“Rest is NOT a Sin”

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Mark 6:30-32, “The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; LET’S TAKE A BREAK AND GET A LITTLE REST.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves…” (MSG).

The Bible speaks in a negative way about “IDLENESS”. After all, it’s defined as, “avoiding work; lazy; not in use; having no purpose or basis; doing nothing of relevance.” Its Old English origin literally means, ‘empty and useless.’

The Bible says this in Proverbs 6:6-11, “Go to the ant, you Sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O Sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber – So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (NKJV). The Message Bible says it like this: “You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest!” (MSG)

This is not in reference to those who are working, but to those who are not! They haven’t even tried! Don’t even give a little bit of effort. Never making the slightest of attempts! This speaks of those who are idle, those who avoid work, those who are lazy, not in use, floating through life with no purpose or basis to their existence, accomplishing absolutely nothing that has any relevance. They’re called lazy, foolish sluggards who in the end can only look forward to a dirt-poor life with poverty being their permanent houseguest! Saints, make sure this is NOT descriptive of you! Do not attempt to use REST as your excuse for LAZINESS!  

Then 1 Timothy 5:13 goes on to say, “And besides they learn to be Idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only Idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not” (NKJV). Of all the things you can learn in life, make sure idleness is not the subject you pass with flying colors! You see those who are idle have nothing of value to share with anybody. All they have is gossip because they’ve learned to become busybodies, who are only busy running their mouths! And you have to be careful around people like that because the Bible says they go from house to house! Make sure they don’t visit you! These are the wrong guests to entertain!

The Bible Refers to those who are “LAZY” by such loathsome words as “Slothful,” “Sluggard,” and “Slack Hand”! We do not want our names listed in these categories! Therefore, before we talk about REST make sure you’re one who has earned it, and not one who uses it as an EXCUSE for Laziness and Idleness! God will not confuse the two when He hands out blessings and curses, so I suggest you likewise not confuse the two!

Now, the Bible Refers Very Positively about LABOR and WORK in the following Scriptures:

Luke 10:7, “Stay with the same family, eating and drinking whatever they give you, because WORKERS Are Worth What They Earn. Don’t move around from house to house” (CEV);

1 Corinthians 3:8-9, “The one who Plants is just as important as the one who Waters. And each one will be Paid For What They Do. Apollos and I WORK Together For God, and You are God’s Garden and God’s Building” (CEV);

Ephesians 4:28, “If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and WORK Hard, so you will Have Something to Give to People In Need” (CEV);

1 Thessalonians 4:11, “Try your best to live quietly, to mind your own business, and to WORK Hard, Just As We Taught You To Do” (CEV). 

Given the Admonition that we are to WORK six days and rest one (Exodus 34:21, “Do your WORK in Six Days and REST On the Seventh Day…” CEV), we might conclude that the Bible is about all work and no fun. However, that is far from the truth!  

Jesus Expected His Disciples to “Come Aside” periodically for REST, and Scripture has repeated references to the Benefits of “Making Merry”:

Proverbs 15:13, 15, “A Merry Heart Maketh a Cheerful Countenance…but he that is of a Merry Heart Hath a Continual Feast”;

Proverbs 17:22, “A Merry Heart Doeth Good Like a Medicine…”;

Luke 15:32, “It was meet that we should Make Merry, and Be Glad…” 

The Bible speaks of More than Seventy Days a Year in which “No Customary Work” is to be done!

Leviticus 23:7-8, “In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do No Servile Work Therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do No Servile Work Therein”. That word ‘servile’ is defined as, ‘excessively willing to serve or please others; of or characteristic of a slave or slaves.’ Its Latin origin ‘servilis’, from ‘servus’ literally means ‘slave.’ In other words, this rest break was speaking of those who actually did Work! And by its definition they worked hard, as hard as slaves, excessively willing to serve and please others. There’s been times when we’ve all worked our hearts out on projects, only to attempt to sit down, and before our behind could hit the cushion, another assignment was given! And yet, as hard as we are to work, God let’s us know that we are not to ALWAYS, ALL THE TIME, WORK! There are times when you are to take a break and get a little rest! Especially since rest is NOT a Sin!

The seven-day feasts that mark Passover, Tabernacles, and Weeks, as well as the Feast of Trumpets, and every Sabbath Day Are Included in this time of rest where no servile work is to be done!

In addition to Rest and Prayer, Leisure days in the Bible are associated with food, gift-giving, singing, and great joy: Revelation 11:10, “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth”.  

A time of Rest from work is Advocated for those who are experiencing grief: Matthew 14:10-13, “So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He Departed From There By Boat To a Deserted Place By Himself…” (NKJV).  

It is Advocated for those who are seeking Spiritual Empowerment to do God’s Will: Matthew 4:1, 11, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (NKJV).  

It is Advocated for those who are entering into an intense period of Prayer: Matthew 14:23, “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He Went Up On the Mountain By Himself to Pray. Now When Evening Came, He Was Alone There” (NKJV).  

And it is Advocated for those who are Newly Married: Deuteronomy 24:5, “When a man has taken a New Wife, he shall Not go out to War or be Charged with Any Business; he shall be Free at Home One Year, and bring Happiness to his Wife whom he has taken” (NKJV). [That last one might’ve saved a lot of ministry marriages if we had simply applied it!]  

Listen, keep this in mind: The word “Leisure” means “Time Spent in or free for Relaxation or Enjoyment”. Its Origin is the Old French word “Leisir” from the Latin word “Licere” which means to “Be Allowed”. People of God, Allow Yourself Leisure Time! You’ve Earned It, You Deserve It, You Need It, and Most Importantly, the Bible Commands It! Yes, the Bible is indeed in favor of those who Labor and Work Hard! But Likewise the Word is Not Silent Regarding the Leisure Time of Rest and Play that is Needed to Balance Out the Believers Life! So keep your 50/50 Balance in Life, Work and Play, and Enjoy a Long, Healthy Life!

Understand this: You Will Never Renew Until You Rest! And what does the Bible say about Rest? “And He said to them, [As for you] come away by yourselves to a deserted place, and REST A WHILE – for many were [continually] coming and going, and they had not even leisure enough to eat” (Mark 6:31 AMP).

One of the hardest things to do for many of us, especially in leadership, is to “take a break” without feeling guilty and selfish; or worse, feeling like a failure because everything on your “to do” list didn’t get done. Here’s a news flash: There Will Always Be More To Do! There will always be more deadlines, meetings, appointments, assignments, etc. Which is why one of your biggest challenges will be learning the difference between setting high standards for yourself – and setting unrealistic, impossible ones! Think about it: It’s hard enough trying to make time to get done what you NEED to get done, but that doesn’t compare to the sheer exhaustion of attempting to do something you were never assigned to do in the first place! Therefore, in order to get a handle on your schedule, erase anything non-essential that you’ve penciled in yourself! Truth is, many of us are running around all over the place, completely exhausted and spent, ignoring our loved ones, burned out, miserable, and all because we’re doing more than God ever assigned to our hands! Therefore, here’s some homework for you. Sit down with a pen, pad and your schedule, and make sure you’re supposed to be doing all the stuff you’ve been doing! Remove your unnecessary agenda entries and rearrange your hectic schedule! And I’ll even take it further. Sit yourself down from the committees, auxiliaries, ministries, and leadership positions that God never told you to accept! Have enough maturity to go to your leaders and be honest that you added more to your plate than you can digest in a healthy manner. Learn to tell people ‘no’ without excuse or explanation! Stop over-committing yourself! Stop allowing people to guilt you into stuff! Take your hands off all the stuff God never entrusted you to hold! Sometimes success means knowing when to get somewhere and sit down!

Because to make matters worse, we often claw our way to our idea of success only to discover that we don’t like the pressures that go with it. So what should we do? Learn to Walk Away! Jesus Did! “The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; LET’S TAKE A BREAK AND GET A LITTLE REST.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves…” (Mark 6:30-32 MSG).

Jesus understood that if you don’t take a break – You’ll Break! And isn’t that the truth for many of us? We have such busy schedules and long to-do lists that we rarely get a chance to even eat. And even when we do eat, it’s late and definitely not what we should be eating! Which leads us to a whole new list of problems with bad dieting, over-weight, sickness, ailments and disease. Which only adds on to those problems by adding painful bodies, multiple medications and expensive doctor visits! And the vicious cycle goes on and on.

And what is Jesus Advice: “…LET’S TAKE A BREAK AND GET A LITTLE REST.” 

And what does the word “Rest” mean? “To cease work or movement in order to relax or recover strength; allowed to be inactive in order to regain or save strength or energy.” Do you notice the blessings in rest from this description? For one, you Recover and Regain Strength! You see, Exhaustion Wears You Out! It Drains You of Strength and Weakens You, Inside and Out! In fact, the word “Exhaust” means “to tire out completely.” Its Latin Origin “Exhaurire” literally means “Drain Out”. Now please explain to me how can you be of any good use to your family, friends, job, business, ministry or even to yourself if you’re Completely Tired and Drained Out?! You Can’t! Which is why it’s so important for you to know when to Take a Break! Remember, you can’t Give what you don’t Got! No one can Drink from you if you’re always Drained! The word ‘drain’ is defined as, ‘to cause to run out; to become dry; to deprive of strength and resources; to empty of content; to be used up.’ I reiterate, No One Can Drink From You If You’re Always Drained, Dry, Deprived, Weak, Empty and Used Up!

Saints, Rest is NOT a Sin, It’s a Necessity!

Another added blessing from the definition of ‘Rest’ is that you become Inactive! Many would consider that a negative, but actually it’s not all that bad. One of the definitions of “Inactive” is simply “Not currently being used.” And this can be for your own good! Truth is, sometimes you don’t know how much you do until you stop doing it! And that’s a truth for those around you too who are accustomed to you doing everything! Sometimes you need to stop, so someone else can start! You’ll never know what those around you are capable of if you don’t give them the opportunity to show you. You my friend, as gifted, anointed, blessed, and talent as you are, you are still NOT God. You are here to Represent Him, NOT Be Him! You can’t be everybody’s everything, and then wonder why you have nothing left for yourself! My pastor loves to say, “Stop Giving Away What You Need to Keep for Yourself!” And maybe it’s time you heed that advice. Maybe it’s time you spend an inactive season, where you’re not being used, and it’s okay!

