes off Him? Instead of looking up, he began to look down, and as soon as he did, he saw temptation. Have you ever been there? God-focused, and then in one glance, distort His vision for your life? I know I have, repetitively! In the wrong place, with the wrong person, doing the wrong thing, and in my FULL RIGHT MIND! Yep, I said it! And I say it because so many are walking in shoes I’ve already walked in, grown out of and thrown away! And when I share my stumbles, trips and falls in my Christian walk, it helps my brothers and sisters in Christ to walk better. Because I can tell them the roads, back alley’s, cliffs, dead-ends, stops, go’s and yields that I ignored that almost warped my entire walk with God forever! My biggest mistakes (and bad, willful, deliberate choices) came most often when I wasn’t where I should’ve been and neglectful of what I should have been doing! Like David, I was inactive and in danger! 

And the danger of that? Then the prophet says, “The sword will NEVER depart from your house.” “Never” in its simplest definition means “not ever; not at all.Oh, David’s sin is forgiven, but the consequences will haunt him, and all those attached to him, for the rest of his life and legacy! Never under-estimate the lifetime damage one night can bring! Just ask the clinics who are treating varying STD’s; just visit many of the abortion clinics; talk with those trying to figure out what to do with this baby that wasn’t supposed to be conceived. It was just one night? Absolutely! But can you imagine all that can happen, in an instant, in just one night, with just one decision?! 

Eve wasn’t just conceived and carried to full-term for 9 months and then throughout the years grew up into the woman for Adam. Nope, Adam had need of her, and God reached in him and pulled her out full-grown just for him, in an instant! If He can do that, you do know that you can conceive a baby or contract a disease just as quickly! The question to ask is, is it really worth it? Selah…

Then the prophet says, “The Lord has taken away your sin, but by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt“(2 Samuel 12:14). So, not only did David mess up his own life, and all those attached to him, but matters get even worse for him because now God’s reputation has been smeared because of what one of His children did in one night of being inactive, and out of place! How many times have we seen that happen? One brief shift of focus, one night inactive, one night out of place, one look, and you make a damaging, deliberate decision that destroys you and everything and everyone attached! 

Despite what many may think, adultery doesn’t involve the married couple and whomever the outside offender may be. It actually involves all their families, their lives, their health, and even their relationship with God, we’ve just seen that with King David. Relishing in one night of pleasure is never worth the loss of Relationship with your significant other, your families, loved ones, and especially your God.

What caused this very costly moral crash? The same thing that caused the crash of that van in the opening story – ONE LOOK AWAY!  

I believe someone is reading this right now, and God wants to say to you, “You’re about to crash because you’ve looked away.” However, He doesn’t want you to crash! He doesn’t want you to pay for the damages for the rest of your life and legacy. So He’s sending you this loving warning today. Are you listening? Are you taking heed? You’ve looked away from His book. You’ve put your Bible on a shelf and seldom are you showing up for your time with the Lord anymore. You’ve looked away from His calling on your life and you’re on a spiritual vacation. You’ve looked away from Jesus and you’ve let something or someone else take over your heart. You’re headed for a terrible crash!

David took a spiritual day off and he paid for that day with the rest of his life (and dare we say with Uriah and David and Bathsheba’s son’s life as well)! It could be you’ve been taking some spiritual days off and Satan is using your complacency, he’s using your carelessness to make you drift off the road that God once had you on. Listen, it’s time to look up, it’s time to wake up, and it’s time to quit flirting with that temptation. God said flee from it, not flirt with it! It’s time to drop that person or the people who are pulling you away from your Savior. No more compromise, no more drifting, because it will cost you too much! Look up again at Jesus who suffered and died for the very sin you’ve been playing with. Come back to His love. Come back to His Lordship. It’s so much better (and safer) there. 

If you look away much longer the crash is going to be inevitable and it’s going to be costly!

And might I add that since this weekend is Valentine’s Day, you should indeed drive your spirit and your flesh with caution, especially if you’re single! Why? Because, this is one of those times of the year when my calendar for counseling goes through the roof, because of what so many did in one night because they were lonely and needed love or attention (or some distorted temporary version of it). Do not make the mistake of letting your eyes shift to him or her, no matter what they may look like, no matter what they may offer you, no matter what they may say to you. Don’t Crash! 

