“A Place Where Wounded Men Can Bleed and Heal”

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Matthew 26:38, “and He said to them, “I am so sad that I feel as if I am dying. Stay here and keep awake with Me.” (CEV)

One thing for sure, I grew up with a very “man’s man” type of father. My dad was a Louisiana born mechanic, and was always covered from head to toe in grease! It drove my mother absolutely insane! In fact, when she would do the laundry, she always made sure dad’s clothes had their very own machines, his stuff didn’t mix with anybody else’s! Dad had grease under his fingernails, on his skin, dripping from his hair, covering his face and drenched in his clothes. You would often find him with a cigarette in his mouth, one hand under the hood of a car while the other hand held an ice cold beer (no matter what the weather was). He loved to hang out with his boys, he loved westerns, boxing, football and baseball. And his absolute first love was fishing! He would have about 2-3 hours sleep (which is where I get my bad habit of not sleeping enough from), and yet he would make a cup of coffee (that was half wild irish rose – don’t ask), he would chop wood for the fireplace, start a fire, walk the dog, and sit on the front stoop, all by 4am, for no other reason than that he was wide awake! Dad had a pretty nice gun collection too, and would shoot at anything that moved in the trees! In other words, dad was indeed the epitome of a “man’s man”.

However, my dad passed away in 2008 at the tender age of 75 years old. I was 36 years old when my dad passed and yet in all those years I spent with him, I only remember seeing my dad cry once. And that was when his father (my granddad) passed away when I was 5. It is the only time I can recall seeing my dad cry. He didn’t even cry on my wedding day as they wheeled him down the aisle (his way of still being able to ‘walk’ me down the aisle.) Nope, instead dad smiled and laughed the entire day! So, even though he was a “man’s man”, looking back now, I wonder did he ever cry more than that one time? I know he battled many health issues, and loss of family, and struggles working 3 jobs to support us all. But still, I can’t seem to recall more tears than that one day. And surely with such a rough life of being born in 1933, in the South as a black man who had to drop out of school before he was 9 to pick cotton, he must have had some hurtful experiences, he must’ve been wounded enough to bleed and cry, but I wonder if he ever did.

Now, my dad isn’t the only man like that. I have a family who is largely military, and largely southern, therefore, all the men are “men’s men”! I don’t recall many of the men in my family as criers, or those who displayed their weaknesses or emotions. And I guess that’s somewhat to be expected when most men are largely reared to be brave, courageous, strong, hunters, go-getters, powerful, invincible! And those are wonderful traits, but when you’ve been counseling as long as I have, you come to find out, some of those ideal traits, are really entrapments for most men. For example, I had one couple that had been trying for 10 years to conceive and then they finally do. We get to the birth date, and mom is crying her eyes out (I’m sure from pain as well as great expectation); however, dad, was a blank face. She was angry that he didn’t gush and cry and get all soppy, and he said “I wasn’t raised that way. In my family, men don’t cry, no matter what.” She said he was like that on their wedding day and other important family events where you would expect someone to get all “blubbery” with joy! But like he said, most men, “aren’t raised that way. Men don’t cry, no matter what.

Which is what I want to address today.

Suicide. It usually stuns those close to it. In fact, Hollywood has seen several spikes in suicides in the past few years. A director that leaped from a bridge. Actors battling drugs and alcohol that had beaten the addiction. And others that were still battling until the addiction won. Families left crushed. Many people left asking that question that often defies an answer, “Why?” Well, truth is, we may never know. As for myself, I attempted suicide on 3 occasions, all between the ages of 15-25. I battled depression severely for many years. However, my parents didn’t know that until my first suicide attempt at age 15. And even to this day, when I do suicide counseling and share my own battle scars from depression and suicide, one of the questions I’m always asked is, “what made you want to end your life? What could’ve possibly been so bad?And again, to this day, I’m uncertain how to really answer that. Because the things that seemed so “tragic” then, looking back now, seem so unimportant. But when you’re in the moment, it’s amazing how big of a mountain a molehill can appear to be.

So, suicide has been running rampant, both in the world and in the church.

And then there was that prominent official in the White House some years ago who committed suicide. A national news magazine turned the spotlight on a disturbing fact about too many men. They are, (And I’ve never forgotten these words) “wounded men with no place to bleed.

I know from years of walking through crisis with many men through counseling, that men often “stuff it” rather than “share it”. They live with the lie that being strong means never showing weakness, never showing a soft or hurting heart, and always being in control.

So they bleed inside where there’s nothing to stop the bleeding or treat the wound. And what’s scary is, much like a person physically bleeding on the outside (where you can see it, and notice it, and bring it to their attention, and get them some help); however when someone is bleeding internally, you don’t see it, you don’t notice it, you can’t bring it to their attention and get them some help, until it starts to reveal itself in some form of sign from the inside…out. And most men spiritually, emotionally, socially, mentally, bleed internally. But that much pressure, continuously pressed down, builds like lava in a volcano. Or like a beach ball pushed farther and farther under the water. The farther down you push it, the higher it ultimately goes when it can’t be held down any longer. Then suddenly, often inexplicably, there’s an explosion of anger or violence or depression, or self-destruction.

BUT the strongest man who ever lived offers men a better way!

The shortest verse in the Bible – only two words, John 11:35, “Jesus wept” at a friend’s grave. The Bible says, when He saw a crowd of hurting people, “He was moved with compassion because they were…like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

I’ve come to find out that Jesus expressed quite a few emotions that men today need to learn to feel free in expressing:

“for days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they ended, HE WAS HUNGRY.” (Luke 4:2 AMP)

“But Jesus was in the stern, ASLEEP [with His head] on the [sailor’s leather] cushion…” (Mark 4:38 AMP)

“Looking at him, Jesus FELT A LOVE (HIGH REGARD, COMPASSION) FOR HIM…” (Mark 10:21 AMP)

“Now Jesus LOVED AND WAS CONCERNED about Martha and her sister and Lazarus [and considered them dear friends]” (John 11:5 AMP)

“In that very hour He was OVERJOYED AND REJOICED GREATLY…” (Luke 10:21 AMP)

“After looking around at them WITH ANGER, GRIEVED…” (Mark 3:5 AMP)

“Now when Jesus heard this, HE WAS AMAZED…” (Luke 7:9 AMP)

“…He began to be DEEPLY DISTRESSED AND TROUBLED [EXTREMELY ANGUISHED at the prospect of what was to come].” (Mark 14:33 AMP)

“As He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and WEPT OVER IT [and the spiritual ignorance of its people]” (Luke 19:41 AMP)

“and looking up to heaven, HE SIGHED DEEPLY…” (Mark 7:34 AMP)

“He GROANED AND SIGHED DEEPLY IN HIS SPIRIT…” (Mark 8:12 AMP)

“But when Jesus saw this, HE WAS INDIGNANT…” (Mark 10:14 AMP)

“Jesus STERNLY WARNED them…” (Mark 3:12 AMP)

“When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, HE WAS DEEPLY MOVED IN SPIRIT [TO THE POINT OF ANGER at the sorrow caused by death] AND WAS TROUBLED.” (John 11:33 AMP)

“But Jesus would often go to some place where HE COULD BE ALONE and pray.” (Luke 5:16 CEV)

Men of God, did you pay attention to all the varying emotions that Jesus Himself expressed? Not suppressed, not kept hidden, not masked, not covered, not lied about, not pretending, not making excuses for, but one He Unapologetically Expressed. And not in a secluded spot, but He did so in front of others! And if the Son of God can express His emotions, and we are to follow in His footsteps, for He is our example, then why would you deny yourself the relief of release? After all, Jesus Himself was: Hungry, Sleepy, Moved With Compassion, Felt Love, Was Concerned, Was Overjoyed and Rejoiced, Was Angry, Grieved, Amazed, Distressed, Troubled, Groaned and Sighed Deeply, Was Indignant, Gave Stern Warnings, Was Angry and Alone. So, why are YOU internally bleeding due to the lack of expressed emotions?

Jesus wasn’t afraid to let His friends know He was really hurting. Just before what He knew was going to be His awful torture and crucifixion, He asked His main guys to be with Him in the garden. He told them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me” (Matthew 26:38). Though He was God in the flesh – the Ultimate Man – He wasn’t afraid to say He needed people. Yet, you my brothers, are acting so fiercely brave, because you’re afraid someone will see the flaw in your character, that you aren’t always as tough as the role you play. But you need not hide anymore, pretend anymore, camouflage anymore. As Wounded As You Are, You Have a Place to Bleed, Heal, and Recover!

Your Safe Place to Bleed is With the One Who Bled For You!

Hebrews 4:15-16, “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)

You got it! Wounded soldier, you have a place to bleed! It’s in the Presence of your Savior. It’s your safe place to unload, to be naked and not ashamed, to reveal, expose, and tell all. You don’t have to hide, cover, mask, pretend, find the right words, go at a particular hour, He’s always waiting, and always available. He wants you to come to Him and find your sheltered place for rest, relief and release. Therefore, obey the Scripture, “…walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”

Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. KEEP COMPANY WITH ME and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG) Did you catch that? Jesus Himself has extended a private invitation to you, for you to go away “and keep company with Him.” So, what are you waiting for? Are you waiting like the lava in a volcano to finally explode?! Because that’s the worst thing you can do, and here’s why. Have you ever paid attention to when a volcano erupts? The lava is no respect of person! Whoever comes into contact with it, perishes! And if you continue to suppress your emotions, you will erupt and your anger will come in contact with all those attached to you and burn up your friendships, covenants, relationships, family ties, businesses, churches, ministries, neighbors…everyone that comes in contact with you will burn to ashes! But why let that be your outcome, when you have access to a safe place to release?