Elijah thought he was the only one too, until God Himself let him know He had 7,000 additional servants! 1 Kings 19:13-18, “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.” GOD SAID, “Go back the way you came through the desert to Damascus. When you get there anoint Hazael; make him king over Aram. Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi; make him king over Israel. Finally, anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Anyone who escapes death by Hazael will be killed by Jehu; and anyone who escapes death by Jehu will be killed by Elisha. MEANWHILE, I’M PRESERVING FOR MYSELF SEVEN THOUSAND SOULS: the knees that haven’t bowed to the god Baal, the mouths that haven’t kissed his image.” (MSG) Like Elijah, I know you’re “working your heart out for God”, and it feels like since you’re doing Everything, you are the only servant God has, but I assure you, you are not all God has left! God has other servants that can do what you do, and several who can do it better. So, believe me when I tell you, taking an ‘inactive season’ off duty will not depress God, nor cause the heavens to go into chaos, it will not rob the angels of an assignment, it will not give advantage to hell, and it will not stop the spreading of the Gospel nor the building up of the Kingdom of God, nor will it kill the Body of Christ!

Saints, Rest is NOT a Sin! Trust me, you will not lose your Standing in God if you go somewhere for a season and Sit Down!  

Another blessing you reap from the definition of ‘Rest’ is that You also Regain Energy! Rest is like a Vitamin, You Should Take it Daily and Take a Supplement Too If Need be! The word “Energy” is defined as “The strength and vitality required for sustained activity.” It’s Greek Origin “Energeia”, from “Ergon” literally means “Work”. When you REST you become Re-Energized! So When You Go Back to Work, Your Strength is Sustained! And “Sustained” comes from the Latin Origin “Sustinere”, from “Tenere” which means “To Hold”. You see, once you get some REST, then you get back to work you’ll be able to hold yourself together because you took the simple time to re-energize! It’s hard to hold yourself together when you feel like you’re being torn in 20 different directions at the same time! That’s why it’s so easy for us to fall apart, because we’re too exhausted and weak to hold ourselves together. That’s why rest is so vital! In other words, REST is a Blessing! So, don’t under-estimate it, don’t devalue it, don’t disregard it, don’t over-look it! GET IT! And like medicine, take it in the right doses so you can recover!

The last blessing from the definition of ‘Rest’ is that you become Relaxed! And “Relax” means “to make or become less tense, anxious, or rigid; rest from work or engage in a recreational activity.” It’s Latin Origin “Relaxare”, from “Laxus” literally means “To Loose”. In other words, if you want to get a hold on things…Relax and Loosen Up! I know you’re gifted, talented, anointed, awesome, powerful and everyone loves you and wants you apart of everything they do, however if you don’t take a break…you will break! And in order for you NOT to break down, you have to break up your schedule! Balance it out! Have your meetings, but go out for a meal with the family too. Nail that presentation, but go get your nails done too. Coordinate that event, but get your 5 year old niece and enjoy a coloring book too. You have to have balance if you are going to avoid toppling over!

Which is why you should:

1…Make a list of the things that only YOU can do, then delegate the rest or let them go. Not every piece of mail that comes to the house has your name on it! So stop taking other people’s mail and stop acting like your middle name is “occupant” too! You can’t do it all no matter how awesome you are or think you are. And if you are in the company of those you can’t trust to delegate work to, you’re about to go out of business anyhow;

2…Learn to make small steps and celebrate small accomplishments for that’s what life is made of. If you only get 2 things done on your list of 20, eat a piece of chocolate and be happy! You at least accomplished something, there are many who didn’t even take the time to write a to-do list out, let alone do anything on it;

3…Don’t allow the stuff that’s still undone, to undo you. By God’s grace and mercy we see another tomorrow. And as long as He has work for you to do, you will continue to see another tomorrow. And when you don’t, you can still rejoice because your work here is done. Remember Jeremiah 29:11, God’s plan is not for you to have a plan, a back-up plan or a plan B! Simply do what needs to be done, and what’s left undone leave for tomorrow. God knows what needs to be accomplished in each day. And He certainly knows your future, so stop letting today stress you, you have a promising future ahead, it will get done, trust God day by day, He has a great, unstoppable plan for your life. No More Worrying! Matthew 6:30-34, “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers – most of which are never seen – don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you? What I’m trying to do here is get you to RELAX, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and how the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (MSG);

4…Strive for balance; don’t even become addicted to what you enjoy. For instance, some of us have a tendency to even turn good things into disasters. It’s great that you love your job, but you can’t have a wife and three kids at home and get home at midnight 7 days a week! Balance is always the order of the day. And the word “Balance” is defined as “an even distribution of weight ensuring stability”. To have a stable life, keep your scales between work and play even;

5…Don’t allow overachievers to put you into overdrive. You’re in it for the long haul. You win when you pace yourself. Competition kills! So stop peeking over at the agendas of others. You have no idea what they HAVE to do. To Have Great Insight, Simply Keep Your Eyes On Your Own Vision;

6…Take time for the people who matter most, otherwise you’ll lose them. Busyness is a destroyer of relationships/friendships. And truth is, all the success in the world won’t compensate for the joy and treasure of your family and loved ones! Always keep the main thing the main thing, and the main thing will always be your loved ones First!

People of God, It’s Vital That You Learn How to Walk Away, Take a Break and Rest! Believe it or not, but there’s a Blessing in REST! However, You Don’t Want Rest In Peace to Be the Only Blessing You Get! Remember, JESUS is an Advocate of REST! Therefore, Your Challenge is Simple: Take a Break and Get a Little REST!

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)

“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” (Dr. Maya Angelou)

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” (William S. Burroughs)

“Life is all about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back, and do nothing.” (Lori Deschene)

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” (Alan Cohen)

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.” (Author Unknown)

“You have permission to rest. You are not responsible for fixing everything that is broken. You do not have to try and make everyone happy. For now, take time for you. It’s time to replenish.” (Author Unknown)

“The six best doctors: sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise, and diet.” (Wayne Fields)

“When you rest in His presence, you rest in the knowledge that He is in control.” (Dr. Michelle Bengtson)

“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” (Ralph Marston)

“It is very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying, it allows us to clear our minds, focus and find creative solutions to problems.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)

“You’re killing yourself for a job that would replace you within a week if you dropped dead. Take care of yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“Rest and your energy will be restored.” (Lailah Gifty Akita)

“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” (Author Unknown)

“If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?” (Author Unknown)

“When you start taking care of yourself you start feeling better, you start looking better and you start to attract better. Everything starts with you.” (Author Unknown)

“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.” (L.R. Knost)

“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” (Mandy Hale)

“Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others.” (Bryant McGill)

“Beautiful girl, take care of yourself. No one else knows what your soul needs.” (AstonG)

“Make your happiness and personal growth a priority in your life. The more you take care of yourself, the more you can take care of others.” (Author Unknown)

“The best cure for the body is a quiet mind.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)

“Your mental health is more important than the test, the interview, the lunch date, the meeting, the family dinner, and the grocery run. Take care of yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“Remember to take care of yourself. Sometimes you get so busy taking care of others that you forget that you are important too.” (Author Unknown)

“Take care of yourself, you never know when the world will need you.” (Rabbi Hillel)

“Today, do something for You; relax, clear your mind, take a break, go for a jog, watch the sunset. Enjoy the simple things. Enjoy You!” (Brooke Griffin)

“Three steps to a Happy Life: 1) Don’t stress yourself with useless people who don’t even deserve to be an issue in your life; 2) Never invest too much emotion at one thing because if you do, you will end up hurting yourself; 3) Learn to live life without worries because God will take care of everything, trust and just have faith.” (Author Unknown)

“Self-care is a deliberate choice to gift ourself with people, places, things, events and opportunities that recharge our personal battery and promote whole health – body, mind, and spirit.” (Laurie Buchanan)

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: “5 Things to Know About Your Metabolism”

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“Leadership Balance: When to SIT, When to SERVE”

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Luke 10:38-42, “Now while they were on their way, Jesus entered a village [called Bethany], and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister named MARY, WHO SEATED HERSELF AT THE LORD’S FEET AND WAS CONTINUALLY LISTENING TO HIS TEACHING.  BUT MARTHA WAS VERY BUSY AND DISTRACTED WITH ALL OF HER SERVING RESPONSIBILITIES; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part.”  But the Lord replied to her, “MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU ARE WORRIED AND BOTHERED AND ANXIOUS ABOUT SO MANY THINGS;  but only one thing is necessary, for MARY HAS CHOSE THE GOOD PART THAT WHICH IS TO HER ADVANTAGE], WHICH WILL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM HER.” (AMP)

Every now and then I love a good 5-star restaurant, however, anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m an Applebee’s-A-Holic! I love the Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp (that’s my New Orleans side talking). But it’s my absolute most favorite meal there. Well, me and a few coworkers went there for lunch one day and it was at the tail end of their rush hour. Can I tell you, this place is a zoo for about 90 minutes around that time! But after some time it was slowing down and one of the waiters was finally able to stop and chat with us (a good friend from our leadership workshops). Anyway, when he asked how we were doing, I said, “I don’t know about them, but I’m doing a whole lot better now. I had lunch!” Sean’s response? “I know what you mean. If I wait very late to eat lunch, I start to get shaky. I told him, “Well, I guess you’re in a good place then.” Sadly, he corrected me. He said, “Sometimes we are so busy serving it that we don’t have time to eat it ourselves. I guess you could say we’re ‘Starving Servants’Nothing could’ve broken my heart more.

Truth is, a lot of us have experienced what my restaurant friend Sean was talking about – being so busy serving that we don’t have any time to get fed ourselves naturally or spiritually. Think about it, it happened to Martha, didn’t it? It’s happened to me way too often, and probably to you, too.

