“Don’t Let a Dark Past Dim Your Bright Future!”

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1 John 1:5-7, “This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in Him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with Him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth – we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God Himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” (MSG)

So, anyone that really knows me knows, I Hate Scary Movies! It’s just not my thing! And truth is, the reason I hate them, is my own fault! You see, there were some pretty scary (in my opinion) movies when I was younger (there was, Friday the 13th; the Exorcist; Carrie; the Shining; Halloween; the Lost Boys, the Omen, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre; Child’s Play; Nightmare on Elm Street; Hellraiser, to name a few). But what got me in trouble was the first scary movie I watched (that I was told by my parents specifically NOT to watch, and that was Cujo!) Now, in my little head, I didn’t get the big deal, after all, it was just a crazy movie about dog, right? I mean how bad could it be?! Well, can I tell you, I swore off all dogs after that movie! In fact, I watched it and refused to go anywhere near my own dog anymore! In the end, I was grounded and sent to bed. Oh sure, Mom and Dad thought I could watch that kind of movie and drift right off to sleep in la la land. But that was NOT my sweet, peaceful night at all! The problem is, adults don’t believe what kids know to be the awful truth – that there are monsters in your closet at night! And in my case, the monster was on four legs, named Cujo and was waiting in my closet for me to go to sleep! But my parents expected me to close my eyes and just start having sweet dreams? Come on!

Actually, I really had nothing to fear from those monsters that lived in my overactive imagination. But then there are real monsters that a lot of us have locked in a closet somewhere in our heart: the secret pain, the secret sin, the secret darkness of that unforgiving heart. They’re like vampires. They live in the darkness. But as I came of age, I discovered that they start to lose their power when you drag them into the light.

My parents were indeed upset that I disobeyed them and watched a movie they forbade me to see. But they also loved me too much to let me have nightmares. And so, they took a flashlight from the garage and turned it on (in my closet). Believe it or not, but knowing that as long as that light was on, the dark monsters couldn’t get me, gave me a pretty good night’s rest!

However, when it comes to life’s experiences with pain, I’ve found that getting rid of my ‘monsters’ wasn’t as easy or as simple as turning on a flashlight. The monsters of molestation, rape, domestic violence, health battles, homelessness, and the like didn’t exactly go away as quickly as the flip of a light switch for me. Nor did they for my friend Tynelle.

Tynelle, was abandoned, often physically abused by a drunken father, and cocaine addicted mother. Then she was horribly betrayed by her sister’s boyfriend. She trusted him so much as the brother she never had, and yet he sexually violated her. It was the final chapter in a story that told her a cruel lie, “Tynelle, you are worthless.” A story line that brought her to the brink of suicide not once, but three times. She took pills the first time, slit her wrists the second, and the third time she held a gun to her own head literally.

Thank God, Tynelle came across some wonderful people who led her to Jesus who did what no one and nothing else could do, He saved her! However, there was a few ‘monsters’ left living in her closet; bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear of rejection, not to mention, hatred that she harbored in her heart. Now, all of her feelings and emotions were understandable. But unforgiveness never hurts the person we refuse to forgive. No, instead it eats us alive and, strangely, it ties us to the very person we can’t stand!

Like so many of us who have had to endure mistreatment in whatever form, many of us did like Tynelle and stuffed it in the closet. But there is where it grows into a monster of ungrieved grief, unrepented sin, and unforgiven hurt; a monster that morphs into all kinds of anger, rage, depression and self-loathing.

SIDEBAR: I love plants as much as my mom did (okay, maybe not quite as much as she did), but I do love them. I have one in my office that my boss gave me years ago. At that time, it was the only plant I had in my office. I would water it, and make sure it was placed in a safe location where no one could cause any damage to it. It was absolutely a beautiful plant. But as the weeks went by I noticed it started to look as if it were dying, and it was. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and so I asked my boss to take a look at it. I told him I was doing everything you’re supposed to do to keep a plant alive. What he said still helps me today, he said: “If you want it to grow, you have to move it from that dark corner and bring it into the light.” Sounds simple enough. But the way it helped me besides helping my plant, was I’ve learned that if I’m going to heal from hurt, I can’t keep hurt tucked away in a dark corner somewhere. I have to physically bring it out of a dark place and bring it into the light. When I brought my plant into the light it began to heal and grow. When I brought my hurt, pain, discouragement, disappointment, and past into the light it healed and I grew. But it took me to physically move my plant, and to physically move my pain. And it’s going to require you to likewise physically move what’s hurting you to a place where it can heal. Those monsters of yours need to be brought out of the dark and into the light, it’s the only way to get rid of them. Now, before you think my plant was an easy task, let me be the first to tell you, it was not. From the floor to about my shoulder was its height (and I’m only 5 foot 2 inches by the way) so that gives you an idea of how big my ‘little’ potted plant was! Moving it took hard work, and moving my hurt was even harder work. But it needed light, and so did I, so a move had to take place!

Remember This: “Nothing Happens Until Something Moves!” (Albert Einstein)

Listen to our text again:

1 John 1:5-7, “This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in Him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with Him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth – we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God Himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” (MSG)

Once you’ve made the decision to make Jesus Lord of your life, you have LIGHT! And in Him there’s not a trace of darkness! But in us, oh yes indeed there is. That’s why it’s so important to take our darkness to Him. After all, why should we keep stumbling around in the darkness of hurt, heartache, let-downs and disappointments when we can simply come to Him so that His light can outshine our darkness? Why dwell in the darkness of sin, when we can dwell in the light of our Savior?

And just as moving my plant required work, so does walking in the light of God requires work. The Scripture says, “…But if we WALK in the light…”Walk” is present tense. Meaning, this is a daily requirement! In order for this to work, I have to walk, every day. I have to make a deliberate decision to come out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Be warned, this will not be easy, and you’re not going to feel like doing it all the time. But if you are to grow and heal, it is a necessity. When you look at 1 John, it reveals to us that walking in the light brings us out of darkness; brings us into admittance and acceptance; it brings us into a wonderful shared bright light of life with other believers not to mention it grants us a clean slate by purging all our sins. And all we have to do is bring our darkness to His light.

John 8:12, “Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows Me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” (MSG) Therefore, I must ask, why are you living in darkness when you can live in perpetual light? That word “perpetual” is defined as “never ending or changing; occurring repeatedly; seemingly continual.” Its’ Latin Origin ‘perpetualis’, from ‘perpetuus’ literally means “continuing throughout.That’s what you could have if you’d simply bring your darkness to His Light! He Himself is LIGHT! And therefore He promises that if you follow Him, you won’t stumble around any longer in the darkness. And aren’t you finally tired of stumbling around in the darkness? Every time you hear a particular song; see a specific scene in a movie; or hear someone’s voice that sounds like theirs, you return to that dark place, when you could live in the perpetual, never ending, light of the Lord!

NOTE: Once You Start Living in the Light, You’ll Stop Letting Darkness Visit!

Jesus provides plenty of light to live in, what better motivation than that to move out of darkness?

My pastor said something one Sunday that blessed me tremendously. He said, “if the dark cloud you’re under doesn’t move, then YOU move.” And that’s something I’m encouraging you to do today. YOU MOVE! Remember: “Nothing Happens Until Something Moves” (Albert Einstein). And oftentimes that ‘something’ is YOU! So, why live in that darkness a moment longer than you have to? Remember the hard truth is, sometimes you can move IT, and sometimes you simply have to move YOU! Which may require a great deal of separation! Like, moving from those contacts, connections, phone calls, text messages, pictures and emails. Move from that place, from that thing, from that person. Move from re-imagining memories in a prettier light than they actually were. Move from those feelings, that conversation, move from repetitive bad decisions and choices. Move your dark into His light.

Today: Take all of your Monsters out of your Past Closet, and put them in your Prayer Closet instead! Take the regret, the remorse, the bitterness, the anger, the hatred, the revenge, the unforgiveness. Take the broken heart and the broken spirit. Take the fractured mind and the bruised ego. Take what they said and what they did. Even take the part you played in your own self-inflicted pain. Take it all to Him. There is no greater Light than the Lord!

1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him WHO CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT. Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (AMP). God Himself Called You Out of Darkness, So Why Are You Still Trying to Live There?

Don’t you see that inspite of where you’ve been, what you’ve done and what was done to you, He yet calls you Chosen; a Royal Priesthood; a Consecrated Nation; a Special People; His Own Possession. As dark as you were, He still called you out of darkness!

People of God, He Called You OUT…So Why Are You Allowing Your Past to Keep You IN?!

Despite the Mess, you have since received Mercy, so why not live in it?

That same text in the Message Bible reads like this: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you – from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (MSG) That’s talking about YOU! The night-and-day difference that God desires to make in your life if only you’ll simply move your feet! Walk out of darkness and into His marvelous light…and all of this awaits YOU! No More Rejection, Just Acceptance. And All You Have to Do is WALK!

And just in case you need DIRECTIONS for your walk, here they are: “BY YOUR WORDS I CAN SEE WHERE I’M GOING; THEY THROW A BEAM OF LIGHT ON MY DARK PATH. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by Your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again WITH YOUR WORD. Festoon me with Your FINEST SAYINGS, God; teach me YOUR HOLY RULES. My life as close as my own hands, but I don’t forget what you have REVEALED. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, BUT I DON’T SWERVE AN INCH FROM YOUR COURSE. I inherited YOUR BOOK ON LIVING; it’s mine forever – what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAY – I always have and always will.” (Psalm 119:105-112 MSG) That’s how you govern your walk in the light, you use the Word of God as your lamp! It’s your map, your GPS to guide you out of darkness and into light!

Listen, you’ve been under that dark cloud long enough! You’ve been scared of those monsters in that dark closet long enough! Today is a new day, and one in which you need not give old days the opportunity to rob you of. Whatever happened, happened. You can’t undo it; you can’t change it; you can’t go back and alter some of the details of it. But you can decide today, that I’m not going to give another moment to those monsters. My body, soul, spirit, heart, mind and emotions deserve to live in light. I deserve peace, joy, laughter, unconditional love and complete healing and wholeness, and I’ve decided it will start today!

Now, remember, sometimes that will require you to delete the photos, messages and contact information. It may require you to stop talking to that person, or going back to that place. Because you can’t ask God to bring you into the light while you bring darkness with you, still clutched tightly in your hands! No, you have to make the deliberate decision to loose your grip on darkness and let it go! 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “…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?…” (MSG) The answer, NO! So you cannot ask God to bring you out of darkness, when you refuse to let darkness go! Know today that you can’t take that dark past with you into a bright future!

Whatever your ‘monsters’ are, bring them out of your past closet of darkness and into your present prayer closet of light. You’ve dealt with enough torment, torture, self-doubt and self-pity. You’ve been under that dark cloud far too long. You’ve cried long enough; been depressed and discouraged long enough; you’ve been lonely, angry and bitter long enough; you’ve replayed their role in your drama long enough; you’ve renewed the issues to your past publications long enough. You’ve complained and talked about it long enough. Do some spring cleaning during this summer season! Clean all that old junk out of your closet! Stop allowing hurt to hang around in your closet! Those skeletons in your closet don’t pay rent, and yet you’ve been paying a great price for them to live there, free of cost to them, hefty cost for you! Today serve them their eviction notice, pack them up and put them out!

Bigger, better and greater are waiting for you, just around the bend! Today, determine to make it your turn to change direction! Stop going backwards and start moving forward! Don’t allow that dark past to dim your bright future! Shine His Light on Your Dark Monsters and Finally Be Free From What’s Hiding in the Closet!

John 8:32, “And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].” (AMP)

1 John 1:9-10, “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His Will and purpose]. If we say that we have not sinned [refusing to admit acts of sin], we make Him [out to be] a liar [by contradicting Him] and His Word is not in us.” (AMP)

“Don’t get stuck in your past, use it to fuel your future.” (Pinterest)

“The only way to get over the past is to leave it behind. If you spend your time re-living moments that are gone forever, you might miss out on the special moments that are yet to come.” (Pinterest)

“Don’t let past relationships and old mistakes ruin your future. Don’t let someone or something that didn’t make it in your life continue to hurt you. If you do, you’re still giving a portion of your life to something that no longer exists – it’s like letting your happiness slip into a black hole. Learn the lesson, release the pain, and move on. Scars remind us of where we have been, not where we are headed.” (LessonsLearnedInLife)

“Being stuck in the past is like walking forward with your back facing the front. You’ll always miss out on what’s in front of you.” (Pinterest)

“You can get over a broken past if you decide to believe that there’s nothing in your past that can keep you from having a great future.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could’ve been any different.” (Oprah)

“If you want to get over a problem, stop thinking about it. Your mind affects your mouth and your mouth affects your mind. It’s difficult to stop talking about a situation until you stop thinking about it.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Sometimes you have to make peace with your past in order to keep your future from becoming a constant battle.” (Susan Gale)

“Sometimes we get so addicted to murmuring about the past and blaming the past for everything that we miss our whole future. You’re not going to enjoy your future, and you’re not going to enjoy your right now, if all you can do is be guilty and ashamed and afraid of your past.” (Joyce Meyer)

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

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“You Can Stop Hiding Now”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“6 Rules For Anger Management”

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Ephesians 4:25-32 “What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. GO AHEAD AND BE ANGRY. YOU DO WELL TO BE ANGRY—BUT DON’T USE YOUR ANGER AS FUEL FOR REVENGE. AND DON’T STAY ANGRY. DON’T GO TO BED ANGRY. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life…Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (MSG)                                                                    

Two forceful personalities in a relationship are like two rivers flowing into one; there’s going to be a Strong Current! Anger can be instant like a flash of lightning, or prolonged like the rumble of thunder! Sometimes we clash painfully, other times we distance and silently abandon the relationship. But Anger Handled the Right Way Doesn’t Have to be Destructive!