Men of God, you are not so “manly” that you don’t have moments when you need to cry, to vent, to tell it, to share it, to ask for help, for advice, for direction, for wisdom, and yes even for a shoulder to cry and lean on. Unexpressed emotions are dangerous for you and everyone attached to you! Let today be the day you find relief and release by resting in the safe place of the presence of the Lord. He’s waiting to hear about the marriage that’s on life-support, about the children who have gone astray, about the finances that are drying up, about your private hurts, disappointments, and discouragements. He’s waiting to hear you tell Him what the doctor told you. He wants to hear what the lawyer said. He wants to share in your anguish over the loss of a job. He wants to hear about the dreams that have become nightmares. He wants to hear about your fears, your distrust, your doubts, unbelief and lack of faith. He wants to hear about the bills, the bankruptcy, and the burst plumbing line. He wants to hear what makes you feel insignificant, less than, and not enough. He wants you to hand over to Him your low self-esteem and damaged self-respect. He wants you to share with Him your weaknesses so He can share with you His strengths. Talk to Him, Tell Him, He Wants to Hear Your Voice, Even if it’s Shaky, Trembling and Filled With Fear!

Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘CALL TO ME AND I WILL ANSWER YOU. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ (MSG)

Men of God, why are you struggling alone when God Himself wants to keep company with you? He’s asking you to call HIM, not Tony, Eric, Robert, Shawn, Darryl, Kevin….No, this time, Call Jesus! Does that mean you should never reach out to your boys? Absolutely not! Even Jesus reached out to His boys and told them He was sad and in anguish and needed them to stay awake with Him. So, if Jesus reached out to His boys, you are more than encouraged to reach out to yours. However, don’t make the mistake many women make, and that is to reach out to our Sisters BEFORE reaching out to our Savior. God alone, is the place where you are guaranteed to renew and regain strength after releasing to Him your weakness.

Do not suffer in silence and die. You are needed more than you’ll ever know. You’re needed in your family, among your friends and coworkers, you’re needed in the church, in the community and in the Kingdom. We need your gifts, your anointing, your skills, your talent. We need your presence. Which is why we need you to take your broken pieces to Jesus so that you can be made whole, because there is a host of other men, wounded with nowhere to bleed, that are waiting for someone just like you to help them put their fragmented emotions back together again. We need you to overcome, because we need your testimony. You are the product of what God’s power can do when you plug in to His source.

So, no more waiting for everyone to go to sleep so you can slip out unawares to breath and sigh in the car or in the backyard. No more tears trickling down in the shower where no one can hear or see. No more ‘I’m fine; I’m okay; Everything’s good.’ No More Internal Bleeding! God has already showed you in His Word that He’s there to help, but you do know that you also have a huge family of brothers and sisters in Christ that are here for you too? Galatians 6:1-2, “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (MSG) We’re here to help too! Whether its sin, hurt, pain, failure, disappointment, frustration, confusion, struggles, we’re here to help! Whether it was your fault or no fault of your own, we’re here to help too! Brothers you are never alone! So stop isolating yourself and reconnect with your family! We may not all be doctors, nurses, surgeons, therapists and the like, but as believers we do specialize in love! And if love is all we have to use as a bandage, you are still on your way to healing!

1 Peter 4:7-11, “Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” (MSG)

Brothers, You Have a Safe Place to Take Your Wounds to so They Can Bleed, Heal and Recover. His Name is Jesus, and He Has a Secured, Reserved Spot Just For You. Make Today the Day You Hide Under His Wings For Help!

Psalm 91, “You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— UNDER THEM YOU’RE PERFECTLY SAFE; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path. “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” (MSG)

See, men, you have the love and help of your brothers and sisters, but more importantly you have Jesus, where no matter how badly life has hurt you, He is your safe place, where you are “…PERFECTLY SAFE…”

Brothers, we need you alive and well! So no more silent internal bleeding. No matter what the feelings or emotions, no matter what the situation or circumstance, share it. You can still be a ‘man’s man’ and cry! Let no one else tell you differently. And please remember this, your wife and sisters and daughters are watching how you deal with your emotions. When you bottle them up, you teach them this is the way a man should handle his emotions. Your sons and brothers are watching how you deal with your emotions. When you hide them, cover them, mask them, pretend about them, you are showing them the example you want them to follow in how they deal with their emotions. And if you want everyone to be healthy, YOU first have to show them what healthy emotions look like. Jesus Did, and so can you. You are the head of our families, communities and churches, and the head tells the body how to function. Make sure as the head, you’re getting help, you’re healing, you’re becoming whole, so we can follow your lead and function in the same matter! Lead us well, by leading yourself first to the secret place of the Presence of God where you may be wounded, you may bleed, but you will recover!

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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“When God Speaks to Men”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Speak Lord. Your servant is LISTENING.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes: What is the Difference?”

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“How to Establish Quiet Time With God?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a simple formula for developing a habit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you engage in this kind of prayer, You Don’t Give Up!

Every time I enter a new struggle and it gets long and hard, to the point it wearies me, I read Luke 18:1-5. Also [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up). He said, In a certain city there was a judge who neither reverenced and feared God nor respected or considered man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary. And for a time he would not; but later he said to himself, Though I have neither reverence or fear for God nor respect or consideration for man, YET BECAUSE THIS WIDOW CONTINUES TO BOTHER ME, I WILL DEFEND AND PROTECT AND AVENGE HER, LEST SHE GIVE ME INTOLERABLE ANNOYANCE AND WEAR ME OUT BY HER CONTINUAL COMING…” (AMP).

My prayer for you today, is that God will mold you into Disciples of Earnest Prayer. I pray that you will develop the characteristic of persistence and tenacity. And regardless to the situation or circumstance, you will not give up, give in or give out!

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

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

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

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

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“Embracing Time Off, Time Out and Time Away”

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Job 37:14, “PAUSE a moment, Job, and listen; consider the wonderful things God does.” (GNT)

My Pastor, Bishop James R. Chambers, made this statement and for me, it stuck! Particularly because I’m not so good at giving myself, Time Off, Time Out and Time Away! Which reminds me a lot of my youngest daughter Ashley. I could tell practically from birth, that she was going to be a busy little thing! I went into labor around 2:30pm, I arrived at the hospital and walked straight into the delivery room, and there she was at 3:08pm, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and screaming to the top of her lungs. Clearly, she was going to have no issues with making her voice heard in this here world! Early on I noticed, even when she wasn’t in school yet, that she was always immersed in a project of some kind. One day she was involved first in a detailed coloring project where she was intently working to have it just right, you know. And then there was a large puzzle she was focused on completing. Then there was the keyboard, the Leggo’s, the dolls…even as a small child, she would have ninety projects going on at the same time! However, what she hadn’t taken time out for, was a bathroom break! So, this one particular day she was playing with her little hand-held video game, but she was twitching something awful! Silly me asked, “don’t you think it’s time for a bathroom break? Maybe it’s time to hit ‘PAUSE’ just for a minute?” Without looking up from her current project, she simply said and with all sincerity, “I don’t have time for a ‘pause mommy, I’m too busy.’”

Believe it or not, but many of us have a father, actually a Heavenly Father, who’s saying to us, “don’t you think it’s time for a break? Maybe it’s time to hit ‘PAUSE’ just for a minute?’” But like my busy-body daughter, we’re moving too fast to slow down. We’re focused on the demands and the projects in front of us and we’re saying in essence, “yes, I know something is wrong, I know I need to take a break, I know this will cost me something if I don’t, but right now, I don’t have time to take a ‘PAUSE.’”

Can I tell you, that train of thought didn’t end very well for my daughter, and will not end very well for you either! I’m pretty sure I don’t need to fill you in on the not so pretty details of the daughter who was too preoccupied to take a PAUSE!

Well, in Psalm 46:10, the Bible says this, “Be still, and know that I am God…” (ESV). Another translation says it like this, “That’s enough! Now know that I am God!” (CEB). And that’s exactly what you are being encouraged to do today! That’s enough! Be still and know that He is God! In other words, hit PAUSE and remember WHO’S really in charge here, WHOSE battle this really is, and WHOSE plans you’re supposed to be pursuing!

Think about it: Even in the military they don’t fight non-stop, which is why you are encouraged by these words in yet another translation, “God says, “Stop fighting and know that I am God!” (ERV). No soldier is always in fatigues, no soldier walks around for the rest of his life carrying artillery just waiting for the next battle/war! God may be trying to get you to slow down or to stop right now so He can show you some things that you are never going to see if you’re constantly on the run from one project to the next, one fight to the next, one battle to the next! Jeremiah 33:2-3, “…Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (MSG) But how can God show you anything, when your focus is always on everything else?!

It could be that you’ve been running ahead of the Lord’s timing, or you’ve been pursuing what you want instead of what He wants. Which is why Isaiah quotes the Lord as saying, “This is the Lord’s message for His rebellious people: ‘You follow your own plans instead of Mine…” (Isaiah 30:1 CEV). Those are sobering words. Because often we can’t see that we’re trying so desperately to make something work that wasn’t God’s idea or plan in the first place for us! Remember, He clearly stated, “…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG) God already has a plan for your life and therefore He’s in no need of your faulty back-up plan! Yet, like a stubborn oxen, we plow ahead making paths that lead us further and further away from the destiny He’s already pre-designed for us.

And because our Father loves us so much, He has to pull us over to the side of the road for us to realize that we’re on the wrong road! Proverbs 14:12, “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again – it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.” (MSG); Proverbs 16:25, “Before every man there lies a wide and pleasant road he thinks is right, but it ends in death.” (TLB). I know you think you have this life of yours all figured out, but can I inform you of a real truth? No You Don’t! It’s God’s plan, in God’s timing, in God’s way. Anything else, is like driving to your destination with an outdated map, you will never reach your intended destination because only God knows all the changes that have been made over the years, for your safety!

Maybe you’ve been neglecting the regular timeout that God calls a “Sabbath“; you’re all accelerator and no brakes, you’re violating God’s created order of taking regular rest! You’re daily bypassing all the signs that are God’s messages to you for your safety: ‘Stop, Do Not Enter, Yield, Dead End, One-Way, Wrong Way, U-Turn, Speed Limit, Caution, Bump, Bend, No Passing Zone, Bridge, Slippery Road, Falling Rocks, Road Work Ahead, Detour, Under Construction, Don’t Walk, Slow Down, Hazard, and even Hospital, just in case you decide to ignore all the other signs!”