Particularly in leadership, I find it easy to burn out while trying to keep everybody else’s flames burning brightly. For many of us, we’re busy getting wood, finding matches and lighters, positioning logs, collecting paper or twigs, stoking dying embers, and even removing ashes so they don’t hinder any future fires. We’re so busy trying to keep others on fire, that we’ve become lukewarm ourselves! And certainly we don’t want “lukewarm” to be descriptive of us! Revelation 3:16, “So because you are lukewarm (SPIRITUALLY USELESS), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth [REJECTING YOU WITH DISGUST]” (AMP). I reiterate, surely, you don’t want this to be descriptive of us!

But the hard truth is, sometimes, you can get so busy praying for others, that you forget to pray for yourself. You take such good care of everyone else’s health, while yours deteriorates. So busy doing everything for everybody, that you forget you are a body too. And your body needs proper food, exercise, and rest as well. Think about it: Jesus was hungry, so He ate, He was tired, so He slept, He was angry, and so He threw the money-changers out, He was sorrowful, and so He wept. Now, if the Son of God Himself can have emotions and healthily express them, who are we to pretend to be ‘Super-Human’? Selah…

Mary and Martha’s experience is described to us in Luke chapter 10. The above version gives it to us in the Amplified Bible, but now, let’s look at the same Scripture in the Message Bible translation, it reads: “As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, MARY, WHO SAT BEFORE THE MASTER, HANGING ON EVERY WORD HE SAID. BUT MARTHA WAS PULLED AWAY BY ALL SHE HAD TO DO IN THE KITCHEN. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU’RE FUSSING FAR TOO MUCH AND GETTING YOURSELF WORKED UP OVER NOTHING. One thing only is essential, and MARY HAS CHOSE IT—IT’S THE MAIN COURSE, AND WON’T BE TAKEN FROM HER.” (MSG).

The 2 parts I love about this version is: “…ONE THING ONLY IS ESSENTIAL…” and “…IT’S THE MAIN COURSE…” Can you imagine being so busy in the kitchen that you don’t even know the ‘MAIN COURSE’ has been served? How can you be Starving and yet miss out on the Main Course?

Now, anyone following my devotionals/blogs for any length of time, know I love the origin of words. I love what’s called ‘Etymology’, which is defined as, “an account of the origins and the developments in the meaning of a word.” Its Greek Origin, “Etumologia”, from “Etumos”, literally means “True”. And that’s all Etymology is, discovering the true meaning of a word. With that said, let’s discover some definitions. Remember now, my 2 favorite parts about the text are: “…ONE THING ONLY IS ESSENTIAL…” and “…IT’S THE MAIN COURSE…”

“Only” is defined as “unquestionably the best; alone in a class or category; existing with no other or others of the same kind.”

“Essential” is defined as “fundamental; central; absolutely necessary.”

“Main Course” is defined as “the most substantial course of a meal; featured; primary; usually the heaviest, heartiest, and most substantive; also called the ‘meat course.’”

In other words, Mary, being, “…seated…at the Lord’s feet…continually listening to His teaching…and…who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said…” was doing the thing that was: unquestionably the best thing, for it is in a class all by itself, not in comparison to anything else. Being seated at the feet of Jesus is fundamental, central and absolutely necessary. Mary choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus, to hear the Words of Jesus, chose the Main Course, that which is most substantial, featured, primary, the heaviest, heartiest and most substantive meal of any course. She chose the Main Course which was indeed the Meat Course! Leaders, can you honestly say you’ve made the same choice?

This reminded me a lot of Matthew 4:4, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Let’s look at this Scripture in a few translations:

“…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’” (AMP);

“…People won’t live only by bread, BUT BY EVERY WORD SPOKEN BY GOD.” (CEB);

“…‘No one can live only on food. PEOPLE NEED EVERY WORD THAT GOD HAS SPOKEN.” (CEV);

“…‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive. THEIR LIVES DEPEND ON WHAT GOD SAYS.’” (ERV);

“…Scriptures tell us that bread won’t feed men’s souls: OBEDIENCE TO EVERY WORD OF GOD IS WHAT WE NEED.” (TLB);

“…“It takes more than bread to stay alive. IT TAKES A STEADY STREAM OF WORDS FROM GOD’S MOUTH.” (MSG);

“…‘A person lives not on bread alone, BUT BY EVERYTHING GOD SAYS.’” (NCV);

“…’Man is not to live on bread only. MAN IS TO LIVE BY EVERY WORD THAT GOD SPEAKS.’” (NLV)

Serving does have its place of priority, especially among leadership. However, do you now see the vitality attached to the admonishment of hearing and heeding the Word of God? Our very lives, says the Scripture, ‘…depends on what God says…” But if we make no time to hear what thus saith the Lord, how do we intend to keep on living? This is the equivalent of having your heart literally stop beating, your lungs stop pumping oxygen, your brain entering into a vegetative state, your warm blood starts to run cold, but you insist You Are Alive! No ma’am, no sir, you are not! And just as you cannot live without the healthy functioning of your vital organs, so you need a healthy appetite of the Word of God to ensure you continue to live, and live well. The Word of God is Your Vital Organ! “Jesus answered him, “The Scriptures say, ‘It is not just bread that keeps people ALIVE. THEIR LIVES DEPEND ON WHAT GOD SAYS.’” (ERV)

Preachers, Teachers, it’s not enough to study the Word of God only to give it out to others. Now, is that our responsibility to share it, absolutely. However, is that our only responsibility, absolutely not!

I believe we are personally accountable to study the Word of God for ourselves, according to 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” (AMP); and 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (AMP)

However, I also believe we are personally accountable to Ephesians 4:11-13 as well, “And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct],  [AND HE DID THIS] TO FULLY EQUIP AND PERFECT THE SAINTS (GOD’S PEOPLE) FOR WORKS OF SERVICE, TO BUILD UP THE BODY OF CHRIST [THE CHURCH]; UNTIL WE ALL REACH ONENESS IN THE FAITH AND IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD, [GROWING SPIRITUALLY] TO BECOME A MATURE BELIEVER, REACHING TO THE MEASURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST [MANIFESTING HIS SPIRITUAL COMPLETENESS AND EXERCISING OUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS IN UNITY].” (AMP)

It’s vital to take personal accountability for ourselves AND others. A Healthy Balance between the two. We have to study AND teach, but we also have to individually become mature believers, growing spiritually for ourselves.

It takes nothing from you as a leader to know when to SERVE and when to SIT. For in truth, you will need to do them both if you are to be an effective, efficient leader. In a nutshell, SERVE AND FEED OTHERS, BUT DON’T STARVE YOURSELF!

Now, Martha’s busy serving Jesus. Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him. Which is better? Most of us make-it-happen, get-it-done types would instinctively gravitate to the doing stuff rather than the being stuff. But Jesus says, “Mary has chosen what is BETTER. I think we’ve all been Martha-ed…and maybe you are right now. You get so busy SERVING Jesus that you have no time to SIT WITH Jesus. It’s like my Applebee’s friend. We’re so busy serving spiritual food to others that we’re actually eating less of it ourselves. Now that’s backwards! The more people are looking to you, the more you have to be with the Lord yourself. But, frankly, it’s easy to let your spiritual health become a victim of ministry. In fact, serving God’s Word without experiencing God yourself is a prescription for burnout!

There is no leader, no believer, so gifted, anointed, talented, and powerful, that you are the only person God can use. The reality is, if you don’t teach another lesson, there will be another teacher. If you don’t preach another sermon, there will be another preacher. If you don’t make it to visit the hospital, hospice, jail, and nursing home, there is someone else who can! Neither the world or the Kingdom of God Stop, because you Start to take some time for yourself! It’s not selfish, it’s self-preservation, it’s self-care.

Elijah, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE LEFT! 1 Kings 19:13-18, “…He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts (armies), because the sons of Israel have abandoned (broken) Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. AND I, ONLY I, AM LEFT; and they seek to take away my life.” The Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram (Syria); and you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel; AND ANOINT ELISHA THE SON OF SHAPHAT OF ABEL-MEHOLAH AS PROPHET IN YOUR PLACE.  It shall come about that Jehu shall put to death whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, and Elisha shall put to death whoever escapes the sword of Jehu. YET I WILL LEAVE 7,000 [SURVIVORS] IN ISRAEL, ALL THE KNEES THAT HAVE NOT BOWED DOWN TO BAAL AND EVERY MOUTH THAT HAS NOT KISSED HIM.” (AMP). So, God Not Only Has a Replacement in Place for YOU, but He’s Also Got 7,000 Survivors! I reiterate, you are not so gifted, anointed, talented, or powerful that you are the only person God can use. He’s already got in place your replacement, plus, 7,000 others! Please believe me, you are not the only one God has left to use. Therefore, I strongly admonish you to learn the balance between SERVING and SITTING. This is the sign of a healthy, effective leader. After all, if you die prematurely because of your lack of balance, you do realize God already has your understudy in place? The term ‘understudy’ is defined as, ‘an actor who learns another’s role in order to be able to act in their absence.’ The show don’t die because you do! So if you die early, we’ll celebrate your life; mourn your death; and then another actor will step into your role! Leaders, Take Better Care of You!

I learned the hard way, there’s a danger in studying God’s truth only to prepare lessons, Bible studies, sermons, devotionals, blogs etc…and missing the purpose of studying it, which is to have your life changed through applying it to your everyday life. Not, just sharing with others so they can apply it to theirs. There’s a danger of becoming someone who leads others to experience the Lord while you’re slowly becoming a spectator yourself. And you can so fill your life with Christian meetings, Christian positions, and Christian activity that it feels like knowing the Lord. But, in fact, those activities have slowly crowded out that precious private time with Jesus. And that time is the fuel for any valid ministry! When you run out of time with God, you run out of fuel, which may clarify why you’ve been feeling so empty!

Stop Serving And Starving! Sooner or later that’s going to lead to a Martha Meltdown! Ministry is supposed to be the overflow of your own time with the Lord, not a religious substitute for it. So if you feel yourself growing weak and tired, frustrated, and negative while you’re serving your Lord, don’t blame the work and don’t blame the customers. You probably have not taken time to feed yourself spiritually – to really be with Jesus. And remember, your very life depends on every Word God speaks. You don’t want to lose your seat at the foot of Jesus because you were so busy serving for Jesus! You need balance. That word “balance” is defined as “an even distribution of weight ensuring physical, mental or emotional stability.” Its Old French Origin, from Latin literally means “balance having two equal scale-pans.” And what does God have to say about balance and scales? Proverbs 20:23, “The Lord hates for people to use the wrong weights to cheat others. It is wrong to use scales that are not accurate.” (ERV) Whether you lean too much to the Mary side or too much to the Martha side, neither is Good. Neither is a just weight. You are cheating yourself and others out of your very best. The natural and spiritual scales in your life should always be equally balanced. You need time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen, then you need time to get up from the feet of Jesus and be the feet of Jesus, to go and feed the masses the Bread of Life.