IMPORTANT: “Anger is only one letter short of Danger.” (Author Unknown).

So let’s discuss some of God’s Rules for Anger Management.

RULE #1—KEEP IT HONEST: Our text says, …NO MORE LIES…When You’re Angry Don’t Deny It! Believe it or not, Anger Can Be Constructive! Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton said: “Anger ventilated often hurries toward forgiveness; and concealed often hardens into revenge.We’re right to get angry when people are mistreated and wrongs are not made right. Saying, ‘I’ve been feeling angry and because I value our relationship I’d like to talk about it,Is Honest, Non-Threatening and Invites Resolution

Observe the following tidbits on Anger: 

a)   IGNORING, STIFLING, SUPPRESSING, OR PRETENDING YOU’RE NOT ANGRY IS DISHONEST:Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry.” (Lyman Abbott).

b)   ANOTHER FORM OF LYING WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY IS EXAGGERATION: Phrases Like: ‘You NEVER listen to what I say.’ Or ‘You ALWAYS ignore my wishes.’ Or ‘NOBODY does anything around here except me.Such Generalizations Are Untrue and Serve Only to Aggravate and Polarize, Guaranteeing the Real Problem Gets Obscured and Goes Unsolved. The truth is, maybe they weren’t listening; maybe your wishes are ignored and maybe you do more than others; BUT CAN YOU HONESTLY SAY THAT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME?! Remember this: “If you add to the truth, you subtract from it.” (The Talmud). So, do your best to avoid such words as ‘NEVER’; ‘ALWAYS’ and ‘NOBODY’. Keeping in mind that: “An exaggeration is a truth that has lost its temper.” (Kahlil Gibran).

c)   ANOTHER WAY TO LIE WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY IS BLAMING: Phrases Like: ‘If you’d arrive on time I wouldn’t have to nag you,’ or ‘If you’d quit nagging so much, maybe I’d start being on time.’ BLAMING IS A WAY OF EVADING YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY WHILE POINTING THE FINGER AT OTHERS! It angers others, perpetuates your own anger and never produces the result you want! I believe the following quote will put things in proper perspective for you: “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” (Unknown Author)…I know that hurt, but if applied, it will help!

God’s rule is always right:  ‘…Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor…‘.

RULE #2—KEEP IT NON-LETHAL: Paul writes: ‘IN YOUR ANGER DO NOT SIN… ‘ (Ephesians 4:26 NIV). What do Paul’s words mean? DON’T LET YOUR ANGER ESCALATE TO THE POINT OF DOING DAMAGE! DON’T USE YOUR WORDS AS WEAPONS OR A CONTROL MECHANISM!Sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.” (Author Unknown). It’s okay to express your emotions in A HEALTHY WAY, BUT KEEP THEM IN CHECK! “Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger.” (Chinese Proverb). Your goal must be to resolve the problem and strengthen the relationship, not ‘sound off’ and wound the other person! “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” (Ambrose Bierce). The Bible says it best: “…a crushed spirit who can bear?‘ (Proverbs 18:14 NIV). Now, is all this easy to do? NO! BUT YOU HAVE TO BE MINDFUL: WORDS SPOKEN IN JEST, SARCASM, SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS OR ‘RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION’ WOUND PEOPLE, AND SOMETIMES THOSE WOUNDS ARE PERMANENT! Hear the Word of the Lord: ‘A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.‘ (Proverbs 15:4 NKJV). ‘ ‘The tongue can bring death… ‘ (Proverbs 18:21 NLT). Ungodly words, once unleashed, can: ‘…sink deep into one’s heart‘ (Proverbs 26:22 NLT). YOUR WORDS CAN LIVE IN THE HEART AND MEMORY OF A PERSON AND GO ALL THE WAY TO THE GRAVE WITH THEM! We say, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,BUT IT’S NOT TRUE! A PERSON CAN DIE OF A CRUSHED SPIRIT, AND THE ONE WHO SPOKE THE WORDS CAN LIVE TO REGRET THE DAMAGE THEY’VE INFLICTED AND NEVER GET A CHANCE TO UNDO IT! ON THE OTHER HAND, ANGER PROPERLY HANDLED NEVER NEEDS TO BE REPENTED OF! SO LEARN TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN THE ANGER YOU FEEL AND THE WORDS YOU SPEAK! ANGER CAREFULLY THOUGHT THROUGH, CAN REVEAL IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT NEEDED CHANGES!

RULE #3—KEEP IT CURRENT: Storing anger in your hard drive ONLY HURTS YOU! Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful TO US than the injury that provokes it.” (Seneca). When you rehearse old resentments YOU GROW BITTER! But remember the words of Malachy McCourt, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” The Bible says: ‘The good man brings good things OUT OF THE GOOD STORED UP IN HIS HEART, and the evil man brings evil things OUT OF THE EVIL STORED UP IN HIS HEART. FOR OUT OF THE OVERFLOW OF HIS HEART HIS MOUTH SPEAKS‘ (Luke 6:45 NIV) The Contemporary English Bible says it like this: “Good people do good things BECAUSE OF THE GOOD IN THEIR HEARTS. Bad people do bad things BECAUSE OF THE EVIL IN THEIR HEARTS. YOUR WORDS SHOW WHAT IS IN YOUR HEART.SO SILENCE ALL THOSE OLD ISSUES IN YOUR HEART BEFORE THEY GET TO TALKING AND REVEAL THE REAL YOU! “Anger dwells only in the bosom of FOOLS.” (Albert Einstein).

Therefore, when you’re angry, DEAL WITH IT QUICKLY! Don’t passively allow time to decide your options, or sit around hoping the other person will see the light and apologize! The Bible says: ‘If a fellow believer hurts you, GO AND TELL HIM—work it out between the two of you…confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.” (Matthew 18:15-17 MSG). Did you read those instructions clearly? “…GO AND TELL HIM…DON’T SIT BY IDLY WAITING FOR THEM TO COME TO YOU! GET UP AND GO TO THEM AND TRY TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM AND RESTORE THE RELATIONSHIP!Reconciliation is more beautiful than victory.” (Violeta Barrios de Chamorro).

When You Repress Reconciliation, You Add One More Skeleton to Your Closet! And Sooner or Later, Doctors Say, It’ll Eat at Your Stomach Lining, Attack Your Immune System, Predispose You to Heart Problems, Cancers and Other Physical, Social and Emotional Disorders! Meantime, It’ll Preoccupy You, Dissipate Your Energy, Cripple Your Creativity, Hinder Your Fellowship With God, Your Friends and Fellow Believers; Not to Mention That It Denies the Offender the Opportunity to Clear Their Conscience, Repent and Get Right With God and You! So Stop Dragging Up the Past, Trying to Blackmail the Guilty By Hauling Skeletons Out of Closets at ‘Auspicious’ Moments, Plotting Revenge, and Passing Down Resentments For the Next Generation to Carry!

Now, I don’t believe in Buddha, but I sure like his analogy: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; BUT INSTEAD, YOU’RE THE ONE WHO GETS BURNED.Tell me that’s not accurate! Therefore saints, ask God for the Humility and Courage to deal with Today’s Problems – TODAY! When your head hits the pillow tonight, know that your issues are Current, Up To Date with God and Everyone Else, and Sleep Well! “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust.” (Psalm 4:8 AMP).

RULE #4—KEEP IT SOLUTION-FOCUSED: Someone has said that fellowship is like two fellows in a ship: one can’t sink the other without sinking himself! In other words, by seeking to gain the upper hand you both lose! By seeking to save and strengthen the relationship you both win! So when you speak, be sure it’s ‘…helpful for building others up according to their needs…‘ (Ephesians 4:29 NIV). Maybe this Scripture would become clearer if you read it in the Amplified Bible, it states: “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.We Are Charged to Understand What the Other Person Needs! In doing so, YOU DO NOT BRING UP PREVIOUSLY CONFESSED OFFENSES; YOU DO NOT DRAG IN OTHER PEOPLE; You Do Not Use Wisecracks About People’s Weight, Height, Color, IQ, Physical, Mental and Emotional Limitations; and You Do Not Bring Up Unrelated Things or People That Cloud the Issue and Keep You From Finding a Solution! In addition, Don’t Raise the Volume In Order to Intimidate and Manipulate! God Made You With a Capacity For Anger Because When Handled the Right Way It’s the Fuel That Brings Needed Change and the Medicine That Heals. An unknown author stated: “You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.”   

Keep that in mind as you: 

a) SEEK A SOLUTION, NOT A ‘VICTORY’: Name-calling and ‘diagnosing’ others only makes things worse. Your focus should not be on what they did, BUT ON WHAT YOU CAN DO TOGETHER TO RESOLVE IT.

b) ADMIT YOUR OWN FLAWS AND ASK FOR FORGIVENESS: Since it takes two to tango, acknowledging your OWN imperfections makes it easier for someone else to acknowledge theirs.

c) BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO TAKE A ‘SWING’ AT SOMEONE, MAKE SURE IT’S A POSITIVE ‘STROKE’: If you take the time to get your mind right, mere words will be no struggle! Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, THINK continually on these things [CENTER YOUR MIND ON THEM, AND IMPLANT THEM IN YOUR HEART]. (Philippians 4:8 AMP). For each of the difficulties you have to address, GIVE A COMPLIMENT ALSO. Example: ‘I’m sure this wasn’t easy for you to hear, but thanks for listening to me so graciously.CRITICISM DOESN’T CHANGE CHAOS TO CALM, BUT A COMPLIMENT SURE DOES!

RULE #5—KEEP IT IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM:Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).” (Ephesians 4:31 AMP). MALICIOUS TALK IS LIKE WILDFIRE, IT CONSUMES THOSE WHO SPREAD IT AND THOSE WHO LISTEN TO IT! As my auntie would say, “don’t display your dirty wash; keep it in the laundry room.

Saints, dirty laundry gets aired in two ways: 

1)   OPEN EMBARRASSMENT. YOU SAY IT WHERE YOU KNOW OTHERS ARE GOING TO HEAR IT!  But keep in mind: “A person’s character is revealed by their SPEECH.” (Greek Proverb). Solomon also gives us some wise advice to follow: “He who goes about as a talebearer REVEALS SECRETS, but he who is trustworthy and faithful in spirit KEEPS THE MATTER HIDDEN.” (Proverbs 11:13 AMP); “Prudent people don’t flaunt their knowledge; TALKATIVE FOOLS BROADCAST THEIR SILLINESS.” (Proverbs 12:23 MSG). SO WHETHER YOU REALIZE IT OR NOT, SPEAKING YOUR MIND, ONLY SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT YOUR LACK OF GOOD INTENTION AND INTEGRITY; YOUR LACK OF PROPER MOTIVE AND MATURITY AND YOUR LACK OF COMPASSION AND CHARACTER! “Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth.” (Aesop). 

2) SUBTLETY. You make jokes about their figure, family members and friends, etc., IN ORDER TO BELITTLE THEM! This results in EMBARRASSMENT for the person you’re angry at, widens the gap between you AND MAKES RECONCILIATION IMPOSSIBLE!  So the next time you decide to crack a joke, EMBARRASS someone or speak your mind REMEMBER WHAT GOD SAID: “Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, WHICH IS NOT FITTING OR BECOMING…” (Ephesians 5:4 AMP). In addition, the next time you go to acting “SUBTLEBE MINDFUL OF THE PERSON YOUR EMULATING:NOW THE SERPENT was more SUBTLE and crafty than any living creature of the field…” (Genesis 3:1 AMP). Need I say more?! Even Paul warns Timothy about avoiding “Subtleties”: “O Timothy, guard and keep the deposit entrusted [to you]! TURN AWAY FROM THE IRREVERENT BABBLE AND GODLESS CHATTER, WITH THE VAIN AND EMPTY AND WORLDLY PHRASES, AND THE SUBTLETIES AND THE CONTRADICTIONS IN WHAT IS FALSELY CALLED KNOWLEDGE AND SPIRITUAL ILLUMINATION.” (1 Timothy 6:20 AMP). Keep in mind: “Subtlety may deceive you; integrity never will.” (Oliver Cromwell).

