“The Necessity of an Engrafted Word”

“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the ENGRAFTED WORD, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21) 

I’m often told that I e-mail ‘Bible Studies’ daily and not daily devotionals! That always makes me smile, since for one, that’s a very high compliment as a teacher; and two, many Pastors actually use my daily devotionals, especially the series, as Bible Study / Sunday School Lessons in their churches! So, am I offended by the statement? Not one bit! In fact, I’m quite honored! Truthfully, I never intended to send out 2-3 lines daily just to encourage believers. No disrespect intended, but there are Many daily devotionals that are e-mailed with that as their sole intent, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Even Peter received One Word, “Come”, that was an “Engrafted Word”, because it impacted him by moving him from one place to another, (we’ll look at that a little more in depth later). So, I reiterate, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a short format devotional!                 

However, as for me, my heart’s desire as a teacher/preacher/counselor/life coach (and whatever else can be added to the list) is based solely on the Word of God, more specifically, based on James 1:21, the “…Engrafted Word” of God! Why you ask? Because the word “Engrafted” means, “to attach to, and become part of.” Therefore, it is my ministry goal daily to e-mail an “Engrafted Word”, one that will attach itself to you and become part of you!

Picture a gardener grafting a branch into a tree and that branch coming to life and bearing fruitNow picture yourself reading God’s Word and a Scripture attaching itself to you, growing in you and producing change in your lifeThat’s how God’s Word works. And so help me, that’s how these Devotionals will continue to work!               

As a teacher, it is my charge to give clear and concise instruction, which causes me to have to dig deeper and explain further. Why is that so important? Because James admonishes: “NOT MANY [of you] should become teachers…for you know that we [teachers] will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity [than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation].” (3:1 AMP). The Message Bible says it like this: “Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher…Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards…

In other words, when I e-mail you daily devotionals of direction to change your life and lifestyle, I’m held accountable for the “Engrafted Word” I teach that becomes a part of who you become! That’s a tremendous responsibility, that no teacher ought to take lightly! Now, you understand why I’m an extremely detailed devotional writer! There is great responsibility and condemnation to the teachers of the “Engrafted Word” of God!                 

But why do I desire to teach an “Engrafted Word”? Well, to be real blunt, far too many are simply “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…” (2 Timothy 3:5). How do I know many are hearing a Word, but not receiving an “Engrafted Word”? Because power changes things! For example, you can take an extension cord and plug it into an outlet, but if the power is off, nothing in a dark room is going to change! But if you take that same cord and plug it in with the power on, light comes in and darkness gets pushed out! That’s why the Bible says: “…what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV). Light and darkness don’t dwell together, and it’s power that separates the two, because power always changes things! 

With that said, you’ll know when you’ve received an “Engrafted Word” because things in your life will change! Why? Because the Word has Power! “For the Word of God is quick, and POWERFUL, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). In other words, an “Engrafted Word” is “Powerful” enough to invoke change! But right before that word “Powerful”, did you notice it also says the Word is “Quick”?! So before you go complaining that, “this is just the way I am; I’ve been like this my whole life; that’s just me; I’m set in my ways; that’s just my personality; I don’t let nothing and no one change me”, before you go off on that tangent, might I remind you that the Word of God is “Quick” and “Powerful”! If you haven’t changed yet, it’s because you have NOT received an “Engrafted Word”! You can’t receive one and stay the same! Even if you’re walking in the darkness of sin, the Bible says: “By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by your righteous order.” (Psalm 119:105-106 MSG). When you’ve received an “Engrafted Word”, you must change and change quickly! It don’t take a lifetime for God to change you! He spoke one Word to Peter “Come”, it was an “Engrafted Word” because Peter received and embraced it, upon doing so he changed location from sitting on a boat to walking on the water, and it didn’t take a decade to get it done! 

Let’s look at a few Scriptures to test this out: 

  1. …Jesus called them, and IMMEDIATELY they left the boat and…followed him.” (Matthew 4:21-22 NIV). [The Engrafted Word spoke and they changed direction and occupation!]
  2. …Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying…be thou clean. And IMMEDIATELY his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matthew 8:2-4). [The Engrafted Word spoke and a disease was dismissed!]
  3. I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go…and IMMEDIATELY he arose, took up the bed, and went…” (Mark 2:11-13). [The Engrafted Word spoke and he was able to lift what had carried him for years!]
  4. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And IMMEDIATELY he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” (Mark 10:52). [The Engrafted Word spoke and impaired vision was restored!]
  5. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and IMMEDIATELY she arose and ministered…” (Luke 4:39). [The Engrafted Word spoke and ministering went forth!]               

Clearly, the “Engrafted Word” is “Quick” and “Powerful” enough to change people, places and things ‘Immediately’!               

The “Engrafted Word” liberates you, lifts you, directs you, and enables you to fight and win! Engrafted-Word-Carrying-Believers are Potent! That’s because the “Engrafted Word” sticks to you, takes you through the storm, feeds you in famine, quenches your thirst in drought, and brings you through the worst of times!  

The “Engrafted Word” is self-sustaining! It doesn’t require the accolades of men or the support of others to validate it! As Jesus was walking on the water towards His disciples in the boat, Peter said, “Lord, if it’s you,”…”tell me to come…” (Matthew 14:28 NIV). Jesus gave him one Word, “Come,” and Peter started walking! Was he scared? I know I would’ve been! That’s why your desire to obey what He said, has to always be greater than the fear of doing what He said! The “Engrafted Word” gives you a desire for God that’s greater than your doubts and limitations 

Keep in mind: When you receive an “Engrafted Word” from God, there will always be those who don’t believe you can do it; those who are so comfortable with where you’re currently at, that they don’t want you to even try to do it; and those who are so competitive that they don’t want you to succeed at doing it! When God gives you a Word and you step out on it, don’t expect everybody to validate it! It’s normal for you to want certain people to see what you see and believe what you believe. But God prepares you for disagreements between you and those who don’t understand what God has told you. If you’re not careful, people’s opinions will short-circuit your faith and make you doubt what God said! God says: “I’m not going to confirm what I’ve told you through them! In fact, I don’t even need them to agree with what I’ve spoken concerning you.” Pay attention to Peter once again: He said: “Lord, if it’s YOU…” That’s all you need to know, is it the “Lord”! Secondly, Peter said: “…tell me to come…”, NOT US! Just, “…tell ME…” Everybody sitting with you, can’t walk with you! Be confident in God. You may want all these external support systems, but the truth is, you don’t need them! The “Engrafted Word” is self-sustaining!               

Lastly, when God gives you an “Engrafted Word,” it will make you hunger for more of the same! But be careful; don’t go “cherry-picking” the Bible for feel-good Scriptures! To grow in your faith you must discipline yourself to spend time each day in God’s Word! You don’t discover an “Engrafted Word” all by yourself, or decide that one particular Scripture is for you and another is not. No! The Bible says: “ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  

To make a profit in business you must know your business thoroughly, otherwise you’ll soon be out of business! The way to succeed in your Christian life is to make it your business to know your Bible! Don’t just seek a Word from God, study the entire Word of God! Saturate yourself in the Scriptures! It’s like the analogy of the sperm and the egg. Neither the male sperm nor the female egg is designed to reproduce on their own. Only when the sperm impacts and is embraced by the egg, is there conception and reproduction! And it’s the same with our spiritual growth! When God’s Word and the receptive heart get together, something is going to happen! That’s a combination that works every time! There’s no substitute for first-hand, daily, consistent exposure to His “Engrafted Word”! 

Today, no matter who is teaching the Word, your goal is to make sure you are receiving the unadulterated Gospel, the full Word of God and not a piece meal, or selected feel-good verses. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. So determine to study the Bible in its entirety, yes, even the Scriptures that step on your toes, after all, those are usually the very ones that cause you to walk better! Remember the Word of God is to be Engrafted so that it Equips, not Entertains! Which is why we are not told to simply read the Word, but to STUDY and APPLY it! “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP); “But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth]” (James 1:22 AMP)  

Seek Engraftment NOT Entertainment!

“For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 AMP). 

The point of teaching is to pierce the heart of the believer and unbeliever alike, to make both better! “Now when they heard this they were stung (cut) to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles (special messengers), Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, [even] to and for as many as the Lord our God invites and bids to come to Himself. And [Peter] solemnly and earnestly witnessed (testified) and admonished (exhorted) with much more continuous speaking and warned (reproved, advised, encouraged) them, saying, Be saved from this crooked (perverse, wicked, unjust) generation. Therefore those who accepted and welcomed his message were baptized, and there were added that day about 3,000 souls. 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.” (Acts 2:38-42 AMP).

An Engrafted Word Will Always Impact the Lives of People For the Better!

Listen, these are indeed the last and evil days, and the last thing you need to do is wander away from the Word of God. Make a determination to be rooted and grounded in a Bible Teaching, Bible Preaching, Bible Praying, Bible Believing, Bible Living Church! And once you’re there, determine to always be found in Sunday School and Bible Study, not just Sunday Morning Worship! The teaching arm of the ministry is strong and powerful, it’s foundational to your growth and development in the faith! Strengthen your personal and congregational bible study time with the Engrafted Word of God. You will become one of God’s Strongest Soldiers in Spiritual Warfare!

“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the ENGRAFTED WORD, which is able to SAVE YOUR SOULS.” (James 1:21) 

Most importantly, the Engrafted Word of God is Purposed to Save Your Soul. Not make you feel good, or feel better. Not to twist and distort into a prosperity, blessings, houses, cars, land, promotion message. Not to tickle your ears or your fancy. But it is to Save Your Soul! And for the price your Savior paid for your soul don’t you think you owe Him your undivided attention where His Word is concerned? After all, He gave His blood and life and all He’s asking from you is that you study His Word. Should that really be a struggle?

Proverbs 30:5, “Every Word of God has been proven true. He is a safe-covering to those who trust in Him.” (NLV)

Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” (ESV)

John 1:1, “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.” (AMP)

John 1:14, “And the Word (Christ) became flesh, and lived among us; and we [actually] saw His glory as belongs to the [One and] only begotten Son of the Father, [the Son who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, who is] full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception).” (AMP)

Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [of My law, where I reveal My will]. Because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.” (AMP)

Psalm 119:9-16, “How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth; I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.” (MSG)

“There is only one safeguard against error, and that is to be established in the faith; and for that, there has to be prayerful and diligent study, and a receiving with meekness the engrafted Word of God. Only then are we fortified against the attacks of those who assail us.” (Arthur W. Pink)

“We need to start teaching the Bible the way it was written instead of watering it down to make it easier for people to swallow. People can swallow the truth.” (PassionForTruth)

“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“If Jesus preached the same message ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

“There was a time when people went to church, heard the truth, and wept over their sins. Today…people go to church, hear a motivational speech, and ignore their sins.” (Ron Smith)

“It is the Christian’s responsibility to spread and protect the Gospel, why? Because it will continue to be under attack. The enemies want to distort and neutralize its powerful effect.” (Author Unknown)

“We should no more tolerate false doctrine than we would tolerate sin.” (J.C. Ryle)

“Avoid a sugar-coated gospel. Seek the gospel that rips up, wounds and even kills, for that’s the Gospel that makes alive again.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“The church is getting fat feeding on feel good gospel, when it needs to go on a diet of Jesus Filled Reality.” (Author Unknown)

“If the Word of God were a treasure map, I believe more people would read it. This proves they have no idea what unspeakable riches it holds.” (AMBrewster)

“There’s nothing more dangerous to the kingdom of darkness than a believer with the Word of God in his mouth.” (Joyce Meyer)

“If you want to be led by the Spirit of God, then devote yourself to the Word of God.” (J.D. Grear)

“The Bible was not given to increase knowledge, but to change our lives.” (D.L. Moody)

“Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.” (Ronald Reagan)

“The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.” (D.L. Moody)

“I spent six years in bible study because I needed to get grounded. People really need to spend time in the Bible getting to know the God they claim to love.” (Willie Aames)

“A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Keep studying the Scriptures. Keep doing the things that build your faith in Jesus Christ. And then notice the wise choices you are naturally drawn to make.” (Russell M. Nelson)

“The Bible and studying the Bible has been an important part of my life.” (Jimmy Carter)

“The devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still.” (A.W. Tozer)

“Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the Scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the Word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the Word of God. If so, do it!” (Richard G. Scott)

“There is no long-range effective teaching of the Bible that is not accompanied by long hours of ongoing study of the Bible.” (D.A. Carson)

“We cannot properly understand Scripture without prayer, and we cannot know how to pray without studying Scripture.” (Becka Goings)

“God’s voice echoes throughout Scriptures. If I want to know God’s voice, I must spend time reading and studying the Bible.” (Margaret Feinberg)

“We live in a time when the Scriptures and the words of modern-day prophets are more easily accessible than at any time in the history of the world. However, it is our privilege and duty, and it is our responsibility to reach out and grasp their teachings.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

“Let us receive nothing, believe nothing, follow nothing, which is not in the Bible, nor can be proved by the Bible.” (J.C. Ryle)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “This is What Happens to Your Body After Losing 10 Pounds”

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“You Have to Go Beyond the Surface”

Luke 6:46-49, “Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, HOMEOWNER IMPROVEMENTS to your standard of living. They are FOUNDATION words, words to BUILD a life on. “If you WORK the words into your life, you are like a SMART CARPENTER who DUG DEEP and laid the FOUNDATION of his HOUSE on BEDROCK. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the HOUSE, NOTHING COULD SHAKE IT; IT WAS BUILT TO LAST. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t WORK them into your life, you are like a DUMB CARPENTER who BUILT a HOUSE BUT SKIPPED THE FOUNDATION. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a HOUSE of cards. IT WAS A TOTAL LOSS.” (MSG)

I am indeed a lover of the animal kingdom! In fact, I’ve written countless devotionals, lessons and even sermons about eagles, donkey’s, geese, snakes, grasshoppers, ants, rock badgers, termites, heifers, mules, gerbils, ticks, and more, including all sorts of birds! But doing a crossword puzzle, I happened to come across an animal I’d never heard of. Therefore, my question to you today is, what on God’s green earth (as my mother would say), is an Emu?

Well, if you guessed a big old Australian bird that can’t fly, you’re right! They can’t fly, however, what they can do is Produce Oil!

How did I find that out? Well, in addition to loving the animal kingdom, I have some great (but crazy) friends who are tremendous lovers of all things outdoors! And Michelle and her husband Tom were the ones who taught me about the Emu (I mean, who better to ask than those who are always in the mountains, on trails, hiking, and camping…in other words, doing all the stuff I do NOT do!)

You see, Michelle is the one who discovered that the Emu produces oil, and here’s how she discovered it and why she’s glad she did! Michelle had been having some severe pain in her back and arm. But in-spite of it, her and Tom decided to go ahead with their plans to spend a few days away with their family. The place they were staying at had bottles of emu oil for sale, of all things, at the cash register. Tom had never heard of emu oil (much to my surprise). And so he wasn’t exactly jumping up and down to buy some. But the owners said it might help give his wife a little relief. So, “Hello, to our new purchase of emu oil.” Now, it wasn’t a miracle cure, but they do think it helped. Tom just put a blob of it on Michelle where she was hurting, and then gently, yet deeply rubbed it into her back and arm (as per the instructions)Which means, that blob of emu oil wouldn’t have done much good just sitting on the surface of Michelle’s back and arm. No, it worked because it was rubbed deep into it and that’s how it helped, that’s how it became effective!

And believe it or not, but that’s how we arrive at Luke 6:46-49. It’s a great Scripture and analogy about the importance of rubbing it in, or going deeper. Jesus begins by saying this, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” In case you didn’t catch it, the key words here are: “…DO NOT DO…” Which reminds me of James 1:22 – “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. DO WHAT IT SAYS.” In other words, just having a big blob of Bible information in your brain won’t do anything but make you think you’re doing fine spiritually, when you’re not. You have to rub it in! It needs to go deeper, it needs to penetrate to make a significant life-changing difference. Which is why it never makes sense to attend Sunday School, Bible Study, Sunday Sermons or even Higher Christian Education with Bible College and Seminary…IF…you are not going to apply what you hear, learn and now know! It has to get off the surface so it can be EMBEDDED (which means, ‘fixed firmly and deeply; implanted; and engrafted.’) in your Spirit! Which we learn about when we go up just one verse in James 1:21, where it admonishes us about the value of an ENGRAFTED WORD!