“…BUT MARTHA WAS VERY BUSY AND DISTRACTED WITH ALL OF HER SERVING RESPONSIBILITIES…” (AMP); BUT MARTHA WAS PULLED AWAY BY ALL SHE HAD TO DO IN THE KITCHEN….” (MSG) Martha, you are not by yourself, so stop being so busy. Distractions are deadly, so pace yourself and focus your attention. There are only 24 hours in every day. You can only do but so much. So, do your part, and know when the scenes have changed, we’ve moved on to another part in the play. It’s now their time to act, their role is to be played, not yours. Leaders, know how to share parts, and know when to bow out when yours is done. You are not the only character in the story of the Kingdom.

“MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU ARE WORRIED AND BOTHERED AND ANXIOUS ABOUT SO MANY THINGS…” (AMP); “…“MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU’RE FUSSING FAR TOO MUCH AND GETTING YOURSELF WORKED UP OVER NOTHING….” (MSG) Martha, are the people around you becoming more and more annoyed by your presence? Have you even noticed? Martha, stop comparing, stop complaining, stop fussing, worrying, being anxious and bothered (and bothering everybody else by the way)! You’ve been getting yourself worked up over everybody and everything. Stop running around, and go sit down!

“…MARY, WHO SEATED HERSELF AT THE LORD’S FEET AND WAS CONTINUALLY LISTENING TO HIS TEACHING….” (AMP); “…MARY, WHO SAT BEFORE THE MASTER, HANGING ON EVERY WORD HE SAID…” (MSG) Martha, Balance With Mary! It’s not about being one or the other. It’s not about one being so much better than the other. The best is balancing the both of two great worlds. Serving and Sitting. Leading and Listening. Being at His Feet, and Being His Feet. Balance is Beautiful and Necessary! Leaders, the Head can’t be sick while expecting the Body to be Well. Everything Starts at the Top and Works Its Way Down. And Whether You are a Healthy or Unhealthy Leader, It Is Working Its Way Down From the Head to the Body. Do Not Become the Illness That Infects Your Own House!

“Balance is not something you FIND, it’s something you CREATE” (Jana Kingsford)

“Life is a balance of holding on, and letting go.” (Author Unknown)

“Life is about balance. Be kind, but don’t let people abuse you. Trust, but don’t be deceived. Be content, but never stop improving yourself.” (Author Unknown)

“Extremes are easy. Strive for balance.” (Colin Wright)

“The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.” (Gordon B. Hinckley)

“Life is a balance between what we can control and what we cannot. I am learning to live between effort and surrender.” (Danielle Orner)

“If the emotional bills don’t balance, there has to be an accounting.” (Marie Casey Stevens)

“Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between what people need from you and what you need for yourself.” (Jessye Norman)

“I want balance in my life.” (Ron Dellums)

1 Corinthians 12:18, “But now [as things really are], God has placed and arranged the parts in the body, each one of them, just as He willed and saw fit [with the best BALANCE of function].” (AMP);

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);

1 Peter 4:7, “The end and culmination of all things is near. Therefore, be sound-minded and self-controlled for the purpose of prayer [staying BALANCED and focused on the things of God so that your communication will be clear, reasonable, specific and pleasing to Him.]” (AMP);

1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober [WELL BALANCED and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.” (AMP) 

Leaders: Don’t Serve Life to Others, Yet Starve to Death Yourself!

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

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“The Stretching Is Strengthening Your Faith!”

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“…thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer” (Psalm 4:1)

When God wants to make you a bigger person, He does it through “Distress”! The word “Distress” has an Old French Origin “Destresce”, from Latin “Distringere” which literally means “To Stretch Apart”! And “Stretch” is defined as “To be made or able to be made longer; wider without tearing or breaking; to extend to full length; last longer than expected; extend over a period of time; be sufficient for a particular purpose; extended storage capacity; and to use the maximum of one’s resources”.

You see saints, when you look at “Distress” in its Proper Perspective it doesn’t seem all that bad at all now does it?!

The Psalmist was “…Enlarged…” when he was in “…Distress…”! Trust me, you’re going to want to remember that! To “Enlarge” is defined as “To Make Bigger”! So the Psalmist was Made Bigger By God’s Distressing Stretches which resulted in him being made longer, wider (without tearing or breaking apart), he now also has the ability to extend to his full length, and even last longer than others expected and over a good amount of time as well, not to mention being sufficient in his purpose and having more than enough in his storage capacity to use to the max all of his resources!

In other words, Stop Complaining About Your Distress…It’s the Place Where God Enlarges You! I Bet You’re Ready To Be Distressed Now Aren’t You?!

You see, the way to build a stronger muscle is to lift more weight! Now, when a muscle is put under stress, you groan. But if you persist, that muscle grows stronger and what you were groaning about last week you are smiling about this week, because you can now handle what you couldn’t get a hold of before! Which is why I’m still trying to figure out who said the Christian Life was supposed to be easy? Because It Certainly Was NOT God! His Word actually compares the Believers Life to a Battlefield, not a Bed of Roses! The Bible even declares: “…endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

Let’s look at how a few other translations word this text:

“Take [with me] YOUR SHARE of the hardships and suffering [which you are CALLED TO ENDURE] as a good (FIRST-CLASS) soldier of Christ Jesus” (AMP);

“Accept YOUR SHARE of suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (CEB);

“As a good solder of Christ Jesus YOU MUST endure your share of suffering” (CEV);

“Thou therefore suffer affliction as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (GNV);

“JOIN ME in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (GWT);

“TAKE YOUR PART in suffering, as a loyal soldier of Christ Jesus” (GNT);

Hopefully you noticed a few things:

1.       YOU SHOULD’VE NOTICED PHRASES LIKE: “YOUR SHARE” and “JOIN ME”, in the translations above. And why is that relevant? Because, believe it or not, you are not in your Distress ALONE! When God calls you to endure hardness, He does not send you as a lone soldier and call you an Army! So before you start complaining, realize that you are not the only one! Here’s a perfect Scriptural Example: Elijah said, “I am the ONLY ONE LEFT, and now they are trying to kill me, too” (1 Kings 19:10, 14) And God’s reply? “Yet I will preserve 7,000 OTHERS in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” (1 Kings 19:18). Right when you think you’re the ONLY ONE, God will show you He has 7,000 More, Just Like You! As hard and lonely as your distressing moment may feel, you are not alone! You have other brothers and sisters in distress with you! If you stop your self-made pity party, you could celebrate the presence of your comrades! You are not the only one struggling in marriage; you are not the only one praying the Lord has mercy on your children’s idiotic decisions; you are not the only one battling loneliness in the midnight hour; you are not the only one unemployed; taking medication; surviving an illness; dissatisfied with the reflection they see in the mirror; heartbroken or trying to figure out how do I get myself out of what I got myself into?! Listen, the military does not call one soldier an army! Neither does God! You have soldiers who are fighting day-to-day just like you to win the battles of life. And just like them, YOU must take YOUR SHARE and JOIN in the warfare with the rest of God’s Army! So no more murmuring and complaining, as the Word of God admonishes you, JOIN In the Suffering and TAKE YOUR SHARE As a Good Solider!

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” (Zig Ziglar);

“If you’re not going to put forth any effort to change it, don’t waste your efforts complaining about it.” (Author Unknown);

“Complaining is draining. Complaining only takes away energy from today and never solves the problems for tomorrow.” (James Altucher);

“If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” (Dr. Maya Angelou);

“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” (Teddy Roosevelt);

“If you’re not helping to make it right, then stop complaining about it being wrong.” (Author Unknown)

2.       DID YOU NOTICE THAT THOSE WHO “ENDURE” are “CALLED to Endure”? Read the text! “Take [with me] YOUR SHARE of the hardships and suffering [which you are CALLED TO ENDURE]…” (AMP) I find it absolutely Amazing that we don’t mind being called to preach, teach, prophesy, pray, preside, lay hands, lead the solo, sit in the pulpit, in the big, special chair, or on the front pew or to wear all sorts of titles, positions, offices, rings, robes and bedazzled crosses, but we Complain About Being Called To Endure! Oh, you can CALL us Apostle, Prophet, Bishop, Pastor, Elder, Evangelist, Minister, Deacon, Missionary, Director…Just Don’t CALL Us to Endure! Oh, you can CALL us blessed, anointed, gifted, talented, awesome, phenomenal, handsome, beautiful, smeared in blessed oil…Just Don’t CALL Us to Endure! Listen, “Endure” simply means “to suffer (something painful and prolonged) PATIENTLY; to TOLERATE; and to Remain in Existence” In other words, NO you’re not going to come out of it in 2 days, you are Called to Endure…Patiently! Tolerate it, Handle It, Remain in its Existence or in other words, Stop Trying to Outrun Suffering and Hardness That Is Your Share to Carry! Stand Still and Handle It, That’s What Good Soldiers Are Commanded To Do!

In addition, God Would Not Give You A Calling He Didn’t Equip You To Answer! Listen to the Word of God: “Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it).” (Hebrews 13:21 AMP); “ And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (Philippians 1:6 AMP); “And those whom He thus foreordained, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified (acquitted, made righteous, putting them into right standing with Himself). And those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity and condition or state of being].” (Romans 8:30 AMP) People of God, You Are Not In Your Distress Alone and God Called You to Endure It! And Last I Checked, Obedience Is Still Better Than Sacrifice!