Buy your own card, buy your own candy, tell yourself I love you, and do not watch Lifetime or Hallmark channels! Do not go reminiscing over the so-called wonderful man or woman they were when yall were together. Because truth is, if it were indeed that great together, why are you apart now?! Don’t get sucked into the Valentine’s Day THEME! Half the people that you envy that are smiling about Valentine’s Day is because of cards, candy, flowers and gifts, they’re excited about because they haven’t received any of that in the last 364 days! Don’t lose your mind and your life over one day or one night! If love is significant and real you received cards, candy, flowers and gifts on last month Tuesday, for no other reason than that it was last month Tuesday! He/She didn’t need to wait for February 14th to tell you, show you and prove to you that they love you! Don’t let the commercialization of this holiday cause you to crash! If you’re single, stay single! My mother used to say “a real woman knows her value and worth, she never acts like loose change.” Comical to many, but oh so true! 

Instead of being like David, inactive, out of place and blinded by distorted vision, be as active as possible wherever God has planted you. Give your all to where you are supposed to be and on what you’re supposed to be doing. And don’t just hang out with “any” single folks, but hang out with those who are focused, not distracted, not lonely, not needy, not desperate, not depressed, not dysfunctional, not settling. Create your inner-circle with those who are determined to wait for God’s absolute best! No compromise, just conviction! 

Ladies, keep your dress down and your standards up! Gentlemen, keep your shirt buttoned and your zipper zipped! Set the bar so high for them to reach that they will need to take up the High Jump in the Olympics just to figure out how to get that high up to reach your level! The best apples are always out of reach at the top of the tree (you have to work long and hard to possess them), but those that are bruised, damaged, used, easy, and cheap lay on the ground, in the dirt, accessible to anyone!

Lastly, remember the opening story. All those women in that van had an agenda, had a goal, had an aim. They knew where they were going and what they were going to do once they got there. They were together and on one accord. The only danger was the person they had in control was easily distracted by what he saw! They could’ve ended up paying the price of his distraction with their very lives. Which means, be careful of who you let lead you! Make sure they see what you see. Make sure you are indeed valuable cargo to them, so they treat you with the protective care you deserve. You never want to be on the road to your assignment and have it aborted simply because one person took one look and loss control of it all! You have too much at stake to risk losing sight…even for just one night!

Enjoy a Very Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Know That I Love You, But God Loves You More, and Loves You Best! 

Which is Why You Can’t Afford to Crash Your Character or Calling!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Foods to Eat That Help Your Metabolism”

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“20 Ways to Fall in Love All Over Again”

Bring back the passion from the early days of your relationship with these expert tips.

REIGNITE YOUR SPARK: There are lots of great things about being in a long-term relationship: Research shows that happy couples, in many ways, have better health and overall well-being than their single or divorced peers. After all, a loving partner can offer companionship, comfort, and physical and emotional support when you need it. But after years of marriage or dating, a significant other can start to feel more like a roommate than a romantic partner. Maybe you’ve grown apart, you’re busy with work and kids, or the sparks just not there anymore. For whatever reason you’ve found yourself falling out of love, well, here’s how the experts suggest you find your way back in.

BE MORE TOUCHY-FEELY: Long-term couples don’t touch enough,” says Wendy Walsh, clinical psychologist and founder of AskALoveGuru.Com, a site that matches relationship therapists with potential clients. “When we touch—especially skin-to-skin—we get a little rush of the brain chemicals that help trigger those loving feelings.Think about how often you and your partner actually share physical contact on a daily basis. If it’s just a quick peck on the lips before and after work, make an effort to step up your game, says Walsh. She cites research showing that a 20-second hug can trigger a significant oxytocin release.Most married couples hug for three seconds or less,” she says. “So I advise them, two to three times a day, to stop what they’re doing and hold a long, calm embrace. It can change your biochemistry, and you’ll begin to bond again.

SLEEP CLOSER TOGETHER: That same rush of brain chemicals can also come from physical contact in bed—and not just during sex, either. Sleeping skin-to-skin, whether it’s full-on spooning or even just touching toes, can have relationship benefits, too. In fact, a 2014 survey presented at the Edinburgh International Science Festival found that couples who slept the closest to each other reported having more relationship satisfaction.Of course we don’t know if sleeping apart causes dissatisfaction or if happier couples simply sleep closer, but why not just try to get closer and see if it helps?” says Walsh. “Get the toddler or the dog out of the bed and try snuggling for at least a few minutes.