Sidebar: the full devotional titled “The Necessity of an Engrafted Word” is on this website, enjoy the full read at your convenience! But here is a snippet to assist with today’s devotional:

“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the ENGRAFTED WORD, which is able to save your souls.” The word “Engrafted” means “to attach to, and become part of.” And that’s what should be happening when you hear the Word of God, it should penetrate so deeply THAT IT BECOMES PART OF YOU! And why do we need an “Engrafted Word” so badly? Well, to be real blunt, far too many are simply “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…” (2 Timothy 3:5). And how do I know many are hearing a Word, but not receiving an “Engrafted Word”? Because Power Changes Things! For example, you can take an extension cord and plug it into an outlet, but if the power is off, nothing in a dark room is going to change! But if you take that same cord and plug it in with the power on, light comes in and darkness gets pushed out! That’s why the Bible says: “…what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV). Light and darkness don’t dwell together, and it’s Power that separates the two, because Power always changes things! With that said, you’ll know when you’ve received an “Engrafted Word” because things in your life will Change! Why? Because the Word has Power! For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). In other words, an “Engrafted Word” is “Powerful” enough to invoke Change! But right before that word “Powerful”, did you notice it also says the Word is “Quick”?! So before you go complaining that, “this is just the way I am; I’ve been like this my whole life; that’s just me; I’m set in my ways; that’s just my personality; I don’t let nothing and no one change me…”, before you go off on that tangent, might I remind you that the Word of God is “Quick” and “Powerful”! Therefore, if you haven’t changed yet, it’s because you have NOT received an “Engrafted Word”! You can’t receive one and stay the same!

Even if you’re walking in the darkness of sin, the Bible says: “By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by your righteous order.” (Psalm 119:105-106 MSG). When you’ve received an “Engrafted Word”, you must change and change quickly! In truth, it doesn’t take a lifetime for God to change you! He spoke one Word to Peter “Come”, it was an “Engrafted Word” because Peter received and embraced it, and upon doing so, he changed location from sitting on a boat to walking on the water, and it didn’t take a decade to get it done! But an “Engrafted Word” requires work! It doesn’t stay on the surface, it goes down deep! It’s not purposed to make you feel better, it’s purposed to make you better! However, that can’t happen until you go from hearing the Word to applying it. It has to become your firm foundation on which you build your entire life!

Let’s travel back to Luke 6:47. “I will show you what he is like who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it because it was well built.

The Word of God is really what makes a difference in a person’s life when a storm hits. And that’s how you know where someone’s Christian walk, life, faith and trust are, it’s found in how they’ve prepared for the storms, as well as how they stand in them and survive them! You see, when all you do is go to church to hear a Word, but don’t apply it, when the doctor calls with a bad diagnosis, you immediately lose heart. The Word was exciting, (in the moment), but when it came time to apply it, you didn’t. The storm hit your house, and your house fell apart like the deck of cards you built it on. But when you hear the Word go forth, and it assures you that God loves you, saves you, heals and delivers you, when the doctor calls, you merely thank him for his expertise, and then go into prayer with the Ultimate Expert in all things! You don’t let the doctor shake you because you know of a Great Physician that can heal anything! But how can you possibly get there by simply hearing the Word and letting it sit in you for the time being. But not taking it home to read more, study more, pray over it more, and find practical life application for it in your life daily.

Listen, if you want a firm foundation and a house that’s built on Rock, you have to work at it! Think about it in the natural, can you imagine construction workers showing up to build a house, and they have on pajamas, with a cup of coffee in one hand and a newspaper in the other? They have their bedroom slippers on, and the only tools they have with them is one nail and a hammer?! Exactly what are they going to build with that? How can they possibly take that and build a house with a solid foundation on rocks that will withstand a storm?! In a nutshell: THEY CAN’T! You see, when construction workers show up to build, they know it’s going to take some serious, hard work, a messy site, dangerous elements, powerful tools, hard hats, and for certain, sweat and strained muscles! Why? Because they didn’t come to bake a cake, they came to build a house that will stand!

HOWEVER, when all you want to do is hear a feel good Word to get you through the next 5 minutes, you don’t require much work, or tools, or struggle. After all, how much blood, sweat and tears go into building a house of cards? The Bible says, “…But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.” (MSG) Another translation reads, “…But the one,” it says, “who hears My words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Notice – it isn’t knowing His words that make the difference. It’s putting them into Practice; he who puts them into Practice and he who doesn’t. Which one are you?

Brothers and sisters, this means every time you read or hear God’s Word, you should be coming away with a “DO”, because of what God Said! “Lord, what did I read today and what do I ‘DO’ differently because of what I read/heard?” You see, just having that emu oil didn’t help Michelle’s situation. Just getting into it didn’t do anything. Even merely applying it on the surface did nothing. No, it had to be rubbed deeply in; it had to become a part of her (engrafted!) It had to penetrate! It had to go deep! And the Bible is just like that! Just getting into the Bible isn’t what Transforms your life. It’s getting the Bible into you, into some specific application in today’s experience; something that changes part of you today!

It’s not just knowing a lot of verses, or having some great outlines from some great speakers. It’s not about mimicking what you see on live stream or other broadcasts. It’s not even about taking this devotional, reading it, and saying okay I get it. Nor is it about you becoming Biblically smarter. It’s not about you knowing some big words, or knowing those big words in Latin, Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. It’s not about your spiritual vocabulary growing. It’s not about you applying ‘blobs of Bible’, but never rubbing it into your soul, your personality, your relationships, your priorities, your habits and addictions, and your everyday life. It’s not about your title, position, office, gifts, or anointing. It’s not about civics, vestments, chairs, rings, elevations, initials or degrees. It’s about Building a Christian life that’s firm and stable, even in the storms of life, whether you are leader or laity! It’s about applying the Word of God so deeply in you that when the storm hits your health, finances, marriage, career, children, parents, church, you don’t float away on the sea of discouragement. No, because as the waves hit, and as vicious as the hits will be, you still know Jesus, who speaks to the sea, walks on the water, hushes the waves, calms the winds and sleeps in the storm!

Mark 4:39, “And He got up and [sternly] rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still (muzzled)!” And the wind died down [as if it had grown weary] and there was [at once] a great calm [a perfect peacefulness.]” (AMP);

Proverbs 8:29, “When He set for the sea its boundary so that the waters would not transgress [the boundaries set by] His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth.” (AMP);

Luke 8:24, “They came to Jesus and woke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are about to die!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging, violent waves, and they ceased, and it became calm [a perfect peacefulness]” (AMP);

This is the Word you need to get deep on the inside of you! So when the storms do arise, you know with certainty that you, your family, your house, your church, your faith are all safe, secure and stable because you know what He has Said and what He’s able to Do! People of God, it’s not enough to read God’s Word just to know what He says, to analyze it, or even to understand what He says, though that’s important. Ultimately, we have to read God’s Word to let it change us in some specific way! Which is why I admonish you, each new day, open up to the transforming oil of God’s Word and let God rub it into your life deeply! Getting into His Word is Enlightening; getting His Word into you is Transforming! Which is why it is so imperative that we go beyond the surface!

Luke 6:46-49, “Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living…” In other words, stop treating the Word of God like decorations for a house! Picking what you like, what looks good, feels good, and will be appealing for others to see. It’s not something non-essential, it is a necessity for every aspect of your life! And maybe if we would get to the place where we realize just how vital the Word of God is, we’ll stop using it to look good on the outside, and instead use it to build up our inside!

“…They are foundation words, words to build a life on….” The Word of God is the tool you use to build your entire life! Not pieces and parts, but your whole life should reflect evidence of the presence of God’s Word at work. 

“…If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last…” And isn’t that the testimony you want? That you’ve built a life on the Word of the Lord, therefore, even with the harshest of storms, it’s not shaken because it was built to last!

“…But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.” Did you catch that? “…IT WAS A TOTAL LOSS.” What was a total loss? THE WHOLE HOUSE! That’s why this is so vital! It’s not just about you! BUT EVERYTHING ATTACHED TO YOU! Think about it, a storm that crashes a house, can’t take the house and not everything in it as well! If the storm destroys the house, it destroys all that’s in the house! You going beyond the surface into the depths of God, is important for you, your spouse, your children, your family, your church, your community…everything attached to you will either be built up or torn down…and either way it will be your hands that caused it to be established or eroded!

Please take this admonishment to heart, and view the Word of God differently than you have before. Realize its value and its necessity. Today, hear it, but also apply it, do it, share it, live it! Be the smart carpenter that built his house on the Word of God (foundation) that would last, even in the storms of life. Not the dumb one that skipped the essentials of a firm foundation, and therefore, when the storms of life hit, his Whole House of cards folded!

Today, Go Beyond the Surface and Dig Deeper into the Word of God…and not just for your own sake, but for the sake of Everyone in the House!

Proverbs 24:3, “Through [skillful and godly] wisdom a house [a life, a home, a family] is built, And by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation],” (AMP)

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

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“Misplaced Worship”

Isaiah 40:12-26, “Who has scooped up the ocean in His two hands, or measured the sky between His thumb and little finger, Who has put all the earth’s dirt in one of His baskets, weighed each mountain and hill? Who could ever have told God what to do or taught Him His business? What expert would He have gone to for advice, what school would He attend to learn justice? What god do you suppose might have taught Him what He knows, showed Him how things work? Why, the nations are but a drop in a bucket, a mere smudge on a window. Watch Him sweep up the islands like so much dust off the floor! There aren’t enough trees in Lebanon nor enough animals in those vast forests to furnish adequate fuel and offerings for His worship. All the nations add up to simply nothing before Him—less than nothing is more like it. A minus. So who even comes close to being like God? To whom or what can you compare Him? Some no-god idol? Ridiculous! It’s made in a workshop, cast in bronze, Given a thin veneer of gold, and draped with silver filigree. Or, perhaps someone will select a fine wood—olive wood, say—that won’t rot, Then hire a woodcarver to make a no-god, giving special care to its base so it won’t tip over! Have you not been paying attention? Have you not been listening? Haven’t you heard these stories all your life? Don’t you understand the foundation of all things? God sits high above the round ball of earth. The people look like mere ants. He stretches out the skies like a canvas—yes, like a tent canvas to live under. He ignores what all the princes say and do. The rulers of the earth count for nothing. Princes and rulers don’t amount to much. Like seeds barely rooted, just sprouted, They shrivel when God blows on them. Like flecks of chaff, they’re gone with the wind. “So—who is like Me? Who holds a candle to Me?” says The Holy. Look at the night skies: Who do you think made all this? Who marches this army of stars out each night, counts them off, calls each by name—so magnificent! so powerful!—and never overlooks a single one?” (MSG)

If it’s one place my friend Lisa would have died to see, it was Niagara Falls! She used to drive us nuts about wanting to go to Niagara Falls! She even had several t-shirts with the picture of it right on the front! She was absolutely obsessed if you ask me. But then one day it happened (she was married with children by the time it did, but that didn’t bother her one bit)! You see, Lisa finally got to see Niagara Falls for real! And let her tell it, it’s one of the world’s greatest wonders!

As she talked to me about her trip, one of the things she shared was that there’s many miles before you ever get to see those roaring fallsbecause what you see first will be the power lines. It’s Niagara’s generated electricity of course, and then as you get near the falls, you see this big, ground-level cloud rising up! It’s this massive MIST that’s billowing up from the river below Niagara. Lisa said it’s impressive indeed!

However, as impressive as the MIST was, let me tell you what Lisa DIDN’T DO, after seeing the MIST. She didn’t stop Before she got to the falls and say, “Man, look at that MIST! Quick, get the camera! What incredible MIST! We can go home now, I’ve seen everything I came to see!” And then deeply impressed by that cloud of spray (MIST), turn around and head home, never going the rest of the way to see the FALLS that actually PRODUCED the MIST!

With that thought in mind, let’s read through our text again: Isaiah 40:12: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens?” What a tribute to God’s awesome power! “Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?” Verse 15, “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.” Then it says, “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” Finally, verse 26, “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: WHO CREATED ALL THESE? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls forth each of them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

When you look at creation, it should lead you to the Creator! I mean, if you think what He made is awesome, wait till you meet the One Who made it! But the Bible describes a tragic mistake that’s made in many cultures (and churches), over many years, and increasingly made by people in our sophisticated circles. Romans 1:25…highlights the mistake, “THEY EXCHANGED THE TRUTH OF GOD FOR A LIE, AND WORSHIPED AND SERVED CREATED THINGS RATHER THAN THE CREATOR – WHO IS FOREVER PRAISED.” The Message Bible says it like this, “So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. AND ALL THIS BECAUSE THEY TRADED THE TRUE GOD FOR A FAKE GOD, AND WORSHIPED THE GOD THEY MADE INSTEAD OF THE GOD WHO MADE THEM—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!” (MSG)

Question: Have you been guilty of worshiping the CREATION rather than the CREATOR? Be honest now! Because the truth is, many of us have focused more time and energy on CREATION than we have on the CREATOR. We’ve become so focused on cars, houses, jewelry, land, businesses, buildings, churches, clothes, hair, nails, lashes (the list is endless…) But have we at all turned our attention to the CREATOR of all these things and so much more! There is absolutely nothing that God Himself has not created! AND YET, WE RATHER LOOK AT THE PRETTINESS OF THE CREATED THING, INSTEAD OF THE POWERFULNESS BEHIND THE ONE WHO CREATED IT ALL!

Colossians 1:16, “For BY HIM ALL THINGS WERE CREATED in heaven and on earth, [things] visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; ALL THINGS WERE CREATED AND EXIST THROUGH HIM [THAT IS, BY HIS ACTIVITY] AND FOR HIM.” (AMP) The Message Bible says it like this: “We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in EVERYTHING CREATED. For EVERYTHING, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—EVERYTHING got started IN HIM and finds its purpose IN HIM. He was there BEFORE any of it came into existence and holds it all together RIGHT UP TO THIS MOMENT. And when it comes to the church, He organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.”(vss.15-18 MSG)

Which brings us back to Niagara Falls. It’s okay to be impressed by the great Niagara MIST, but the real marvel is the FALLS; the SOURCE that CREATES the MIST! The MIST is only a REFLECTION of the SOURCE that CREATES it! In a nutshell: Don’t miss Seeing the Source because you were Focused on the Mist (What the Source Produced)! Thank God you have a beautiful home, but don’t worship it; Thank God you have a beautiful wife, handsome husband and intelligent children, but don’t worship them; Thank God you have a top-of-the-line car, but don’t worship it; Thank God you have an awesome job/career/business/ministry/church, but don’t worship it! Don’t miss the Master focusing on the ‘Mist’ of His Creation!

However, sad to say, and as unfortunate as it may be, that’s what a lot of people are doing…FINDING FOCUS ON THE CREATION, YET LOSING SIGHT OF THE CREATOR!

There’s all kinds of talk today about Mother Earth and cosmic energy, and the information you get from the stars, all the spiritual energy you can tap into by getting in touch with the cosmos. People are on a very real spiritual search, looking to creation and looking to themselves to find peace and to find meaning. But those who focus on the power of creation miss the real power – the Creator! Focusing on tarot cards, when you can simply talk to the Creator; focusing on horoscopes, when you can talk the Creator; focusing on a higher being and higher self, when you can talk to the Creator; searching out mediums and the like, when you can simply talk to the Creator!

Listen: I know we live in an age now where everything is DIY – Do It Yourself, but that’s never the best road to travel. You’re limited, because you’re limited! So, why look to people, places and things (and even yourself) instead of talking with God? The actual Creator of all things? There’s nothing He doesn’t know. Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’” (MSG) Talk to HIM! After all, there’s absolutely nothing that will perplex Him! There’s nothing that can confuse Him! There’s nothing that He has to go and google and research to find out and get back to you about! So, why keep going in vicious circles and cycles, dependent on flawed and limited resources when you can simply talk to a Flawless, Limitless Creator?

Another friend Kevin was flying on a commercial airliner, and it so happened that they were flying right through a thunderstorm. There were billowing clouds out there blazing with lightening. The woman seated next to him said, “Doesn’t seeing all of this and how big it all is, frighten you, or at least make you feel a bit insignificant?” Kevin’s response however was one she didn’t expect. He said, “Actually it makes me feel safe, secure and important. My Father’s awesome! He made all this. And even in the midst of all of this, I’m so important that He’s making sure I land safely. Aren’t you glad you sat next to me?” Sounds comical, but truth is, she was focused on the creation and how it was responding. Kevin on the other hand, was focusing on the One who created it all, and therefore his response was that of security! There’s such peace, safety and awe to be discovered when you focus on the Creator…not the creation.