Solomon writes: ‘He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter‘ (Proverbs 11:13 NASB). SO, NO MATTER WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT THEM, YOUR CHARACTER AS A CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO COMMISSION YOU TO CONCEAL THE MATTER! As believers, we possess “…the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18) NOT THE MESSAGE OF REVENGE! Keep in mind: “While you are meditating revenge, THE DEVIL IS MEDITATING A RECRUIT.” (Francois de Malherbe). So are you going to be SAVED OR SATANIC? DIVINE OR DEMONIC? LIGHT OR DARK? YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS! Paul makes that crystal clear: “…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?…” (2 Corinthians 6:13-17 MSG). You can’t be Loving and Hateful, you need to make a choice. And just in case you need a little help, the Bible says: “Hatred stirs up trouble; love overlooks the wrongs that others do.” (Proverbs 10:12 CEV).  THAT ALONE SHOULD’VE TAKEN THE DIFFICULTY OUT OF YOUR DECISION!

RULE #6—BE PART OF THE CLEAN UP CREW: We say, ‘They brought it on themselves. Let them get over it.They may have deserved it, but we can’t walk away and leave open wounds to become infected! We ‘Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.‘ (Ephesians 4:32 MSG). How did Christ forgive us? After we’d acknowledged, confessed and repented of our sins? No! The Bible says: ‘…when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son…‘ (Romans 5:10 NIV). God took the initiative, so forgive, before the other person asks for forgiveness! And if you want to really show maturity, forgive them even if they Never ask for forgiveness! God didn’t allow you to remain His enemy for life (and He had good reason to); so show forth the same grace and mercy you receive and forgive them. Only then are you yourself forgiven, the wounds inflicted healed, and all parties records before God are expunged! Manage your anger before it causes you to act real Asinine (defined as “extremely stupid or foolish”)!

IN A NUTSHELL: TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO OVERCOME ANGER!

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

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“The Marriage Triangle”

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Most men would call it a ‘chick flick’, but I’m definitely a sucker for a good romantic comedy! They are my absolute favorites! But then so are some of the crazy dramas too, which almost always have the same theme proving the old cliché true, “two’s company, three’s a crowd.” But that’s really true, especially when it comes to romance. Example: Guy meets girl, guy falls in love with girl, guy falls in love with another girl in addition to the first girl. Which ultimately is like putting a match in gasoline! That is a centuries-old formula for an explosion! It’s the infamous love triangle! Soap operas thrive on them; marriages are destroyed by them!

A love triangle is usually a prescription for broken hearts unless you have the kind of love triangle that keeps hearts from being broken.

Now, there’s a formula in Ecclesiastes 4. It’s a formula for lasting bonds between people. You could very well call it the arithmetic of love. Here’s what it says beginning at verse 9, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up. If two lie down together they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

That passage is a powerful statement about relationships, especially if you apply it to the ultimate relationship of marriage. It says two work together better than one, two walk together better than one, two stand together better than one, and then suddenly the number changes. Suddenly it’s talking about three strands. Wait…I thought we were talking about two…So enter the love triangle: a husband, a wife, and God. That’s the kind of love triangle that avoids broken hearts. Ephesians 5:21 alludes to it when it says; speaking to husbands and wives, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (NIV). It’s the Jesus factor in a marriage that always makes the difference. Now, the triangle is the strongest geometric figure there is, and a love triangle with Christ at the top is virtually indestructible! In other words, you’ve got the man and woman joined together by that line along the bottom, but they both have a line going up to Jesus at the top. That bond between the man and the woman will fray sometimes. There’s interference, there’s disappointment, there’s disillusionment, there’s hurt. But if both the man and woman are connected to Christ at the top of the triangle, that bond will hold them together when the bond of human compatibility is unraveling.

The problem with many of us as spouses is, we don’t always keep Christ at the top of the triangle. Often we fight to be in the top slot that we push Him down, or take Him out of the equation altogether. But the only way for the love triangle with Jesus to work effectively, is to always be certain that He maintains His top priority position. While we’re fighting to be heard, fighting to be right, fighting to prove the other wrong, fighting to get the upper-hand, we undermine His hand on our Covenant. Which makes you wonder: As soon as we think divorce is the answer, isn’t it amazing when you share that theory with others, most will always ask, “have you prayed about it first?” Why do they ask that? Well, genius, you can’t call yourself a Christian then make a decision to Crucify your Covenant, and think people aren’t going to ask if you consulted Christ! Even other people are under the impression that you have Christ in your marriage! And so they ask the obvious question of “have you prayed about it first?” And more often than not, we haven’t, we just want a quick fix for what we’ve allowed to slowly break down over the years. We want Jesus, in the beginning, to bless our covenant, but as soon as conflict and crisis hits along the journey, we pull the marriage over, kick Jesus out from behind the wheel, and then drive our marriages right over the cliff! After all, how can you possibly think you can reach your marital destination without the only One who has the directions? And remember, we kicked Him out! But when you take over the Wheel, you lose your Way from His Will!

So, the question is, “How much is Jesus Christ a real Person and Presence in your marriage?” Do you pray together about real life issues as if Jesus is right there with you? “Lord, we’ve got to talk to You about this together.” In fact, when was the last time you prayed With your spouse? And not for houses, cars, land, business, ministry, money, promotion, elevation, or personal gain. But prayed With your spouse: “Lord, teach us to be loving, faithful, supportive, encouraging, kind, generous, patient, forgiving. Teach us to acknowledge one another’s strength’s and be patient and understanding in one another’s weaknesses. Teach us to be a better man and woman; better husband and wife; better father and mother; better son and daughter; better disciples; better believers, better friends, better spouses, better lovers, better teammates. Teach us to walk by faith and not by sight. Teach us to trust You when our finances or health is failing. Teach us to be Your mirror to the world of what unconditional love really looks like.” When is the last time you prayed With your spouse, not for personal gain, but for personal growth?

Do you often ask together, “What would Jesus do?” Are you cultivating the habit of sharing what Christ has said to you from His Word that day with each other? Are you at church together? Do you sit together? Do you labor in ministry together? Do you get on your knees together and fight for your family and children?

And though most ‘super-saved Christian’s’ may call it ‘carnal’, but do you also laugh together, watch television together, travel together, go to the movies, out to dinner, go shopping, do you still date and court your spouse? Do you call and text your spouse as much as you do everybody else? Are you in your spouses’ face more than you’re on Facebook? Do you share as many pictures with your spouse as you do with Instagram? Do you text your spouse as much as you tweet? Do you send flowers? Do you enjoy engaging conversation from talking about Jesus, to the weather, to the government, to what you ate for lunch? Do you take walks? Do you still share dreams, or have you only become each other’s nightmares? Do you sit down to dinner, in your own home, at your own dinner table, without the intruding guest of your cellphone, internet or social media? Do you go for a long drive? Picnic in the park? Weekend get-a-way to no-where in particular? Have you planned your vacation? Have you passionately made love to your spouse or do you simply settle for watching such scenes on movies screens with actors portraying the roles of marital bliss? I know, sounds ‘carnal’ to some, but for those who know that it takes your body, soul and spirit to make a marriage work, you get it! We don’t spend all of our time in church, in the Word or in prayer! Those things are wonderful, those things are needful, especially when they’re done as couples, however, going to the beach won’t send you to hell either! If you’re finding it difficult to laugh with your spouse over something silly, then something is wrong! Even Jesus, slept, ate, prayed, and wept…in other words, Jesus expressed His natural as well as His spiritual. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with you doing the very same! As a couple you can preach the walls of Jericho down, but when you’re done, go to Olive Garden and eat some pasta! Are you getting this?! You cannot expect to have an Enjoyable marriage that has no Joy!

Maybe the marriage is rotting because you’ve both stopped eating the fruit of the Spirit! Imagine if you digested daily more love for your spouse, more joy and peace with your spouse, more forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness towards your spouse, and more self-control to keep yourself only for your spouse, you’d see a tremendous difference take place in your marriage. That’s the beauty of having Jesus not only in your marriage, or a part of your marriage, but having Him (His Spirit) as Head Over your marriage! Then, even on bad days, you could still be good to your spouse!

So, are you attempting to make marriage work with just the two of you, or have you considered a love triangle with Jesus? After all, who better to have in the midst of your marriage, and even in the midst of its’ problems then Jesus? Jesus saves, heals, delivers, forgives, understands, is patient, kind, loving, and generous. Who better to teach a couple such characteristics but the One who has exemplified such characteristics with the Godhead? Isn’t it amazing how they work together? And as a believer, you have the opportunity and privilege to invite them into your marriage to show you how to work together just like Them.

I’ve always said it, and always will, most often the issue in marriage isn’t ‘we’ve grown apart’, the issue is ‘we haven’t grown up.’ Marriage takes Maturity. It takes two people that will stop screaming ‘mine’ and start screaming ‘ours’. It takes two people that will stop trying to have their own way, and instead go in the way of God. It takes two people who learn to talk to each other and with each other not against each other and at each other. It takes two people who learn to attentively listen, even when they have so much they want to say. It takes sacrifice, and sacrifice is painful and bloody! No one has ever made a sacrifice and thought it was good or even felt good! It’s hard, it’s tough, it can be absolutely grueling, but when you remember the purpose and payoff of the sacrifice you’ll know it was worth it! But you have to ‘adult’ to get there! You can’t play the bully; you can’t be the whiner; you can’t pick the fight; you can’t run to your corner and call it quits; you can’t drag in reinforcements of the flesh, and think it will better anything! No! For this, you’ve got to grow up, mature, adult and fight to maintain the marriage you willfully made!

The good news? You don’t have to do it alone! If only we’d stop inviting and involving Jesus in the Wedding only…and start inviting and involving Jesus in the Marriage also, we’d be so much better! However, if truth be told, we have a bad tendency to invite everyone else into our marriages, Except Jesus. Oh, we’ll talk to family, friends, coworkers, and just people of interest that will lend an ear (some with pure motives and intentions, many without). But the One person we committed our vows before is the One person we overlook in marital trouble. We seek outside sources, when He’s waiting on the sidelines, ever so patient, for us to include Him back in the triangle. I mean, if it started with Him, shouldn’t we carry it all the way through with Him?

But sadly, we as a church live in a day and age where anyone, anything, everyone, everything is easily discarded. Can you imagine if we had to be perfect in order for Jesus to come? He would never have come because none of us are perfect. Instead, He came because our imperfections needed Him. He didn’t throw our sins in our face; He didn’t get joy out of our sorrows, pain or failures; He didn’t say that we weren’t good enough; He didn’t give us a laundry list of perfection to live up to before He came. And yet, we as believers, look for others, especially our spouses, to live up to an ideal that’s not ideal. We want them to cross every ‘T’ and dot every ‘I’, even though we don’t and we can’t. And so when we don’t get what we expected, imagined or wanted, we discard. Aren’t you grateful Jesus doesn’t work like that? Not even Judas’ betrayal; Peter’s denial; or Thomas’ doubts could make Him replace them. He loved them, embraced them, and accepted them as the flawed individuals they were. However, as spouses, we don’t always treat one another with the same unconditional love. We don’t extend the same grace, mercy, and forgiveness. We aren’t as patient, dedicated, or determined. No, we simply and quickly discard.

Which makes me wonder about many of us and our employment. So many of us work on jobs that we hate or with people we would much rather not even walk on the same sidewalk with. And yet, we never up and quit our jobs; we don’t leave; we don’t walk away; we don’t throw our hands up and throw the towel in. We can be frustrated, taken advantage of, misused, disrespected, treated unfairly and even poorly, and still, 30 years later, we’re on the same job. If only we treated marriages with the same commitment.

Oh, there will be days when you’ll want to file for divorce; days you’ll have no idea why you got married in the first place; days when you think ‘who is this person?’ There will be conflict, arguments and even misunderstandings. There will be days that are hard and nights that are long. But if you wouldn’t throw in the towel on a job with people you hate; how can you throw in the towel with the person you said you love? Know this: Eventually that job will have no need of you and will discard you (retirement). But you’re married to a person who’s in it ‘till death do we part’, and yet that’s the person you choose to resign from? Listen, marriage is hard, it’s work and there will be days when you feel like it’s more work than going to work! But is it still worth it? Absolutely. God still hates divorce; adultery is still a sin; and a vow made, should still be a vow maintained.

Let today be the day you re-exam your own marriage. Is Jesus still a part of it, or have the two of you given Him the boot? Is He still the first person you consult, or does He come in after you’ve called Tyrone; texted Sheila; emailed Leslie; or inboxed David? The Man who has given sight to the blind; speech to the mute; walking to the lame; and life to the dead can surely help your marriage, don’t you think?

As a kid, I remember playing all kinds of sports, I was a tom-boy after all. But one of the things everyone hated was to be picked last to be on a team. Is that what you’ve done to your spouse? Is that what you’ve done to your Jesus? Are they the last people you pick to play on your team? No one wants to feel as though they are in ‘add-on’. No one wants to feel like ‘I’ll get to you on my to-do-list when I can’. No one wants to feel unappreciated, undervalued, unwanted, unloved. So, make sure neither your spouse nor your Savior is feeling this way.

Lastly, when God is Love, how do you think you can manage a marriage without Him who is Love? The Father so full of love sent His very own Son to die just for us; Jesus so full of love laid down His own life, voluntarily, just for us; the Holy Spirit so full of love, has moved in and made His home in us, His temple. Now, just imagine if you invited and involved the Godhead into your marriage the level of love you both would be filled with?