“Without patient endurance, even the smallest thing becomes unbearable. A lot depends on our attitude.” (Dalai Lama);

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a difficult thing, but to turn it into glory.” (William Barclay);

“Don’t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” (Bruce Lee);

“Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen.” (Oswald Chambers);

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, Yet, I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” (Og Mandino);

“I’m a distance runner. I’ve been trained to keep going, even when it’s hard. When it hurts. When it sucks. When I don’t want to. I look past it. Relentless forward progress to the finish. Call it what you want; stubbornness, endurance, determination, guts. Deep down, I don’t know how to give up.” (Author Unknown)

3.       ONE OF THE TRANSLATIONS DECLARES, “…you MUST endure your share of suffering”(CEV)  The word “MUST” is defined as “To be obligated”. “Obligated” has a Latin Origin “Obligare”, from “Ligare” which literally means “To Bind”!  It’s root is found in the legal field and is called a “Binding Agreement/Contract”, and in a nutshell it is defined as: “An agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit known as consideration”. It also carries the definition, “An agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law”. If anyone in the Bible was the epitome of a “Binding Agreement/Contract”, it was the Apostle Paul! And even he was not alone, both Timothy and James were called Bondservants as well, and a Bondservants’ main purpose is to be Obedient To Their Master! When something is Binding Nothing Should Separate It! It’s an Agreement a Contract that Serves to Benefit Both Parties! You are indeed called to endure hardness and handle your place of distress, which means you are obligated to this also! This is not an option! This is a requirement! It’s a legal, written (the Bible) Law, Agreement and Contract between you and your God! So as Distressing as it may be, You MUST Endure It! Never Forget, Every Binding Agreement Comes With a Promise Attached!

“Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience.” (Steven Furtick);

“We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.” (Boyd K. Packer);

“Obedience is an act of faith; disobedience is the result of unbelief.” (Edwin Louis Cole);

“Obedience doesn’t make God love you more, but it does show that you love God.” (Greg J. Barber);

“Be obedient even when you do not know where obedience may lead you.” (Sinclair Ferguson);

“Obedience is a choice. It is a choice between our own limited knowledge and power and God’s unlimited wisdom and omnipotence.” (L. Tom Perry);

“Let the consequences of your obedience be left up to God.” (Oswald Chambers);

“God is awesome. He doesn’t need you to be awesome; He needs you to be obedient.” (Matt Chandler);

“There will be no peace in any soul until it is willing to obey the Voice of God.” (D.L. Moody);

“In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact.” (D. Todd Christofferson);

“Selective obedience brings selective blessings.” (Jorg Klebingat);

“When the Holy Spirit lays something in your heart, move without hesitation. You have no idea who may be depending on your immediate obedience.” (Author Unknown);

“He who refuses to obey, cannot command.” (Author Unknown)

4.       I’VE ALWAYS LOVED THE SAYING, “GOD DON’T MAKE NO JUNK!” And that’s the truth! One of the translations above even calls us, “…FIRST CLASS SOLDIERS…Even in Distress, We Are Still First-Class! We May Have to Endure Sitting In Distress, But At Least We Do It Sitting In First-Class! Listen, God Called You and Equipped You, Therefore, You Can Endure It! Yes, Your Uniform Has Been Beaten, Battered and, Torn, But Don’t You Dare Take It Off and Don’t You Dare Abandon It! You Are a First-Class Soldier and You Can Endure! So Act Like It!

“Don’t ever make the mistake of telling God that you have nothing to offer. That simply is not true. God does not create any junk.” (Dr. Myles Munroe);

“I am somebody cause God don’t make no junk.” (Ethel Waters);

“I am a Citizen of a Kingdom that Cannot be Shaken. A Child of a King with No Limitations.” (Author Unknown);

“You have something to offer that nobody else can offer. Nobody has your exact personality or your gifts. You are more than average. You are one-of-a-kind.” (Author Unknown)

And What Has All of That to do with Strengthening Your Faith? Well, Satan’s number one target is your FAITH! And if you don’t learn how to stand your ground in the midst of distressing seasons, he will aim at, and hit the target of your faith, piercing it through-and-through every time! Just ask Peter!

Jesus said to Peter, “…Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your FAITH should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32 NKJV). In the same way you separate wheat from chaff, Satan wants to separate you from your Faith!  Don’t Let It Happen! No Matter How Deep the Distress, No Matter How Far The Stretch, No Matter How Enormous The Endurance Must Be…Don’t Let Your Faith Fail!

Listen: Not only did Peter survive this attack, and strengthen his brothers, but he also grew through it and wrote: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12 NKJV). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

In other words, “There Will Be Glory After This!” And It’s Coming, Just Around the Corner! So remain steadfast on your journey! Fight, Endure, and While You’re Strengthening Your Faith, Strengthen Your Brothers, And Before You Know It, God Will Enlarge You IN Distress…And When It’s Done He Will Have Glory Waiting to Greet You…Just Around the Corner!

If Satan can destroy your confidence in God and His Word, he wins and you lose! So the Word for you today is to be encouraged because “The Stretching is Only to Strengthen Your Faith!

“You have to sweat for it. HE requires an investment from you. The miracle is in your discomfort. Stretch!” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“The circumstances of life will shrink or stretch your faith. Either way, the choice is always yours.” (James MacDonald)

“Sometimes God stirs us out of comfortable situations in order to stretch us and cause us to exercise our faith. We may not like it, and it may not always be comfortable, but God loves us too much to just leave us the way we are.” (Author Unknown)

“The stretching of your faith is an immediate pain that results in ultimate gain. It is in the waiting that we become who we are meant to be.” (Mandy Hale)

“This season, God is stretching you. You won’t pop, but you will stretch in your faith, dreams, vision, and goals. Trust God and stretch.” (Author Unknown)

“For God’s purpose to Spread, God’s people must Stretch.” (Steven Furtick)

“God doesn’t always take you out of the problem. Sometimes, He stretches your faith by taking you through the problem.” (Rick Warren)

“If God is stretching you, He’s transforming you.” (Author Unknown)

“You can’t grow without being stretched.” (Amy Gatliff)

“God’s plan is so big for you that it’ll require you to Stretch!” (Author Unknown)

“When God is stretching you, expect great things on the other side.” (Author Unknown)

“When God stretches you beyond your comfort zone, He’s preparing you for greater.” (Dianna Hobbs)

“God wants us to be constantly stretching and growing. There are new levels for you to rise up to. There are new treasures within you to discover. Explore what God has placed within you because He has purpose for everything within you.” (Victoria Osteen)

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: “8 Secrets of People Who Never Miss a Workout”

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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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“Don’t Miss Your Turn”

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“You have stayed here long enough. TURN…” (Deuteronomy 2:3 TLB)

God’s plan for your life always involves your gifts, His timing, and being in the right place. But three things can keep that from happening:

1…Fear of Failing: (For some reason we’re under the impression that failures are final and fatal, and that is far from the truth. When you read the Bible from cover-to-cover you will quickly discover that all of God’s children failed at some point in time. Absolutely none of them were perfect. They failed as Kings, Priests, Prophets, Judges, Leaders, Fathers, Mothers, Sons, Daughters, Male, Female, Married, Single, Young and Old Alike. No one that is flesh and blood is exempt from failure! However, failure is not to be feared, it’s to be learned from so that you better appreciate the success when it does come)!

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” (Thomas A. Edison)

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” (Michael Jordan)

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” (Henry Ford)

“Never Quit! If you stumble, get back up. What happened yesterday no longer matters. Today is another day, so get on track and move closer to your dreams. You can do it.” (Author Unknown)

LESSON TO LEARN: NEVER FEAR FAILURE BECAUSE IT’S NEVER FINAL OR FATAL!

2…Unwillingness to Leave Your Comfort Zone: (Sadly many people have not failed because of where they’ve gone, but because of where they’ve chosen to stay. Truth is, you can’t get THERE, remaining HERE! Which means daily you have to challenge yourself to do, try and experience new, different, uncomfortable and unfamiliar things. You have to learn to broaden your circle by getting out of the box! No one fulfills their Calling in a Comfort Zone. Jesus walked the world over healing and delivering, but it was the shedding of blood that brought salvation. Last I checked, the cross was not the most comfortable way to the crown, but He endured it, and whatever your cross is, endure it! Get out of your comfort zone, so you can finally fulfill your calling)!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. You won’t find glory at the center of safety, but at its edge. You won’t find love at a place where you are covered, but in the space where you are exposed. You gotta take some risks. You have to not only pick up the dice, but roll ’em. So go ahead, take the gamble. You have nothing to lose except the chance to win. Life is not long enough to spend it on the sidelines.” (Neale Donald Walsch)

“Step so far outside your comfort zone that you forget how to get back!” (Author Unknown)

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” (Author Unknown)

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” (Brian Tracey)

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” (John Maxwell)

“Sometimes it takes us traveling outside our comfort zone, to discover the abilities we never knew we had.” (Robert M. Hensel)

Lesson to Learn: Your Calling Will Not Be Fulfilled in Your Comfort Zone!

3…Being Swayed By the Opinions of Others: (Another sad commentary is that many people accomplish only minimal greatness because they’re so busy ignoring Christ and listening to Critics! If you are to do great things, you have to get past the opinions of people. And it doesn’t matter whether those opinions are good or bad. Even Jesus had Hosanna’s turn to Crucify by the same mouths! So likewise, you have to learn to do what God has called you to do, and be who He has called you to be, without the need for people opinions, validations, confirmations, seal of approval and pat on the back. When God gives the go ahead, only a fool allows others to stop him!

“I used to care about what people thought about me until one day I tried to pay my bills with their opinions and quickly realized how worthless their opinions really are.” (Author Unknown)

“Your opinion is not my reality.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Don’t let the noise of other peoples opinions drown out your inner voice.” (Steve Jobs)

“Don’t worry about other people’s opinions of you. God never told you to impress people; only to love them.” (Dave Willis)

“Leave people to their opinions and judgements. They cannot harm you; it is their understanding that is faulty, Not Yours.” (Leon Brown)

“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.” (Plato)

“The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.” (Osho)

Lesson to Learn: Don’t Allow the Opinions of Others to Hinder Your Obedience to God!

Remember This: Use Your Gifts, Move in God’s Timing, and Make Sure You Are Always in the Right Place! Never Allow Fear of Failure, The Crippling of Your Comfort Zone or the Opinions of Others to Stop Your Forward Progression!