Jesus Christ, God’s Son, entered His creation to re-connect us human beings, His personal masterpieces and workmanship’s, back to Himself. Ephesians 2:7-10, “[and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption].  For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God;  not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. FOR WE ARE HIS WORKMANSHIP [HIS OWN MASTER WORK, A WORK OF ART], CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” (AMP) It took Jesus dying our death penalty for our sins, our ignoring of God. But He brought us back to God, so now we (His personal masterpiece and workmanship) can call God, Father (‘Abba’): Romans 8:15, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [the Spirit producing sonship] by which we [joyfully] cry, “Abba! Father!” (AMP). This God that holds an endless ocean in the palm of His hand, weighs the Rocky Mountains on a little scale, who stretches out the heavens like I would set up a tent. He loves you and gave His Son so you could have a relationship with Him. What am I saying? Don’t miss God because of the ‘mist’! Don’t let anyone you care about miss Him by falling for the lie that creation is the end of our search for our Creator.

There was something far more powerful to experience than the Mist when Lisa visited Niagara Falls. Which is why she didn’t get hooked on the Mist. Listen, if you’re impressed with the Mist of creation, you will be overwhelmed with the power of the One who created it!

And what I find so amazing is that we have free access to continual contact and communication with Him at any given moment, in any place, at any time, and yet, we would rather seek out “things/creation” to give all of our attention to and get all of our supposed answers from. Grant it, the Mist of Niagara Falls was beautiful, what a sight for them to see. But it didn’t cause them to lose focus on the Falls! They didn’t come to see the Mist, they came to see What created it…the Falls. Likewise, don’t spend your life chasing the Mist of (stuff, things, people…) and miss the valuable investment of spending time with the Creator Himself. Lisa and her family enjoyed the Mist, but in order to see the Source behind it, they had to lose sight of the awe of the Mist, and keep going until they got to the Source! You have to do the same thing!

Which makes me think of our “church services” today. There’s so much dancing, shouting, spinning, clapping, running, leaping, jumping, screaming, high-fiving, ‘tell your neighbor’, praise breaks, preaching clichés, hoops and hollars, that I wonder if when it’s all said and done, people can leave service and honestly say, “I heard God, I met God, I saw God, I encountered God”? Or, have we become so engrossed in being entertained my His creation that we’re ignorant of His presence…or absence? Have we as a church become so engaged with music, performing, shows, acrobats, that we’ve missed engaging God? Have we become so enamored by His blessings, miracles, overflow, abundance…that we’ve missed Him? Have we become so focused on His hand that we no longer seek His face? Have we, His church, misplaced His worship?

The word “Misplace” is defined as “to put in the wrong place; incorrectly placed; unwise or inappropriate.” Which makes me question if we’re guilty of this very thing? Have we put our worship in the wrong place? Have we placed our worship in the wrong person? Have we incorrectly placed our worship? Have we unwisely and inappropriately placed our worship?

One of the things that I’ve done for many years, and I don’t think I’ll ever really stop doing, is being an armor-bearer. It comes second nature to me. Servanthood is as natural to me as motherhood. I’ve never struggled with loving or giving my entire being to either. And as an armor-bearer I’ve had the responsibility of looking after my leadership and serving them in any capacity possible that makes their leadership easier and more effective. I’ve wiped sweat, changed clothes, served food and drink, carried bibles and bags. And it has never been a struggle for me to do so. But at one point during one of my spiritual growth spurts, it did make me question myself by asking, “do you serve God to the same degree that you serve man?” Do you carry what He needs you to carry? Do you serve Him with the same Spirit of Excellence and Consistency? Do you labor for Him that long and hard? Do you aide Him in being His hands and feet in the world? Do you give Him your undivided attention? Do you pick up on the first ring when He calls you? Are you willing to travel wherever He needs you to at a moment’s notice? And I had to be brutally honest, because truth was, I was so empty from giving my all to “creation”, that I had nothing left to offer my Creator. Which meant my life and service were greatly imbalanced.

In a nutshell, I was so focused on the Mist that I Missed the Falls!

This caused me to restructure my life and service. I had to make necessary changes so that people I placed on a pedestal weren’t in competition with my God that was on the throne! It required me to make sure I was never impressed with titles, initials, seating, garments, following, crowds and the like. I had to shift my focus from people to One Person, God. Maybe you need to start doing the very same thing too.

Maybe today is a good day to reposition your worship back to where it should be. Not on people, but on the Person of Jesus. Being more focused in prayer, in His Word, in personal devotion, fasting and consecrating. Separating yourself from people, places and things, and dwelling undisturbed in quiet time with God. Jesus did: Mark 1:35, “While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a SECLUDED SPOT AND PRAYED…” (MSG)

Sometimes you have to seclude yourself from the ‘Mist’ so you can ‘Fall’ back in love with the Source!

Listen, going to church is wonderful, but if all you have to talk about after the benediction is the hoop, the praise break, and the choir, you may be guilty of misplaced worship! We need to develop a fresh appetite, hunger and thirst for God, His Word, and His Presence. We should be hearing sermons and lessons that bend our ear to the heart of God. We should leave charged, challenged, encouraged and changed. The Word should come forth as a mirror to show us what we look like, and what we should look like. It should prick our hearts, disturb our flesh, fill our Spirit, renew and transform our minds. Not entertain us to look like the Universal Soul Circus of Churches! We need to refocus as never before on what and more importantly Who is eternally vital to our very existence, and that alone is God.

Today is a great day to rid yourself of distractions. See God, hear God, spend time with God. Don’t become so excited about His creation and created things that you miss the Creator Himself.

Know this: The word “Mist” is defined as “a cloud of tiny water droplets in the atmosphere, limiting visibility to a lesser extent than fog.” What caught my attention about the definition is this: “limiting visibility.” And that’s exactly what happens to us when we focus on the mist. We get so lost in the mist, so excited, so distracted, so emotionally entertained, that it limits our ability to see that there’s so much more beyond the mist! If we would just get past the mist, we could get to the source of its beauty. Likewise, don’t get so caught up in the music, and theatrics, the dancing, shouting, and hooping, that you miss God. Whether in church, or at home, at work, or just walking along the streets, remember that absolutely everything and everyone is God’s Creation. Beautiful to look at, but not to Worship! Reserve your worship for the Creator alone!

Which reminds me of a quote I love, “If you can’t find God, start worshiping Him and He will find you” (Author Unknown) But that can’t happen if you’re so busy worshiping people, places and things! John 4:23-24, “But a time is coming and is already here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit [from the heart, the inner self] and in truth; FOR THE FATHER SEEKS SUCH PEOPLE TO BE HIS WORSHIPERS. God is spirit [the SOURCE of life, yet invisible to mankind], and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (AMP)

Another quote I love says, “Worship is so much more than the songs that we sing on Sunday morning. It is the life that we live the rest of the week.” (Author Unknown) People of God, WHO we worship should be as EVIDENT on Sunday in Church, as it is on Monday at Work, Tuesday at School, Wednesday at the Nail Salon, Thursday in Traffic, Friday at the Movies, and Saturday at the Laundromat and Supermarket! Worship of our Creator should be EVIDENT every day and everywhere among everyone! Remember, don’t find the mist and miss the falls! Likewise, don’t focus on creation to the degree you lose sight of the Creator!

Exodus 20:11, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it [set it apart for His purposes].” (AMPC)

Isaiah 45:18, “This is what the Lord Who made the heavens, the God Who planned and made the earth, and everything in it and did not make it a waste place, but made it a place for people to live in, says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (NLV)

John 1:3, “All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being.” (AMP)

Romans 11:36, “For from Him [all things originate] and through Him [all things live and exist] and to Him are all things [directed]. To Him be glory and honor forever! Amen.” (AMP)

Hebrews 1:2, “[But] in the last of these days He has spoken to us in [the person of a] Son, Whom He appointed Heir and lawful Owner of all things, also by and through Whom He created the worlds and the reaches of space and the ages of time [He made, produced, built, operated, and arranged them in order].” (AMPC)

Lastly, let’s look at Exodus 20:3 in a few translations:

“No other gods, only Me.” (MSG)

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” (AMP)

“You shall have no other gods before or besides Me.” (AMPC)

“Never have any other god.” (GWT)

“Do not worship any god except Me.” (CEV)

If You’ve Misplaced Your Worship, Reposition and Get it Back On WHO it Should Be On…God, the Only God, Alone! “DO NOT WORSHIP ANY GOD EXCEPT ME.” (CEV)

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

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

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

“We are not celebrating to entertain ourselves – we are celebrating to declare the worth of our God. He is the focus and we dare not lose sight of that. Worship calls for celebration, but always keeps us focused on Him and should lead us to a sense of wonder and awe.” (Jeff Syverson)

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 to Your Body When You Yo-Yo Diet?”

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“Stop Complaining!”

“Do everything WITHOUT COMPLAINING…” (Philippians 2:14 NIV)

Two groups of psychology students were wired for recording purposes, and assigned a period to socialize freely. One group KNEW the experiment would measure the level of complaining in normal conversation; the other group DID NOT. Afterwards, BOTH groups were shocked by how frequently they complained. The group in the “KNOW” complained almost as much as the group “UNAWARE” of what the experiment was aiming to achieve! It’s the oldest response in the book – LITERALLY! Confronted with our choices and actions, we spontaneously start complaining! ‘It was their fault, not mine; If they hadn’t… I wouldn’t have.’

Adam needed no lessons in the art of complaining! Caught red-handed, he told God, ‘…The woman whom YOU gave to be with me, SHE gave me from the tree, and I ate.” What happens next? “…the woman…[Eve]… said, “The SERPENT deceived me, and I ate” ‘ (Genesis 3:12-13 NASB). If you think about it, the only one NOT complaining was the serpent! Neither, Adam nor Eve accepted Responsibility for their Choices! And since God doesn’t help people who won’t be responsible, He threw the complainers out of Paradise!

If they ever subsequently ‘got it’ regarding complaining, THEY DIDN’T TRANSMIT IT TO THEIR OFFSPRING, ISRAEL: How do I know? The Bible says: ‘One day THE ISRAELITE’S STARTED COMPLAINING about their troubles. The LORD HEARD THEM and became so angry that he destroyed the outer edges of their camp with fire.’ (Numbers 11:1 NIV). Notice, all complaining is ‘in the hearing of the Lord’, and HE CLEARLY DOESN’T WANT TO HEAR IT! Paul writes, ‘DO NOT COMPLAIN as some of them did; they were killed by the angel that destroys. The things that happened to those people are examples. They were written down to teach us…’ (1 Corinthians 10:10-11 NCV).

People of God, clean up your verbal act! Decide to detect, reject and eject all complaining from your vocabulary!

“Everyone has to make their own decisions. I still believe in that. You just have to be able to accept the consequences without complaining.” (Grace Jones).

Simply put: COMPLAINING IS TOXIC! IT CONTAMINATES BOTH THE COMPLAINER AND EVERYONE WITHIN EARSHOT! Complaining reminds you a lot of what Hebrews 12:15 says about BITTERNESS: “Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the MANY BECOME CONTAMINATED AND DEFILED BY IT” (AMP).

LIKE BITTERNESS AND RESENTMENT, COMPLAINING CONTAMINATES AND DEFILES MANY!

Sometimes we even think we’re ‘HELPING’ by complaining. We maintain, ‘If somebody doesn’t say something, nothing’s ever going to change!’ – AS THOUGH POSITIVE CHANGE CAN COME FROM NEGATIVE WORDS! We imagine we’ve contributed something worthwhile by our complaint. BUT COMPLAINING IS WHAT WE DO TO AVOID FACING, DEALING WITH AND SOLVING THE PROBLEM! IT’S WHAT WE DO INSTEAD OF CONTRIBUTING TO CONSTRUCTIVE CHANGE; AND IT MAKES US APART OF THE PROBLEM INSTEAD OF THE SOLUTION! THE MORE YOU COMPLAIN THE MORE PROBLEM-FOCUSED YOU BECOME, AND THE MORE PROBLEM-FOCUSED YOU BECOME THE MORE YOU COMPLAIN!

ULTIMATELY, YOUR COMPLAINING AFFECTS YOU MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE! The Psalmist said, ‘…I COMPLAINED, AND MY SPIRIT WAS OVERWHELMED… ‘ (Psalm 77:3 NKJV). If no one else pays attention to your words, YOU DO! BEFORE YOU EVER SAY THEM…YOU THINK THEM: ‘…out of the abundance of the HEART the MOUTH SPEAKS’ (Matthew 12:34 NKJV). The Message Bible says it like this: “…YOU HAVE MINDS LIKE A SNAKE PIT! How do you suppose WHAT YOU SAY IS WORTH ANYTHING WHEN YOU ARE SO FOUL-MINDED? IT’S YOUR HEART, not the dictionary, THAT GIVES MEANING TO YOUR WORDS. A good person produces good deeds AND WORDS season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: EVERY ONE OF THESE CARELESS WORDS IS GOING TO COME BACK TO HAUNT YOU. THERE WILL BE A TIME OF RECKONING. WORDS ARE POWERFUL; TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY. WORDS CAN BE YOUR SALVATION. WORDS CAN ALSO BE YOUR DAMNATION” (Matthew 12:34-37 MSG).

Again: keep in mind: If no one else pays attention to your words, YOU DO! BEFORE YOU SAY THEM YOU THINK THEM IN YOUR HEART, WHICH MAKES WHAT YOU SAY, DELIBERATE! And when you say them, you hear them and believe them just as you would the words of a trusted authority! Every Time You Repeat Them You Reinforce Their Power Over You Until Eventually You Make Yourself The Victim of Your Own Complaints! “FOR AS HE THINKS WITHIN HIMSELF, SO HE IS…” (Proverbs 23:7 NASB). Your Spirit (Attitude) Will Be Overwhelmed, Not By the Problems and Difficulties People Bring to You, BUT AS THE SELF-INFLICTED PRODUCT OF YOUR OWN COMPLAINTS! “WORDS KILL, WORDS GIVE LIFE; THEY’RE EITHER POISON OR FRUIT—YOU CHOOSE” (Proverbs 18:21 MSG). So, why not just follow this advice: “DO ALL THINGS WITHOUT GRUMBLING AND FAULTFINDING AND COMPLAINING [AGAINST GOD] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves], That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guiltless, innocent and UNCONTAMINATED CHILDREN OF GOD without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world,” (Philippians 2:14-15 AMP).

Don’t let Thomas Fuller’s quote be descriptive of your life: “We are born crying, live complaining, and die disappointed.”

Many of you may ask, “Isn’t complaining really just about words?” NO, IT’S MUCH MORE THAN THAT!

FIRST, COMPLAINING HANDS YOUR POWER OVER TO THE PEOPLE AND CIRCUMSTANCES YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT, MAKING YOU FEEL LIKE THEIR VICTIM! It diminishes your ability to think of solutions, conditions your mind negatively, and blocks your ability to receive creative ideas from God! POSITIVE SEEDS DON’T GROW IN NEGATIVE SOIL! YOU CAN’T NEGATIVELY COMPLAIN AND POSITIVELY CREATE SIMULTANEOUSLY! ‘Does a fountain send forth [SIMULTANEOUSLY] from the SAME opening fresh water and bitter? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can a salt spring furnish fresh water.’ (James 3:11-12 AMP).

COMPLAINTS ARE VERBAL EXPRESSIONS OF NEGATIVE BELIEFS! THEY CANCEL POSITIVE INTENTIONS AND CONFESSIONS, RENDERING YOU POWERLESS TO REAP THE GAINS GOD OFFERS! COMPLAINING FOCUSES ON A PAST YOU CAN’T CHANGE! IT KEEPS YOU SCAVENGING IN YESTERDAY’S DEBRIS, SEARCHING FOR EVIDENCE ABOUT ‘WHO DID WHAT’ AND ‘WHEN AND WHY’, WHILE YOUR PRESENT IS TOO FRUSTRATED TO FOCUS ON THE FACT THAT YOUR FUTURE IS FRUITLESSLY SLIPPING AWAY!  