Even Jesus made time to eat, sleep and weep, so why are you speeding through life as though you are super-human and do not require necessary human breaks! Even Jesus exhibited balance, are we to do any less? “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.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG)

His help is available, however, you have to ask for it! Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? COME TO ME. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

That’s Jesus Talking to You! “…COME TO ME…” He’s Inviting You to a Better Way of Life…So, Why Haven’t You Accepted His Invitation Yet?!

Imagine having a dire emergency. You call 911, they answer and you simply hold the phone and say nothing…exactly how are you supposed to get help? How do they know what you need? How can they guess what’s wrong? You have to talk to them, you have to share information with them. And God is waiting for you to “CALL TO ME…” as He said in Jeremiah, or “COME TO ME…” as He says in Matthew. Yet, you haven’t opened your mouth or moved your feet! Exactly what are you waiting for? Your help is within reach, but you have to take time away from everything else that’s pulling on you and reach for it!

James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…” (ESV). The term “draw near” is defined as, “to move towards; to approach; contact; meet; or progress” Which means the ball is in your court! You have to move towards, approach, contact, meet and progress towards God FIRST…THEN…His response to your request is to do the same to you! But you have the responsibility, opportunity and privilege of drawing near to Him FIRST! So why are you still drawing near to everything and everyone else…But God?! The Message Bible reads it like this: “So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and He’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” (James 4:7-10 MSG)

It’s possible that God’s been trying to say some very important things to you, things that would bring sense to your swirling world, but you can’t hear Him because you’re running so fast, in so many directions, with so many people, to so many places, to do far too much! Whatever the reason for your non-stop pace, I know there has to be someone listening right now to whom God is saying, “It’s time to take a break…it’s time to hit ‘pause.’ It’s time for Time Off, Time Out and Time Away!” Don’t ignore His call to “be still and know that He is God.”

Because truth is, if we don’t choose to slow down, He will as the 23rd Psalm says, “…MAKE us lie down in green pastures…” (NIV) Another translation says, “You have BEDDED me down in lush meadows…” (MSG). One of the definitions of “Bedded” is defined as “to lay flatAnd that’s exactly what God will do, lay you out flat on your back if you’re not careful to get proper rest of your own accord! Now, I know we’ve all read Psalm 23 and we’ve been tremendously encouraged over the years. But by no means ignore what the Scripture says, “He MAKES me lie down…” And that word “make” has many definitions, but the one to highlight is, “to force”. And truth is, many times the only way I took my Time Off, Time Out and Time Away was by force! It wasn’t until I was in the hospital that I received the much needed rest I should’ve been getting all along. And I had to learn how to even force myself to take better care of myself! I didn’t want God to ‘MAKE me lie down flat by force’ anymore. So I had to start taking a hard look at all the things I was involved in and see where I needed to make some better arrangements and adjustments for my life.

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve always been a hard-headed kid, and I’m still a hard-headed adult, who had to learn the hard lesson that God has many creative ways to get you to slow down if you don’t choose to slow down on your own – health, finances, crises, work, family problems etc… Truthfully, all of these things have slowed us down at some point in our lives. But just as we do whatever it takes to protect our property from damage, God does the same with His property which is why the Bible says, “…didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:16-20 MSG)

Yes, ma’am, yes, sir, YOU belong to God…YOU are God’s property…YOU are God’s investment! Therefore, He’s taking good care of you, whether you like it or not! He paid a High Price for YOU, why do you think He protects you the way He does?! Listen: We have security systems protecting our homes, because we live there and want our loved ones to be safe there. Likewise, God lives in YOU, YOU are His home, His property, and He wants to keep what belongs to Him…which is YOU…safe! So, let Him!

God asks us to PAUSE, or ultimately makes us PAUSE, not to punish us, but to refit us. He’s wanting to slow you down for work that needs to be done, for refueling that you desperately need, for retooling, or for redirecting you back into the center of His will. And He’s actually wired us to do what His Son did at the beginning of His unbelievably busy days here on earth – to spend quiet time with Him. To hit ‘PAUSE’ each new day so we can hear our Master’s voice before we hear any other, appreciate our Master’s resources, experience our Master’s healing touch, and receive our Master’s orders for the day.

Which is why it’s so vital that you take, Time Off, Time Out and Time Away, which means:

1…TIME OFF – Is defined as ‘time for rest or recreation away from one’s usual work or studies.’ This is two-fold, you need to take time off to Rest and time to Recreate! I’ve always been amazed at how the body heals itself, especially through rest. Blood pressure regulates, your heartbeat calms, your breathing is stable, you’re less stressed. Your bones aren’t aching, popping, snapping and locking, because they are receiving the reprieve they so desperately need, especially from us women who like to wear high heels day in and day out. Your rest includes, ignoring your phone, text, emails, social media, and the like. It’s reconnecting with peace, serenity, tranquility. It’s watching your favorite shows, listening to your favorite music, sitting in your favorite chair. It’s avoiding at all cost what’s going on at work, at church, at school, or anywhere else. It’s sitting still, going to bed early, not to mention getting more than 3 hours of sleep! But it’s also about recreation! And no this is not a sin! So, once this social distancing (coronavirus/Covid-19) is over, go to the movies, go to the mall, take a dancing class, a pottery class, a painting class. Go to the museum, visit a garden, take up a fun sport. Change your hair color, change your wardrobe. Enjoy your life! Recreation allows you to Re-Create! You see, when your mind gets the break it’s over-due for, fresh juices get to flowing and ideas, passions, dreams and visions that you would have never imagined begin to formulate. Don’t take this time for granted! Rest and Recreate! 1 Kings 19:3-9, “When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all – to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life – I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush. Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to the sleep. The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more – you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.” He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb…” (MSG) – There are times when you simply need to take a break, press pause, rest, relax, recreate, and recover! Elijah went for forty days and nights…AFTER…he ate and went to sleep…not once but twice! Try It…You Just May Like It…and Need It! And by all means, NEVER make any excuses or apologies for you it!

2…TIME OUT – This is often viewed in a negative way as how some children are disciplined. Well, as children of God, this is a great way to help ourselves! Time out is supposed to give children time to reflect on what they did wrong and to understand the need for discipline for it. Like it or not, some stuff in our lives that should not be will remain if we leave it unchecked. Therefore, do yourself a favor and take some time to give yourself a Time Out! Ask God to show you the areas, activities and addictions that may need addressing. Take this time to acknowledge any wrongs and to atone and make amends where needed. Take this time to self-exam your behavior, attitude, actions, thoughts, imagination, sins. Take this time to ask the Holy Spirit to shine a search-light on your soul and expose to you any areas of darkness that need to be discovered and delivered and brought to light. Have you been filled more with the works of your flesh or the fruit of His Spirit? What has been your true motives and intentions? Why did you say that? Do that? Go there? What have you picked back up that was laid down at the altar? What people, places and things do you need to cut out of your life? Who have you been talking to? Talking about? Who have you been texting? What have you been texting? Was that picture appropriate? Are your clothes appropriate? Have you been gossiping, fault-finding, been pessimistic, negative, critical, malicious, jealous, envious, coveting, prideful, arrogant, selfish, conceited, lustful, angry, bitter, resentful, unforgiving, or unloving? What do you need Time Out to reflect on in your life that needs changing? Psalm 32:3-5, “When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone – my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.” (MSG) – Apart of rest and recovery is acknowledgement of wrong. If you want peace, rid yourself of the things that prick your conscious because you know it’s wrong. Rid yourself of those things that give you nightmares; that have you trying to come up with lie number 14 to cover lie number 8 that was to fix lie number 3! Rid yourself of those things that you enjoy in private but would be embarrassed to have exposed in public. Apart of becoming a better you, is addressing the worst parts of you…and doing that honestly. Therefore, put yourself in Time Out…before Your Father does.

3…TIME AWAY – I’m definitely one of those people who are guilty of taking Time Off, but not necessarily Time Away! I can take 3 days in a row off from work, however, I’m still checking and responding to emails, voicemails, signing papers, proofing papers etc…so even though I’m not in the office, I’m not technically out of it either! Which means there’s not a real disconnect! The word “disconnect” is defined as “to break the connection of or between”. In other words, there needs to be a clear break in connection where nothing and no one can get through! Now, for some, this is hard to do, but for most, it can be done, we simply don’t do it! The same can also be said for social media. We’ll go away on vacation with loved ones, but every 5 minutes we’re posting about enjoying the vacation we’re not enjoying because we’re too busying posting about enjoying it! When you take Time Away, learn to disconnect altogether! If you’re at the movies, out to dinner, or on vacation, be there and don’t take social media with you! The word ‘away’ is defined as ‘at a distance from a particular, place, person or thing.’ And that’s what you need to do, create distance when you disconnect! One of my bad habits is bringing my cellphone to the dinner table! I’ve since learned how disrespectful, inappropriate and distracting such a bad habit can be. Since then, I’ve learned to plug up my phone away from me and turn off the ringer, and even turn it face down so I won’t even notice the little blue light or the screen displaying a phone call, attempting to catch my attention. I’ve learned to engage in meaningful conversation at the dinner table. It took me a little while, but I’m learning and I hope you’ll learn likewise. Luke 5:16 reads, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (NIV). Two words to take note of are: “OFTEN” defined as “frequently; in many instances; repetitively; commonly; normally; and usually”. And secondly the word, WITHDRAW” defined as “to remove or take away; discontinue or retract; to leave or cause to leave a place; to cease to participate in an activity or be a member of a team or organization; depart to another place in search of quiet or privacy.In a nutshell: Even JESUS, OFTEN, frequently, in many instances, repetitively, commonly, normally and usually…WITHDREW…removed Himself away, discontinued contact, left places, ceased participating in activities, and departed for quiet and privacy! So who are you to do any less?!