Love triangles with people will destroy your marriage, but one with the Godhead ensures that it’s indestructible! Which will you choose today?

Before you get married, wait for someone who is joined to Jesus as you are, because it is worth the wait. And after you marry, practice His presence daily in your home. A love triangle with Jesus as that real third person is the strongest bond on earth!

“Determine to pray more words over your marriage than you speak about your marriage.” (Lysa TerKeurst)

“A husband and wife must function like two wings on the same bird. They must work together or the marriage will never get off the ground.” (Dave Willis)

“When you face a struggle in your marriage, remind yourself that the struggle will become a story someday. It will either be a story about why you divorced or a story about how you worked together to build a stronger marriage. You get to decide which story becomes true.” (Dave Willis)

“Marriage is not 50-50; divorce is 50-50. Marriage has to be 100-100. It’s not splitting everything in half, but giving everything you’ve got.” (Dave Willis)

“Love your spouse more than you love your career, hobbies and money. That other stuff can’t love you back.” (Dave Willis)

“Your children are learning about marriage by watching you. Treat your spouse the way you want your children’s future spouses to treat them someday.” (Dave Willis)

“When we get married, it is always helpful to remember that we are both sinners. Neither of us is perfect. We will mess up. We will at times hurt each other. And we will need to practice forgiveness.” (Simply One in Marriage)

“I want my life and my marriage to look less like the world and more like Christ.” (Marquis Clarke)

“Always strive to give your spouse the very best of yourself; not what’s left over after you have given your best to everyone else.” (Dave Willis)

“Great marriages don’t happen by luck or by accident. They are the result of a consistent investment of time, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, affection, prayer, mutual respect and a rock-solid commitment between a husband and wife.” (Dave Willis)

“Real Love is when you are completely committed to someone even when they are being completely unlovable.” (Dave Willis)

“In every disagreement with your spouse, remember that there is not a winner and a loser. You are united in everything, so you will either win together or lose together. Work together to find a solution where you both win.” (Dave Willis)

“Be the person you want to be married to.” (Author Unknown)

“Marriage is less about Perfection and more about Perseverance.” (Fierce Marriage)

“The more you Invest in your marriage, the more Valuable it becomes.” (Author Unknown)

“How to fight in a Christian Marriage: Shut Up; Back Up; Pray Up; Make Up.” (Matthew Jacobson)

“More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the Better comes after the Worse.” (Doug Larson)

“A strong marriage rarely has two strong people at the same time. It is a husband and wife who take turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak.” (Author Unknown)

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

“There is no challenge strong enough to destroy your marriage as long as you are both willing to stop fighting against each other and start fighting for each other.” (Dave Willis)

“Your marriage will not be defined by the size of your struggles, but by the size of your commitment to overcome the struggles together.” (Dave Willis)

“Your marriage vows are most important in those moments when they are most difficult to keep.” (Dave Willis)

“We charge our cellphones daily but let our marriages die. If your smartphone receives more daily charging than your spouse, then you’re spending way too much time talking to the wrong people.” (Marriage365)

“Couples who make it aren’t the ones who never had a reason to divorce; they are simply the ones who decided early on that their commitment to each other was always going to be bigger than their differences and flaws.” (Dave Willis)

“When forced to choose between your career and your spouse, your friends and your spouse, or even your family and your spouse, you must always choose to put your spouse ahead of the rest. If your first loyalty isn’t to your spouse, then you don’t really understand the meaning of marriage.” (Dave Willis)

“The problem with marriage today isn’t marriage. The problem is the people going into it have no idea what they’re committing to. Marriage is more than two rings, and a pretty dress. It’s a covenant to be kept.” (Meaningful Marriages)

“Your spouse is the one person who has seen you at your worst; smelled your morning breath, put up with your crazy relatives; endured your quirky habits and still loves you more than anyone on earth.” (Dave Willis)

“Your spouse should never have to face any struggle without your full partnership, encouragement, and support.” (Dave Willis)

“If every couple quit when marriage got difficult, 100% of couples would be divorced. Challenges in your marriage are an opportunity to work together, not an excuse to give up on each other.” (Dave Willis)

“Lifelong love isn’t the result of Compatibility. It’s the result of Commitment.” (Dave Willis)

“In most cases, the only person who ‘wins’ in a divorce is the attorney. The husband and wife both suffer heavy losses financially, relationally, and emotionally.” (Dave Willis)

“Secrecy is the enemy of intimacy. Every healthy relationship is built on a foundation of honesty and trust.” (Dave Willis)

“Don’t just be physically monogamous; be mentally monogamous as well. True intimacy begins in the heart and the mind; not in the bedroom.” (Dave Willis)

“Never trade temporary pleasure for permanent regret.” (Dave Willis)

“Instead of nagging about your spouse, try bragging about your spouse. Build them up, don’t tear them down. Focus on what they are doing right instead of always pointing out what they are doing wrong.” (Dave Willis)

“Fight less, cuddle more. Demand less, serve more. Text less, talk more. Criticize less, compliment more. Stress less, laugh more. Worry less, pray more. With each new day, find new ways to love each other even more.” (Dave Willis)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How to Start Running?”

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“7 Practical Life-Application Lessons From the Cross”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practical Life Applications:

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

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

In a Nutshell: Never Applaud a Message You Can’t Apply!

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

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“Marriage RIGHTS For When Things Go WRONG”

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“Live joyfully with the wife whom you love…”  Ecclesiastes 9:9 (NKJV)

Sonja Ely writes, ‘I was watching my seven-year-old granddaughter play with her toys. At one point she staged a wedding, first playing the role of the mother who assigned specific duties, then suddenly becoming the bride with her “teddy bear” groom. She picked him up and said to the “minister” presiding, “Now you can read us our rights.” Without missing a beat, she became the minister who said, “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say may be held against you, you have the right to have an attorney present, you may now kiss the bride.”As comical as that is, you need to know what your marriage rights are! And to start you must know that, first and foremost, marriage is God’s idea!  

In Eden He said, ‘…It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him”‘ (Genesis 2:18 NKJV). The word ‘comparable’ means ‘compatible with his (or her) needs‘. In other words, the person you choose to marry will be Comparable, Not Perfect! They can be Perfect FOR You, but they are in no ways Perfect. That’s why it’s foolish for Imperfect YOU, to get so divorce-driven frustrated every time they don’t meet your cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ imaginary ideals that you also fall very short of attaining! So, before we start anything please know that it is vital to your marriage that you embrace the fact that your spouse will never be perfect this side of heaven and neither will you. Which means, we have two imperfect people who need to come up with marital frustration strategies that are comparable for them to keep their covenant intact.

Listen, when you marry someone, you marry everything they’ve been through! Each of you brings your own baggage. And unless you sort out what to keep and what to discard, things can quickly erode. You must also understand that when you leave God out, you create bigger problems for your marriage than who forgot to take out the garbage or wash the dishes! Keep in mind, Satan has made marriage one of his prime targets! He loves to promote strife.  

Which is why when it comes to marriage we must learn to quickly and completely forgive: The Bible says it like this: Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive One Another As QUICKLY And Thoroughly As God In Christ Forgave You.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 MSG). Why is this so important? Because unforgiveness gives Satan an advantage to tear your marriage apart which is why we are further admonished: ‘If you forgive anyone anything, I too forgive that one; and what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sakes in the presence [and with the approval] of Christ (the Messiah), TO KEEP SATAN FROM GETTING THE ADVANTAGE OVER US; FOR WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF HIS WILES AND INTENTIONS‘ (2 Corinthians 2:10-11 AMP). You see, the whole purpose of forgiveness is: “…To Keep Satan From Getting The Advantage Over Us…So forgive your Imperfect Spouse, with Your Imperfect Self, and Keep Satan at bay! God’s plan for your relationship is strength and harmony, not strife and confusion. He wants to help you build a strong, loving union that glorifies Him. To do that, you must show grace, forgiveness and resolve to make Jesus Lord of your relationship! Remember, your marriage was God’s Idea, therefore, let Him Control it and it won’t Veer off the Divorce Cliff!              

In discussing marriage on his TV sitcom, Jerry Seinfeld tells his friend why he’s not married: ‘No healthy person would want the neglect I have to offer.Let’s face it, even the ‘best’ marriages are made up of two imperfect people who sometimes neglect each other. And when you’ve been hurt it’s easy to react in the flesh instead of responding in the Spirit. Because truthfully, some hurts go really deep and grow really strong roots over time. At this point we must remember that regardless, forgiveness is a decision, however, trust is a process and when it’s been torn down, it takes time to rebuild it. Men and women often perceive trust differently. When a spouse has been hurt, her husband or his wife may think an apology should immediately enable them to trust them again, move on, and not talk about it again. That’s not so; because there are two things that need to happen. First, the offending partner needs to acknowledge what they’ve done. Don’t just tell your partner to get over it‘. Validate their feelings, even if they act like they don’t want you to. Acknowledge their pain. You see, when others rationalize or trivialize what’s hurting us, it only makes us angrier. Only when we feel validated do our wounds begin to heal. Second, the offended partner needs to make sure that bitterness doesn’t creep in.How can I do that?you ask. By refusing to stay hurt any longer than is absolutely necessary, and by allowing God to heal your heart and restore your love. The Bible says, ‘… “If you hear his voice today, don’t be STUBBORN!”‘ (Hebrews 4:7 CEV). When God gives you the grace to forgive and release the hurt, you need to seize it not be stubborn about it! Holding your spouse in unforgiveness prison, means you’re locked up in bondage right along with them! You do remember the Scripture says:  “And the two shall become ONE Flesh, so that they are No Longer TWO, BUT ONE FLESH.” (Mark 10:8 AMP). If you don’t free them, you don’t free you either! Selah…              

After the death of the child David fathered with Bathsheba, we read, ‘Then David got up… washed himself… changed his clothes… went to the Tabernacle and worshipped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and… ate. His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again”‘ (2 Samuel 12:20-21 NLT). Why did David mourn more intensely before the baby died than he did after? Because according to many research studies across the countries, men grieve hard, but not necessarily as long. Once something’s over, they’ve a tendency to move on. However, in marriage, this can cause problems. You see, according to the studies, men often genuinely don’t understand why their wives can’t accept that ‘what’s done is done’, and move on too. But listen to David’s logic: ‘… I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, “Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.” But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me‘ (2 Samuel 12:22-23 NLT). Stay with me, the Bible says that God ‘… comforts us… so that… When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort… ‘ (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT). Therefore, David’s next move was crucial. And what was it you ask? He ‘… Comforted Bathsheba, his wife… ‘ (2 Samuel 12:24 NLT). Notice, David didn’t ask, ‘What’s wrong with you? When are you going to get over this? I’ve moved on what’s taking you so long?No, he recognized that even though he was beginning to heal, his wife was still hurting. The healing process accelerates once you begin to empathize with, and comfort your mate. And this is advised for both husband and wife, no matter who caused the hurt. Healing always takes time and that timing is different for both parties. Therefore, you need to learn to heal, and whichever gets to the healing finish line first, don’t leave the finish line until your spouse has crossed over it, no matter how long it takes them to get there. It’s important that you both finish, what’s unimportant is who finishes first.              

Sometimes the loss won’t even be a person, but a thing. For instance, when your mate loses their job and you find yourself suddenly going through a season of financial uncertainty, here are three things you need to keep in mind. First, remember it’s just a season. The important thing is to guard your attitude while you’re waiting for things to turn around. For example: Unless he’s lazy or an outright freeloader, your husband already feels bad because he can’t provide. He knows the children need shoes, the bills are piling up and that you’re tired of eating noodles or beans on toast, so don’t keep reminding him! Second, now is the time to get behind him and strengthen his ego, not deflate it. How?‘ you ask. By asking yourself, ‘Am I always complaining? Do I highlight the things we don’t have? Do I covet stuff that’s beyond our budget right now? Am I doing my part to cut back and make ends meet, or am I splurging on non-essentials, going shopping every day and wanting to eat out every night?Remember, responsibility and accountability for your marriage survival falls on Both of your shoulders! Finally, never forget, ‘this too shall pass’. Now is not a good time to remind your husband (or your wife if she’s the breadwinner) about the new car your brother bought or the great house your friend just exchanged on. Now is the time to practice saying with Paul, ‘... I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.‘ (Philippians 4:11-13 NCV). Has God ever failed you? No, and He won’t now, so make up your mind to trust Him. How you handle this season may well determine whether your relationship emerges weaker or stronger.              

So know your Marital Rights! You have the right to Forgive;  when you are offensive you have the right to Acknowledge What You’ve Done; when you’ve been offended you have the right to Keep Bitterness at Bay, Forgive and Release the Hurt; You have the right to Comfort, You have the right to remember that Financial Droughts Are Seasonal, they do not last; you have the right to Build Your Mates Ego, Not Break It; you have the right to remember that no matter how bad it may seem now, This Too Shall Pass! Remember Your Marital Rights and You’ll Both Be Able to Properly Handle When Things Go Wrong! 