LIMIT TECHNOLOGY:If you haven’t put your family and your relationship on a technology diet yet, this is the year to do it,” says Walsh. “Nothing is killing communication faster right now than guys staring at their iPhones while girls are trying to talk to them at the dinner table, or vice versa.” Science supports her claim, too: In a 2014 Brigham Young University survey of heterosexual women, 70% felt that smartphones and other devices were interfering with their love lives. Walsh recommends forming an agreement with your partner to cut out phones and television at mealtimes and in the bedroom, or deciding together about specific times you will and will not use technology.Otherwise, you won’t give each other your full attention, and it’s easy to become annoyed or feel disconnected.

TAKE A VACATION: If work and family obligations have forced you and your partner to put your love life on the back burner, schedule some time off from your regular responsibilities. Getting away may help you focus on each other (instead of distractions like the bathroom that needs repairs), but even a staycation or a long weekend at home—if you treat it right—can be enough to refresh your bond. Before you go, though, have an honest conversation about your expectations, says Alexandra Solomon, licensed clinical therapist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University.It’s important to discuss how much time you’ll spend together, whether you want to have more sex than usual, and what you hope to accomplish in terms of your relationship,” she says. “It can feel unromantic to lay it out ahead of time, but it will reduce your chances of feeling disappointed if you both have different goals in mind.

SAY THANK YOU: When you fall into habits in a relationship, you may take for granted the nice things your partner routinely does for you. And even if you do notice them, do you let him or her know you’re thankful? Gratitude is important, says Walsh. “Put a note in his briefcase letting him know you appreciate that he gets the dry cleaning every week,” she says, “or touch her on the arm and thank her for bringing you Starbucks every day.Solomon suggests keeping a gratitude journal, and writing down three things every day you’re thankful for—whether it’s related to your relationship or not.It can foster a sense of well-being and openness that can improve your connection with your partner.

PUCKER UP: Locking lips can play an important role in the quality of a long-term relationship, according to a 2013 study from Oxford University. In fact, researchers found that frequent kissing was even more important to relationship satisfaction than frequent sex.A 30-second kiss gives us a warm, fuzzy, safe bonding feeling from that cuddle hormone, oxytocin,” says Bonnie Eaker Weil, relationship counselor and author of Make Up, Don’t Break Up. “Partners can give this feeling to each other by practicing a hug and a kiss—a mini connection—in the morning before work and before bed at night.

COMPLIMENT EACH OTHER: When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, it’s easy to focus on the negative, says Walshwhich can lead to nagging, hurt feelings, and dissatisfaction on both sides. Instead, she says, try to focus more on the good things and less on the bad. To use a garden analogy, water what you want to grow; don’t water the weeds.Letting your partner know what you love about them—whether it’s physical, intellectual, or emotional—can actually help you see him or her in a more positive light, says Solomon. “When I have couples in therapy who are growing apart, I make sure they start our time together by sharing some compliments back and forth.

INCORPORATE SURPRISE: To relive the feeling of falling in love, says Eaker Weil, you’ve got to find new ways to trigger that rush of feel-good dopamine and oxytocin—like by incorporating novelty, excitement, and surprise into your not-so-new-anymore relationship. You may try “kidnapping” each other, she suggests, taking turns on different weekends to plan secret activity or destinations. Or try something simpler: “Date night but with something new—a new restaurant, or even new food at the same restaurant,” she says. “A weekend overnight in a new place, or a vacation without children; anything with the element of surprise.

CULTIVATE YOUR OWN INTERESTS: Falling in love with someone isn’t all about what happens when you’re together; a lot of it has to do with what you’re doing on your own, says Solomon. “People become passive in their relationships when they become disengaged, and one of the main reasons they become disengaged is because they’re not satisfied with their own lives.That’s why she encourages clients to make sure their lives contain something they feel passionate about individually—something their partner doesn’t necessarily share. Say you love horseback riding,” she says. “If you come home from a ride feeling energetic and alive, you can bring a fuller, more engaged self to your relationship, as well.