Don’t allow situations, circumstances, or people (including you) to make you think everything is an emergency and you are the only emergency personnel at work! You need a break too, so learn how to take it! Your very life, health and well-being may depend on it!

PREPARE YOURSELF TODAY TO EMBRACE TAKING SOME TIME OFF, TIME OUT AND TIME AWAY! You Need It and You’re Worth It!

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: “18 Places Where You Can Still Buy Face Masks”

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“Let OUT What’s Locked IN!”

digital visualization of a chain

Ephesians 1:11 “IT’S IN CHRIST THAT WE FIND OUT WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE ARE LIVING FOR. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.” (MSG)

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

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

People of God, whether you know it or not, you were made BY God and FOR God. And until you understand that, your life won’t ever make sense. Because it’s “IN CHRIST” that we DISCOVER our purpose, our significance and our destiny. In other words, “IN CHRIST” we DISCOVER what’s ‘IN US’! Which means, you will never discover what’s in you while comparing yourself with others, competing with others or imitating others. You discover what’s in you through your relationship with Jesus Christ. If you never have one or develop and strengthen one with Him, you will forever wander aimlessly, never reaching your goal or fulfilling your calling. Truth is, potential is not enough, if it merely remains potential. Eventually you have to put in the work to develop your potential into purpose! For example, to know you’re called to ministry, but never entering ministry serves no purpose. Called to be an author and yet never publishing anything serves no purpose. Your potential has to produce purpose. Which it will never do if you don’t develop your relationship with Jesus so you can discover what He’s put in you! Having potential that never produces anything is the same as having a to-do-list where nothing gets done…it’s pointless! You can’t hope forever, wish forever, day-dream forever.  You have to discover what’s in you, so you can bring it out!

The word ‘potential’ is defined as, ‘having the capacity to develop into something in the future; qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.’ Its Latin origin ‘potentialis’, from ‘potentia’ literally means ‘power.’ A few definitions of the word ‘power’ are, ‘the ability to do something; the capacity to influence; a right or authority given or delegated to a person or body.’ Its Old French origin, ‘poeir’, from Latin ‘posse’ literally means ‘to be able.’ Which means: your POTENTIAL (your capacity, qualities and abilities to develop into something in the future and lead to success or usefulness) has POWER (the ability to do something; the capacity to influence, which is your right and authority delegated to you by your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ), proves you ARE WELL ABLE to discover what’s in you and bring it out!

Now, ‘potential’ is for the future because it’s something you develop over time. And ‘develop’ means ‘something that becomes clearer, larger and more advanced over time.’ Its origin literally means ‘to gradually unfold’. And ‘unfold’ means ‘to reveal.’ So, you are not going to become all that God has designed you to be overnight! Your potential takes time to develop. But it does eventually develop! Over time it should become clearer, larger and more advanced. It should gradually unfold and be revealed to you! Potential was never designed to remain potential! After all, you can’t have something that has power and it not perform and produce! That would be a waste of potential, power, productivity and purpose! And there’s absolutely no way Jesus went through all He did for you, for you to live in such a way that reflects no potential, power, productivity or purpose!

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

Think about it, you have IN you…GOD! How much more inspiration do you need to birth what you’ve been pregnant with? God Himself is in you as a midwife trying to get you to push, so why are you pulling back instead?! He paid a great price for you and what He’s placed in you, do you really think He’s going to allow all of that value and worth to turn to naught?! “…use every part of your body to give glory back to God because He owns it.”

The Bible further states: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV) Did you know you have TREASURE WITHIN YOU? God put it there. It’s in your unique qualities, talents, skill-set, anointing, gifts, abilities plus the fire in your soul. Now, life may have thrown cold water on that fire, BUT GOD CAN REKINDLE ANYTHING! The word ‘rekindle’ is defined as, ‘to relight (a fire); to revive (something lapsed or lost)’. This is your season to relight your fire and revive what you’ve allowed to lapse and be lost! Therefore, it’s time you do as Paul admonished: “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” (2 Timothy 1:6 NLT). I don’t care how long it’s been since your gift has been on fire, but now is the time to fan it into flames again! I know depression, discouragement, and the like may have doused your fire, but the Holy Ghost can rekindle it! However, you have a part to play as well, you have to “fan into flames” which is a present tense verb that requires action. Meaning you can’t sit on the sidelines doing absolutely nothing thinking you’re coming home with the MVP! You want it, you have to work at it and for it! No more excuses or complaints and certainly no more blaming others, no more laziness, complacency, comfort zones or procrastination. Today, take charge and take courage and fan your gifts back into a flaming fire! Everything God placed in you has value, it all has treasure even in your little old jar of clay! So don’t depreciate its value by letting it rust, rot and come to ruin. Note, this treasure within you “IS FROM GOD” And what He OWNS He PROTECTS, He NURTURES, and USES to HIS GLORY! But know that God is a wise businessman; when He invests, HE EXPECTS A RETURN! So you’re not waiting for something great and grand to drop out of the sky and into your belly, it’s already there! Fan your gifts into flame and rekindle your fire for ministry so that you can turn your potential into purpose and fulfill your entrusted destiny and calling! God put it there, but it is your responsibility to get it out! Find your fire, find your passion, find your empowerment, find your encouragement, find your inspiration and determine to become all that God has destined you to be and do all that the Lord has assigned your hands to do!

Think About This: It’s said that the WEALTHIEST spot on this planet is not the oilfields of Kuwait or the diamond mines of South Africa. NO, THE RICHEST DEPOSITS LIE IN YOUR LOCAL CEMETERY! BURIED BENEATH THOSE SACRED GROUNDS ARE RICH DREAMS THAT NEVER CAME TO PASS, PROSPEROUS SONGS THAT WERE NEVER SUNG, A WEALTH OF SERMONS THAT WERE NEVER PREACHED, VALUABLE LESSONS THAT WERE NEVER TAUGHT, A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS THAT NEVER BEGAN, #1 BEST SELLER BOOKS THAT WERE NEVER WRITTEN, BREAK-THROUGH IDEAS THAT WERE NEVER SHARED, AN ABUNDANCE OF VISIONS THAT WERE NEVER SEEN, EXPENSIVE INVENTIONS THAT WERE NEVER DESIGNED, HIGH-PRICED PLANS THAT NEVER GOT BEYOND THE DRAWING BOARD OF THE MIND, and PRICELESS PURPOSES THAT WERE NEVER FULFILLED!

SADLY, ONLY A TINY PERCENTAGE OF THOSE WHO LIVE ON THIS PLANET WILL DISCOVER AND FULFILL THEIR TRUE PURPOSE AND POTENTIAL! Do you want to be one of them? Then ask yourself: “Who am I? Why did God put me here? How much potential do I have? How can I maximize my ability for His Glory?” WITHIN THE ANSWERS OF THESE QUESTIONS LIE THE KEYS TO UNLOCK A FULFILLING LIFE!

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

And if you haven’t found your life’s purpose yet, TALK TO GOD! “EVERYTHING…FINDS ITS PURPOSE IN HIM” (Colossians 1:16 MSG). Literally Everything! Whatever the purpose, it’s found in Him so it’s fulfilled through Him!

Listen: Before you spoke your first word or took your first step, GOD HAD A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE! “BEFORE I FORMED YOU IN THE WOMB I KNEW YOU [AND APPROVED OF YOU AS MY CHOSEN INSTRUMENT], AND BEFORE YOU WERE BORN I CONSECRATED YOU [TO MYSELF AS MY OWN]; I HAVE APPOINTED YOU AS A PROPHET TO THE NATIONS.” (Jeremiah 1:5 AMP); “FOR I KNOW THE PLANS AND THOUGHTS THAT I HAVE FOR YOU’, SAYS THE LORD, ‘PLANS FOR PEACE AND WELL-BEING AND NOT FOR DISASTER, TO GIVE YOU A FUTURE AND A HOPE.” (Jeremiah 29:11 AMP)

God Has Both a Plan and Purpose For Your Life, Talk to Him So You Can Find Out What They Are, So You Can Fulfill Them! You Do Not Get to Delegate Your Destiny! No One But YOU Can Accomplish Your Assignment, So Get to Work!

You say, “But I have failed so badly.” Maybe that’s true, BUT YOU’D BE AMAZED AT WHAT GOD CAN DO WITH A BROKEN LIFE—WHEN YOU GIVE HIM ALL THE PIECES! As poorly put together as you think you are, your Purpose is found in God, and He will not allow you to lose it! Your mistakes, missteps, errors, and even deliberate sins, transgressions and iniquities still cannot stop God from producing what He’s placed in you! Repent, Turn, Change, Be Restored so You Can Finally Become! Let no one make you think it’s harder than that! I mean have you read through the Bible? If God can use all of those, His misfit children, HE CAN CERTAINLY USE YOU!

Let’s be honest, you’ve been comfortable in your complacency long enough! And when you get too comfortable, God has a way of stirring things up! Just like a mother eagle who teaches her little ones to fly by MAKING THEIR NEST SO UNCOMFORTABLE THAT THEY’RE FORCED OUT OF IT! Next, THEY ARE PUSHED OFF A CLIFF EDGE! SO ONE WAY OR ANOTHER THEY MUST SOAR, BECAUSE IT’S WHAT’S “IN THEM” AND LIKEWISE YOU ARE THE VERY SAME! “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” (Isaiah 40:31 AMP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “High-Antioxidant Foods to Try”

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“Daniel’s Praise Elevator!”