In focusing on our text, there came a point where in order to enter the Promised Land, God said to Israel, “You have traveled around this mountain long enough. Now TURN…” (NLV). Please understand, that when you reach this point it’s crucial that you say yes to God and be willing to step out in faith! Whether God is directing you, or redirecting you, listen, heed and immediately obey!

Think about it, and let’s be honest, we can all admit that we’ve stayed in places longer than we should have. And to be even more brutally honest, many of us have stayed in stuff we should’ve never been in, in the first place! But how much longer do you intend to miss God? God said to them, “You have traveled around this mountain long enough…” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a “small mountain”. In other words, mountains are by definition Big! In fact, it’s defined as, “a mass of land rising abruptly and to a large height from the surrounding level.” That doesn’t sound too tiny to me! Can you imagine traveling around “a mass of land rising abruptly and to a large height from the surrounding level”? A mountain is massive! And the word “massive” means “large and heavy; solid; exceptionally large, intense, or severe.” So, people of God, I say to you, as God said to them, “You have traveled around this mountain long enough…” Or better yet, you’ve traveled around this massive, large, heavy, intense and severe situation long enough…WHEN DO YOU PLAN TO HEED GOD’S DIRECTION AND TURN?! It’s been a burden, it’s weighed you down, it has caused you to lose sleep, weight, hair, and peace. How much longer are you going to endure self-inflicted-suffering? God Himself is giving you permission to go in another direction, so what are you waiting for? Why are you still facing a dead-end? Why are you still standing by the cliff? Why are you stuck in park? MOVE! Better Yet…TURN!

I love the definitions of the word “Turn”: “to move into a different position; to go in the opposite direction of where you are currently; to change in nature, state or form.” However, my favorite is: “a place where a road meets or branches off into another; a turning point.” Another favorite: “a time when one period of time ends and another begins.” And that phrase “turning-point” is another favorite of mine: It’s defined as “a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.” Now, please tell me with all of that said, why have you yet to TURN?! People of God, it’s time for you to stop blaming, pointing fingers, complaining, having good intentions with no plans, a long list of “one day I’m going to…” and “I promise…” and finally you make a deliberate decision to do something! Based on the above definitions, it’s time for you to move into a different position, go in the opposite direction of where you’ve been traveling, make a change! In a nutshell: TURN!

The word “reposition” is a good one, it means “a strategic move to alter and adjust to a different position.” In other words, no I am by no means saying this will be easy, but I am definitely saying it will be worth it for you to deliberately make a strategic move and alter and adjust to different people, places and things! After all, the people, places and things that you’ve become accustomed to, have obviously not worked for you, so why not quit and get work elsewhere?! You’ve been doing this long enough, putting up with this long enough, tolerating this long enough, suffering because of this long enough! Now is the time to Reposition and Turn! Remember: “turn” is also “a place where a road meets or branches off into another; a turning point.” And a “turning-point” is “a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.”

In a nutshell: This Turn Is To Your Benefit, So What Are You Waiting For…TURN!

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the TURN” (Helen Keller)

During a famine God said to the prophet Elijah, “And the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Leave here and TURN east. Hide yourself by the river Cherith, east of the Jordan.  You will drink from the river. And I have told the ravens to bring food to you THERE.” So he went and did what he was told by the Word of the Lord. He went and lived by the river Cherith, east of the Jordan.  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and in the evening. And he drank from the river.” (1 Kings 17:2-6 NLV).

God’s PLAN for your life is always connected to a PLACE!

“…Leave here and TURN EAST…”; (1 Kings 17:2-6 NLV);

“You have traveled around this mountain long enough. Now TURN NORTH”; (Deuteronomy 2:3 TLB);

“The Lord said, “Ezekiel, son of man, TURN TOWARD THE SOUTH…” (Ezekiel 20:45-46 CEV);

“Moses…led the flock to the WEST…The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire…” (Exodus 3:1-2 MSG)

Are You Getting This? From all 4 corners of the Earth, God’s people are charged and challenged to make a TURN! EAST, NORTH, SOUTH, WEST! Likewise, it’s vital for your life and calling that you are always in the Right Place at the Right Time! This week is a good time to take a look around at the people, places and things in your life, and see where you need to make a Beneficial TURN for yourself!

Think about it: Elijah would’ve missed his provision in the EAST if he didn’t TURN; Israel would’ve missed the Promised Land if they didn’t TURN to the NORTH; Ezekiel would’ve missed his ministry opportunity to deliver a prophetic word if he didn’t TURN to the SOUTH; and Moses would’ve missed the burning bush if he didn’t TURN to the WEST! What are you missing out on because you have yet to TURN in the direction God has commanded?!

Listen, Even Jesus “…HAD to go through Samaria…” (John 4:4 NIV). The Message Bible says it like this, “TO GET THERE, HE HAD TO PASS THROUGH SAMARIA…” (MSG). In order to get THERE, you have to leave HERE! And why did Jesus have to go through Samaria? To meet a woman who was destined to reach that city with the Gospel. Can you imagine, a whole city would’ve missed out on hearing the Good News of the Gospel, if Jesus didn’t go through Samaria?! Believe it or not, but you being in the right place at the right time, is not just about you! There are some people who won’t receive what they need to until you get there! Some people won’t make a turn for the better until you’ve finally decided to make a turn from the worse! Some won’t get a turn, until you make you a turn! And do you really want to be held responsible for a whole city missing God because you missed your turn?!

And will all of your turns feel good? Absolutely not! However, you can’t just go where you like, God honors you when you’re where HE wants you to be! “Tell me,” Samuel said. “Does the Lord really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey Him.” (1 Samuel 15:22 CEV). So whether you’re being sent to the North, South, East or West is irrelevant! What’s important is that you obey the direction of the Lord when He tells you it’s time to make a TURN!

God has promised to bless you, but sometimes He has to reposition you in order for you to receive His blessing! Just ask Peter. He went from I’ll live and die with you Jesus, to being warmed by strange fire, with strange people, and lying about his identity to Jesus. However, it’s never too late to make a TURN, because he’s later restored, repositioned, and preaching redemption to thousands! Paul went from killing Christians to speaking life and resurrecting them! It’s amazing what just a little TURN in the right direction can accomplish! In other words, it’s not too late for you either! So, MAKE THE TURN…BEFORE YOU MISS YOUR TURN!

Think about this as well: It was when Ruth moved to Bethlehem that she met Boaz and married him; it was when Bartimaeus went to where Jesus was that he received his sight! In a nutshell: You Don’t Want to Miss Your Turn Because You Missed Your Turn! Make sure you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, doing the right thing! After all, to miss God, is just wrong!

In closing, can you imagine how Abraham’s story would’ve read had he missed his TURN in Genesis 12:1? “Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.The Living Bible says it like this, “God told Abram, “Leave your own country behind you…” (TLB). And the Amplified Bible reads, “…Go for yourself [for your own advantage] away from your country…” (AMP). Abram had to leave some people, places and things BEHIND HIM and FOR HIS OWN ADVANTAGE, AND TURN IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION ALTOGETHER! And what was the blessing for his obedient TURN? “If you do, I will cause you to become the father of a great nation; I will bless you and make your name famous, and you will be a blessing to many others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; and the entire world will be blessed because of you.” (Genesis 12:2-3 TLB).  And All Because He Refused to Miss His Turn By Missing His Turn! Verse 4, is the bonus, “SO ABRAM LEFT JUST AS GOD SAID…” (MSG). What Blessings Are You Missing Out On Because You’re Still In the Same Place?! What Blessings Are You Missing Out On Because You Didn’t Listen When God Spoke?!

And was this the only time Abram would have to make a TURN? Absolutely Not! He would eventually have to TURN away from Lot, who was originally granted permission by Abram to go with him! However, Once Again, Do to Making Another Timely TURN, the Word of God Declares: “After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, “Open your eyes, look around. Look NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, AND WEST. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever. I’ll make your descendants like dust—counting your descendants will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. So—on your feet, GET MOVING! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17 MSG)

Abram Made a Timely TURN, and God Made Abram a Timeless Promise! If You Don’t Want to Miss Yours As Well, Today, Determine to MAKE A TURN!

“No matter how far you go in the wrong direction, there’s always a chance to TURN your life around.”  (Author Unknown)

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: “Women’s Hair Loss: Thinning Hair, Causes and Solutions”

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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

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“Don’t Miss Your Mentor’s Mantle”

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2 Kings 2:1-15, “Just before God took Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on a walk out of Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Bethel.” Elisha said, “Not on your life! I’m not letting you out of my sight!” So they both went to Bethel. The guild of prophets at Bethel met Elisha and said, “Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?” “Yes,” he said, “I know it. But keep it quiet.” Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Jericho.” Elisha said, “Not on your life! I’m not letting you out of my sight!” So they both went to Jericho. The guild of prophets at Jericho came to Elisha and said, “Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?” “Yes,” he said, “I know it. But keep it quiet.” Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to the Jordan.” Elisha said, “Not on your life! I’m not letting you out of my sight!” AND SO THE TWO OF THEM WENT THEIR WAY TOGETHER. Meanwhile, fifty men from the guild of prophets gathered some distance away while the two of them stood at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up, and hit the water with it. The river divided and the two men walked through on dry land. When they reached the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you before I’m taken from you? Ask anything.” Elisha said, “YOUR LIFE REPEATED IN MY LIFE. I WANT TO BE A HOLY MAN JUST LIKE YOU.” “That’s a hard one!” said Elijah. “BUT IF YOU’RE WATCHING WHEN I’M TAKEN FROM YOU, YOU’LL GET WHAT YOU’VE ASKED FOR. BUT ONLY IF YOU’RE WATCHING.” And so it happened. They were walking along and talking. Suddenly a chariot and horses of fire came between them and Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven. ELISHA SAW IT ALL and shouted, “My father, my father! You—the chariot and cavalry of Israel!” When he could no longer see anything, he grabbed his robe and ripped it to pieces. THEN HE PICKED UP ELIJAH’S CLOAK THAT HAD FALLEN FROM HIM, returned to the shore of the Jordan, and stood there. He took Elijah’s cloak—all that was left of Elijah!—and hit the river with it, saying, “Now where is the God of Elijah? Where is he?” WHEN HE STRUCK THE WATER, THE RIVER DIVIDED AND ELISHA WALKED THROUGH. The guild of prophets from Jericho saw the whole thing from where they were standing. They said, “THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH LIVES IN ELISHA!” They welcomed and honored him.” (MSG)

Question: Where have all the Mentors gone? And since I’m a woman, let me talk from a woman’s perspective today (brothers, please don’t be offended, I’ll get back to you next week, ALTHOUGH, if you pay close attention, I’m sure you’ll still be able to glean something of encouragement from today’s devotional too).