OBSERVE YOUR PARTNER’S PASSIONS: Likewise, Solomon says, it’s important for your partner to have a passion, as well. And if you want to remember why you fell in love in the first place, find a way to witness your loved one in his or her most passionate state.I have a friend who’s married to a fisherman, and while she’ll never share his love for fishing, she’s happy to navigate his boat and just honor his talent and watch him in his element,” says Solomon. “She gets to see him being alive and excited, and that’s really the best way to see your partner.

CREATE SOMETHING TOGETHER: Once you’ve got your individual passions figured out, it’s also helpful to have something you can both pour your love and attention into. The couples who last the longest tend to be the ones who create something together,” says Walsh. Often that something is children, she adds, but it can also be a business, a charity, or even a home-remodeling project. Look for something you are both interested in—not just something you’re into and you think your spouse can get on board with,” she says. “When you work together on something you care about, you can see your partner in a different light.

GO ON DOUBLE DATES: You don’t need to spend all of your couple time one-on-one. In fact, inviting friends along once and a while can help you and your partner reaffirm your love for each other. In a 2014 Wayne State University study, people who went on double dates with other couples they were close with said they felt more affection and romantic feelings toward their partners. It turns out that watching your other half interact with friends can help you remember what you love about him or her, say the study authors—and praising each other in front of other people (bragging about her new promotion, or telling stories about what a good cook he is) can be a turn-on for both of you, too.

STARE INTO EACH OTHER’S EYES: In 1997, psychologist Arthur Aron published a study suggesting that any two people could fall in love by asking each other a series of 36 questions, then staring into each other’s eyes for four minutes. In January, writer Mandy Len Catron wrote in the New York Times about trying the experiment herself with a former college acquaintance. “I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life,Len Catron wrote in the newspaper’s Modern Love column. There’s no guarantee Aron’s method will work for everyone, but it did for her—she and her test subject soon fell in love.

FLIRT WITH EACH OTHER: Staying happy in a long-term relationship requires balancing two basic needs, according to Solomon: “We crave security and knowing somebody’s got our backs no matter what, but we also crave excitement and novelty and mystery,” she says. “The challenge is trying to have both of those things met by the same person—and one way couples can do that is by flirting with each other like they’ve just met.Flirting can be different for every couple, but anything affectionate, sexually suggestive, or playful can fit the bill. And while it may feel awkward to send an inappropriate text to the person you’ve been married to for years, it can help add excitement to a romance that feels stalled, says Solomon. “The key is finding a way to do it so you both feel comfortable and you’re having fun.

WORK OUT TOGETHER: Breaking a sweat with your sweetie may increase your physical attraction, as well as your emotional bond. Research has found that after being physically active together, couples reported more relationship satisfaction and being more in love with their partners—and that physical arousal (elevated heart rate, heavy breathing, etc.) can often elicit romantic attraction. Eaker Weil recommends hitting the gym together, or finding a class or activity you can both enjoy. It could be dancing or Jujitsu—anything that involves high energy play can cause a rush, and bonding toward your partner.

ENGAGE IN PILLOW TALK: In 2013, University of Connecticut research found that couples who disclosed positive feelings to each other after sex reported more relationship satisfaction than those who didn’t. This may be part of the way committed couples maintain their closeness and their romantic bond, the researchers say. For an even better relationship boost, spend a few extra minutes after sex chatting and snuggling. Couples who engaged in post-sex affection (such as cuddling and caressing) during a 2014 University of Toronto study were generally happier with their sex lives and relationships overall, even three months later. The findings suggest that the period after sex is a critical time for promoting satisfaction in intimate bonds,” the authors wrote.

DON’T PLAY GAMES: If you’re feeling distant from your partner, you may think that putting on a sexy dress or doubling up on your sessions in the weight-room is the best way to get his or her attention and jump-start your flagging romance. And that may work—but it could also backfire: If he or she doesn’t read your mind or notice that you’re trying to impress him or her, you could end up feeling worse and resentful,” says Solomon. Instead, Solomon suggests sitting down to talk honestly about how you feel.Say something like, ‘I don’t feel particularly connected to you right now, and I have some thoughts about what I’d like to do differently to make us feel closer,’” she says. “That way, it’s less of a test that your partner passes or fails—you’re in it together, and you’re both making an effort.”