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Daniel 2:19, “…and then Daniel praised the God of heaven…” (TLB)

Now, if you were to ask my husband or children they would be the first to say I am the biggest kid in the entire house! And truth be told, I unapologetically admit, they’re absolutely right! And one of the things that bring out the kid in me most is riding those glass elevators that are found in some hotels. Now, as a person who is claustrophobic, it sounds crazy that I would love being in this little box. But for some reason, when it’s a glass elevator, I don’t feel quite so restricted or confined because I can see beyond where I am currently. You know how it goes, you get in on the main floor and then you ascend to the top floor, all the time you’re watching the big things in the lobby become the small things in the lobby. And the limited view you had down there, suddenly turns into a panoramic view up here. I mean we’re talking about going from the lobby to the observation deck in a matter of seconds; rising scores of floors in less time than it takes to place some phone calls! For instance at 9:32, you’re down in the lobby or even the basement, but by 9:33, you’re looking out over the entire city – and all because of an elevator! You see, elevators have a funny way of changing your perspective (which is the particular way you view something, the height, width, depth, length and distance of it), your prospective (which is what is expected or likely to happen or be in the future) and even your posture (which is the particular way a body is positioned, the way in which a person holds their body, to look down, to look up and most importantly to look out, over and beyond)! Elevators Change Your Perspective, Your Prospective and Your Posture.

And not that we don’t know it, but the word “elevator” is defined as “a platform or compartment housed in a shaft for raising and lowering people or things.” And in Daniel’s case, his praise elevator raised him up!

But before we get to Daniel, let’s face it, we all have some days when we feel like we’re stuck in the basement, right? The view isn’t very inspiring and neither is the situation we’re in. It’s dark, it’s lonely, it’s gloomy, it’s hard, it’s depressing. We’re low in funds, low in joy, low in peace, low in confidence, low in health, low in marriage, low in singlehood, low in dealing with the battles of raising children, low in dealing with coworkers and even low while sitting in the pew next to our brothers and sisters in Christ, Sunday after Sunday! There are simply some moments in life when we’re held in bondage in the basement, instead of breaking through the ceiling!

Well, the good news is that there is no basement so deep or so gloomy that you have to stay there, because there’s an elevator just waiting to take you up and out!

In essence, it’s the spiritual elevator many of God’s leaders in the Bible knew about – like Daniel, for example. He’s a top advisor to the most powerful man in the world, King Nebuchadnezzar. All of the king’s pagan advisors have been unable to meet his demand, and they tell him they don’t know what his disturbing dream meant. Of course, he’d also asked them to tell him what the dream was. But nobody could do that either. So he sentences them to death – a sentence that applies even to Daniel, even though he wasn’t there! So Daniel is literally staring at being executed for no reason at all! Talk about a dark basement!

However, he doesn’t become weary, he doesn’t panic, he doesn’t freak-out, he doesn’t start crying. So what does he do? Well, as any wise man (or woman) would, he recruits his spiritual brothers!

Daniel 2:16-17, “So Daniel went in to see the king. “Give me a little time,” he said, “and I will tell you the dream and what it means.” Then he went home and told Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions” (TLB).

First things first, he lets the king know, oh it won’t end like this, at least not for me! And sometimes you need to speak to the very person, place or thing that is attempting to snuff out your life, that it won’t go down like that, not today, and not for me! I know what I’m facing is tough, but I refuse to just lay down and die! Just give me a little time, I’m about to put a strategy in place that can’t fail! This is designed to take me down, but I’m coming up and out!

Listen: Don’t you dare just accept situations or attacks for their face value. Hit it head on! Don’t cower, don’t run, don’t give up, don’t get depressed…Strategize! That’s what Daniel did! It was time for a step of faith, not a stumble in fear! 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].” (AMP). I reiterate, this is a time to take a step of faith, not a stumble in fear!

Daniel responds, ‘Just give me a little time…’ And what does Daniel do in that little time? He gets Reinforcements! However, it’s important to note, that he only called three of them. Sounds a lot like Jesus with His inner circle of Peter, James and John. Which means we really need to be careful when going into spiritual battle (even battles we face in the natural) in making sure that we call for the right troops. We need to make sure that when we call in reinforcements, we call the right people! Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.” (AMP). Know that everybody who says they’re praying for you, are not! Not everyone asking about your situation cares that you get out of it, some just want to make sure you’re still in it! That’s why discernment and wisdom are necessities, not options when you’re gathering troops to go into battle!

Listen: You only need to take those IN, who can help bring you OUT! But how do you know you’ve selected the right people? Let’s continue reading: “They asked the God of heaven to show them His mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not die with the others. And that night in a vision God told Daniel what the king had dreamed.” (vss. 18-19)

Daniel didn’t just call any group of men, he called the ones he knew would immediately intercede! The Bible says, “They asked the God of heaven…” Are those the first people you call? If it’s not, you need to change your strategy if you plan to win! Notice, they don’t hold a long conversation with Daniel, they don’t offer him options or their opinions. They don’t find some other brothers to talk about the mess involving Daniel and the king. No, they go straight into intercession, talking to no one but God! They don’t ask Daniel how he feels about it, they don’t question him at all. He called for them, they came to him, then they went to God! If you don’t have reinforcements like this, find them, today!

Something else to note, the 3 men asked God to show “THEM” His mercy by telling “THEM” the secret. But the answer to what they asked goes like this: “…And that night in a vision GOD TOLD DANIEL what the king had dreamed…” They asked for God to show “THEM” but God told “DANIEL”. Note: You need intercessors that can intercede without jealousy or competition! They could have responded, “God WE came to you in intercession so you would reveal it to US”…but they were just fine with Daniel receiving the answer…ALONE. Some people pose as your teammates, when they’re really your opponents! Choose these people wisely!

People of God, surround yourself with people who will not be so busy competing with you that they can’t help you win. It didn’t matter if it was revealed to Daniel alone, as long as the revelation came, the inner circle was fine! And when it did, listen to Daniel’s response: “…Then Daniel praised the God of heaven…”

Before Daniel even goes to the king, remember, his life as well as the lives of others were already at stake, so if you think anything like me, you may respond with, “Daniel, now may not be the most opportune time to go into a praise break…maybe you should talk to the king first” But, in Daniel’s case, that’s exactly what he did first, he talked to the KING!

See, the problem with us is that we let fear supersede our faith! But even in the midst of having his life at risk, Daniel stops to praise God first! He has a problem, God provides the solution, but before Daniel applies the solution, he praises God first! If that’s not how you’ve handled it in the past, handle it like that in the present and in the future!

Truth is, we have to reach a place of trust, reliance, dependence, and faith in God where our circumstances don’t alter our praise! We need to allow our praise to be the evidence that we trust God’s outcome, before we even come out! We need our situations, trials and struggles to see that we walk by faith, even when that walk takes us through the valley’s of the shadows of death! And so Daniel is our example of celebrating God for Victory before the Battle is even over!

‘Don’t Wait Till the Battle is Over, Shout Now!’

Listen to the rest of the text: “…saying, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for He alone has all wisdom and all power. World events are under His control. He removes kings and sets others on their thrones. He gives wise men their wisdom and scholars their intelligence. He reveals profound mysteries beyond man’s understanding. He knows all hidden things, for He is light, and darkness is no obstacle to Him. I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers, for You have given me wisdom and glowing health, and now even this vision of the king’s dream and the understanding of what it means.” (TLB)

Daniel steps into the spiritual elevator that takes him from the basement of his circumstances to the penthouse of his awesome God! That elevator is called “Praise!” Now, you would think that finally receiving a solution to his problem would make him run to the king, but he had to praise his King first! And people of God, so do you!

In Daniel 2, beginning with verse 19, the Bible declares, “Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes the times and seasons and sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise…He reveals deep and hidden things…and light dwells with Him…”

See, Daniel rises from the basement of a dangerous and impossible situation to the penthouse view from the Throne Room of the Most High God! And everything looks different from there! Please know that as you rise higher on an elevator, what seemed so close and so big and so overwhelming (when you were on the same level as it), starts to shrink in size the higher you go up! The higher you go up, the smaller it gets, the higher you go up the further away from you it gets! Which is why it’s so vital that you learn how to rise from low places! Yes, it hurts, yes it’s confusing, yes it’s aggravating and frustrating, yes it’s caused you some night’s sleep, yes you’ve even worried, fretted and had panic attacks because of it, but that’s only because you stayed on the same level as it for far too long! When life’s attacks come at you and attempt to snuff out your life, start elevating! You don’t stay on the same level as your issues. Leave them right where they are and you shift your perspective, prospective and posture! Walk by faith and not by sight; began singing, dancing, clapping, praising and worshiping God! Sink into the depths of His Word where you will be reminded of His power, providence, sovereignty, provision, promises and protection! Began to speak His Words of Life, no matter the danger of death that is near! Walk like you know He is still the lifter up of your head and that He’s placed your feet like hinds’ feet on high places! Straighten your back and square off your shoulders. Put on the whole armor of God and get ready to do battle and win! Even when your situation and circumstances don’t change, you have to! You never stay on levels beneath the privilege of a Child of God!

Now, one of the secrets of peace in the midst of great stress, of poise when everything is up for grabs, of perspective when you could be flippin’ out – the secret is to start celebrating the kind of God you have! Remember, you enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, not just with prayer requests. The great prayers of the Bible are like two-thirds about the greatness of God and maybe one-third about the need. When you start telling God the things about Him that you love, the things He’s done that you’re grateful for, that anxiety in your heart starts to ebb and the peace in your heart starts to grow. You realize that the size of the situation and the size of the need don’t change the size of your God at all! The size of your situation will never change the dimensions of your God! What may be too big for you, will never be too big for Him! With Him all things are possible, and they are likewise possible for you too because He’s already told you that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! So stop listening to the words of your adversary, and start listening to the words of your Advocate! He’s fighting with you and for you, you will not lose! He ALWAYS Causes Us to Triumph!

In the midst of danger, Daniel still paused to take a praise and thank break! And so should you! Daniel could have complained, started to stress out, flip out and worry. Or do like many of us do, and try to design back-up plans just in case God doesn’t show up on our timetable! But no! His very life is in danger, and yet he doesn’t panic, he simply presses pause so he can give God praise!