Now, when I ask where are all the Mentors, I mean where are the older, wiser women who once taught younger women to bake bread, sew clothing and keep their kitchens spotless? Where are the women who once gathered in homes for coffee and encouragement? Where are the women who taught other women how to be good mothers, supportive wives, and holy single women? Where are the women who taught you how a godly woman ought to dress, behave and speak? Where have all the Mentors gone?

Well, truth is, they haven’t disappeared entirely. They can be found in the church, in homes, offices, neighborhoods and schools. Their focus may have changed a bit in this day and time, but they are still there for the younger women who have much to learn from them!

I often share with people that I wasn’t raised in a “Christian household”, nor was I raised in church. For some who’ve known me for the last 20 years or so, would be shocked to hear that (and I indeed count it as a humbling honor), but truth is I wasn’t on the choir, I was in the club; I wasn’t taking communion, I was taking shots at the bar; I wasn’t preaching, I was partying! 

However, when I turned 25, and was homeless with 2 children on my own with nothing more than a high school diploma and no job or money, Jesus started to look pretty good to me! Seriously! 

Well, I eventually made it to a little underground, Baptist church and if you saw what I looked like you would be amazed that the mother board didn’t attempt to take me and drown me in the baptismal pool, with or without salvation! LOL! You see, I walked in with braids down to my behind; a face full of cheap make-up amateurishly applied; a mouth worse than the worse cussing sailor on the high seas in the midst of a disastrous storm; a sheer tank top, colored bra and a skirt the size of belts I wear now (and it still had two splits on the side…LOL) Talk about a hot mess! I’m so grateful ‘selfies’ and the like were not around! However, a true fun fact is, in 1997 (the exact same year of my 25 birthday and the year I received Christ, while looking a hot mess), the first recognizable social media site, Six Degrees, was created! Talk about being grateful! God got me before social media could! LOL! THANK YOU JESUS! And people are running around thanking God for houses, cars, and jobs! I was thanking God that He called me before social media caught me! I reiterate, a Hot Mess!  

And yet, it’s the older women I remember and cherish most about my early days of salvation.  They were indeed the epitome of love, encouragement, support and help (in addition to rebuke, reprove, correction and instruction)! I will never forget a single one of them! And here’s a few reasons why:

I had one mother that said, “baby go in the bathroom and wash that makeup off your pretty face! You know how many ugly women need those products that you’re wasting on your face?” That’s Old School though, (she didn’t care two cents about how she delivered her message, nor how I felt when I received it!) LOL! I laugh now, and I certainly laughed then! And believe it or not, I went straight in that bathroom and did what mother said do!  Truth is, I loved the church mothers because at least they were too busy talking to my Face to talk behind my Back! FACTS! They were a bold Baptist bunch who were determined to make me a believer, voluntarily or involuntarily! One way or another, they were going to make me right with God no matter how wrong I was!

Another one of the mothers came up to me and explained what a “lap cloth” is and why I needed one…desperately…again, I laugh now, and I certainly laughed then! You see, mother said, “why buy the cow when they can get the milk for free? And baby you’ve already let 2 men dabble in your milk, no sense in letting them take your cheese too” LOL! Honey, I thought I would hit the floor on that one! I was like “WHAT?!” What the heck does that even mean? LOL! What does milk and cheese have to do with sex, babies and salvation?! LOL! But mother didn’t play! So, trust when I tell you, grown or not, I learned to wear my skirts covering my shoes with my legs tightly crossed and still had on a “lap scarf“! Good times I tell you the truth! Oh, I was determined to stay saved, and mother was more determined to keep me saved!

Not to mention the mothers who helped my mouth get delivered!  One mother said “ignorant women curse, intelligent women either use wise words, or utilize the strength of restraint and be quiet. Fools argue with fools, wise women know the wealth of their words (and their silence) and simply walk away”. I must admit, I cussed a few more folks out after that, but I eventually got better…a little better…LOL!

Serious Moment: I tell you, I was blessed to be surrounded by older women who invested in me. Not my gifts, ministry, anointing, calling, purpose, destiny etc…but Me…Personally! They helped me dress better, speak wiser, act appropriately, behave more becoming, and they certainly were not shy at all about calling me on the carpet about anything that reappeared from my pre-saved days! LOL!

These same women helped me to go to school, get a job, an apartment, and to raise my daughters in the admonition of the Lord. They taught me about saving money, about tithing, about dating appropriately and dating appropriate men, since I was single at the time. With that said, I’ll never forget the first time a mother said to me “not him baby, that’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing“.  Now, that may make sense to you who have been saved all your little life. But imagine someone saying that to someone not raised in church at all?! Now, I’ve heard of men being equated to dogs (‘all men are dogs’, as the saying goes), but never had I in all my days heard of a man being equated with a wolf and a sheep! And just how did the wolf shear the sheep to get its wool and make clothes out of it?! And where was all of this found in the Bible?! What exactly was the lesson I was supposed to walk away with here?! I was like, mothers what are you doing to my sanity! What in the world did dating, sex, men, sheep and wolves have to do with being saved?! LOL!!!!! I couldn’t figure out if the man was bad because he was a dangerous wolf, or bad because he was a punk sheep! Yall laugh, but church folks, you can’t use “church lingo” on everybody! If nothing else, develop a Church Dictionary and give it to unbelievers when they cross over so we all know what yall talking about! You can go ahead and laugh, by now you know I laughed then…and I’m certainly laughing now!

These same women invited me to their homes for cooking lessons and sewing lessons (and yet I still hate to sew to this day!)

And these women were smart too! I had one mother who was the mother of all mothers say, “you are so pretty with your cute little figure, now this is what you’re going to do in the church to keep your pretty little cute figure…SAVED!” Next thing I knew, I was a Missionary, Choir and Praise Team Member, Usher, and First Lady’s Assistant! LOL! Not to mention I was at church every Sunday before anybody, standing on the steps with my 2 babies waiting for Pastor to open the church house! LOL! Those were the days! Honey, those mothers had me in prayer and bible study (every Tuesday); missionary meetings (every Wednesday); usher meetings (every Thursday); rehearsals (every Friday); and Monday nights I met with one of the Sunday School Teachers, who taught me at her house how to read and understand the bible! And Saturdays were no longer party day’s, they became the day I had to study for my missionary class, usher class, Sunday School, and back then our choir had homework….literally….homework! Like, here’s the paper with the words to the song, now go home and find at least 5 scriptures to support this song being sung in church…LOL! First Lady Was Crazy! LOL!  

Those mothers/women were determined! I was a real life Christian Frankenstein project! They didn’t care how I came in there, but they certainly refused to let me stay that way! LOL!

Well, sisters, I share all of this with you because we need this kind of support and love in the church today (especially for our younger women, and our babes in Christ). We have more than enough criticism and judgments, we need those who look past all of the outer exterior and help people from the inside…out! It works, I’m a witness!

Listen, my youngest daughter Ashley, if she walked in your church today you more than likely would think she knows absolutely nothing about Jesus! She has around 30 tattoos, 20 piercings, red, green, silver, pink, purple, multicolored hair and contacts (depending on the mood of the  day), her finger nails are long and pointy, she wears open-toe sandals in winter and leather jackets in summer! Everything about her outer appearance is questionable, and I’m her mama! LOL! But little do people know she’s been in church since she was four and singing on the choir and praise teams since then as well. She’s never missed Sunday school or bible study, or prayer meetings or rehearsals, and she still had to memorize a Scripture every Sunday to stand before the congregation to recite. She worked with the youth and dancers, and at home had to do devotional service in the morning before I took them to school and at night before they went to bed. But by her outer appearance many would assume she knew nothing about Jesus and was raised in the streets! But that’s why mentors are so vitally needed in church. I didn’t have to raise her by myself, she had a whole church that became grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and they helped her to grow into a phenomenal young woman! Still strange, but phenomenal nonetheless! LOL! She loves God and to see her get lost in praise and worship has brought this mother to tears many of days. Mentors, there are a whole lot of ‘Shermaine’s” and ‘Ashley’s’ out there that look different than you’re accustomed to for a ‘church lady‘, but she needs God and you can get her to Him, regardless of what she looks like in the process! Don’t judge, just help! Don’t criticize, just help! Don’t gossip, just help! Don’t try to make them change, just help! Many of us look quite different on the outside, but we have a David’s heart for God on the inside, don’t be the one that gets in the way of that development and growth!

Now, I was far from perfect then and now, but I promise you I would’ve easily been in a grave and had my children taken from me, had those women not stepped into my life and turn it completely upside down! I will forever be grateful for all of my awesome motherly mentors!

You see, some Mentors are much like Elijah, who was faithfully carrying on his role as God’s prophet when he saw Elisha working in his father’s fields. He saw the potential in this young man, so he threw his mantle on Elisha’s shoulders, symbolically passing the leadership to the next generation.  (1 Kings 19:19, “So Elijah left there and found Elisha son of Shaphat, whose plowing was being done with twelve yoke of oxen, and he drove the twelfth. Elijah crossed over to him and cast his mantle upon him.” AMPC) Elisha then said good-bye to his old life and moved forward, following Elijah and learning from the older man. I’m so grateful that I had mentors/women/mothers, who looked past all of my problems and still saw some potential.  Elisha was busy in the fields, but I was busy having fun. And still my Elijah’s found me, saw my potential, and they went to work to make sure that my potential produced something!