REDEFINE DATE NIGHT: Scheduling regular time to be by yourselves as a couple, away from your work and home responsibilities, can help you stay connected and remember what you love about each other. But that doesn’t have to mean getting all dressed up and going out to a fancy dinner—it can be as simple as taking a walk together every night and discussing your day. Going on a date can be the time you look at your partner not as a co-parent or a co-homeowner, but as the person you built your life with,” says Solomon. But couples should decide what’s romantic to them, she adds. “It doesn’t have to look like an episode of The Bachelor, with high heels and candles and roses. For some people it looks like Subway sandwiches on the beach, and for some people it looks like sitting at Barnes and Noble playing chess.

BE THERE FOR EACH OTHER: A 2009 study from Stony Brook University found that, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to be in a long-term relationship and maintain feelings of romantic love (and not just comfortable companionship) for many years. One secret to this lasting attraction? Having your partner’s back, and knowing that your partner also has yours. Adults who feel secure in their relationships tend to have higher self-esteem, the study found, which correlates to more feelings of “intense, exclusive focus” on their partners.Thus, having the felt security that a partner is ‘there for you,’ not only makes for a smooth functioning relationship, but also may facilitate feelings of romantic love,” the authors wrote.

ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS: Even with all of these tips, says Walsh, no relationship will be perfect—and that’s the most important thing to remember if you’re feeling dissatisfied with your love life.We live in such a sexualized culture, people come in thinking something’s missing if they’re not having 50 Shades of Grey sex and swinging from the chandeliers,” she says. Before you decide your romance isn’t good enough, she says, remember that all long-term unions have ups and downs, and that love can be felt and expressed in many different ways. A lot of people end up in therapy because their expectations don’t match the reality of their life, and they’re hoping to change their environment,Walsh says. “Sometimes, what they really need to change is their outlook.

Amanda MacMillan, Health, March 04, 2015

“Don’t just tell me you love me. I want it to be so visible that for a second, I almost think I can touch it.” (Author Unknown)

“You know you’ve found true love when you catch yourself falling in love with the same person over and over again.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“We fall in love by Chance. We stay in love by Choice.” (Author Unknown)

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” (Mignon McLaughlin)

“We can get so busy taking care of Life that we forget to take care of Love.” (Sharon Jaynes)

“Marriage doesn’t guarantee you will be together forever, it’s only paper. It takes love, respect, trust, understanding, friendship, and faith in your relationship to make it last.” (Author Unknown)

“Remember to kiss your spouse goodnight, regardless of the day’s events.” (Author Unknown)

“If you want a relationship that looks and feels like the most amazing thing on earth, you need to treat it like it is the most amazing thing on earth.” (Author Unknown)

“You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy time with your mate. Plan a regular night each week that you can call a date night. Our monthly budget is $100. Once a month, we go to a nicer restaurant. The other three weeks, we hit up fast-food places. We just make a point to have time alone. It is always very refreshing.” (Making Love Work)

“7 Signs of a Healthy Marriage: unconditional commitment; consistent communication; honest transparency; passionate intimacy; mutual respect; frequent laughter; limitless love.” (Dave Willis)

“A man can overcome any obstacle and accomplish any goal if he believes his wife believes in him.” (Dave Willis)

“Make time together a priority. Budget for a consistent date night. Time is the ‘currency’ of relationships, so consistently invest time into your marriage.”

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “What to Know About Bananas?”

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“Is Your Church a Storm Shelter or Just a Storm?”

You know, there’s a stretch of Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City, that has been called “Tornado Alley.” On the Weather Channel, a lot of spring and summer days show that part of the country colored in the bright red that indicates severe weather is for Oklahoma! The most powerful tornado America ever had so far even roared through the Oklahoma City area just a few years ago. When my friend Ethan drove through that particular area on a spring day between storm systems, he couldn’t help but be impressed with what he saw as he drove by a church. Right in front of the church you could see an open door sticking up out of the ground. The church actually had a storm cellar right out on the street, and the door was WIDE OPEN!

And if you think about it, that’s exactly how EVERY CHURCH AND CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP should be – A STORM CELLAR WITH THE DOOR WIDE OPEN FOR EVERYBODY TO ENTER! Sadly, too many churches turn out to be a place where you find more storms than storm cellars. However, the church is meant to be the safest place in town, especially in the midst of storms!