SECOND, COMPLAINING IS TOXIC TO YOUR RELATIONSHIPS: ‘Your flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that. Yeast, too, is a “small thing,” but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast. So get rid of this “yeast.” Our true identity is flat and plain, not puffed up with the wrong kind of ingredient. The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast. So let’s live out our part in the Feast, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread—simple, genuine, unpretentious.’ (1 Corinthians 5:6-8  MSG). AS A SMALL AMOUNT OF YEAST WORKS ITS WAY THROUGH A WHOLE BATCH OF BREAD DOUGH, COMPLAINING WORKS ITS WAY THROUGH AND INVITES OTHERS TO COMPLAIN TOO! INJECTED POISON (NO MATTER HOW SMALL) IS TOXIC TO EVERY PART OF THE BODY! Bear In Mind: The word “Toxic” means “Poisonous”! Its Latin Origin “Toxicum” literally means “Poison”! And the word “Poison”  means “A Substance That Causes Death or Injury When Introduced Into or Absorbed By a Living Organism; A Destructive or Corrupting Influence; to Contaminate or Prove Harmful To” It’s Old French Origin means “Magic Potion” which comes from a Latin Origin “Potio” meaning ‘Potion” And ‘Potion’ is Latin for “Drink, Poisonous Draft”. PEOPLE OF GOD: YOUR COMPLAINING INTO THE LIVES OF EVERY RELATIONSHIP IN YOUR LIFE IS THE EQUIVALENT OF POURING A POISONOUS POTION INTO THE LIVES OF YOUR LOVED ONES WITH THE SOLE PURPOSE TO CAUSE DEATH; INJURY; DESTRUCTION; CORRUPTION; CONTAMINATION AND HARM!  SURELY THAT’S NOT THE DESCRIPTION YOU WANT YOUR LOVED ONES TO HAVE OF YOU EVERY TIME YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH! YOUR COMPLAINING IS A DEATH TRAP FOR THOSE YOU HOLD DEAR! REMEMBER: YOU THINK YOUR WORDS BEFORE YOU SPEAK THEM, AND THEY’RE SPOKEN FROM OUT OF YOUR HEART: ‘…out of the abundance of the HEART the MOUTH SPEAKS’ (Matthew 12:34 NKJV). SO IT’S VITAL TO GUARD YOUR HEART, SINCE THAT’S WHERE YOUR WORDS FLOW FROM (NOT TO MENTION YOUR ENTIRE LIFE!): “GUARD YOUR HEART MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, BECAUSE THE SOURCE OF YOUR LIFE FLOWS FROM IT” (Proverbs 4:23 GWT).  AND THE LAST THING YOU WANT “FLOWING” LIKE A “POISONOUS POTION” FROM YOUR MOUTH INTO THE LIVES OF YOUR RELATIONSHIPS IS BITTER WORDS OF COMPLAINT!

SUBTLY, YOUR RELATIONSHIPS, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR WORKPLACE, YOUR CHURCH AND YOUR ENVIRONMENT BECOMES POLLUTED! COMPLAINING POLARIZES RELATIONSHIPS! PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE STRESS, ANXIETY AND NEGATIVITY WILL BEGIN TO DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM YOU! AFTER ALL, WOULD YOU WANT TO CONTINUOUSLY HANG AROUND SOMEONE WHOSE WORDS POSSESS THE POISONOUS POTENTIAL TO KILL YOU?!  ‘The tongue has the power of LIFE AND DEATH…’ (Proverbs 18:21 NIV) – THAT IS YOUR LIFE AND DEATH…AND THE LIFE AND DEATH OF OTHERS YOU SPEAK SUCH TOXIC WORDS TO! So pray DAILY, ‘SET A GUARD OVER MY MOUTH, O LORD; KEEP WATCH OVER THE DOOR OF MY LIPS’ (Psalm 141:3 NIV).

WHATEVER YOU DO PLEASE AVOID COMPLAINING!

“If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. DON’T COMPLAIN” (Dr. Maya Angelou).

You say, ‘But isn’t it possible my complaint might be legitimate?’ The answer: Yes. Injustice, abuse, betrayal, robbery, gossip, libel, prejudice, physical harm against you or your family, and so on, Are Legitimate Causes! Then you say, ‘And if I don’t do something about these, won’t I be failing in my responsibility?’ The answer: Right again! You are called to be salt and light in this world, resolving problems that arise by practicing spiritual principles in your daily life. To do nothing at such times makes you irresponsible and disobedient to God! HOWEVER, COMPLAINING about it is NOT doing something about it, at least Not By God’s Definition! You say, ‘All right, since God is against complaining, then how do I handle Legitimate Complaints?’ Glad you asked!

First, DO NOTHING UNTIL YOU’VE TALKED WITH GOD! “I will praise the LORD, Who COUNSELS ME; even at night…” (Psalm 16:7 NIV); “The COUNSEL OF THE LORD STANDS FOREVER…” (Psalm 33:11 AMP). YOU’LL ALWAYS CHART THE RIGHT COURSE IF YOU TAKE TIME TO GET THE RIGHT COUNSEL! And who’s the right counsel? “CALL TO ME AND I WILL ANSWER YOU AND TELL YOU GREAT AND UNSEARCHABLE THINGS YOU DO NOT KNOW” (Jeremiah 33:3 NIV).

Also keep in mind, PRAYER CLARIFIES YOUR OPTIONS AND ADJUSTS YOUR PERSPECTIVES! That’s why the Bible says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead…PRAY. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into PRAYERS, Letting God Know Your Concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG).  This will Defuse Your Anger, Restore Your Objectivity and Rational Thinking!

Note: YOUR SECOND MOVE IS MORE LIKELY TO SUCCEED IF YOUR FIRST MOVE IS TO SEEK GOD FOR WISDOM: ‘If any of you LACKS WISDOM, He should ASK GOD, WHO GIVES GENEROUSLY…’ (James. 1:5 NIV); “COUNSEL IS MINE, AND SOUND WISDOM: I AM UNDERSTANDING; I HAVE STRENGTH” (Proverbs 8:14); “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING, THE SPIRIT OF COUNSEL AND MIGHT, THE SPIRIT OF KNOWLEDGE AND OF THE FEAR OF THE LORD;” (Isaiah 11:2). SEEK GOD FOR COUNSEL AND WISDOM AND YOU’LL BECOME LIKE DANIEL: “THEN DANIEL ANSWERED WITH COUNSEL AND WISDOM…” (2:14). THE KEY IS COUNSEL…NOT COMPLAINING!

Second, BEFORE YOU SAY OR DO ANYTHING, PERFORM AN ATTITUDE CHECK! Stop and ask yourself, ‘What’s my real agenda here? Is it to show them that I’m right and they’re wrong? Is it to come away looking good while I make them look bad? Is it to win a personal victory or to solve the problem in a way that glorifies God?’ Robert A. Cook shares some good advice: “Say and do something positive that will help the situation; it doesn’t take any brains to complain.” So, before you Speak, Check what’s in your HEART‘…FOR THE MOUTH SPEAKS OUT OF THAT WHICH FILLS THE HEART’ (Matthew 12:34 NASB). When your Heart Attitude Pleases God, you’re ready to handle any Legitimate Complaint! “Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [EVER] COME OUT OF YOUR MOUTH, But Only Such [SPEECH] AS IS GOOD AND BENEFICIAL TO THE SPIRITUAL PROGRESS OF OTHERS, AS IS FITTING TO THE NEED AND THE OCCASION, THAT IT MAY BE A BLESSING AND GIVE GRACE (GOD’S FAVOR) TO THOSE WHO HEAR IT” (Ephesians 4:29 AMP).

When your Complaint is Legitimate, ALWAYS AND ONLY TALK TO THE PERSON WITH WHOM YOU HAVE THE ISSUE! When you’re upset, your Temptation will be to tell everybody else! It feels right, justified, and even therapeutic! Well-meaning friends will encourage it, and even help you publicize it. ‘You’ll feel better when you’ve got it off your chest,’ they’ll say. But God’s Word condemns handling complaints that way! Do it, and you add insult to your own injury by disobeying God – and you can’t expect Him to cooperate with you while you violate His Word! And what does His Word say? ‘If your brother wrongs you, Go and Show HIM His Fault, Between YOU and HIM PRIVATELY. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother’ (Matthew 18:15 AMP). Courage, Humility and Wisdom are Required to face your offender PRIVATELY, but it’s God’s Way. It contains the conflict, minimizes embarrassment and increases the likelihood of resolution and restoration, which is God’s real concern. “But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ RECONCILED us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] AND GAVE TO US THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION [that by WORD AND DEED we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him].” (2 Corinthians 5:18 AMP).

Next, SPEAK IN LOVE, NOT IN WORDS MEANT TO HURT! Let your words be Gracious, Conciliatory and aimed at Solution, not ‘one-upmanship’. “LET YOUR SPEECH AT ALL TIMES BE GRACIOUS (PLEASANT AND WINSOME), SEASONED [AS IT WERE] WITH SALT, [SO THAT YOU MAY NEVER BE AT A LOSS] TO KNOW HOW YOU OUGHT TO ANSWER ANYONE [WHO PUTS A QUESTION TO YOU]” (Colossians 4:6 AMP). The Bible gives additional counsel: ‘Rather, let our lives LOVINGLY EXPRESS truth [in all things, SPEAKING TRULY, Dealing Truly, Living Truly]. Enfolded in LOVE, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).’ (Ephesians 4:15 AMP). Your growth in Christ is the End; speaking truth in love is the Means. Tell the offender your goal is not to humiliate them or to get revenge, BUT RATHER TO RESOLVE YOUR DIFFERENCES, STRENGTHEN YOUR RELATIONSHIP, AND ABOVE ALL ELSE, HONOR GOD! INSTEAD OF MAKING AN ADVERSARY WHO’LL OPPOSE YOU, YOU’LL BE INVITING AN ALLY TO JOIN YOU IN A MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL, GOD-GLORIFYING MISSION! Never forget: “A BROTHER OFFENDED IS HARDER TO BE WON OVER THAN A STRONG CITY, AND [THEIR] CONTENTIONS SEPARATE THEM LIKE THE BARS OF A CASTLE” (Proverbs 18:19 AMP). BELIEVERS ARE TO BE ONE ANOTHERS’ ALLY…NOT ADVERSARY!

Third, DON’T MAKE A COMPLAINT, MAKE A REQUEST! However legitimate your gripe, you’ll be heard as COMPLAINING- which will greatly reduce the likelihood of a good outcome. Whatever the cause, you’re more likely to get what you ask for graciously, than you are to cure what you’re complaining about. Therefore, asking, ‘Would you be willing to do this [a preferred specific behavior] rather than that [the old behavior]?’ is respectful, clear, avoids argument over past issues that can’t be changed, and always brings a better result. Remember: “The speech of a good person is worth waiting for; the blabber of the wicked is worthless.” (Proverbs 10:20 MSG). COMPLAINING CURES NOTHING!

Fourth, ALRIGHT, YOU’VE SAID IT, NOW LET GOD WORK! Changing people is God’s job, SO BACK OFF, BE PATIENT AND LET HIM HANDLE IT! ‘But doesn’t somebody need to supervise them to be sure they change?’ you ask…Well, unless they’re behind bars and you’re their prison guard, the answer is NO! Get out of God’s way and let Him do what you can’t! He has ways and means you never dreamed of. When He’s allowed to take over the job it always gets done properly! “I Don’t Think the Way You Think. The Way You Work Isn’t the Way I Work.” God’s Decree. “For as the sky soars high above earth, So the Way I Work Surpasses the Way You Work, and the Way I Think is Beyond the Way You Think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So Will the Words that Come Out of My Mouth Not Come Back Empty-handed. They’ll Do the Work I Sent Them To Do, They’ll Complete the Assignment I Gave Them.” (Isaiah 55:8-11 MSG). YOU’RE ALLOWED TO SAY YOUR PIECE…BUT REMEMBER: YOUR WORD IS NOT THE LAST AND FINAL SAY!

And what should you do while waiting for God to work? Well, you could sit around ruminating, resenting and rehashing the past, OR YOU COULD TAKE LESSONS FROM JOSEPH! He’d every reason to complain about his family’s treatment and to take revenge when the tables turned in his favor. Instead he conscientiously and skillfully did what he had to do, watching for the strategic moments every problem offers, when he could align himself to become part of the solution. Eventually, he did, his family was reunited, and God promoted him to even greater blessings! Learn from him!

“Don’t complain that you are not getting what you want, Just be glad you are not getting what you deserve!” (Anonymous).

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

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“Only FOOLS Refuse God’s WISDOM”

Joshua 9:14-15, “So the men [of Israel] took some of their own provisions [and offered them in friendship], and [FOOLISHLY] did not ask for the counsel of the Lord. Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant (treaty) with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation [of Israel] swore an oath to them.” (AMP)

It was an amusing billboard actually; a cartoon drawing of a wide-eyed, bewildered-looking squirrel, holding a broken cable in his paws. The sign that came with it simply read, “Call before you dig”, and gave a toll-free phone number. Well, I’ve come to discover that many utility workers have this problem and have it quite often. You see, squirrels start digging into the wires and they cut right into the utility workers power lines and cables. Lines which could very easily be gas lines, phone lines, or cables. And in the process, the happy diggers make a big mess for the utility company and their customers. A mess that could have easily been avoided had they asked about the dangers before they started digging. Now, squirrels may not know any better, but sadly neither do most people!

Which is why it really is a good idea to check with the people ‘in the know’ before you just start plowing ahead! It’s our failure to check with the Person who’s really ‘in the know’ that explains many of our costly mistakes, that have caused some of the biggest messes in our lives, and in the lives of all those connected to us!

Warning: People CONNECTED to You are EFFECTED by You…For Good or Bad!

Consider the example in Joshua 9:14-15. The Jews have been winning one victory after another over the Canaanites as they took possession of the Promised Land that God was giving them. Now, they are about to come upon Gibeon, one of the royal cities of Canaan. The Gibeonites have heard about the fall of the other cities the Jews have gone against. They know they’re going down next unless they can trick God’s people somehow into making a peace treaty with them, which seems unlikely in light of the fact that God’s Orders are to remove every tribe from the land and Not to coexist with them!

But the Gibeonites are shrewd. They sent a delegation to see Joshua, with donkeys loaded with cracked wineskins and worn-out sacks. They wore patched sandals and old clothes, and they carried dry and moldy bread with them. The whole scam was to make it LOOK LIKE they were from far away and that they had come on a long journey. Here’s how Joshua and his men decided what to do with these Gibeonites, The Bible says, “The Israelites sampled their provisions (so they made sure the bread was really dry and moldy) BUT THEY DID NOT INQUIRE OF THE LORD. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.” (NIV)

Do you know, within days, the Jews learned that the Gibeonites weren’t from far away; in fact, they were from close by. But because they had been tricked into this treaty, they could not, by honor, remove them as God had originally commanded. As a result, the hands of the Jews were tied for years to come, and the treaty actually sparked a major battle with other armies. How did this mess happen? Well, in a nutshell, they didn’t call before they dug, much like the squirrels! They decided on the basis of what SEEMED right to them, but they made the fatal mistake so many of us have made so many times before –THEY DIDN’T CHECK WITH HEAVEN…THEY DIDN’T CHECK WITH GOD! And so they blew it! And so do we!

Listen to the text in varying translation:

“The Israelites TRIED some of the food, BUT THEY DID NOT ASK THE LORD IF HE WANTED THEM TO MAKE A TREATY.” (CEV);

“The men of Israel wanted to know if these men were telling the truth. So they TASTED the bread – BUT THEY DID NOT ASK THE LORD WHAT THEY SHOULD DO.” (ERV);

“The Israelites ACCEPTED some food from them, BUT DID NOT CONSULT THE LORD ABOUT IT.” (GNT);

“Joshua and the other leaders finally believed them. THEY DID NOT BOTHER TO ASK THE LORD BUT WENT AHEAD AND SIGNED A PEACE TREATY…” (TLB);

“So the Israelites EXAMINED their food, BUT THEY DID NOT CONSULT THE LORD.” (NLT);

“The men of Israel LOOKED them over and ACCEPTED the EVIDENCE. BUT THEY DIDN’T ASK GOD ABOUT IT.” (MSG);

“The men BELIEVED the EVIDENCE they were shown, BUT THEY DID NOT ASK THE LORD ABOUT IT.” (GWT);

Now, this is where many of us mess up and get messy! Like the Israelites, we’ll try it; take some; taste it; sample it; exam it, believe it, and even eventually accept it…but what we fail to do is to ask God what to do about it and with it! The Israelites (like many of us) were cautious, they checked out what was presented to them, however, the final decision was not theirs to make (and not ours either)!

“The Israelites took some of their supplies, BUT THEY DIDN’T ASK FOR ANY DECISION FROM THE LORD.” (CEB)

And can we be honest? We Get in the Worst Predicaments Because We Forget God Knows Best!