“…you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted…your first love.]”  (Revelation 2:4 AMP)

Nobody plans it, it just seems to happen. Romance runs headlong into Reality! Something gives, and it’s usually romance! At first it’s just two love-birds with no higher earthly priority than each other’s happiness. Then comes the patter of tiny feet, and our well-ordered world gets turned upside down. Children don’t fit neatly into our schedules and agendas. They can’t and won’t wait. Three kids, two jobs, one mortgage later, and romance seems to be a distant memory. Two overworked people wonder where they lost that romantic feeling and whether it will ever return. I agree with G.K. Chesterton, “The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.” 

Unfortunately, some settle for marriage without the sizzle; some stay till the kids are older, then look for greener, more romantic pastures. But God offers a third, more exciting alternative: God’s alternative – Do What It Takes to Restore Your ‘…FIRST LOVE…(This Scripture was written to the church at Ephesus, but the principle also applies to building a good marriage). Therefore: 

  • RE-EXAMINE YOUR PERCEPTIONS: We think our current sizzle-free status is proof that romantic love is dead and the dream forever lost. That’s because we confuse romance with love. Romance brings people together, but love keeps them together. People who love each other can make romance live again – at any age or stage. “Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat.” (Joanne Woodward). Romance can come and go, but Love has a Stability that Remains Standing even when all else is Falling Apart! Therefore, water your marriage’s seeds of love and fresh romance will sprout forth!
  • REALIZE THAT THE SIZZLE WASN’T LOST, IT WAS ‘LEFT’:’ You have LEFT [behind] your first love.It didn’t leave you. It didn’t die. And a new partner is not the solution! You Left It and Only You Can Make It Right Again By Your Return To It! Remember this: “Warm hugs are better than cold shoulders.” (Author Unknown)
  • RETRACE YOUR STEPS: You’ll find romance where you left it: Undernourished, Crowded Out, Over-Looked and Seriously Oxygen-Deprived, But Not Dead! God created marriage! Talk to Him! Follow His instructions and your romance can live again! REMEMBER: And here’s a second offense: You fill the place of worship with your whining and sniveling because you don’t get what you want from God. Do you know why? Simple. Because God was there as a witness when you spoke your marriage vows to your young bride, and now you’ve broken those vows, broken the faith-bond with your vowed companion, your covenant wife. God, Not You, Made Marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the Smallest Details of Marriage…So Guard the Spirit of Marriage Within You…” (Malachi 2:13-15 MSG). If Only We’d Protect and Guard Our Marriages to the Same Degree We Do Our Cellphones! Selah…

Here are three ‘R’s’ that work in our walk with God – and in our marriages:            

First: REMEMBER. REMEMBER the height from which you have fallen!…” (Revelation 2:5 NIV). Not the depth, but the height. Not how bad it’s become, but how great it once was! Not the worst of times, but the best! Recall when just being together was the highlight of your whole day! What were you doing then that you’re not doing now? Do you remember when you phoned just to hear his voice? The gifts you couldn’t afford, but bought her anyway? The love notes you slipped into his pocket? Remember opening doors for her, pulling out chairs, holding her coat for her while she puts her arms through the sleeves or flowers on Tuesday, just because it was Tuesday? Remember cooking his favorite dish although you were exhausted from working late, or reading ‘1001 Ways to be Romantic’ and trying them all…twice? Remember quiet candlelit dinners when you shaved again and wore her favorite cologne, you know the one you hated? Remember when intimacy wasn’t all about me? Remember the special places, times, smells, looks, songs, poems? Remember a rose on her tray with breakfast in bed because she had cried when she heard the song, ‘You don’t bring me flowers anymore,’ and you vowed you’d never forget the flowers again?REMEMBER!Remember what you did for love! The magic may seem to have appeared by accident, but it actually grew by action! You were the magic! What you did fueled the romance, then you stopped doing it and the flame subsided! But the pilot light still burns, and remembering the heightsreleases positive, faith-inspiring chemistry that can move you to actions that will fan the flame into a fire again! “To keep the fire burning brightly there’s one easy rule: Keep the Two Logs Together, near enough to keep each other warm and far enough apart—about a finger’s breadth—for breathing room. Good fire, good marriage, same rule.” (Marnie Reed Crowell).            

The second ‘R’ for renewing your first love is REPENT; which in its simplistic form means, to change your mind, direction, and actions. You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking and behaviors that created it; new thinking and actions are required. If your relationship once sizzled, you still have what’s needed to make it sizzle again. You’ve been remembering what you were doing at ‘the height’ of the relationship. You’ve acknowledged that those actions made the relationship exciting and fulfilling, than you stopped doing them, and that youleft [behind] your first love.” Now you’re ready to repent (which means to turn around) and go in a different and better direction so you can once again cause the flame of love to burn brightly in your marriage. “More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse.” (Doug Larson). “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” (Mignon McLaughlin).              

The third ‘R’ of renewal is RE-ENACT; Do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5 NIV). List the things you used to do when the relationship was great. Each of you should prayerfully and privately commit to doing a couple of the listed items, without telling your partner which ones you chose. Try to ‘catch’ your partner re-enacting the things you did at firstand let them know how much it means to you that they cared enough to do it. You’ll get more of what you reinforce by gratitude! “In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.” (Robert Anderson). But a word to the wise: at first it may feel strange, even unreal, when you begin to re-enact those early behaviors. So be patient, that will change. Just keep doing it. And don’t wait till you feel like it. You can act your way into new ways of feeling, even when you can’t feel your way into new ways of acting. Do it till you feel it, till the joy of your first love reignites!              

You further have the marital right to remember the good times of your marriage instead of ruminating over the bad; you have the marital right to repent of any wrongs you have committed against your spouse; you have the marital right to retrace your steps and find the romance that your neglect caused you to loss; you have the marital right to reenact every good memory of your marriage and if you’re real smart, you’ll create some new memories too!

Now to help you ease your way back into ‘the heights of your first love”, I’ve learned that laughter is a Huge and Valuable Asset! With that said, share some of these funny marriage quotes with your spouse tonight and have a good laugh! Especially if you can identify with any of them! 

“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” (Rita Rudner). 

“Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” (Phyllis Diller). 

“Valentine’s Day is when a lot of married men are reminded what a poor shot Cupid really is.” (Author Unknown). 

“Any intelligent woman who reads the marriage contract, and then goes into it, deserves all the consequences.” (Isadora Duncan). 

“Three rings of marriage are the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering.” (Author Unknown). 

“Marriage means commitment. Of course, so does insanity.” (Author Unknown). 

“I never knew what real happiness was until I got married. And by then it was too late.” (Max Kauffman). 

“Wedding rings: the world’s smallest handcuffs for those who are sentenced to do life! I suggest you choose your cellmate wisely.” (Author Unknown). 

“There is so little difference between husbands you might as well keep the first.” (Adela Rogers St. Johns). 

“Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.” (Marlene Dietrich). 

“It’s easy to understand love at first sight, but how do we explain love after two people have been looking at each other for years?” (Author Unknown) 

“Women hope men will change after marriage but they don’t; men hope women won’t change but they do.” (Bettina Arndt). 

“I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy. First, let her think she’s having her own way. And second, let her have it.” (Lyndon B. Johnson). 

“My husband and I divorced over religious differences He thought he was God, and I didn’t.” (Author Unknown). 

“The reason they’re called the opposite sex is because every time you think you have your wife fooled—it’s just the opposite.” (Walter Winchell) 

“The best way to remember your wife’s birthday is to forget it once.” (H.V. Prochnow). 

Have a good laugh as you Rekindle Romance and Exceed New Levels of Love By Remembering, Repenting and Re-Enacting! 

YOU NOW HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN HAPPILY MARRIED TIL DEATH DO YOU PART!

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

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“The Father Can Still Reach Our Children!”

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Luke 7:11-15, “Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman’s only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, “Don’t cry.” Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, “Young man, I tell you: Get up.” The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother.” (MSG)

Believe it or not, but I am the proud mother of 6 adult children! I birthed 2 beautiful daughters (ages 30 and 27); and I was also blessed to inherit 4 more amazing children through marriage (ages 29, 28, and 26 year old twins). And they are all indeed a wonderful handful! Are they perfect? Absolutely Not! They are 6 very different, interesting and sometimes strange creatures! Not 1 personality is a duplicate of any of the others, so it definitely makes for a very comical parenting life. Their careers range from psychology, medicine, furniture, music, government to entertainment law. Now, if that’s not 6 different individuals, I don’t know what is. But truth is, I’m very proud of each of them and love each of them dearly.

Now, as amazing, wonderful, gifted, handsome and beautiful as all my children are, they can indeed drive me nuts! Yes, they are all adults now, and I was told it gets easier as they get older (I have no idea who started that rumor and lie), but I don’t believe that to be at all true! You see, when they’re younger you have so much more control over them and what they do and where they go and who they spend time with. But when they become adults, you become more nervous because they don’t always have to clue you in on their every decision and move they make. And for an over-protective parent like me, that can mean a lot of sleepless nights in prayer!

However, I think it’s safe to say that not many parents can sleep real soundly until they know their children are safe and in for the night. My oldest daughter is 30 years old, and I still look for her to let me know at night, no matter how late it is, that she’s made it home safely. I always look forward to hearing the words, “Ma, I’m home.” Sometimes they get delayed, or sometimes they’re in a situation where they couldn’t call. And it’s natural, I think, for a mom or a dad to be anxious until they can get a fix on where their kids are, and the great time of relief is when they come in the door and we know everything’s okay. Right? I guess some of the most beautiful words in the English language are, “Mom, Dad, I’m home.Maybe you know a child who’s way overdue in saying those words.

With that said, let’s take another look at our text in a different translation: “Soon afterward Jesus went to a city called Nain [near Nazareth], and His disciples and a large crowd accompanied Him.  Now as He approached the city gate, a dead man was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her [in the funeral procession].  When the Lord saw her, He felt [great] compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.”  And He came up and touched the bier [on which the body rested], and the pallbearers stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise [from death]!” The man who was dead sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.” (AMP)

Wow! That’s a powerful story! And the most touching words of all for me (as a mother) are these, “…And Jesus gave him back to his mother.”

You know, Jesus is still in the business of giving children back to their parents, even when it appears hopeless they’ll ever come back. Maybe you or someone you know has a son or a daughter who’s away right now; spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically. Well, my word of encouragement is this simple word from the Lord. He’s still in the business of giving children back to their parents.

I know what some of you may say though, “you don’t know how far gone my child is; or I just don’t see it as possible, it’s been too long or they’ve been like this too long.” Well, let me tell you, from experience, it’s not too late for your child to return. Some may not know it, but I wasn’t raised in church. And although I loved school and went to school and I was even a straight A student, I was still a bit of a wild child. Yes, I had both parents at home, and yes they believed in discipline. And yes, I still got into trouble! I partied, clubbed, hung out in the streets, I did drugs and alcohol, and my virginity was not preserved for marriage. Some will say, ‘why would you share all that?’ Because, someone, somewhere needs to know that their child is not the only one. I had 2 children before my 19th birthday. I struggled taking care of them at some point and ended up with no job, no money, no man, and sleeping in a shelter with my children. I guess that’s a far cry from the preacher, teacher, robe-wearing, bible toting Christian you see today. Am I perfect? Not on your life! Not even on my best day! But am I better than where I was (spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically), absolutely! Did it happen overnight? Uh…NOPE! Did I make more mistakes even after salvation? Sure Did, Every Day! But am I still redeemable? YES! And so are children, regardless of their age, and regardless to what they’ve done or where they’ve been or how long it has been.

You see, I was blessed enough to have a woman cross my path, and much like Jesus did for the woman’s son in the above Scripture, someone stopped by my dead life and spoke life so that I might live again, and live better. And that’s my intention for you and your children today. To stop by and speak life, no matter how dead their situation may be!

I don’t know why specifically, but for some reason, I just thought that this day should be the time when we should talk about this for someone who needs that little word of encouragement. Someone that needs to hear that their children are not lost forever!

I know this to be true and not just because of my own past youth mistakes and redemption, but from my own children’s lives as well. All 6 of them, unlike me, were raised in church. They were taught about Jesus at the same time as learning A,B,C’s and 1,2,3’s. They went to Sunday School, Bible Study, and ALL Church Services. They were on multiple auxiliaries at church. And when it was time to make friends, they were to pick their friends from church! Sounds a little nuts, but we pushed our kids hard in the Christian Faith and have absolutely no regrets about it to this day. Now, did all of that keep them saved, sanctified, holy, delivered and spotless? Heck, I Wish! But truth is, it didn’t. They are church kids, and preacher’s kids, but will I stand here and tell you they have never had a drink of alcohol and never seen the inside of a club and never crossed the sexual line…sorry, but if I’m going to help you, I have to be honest with you, and that most certainly is not the case here! They’ve dated people I wish they never met, they’ve lied to us, they’ve done things and gone to places I wish I could erase from my memory bank! As a mom I would love to un-tattoo them, un-pierce them, un-drink them, un-fornicate them, and un-do every bad decision they’ve ever made in life, but I can’t, and neither can you and neither can they! But thank God He doesn’t need us or them to go back and un-do anything! He can make them whole using all of their fractured pieces!   