And how does such a response end for Daniel? Listen to what happens after Daniel praises God, then shares the dream and revelation with the king:

Daniel 2:46-49, “When Daniel finished, King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face in awe before Daniel. He ordered the offering of sacrifices and burning of incense in Daniel’s honor. He said to Daniel, “Your God is beyond question the God of all gods, the Master of all kings. And he solves all mysteries, I know, because you’ve solved this mystery.” Then the king promoted Daniel to a high position in the kingdom, lavished him with gifts, and made him governor over the entire province of Babylon and the chief in charge of all the Babylonian wise men. At Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to administrative posts throughout Babylon, while Daniel governed from the royal headquarters.” (MSG)

How’s that for taking a praise elevator from the basement to the penthouse?! Everyone in your situation, everything in your situation looks different from God’s penthouse perspective. You’ll see the people differently. You’ll see possibilities you haven’t seen before. You’ll have ideas you haven’t had before. You’ll have the peace that you couldn’t have otherwise.

That is the power of praise – the elevator that takes you from the “basement” of earth-stuff to the “penthouse” of your awesome God! Daniel and his reinforcements, go from having their lives in danger to governing and administrating in the royal headquarters!

Brothers and Sisters, in spite of what you face as a struggle, it’s important that you learn how to put your praise in place so your problem doesn’t knock you out of position, but promotes you in it!

Another added bonus, when you praise God in the midst of your problems, even what came up against you, will eventually bow before you! The Bible says, “When Daniel finished, King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face in awe before Daniel. He ordered the offering of sacrifices and burning of incense in Daniel’s honor. He said to Daniel, “Your God is beyond question the God of all gods, the Master of all kings…”

Listen: What hurt you will end up honoring you! And what had your back up against the wall, will bow down before you!

Which means, going forward, when you face an uphill battle, fight like Daniel! Seek out the right men (and women) (those with a prayer life that know how to use their mouth to intercede to God as opposed to gossiping to other people); and when God reveals the solution to the problem, don’t panic and run to the problem as if you don’t get to it quick enough, God’s plan will fail. No, when you have enough sense to go to God in the first place, you don’t have to fear anything afterwards. Which is why you can then walk by faith, walk in favor, and walk away from fear! And then watch God do for you as he did for Daniel and even as He did for Joseph (God Will Use the Very Same Plans That Were Meant to Hurt You, to Help You Instead! What Was Meant For Your Evil, Will Be For Your Good!) Before you know it, your problem, turned into a praise, will turn into a position of promotion for you and those attached to you!

People of God, no matter how low life may take you, never allow it to lower your praise! It was the elevator that raised Daniel up, and it’s the same elevator that will do the same for you!

“When You Complain You Remain, When You Praise You Get Raised.” (Joyce Meyer)

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: “The Best and Worst Foods For Your Thyroid”

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“Why Help Matters?”

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Ecclesiastes 4:9, “TWO are better than one…” (NIV)

Edward Farrell said, “Listening is rare. THERE ARE CERTAIN PEOPLE to whom we feel we can talk because they have such a deep capacity for hearing, not just our words, but hearing us as a person. They enable us to communicate on a level we’ve never reached before. They enable us to be as we’ve never been before. We will never truly know ourselves unless we find people who can listen, who can enable us to emerge, to come out of ourselves, to discover who we are. We cannot discover ourselves by ourselves.”

Note the words: “THERE ARE CERTAIN PEOPLE…who enable us to be as we have never been before.”

THESE ARE THE PEOPLE YOU NEED THE MOST!                        

With that said, consider the following questions to help you discover whether you’ve found your “CERTAIN PEOPLE…” or you NEED to Find Them:

1.    WHO COACHES YOU? What older, wiser, and more experienced brother or sister stands on the sidelines of your life and watches with the big picture in mind? Now keep in mind, coaches don’t run the race for you, THEY SIMPLY SET THE STANDARD FOR THE RACE AND MAKES A JUDGMENT ON YOUR PERFORMANCE! So who does this for you? Who mentors you? Who guides you? Who makes sure you don’t go outside the boundaries? Remember This: “A good coach will make his players see what they CAN BE rather than what they ARE” (Ara Parasheghian). Therefore, find yourself a coach that can see your successful future even in your present failures!

2.    WHO STRETCHES YOUR MIND? Who makes you wince as they expose the many faces of your ignorance; who will not let you get away with spiritual and intellectual superficiality? Who makes sure you don’t just play church? Who makes sure you don’t become complacent and lazy? Who makes sure your streams are always flowing (since stagnant water stinks!) Which makes me think of a quote I love that reads: “Too many people confine their exercise to jumping to conclusions, running up bills, stretching the truth, bending over backwards, lying down on the job, side-stepping responsibility and pushing their luck” (Author Unknown) You need someone who will give you a more beneficial exercise plan for your future! You need someone who refuses to let you settle, when they can stretch you to soar!

3.    WHO LISTENS TO AND ENCOURAGES YOUR DREAMS? Dreams are not intellectual propositions that must be proven. They are the work of visionaries; they are out-of-the-box, frequently awful and occasionally good. These are the folks who, when others laugh and say you’re trying to build castles in the air, remind you that God “…calls things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17). Another translation says: “…God…gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not”. These are the people you need! People who make you see the house while in the apartment. People who make you see the church with no license to preach. People who make you see the car with no permit. People who make you see a fruitful marriage while contemplating divorce. These people share your hearts desires with you and even when they seem a little far-fetched, they still believe. Do you have people like that? Another quote I love says: “All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible” (T.E. Lawrence). You need people in your life that will awaken you from daydreaming and push you to make your dreams a reality! If you don’t have encouragers like that now, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? The birth of your dreams are at stake!

4.    WHO PROTECTS YOU? When the Christians in Jerusalem wanted nothing to do with the newly converted Saul of Tarsus, Barnabas acted as his advocate. Your voice alone is not enough! You need others to speak up for you. And this doesn’t imply weakness! “You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand.” (Galatians 6:2  CEV). You need people in your life that will protect you from critics, gossips, back-biters and liars. People who protect all that you are in God, flaws and all. People who know your mistakes, but also know the price of forgiveness that was paid in Blood on your behalf. Therefore, they won’t sit around idly and let others use your past to abuse your future.  In other words, locate your Barnabas who will encourage you, stand up for you, support you and protect you. “The antidote for fifty enemies is just one faithful friend” (Aristotle). You don’t need the Tree to protect you from the heat of the sun, all you need is the Shade of the tree! Therefore, find you a Barnabas who you can stand in the shade of when the heat is on, they’ll stand before you and be a friendly protection.

5.    WHO SHARES YOUR TEARS? Mary was close enough to share Jesus’ tears in His most painful, life-draining moment. Who’s close enough to you to pick up on the signals (even the silent ones), to sense when fears and tears need to be shared? Yes, there are times when we need a pep talk or a shot in the arm, but there are also times when we need to be encouraged to lie low and realistically process our emotions. Who does that for you? Who cries with you, but has enough discernment and wisdom to know when you’ve cried enough? “Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it” (Albert Smith). Which is why it’s so vital that you learn to surround yourself with people who won’t allow you to hide behind your name, your title, your position, your gifts, your anointing, your skills, your talents, your familiarity or comfortability, your business, your church, your ministry, your image etc. You need people that will say “Let it out!” People who know when to cry with you, for you and those who know when enough is enough and they hand you a tissue and say “Clean it up and get it together!These are the mentors who send you back to your wife or husband (whether the hurt was on their part or yours)! They do not however entertain you being lustfully messy with someone else because you’re caught up in your feelings. These mentors let you pour out your tears, but they also know how to help you turn off the water works and get a beneficial plan together so you can bounce back! If you haven’t found this mentor yet, locate them fast! And trust me, they’ll be easy to recognize! They’ll be the one who knows how to give you a healthy balance between your break-down and your break-through. They’re the ones that know how to discern when you need a listening ear, and when you need a verbal rebuke. They know when you need a pat on the back, and when you need a swift kick in the behind. They know when to help you resolve a conflict, and when to let that conflict beat you down because it was never your battle to begin with. Whatever you do, find this mentor!

6.    WHO REBUKES YOU? Even with 20/20 vision, one pair of eyes is never enough! You have blind spots! We all do. And Satan is always standing by ready to remind you of your good qualities. Why? Because pride is his expertise! And even the devil knows, “First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 MSG). But a true friend exposes and challenges your self-seeking, self-pleasing, and self-dependence, and helps you to restore to God the authority you’ve robbed Him of! Who’s bold enough to do that for you? “Most of us can read the writing on the wall; we just assume it’s addressed to someone else” (Ivern Ball). You need a person that confirms that the writing on the wall is addressed personally to YOU! You need what David had, a NATHAN! Someone that will tell you to your face, “IT WAS YOU”! Someone who doesn’t care if you get mad, or stop speaking to them, someone who cares more about you being in right standing with God than right standing with them. Who does this for you? Who gets right in your face and rebukes your wrong? If no one, you my friend are in grave trouble!

7.    WHO SEEKS GOD WITH YOU? Praying together keeps us honest! Yes it’s only in the honesty of shared prayer that we draw closer to God, and to one another. The Bible says,: “Make this your common practice: “Confess your sins to each other…pray for each other so…you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with…” (James 5:16 MSG). You need someone in your life that is filled with the Word of God, Saturated with a Prayer Life, and Disciplined Enough to Fast Consistently! Someone who daily seeks the Face of God, and will therefore, provoke you to do the same. Someone who makes you want to live holy, live right and live honest (someone who will confront you if you’re not). Someone who helps you come clean with God and others. Someone who helps you be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you were today. Who does that for you?  “When you knock, ask to see God – none of the servants” (Henry David Thoreau).  You need people in your life that help you get past seeking clergy collars and simply seek God instead! People who will not let you simply hold hands in a prayer circle, or wail and fall out at the altar, or wait in long lines for someone to lay hands on you. No, you need partners who will say sit and read the Word until the Word speaks back! Keep your eyes focused until you see God! Sit quiet until you hear God’s voice! Surround yourself with those who are not hung up on the Servants but on the Savior! Stick close to those who have little desire for seeking anything outside of seeking God! Do you have someone like that?