The decision was the Lord’s to make! They were to consult Him. And even with the decisions He allows us to be a part of, we are still to consult the Lord! And it’s not because they didn’t know any better, so they don’t even have that as a justifiable excuse and neither do we!

James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom [TO GUIDE HIM THROUGH A DECISION OR CIRCUMSTANCE], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.” (AMP)

When God Himself is telling you to use His Wisdom, only a Fool would refuse!

God is there to Help, not to Hinder us! But He’s not rudely forcing Himself on us either! But He’s laid out for us the safest way to travel if only we’d adhere to it! Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart AND DO NOT RELY ON YOUR OWN INSIGHT OR UNDERSTANDING. IN ALL YOUR WAYS know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and HE will make your paths straight and smooth [REMOVING OBSTACLES THAT BLOCK YOUR WAY].” (AMP) Do you realize just how smooth this journey of ours could be if only we’d humble ourselves enough to follow His lead? We wouldn’t even have to worry about the bumps in the road along the way because He promises to “…remove obstacles that block our way.” But no, we insist on doing things our own way! And what is the result of that decision?

Proverbs 16:25, “There’s a way that looks harmless enough; look again – it leads straight to hell.” (MSG) Surely that’s the destination you were hoping to reach, right?

Don’t you see, we’re much like the Israelites, as soon as something (or someone) APPEARS to be alright; APPEARS to check out; APPEARS to be on the up-and-up, we jump head long into a mess with eyes wide open! All we know is that it “…LOOKS HARMLESS ENOUGH…” but so does she (until you get married to her and her $100,000.00 debt); so does he (until his perfect tall, dark and handsome exposes you to an STD); so does that church (but little do you know they’re only concerned with the prosperity of your pockets and not the prosperity of your soul); so does that business (until you find out the under-handed methods they use to keep it afloat)! What am I saying? Ask God Before You Decide It or They Are Really the Answer You Were Looking For! This could literally save your very life!

Think of all the divorces that could have been avoided had the individuals sought the Lord FIRST! When our children messed up, imagine how quickly they could have cleaned up, if we FIRST helped them God’s way instead of ours! The many soul ties that would never have tangled up your peace of mind if only you’d sought the Lord’s decision in the matter, FIRST! How many broken hearts that would not have needed years to mend, if only we sought the Lord FIRST. Many of us would not have to start over (for the 97th time, just this week) if only we’d sought the Lord FIRST! So much unnecessary pain, so many unnecessary complications and difficulties and conflicts, and all because of our failure to seek God’s direction FIRST!  And in this day and time of read your horoscope; find your inner-self; reach for a higher power; let them read your palm; check out the tarot cards; let the soothsayers soothe you; (You Need to Know to Seek God FIRST!)

Isaiah 8:19-22, “When people tell you, “Try out the fortunetellers. Consult the spiritualists. Why not tap into the spirit-world, get in touch with the dead?” Tell them, “NO, WE’RE GOING TO STUDY THE SCRIPTURES.” People who try the other ways get nowhere – a dead end! Frustrated and famished, they try one thing after another. When nothing works out they get angry, cursing first this god and then that one, looking this way and that, up, down, and sideways – and seeing nothing, a blank wall, an empty hole. They end up in the dark with nothing.” (MSG)

And why would anyone want to waste time on such Foolishness when you have direct access to the Wisdom of God? That’s Who you seek…FIRST! When you’re wondering which direction and what to do, seek God FIRST! Jeremiah 33:3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: “Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (MSG) With that as your best option, how could you chose anything different? You do not have to figure out life on your own (and thank God, because clearly WE are not good at decision making on our own)! And who cares, since we can simply call to our Father and He will answer His children with marvelous things that we don’t have to keep digging to find on our own!

Isaiah 65:24, “I will answer them before they even call to Me. While they are still talking to Me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” (TLB) Why try to figure out something God has already figured out? All you have to do is ask Him for the answer!

However, truth is, we neglect to check with God for many reasons. We’re in too big of a hurry, we’re feeling pressured by other people, we compromise for the sake of convenience, or we just plain know how we want it to be and we stubbornly blaze ahead with our own will. Sometimes, we may even be doing God’s thing, but it’s not God’s time or it’s not God’s way. Which is why it’s so vital that we “lean not on our own understanding,” which can only see part of the picture. When you consult with the Lord, you’re getting direction from the only One who can see the whole picture. That’s why counsel before decisions is so important! Proverbs 15:22, “Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed.” (MSG)

Listen, in 2 Chronicles 18:4, King Jehoshaphat gave King Ahab this advice before he went running off into battle: “…FIRST, seek the counsel of the Lord.” (NIV) Here’s a few additional translations:

“…Please inquire FIRST for the Word of the Lord.” (AMP);

“…Inquire FIRST, I pray you, for the Word of the Lord today.” (AMPC);

“…FIRST, let’s see what the Lord has to say.” (CEB);

“But FIRST let’s ask the Lord what to do.” (CEV);

“But FIRST let’s ask the Lord for advice.” (ERV);

“…“But FIRST, find out what the Lord’s Word is in this matter.” (GWT);

“…But FIRST let’s consult the Lord.” (GNT);

“…However, let’s check with the Lord FIRST.” (TLB);

“…BUT BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING, ASK GOD FOR GUIDANCE.” (MSG);

“…But FIRST we should ask if this is the Lord’s Will.” (NCV);

Are you starting to see the clear picture now? There’s a plan in place, however, Jehoshaphat (the wise leader) says, FIRST, let’s inquire of the Lord; let’s see what the Word of the Lord is for today; let’s see what He has to say; let’s ask Him what we should do; let’s ask for His advice; let’s find out what He has to say about this particular matter; let’s consult Him; let’s see if this is even His Will; BEFORE WE DO ANYTHING…LET’S ASK GOD TO GUIDE US! Yet, even with all of that admonishment, in the end, King Ahab didn’t, and because he didn’t, he died in that battle!

Do I dare ask how much money you would not have lost if you sought God FIRST? How much of your integrity, dignity and character would still be intact if you sought the Lord FIRST? How many mistakes and missteps could you have avoided if only you asked if this or they were in His Will for your life? Maybe you wouldn’t have lost the job, the house, the car, the career, the ministry or church, if only you would have asked God for His Guidance, before deciding to Go Your Own Way…Only to Have Crashed Over the Cliff Where He Already Had Warning Signs in Place!

And LEADERS, this is dangerous for us as well, listen to the text again in closing: “JOSHUA AND THE OTHER LEADERS finally believed them. They did not bother to ask the Lord but went ahead and signed a peace treaty…” (TLB);

Leadership Means We’re Responsible For Everyone On Board, Whether We Sail Safely, or Sink Fatally. Which is why we (above all people) ought to use the Wisdom God has made available to us to lead people according to His Word, Way and Will…and NOT That of Our Own! Because in the end, these LEADERS made a decision (WITHOUT GOD) that affected the WHOLE CONGREGATION. And if we dare make the wrong decision, the Body of Christ, as a whole, is damaged. Because you can’t hurt your pinky and the rest of your hand not know what happened. And in the Body of Christ, whatever we do in the Body, affects the whole body. So let’s start today by asking the Lord to lead and guide us in the way we should go, not in the way we want to go. Let’s ask the Lord for His decision, His Word, His Will, His Way, and His Timing.

Why? Because we can avoid a lot of problems and a lot of pain if only we’ll instinctively check with God FIRST. Let’s stop being like squirrels on power lines, digging in and causing disruption to everyone and everything. Let’s decide today to stop making messy decisions!

I share this because we’ve entered another New Year. We have much indeed to be grateful for. However, this is also the time and season when everyone wants to be something new, try something new, go somewhere new. And nothing is wrong with New, when it’s the Lord’s doing: Isaiah 43:18-21, “This is what God says…Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’M ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING BRAND-NEW. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” (MSG) Listen, God doesn’t need anymore of your New Years’ Resolutions! If something is to be New, let Him do it instead of you attempting to experiment with it! Let God change it; alter it; move it; or send it…not you trying to make things (you want, but may not need) to happen!

This year, make one resolution only…SEEK GOD FIRST! Don’t go grabbing shovels and seeking new land, and start digging where God never intended you to. Wait! Seek His Counsel, whether it’s for marriage; a relationship; a friendship; a job offer; a school choice; a career move; leaving or starting a church; or going to the store to make a purchase…Wait On the Lords’ Timing and Direction and You’ll Never Be Steered Off Course!

Think about it, haven’t we already made the foolish mistake of making decisions without the Lord’s consult and wisdom? And as bad as those choices and consequences turned out to be…do you really want a New Year, with the same Old You, making all the same old errors…again? Of course not. So this year, if it’s the Last thing you do…SEEK THE LORD FIRST…Before You Start Digging and Deciding!

Matthew 6:30-33, “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (MSG)

Psalm 37:23-24, “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]. Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.” (AMPC)

REMEMBER: ONLY FOOLS REFUSE GOD’S WISDOM!

Psalm 14:1, “The [spiritually ignorant] fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they have committed repulsive and unspeakable deeds; There is no one who does good.” (AMP)

Romans 1:22, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools,” (AMP)

Proverbs 18:2, “A [closed-minded] fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his personal opinions [unwittingly displaying his self-indulgence and his stupidity].” (AMP)

Proverbs 9:8, “Do not correct a scoffer [who foolishly ridicules and takes no responsibility for his error] or he will hate you; Correct a wise man [who learns from his error], and he will love you.” (AMP)

Proverbs 26:4, “Do not answer [nor pretend to agree with the frivolous comments of] a [closed-minded] fool according to his folly, Otherwise you, even you, will be like him.” (AMP)

Proverbs 1:7, “The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; But arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline.” (AMP)

Proverbs 29:11, “A [shortsighted] fool always loses his temper and displays his anger, But a wise man [uses self-control and] holds it back.” (AMP)

Proverbs 13:20, “He who walks [as a companion] with wise men will be wise,
But the companions of [conceited, dull-witted] fools [are fools themselves and] will experience harm.” (AMP)

Proverbs 12:16, “The [arrogant] fool’s anger is quickly known [because he lacks self-control and common sense], But a prudent man ignores an insult.” (AMP)

Proverbs 12:18, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (AMP)

Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger dwells in the heart of fools.” (AMP)

Ephesians 5:15-16, “Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil.” (AMP)

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

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“Never Settle For LESS, When You’re Destined For MORE!”

“It’s in Christ that we find out WHO WE ARE” (Ephesians 1:11 MSG)

One day a boy climbing in the mountains found an eagle’s nest with an egg in it. When he got home he put it under a hen along with her other eggs. When the eagle hatched he THOUGHT he was a chicken. He LEARNED chicken BEHAVIOR and scratched in the chicken yard with his “siblings.” HE DIDN’T KNOW ANY BETTER! But then, sometimes he felt strange stirrings WITHIN HIMSELF, but he didn’t know what to do with them, SO HE IGNORED OR SUPPRESSED THEM. After all, if he was a chicken he should BEHAVE like a chicken. Well, one day an eagle flew over the chicken yard and the eagle looked up and saw him. In that moment he realized he wanted to be like that eagle, to fly high, and to go to the mountain peaks he saw in the distance. As he spread his wings he suddenly understood that he was like that eagle. Though he’d never flown before, HE POSSESSED THE INSTINCT AND CAPABILITIES. At first he flew unsteadily, then with greater power and control. Finally as he soared HE KNEW HE’D DISCOVERED HIS TRUE SELF—THE CREATURE GOD MADE HIM TO BE!

Phillip Brooks remarked, “When you discover you’ve been leading only half a life, the other half is going to haunt you until you develop it.

Self-discovery is what Paul had in mind when he wrote, “It’s in Christ that we find out WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE ARE LIVING FOR”.

People of God, whether you know it or not, you were made BY God and FOR God. And until you understand that, your life won’t ever make sense. Because it’s “IN CHRIST” that we DISCOVER our purpose, our significance and our destiny.

In essence, “IN CHRIST” we DISCOVER what’s ‘IN US’!

Please understand that you will never discover what’s in you while comparing yourself with others, competing with others or imitating others. You only discover what’s in you through your relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore, if you never had one or developed and strengthened one with Him, you will forever wander aimlessly, never reaching your goal or fulfilling your calling. And despite what people may tell you, potential is not enoughif it merely remains potential! The truth of the matter is, eventually you have to put in the work to develop your potential into purpose! Meaning, knowing that you’re called to ministry, but never entering ministry, serves no purpose. Called to be an author and yet never publishing anything serves no purpose. Your potential has to produce purpose. Which it will never do if you don’t develop your relationship with Jesus so you can discover what He’s put in you! Having potential that never produces anything is the same as having a to-do-list where nothing ever gets done…it’s pointless! 

You can’t hope forever, wish forever, day-dream forever. You have to discover what’s IN you so you can bring it OUT!

Keep in mind the following Scripture: “Haven’t you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that HE LIVES WITHIN YOU? Your own body does not belong to you. For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God because He owns it.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 TLB). To discover what’s in you, all you have to do is build a relationship with the One who lives in you! And it’s not like you have to go through great lengths to talk to Him either. Remember: He Lives IN You! You may never talk to the President, but the Sovereign God of all, you can talk to anytime you want! So what are you waiting for? He paid a great price to live IN you, so talk to Him about what He desires to bring OUT of you!  

Think about it, you have IN you…GOD! How much more inspiration do you need to birth what you’ve been pregnant with? God Himself is in you as a midwife trying to get you to push, so why are you not pushing?! He paid a great price for you and what He’s placed in you, so do you really think He’s going to allow all of that value and worth to turn to naught?! Do you really think He would allow you to be pregnant with purpose only to have you abort?!

Romans 8:22-30, “All around us we observe a PREGNANT creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply BIRTH PANGS. But it’s not only around us; IT’S WITHIN US. The Spirit of God is arousing us WITHIN. We’re also feeling the BIRTH PANGS. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are YEARNING FOR FULL DELIVERANCE. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a PREGNANT MOTHER. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. BUT THE LONGER WE WAIT, THE LARGER WE BECOME, AND THE MORE JOYFUL OUR EXPECTANCY. 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. God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him. After God made that decision of what His children should be like, He followed it up by calling people by name. After He called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with Himself. And then, after getting them established, He stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what He had begun.” (MSG)

YOU ARE PREGNANT WITH PURPOSE AND YOU ARE GOING TO BIRTH IT! WHAT’S IN YOU HAS TO COME OUT! IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO PRODUCE!

Even the Bible states: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV). Did you know you have TREASURE WITHIN YOU? God put it there. It’s in your unique qualities, talents, skill-set, anointing, gifts, abilities, plus the fire in your soul. Now, life may have thrown cold water on that fire, BUT GOD CAN REKINDLE ANYTHING! So do as Paul admonished: “This is why I remind you to FAN INTO FLAMES the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” (2 Timothy 1:6 NLT).  

Saints, I don’t care how long it’s been since your gift has been on fire, but now is the time to fan it into flames again! I know depression, discouragement, doubt and the like may have doused your fire, but the Holy Ghost can rekindle it! However, you have a part to play as well, you have to “fan into flames” which is a verb and requires action. Meaning you can’t sit on the sidelines doing absolutely nothing thinking you’re coming home with the MVP! You want it…you have to work at it and for it! Which means, no more excuses or complaints and certainly no more blaming others. Today, take charge and take courage and fan your gifts back into a flaming fire!

Everything God placed in you has value, it all has treasure even in your little old jar of clay! So don’t depreciate its value by letting it rust, rot and come to ruin!

Note, this treasure within you “IS FROM GOD”. And what He OWNS He PROTECTS, He NURTURES, and USES to HIS GLORY! But know that God is a wise businessman; when He INVESTS, HE EXPECTS A RETURN! So you’re not waiting for something great and grand to drop out of the sky and into your belly, it’s already there! Fan your gifts into flame and rekindle your fire for ministry so that you can turn your potential into purpose and fulfill your entrusted destiny and calling! God put it there, but it is your responsibility to get it out! So find your fire, find your passion, find your empowerment, find your inspiration and determine to become all that God has destined you to be and do all that the Lord has assigned your hands to do!