Maybe you know better than I do why we’re talking about this today. Sometimes maybe it seems like your prayers just are not being answered for the one you love. But remember, much of God’s work is invisible. Like plants getting ready to sprout and come out, and flowers blooming in the spring. We don’t see anything going on all winter, looks like nothing is going on under the ground. But God is at work all the time. My pastor loves to say, “when it looks like nothing’s happening, God’s still at work.” And I believe it to be true. Much that God is doing to bring that child home, you can’t see. But you’d better believe it’s going on under the ground where you can’t see it.

I know you’ve prayed, fasted, pleaded with God, interceded on their behalf and still it looks like nothing is happening. And if you’ve been in my shoes as a parent, sometimes it seems like the more you pray, the worse they get! I know the feeling of, “Lord, when are you going to do it for my kid? When are they coming back home? When will they come back to church? When will they change for the better? When will they finish school? When will they turn around? When God…When?” And because I’m a counselor, I know that some of you have even deeper questions such as, “When will he get off drugs? When will she get out of that crack-house? When will he get out of that gang? When will she get out of that abusive relationship? When will he get a job? When will she stop having babies?” Truth is, it’s not easy being a parent. And sometimes we just want our kids to just ‘get that.’ But more often than not, they won’t until they’re forced by life to walk in our shoes. However, for the time being, we’ll simply trust our Father to keep us and them! After all, He’s the Father of Children like US, and after all we’ve done, said, and been, and He yet loves US unconditionally still, certainly He can be trusted to help us Parent!

Proverbs 3:5-12, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give Him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under His loving correction. It’s the child He loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.” (MSG)

Father Knows Best, Is Indeed More Than the Title of a TV Show, But For Us It’s the God’s Honest Truth!

So, we have Jesus to Save them and bring them back to life; we have the Father to help us Parent them; and then there’s the Wonderful Comforter and Counselor, the Holy Spirit – and He pursues that child wherever he goes. They can get away from us; but they can’t get away from Him. Psalm 139:7-12, “Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of Your sight? If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You.” (MSG).

Isn’t it wonderful to know, that your child has an internal tracking device, so that they are NEVER truly off the grid?! There is absolutely nowhere for your child to run and hide, where they are not seen and heard. No matter what they do, who they do it with, where they go or how far they go, they can’t get away from the Holy Ghost! That may frustrate them, but it should certainly fortify your faith! Your child has nowhere on planet earth to hide from God! In fact, look at verse 8, “If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there.” (AMP). Your child can’t find a hiding place on the earth, in heaven, in hell or even in death! So, keep praying mom, keep fasting dad, they have no real way of escape!

I must also add this admonishment though, open arms do more than open mouths to bring kids home. Sometimes we can talk too much and push them so hard we actually push them away from the Lord. Listen: The Father of the prodigal son didn’t chase the son. He just kept his arms open for him to come home. (Feel free to read the entire story in Luke 15:11-32), but I just want to hone in on a small part for now that reads, “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe [for the guest of honor] and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand, and sandals for his feet.  And bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let us [invite everyone and] feast and celebrate;  for this son of mine was [as good as] dead and is alive again; he was lost and has been found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (vss. 20-24 AMP)

There’s so much that I love about this story, but what I found most interesting today are these 3 things:

1.. As bad as this son messed up, you would think it would’ve been the son running to the safety of his father, but it was the other way around, the father seeing him a far off, “…ran and embraced him and kissed him…” You can’t always wait for your child to come to you, sometimes you have to meet them half way, or go all the way. Some may think it unfair, since it was the kid that messed up. But the father didn’t even care. He saw his son a far off, and went to him first. Sometimes we can let our anger cloud our judgment and think, “as bad as you messed up, you have to earn your way back into my good graces; you’ll need me first; you better beg for my forgiveness; you better hope I let you back in…” But the father, saw his son and went to him and with compassion, and showed him love and affection. Make sure you do the same;

2.. The son immediately starts with, “…I am no longer worthy to be called your son…” But my favorite part is, “…But the father said to his servants…” The father never even addressed the sons’ sins. He immediately started the restoration process. Believe me, as a kid and as an adult, nobody knows better than you just how badly you’ve messed up. So having others pour salt in your fresh, open wound doesn’t help any with the healing. They know what they’ve done, so when they make their U-turn back, don’t keep giving them fines for everything they’ve done wrong and every wrong turn they’ve ever made. Let them start over. Give them another chance. You know, like the many you receive from God daily… Don’t rub it in their faces. Don’t keep rehashing old history. Don’t keep reviewing their mistakes like an auditor during tax season. Take their lives from under the microscope. Be grateful that they’ve made it back and not in a coffin!

3.. Many of us make the mistake, after our children return, of telling everybody, everything about the what, when, where, why, and how, behind our children’s mistakes. Please don’t. Instead, do what the father did, before he told others (and all he told them was to come and celebrate with him for the return of his son that was good as dead, but is now alive), he Re-Covered the son that he’d Recovered! “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe [for the guest of honor] and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand, and sandals for his feet….” The son didn’t deserve it, but the father did it anyway. People may have known that he’d left home, but when he returned, his father made sure that before anyone saw him, he Re-Covered, and Re-Clothed him so that he didn’t look like where he’d been or what he’d done. Isn’t that just like our Father? By the time the folks would arrive to see him, he would look like he’d never left in the first place. Parents, when they return, restore them, re-cover them, and celebrate! After all, that’s all that really matters is that they’ve finally returned home…right?

Looking at the widow’s dead son, and the prodigal son, both looked like hopeless cases never to be resolved. And yet, they both were. One son was dead, and the other as good as dead, and yet, both were recovered and restored. Even when it looked completely impossible.

Therefore, I encourage you today, don’t give up on your children. They are redeemable, just as you were.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A NUMBER OF YOU KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT, FOR NOT SO LONG AGO YOU WERE ON THAT LIST. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a FRESH START by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.” (MSG)

Mom, Dad, Don’t Forget You Messed Up Too! But the Bible clearly says, “…Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a FRESH START by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.” Give them the second chance God continually gives you. And I’m crazy enough to believe that one day you will hear, “Mom… Dad… I’m home.”

“Where I left gaps in my children’s upbringing, God fills them in.” (Lisa Pennington)

“The difference between mercy and grace? Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace gave him a feast.” (Max Lucado)

“Jesus told the story of the prodigal son to make a simple point: never mind what you’ve done, just come home.” (Glen Fitzjerrell)

“Satan Seeking Whom He May DEVOUR is No Match for a Savior Seeking Whom He May DELIVER.” (Tony Nolan)

Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.” (CEV)

Matthew 18:12-14, “Look at it this way. If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one? And if he finds it, doesn’t he make far more over it than over the ninety-nine who stay put? Your Father in heaven feels the same way. He doesn’t want to lose even one of these simple believers.” (MSG)

Luke 15:4-7, “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.” (MSG)

John 3:16-17, “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him.” (AMP)

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

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“If It’s Hidden It Won’t Heal”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“God means what He says. What He says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through EVERYTHING, whether doubt or defense, laying us OPEN to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.” (Hebrews 4:12-13 MSG) I love that word “impervious”, it’s defined as “unable to be affected by”. So, you may as well come clean and come uncovered because it is absolutely impossible for you to be a believer, and yet go unaffected by the Word of God! There is nothing you can do to Shield yourself from an All-Seeing God, just ask Hagar! Genesis 16:13, “She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, “YOU’RE THE GOD WHO SEES ME!…” (MSG). Or ask David, “Is there any place I can go to avoid Your Spirit? to be out of Your sight? If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You.” (Psalm 139:7-12 MSG)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God really understands…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How Your Waist Affects Your Health”

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“A Dirty Deliverance!”

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…I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.(Jonah 2:2).

Jonah chapter 2 is another one of my favorite Scriptures! You See, Right in the Midst of Trouble, Jonah Still Prayed Unto the Lord! He Forgot about his Situation and Fully Turned His Attention to God! Can you imagine what would happen if today the church did the very same thing? If we sought God no matter our situation? If we still fell on bended knee no matter how many times the rug has been pulled out from beneath us? If we still talked to God no matter how badly others are talking about us? If we still went to church even if we had to walk there? If we would still read the Bible even when we’ve lost the job? Can you imagine if we still sought God regardless of our current circumstances!?

Just think what would become of our lives if we prayed as the Bible admonishes us to: “Pray At All Times” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 GNT) Just imagine how strong our relationship with God would become if we indeed prayed at all times. And that includes praying when the car breaks down; the kids are failing in school; the marriage is holding on by its last string; the job just laid you off; the doctor just gave you a cancerous diagnosis; your parent passes away; your sibling is strung out on drugs; your church is emptying out; your bank accounts can’t even keep the bare minimum anymore; Medicaid said no; Medicare won’t cover; there’s dust in the cupboards and only Arm and Hammer in the fridge! Would you still be able to pray to God, even in these times?! Would you still trust Him? Would you still lean on Him? Would you still believe Him? Would you still praise and worship Him? Would you still have Faith in Him? Would you still thank Him?

When you study the content of Jonah’s prayer in Jonah 2:2-9, you’ll discover that he wasn’t praying the ‘give me or get me out of this prayer, but a Prayer of Worship and Thanksgiving (“…But I’m Worshiping you, God, calling out in Thanksgiving!…” (Jonah 2:9 MSG) However, what happens next is Absolutely Dynamic; the Bible says, “And the LORD Commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” (Jonah 2:10 NIV). What a Mighty Deliverance! BUT, if you look at what Jonah Worshiped in the Midst Of to Get It, you’ll have to ask yourself, ‘do I really want it that bad?Because to get This Kind of Deliverance, You’ve Got to Possess the Ability to Worship In the Worst Of It! Yes, that means to pray, worship and thank God while the eviction notice is on the front door; the pink slip after 20 years was just handed to you; the doctor has nothing else he can do for your disease; your teenage son tells you he has a baby on the way; your daughter comes home with a tattoo across her forehead; there’s nothing in the fridge but the light-bulb; the toilet water won’t go down, the heat won’t come up, the car won’t start and the bills won’t stop! YES, You Have To Still Pray, Praise, Worship and Thank God In the Midst of It All! So How Bad Do You Really Want It?!

First off, it was due to Jonah’s Disobedience that he was in Trouble in the first place! So Jonah was where he Deserved to be, and God Put Him There, the Bible says,Now the Lord had Prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah…”(Jonah 1:17). Like Jonah, many of us are where we are due to our OWN disobedience! BUT the very next verse says, “Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God Out Of the Fish’s Belly.” (Jonah 2:1). Truth be told, sometimes Deliverance Looks Downright Disgusting! I know you thought God was going to bring you out driving a 2019 so and so…NOPE…with a brand new house…NOPE…with a 7 figure income…NOPE…with the spouse dipped in honey…NOPE…with a world-wide ministry…NOPE…totally debt free…NOPE…a size 36-24-36…NOPE! Your Deliverance Is NOT Going To Look Pretty! After all, did you really think Jonah would spend 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a fish and come up smelling like roses? Truth is, I hate to even walk past the scent of a fish market, let alone have to be in the belly of a great fish for 3 days and 3 nights! So, no, Jonah wasn’t coming out fresh and clean! And neither are you going to come out of all you’ve been in smelling like Febreeze!

Just look at Mark 7:33-35, the Bible reads: “And taking him aside from the crowd [privately], He thrust His fingers into the man’s ears and spat and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, He sighed as He said, Ephphatha, which means, Be opened! And his ears were opened, his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak distinctly and as he should.” (AMP). Sweetheart, your deliverance is Not going to come with the latest fad-prophet sprinkling fairy dust over you and waving a pearly white magic wand! NOPE! Ear Wax and Spit Baby! So Do You Still Want To Be Delivered?! Listen for the two important truths here: One, the man’s ears were opened! “So faith comes from HEARING…” (Romans 10:17 AMP) Now, you may not like the method God uses to deliver you, but you will love hearing by faith what He has to say to you! The deliverance may be downright disgusting, but won’t it be worth it to hear God say: “…All these blessings will come down on you and spread out beyond you because you have responded to the Voice of God, your God: God’s blessing inside the city, God’s blessing in the country; God’s blessing on your children, the crops of your land, the young of your livestock, the calves of your herds, the lambs of your flocks. God’s blessing on your basket and bread bowl; God’s blessing in your coming in, God’s blessing in your going out. God will defeat your enemies who attack you. They’ll come at you on one road and run away on seven roads. God will order a blessing on your barns and workplaces; he’ll bless you in the land that God, your God, is giving you. God will form you as a people holy to him, just as he promised you, if you keep the commandments of God, your God, and live the way he has shown you. All the peoples on Earth will see you living under the Name of God and hold you in respectful awe. God will lavish you with good things: children from your womb, offspring from your animals, and crops from your land, the land that God promised your ancestors that he would give you. God will throw open the doors of his sky vaults and pour rain on your land on schedule and bless the work you take in hand. You will lend to many nations but you yourself won’t have to take out a loan. God will make you the head, not the tail; you’ll always be the top dog, never the bottom dog, as you obediently listen to and diligently keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you today…” (Deuteronomy 28:1-14, MSG)

Wouldn’t a Dirty Deliverance Be Worth Hearing All of That?!