Truthfully, we’ve got a lot to learn from the original template of how God’s people are supposed to operate together. It’s described for us in Acts 2, beginning with verse 42. These were the original Christians and they showed us how to do it right. The Bible reads, “They devoted themselves, to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” First of all, there’s the key to being Jesus’ kind of church – STAY FOCUSED ON THE MAJORS AND DON’T GET MIRED IN THE MINORS. The majors are studying the Word of God together, celebrating your common ground in Christ, remembering His cross, and waging war on your knees in prayer. Not majoring on personalities, buildings, budgets, music styles, or putting people in categories that you see fit to put them in.

This powerful blueprint goes on to say that “all the believers were together…they gave to anyone as he had need.” They focused on needs, not programs, pulpits, pews and pettiness. No, “every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” Well, of course they won the favor of all the people! How could they miss when they provided a place where you could count on being loved, count on having people care about your needs, and count on finding a safe place. That’s the storm cellar so many people are looking for in our stormy world.

Listen to Acts 2:42-47 in the Amplified Bible: “And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread [including the Lord’s Supper] and prayers. And a sense of awe (reverential fear) came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were performed through the apostles (the special messengers). And all who believed (who adhered to and trusted in and relied on Jesus Christ) were united and [together] they had everything in common; And they sold their possessions (both their landed property and their movable goods) and distributed the price among all, according as any had need. And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved [from spiritual death].” (AMPC)

The Message Bible reads it like this: “That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.” (MSG)

Can you image if today’s church responded like the Acts 2 church? If we assembled in prayer, reading the Word of God, sharing the Lord’s Supper together, studying, meeting the needs of all, with no ownership or competitiveness involved, just unconditional, sacrificial love, kindness and selflessness!

So, how did we let God’s safe place deteriorate into just another stormy place? Let’s be honest about it: Egos, personal agendas masquerading as God’s agenda, making small issues into big issues, developing an unofficial caste system that effectively has one group of people who are the insiders and the rest who feel like the outsiders, judging people by their outward appearance instead of by their heart, or treating people as categories instead of as individuals, just to name a few. Somehow, the church has become a place where we’re known for something other than the one characteristic Jesus said would draw people to Him… “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. The Message Bible says it like this: “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (MSG) Did you catch that? We, the church, Christ’s disciples, are to love others and one another, “…IN THE SAME WAY I LOVED YOU…” And how did He love us? “No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] THAN TO LAY DOWN (GIVE UP) HIS OWN LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS.” (John 15:13 AMP) The Message Bible reads like this: “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: LOVE ONE ANOTHER THE WAY I LOVED YOU. This is the very best way to love. PUT YOUR LIFE ON THE LINE FOR YOUR FRIENDS. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father. (John 15:11-15 MSG); John 3:16-17, “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that HE [EVEN] GAVE UP HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN (UNIQUE) SON, SO THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN (TRUSTS IN, CLINGS TO, RELIES ON) HIM SHALL NOT PERISH (COME TO DESTRUCTION, BE LOST) BUT HAVE ETERNAL (EVERLASTING) LIFE. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.” (AMPC) The Message Bible reads like this: “THIS IS HOW MUCH GOD LOVED THE WORLD: HE GAVE HIS SON, HIS ONE AND ONLY SON. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” (John 3:16-18 MSG)

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit loves in such an unconditional and sacrificial manner, and WE, the CHURCH, are called to love likewise!

Think about it, in the midst of a storm, do you think people want to be yelled at because the storm messed up their home or their lives; or be yelled at because they are struggling in the storm; or that they can’t come back to the church until AFTER the storm has passed! No, we are to LOVE people IN the storm! And truthfully, storms make an absolute mess of things! They knock down power lines; tress; throw garbage and recycling cans around; snow, sleet, leaves and dirt are flying all over the place; they can cause black outs and accidents; and if you’re caught outside in it, your hair and clothes all take a severe beating! Does that sound like something people are smiling through? No, those are times when people need sympathy, concern, help, and most of all LOVE! So, how are you doing as a storm cellar? How’s your church doing as a storm cellar? Or are you both simply a place where storms kick up more mess?!

Listen, we represent the welcoming Savior who said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The Message Bible reads like this: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG) This is how people can come to Jesus, but can they come to us, the church, the same way? Are we adding to people’s storms, or are we taking away the burden of it so they can gather strength and rest?