Think About This: The WEALTHIEST spot on this planet is not the oilfields of Kuwait or the diamond mines of South Africa. NO, THE RICHEST DEPOSITS LIE IN YOUR LOCAL CEMETERY! BURIED BENEATH THOSE SACRED GROUNDS ARE RICH DREAMS THAT NEVER CAME TO PASS, PROSPEROUS SONGS THAT WERE NEVER SUNG, A WEALTH OF SERMONS THAT WERE NEVER PREACHED, VALUABLE LESSONS THAT WERE NEVER TAUGHT, A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS THAT NEVER BEGAN, NUMBER ONE BEST SELLER BOOKS THAT WERE NEVER WRITTEN, BREAK-THROUGH IDEAS THAT WERE NEVER SHARED, AN ABUNDANCE OF VISIONS THAT WERE NEVER SEEN, EXPENSIVE INVENTIONS THAT WERE NEVER DESIGNED, HIGH-PRICED PLANS THAT NEVER GOT BEYOND THE DRAWING BOARD OF THE MIND, and PRICELESS PURPOSES THAT WERE NEVER FULFILLED! SADLY, ONLY A TINY PERCENTAGE OF THOSE WHO LIVE ON THIS PLANET WILL DISCOVER AND FULFILL THEIR TRUE PURPOSE AND POTENTIAL! Do you want to be one of them? Then ask yourself: “Who am I? Why did God put me here? How much potential do I have? How can I maximize my ability for His Glory?” WITHIN THE ANSWERS OF THESE QUESTIONS LIE THE KEYS TO UNLOCK A FULFILLING LIFE!

Dr. Myles Munroe says it like this: “The wealthiest place in the world are not the gold mines of South America or the oil fields of Iraq or Iran. They are not the diamond mines of South Africa or the banks of the world. The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road. It is the cemetery. There lie buried companies that were never started, inventions that were never made, best selling books that were never written, and masterpieces that were never painted. In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.”

Listen, life is far too short to leave it incomplete and unfulfilled. So today is your wake-up call and challenge to write the book, produce the play, preach the sermon, teach the lesson, start the business, open the church, purchase the house, buy the car, take the vacation, board the cruise, face your fears and go for it! If you never really LIVE what LEGACY will there be to LEAVE behind? So, stop delaying, stop procrastinating, stop hesitating, stop blaming others, stop pointing fingers. YOU got to work on fulfilling all that’s within YOU! After all, you can’t keep saying “I’ll do it tomorrow”, eventually you will run out of tomorrow’s! So discover what’s in you Today and began birthing it out of you Today!

And if you haven’t found your life’s purpose yet, TALK TO GOD! “EVERYTHING…FINDS ITS PURPOSE IN HIM” (Colossians 1:16 MSG). Literally EVERYTHING finds its purpose in Him and it’s fulfilled through Him! Listen: Before you spoke your first word or took your first step, GOD HAD A PLAN AND PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE! You say, “But I’ve failed so badly.” Maybe, BUT YOU’D BE AMAZED AT WHAT GOD CAN DO WITH A BROKEN LIFE—WHEN YOU GIVE HIM ALL THE PIECES! As poorly put together as you think you are, your Purpose is found in God, and He will not allow you to lose it! Your mistakes, missteps, errors, and even deliberate sins, transgressions and iniquities still cannot stop God from producing what He’s placed in you! Simply Repent, Turn, Change, and Be Fully Restored so You Can Finally Become All God Destined You to Be! And let no one make you think it’s harder than that!

You’ve been comfortable in your complacency long enough! And when you get too comfortable God has a way of stirring things up! Just like a mother eagle who teaches her little ones to fly by MAKING THEIR NEST SO UNCOMFORTABLE THAT THEY’RE FORCED OUT OF IT! And then Next THEY ARE PUSHED OFF A CLIFF EDGE! SO ONE WAY OR ANOTHER THEY MUST SOAR, BECAUSE IT’S WHAT’S “IN THEM” AND LIKEWISE YOU ARE THE VERY SAME!

“But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” (Isaiah 40:31 AMP)

Discover What’s In You So You Can Finally Soar!

People of God, there’s so much more to you than you’ve settled for! In other words, you’ve scratched around in that hen house long enough! However, you are nobody’s chicken! So, realize who and what you are and all the possibilities and potential of what you WILL become and then simply determine to BECOME IT! 

In a nutshell: Flap your wings and fly! Never Settle For LESS When You’ve Been Destined For MORE!

The last thing we need is another VALUABLE ASSET TURNED INTO A CHEAP LOSS-LADEN LIABILITY, STUFFED IN THE COFFIN OF UNFULFILLED PURPOSE AND POTENTIAL!

SO, DISCOVER WHAT’S IN YOU, THEN DETERMINE TO BRING IT OUT…TODAY!

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

“When you catch a glimpse of your potential, that’s when passion is born.” (Zig Ziglar)

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

“You cannot afford to live in potential for the rest of your life; at some point, you have to unleash the potential and make your move.” (Eric Thomas)

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

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

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

“I have too much greatness awaiting me on the other side of this challenge to allow my fears to serve as a road block.” (Carmen Polk)

“If you are always trying to be NORMAL, you will never know how AMAZING you can be.” (Dr. Maya Angelou)

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

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

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

“The obsession with instant gratification blinds us from our long-term potential.” (Michael Dooley)

“When you are not willing to be challenged, disturbed or offended, you are not willing to explore your weaknesses or ever reach your highest potential.” (Bryant McGill)

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

“You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential.” (Steve Garvey)

“You were born with wings, you are not meant for crawling. So Don’t!” (Rumi)

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

“How far you can go in life is yet to be seen. Don’t let other people’s limited beliefs about what’s possible diminish your potential.” (Kevin Ngo)

“Desire and imagination have the potential to position a person for greatness.” (Eric Thomas)

“Inside every seed is the potential for an incredible harvest.” (Farrah Gray)

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

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “20 Stress Relieving Foods to Try if You’re Feeling Anxious”

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“Choose Your PATH and PASSENGERS Carefully!”

Matthew 7:14-15, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.” (AMP)

Personally, I’ve never hitchhiked before, but I’ve seen many hitchhikers along the road and I’ve certainly seen them in movies (especially scary ones). But the one thing that’s almost always certain is, you’ll find them usually holding a sign. And more often than not, the sign is usually crudely lettered, and doesn’t have the name or the license plate of the car they want to ride in. No, but what it normally does have on it is the name of a place they want to go. Believe it or not, but in most places, hitchhiking is a way of life. One woman shared her hitchhiking experience, when she said she asked only one question before she got in a car. She didn’t care about the make of the car, the driver’s IQ, or where the driver was from. She had one question only, “Where are you headed?

You see, hitchhikers have a simple basis for deciding who they will travel with and it’s this: “Is this person going where I want to end up?” And that’s exactly the question we all should have in mind when we’re deciding who we’re going to travel with.

Which is why Proverbs 13:20 is a great admonishment to all of us. It’s God’s counsel concerning the people we hang out with, people we spend time with, make friends with, people we start business ventures with, people we date, people we marry. And it says this: “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Check out a few other translations:

“He who walks [as a companion] with wise men will be wise, But the companions of [conceited, dull-witted] fools [are fools themselves and] will experience harm.” (AMP);

“Walk with wise people and become wise; befriend fools and get in trouble.” (CEB);

“Wise friends make you wise, but you hurt yourself by going around with fools.” (CEV);

“Whoever walks with wise people will be wise, but whoever associates with fools will suffer.” (GWT);

“Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined.” (GNT);

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the one who walks with fools will be destroyed.” (NLV);

“Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.” (MSG)

I don’t know about you, but after reading all of that, I’m ready to re-exam every friend attached to my life! And my simple response will be to keep the wise and kick to the curb the fools! Why? Because the wrong foolish friends, according to the Bible, will cause you to “experience harm; get in to trouble; hurt yourself; suffer; be ruined; be destroyed and have your life fall to pieces”! Says the Scripture! Now you tell me, are foolish friends really worth all of that? I think NOT!

Furthermore, you tend to become like the people you spend time with. Like a hitchhiker, you end up where the people you are traveling with end up. Which is why God loves us so much that He reinforces this point in 1 Corinthians 15:33. He just simply says, “Do not be misled. “Bad company corrupts good character.” (NIV) Yet another Scripture we need to look at a bit closer:

“Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you.” (CEV);

“Don’t be fooled: “Bad friends will ruin good habits.” (ERV);

“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (ESV);

“Do not let anyone fool you. Bad people can make those who want to live good become bad.” (NLV);

“Don’t be fooled by those who say such things. If you listen to them you will start acting like them.” (TLB)

Once again we’re faced with the challenge of re-examining our friendships. Are we in good or bad company? Because bad friends will “destroy you; ruin your good habits and morals; and will encourage you to do and be just as bad.” Not to mention, if we hang with bad friends “we’ll start to act just like them”! Which brings about the question, that only you can ask and answer: With the friends I have in my life, would I be encouraged or embarrassed to reflect their thoughts, speech, actions, habits and lifestyle? Do I have friends who I would want to emulate? Do I have friends that help me turn my good habits into bad ones, or cause my morals to come up MIA?

Listen, if you’re going to make good decisions about who to travel with at your school, at your workplace, in your social life, in business, at church, or even who you’ll date and marry, you first need to decide what kind of person you want to become; what kind of goals you want to achieve. And I for one certainly hope you want to end up being a positive person, and not a negative one. After all, who needs any more of those? You probably want to end up being caring, not self-centered, encouraging, not tearing people down, living for what really matters instead of just some attractive, meaningless junk.

Decide what kind of person you want to be; what kind of attitudes you want to have. And then look for some people who have the same “destination sign” as you do. Now, when it comes to driving, the purpose of “destination signs” is “to direct travelers to their destinations by the best route.” And before you befriend anyone else, you need to hold up the destination sign of where it is you’re going so others who want you to hop in and take a ride with them will know, you already know your destination and you will not be detoured! People need to know, in advance, where you’re heading, and likewise you need to know, in advance, where they’re heading. And if you find that you’re heading to pleasing God, then you don’t ride with those heading to play with God. If you’re heading to use your talent, you don’t ride with those heading to hide their talent. If you’re heading to be used by God, you don’t ride with those who only want to use God. If you’re heading to a monogamous relationship, you don’t ride with those who already have a backseat full of passengers to play with. If you’re heading to becoming debt-free, you don’t ride with those who have no financial discipline. If you’re heading to becoming physically fit, you don’t ride with those who just left McDonalds, at Applebee’s now, and heading to Red Lobster next.

Are you getting this?

As soon as they pull up, they should already know where you’re heading to because you’ve already clearly displayed your destination sign, in advance! And before you hop in to ride, you need to likewise ask, “where you heading to?” And if you’re heading to holiness, righteousness, godliness, peace, joy, love, happiness, and the like, then you know already you can’t ride with someone who is unholy, unrighteous, ungodly, chaotic, miserable, hateful, and sad!

Note: Why would two people ride in the same car going in two different directions?!

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

I reiterate, why would two people ride in the same car going in two different directions?!

Like it or not, you have to take time to re-exam your friendships. Are you traveling with the right people? Are you heading in the same direction? Do you share the same vision, purpose, aim and goals? Because if not, you could be heading in a direction God never set as your destination! Or building from blueprints that have nothing to do with who you are to become! And what’s the danger of that?

1 Corinthians 3:9-15, “For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building. According to the [remarkable] grace of God which was given to me [to prepare me for my task], like a skillful master builder I laid a foundation, and now another is building on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  each one’s work will be clearly shown [for what it is]; for the day [of judgment] will disclose it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality and character and worth of each person’s work.  If any person’s work which he has built [on this foundation, that is, any outcome of his effort] remains [and survives this test], he will receive a reward.  But if any person’s work is burned up [by the test], he will suffer the loss [of his reward]; yet he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has barely escaped] through fire.” (AMP)

Do you really want to take the risk of bad friendships?! Remember, you’re not just working here, but one day there will be an inspection of your work. Do you really want to find out that after a lifetime of building for God, you were using the wrong blueprints all along? Listen: Whether it’s marriage, business or church, you need to make sure that the people you’re traveling with are driving you towards your destiny and not away from it. You need people in your life who are working on the same building and driving in the same direction!

Your selection of friends, associates, romantic prospects may well be one of the most important choices you will ever make because you will probably end up on the same road as they do. If you’re with people who are spiritually careless, or just don’t care, you’ll probably end up there, too. If you’re with people who just simply settle for mediocrity as a Christian, you will live that grey life like they do. But if you are connected with some people who are going in the “make a difference” direction, the “live to help other people” direction, the “live for Jesus” direction, chances are that’s where you’re going to end up – going in the direction where your life can mean the most and matter the most, and count for something lasting.

You can ask any hitchhiker, it really does matter who you decide to travel with. You don’t decide who you’re going to go with on the basis of how cool they are, or how well-connected they are, or how exciting their lifestyle looks – or even how they treat you. You ask that all-important, deciding question about who you’re going to spend your time around, “Where are you headed?”

You only travel with someone who’s going to a destination that you’re not ever going to regret!

Now, something else to keep in mind is this. You can hold your sign up with your intended destination on it, and have someone pull over and offer you a ride. However, sometimes they’ll say, “I’m only going as far as…..so I can get you at least close to where you’re going.” NOPE! Don’t You Dare Settle for Satisfactory! Don’t You Dare Settle For Less! Know where you’re heading in God, and only travel with those heading to that same destination! Far too many people have already settled for getting close, only to find out that they will spend the rest of their lives just like that…they got close… Not where they’re supposed to be, but close; almost there; near; just about; within reach and yet…that’s all they get is close to where they were destined to end up!

Know where God is sending you and don’t settle for traveling with people who will only get you close. In the end, no one wants to hear God say, “you almost made it in”! No, you want Heaven to be your home, you don’t want to find out that you can live somewhere near Heaven as a neighbor! NO! I want to make it all the way IN! And that’s how you have to think about your talents, gifts, skills, ministry, calling, purpose, and life! I don’t want to get within reach only to let it slip through my fingers! And that’s precisely what happens when you travel with people who are not going in your direction!

Therefore, this is your challenge, Re-Exam Your Friendships!

Make sure they’re not just attached, but assigned!

Some people are only around you to get your attention, not give you assistance. Make sure you’re not traveling with people that cause you to break out a map and compass because nothing about the journey looks anything like where God told you to go.

I’ll close with our opening text Matthew 7:14-15, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.” (AMP)

When traveling this Christian life, you have a choice between the wide and narrow gate. When you choose to travel with ‘wide’ friends, you choose to go down a road that is indeed broad and easy (and of course that’s appealing to many), but that path is also the way to destruction and eternal loss and MANY are on it! That’s the danger of having a crowd of friends all going in the wrong direction, because you choose to travel with them, you end up at the same destination of destruction and eternal loss. And surely you haven’t lived this long to miss Heaven with such a short trip! Saints, you don’t need a car load of people! You need ‘narrow’ friends with a ‘narrow’ mindset. They’re the ones that keep you focused and on the right path because they know just how difficult traveling down the journey can be, especially with so many temptation signs trying to entice you to take a detour from destiny. But ‘narrow’ friends remind you of your everlasting life that you can’t afford to lose! And how many ‘narrow’ friends do you need? The bible reads, “…there are FEW who find it.” And that’s all you need is a few ‘narrow’ focused friends who refuse to get distracted and thrown off track, so they keep you just as focused! They are the ones that remind you what God told you to do and where God told you to go. They don’t go astray and they don’t let you go astray either. ‘Narrow’ friends keep you responsible and accountable. They’re concerned about your salvation remaining intact. They’re concerned that you’re using the gifts God gave you the way God told you. They’re concerned that you take no risks that cost you your life, calling, family, or purpose in God.

There will always be MANY that will want to lead you down the WIDE road; but if you want to see Jesus in peace; follow the FEW who are focused on staying safely on the NARROW road!

People of God, think twice before accepting a friendship ride! You don’t want to travel with anyone who will be detrimental to your destination here on earth or thereafter!

“Keep your head and your heart going in the right direction, and you will not have to worry about your feet.” (Myles Munroe)

“If you don’t change the direction you are going, then you’re likely to end up where you’re heading.” (John C. Maxwell)

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” (Henry David Thoreau)

“It’s better to go slowly in the right direction than go speeding off in the wrong direction.” (Simon Sinek)

“Far too many people spend a lifetime headed in the wrong direction. They go not only from the cradle to the cubicle, but then to the casket, without uncovering their greatest talents and potential.” (Tom Roth)

“Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.” (Kenichi Ohmae)

“If you think down, you will go down. If you think up, you will go up. You’ll always travel in the direction of your thinking.” (T.D. Jakes)

“As I get older, I am becoming more selective of who I consider a friend. I find that I would rather have 4 quarters, than 100 pennies.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going. Rather than always focusing on what’s urgent, learn to focus on what is really important.” (Stephen Covey)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “21 Reasons You’re Stressed and What to Do About Them?”