Secondly, his tongue was loosed! The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21 AMP); It further shares, “You will also decide and decree a thing, and it will be established for you; and the light [of God’s favor] will shine upon your ways.” (Job 22:28 AMP) Having your tongue loosed, means you get to decree life over your life and change it with the creative power your God has given you in your ability to open your mouth and speak it! The Bible says, “…and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed.” (Romans 4:17 AMPC) Once your deliverance takes place and your lips are loosed, regardless to what your situation may still look like, you open your mouth and declare the nonexistent things God foretold and promised you and you speak them as if they already exist! “I’m healed; I’m whole; I’m debt-free; my marriage is repaired; my children are returning from straying; my bank accounts look like phone numbers with the 1 and area code attached! I’m cancer free; the mortgage company said yes; the grant was approved; I’m driving the car off the lot; God is sending me the mate He custom designed just for me; the business proposal has been approved; the tuition is free; the church is full; my household is saved; my family is delivered; the addiction has been arrested by the Holy Ghost; the anointing is fresh; the gifts are stirred; closed doors of opportunity are unlocking as I speak; the promotion is mine; the elevation is mine; the doctors diagnosis is being reversed; the blood-work is coming back in my favor; the x-rays are clear; the chemo, radiation and dialysis are stopping; I’m graduating!”

You see that’s the beauty of deliverance, no matter how dirty it is, you get to receive the restoration of your hearing and speech! It may be dirty, but thank God for deliverance anyhow!

Need another Dirty Deliverance Example? Just Look at Mark 8:23-25, the Bible reads: “And He caught the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands upon him, He asked him, Do you [possibly] see anything? And he looked up and said, I see people, but [they look] like trees, walking. Then He put His hands on his eyes again; and the man looked intently [that is, fixed his eyes on definite objects], and he was Restored and saw Everything Distinctly [even what was at a distance].” (AMP). There’s That Spit Anointing Again! Who Knew Jesus Was Such A Dirty Deliverer?! But this deliverance comes with the blessing of restored vision! Not just physical, but spiritual! All those dreams that you had that were so big and clear before life happened and you stuffed them on the shelf, are coming off the shelf! You will be like Joseph, have one dream that’s big, then dream again and it gets even bigger! You may not like the dirty deliverance, but you will love the results! Things that were so foggy and unclear are going to be 20/20 before 2020 even gets here! You were blind to God’s favor; blind to ways being made on your behalf; blind to the miracles coming down your street and to your house, but oh what happens when God delivers your vision! Another thing I love about this text is that it says, “…he was Restored and saw Everything Distinctly [even what was at a DISTANCE].” Once you’re delivered and your vision is restored you will not only see the blessings and favor of the Lord on your life, but you’ll be able to see the blessings on multiple generations to come! Your deliverance and restoration are not just for you, but for your posterity that hasn’t even been born yet!

You see, deliverance comes when you can Worship God in the Midst of the Worst of your Troubles! Understand that there’s No Doubt About Your Deliverance Coming, You Just Need to Accept the Fact, In Advance, That Your Deliverance Will Come, But It Won’t Come Clean! You’ll often have to get Dirty Before You Get Delivered! Can I Prove It? The Bible says, Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.” Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, “I thought he’d personally come out and meet me, call on the name of GOD, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are Cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not Bathe in them? I’d at least get Clean.” He stomped off, mad as a hornet. But his servants caught up with him and said, “Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?” So he did it. He went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man. His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He was as good as new.” (2 Kings 5:10-14 MSG). Are You Willing To Get Delivered Even When You Don’t Get To Choose The Method of Your Deliverance? Are You Willing To Get Delivered Even When You Don’t Get to Choose the Prophet? Are you willing to be delivered where no one can see it and talk about? Are you willing to be delivered when God uses a nobody to declare the Word of healing to you? Are you willing to get delivered even if you have to do something “beneath” your title, office or position in order to get it? How Bad Do You Really Want To Be Delivered!? Because Naaman dipped seven times in the dirty Jordan River, will you quit at 2 because it’s just asking too much of you? But at least Naaman was above ground, dipped seven dirty times and came up clean, Jonah lie in the belly of a great fish for 3 days and 3 nights! Listen, if you can’t handle 7 dips, you’ll lose your natural mind over 3 days and 3 nights! So, how bad do you really want to be delivered?!

Honestly, Do You have Enough Guts to get Dirty Before You get Delivered?! Can you Worship and Give Thanksgiving right in the Belly of the Fish, Before you get set Free on Dry Ground?! Truth is, Anybody can Worship and Give Thanks AFTERWARDS, But the Beginning of Deliverance is Doing It DURING?! And since we’re talking about Worship, how about we visit Jonah’s Church, enter into his Sanctuary, and take a good look around at What Jonah Worshiped in the Midst Of! Jonah 2:2-6, Describes Jonah’s Fish Temple of Worship: The Bible says, “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ’Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, With ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me. I said, ’I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever…” (MSG).

And you think you’ve got problems??!! You have the audacity to complain about your church?! In the winter you can’t worship because it’s too cold; in the summer you can’t worship because it’s too hot; in the spring you can’t worship because of your allergies; in the fall you can’t worship because it’s holiday season! The ushers push you in a pew; the trustees pull you and all your money apart; the choir never sings your song; the musicians are too loud; service is too long; the kids are too busy! Everything in the church hinders your worship, but nothing you face at your church can compare to what Jonah had to worship through in his! Jonah worshiped in the midst of fish guts and seaweed, and you get an attitude because the church has 2 services instead of 1?! Are you kidding me?!

Look at what Jonah worshiped in the midst of! But yet in still, you cancel your worship due to rolling eyes and attitudes; over what someone said or didn’t say; because they didn’t sing your song or preach you happy; because it’s raining outside; because they sat in your seat; because of what the doctors said. Tell yourself from this day forward, the devil is a liar! I’ll let nothing and no one cancel my worship again! Not their words, facial expressions, opinions, criticisms, discouragement, or bitterness! Why do I refuse to let it cancel my worship? Because I can say with Jonah, “…Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, And my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple. Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love. But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!” (vss. 1-9 MSG)

If Jonah can worship God in the midst of all of this, surely you can worship God in the midst of your mess! God does not stop being Sovereign because of your Situation! He can do anything, anywhere for any one of His children! That’s why you need to understand the power of your worship. It summons all of Heaven to meet you in Hell, Just ask Jonah,…I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.(vs. 2). If Jonah Can Cry Out to God In the Midst of a Belly of Hell, Surely You Can Walk Into Your Pretty Sanctuary and Worship God? Surely! He lay in fish guts while you sit on cushioned seats and you still can’t worship God? His music was the indigestion of a fish, while you have a whole minstrel section and yet you still can’t worship God? He was at the bottom of the ocean and you sit elevated in your prestigious pulpit seating and yet you still can’t worship God? How is it that Jonah can give God his all right where he was, and yet you haven’t given God anything and you’re in a better position than Jonah?!

And an added bonus: You don’t have to look for God in worship, if you worship, He’ll come looking for you!…true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the FATHER SEEKS.John 4:23 (NIV).

People of God, Learn How to Worship Your Way Through, And Before You Know It, You’ll Worship Your Way Out!

It May Be a Dirty Deliverance, But It’s Guaranteed To Give You a Clean Slate!

“God will lead you into a deliverance where the means that delivers you will be those who would destroy you.” (Edwin Louis Cole)

“…unless you long for deliverance you shall not have it.” (John Owen)

“Before you ever get a problem, God has already got your deliverance planned.” (Joyce Meyer)

“The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear. It is the storm within which endangers him, not the storm without.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“God hears and He sees, and you are not alone in your struggles. Remain firm and stable, for God has your deliverance planned.” (Joyce Meyer)

“God is in control and therefore in EVERYTHING I can give thanks not because of the situation but because of the One who directs and rules over it.” (Kay Arthur)

“God wants you to be delivered from what you have done and from what has been done to you. Both are equally important to Him.” (Joyce Meyer)

“When the Power of God is Present, Healing and Deliverance are Just Like Breathing.” (T.B. Joshua)

“The nature of the enemy’s warfare in your life is to cause you to become discouraged and to cast away your confidence. Not that you would necessarily discard your salvation, but you could give up your hope of God’s deliverance. The enemy wants to numb you into a coping kind of Christianity that has given up hope of seeing God’s resurrection power. Don’t give up!” (Bob Sorge)

“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.” (George Muller)

“Don’t worry. God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers, and never silent to your pain. He sees, He hears, and He will deliver.”

“Sometimes God will deliver you from the fire, and other times God will make you fireproof.” (Joel Osteen)

“I’m determined to stand whether God will deliver me or not.” (Bob Dylan)

“We all know the disappointments that come when we base anticipation on what we and other humans can deliver. God will never have a problem delivering.” (James MacDonald)

“God Who delivers us from the guilt of sin through faith in Jesus Christ, is able to deliver the believer from the power of sin as well.” (J. Edwin Orr)

“What’s damaged you as a child does not have to destroy you as an adult. God can deliver you from all your hurt and pain. Enter into God’s delivery room!” (Jasmine Harris)

“Don’t rush the time of God. He knows what is best for us and when it is best for us. Continue to wait, but know that He is faithful and He will deliver.” (Lisa Osteen Comes)

Psalm 50:15, “And call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall honor and glorify Me.” (AMPC)

Psalm 59:1, “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend and protect me from those who rise up against me.” (AMPC)

Psalm 32:7, “You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” (AMPC)

Psalm 70:1, “Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord!” (AMPC)

Jeremiah 15:21, “And I will deliver you out of the hands of the wicked, and I will redeem you out of the palms of the terrible and ruthless tyrants.” (AMPC)

Job 5:17-18, “So, what a blessing when God steps in and corrects you! Mind you, don’t despise the discipline of Almighty God! True, He wounds, but He also dresses the wound; the same hand that hurts you, heals you. From one disaster after another He delivers you; no matter what the calamity, the evil can’t touch you.” (MSG)

Galatians 1:3-5, “Grace and spiritual blessing be to you and [soul] peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), Who gave (yielded) Himself up [to atone] for our sins [and to save and sanctify us], in order to rescue and deliver us from this present wicked age and world order, in accordance with the will and purpose and plan of our God and Father – To Him [be ascribed all] the glory through all the ages of the ages and the eternities of the eternities! Amen (so be it).” (AMPC)

Daniel 3:17, “If our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.” (AMPC)

Genesis 45:7, “And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (KJV)

Psalm 107: “Oh, thank God—He’s so good! His love never runs out. All of you set free by God, tell the world! Tell how He freed you from oppression, Then rounded you up from all over the place, from the four winds, from the seven seas. Some of you wandered for years in the desert, looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst, staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion. Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God. He got you out in the nick of time; He put your feet on a wonderful road that took you straight to a good place to live. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves. He poured great draughts of water down parched throats; the starved and hungry got plenty to eat. Some of you were locked in a dark cell,  cruelly confined behind bars, Punished for defying God’s Word, for turning your back on the High God’s counsel—A hard sentence, and your hearts so heavy, and not a soul in sight to help. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; He got you out in the nick of time. He led you out of your dark, dark cell, broke open the jail and led you out. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves; He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors, He snapped the prison bars like matchsticks! Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin; You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; He got you out in the nick of time. He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves; Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what He’s done—sing it out! Some of you set sail in big ships; you put to sea to do business in faraway ports. Out at sea you saw God in action, saw His breathtaking ways with the ocean: With a word He called up the wind—an ocean storm, towering waves! You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out; your hearts were stuck in your throats. You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk, you didn’t know which end was up. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; He got you out in the nick of time. He quieted the wind down to a whisper, put a muzzle on all the big waves. And you were so glad when the storm died down, and He led you safely back to harbor. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves. Lift high your praises when the people assemble, shout Hallelujah when the elders meet! God turned rivers into wasteland, springs of water into sunbaked mud; Luscious orchards became alkali flats because of the evil of the people who lived there. Then He changed wasteland into fresh pools of water, arid earth into springs of water, Brought in the hungry and settled them there; they moved in—what a great place to live! They sowed the fields, they planted vineyards, they reaped a bountiful harvest. He blessed them and they prospered greatly; their herds of cattle never decreased. But abuse and evil and trouble declined as He heaped scorn on princes and sent them away. He gave the poor a safe place to live, treated their clans like well-cared-for sheep. Good people see this and are glad; bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks. If you are really wise, you’ll think this over—it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.” (MSG)

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

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

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“Angry? Don’t Delay It, Deal With It!”

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Ephesians 4:26-27, “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil” (TLB)

In my house, the rule of thumb is, “if I cook, someone else does the dishes”! Now, my husband doesn’t struggle with this, but my eldest daughter makes me laugh. And it’s not because she has a problem with doing the dishes, it’s just that once she starts to clear the table, your plate, (that you’re not even done with yet), is not exempt! She will clear your plate while you’re still in mid bite! So you need to keep an eye on that if you’re ever invited to dinner. She’s not particularly excited to do the dishes, so when she has to, she wants to quickly get the job done!