8.    WHO PLAYS WITH YOU? Does this sound Unimportant, even Carnal? Well it’s NOT! You must never let the seriousness of life override your need for recreation, a word that’s only understood when it’s hyphenated ‘RE-CREATION’. Ever notice how energized we are after some Rest, a walk in the park, a movie, or an evening out? In essence, the stress we endure daily has a way of breaking down and destroying our creativity, therefore we need time to focus on something less time constraining and mind exerting. Fresh ideas always flow after some playfulness. So don’t get so caught up in schedules and projects that you don’t take time out to enjoy life.A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.” (Proverbs 15:13  MSG). Who makes sure you never miss recess? Human beings need pleasure the way they need vitamins” (Lionel Tiger). Just as recess is a part of a child’s day, make it a part of yours! Include people in your life who challenge you to fly a kite, run a race, go to a museum, a theme park, a picnic.  Surround yourself with people who interrupt your 9-5 with a silly joke or an out of key song that you sing to the top of your lungs, or a hideous dance move that will send your children seeking for help! Play a board game, walk on the beach, play dodge ball, tag, red light green light 1,2,3! LOL! Find someone to jump rope with, hop-scotch, or play jacks! Put your hair in 2 ponytails and tell your kids to go with you to the supermarket! LOL! See, many of you are laughing already and you haven’t even done these things, all you did was read them, and they made you laugh! Imagine how much fun you’ll have when you actually take a break and DO THEM? I remember a really good friend of mine from high school had 2 theme barbecues several years back and one of the themes was you had to come dressed in 1970’s attire! I’m still praying those pictures never make it to Facebook! LOL! Her other barbecue was a pajama theme! Sounds ridiculous, but the fun was unbelievable! Deanna is one of my dearest friends because she always makes me laugh and makes sure that I take a break in life, and actually LIVE! Think about it: After ALL Job went through…what does it say in the closing chapter? “AFTER THIS, JOB LIVED…” (Job 42:16 AMP). YES, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, AFTER ALL THAT JOB EXPERIENCED, THAT OTHER FOLKS WOULD’VE KILLED THEMSELVES OVER…HE ENDURES IT…AND IN THE END…JOB LIVED! In its entirety it reads like this: “AFTER THIS, JOB LIVED 140 YEARS, AND SAW HIS SONS AND HIS SON’S SONS, EVEN TO FOUR GENERATIONS. SO JOB LIVED, AN OLD MAN AND FULL OF DAYS” (Job 42:16-17 AMP) If you don’t have a Deanna like me, find one! She’s the key to many fun-filled days in your life! Someone Who Knows All That You’ve Endured And At The End Of It All, They Make You LIVE! Today, put your name in this Scripture and then LIVE! “After this, _____________ LIVED!” (Thanks Bishop James R. Chambers!)

You need to ask yourself today: “Who Coaches Me?; Who Stretches Me?; Who Listens to and Encourages My Dreams?; Who Protects Me?; Who Shares My Tears?; Who Rebukes Me?; Who Seeks God With Me (and for me)?; Who Plays With Me?Because all of these components are vital to a healthy and happy you!

In addition, this will cause you to do a thorough search of those in your life, and cause you to make necessary adjustments. You’ll begin to remove negative and pessimistic people. You’ll get rid of critical and judgmental folks. You’ll say goodbye to dream stealers and dream killers. You’ll discard unnecessary people who only pat you on the back and give your overly inflated ego more air. You’ll strike out those who don’t stretch you. You’ll pull away from those who don’t push you, protect you or play with you. You’ll become unsatisfied with those who are seeking people instead of seeking God. You’ll then begin to search for people who mean you well, Body, Soul and Spirit!

Now, That’s What You Call Living A Blessed and Well-Balanced Life!

So, Who Does This For You? Who Helps You? Because it Matters! If you can list them, CELEBRATE THEM, if you don’t have them, FIND THEM!

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

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“Don’t Save the Flowers for Their Funeral”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In closing, my children think I go a bit overboard on this one! Because my daughters are 30 and 27 and I still kiss them, hug them, play in their hair, send them silly text messages, cook their favorite foods, tell them I love them, buy them silly stuff, and even wait up for them to get home. Because I never want them to wonder about my love, care and appreciation for them in my life. As for my husband, he can’t eat beef or pork, so when I cook dinner (which is almost every night), even if I cook pork or beef for myself, I still cook a separate meal for him. Why? Because even the smallest of gestures convey love and appreciation for the people in your life that you ‘say’ you love. And sometimes that will require you to do a little more than you really feel like doing on somedays. However, when he praises my cooking ability, and even goes so far as to take pictures of his dinner and keep them stored in his phone in a “my wife’s dinner” file, something about that just makes me smile and feel appreciated, valued and loved. You see, it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate! Most often people just need to hear “I love you, you’re important to me, I value you, I missed you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, can we start over, can I help you with that?” Or maybe just a post it on the fridge as you’re leaving the house before your spouse or children that says, “I love you, enjoy a great, safe day!” It doesn’t take much to do something simple, yet heartfelt to convey to your loved ones that you do in fact love them. You can pull out her chair; you can iron his slacks; you can open the door for her; you can pour a glass of juice to go with his dinner; you can bring a stuffed animal home for the kids (and not because it’s their birthday or holiday, but simply because you want them to See that you think about them throughout the day. And believe it or not, but kids need that kind of reassurance of your love too!) You can pick up dinner on the way home or make surprise reservations or whip up some franks and beans (if you’re really not skilled in the kitchen). The whole point is for your loved ones to see, hear, feel, taste and smell your verbal expression of flowers! Why wait for “in profound sorrow”, when you can show love “just because it’s Saturday”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Prayer is a Lifestyle, Not a Lifeline!”

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“Always Keep On Praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 TLB)

I absolutely love kids! Probably because I’m on a life mission to never grow up! But children just have a way of making what seems so complicated, quite simple. Now, Tatiana is only four years old, but she’s already teaching her parents quite a bit! She often announces, “Let’s pray!” And as wonderful as that sounds, truth is, she doesn’t always pick the best or most convenient times to pray. Dad might be studying since he’s finishing school or Mom might be involved with her students since she’s an at-home tutor. But like it or not, that doesn’t stop Tatiana from screaming, “Let’s pray!” Whether you’re ironing, watching television, walking the dog, or answering the telephone, when Tatiana yells, “Let’s pray”, it is by no means a request, or suggestion, but a command! She grabs your hand, closes her eyes, and she certainly expects you to do the same. No matter what’s going on at the moment, she’s fully expecting Mom or Dad to drop whatever they’re doing to pray. Her mom told me, “I don’t dare tell her, ‘Oh, later honey, I’m too busy right now. Because she will simply say once again, ‘I said, let’s pray!’” You see, Tatiana is only four, but you know what? I think she’s already got the right idea concerning the importance and priority of prayer.

But can we be honest? Truth is, many of us, myself included, have a bad habit of waiting until we “need God” to pray. As long as everything is going well, there’s no doctors reports to make us cry out to the Great Physician, no marital woes that have us running to the altar, no appliance break-downs that threaten the safety of our savings account, no children robbing banks or stealing cars, no bills that are making us nervous about what we’re going to do etc…we’re good. We can talk to God not so often, and even then, quite briefly. Which is why I’m fully persuaded God allows a lot of the stuff we endure to come our way on purpose, because it sends us running right back to the prayer phone to dial up heaven again! At least in trouble He gets to hear our voice!

Psalm 18:6, “In my distress [when I seemed surrounded] I called upon the Lord And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry for help came before Him, into His very ears.” (AMP) It’s a wonderful comfort to know that when we’re in distress we can cry out to God and He hears us, and even answers us, but should that be the only time He hears us? I think not. Can you imagine being in a relationship with someone, but the only time you hear from them is when they need something from you? How special would you feel? How appreciated would you feel? How taken for granted and abused would you feel? More importantly, how much longer would you really stay in such a relationship? Thank God He doesn’t treat us the way we have a tendency to treat Him!

At the end of a passage on spiritual warfare and defeating our enemy, the Bible says in Ephesians 6:18…pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (NIV). Did you catch all those instructions? “…pray in the Spirit ON ALL OCCASIONS…” Not just when you’re in trouble, but ON ALL OCCASIONS! It’s prayer all day, every day, at any time of the day, anywhere and around anybody! That reminds me a lot of the admonishment in our opening text of 1 Thessalonians 5:17Pray without ceasing.” It’s staying in contact with the Lord at; “All occasions, with all kinds of prayers, and all kinds of requests.” That’s praying whether you get the job or lose the job; whether you get married or get divorced; whether you get the house or lose the apartment; whether you purchase the car or ride the bus; whether your heart fails or your hair flops! We need to develop an ‘IN OR OUT OF SEASON” type of prayer life! Pray when everything works IN our favor; and pray just the same when nothing works OUT in our favor! We are to pray on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers, and all kinds of requests, because prayer is our LIFESTYLE, not our LIFELINE!

The word ‘lifestyle’ is defined as, ‘the way in which one lives.’

But ‘lifeline’ is defined as, ‘a rope or line thrown to rescue someone in difficulties; a means of escape for someone stuck or in trouble.’

You see, as believers, prayer is our lifestyle, it’s just the way we live from day-to-day. Prayer is our lifestyle, it’s our oxygen, it’s our breath! We treat it as something of which if we should be deprived of it, we may as well stop breathing altogether. When it’s your lifestyle it’s a part of your entire life. It’s the core of who you are. It’s not something you do for Sunday morning invocation; it’s not what you do over your food before you eat; and it’s certainly not what you do when you’re stuck and in trouble; it’s what you do ALL the time; on ALL occasions! Prayer is not our lifeline, only to be used when we need to cry out to God for Him to throw us a line of His strength in our weakness to draw us out of the difficulty that nine times out of ten we put ourselves in, in the first place. Prayer is not our means of escape from trouble. As believers, we have to go back to the heart of our relationship with God, and it’s in our communication with Him through prayer, ALL the time, about ALL things, because that’s our LIFESTYLE!