The One who was called “the friend of sinners” and who sought out the lostest (my word) of the lost, and who sought out those the religious people rejected, is the same One who told us to “…LOVE THE SAME WAY HE LOVED US…” Question is, are we doing it? That’s a welcoming Savior, that’s a loving Savior! We’ve got to be His welcoming representatives, providing one place where anyone and everyone can feel safe in this storm-ravaged world. We are the open door through which people can find the sanctuary of the love of Jesus Christ.

Listen to this: A ‘storm shelter or storm cellar’ is defined as ‘a type of underground bunker designed to protect the occupants from violent severe weather, particularly tornadoes; a cellar or covered excavation designed for protection from dangerous windstorms (such as tornadoes)’. Church, this should describe us and the House of God! The Lord’s House should be that place of shelter where people can use as their refuge and help, to come into and regain strength and peace. After all, that’s where the Bible says strength resides! Read Psalm 20:2,

“MAY HE SEND YOU HELP FROM HIS SANCTUARY and STRENGTHEN you from JERUSALEM.” (NLT) Jerusalem is “THE CITY OF PEACE”

“MAY HE SEND YOU HELP FROM THE HOUSE OF GOD, and give you STRENGTH from ZION.” (NLV) Zion is “THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN”

“MAY HE SEND YOU HELP FROM THE SANCTUARY and GRANT YOU SUPPORT FROM ZION” (NIV)

“God answer you on the day you crash, The name God-of-Jacob put you out of harm’s reach, Send reinforcements from Holy Hill, DISPATCH FROM ZION FRESH SUPPLIES, Exclaim over your offerings, Celebrate your sacrifices, GIVE YOU WHAT YOUR HEART DESIRES, ACCOMPLISH YOUR PLANS.” (VSS 1-4 MSG)

“MAY HE SEND YOU AID FROM HIS SANCTUARY IN ZION” (TLB)

“MAY HE SEND YOU HELP FROM THE SANCTUARY AND SUSTAIN YOU FROM ZION” (HCSB)

“MAY THE LORD SEND HELP FROM HIS TEMPLE AND COME TO YOUR RESCUE FROM MOUNT ZION.” (CEV)

“SEND YOU HELP FROM THE SANCTUARY AND SUPPORT, REFRESH, AND STRENGTHEN YOU FROM ZION;” (AMPC)

“MAY HE SEND YOU HELP FROM THE SANCTUARY (HIS DWELLING PLACE) AND SUPPORT AND STRENGTHEN YOU FROM ZION!” (AMP)

Church, let’s not just GO to church, but let’s BE the church! And apart of that BEING the CHURCH is US being a place of strength, shelter, hope, help, rescue for people fighting to survive the storms of life. Some people are struggling to endure physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual storms. They need GOD not GOSSIP. They need COMFORT not CRITICISM. They need SHELTER not more STORMS. They need LOVE not LONELINESS.

Today, if we and our churches are storm shelters, let’s work even harder to do and be more. If we’re not, let today be the day that we are encouraged, empowered and inspired to exemplify the church of Acts 2. Let today be the day that we love as Jesus loved us!

Psalm 27:5, “For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His SHELTER; in the secret place of His tent will He hide me; He will set me high upon a rock.” (AMPC)

Psalm 55:8, “I would hasten to escape and to find a SHELTER from the stormy wind and tempest.” (AMPC)

Psalm 57:1, “[To the Chief Musician; [set to the tune of] “Do Not Destroy.” A record of memorable thoughts of David when he fled from Saul in the cave. ] Be merciful and gracious to me, O God, be merciful and gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge and finds SHELTER and confidence in You; yes, in the shadow of Your wings will I take refuge and be confident until calamities and destructive storms are passed.” (AMPC)

Psalm 61:3-4, “For You have been a SHELTER and a refuge for me, a strong tower against the adversary. I will dwell in Your tabernacle forever; let me find refuge and trust in the SHELTER of Your wings. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” (AMPC)

Psalm 71:3, “Be to me a rock of refuge in which to dwell, and a SHELTERING stronghold to which I may continually resort, which You have appointed to save me, for You are my Rock and my Fortress.” (AMPC)

Isaiah 4:6, “And there shall be a pavilion for shade in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge and a SHELTER from storm and from rain.” (AMPC)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “The Healthiest Takeout Orders From Every Cuisine”

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