However, much like my daughter, I’m not exactly fond of doing dishes either. But where she will do them immediately to get them out of the way, I would rather leave them for a minute and let my food digest, (while sitting on the sofa, in my favorite spot, watching television that is), but that’s neither here nor there. But the problem with my idea of, “leave the dishes…don’t worry about them right now…come on in the living room and relax. The dishes can wait a few“, is that while they wait, they get worse! Truth is, I’ve never known the dishes to rinse themselves, and certainly a wise discipline is to rinse the dirty dish…immediately. Why? Because the longer you wait, the harder it will be.

Ephesians 4, starting with verse 26, reads, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the Devil a foothold.” Well, there’s a biblical clock here on strained relationships/friendships, just like there is on letting dirty dishes sit untouched. The longer you wait to clean it up, the harder it is to clean it up. Our conflict in relationships/friendships are like that too. That’s why it’s wise not to allow things to sit, settle and fester. Remember, according to the Bible, we have a clock on our discord, and that clock runs out at sundown every day! In other words, we really shouldn’t be hanging on to our anger after the end of the day.

That reminds me a lot of those old Western movies my dad used to love to watch. If you’ve ever seen them, you will know the famous line all the marshal’s use, “You better be out of here by sundown!” Well, that’s what we’re supposed to be saying to any anger, or resentment, bitterness or conflict that comes up in our relationships/friendships. “Get out of here by sundown!” There’s a good reason for this. You know those food remnants on dirty dishes which I was talking about? If you deal with them right away they’re soft and easy to remove; just kind of scrape them a little bit and they fall right off. But you know what happens if you wait with a dirty plate? The longer it sits dirty, the harder it is to get clean!

Makes me wonder if that’s where we coined the term, “hard feelings“? Because our unresolved hurt is just as hard as the non-rinsed dishes! And sadly enough, that’s when the Devil gets an opportunity to enter a marriage, or a parent-child relationship, or a friendship, or a church, business, school or workplace.

In conducting various marriage counseling sessions, I’ve discovered that at the core of most every marriage breakup there was an issue that once was small, but it wasn’t dealt with when it was small. That’s why it’s so hard to mend marriages, because problems are never dealt with when they occur. They’re not dealt with until what was delayed has now become a damage beyond repair. Which is also why it’s so hard to keep to the current issue, because couples have left so many “small” issues ignored, that now that there’s a problem that happened in January of this year, it can’t be resolved because so much time and energy is still focused on the arguments from January 2003!

In addition, at the core of broken parent-child relationships or a hurting friendship, or a divided church, there are also people who didn’t clean up their anger when it first appeared; when it was still small, when it was still manageable, when it was relatively soft. And now it’s led to a terrible hardening outcome. And the truth is, we can’t blame the devil. The Scripture tells us not to give him a “foothold”, but a foothold is just enough space for a person to put their foot in the door. But, who opened the door? The devil couldn’t get his foot in if you didn’t open the door and grant him access. And how do you grant him foothold access? By sending your anger to answer the door!

“Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down. AND DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL AN OPPORTUNITY [TO LEAD YOU INTO SIN BY HOLDING A GRUDGE, OR NURTURING ANGER, OR HARBORING RESENTMENT, OR CULTIVATING BITTERNESS].” (AMP).

“…DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL AN OPPORTUNITY…” And what’s an “opportunity”? It’s defined as “a favorable time or set of circumstances for doing something; a career opening offered; a chance for promotion; a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal; a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success.” And all of that is the Opportunity you allow your grudge, anger, resentment and bitterness to grant to the devil. So when he gets a “foothold” in your relationships, friendships, marriage, children, church, business, workplace, remember who opened the door and invited him in as their special guest…yep, you guessed it…YOU! You made the circumstances favorable for him, you hired him and gave him a career and promotion to destroy your life and loved ones, you helped him attain his goal of disruption, discord and destruction, you placed him in a good position, you were his great prospect, you helped advance his attack and gain success. Yes, YOU and the emotions you sent to answer the door of your relationships/friendships! This my friend is not one of those times when you can say, “the devil made me do it.No, YOU did it, all on your own! As parents, those are things we like to call Responsibility and Accountability. And if the devil has gotten a foothold into your relationships/friendships, you set out the welcome mat for him to step on. You are held accountable because it was your responsibility to make sure it didn’t happen!

Listen to the Scripture again, “Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down. AND DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL AN OPPORTUNITY [TO LEAD YOU INTO SIN BY HOLDING A GRUDGE, OR NURTURING ANGER, OR HARBORING RESENTMENT, OR CULTIVATING BITTERNESS].” (AMP). One, small 3-letter word is key, “…LET…” defined as “to allow someone to have the use of” You were not supposed to give the devil a foothold but you did, even though the Scripture commanded you, “…DO NOT LET YOUR ANGER…” Did you catch that? “…YOUR…” All of this is YOUR Responsibility! You are not to give the devil room to be allowed to use your anger against you and your relationships/friendships. You are held accountable for allowing the devil to have opportunity! And how did you do that? Pay attention to the Scripture:

“…HOLDING A GRUDGE…”; “…NURTURING ANGER…”; “…HARBORING RESENTMENT…”; “…CULTIVATING BITTERNESS…” You know, for this to be “the devil’s” fault, as many will use as their excuse, YOU sure are doing quite a bit in this text to help him don’t you think?

How about we take a look at the part you play…

“Holding” – is defined as “to grasp, carry, support, keep, have in one’s possession, contain, cause to stay, remain tightly secured

“Nurturing” – is defined as “to rear and encourage the development of; to feed and cherish

“Harbor” – is defined as “to keep (a thought or feeling) secretly in one’s mind; to give refuge, shelter or protection to

“Cultivate” – is defined as “to prepare and use; raise and grow; to maintain; to acquire and develop

This is how well you take care of your Grudge, Anger, Resentment and Bitterness! Do you know this is better care and treatment than some spouses and children receive! All of the emotions that are opening the door for the devil’s foothold into your relationships/friendships are being Held, Nurtured, Harbored and Cultivated…BY YOU! Do You Know What You’ve Deliberately Decided to Do With Your Grudge, Anger, Resentment and Bitterness, according to the above definitions? You’ve purposely grasped it, carry, support and keep it, you have possession of it, you keep it contained and you cause it to stay by allowing it to be held onto tightly and secure. You’re rearing it up like a child and encouraging its development by feeding and cherishing it. You’re dwelling on it secretly in your thoughts and feelings and it means so much to you that you’ve even provided it with refuge, shelter and protection. You are even preparing it for use as you raise and grow it, maintain, acquire and develop it, because you have absolutely no intentions on letting any of it go! And that’s why the devil has been able to repeatedly enjoy a sweatless-victory over your relationships/friendships. With the loving way you hold your grudges, nurture your anger, harbor your resentment and cultivate your bitterness, what exactly is there left for him to do?

Maybe there’s a strained relationship in your life right now. Could that be why God wanted us talking about this today? Well, if that should be the case, there have been far too many sunsets, too many bad feelings you let hang on! Please understand, it will never be smaller than it is today. I know that it’s bigger than it used to be, but this is the smallest it’s ever going to be. It will never be easier to address that conflict, that resentment, that anger than it is right now, no matter how hard that might seem. It’s only going to get harder the longer you let it sit there untouched and unaddressed. It will only get more costly because you’re going to lose relationships, friendships, trust, support, and even love.

Now, I know we live in a day and age of the “church”, where everybody will tell you, “just let them go, drop ‘em, leave ‘em, forget about ‘em”, however, I do not believe that this is the Conduct of Christians. And before you go down your long, never-ending, laundry list of all the dirt, soil and filth of what they did, that is so absolutely unforgivable, might I remind you, you’re not as clean as you think.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A NUMBER OF YOU KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT, FOR NOT SO LONG AGO YOU WERE ON THAT LIST. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.” (MSG)

That’s Right, “…FOR NOT SO LONG AGO YOU WERE ON THAT LIST…” You may not have done what they did, but I assure you, you did something! We all did…we all do! So before you go grabbing knives, scissors and saws, to sever relationships/friendships, remember that the Lord forgave you, pardoned you, gave you another chance… “…NOT SO LONG AGO…” And before you go pointing fingers like Adam, “it was the spouse you gave me; it was the children you gave me; it was the friend you gave me…it was the church you gave me…”, make sure that the split didn’t happen with the ax you’re holding!

I always find it amusing and sad that people will quicker redeem cans and coupons, than they will redeem people, relationships, friendships, and even marriages…It’s sad that we possess the Fruit of the Spirit, yet our Flesh has caused it to Rot.

Listen, I by no means am saying that those of you with “justifiable hurt and legitimate pain” should not be angry. Even the Scripture doesn’t say that, “GO AHEAD AND BE ANGRY. YOU DO WELL TO BE ANGRY…” (MSG) The Bible does not tell us to hide, mask, camouflage, or pretend with our feelings and emotions. We’re never asked to lie about the level of hurt we’ve experienced. However, we cannot take Part of the Scripture, we must embrace it Whole, and the rest reads, “…BUT DON’T USE YOUR ANGER AS FUEL FOR REVENGE. AND DON’T STAY ANGRY. DON’T GO TO BED ANGRY. DON’T GIVE THE DEVIL THAT KIND OF FOOTHOLD IN YOUR LIFE.” (MSG)

Get Angry, Deal With it in a Healthy Manner, Then Let It Go Before Sundown!

Listen to the Bible, “…DON’T USE YOUR ANGER AS FUEL…” And for a lot of us, that’s exactly what we’re doing, using our anger as fuel. And one of the definitions of “fuel” is “to supply or give power to.” That’s why it keeps going, that’s why that issue never stops, because you keep refueling it, day-by-day, never dealing with it, never addressing it, never resolving it, and never letting it go. Well, today, I was sent to you for the sole purpose of taking your discord out of delay mode, and shifting it to deal with it mode instead!

The word “delay” is defined as “to put off to a later time; defer; postpone; to impede the process or progress of; to put off action; to retard or hinder.” The key word however, is “impede”. It means “to delay or block the progress or action of.” But its Latin Origin “impedire” means ‘shackle the feet of’. How dangerous to have the devil’s foot free, but yours shackled! While you’re doing nothing, he’s able to move around freely all through your house, marriage, family, relationships, friendships and churches and cause havoc everywhere!

Think about it, do you really want to lose that family member; that relationship, that friendship? As much as its meant? As long as it’s been? With all the good times and memories, are you really willing to sit shackled on the sidelines while the devil steps all over everything and everyone you love? Have you forgotten their value, their worth, their importance?

Let no one tell you that anyone is beyond restoration. Not even Jesus felt that way. And He had good reason to kick quite a few folks to the curb, but He didn’t…Judas betrayed Him (but He didn’t discard him); Peter denied Him (but He didn’t discard him); Thomas doubted Him (but He didn’t discard him); and in the end, they all left but John, and still He didn’t discard them, in fact, He gave up His life still. Can you imagine hanging on a cross, dying yourself, between 2 thieves, knowing full well that they are guilty as sin, and yet one calls out to Him, and He still answers. Don’t discard your loved ones. One day they will be on the other side of dirt, and by then it will be too late to wish you would have dealt with what you delayed.

Church, we are still called to the Ministry of Reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:16-20, “Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that ANYONE UNITED WITH THE MESSIAH GET’S A FRESH START, IS CREATED NEW. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE BURGEONS! Look at it! All this comes from the God WHO SETTLED THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US AND HIM, AND THEN CALLED US TO SETTLE OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH EACH OTHER. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world A FRESH START by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to DROP THEIR DIFFERENCES and enter into God’s work of MAKING THINGS RIGHT BETWEEN THEM. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” (MSG)

All of this God did for us, so we could do the very same for others. Don’t Ruin What Simply Needs Repairing! They Can Be Redeemed, They Can Be Restored, They Can Be Renewed, and You Both Can Be Reconciled! Don’t give up and give in so quickly. Just think where we’d all be if Jesus threw in the towel every time we messed up our relationship/friendship with Him!

Today is always your best opportunity to go to that person and do whatever it takes to repair things. Apologize if you need to, confront if you need to, pray together, talk it through. You just can’t afford the hard spot in your heart that develops from anger that you stuff inside and let sit and settle. Anger never stays the same size. Bitterness never stays the same size. It always grows, just like sin! James 1:13-15, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! SIN GROWS UP TO ADULTHOOD, AND BECOMES A REAL KILLER.” (MSG) You can’t afford for the sin of bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness to grow! Neither can you allow anger, even when it’s justified, to grow! Because all you will be doing is helping the devil accomplish his goal, letting those things grow until they become a “…Real Killer” to you, your relationships, friendships, marriages, families, jobs and churches.

Remember the ‘dish-rinse’ philosophy, there’s nothing to gain in waiting! The longer you wait, the harder it gets! Today is a great day for a new start. So, call them, email them, text them, write them, visit them. Whatever it takes for however long it takes, put the work in and rebuild your relationship ruins! It can be done, it will be done. No More Delays…Today…DEAL WITH IT…before the sun goes down!

Luke 17:3-4, “Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.” (MSG)

Matthew 18:21-22, “At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.” (MSG)

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

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