Now, let’s take a look at those 2 Scriptures in varying translations:

Ephesians 6:18:

“With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.” (AMP)

“Pray all the time. Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit’s wishes. Plead with him, reminding him of your needs, and keep praying earnestly for all Christians everywhere.” (TLB)

“You must pray at all times as the Holy Spirit leads you to pray. Pray for the things that are needed. You must watch and keep on praying. Remember to pray for all Christians.” (NLV)

“In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (MSG)

1 Thessalonians 5:17:

“be unceasing and persistent in prayer” (AMP)

“Always keep on praying” (TLB)

“Never stop praying.” (NLV)

“…pray all the time…” (MSG)

Notice, we’re charged and challenged to pray all the time, for everyone, because prayer is essential! And the word ‘essential’ is defined as, ‘absolutely necessary.’  We’re to always pray, never stop praying and pray all the time, because it’s absolutely necessary! That sounds a lot like prayer being more than just “I’m in trouble Lord, HELP!” Or praying because we have a few moment’s to spare. Or praying simply for show, it’s prayer night, and I want to be seen for either praying the best, the loudest or the longest; or at least have my attendance accounted for that I made it out to prayer. Yet, the Bible commands us to Pray At All Times, Everywhere, for Everyone, Without Ceasing!

The sad thing however, about us as believers, is that we tend to have a prayer compartment in our life. We pray in the morning, or maybe in the evening, or over meals. We have prayer meetings. But I think God wants us to take prayer out of that compartment and learn prayer as a lifestyle, not just as an occasional appointment, or for the moment 911 lifeline. Even little Tatiana understands that. She’s all day long going around saying, “Let’s pray. Let’s talk to God.And if a child can do this, what is the excuse for adults who don’t?

The Spirit may be trying to prompt you in that way many times. It’s not a little child. It’s the Holy Spirit that’s saying, “Let’s pray. Let’s pray.” He’s trying to initiate it. Pray in the Spirit. But we’re so busy! We’re running on our list, our schedule, our program, our agenda. We can’t hear His promptings. And we need to be real careful about being so busy that we ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit to pray and even to intercede for others!

Can you imagine how differently Peter’s story may have turned out, if people ignored the prompting to pray? Listen: James had just been executed and Herod was planning to kill Peter in the morning. Now, you’d think Peter would have been up all night praying, but he wasn’t. The Bible says he was SLEEPING! (Acts 12:6, “Then the time came for Herod to bring him out for the kill. That night, even though shackled to two soldiers, one on either side, PETER SLEPT LIKE A BABY” MSG). Now, I’ve heard of confidence in God, but I honestly thought Peter was stone-crazy! I know for a fact I would’ve flipped out! So where did Peter get such faith? The Bible says, right before Peter’s peaceful, sleep-like-a-baby nap: “Peter therefore was kept in prison: BUT PRAYER WAS MADE WITHOUT CEASING OF THE CHURCH UNTO GOD FOR HIM” (Acts 12:5).

But you have to see in the various translations how these intercessors REALLY PRAYED for Peter: The Amplified Bible says, “…FERVENT PRAYER for him was PERSISTENTLY  made…”; The Message Bible says, “All the time …Peter was under heavy guard…the church prayed for him MOST STRENUOUSLY”; The New Living Translation says, “…the church prayed VERY EARNESTLY…”; And the Contemporary English Version says, “While Peter was being kept in jail, the church NEVER STOPPED PRAYING to God for him.”

Now I understand why Peter could sleep like a baby! If I had intercessors going before God on my behalf doing warfare in prayer “FERVENTLY”, “PERSISTENTLY”, “STRENUOUSLY”, “VERY EARNESTLY” and above all to “NEVER STOP PRAYING”, I COULD SLEEP LIKE A BABY TOO!  In the midst of fierce enemy attacks and bondage, I too would be catching some serious Z’s…

People of God, certainly we must MAKE time to pray to God on our own behalf, but never forget your brothers and sisters, and even those who are unsaved! They all need your prayers of intercession at all times! Your Unceasing Prayers Are Vital to You and Others! So Never Stop Praying! Who knows who will be saved, delivered, healed, made whole, just because of your prayers? Who knows who may be encouraged, inspired and empowered because of your prayers? Who knows who may finally get right because of your prayers? Who knows who will be saved behind prison walls; healed in the emergency room, before ever going to the triage nurse; delivered before they walk past the next liquor store; marriage rekindled; wayward children returned home; or diagnosis reversed, ALL BECAUSE YOU OBEYED THE PROMPTING TO PRAYER WHICH IS YOUR LIFESTYLE, NOT YOUR LIFELINE!

Your Prayers Are Powerful! Therefore, Make Them Your Lifestyle, Not Just a Lifeline For When You’re in Trouble!

Let’s go just a tad bit further: In the Old Testament, Nehemiah, one of the great spiritual leaders accomplished so much for the Lord. He was sort of a grownup Tatiana because of his consistent prayer life. It talks about it in chapter 2, verse 4 when he was in a very important meeting. He says, “…I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king…” (NIV). Right there he’s in that meeting with the King! He’s under heavy pressure, yet he says, “…I prayed to the God of heaven…”(NIV).

In chapter 4, verse 9, he says, “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard…” (NIV). Nehemiah prays, he has people in his company who prays, and he’s even strategic while in prayer, wise enough to know to post a guard!

Chapter 5, verse 19, Nehemiah’s thinking about his income and what he ought to be getting. He says, “Remember me with favor, my God…” (NIV). He prays again!

Even when he gets discouraging news in chapter 6, verse 9 he says, “I prayed. Now strengthen my hands.” (NIV).

Whether Nehemiah was facing enemies, in a meeting with a king, making strategic plans, concerned about his finances or receiving discouraging news, he prayed at all times, everywhere, in front of anybody! Prayer was not an “I’m in trouble, get me out” lifeline, it was a, “I need God’s guidance for absolutely everything” consistent lifestyle! Can the same be said of you?

I’ll be the first one to be honest about it, truth is, God doesn’t hear from me nearly enough, and just maybe that’s your confession too. Well, today is our turn-around day! We’re going to determine to be more consistent in our prayer lives! And it doesn’t mean you have to stop everything, bow your head, close your eyes, drop to your knees, start speaking in unknown tongues etc… No, truth be told, it could be prayer on the run! But it’s time we go consciously into the throne room of God to say,I love you.” Or “Nice work, Lord. I love what You just did there.” Or possibly just a one word prayer “Help!” Or a daily guidance prayer “What should I say right now Lord?” Or a prayer of renewal “Give me strength, Lord.” See that’s what the Bible calls “abiding in Christ.” And “abide” simply means, “to dwell”. And it won’t always be spending 2 hours on bended knee or standing before the people in the sanctuary. But all throughout the day we should be in direct communication with the Lord. I don’t know about you, but there are many places I would never have gone to if I prayed first; people I would’ve never entertained, if I prayed first; mistakes I would’ve never made, if I prayed first; losses I wouldn’t have had to endure, if I prayed first; things I would never have said that I can’t take back now, if I simply would’ve prayed first.

Now, I haven’t got this whole praying without ceasing thing mastered yet, but I’m certainly getting it more and more! I’m learning the benefit of “Praying in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

And truth is, with all that’s going on in the world, do we really need anyone to encourage us to pray more? The loss of life; attacks; cruelty and the like. Do we really need someone to say never stop praying? Our children are dying more frequently, younger and more violently, do we really need someone to call us and remind us to pray? The elderly are being mistreated, abused and even raped, robbed and murdered, do we really need someone to tell us to pray? Christian marriages are falling apart faster than the unsaved, do we really need someone to tell us to pray? Men are marrying men; women are marrying women; and children are shuffled in the middle of the confusion and now have identity crisis every other day; do we really need someone to tell us to pray? With our current government, do we really need someone to tell us to pray?!

If the church doesn’t get her focus back on prayer, she’ll become a circus with lively clowns, and dying sheep!

We are indeed living in some of the scariest of times, YET, we have the advantage of constant communication with our Creator who is in control of all things. Who wouldn’t talk to Him more often?!

People of God, let’s determine today to make Prayer Our Lifestyle, Not Just Our Lifeline when we’re in trouble! God Desires to Hear From You, So Today, Make Sure He Hears From You! Jeremiah 33:3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’” (MSG)

Devotional Scriptures:

Psalm 55:17, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.”

Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Psalm 106:30, “But Phinehas prayed to the Lord, and the disease stopped.” (NCV)

Matthew 18:18-20, “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of Me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” (MSG)

Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (MSG)

James 5:16-18, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.” (MSG)

Colossians 1:9, “Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you,” (MSG)

Proverbs 15:29, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayers of the righteous.” (TLB)

Romans 12:12, “Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.” (TLB)

“Prayer is not a ‘spare wheel’ that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a ‘steering wheel’ that directs the right path throughout.” (Author Unknown)

“When you feel like worrying, try praying instead. Worrying only creates more stress, but prayer creates more peace. God is bigger than whatever is stressing you out.” (Dave Willis)

“Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.” (George Herbert)

“Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God.” (Mother Teresa)

“Worry can do a lot of things TO you; prayer can do a lot of things FOR you.” (Author Unknown)

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” (Martin Luther)

“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Prayer is man’s greatest power.” (W. Clement Stone)

“Pray hardest when it’s hardest to pray.” (Author Unknown)

“Prayer: The world’s greatest wireless connection.” (Author Unknown)

“It’s not the body’s posture but the heart’s attitude that counts when we pray.” (Billy Graham)

“When the devil sees a man or woman who really believes in prayer he trembles as much as he ever did.” (R.A. Torrey)

“Do not face the day until you have faced God in prayer.” (Author Unknown)

“Prayer can change the impossible.” (Author Unknown)

“Prayer is the Passport to Peace.” (Thomas S. Monson)

“Prayer is the voice of faith directed Godward.” (Billy Graham)

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

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