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

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“An Encounter With God”

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

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

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

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

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

Can you imagine something being so important and vital to God that He actually comes looking for it? Well, that’s the power and attraction of true-worshipers. There is something so phenomenal about their worship, that God seeks for, looks for, goes after and pursues them. Which reminds me a lot of ‘new love’. We go so out of our way when it’s new love. The phone calls are never-ending, the flowers flow in constantly, the ‘I love you’s are dear, genuine, passionate and daily, the time together is precious and you never want it to come to an end. You rearrange your entire schedule just to spend a moment with the one you love. You gaze in their eyes, and smile for no reason. You can think of them and butterflies flutter on the inside. You give your everything to them, because you love them. It’s new, exciting, fun, and life-giving. It brings you joy, happiness, contentment, and you can’t stop telling everybody about the somebody that has stolen your heart and refuses to give it back. You want to hold hands all the time, your intimacy knows no limits or boundaries. You want to eat with them, go out with them, stay in with them. All because you love them. And often their response matches yours, because when someone knows just how special, valued, cherished and loved they are, they tend to give even more of themselves in return out of a heart full of gratitude. I wonder what would happen if we would dare to love God like that? What would it be like for our worship to resemble that kind of love in word, thought, and action? Could you imagine how relentless God would pursue us for rendering such worship on Him? If only we would give God even a tenth of what we give to people…Selah…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verse 8 says, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (AMP). When we see our sin and receive God’s forgiveness, then we should see the people who don’t have a Savior yet. Our heart should ache for those who haven’t seen the King. Worship is not just getting a good feeling because you got close to God. When you see the Lord, it will help you see the lost people who haven’t gotten close to Him yet. Worship that is really worship will lead to repentance and then to evangelism. Unfortunately, we get so lost in what we desire the Lord to Personally do for us, that we assume, when we’ve received what we asked for, then that’s it, I’m good, the day is done, we can go home now. Not so! We don’t get to God, get what we can get from God, then go home. We get in the presence of God, so we can repent, change and get something to give away to somebody else.

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

You don’t get clean just to brag about your cleanliness. You don’t get clean just to hang around other clean folks. You get clean so you can go to them that are still in the filth of their sin, and you tell them I know a Man that can clean your sin better than Tide can clean your laundry!

You don’t just go into God’s presence to applaud, to run, jump, leap, spin, dance, shout, and praise, though that’s a great place to start. But you go to worship and repent, to receive forgiveness, to be cleansed and changed and to hear Him speak and then to act on what He says!

Think about this: Can you imagine traveling hours to hear the President speak, stuck in traffic, struggling to find a place to park. Then getting on a long line to be security cleared. Then to hear all the chatter from everyone else speaking all at the same time. Then to find you a little spot to try and see and hear him. Then to hear that he’s about to enter in, he’s announced and introduced, you clap and scream and get so excited. And then he comes in, and all the cheering gets even louder. He’s at the podium, then the applause dies down, and finally you get to hear him speak, BUT he just walks away without a word spoken…how disappointed would you be?

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

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

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

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

There was a Powerful Wind that tore out the mountains and broke rocks in piece; There was an Earthquake; There was a Fire… In short, there was a lot of Noise and a lot of Action to Be Seen and Heard…but the Lord’s voice wasn’t in the verbal noise or the visible action! And truth is, our churches have become quite noisy and visibly active…Selah…However, the Lord’s voice was in “the sound of a gentle blowing…” if you weren’t quiet and still, you would never hear it or feel it. Makes me ponder if the church needs to quiet down and learn to be still just a little bit more? Maybe, just maybe, we could sense, hear, see and feel the actual presence of the Lord.

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

Remember, it is the true worshipers that God is seeking for, looking for and pursuing. Those whose worship continuously goes off on His radar. These are the ones God goes out on a man-hunt for. He tracks them down. He desires them; longs for them; is drawn to them. So, a good question to ask yourself is: “Does My Seeking God in Worship Move God to Come Seeking After Me?” That’s the kind of Worship you should be after, the kind that causes God to come after you! A Real Encounter With God! One Where You See God; You See Yourself as He Sees You; and Then You See Others in Outreach!

Therefore, today, let’s start fresh. Let’s set the stage for God’s entrance. Praise Him, Thank Him, Glorify Him, Exalt and Extol Him, Speak Well of Him, Applaud Him. But then ask Him to prepare you through confession, repentance, forgiveness and cleansing to enter His presence to Hear Him speak. And when He speaks, listen and obey.

Remembering that Isaiah SAT until he was SANCTIFIED and then SENT.

Your process will be the same. And when God sends you, it’s not for your glory, your name, your reputation, your self-promotion, the people’s applause and approval or exalting your gifts, skills, talents, or anointing. No, you’re sent on assignment to lead others into the same process as you’ve experienced. Your purpose is the discipleship of others. Bring people into the Kingdom, even if they don’t come into Your Church. Their Soul, Not Your Seating, is What’s Important to God and Should Be Just as Important to Us, His People, His Church, Given His Charge and Commission to Complete. Keep that in mind as you renew your mind regarding Praise and Worship and making sure that it’s not a performance or show but that it becomes your very lifestyle.

People of God, whatever you do, Don’t Miss What Happens After the Applause! Experience One Real Encounter With God and You’ll Want an Encore!

1 Samuel 3:10, “Then the Lord came and stood and called as at the previous times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”(AMP)

James 4:8, “Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your [unfaithful] hearts, you double-minded [people].” (AMP)

Psalm 24:4, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to what is false, Nor has sworn [oaths] deceitfully.” (AMP)

John 10:27, “The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me.” (AMP)

Psalm 96:9, “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; Tremble [in submissive wonder] before Him, all the earth.” (AMP)

Psalm 29:2, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty and majesty of His holiness [as the creator and source of holiness].” (AMP)

“True worship always brings you into a right relationship with God.” (Author Unknown)

“Worship that is pleasing to God, radiates throughout a person’s entire life.” (A.W. Tozer)

“Worship, it’s not about you, it’s all about Him being worthy and you being unworthy.” (Author Unknown)

“An encounter with God marks you, and makes you hungry for more of Him.” (Jenn Johnson)

“Worship is a lifestyle. What you do throughout the day is your act of worship to God.” (Patrick Mabilog)

“Worship is an act of war against the enemy of our hearts.” (Holley Gerth)

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

“In the case of Jesus, He is infinitely admirable, and our admiration rises to the most absolute worship.” (John Piper)

“True worshipers believe they are the Temple of God in which the Father dwells and from which they worship the Father. They are not just instruments in God’s hands, most importantly they have a relationship with God and so they are not waiting for that special time or place or call to do anything, worship is their lifestyle.” (Justice Kojo Bentil)

“Such true worship will stand the test of Christ’s great principle, ‘by their fruits you shall know them.’ It sanctifies the Christian’s life and makes them walk with God, lifting them above fear and love of the world. It enables a Christian to show God to other folks. Such worship comes from Heaven, and has the mark of God upon it.” (J.C. Ryle)

“God is looking for worshipers not professional musicians.” (Author Unknown)

“Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of His Presence.” (Rick Warren)

“A man can no more diminish God’s Glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ an the walls of his cell.” (C.S. Lewis)

“In true worship the Father must be first.” (Andrew Murray)

“It is imperative that the Christian, at the beginning of his pursuit to understand what true worship is, gets it clear that the object of our worship is to be God and God alone.” (R.C. Sproul)

Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” (AMP)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Keep Your Mind Young and Sharp”

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“Trust God…Even in the Dark!”

“Who is among you who fears the Lord, Who obeys the voice of His Servant, Yet who walks in DARKNESS and has no light? Let him TRUST and be confident in the name of the LORD and let him rely on his GOD.” (Isaiah 50:10 AMP).

You were promised the Peace of God, but not smooth sailing, immunity or exemption from life’s problems! Which is why Jesus Himself admonishes you with these words: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have TRIBULATION and TRIALS and DISTRESS and FRUSTRATION; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” (John 16:33 AMP). In other words, you will experience Tribulation, Trials, Distress and Frustration, but it will NOT Overcome you no matter how Overwhelmed you may feel!

However, you WILL experience it nonetheless!

According to our text in another translation, the Bible says this: “Who is among you who [reverently] fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, yet who walks in DARKNESS AND DEEP TROUBLE and has no shining splendor [in his heart]? Let him rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let him lean upon and be supported by his God.” (AMPC) I’m certain that is the testimony of many of you, “…fearing the Lord…YET…walking in darkness and deep trouble…” However, I encourage you to rest assured that you are NOT the only one who shares this testimony!

Let’s see some examples:

1…JOB—lived an exemplary life yet he lost everything! Troubled and perplexed, he cried, “God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness.” (19:8 NLT).

2…JEREMIAH – after preaching to a rebellious people who beat and imprisoned him, said, “I wish that my eyes were fountains of tears, so I could cry day and night for my people…” (9:1 CEV).

3…JOHN THE BAPTIST—was puzzled about why Jesus, who could raise the dead, had left him to languish in prison. So he sent Him a message asking, “…are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:19 NIV).

4…PAUL—suffered so much he “…despaired even of life.” (2 Corinthians 1:8). Or better stated by The Message Bible, “We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us…It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us…” (vss. 8-11).

5…NAOMI – was so bitter in soul, that she renamed herself bitter. “But she said, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter. The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow. I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back. Why would you call me Naomi? God certainly doesn’t. The Strong One ruined me.” (Ruth 1:20-21 MSG)

6…DAVID – did not bite his tongue at all when addressing God about how he felt. “Long enough, God – you’ve ignored me long enough. I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain. Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me.” (Psalm 13:1-2 MSG)

7…ELIJAH – simply wanted to die! When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush…” (1 Kings 19:3-5 MSG)

8…MOSES – was under such distress, He even asked God to erase him out of His book! “Moses went back to God and said, “This is terrible. This people has sinned – it’s an enormous sin! They made gods of gold for themselves. And now, if you will only forgive their sin…But if not, erase me out of the book you’ve written.” (Exodus 32:32 MSG)

9…JESUS – even asked a question many of us ask of our Father. “From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:45-46 MSG)

People of God, in a nutshell: Faith is like film; it’s developed in the DARK! Yet you can take heart because you share the ‘DARK ROOM’ with some great men and women who experienced the same struggles and yet still overcame them and succeeded! Job, Jeremiah, John, Paul, Naomi, David, Elijah, Moses and even Jesus all spent time in the Dark Room developing into images of strength and endurance for us to admire and become!

You see, dark days are purposed to make you lean on God in ways you normally wouldn’t! The truth is, if your faith was never tested you wouldn’t be motivated to pursue God and draw closer to Him! The hymn writer wrote it best: “When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Think about it: It’s easy to praise God when your health is good, your bills are paid, your kids are well-behaved, your marriage is back in the honeymoon phase, you got the job you weren’t even qualified for, the school gave you the grant, the car is running like its brand new etc… But it’s a completely different story told when light suddenly turns to darkness that you discover what your faith is really made of and where your trust truly lies. The Bible says it like this: “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 can become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG). Saints, I know the Tests and Challenges Coming From All Sides doesn’t feel all that great, but it challenges, tests, stretches and strengthens your faith. In the words of the Apostle Paul: “So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!—to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. WHEN THE GOING GETS ROUGH, TAKE IT ON THE CHIN WITH THE REST OF US, THE WAY JESUS DID. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.” (2 Timothy 2:1-7 MSG)

Therefore, I agree, the tests, trials, challenges, frustrations, rough times and tough seasons can weary you, howeveryou have to remember the reason you don’t allow your weariness to overwhelm you to the point you quit: “Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9 CEB).

Therefore, I encourage you my brothers and sisters to continue to press on, because there’s a prize at the end of the pressure! “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I PRESS TOWARD THE MARK FOR THE PRIZE OF THE HIGH CALLING OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS.” (Philippians 3:12-14). I Challenge You to Let the Pressure, Press You and Push You to attain Possession of Your Prize!

Now, to Developing Night Vision!

In our dark seasons of struggle, stress and strife, sometimes God doesn’t tell us WHY because He wants us to know WHO! In Psalm 23, David goes from talking ABOUT God, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” (vs. 1) to talking WITH God, “…Thou art with me…” (vs. 4). So what happened in between? David learned that no matter how dark the way is, the Lord is there to guide us, “…He leadeth me beside…still waters…He leadeth me in…paths of righteousness…” (vss. 2-3). He discovered that it’s better to walk through the valley with God than stand on the mountaintop without Him! Church, if you haven’t reached this level of faith and trust in God, keep stretching! It’s mandatory that you reach it! Practice talking like David!

Psalm 23 – “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, You find me quiet pools to drink from. True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when You walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.” (MSG)

David learned something that we all need to learn, especially when traveling through the dark and even death valley’s of life. He learned to trust God even when he couldn’t trace Him. Why? Because God is a covenant keeper of His Word, and His Word has made you promises that will not fail! And those promises hold true even when God doesn’t immediately light the path for your way out of darkness. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isaiah 43:2). The Message Bible says it like this: “…Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end – Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba throw in! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” (vss. 1-4 MSG)

Does that sound like you’re walking in the dark alone? I think not!

Family, when you feel like you’re out in the depth or in over your head, claim the Isaiah 43:2 promise and let it be a light of hope in your dark season! Remember, no matter how dark your road gets, Faith can do more for your vision than Pearle Vision and Lens Crafters combined! Increase your faith so your doubt doesn’t cause you to miss God in the dark! 2 Corinthians 5:7, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight.” The Message Bible says it like this: That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.” (MSG)

That’s the kind of faith that keeps your focus on point!

Listen: Job had many unanswered questions, but when he began to understand the difference between REASON and RELATIONSHIP, he told God in Job 42:5, “I had heard of You [only] by hearing of the ear, But now my [spiritual] eye sees You.” (AMP). The Message Bible says it like this, “Job answered God: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’ I admit I once lived by rumors of You; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor. (MSG)

Job teaches us that when you can’t find the REASON, simply trust the RELATIONSHIPGod won’t fail you! Even when you act like Sarai and try to help Him out with your own back-up plan; or like Job, you try to foolishly speak on God’s behalf, yet God remains in His relationship to us and with us, regardless of our poor judgment in trying to find our own light in the dark. In fact, Job’s relationship is deepened because in his own words, he only lived on rumors about God, but now after trusting Him through a dark season, he can now say, I have firsthand knowledge of God with my own eyes and ears. He no longer needed anyone to tell him about God, he learned of God from God! And what’s one of the lessons Job learned? You can trust God with everything, even when a dark season leaves you with nothing!

But, there is something else you should know about darkness and that is: Contrary to what you may think, DARKNESS isn’t always the work of the enemy! In actuality, it’s often God’s best teaching tool! Listen to the Bible: “LATE AT NIGHT, the boat was far out at sea; Jesus was still by himself on land. He could see his men struggling with the oars, the wind having come up against them. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the sea. He intended to go right by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and screamed, scared out of their wits. Jesus was quick to comfort them: “Courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” As soon as he climbed into the boat, the wind died down. They were stunned, shaking their heads, wondering what was going on. They didn’t understand what he had done at the supper. None of this had yet penetrated their hearts.” (Mark 6:48-52 MSG).

Truth is, you get to know the Lord by going through storms WITH Him! Yes, it was “LATE AT NIGHT”, but aren’t you glad your GOD still works the NIGHT SHIFT?!

The Psalmist said, “EVEN THE DARKNESS WILL NOT BE DARK TO YOU; THE NIGHT WILL SHINE LIKE THE DAY, FOR DARKNESS IS AS LIGHT TO YOU” (139:12 NIV). So instead of running from your problems, ask God to develop your night vision, and when He does, remember He promised to “…GIVE YOU TREASURES HIDDEN IN DARK AND SECRET PLACES…” (Isaiah 45:3 CEV).

Remember, just because your situation is too dark for you, doesn’t mean it will EVER be too dark for God!

Now to take it just a little step further, when the darkness you’re experiencing is God-Ordained, don’t try to create your own light! The Bible says, “…walk in the light of the fires YOU HAVE SET. But with his own hand, the LORD WILL PUNISH YOU AND MAKE YOU SUFFER” (Isaiah 50:11 CEV). Attempting to light your own way, will only lead to further, and might I add, Unnecessary, suffering! For example: Abraham And Sarah decided to kindle their own fire when God’s promise of an heir didn’t materialize quickly enough. So they ended up with Ishmael, and ended up creating problems that would last for generations!

Therefore, Never Attempt to Make Decisions In the Dark! All You Need to do is See, Hear and Trust God!

NEVER Attempt to Make Your Own Light in Your Dark Seasons!

As a matter of fact, when you’re in darkness, by divine design, simply recall these great promises:

“Light arises in…darkness for the upright…” (Psalm 112:4 AMP); and “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)Your dark seasons will not last always, but while they are here, trust God in the dark as though it were already light! Remember: He’s God in the Mountains and the Valley’s alike! Listen: The forty days Moses spent alone on the mountain, Elijah’s stay on Mt. Horeb, and Paul’s years in the Arabian Desert weren’t wasted experiences; they were all part of God’s plan! Likewise, darkness can’t detour your destiny! Simply Develop Your Night Vision and See the Great Treasures God Has In Store For You…Surely that will Lighten Your Dark Places…for it’s often in our Dark Seasons when we See God Brighter than ever before!

Learn to Develop Night Vision So You Can Learn to Trust God Even in the Dark!

“To trust God in the light is nothing, but trust Him in the dark…that’s faith.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“Trust God in the dark, until the light returns.” (Aiden Wilson Tozer)

“Never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light.” (Author Unknown)

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. Trust God today no matter how dark your situation. God says, ‘you are coming out!’” (Christine Caine)

“When you trust God to fulfill the promises He’s given you, all the forces of darkness cannot stop God from bringing your dreams to pass.” (Author Unknown)

“I would sooner walk in the dark, and hold hard to a promise of my God, than trust in the light of the brightest day that ever dawned.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Heavenly Father, I may not understand how everything will work out, but I trust You. I don’t see a way, but I know You will make a way. I have faith at this very moment You are touching hearts, opening doors, and lining up the right breaks and right opportunities. Things may look dark and bleak now, but I have faith that my dawn is coming! In Jesus’ name.” (Author Unknown)

“It is the easiest thing in the world to obey God when He commands us to do what we like, and to trust Him when the path is all sunshine. The real victory of faith is to trust God in the dark, and through the dark.” (Theodore L. Cuyler)

“Trusting God when the miracle does not come, when the urgent prayer gets no answer, when there is only darkness – this is the kind of faith God values perhaps most of all. This is the kind of faith that can be developed and displayed only in the midst of difficult circumstances. This is the kind of faith that cannot be shaken because it is the result of having already been shaken.” (Nancy Gutherie)

“Confession is the statement of truth based on the ‘WORD’. You might be in the night season of your life but don’t allow it to change your confession. You have to trust God in the darkness with what He told you in the light. Keep declaring His Word till your change manifests. The Word of God Never Fails and Never Lies.” (Author Unknown)

“It takes faith to trust God in times of trouble, especially when the boat you’re in is being tossed to and fro in the dark.” (Rosa Watson)

“True worship doesn’t put on a show or make a fuss; true worship isn’t forced, isn’t half-hearted, doesn’t keep looking at its watch, doesn’t worry what the person in the next pew is doing. True worship is open to God, adoring God, waiting for God, trusting God…even in the dark.” (N.T. Wright)

“It is not my responsibility in what form God answers my questions for guidance. That, is quite safe in His hands. The only thing that I know is that God is light, and not darkness. Those who trust Him, He does not leave in darkness. He is a very, very good shepherd.” (Corrie ten Boom)

“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.” (Rabindranath Tagore)

“The tiny Seed knew that in order to Grow it needed to be Dropped in Dirt, Covered in Darkness, and Struggle to Reach the Light.” (Author Unknown)

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.” (Desmond Tutu)

“The ultimate test of faith is not how loudly you praise God in happy times but how deeply you trust Him in dark times.” (Rick Warren)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Surprising Signs You’re Not Moving Enough”

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“Take Some Initiative”

Proverbs 6:6-11, “You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. NOBODY HAS TO TELL IT WHAT TO DO. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. SO HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING TO LAZE AROUND DOING NOTHING? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest.” (MSG)

Far too many of us are sitting around wasting time waiting for someone to come along and tell us what to do next!

The story’s told of a man who was employed by a duke and duchess. One day he was called in to speak to his employer. “James, how long have you been with us?” said the Duchess. “About 30 years, Your Grace,” he replied. “As I recall you were employed to look after the dog,” she said. “Yes, Your Grace.” “James, that dog died 27 years ago,” said the Duchess. “Yes, Your Grace,” said James, “I was waiting for you to tell me what you would like for me to do next

As comical as it sounds, many of us are just like James! 10 years later and we’re still waiting to be told what to do next. In ministry 15 years and still waiting to be told what to do next. What’s the problem? A LACK OF INITIATIVE! Why do we fail to take initiative? BECAUSE WE DON’T REALIZE THE HEAVY CONSEQUENCES OF OUR INACTION! Solomon writes in our text from: Proverbs 6:6-11, “You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. NOBODY HAS TO TELL IT WHAT TO DO. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. SO HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING TO LAZE AROUND DOING NOTHING? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest.” (MSG)

People of God, whatever we do—or neglect to do for that matter—always catches up with us eventually! 1 Corinthians 3:9-15, “Or, to put it another way, you are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely.” (MSG)

I reiterate, we are accountable for what we DO and for what we leave UNDONE! Saint’s, God’s Inspection of the Work You’ve Done, or Left Undone, is Coming and You WANT to Pass His Test! Therefore, No More Hesitation, Laziness or Procrastination, Get Your Works in Order TODAY! Luke 9:62, “Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” (MSG)

Those who procrastinate end up like the man in playwright James Albery’s verse: “He slept beneath the moon, he baked beneath the sun. He lived a life of going-to-do; and died with nothing done. Don’t let this be descriptive of your life and legacy!

Paul writes: “…God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well…” (Romans 12:6 NLT).  The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, LET US USE THEM…” (AMP); and the Message Bible states it like this: “So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, LET’S GO AHEAD AND BE WHAT WE WERE MADE TO BE…” (MSG).

Knowing your ability is one of the keys to understanding life’s assignment. However, you can only plan and prepare for so long, EVENTUALLY YOU’VE GOT TO TAKE SOME ACTION, TAKE SOME INITIATIVE AND BECOME WHAT YOU’VE BEEN MADE TO BE!

Notice 2 things about taking the Initiative:

1…TAKING INITIATIVE CLOSES THE DOOR TO FEAR: Although none of us wants to admit it, we all have fears. The question is, are we going to control them or allow them to control us? Norman Vincent Peale said: “Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.” To have any chance at getting what we desire, we need to work for it. Nothing is as discouraging or draining as hanging on to an Uncompleted TaskThe longer we let things slide, the harder they become. And the hardest work is often the accumulation of many easy things that should have been done yesterday, last week or last month! So how do you get rid of a difficult task? JUST DO IT! Stop talking about it and become it! Turn the blueprint into a building! It’s time you Step out of Fear and Walk by Faith! Truth is, once you become engulfed in doing it instead of talking about it, you’ll find yourself too busy to focus on fear! But standing still and just looking at it will always give you the anxiety that it cannot be accomplished! So today, determine to send your resume in for that job. So what you don’t qualify, they may be looking for some new blood to train and shake up the office. After all, what’s the worst that could happen, they tell you no!? Surely, that won’t stop you from breathing and continuing on with life. Listen: If you’ve got a pulse, you’ve got a purpose, so get to producing it! You do know that you don’t have forever, right?! So, go back to school, learn to drive, apply for the job, go after the grant, start the business, move out of state, etc…whatever you plan to do, know that you only have a limited time on earth to get it done, so start Today, since Yesterday is Gone, and Tomorrow is NEVER Guaranteed to Come!

2…TAKING THE INITIATIVE OPENS THE DOOR TO OPPORTUNITY: People who take the initiative and work hard may succeed, or fail. But anyone who doesn’t take initiative is Guaranteed to Fail! So, today ask God, “Is there a decision I should be making? Is there a problem I should be solving? Is there a project I should be starting? Is there a goal I should be setting or striving toward? Is there an opportunity I should be seizing?” Solomon writes, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 TLB). It’s better to be 80% sure, and start, than to wait until you’re 100% sure, because by then the opportunity may have passed you by, never to return again. So today, DETERMINE TO TAKE SOME INITIATIVE! Remember This: Doors Don’t Stay Open Indefinitely! Think about it, when you come home, you enter the door and close it behind you! You don’t leave the door open indefinitely! Likewise, supermarket doors close, business doors close, school doors close, office doors close, bank doors close, restaurant doors close, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Lord & Taylor, Payless and even most Laundromats and 99 cent stores all close! No Door Stays Open Indefinitely! So while you have the opportunity of an open door, Walk Through It Before It Closes…For Good! That position may not be available tomorrow; that grant and scholarship may not be offered next year; that mortgage and dealership flyer may not come in the mail again; the chance to travel may not happen again! Write that book on that topic before someone else does; record that song today; even go out on a limb and tell that person how you really feel about them, today! Are you getting this? Open doors of opportunity do not stay open indefinitely! So, find your courage, take heart and go for it! Take Initiative Now!

The Bible says this: “…Steep yourself in God-reality, GOD-INITIATIVE, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.” (Luke 12:29-32 MSG). However, please understand that you can only pray, plan and prepare for so long, EVENTUALLY YOU HAVE TO STEP OUT IN FAITH AND ACT! 

Chinese Proverb says, “He who deliberates too long before taking a step, will spend his whole life on one leg.” What does that mean you ask? Well, your body was built with two legs for stability. And procrastination, or holding one foot in the air, however never actually taking the step, will forever cause you to, like the Chinese Proverb “…spend his whole life on one leg” which translates, unsteady and unstable! And what does the Bible have to say about that? James 1:5-8, “If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. But he must ask [for wisdom] in faith, without doubting [God’s willingness to help], for the one who doubts is like a billowing surge of the sea that is blown about and tossed by the wind. For such a person ought not to think or expect that he will receive anything [at all] from the Lord,  being a double-minded man, UNSTABLE and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides].” (MSG)

You Cannot Walk in the Promises of God On the Feet of Unsteady, Unstable, Wavering Faith!

So TODAY, DETERMINE TO WALK BY CONFIDENT FAITH AND PUT YOUR FOOT ON IT! WHY? BECAUSE THE WORD OF GOD PROMISED: “That’s right. If you diligently keep all this commandment that I command you to obey—love God, your God, do what he tells you, stick close to him—God on his part will drive out all these nations that stand in your way. Yes, he’ll drive out nations much bigger and stronger than you. EVERY SQUARE INCH ON WHICH YOU PLACE YOUR FOOT WILL BE YOURS. Your borders will stretch from the wilderness to the mountains of Lebanon, from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. No one will be able to stand in your way. Everywhere you go, God-sent fear and trembling will precede you, JUST AS HE PROMISED.” (Deuteronomy 11:22-25 MSG).

SO PUT YOUR FOOT ON IT AND KEEP WALKING BY FAITH! TAKE SOME INITIATIVE, FOR THE PROMISE IS ALREADY YOURS!

Another reason we never get started is because we focus on tomorrow INSTEAD OF TODAY! But the only time over which you have any control is the presentJames writes: “Look here, you people who say, ‘tomorrow we are going to a certain town…We will do business there and make profit.’ How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” (James 4:13-14 NLT).

Edgar Guest wrote: “The greatest of workers this man would have been—tomorrow. The world would have known him, had he ever seen—tomorrow. But the fact is he died and he faded from view, and all that he left here when living was through, was a mountain of things he intended to do—tomorrow.

The idea of tomorrow can be very seductive, BUT THE PROMISE IT HOLDS IS OFTEN FALSE AND UNFLATTERING! SO NO MORE PROCRASTINATION ABOUT TOMORROW, TODAY TAKE SOME INITIATIVE!

Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, observed, “The greatest time wasted, is the time getting started.” If you think about it: The hardest part of writing a letter is penning the first line. The hardest part of making a tough phone call is picking up the receiver and dialing the number. So how do we overcome this difficulty? The Bible says, “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” (Galatians 6:4-5 MSG).  In other words, figure out what you’re supposed to do for God, AND THEN DO IT!

One of the last obstacles between Israel and the Promised Land was the River Jordan. But God had a plan. He told the priests carrying the Ark that when they stepped in the river, the waters would roll back.

There are 2 important lessons here for you:

1…NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL YOU QUIT HOLDING BACK: You can’t wait for everything to be perfect! You can’t wait until all your fears subside! You must take the initiative now! Overcomers understand that Momentum is your friend! As soon as you start moving forward, certain things become clearer and easier. And when the momentum gets strong enough, many of the problems actually take care of themselves. Maybe you’ve heard the story of the tourist in a small town who asked an old man, “Can you tell me something this town is noted for?” After a moment’s hesitation he replied, “Well, you can start here and go anywhere in the world you want.” That’s true of you too. Where you finish in life isn’t determined so much by where you start, AS BY WHETHER YOU START! If you’re willing to get started, there’s no telling just how far you’ll go! SO STOP HOLDING BACK AND TAKE SOME INITIATIVE! You Can Start Right Here, And Go Anywhere! The priests had to carry the Ark and step into the water! In other words, They Had To Move Forward to Attain the Promise! YOU HAVE TO DO LIKEWISE! SO PICK YOURSELF UP AND GET TO STEPPING! YOUR PROMISE IS WAITING FOR YOU!

2…YOU MUST BE WILLING TO PERSEVERE: The Jordan River didn’t dry up the moment the priest stepped into it. God dried it up 26 MILES UPSTREAM, so they had to wait till all that water passed by (See Joshua 3:14-17). Why did God do it that way? Because He sees the big picture! God planned an opening wide enough for not just one or two, but for MORE THAN A MILLION PEOPLE TO CROSS! So trust God, and take the initiative! Just by your obedience to God and trust in Him, you never know the opening your initiative has set for many others to walk through as well! Your Perseverance Is Not Just For You! So take some initiative, and get to stepping, there’s a multitude waiting on you to make a move!

 TODAY, DETERMINE TO TAKE SOME INITIATIVE AND GET MOVING!

The word ‘initiative’ is defined as: “the ability to act independently and with a fresh approach; the power or opportunity to act before others do; a new development or fresh approach to a problem; to do something without being prompted by others.” Sounds a lot like the ants don’t you think? “You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. NOBODY HAS TO TELL IT WHAT TO DO…” (MSG) This year is the year where you start to walk by faith. This is the year where you start to focus on fulfilling vision. It is not the year that you repeat past failed behaviors of waiting around to see what someone else is going to do first. No! This Year Make a Move, and Do So On Purpose and With Purpose! You Never Know Who You Will Inspire By Your Initiative to Do the Same Thing!

Another key to hold onto is that initiative is developed by the independent act of approaching something in a fresh way. Which means, while you’re sitting here waiting for someone to tell you what they’ve always done, God is waiting for you to use your brain and think of what hasn’t been done already! Take a Fresh Approach! We need no more clones in the church. Ask God to give you initiative that keeps its’ eyes on the future, not on the past; eyes to see what can be done, not on what’s already been done. This Year Fresh Focus, Fresh Faith, Fresh Initiative!

Let’s Go!

“Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.” (Victor Hugo)

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“A lot of people never use their initiative, because no one told them to.” (Banksy)

“Personal initiative is self starting and proactive; works independently of outside influence or control.” (Author Unknown)

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” (Arthur Ashe)

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” (Milton Bene)

“Taking initiative pays off. It is hard to visualize someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do.” (Sheryl Sandberg)

“Taking initiative is a form of self-empowerment.” (Stephen R. Covey)

“Your success is your responsibility. Take the initiative, do the work, and persist to the end.” (Lorii Myers)

“Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious or aggressive, but recognizing your responsibility to make things happen.” (Sameer Mathur)

“Genius is initiative on fire.” (Holbrook Jackson)

“Initiative is the privilege of picking yourself.” (Seth Godin)

“It doesn’t matter if a million people tell you what you can’t do, or if ten million tell you no. If you get one yes from God, that’s all you need.” (Tyler Perry)

“Prolonged idleness paralyzes initiative.” (Author Unknown)

“I like to grasp the initiative and not give my opponent peace of mind.” (Mikhail Tal)

“Being proactive is more than taking initiative. It is recognizing that we are responsible for our own choices and have the freedom to choose based on principles and values rather than on moods or condition. Proactive people are agents of change and choose not to be victims, to be reactive, or to blame others.” (Stephen Covey)

“Without initiative, leaders are simply workers in leadership positions.” (Bo Bennett)

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

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