Eventually we find the prophetic pair at Bethel, the house of God. Elisha had steadfastly, faithfully and consistently stayed with his Mentor Elijah. Even when Elijah commanded Elisha to remain in Bethel, Elisha refused, saying he would never leave the older prophet’s side. You see they left Gilgal together and Elijah told him to stay put as he would go forth on his assignment. But for Elisha he followed Elijah to Bethel, to Jericho and then on to Jordan. Thus, Elisha expressed his love and faithfulness not only to Elijah, but also to God. Elisha vowed never to leave Elijah, and he didn’t until he had gleaned everything he needed to know from this godly man, until he received the blessing of his Mentor, until he watched his Mentor vanish in a heavenly whirlwind. I love the way Elisha stuck like glue to Elijah, because I certainly did the same with my mentors/mother’s! I watched everything they did; I listened to how they talked; I mimicked how they would sit as ladies, back straight and head held high with shoulders squared! I would dress as they dressed, tone down my makeup, clean up my speech, whatever they did, I did. I was determined to be better, and they were determined to make me better!

Truth is, we all need Mentors like Elijah: women who have faced challenges and overcome them; women who have grown through struggle and perseverance; women who have seen God perform miracles; women who have gone through hard times and experienced God’s presence with them. 

We all need Mentors who make us better physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, academically, socially, spiritually, etc…We All Need Mentors!

We all need Mentors/Women who can pass on the news that God’s Word is still active and dynamic among us. Those who will teach us how to pray instead of having pity parties; teach us to search the scriptures instead of seeking out a girlfriend to get bad advice from; to teach us to fast instead of fall apart over every failure! We all need Mentors to correct our speech; our dress attire; our attitude; our behavior; our laziness etc…We need Mentors to sayno honey, you not ready for marriage, motherhood or ministryWe all need Mentors!

Why? Because these are the very ones who can place the mantle on our shoulders and confirm that we’re ready to move on to greater tasks, or withhold that mantle until they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we’ve matured enough to carry it!

Mentors, we need your insight; knowledge; understanding; wisdom; discernment; guidance; counsel; experience. We even need to know your failures, mistakes, missteps, mishaps and the like too. In essence, we need you to help us to walk around the pitfalls you fell into!

So…Who are the godly women walking along the roads in your life, willing to pass on the knowledge they’ve gained? Who has watched you as you’ve worked in your Bible study, your volunteer position or at your job? Who has seen your gifts and your potential? Who stands by waiting to knock you down a few pegs when you get arrogant, conceited, prideful and entitled; or lifts you up when you feel low? Who corrects you, rebukes you, trains you instead of just tolerating you? 

Find Your Elijah! And while you’re at it, try being like Elisha. Follow your Elijah and glean from her knowledge of the living God concerning how to best serve Him and live for Him. 

Remember Elijah’s words to Elisha,if you see me, you’ll get from me what you asked”. Elisha Kept His Eyes On His Mentor, Stayed In Close Proximity and Obeyed Him and Thus He Received Elijah’s Mantle! But the key is, he watched his mentor! Unfortunately, too many of us are trying to be seen, that we’re not watching, and thus we’re missing the mantle! Selah…

Get a Mentor, Stay Close, Be Obedient, Remain Watchful, So You Don’t Miss Your Mantle!

“…And so it happened. They were walking along and talking. Suddenly a chariot and horses of fire came between them and Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven. ELISHA SAW IT ALL and shouted, “My father, my father! You—the chariot and cavalry of Israel!” When he could no longer see anything, he grabbed his robe and ripped it to pieces. THEN HE PICKED UP ELIJAH’S CLOAK THAT HAD FALLEN FROM HIM, returned to the shore of the Jordan, and stood there. He took Elijah’s cloak—all that was left of Elijah!—and hit the river with it, saying, “Now where is the God of Elijah? Where is he?” WHEN HE STRUCK THE WATER, THE RIVER DIVIDED AND ELISHA WALKED THROUGH. The guild of prophets from Jericho saw the whole thing from where they were standing. They said, “THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH LIVES IN ELISHA!” They welcomed and honored him.” (MSG)

There will always be evidence that you are carrying your mentor’s mantle! Elisha was able to do what his mentor did, and not out of comparison or competition either! And the other prophets saw him, and their collective testimony was, “THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH LIVES IN ELISHA!” THEY WELCOMED AND HONORED HIM.” Would people be able to say the same about you? Do they see the reflections of your mentor in your life, speech, behavior and actions? Can they see the evidence that you’ve been a good student and follower?

Remember to do as Elisha did, stay close, obey and be watchful!

Reflection Questions:

  1. Who do you see as an Elijah, faithfully serving God in your community/church/life? Have you reached out to them for mentoring?
  1. What do you need to do to become more available to learn from a godly Mentor?
  1. Who do you trust to tell it like it is?
  1. Who pat’s you on the back and simultaneously kicks you in the butt?
  1. Who teaches you; trains you; instructs you?
  1. Who invests time into developing and maturing you?
  1. If you have a mentor, how well do you think they’re doing? How well do you think they would say you’re doing?
  1. Name 1 woman who has mentored you the greatest and why?
  1. What is the best mentor advice you’ve ever received?
  1. In what ways could you become a Mentor to another woman?

1 Kings 19:19-21, “Elijah went straight out and found Elisha son of Shaphat in a field where there were twelve pairs of yoked oxen at work plowing; Elisha was in charge of the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha deserted the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please! Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye—then I’ll follow you.” “Go ahead,” said Elijah, “but, mind you, don’t forget what I’ve just done to you.” So Elisha left; he took his yoke of oxen and butchered them. He made a fire with the plow and tackle and then boiled the meat—a true farewell meal for the family. Then he left and followed Elijah, becoming his right-hand man.” (MSG)

Titus 2:1-5, “Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.” (MSG)

Elijah’s, Find Your Elisha’s, They Have Need of You!

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

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“How to Get UP When You’re DOWN”

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“Elijah was…just like us…” (James 5:17 NIV)

There are times in life when we ALL feel down. Today, we’ll take notice of how Elijah got Down, but more importantly, HOW HE GOT BACK UP:

1…IT HAPPENED ON THE HEELS OF A GREAT VICTORY: He didn’t start out in Doldrums (which is defined as a state of stagnation or depression), and he didn’t fall into sin (as most saints like to analyze and assume that’s the cause to every downcast spirit). NO, ON THE CONTRARY, he’d just called down fire from heaven and slain 450 false prophets (1 Kings 18:22-39)! So he went from Exhilaration to Exhaustion IN AN INSTANT! Ever been there? I know I have. Elijah was weary, with his defenses down and vulnerability up, so he fell into a natural depression, because fatigue always strips us of focus and fight! And to tell the truth, we could really be a blessing to others if we’d all simply learned to be honest enough to share with folks thatI’ve been there.” When everything was going right, and then out of nowhere, in the midst of the battle you had to cry out, “I’ve been hit!In my own personal life, I went from shouting Sunday, to rushed to the hospital Wednesday, to have my dad pass away Friday. My body, soul and spirit all shut completely down! And I even began to feel guilty, as though my title didn’t entitle me to breakdown (PEOPLE OF GOD, DON’T EVER BELIEVE SUCH A LIE!) But I thank God for a nucleus of honest folks that simply said, ‘the preacher in you may not want to cry, but the daughter in you has too. Be real, be free, and do what you got to do to get through.‘ Will that be an easy task to accomplish? Absolutely not! Because before I knew it, I ended up crying out yet again, “I’ve been hit!” My mom became ill and I became her guardian in more ways than I could count. It was first some complications due to diabetes, then over the course of five years added to her health struggles was a toe amputation; breast cancer (which led to a loss of hair); her skin started to breakout in acne, sores and rashes, kidney failure and dialysis; over 20 pills a day; a cane; then a walker; then surgeries. She ended up having to retire from work, and could no longer do her own laundry or groceries, or go to her doctor appointments or pharmacy alone. She could no longer even bathe herself. Then cooking and cleaning became a hardship. She ended up on a portable oxygen machine that she hated with a passion. Finally, she went one day to have her vein port checked, she didn’t feel well at the doctor after the procedure and yet went home anyway. A few minutes after being home, she collapsed and stopped breathing. By the time she arrived at the hospital, she had gone too long without oxygen to the brain. She was comatose from March 16th to the day before the plug was pulled on April 1st and she passed away. I share this all with you, because we all suffer hurt, depression, struggle, confusion, dismay, anger and the like. And the most dangerous thing you can do for your body, soul, spirit, heart and mind, is to pretend like you’re unaffected, especially when you have a title, and therefore, don’t feel entitled to breakdown. I didn’t cry during her service, funeral, or even burial. It actually took me a few days before it really hit, that she’s gone. And that’s when I broke. More than her loss of life was the guilt of knowing that this was the one and only doctor’s appointment that I didn’t take her to personally. So the what if’s became like daily daggers to my body, soul and spirit. And can I tell you I’m over it all, honestly? No, that would not be the full truth. I still struggle, especially during holidays, or if my mind wanders to a particular memory. What I’m saying folks is it’s okay to be hit, and to hurt and even to cry and bleed. But don’t stop there. Keep moving towards healing. Just know that you’ll never get to healing with honesty. So even if you were just promoted, got the house, got the car, got the clean bill of health, had the baby, got married, passed the test, graduated school…know that for every high, lows come on their heels. It’s not sinful to want to throw in the towel after being so high, only to be hit so low. Which is why you have to learn to guard yourself when you’re walking through your bed of roses…thorns are still ever present! Elijah went from high to low in an instant, and so have many of us. So don’t feel guilty! Leader and laity alike, we all get dealt some very harsh life blows. And yet I encourage you to keep going (even if you have to make some pit stops along the way to catch your second wind), still keep going. Never stop moving towards healing! Just Remember: The Best Way To Get Up…Is To Get Honest…Especially With Yourself, Than Others!

2…FEAR CAUSED HIM TO LOSE PERSPECTIVE: The man of God who’d just faced down an evil MULTITUDE, ended up running from ONE WOMAN (1 Kings 19)! Fear made him forget God’s power; it skewed (distorted) his perspective and left him feeling suicidal! Exhaustion coupled with Fear is Dangerous! It invites feelings of hopelessness, wrongful thinking, and creates the illusion that your options are all gone! I’ve been there too, when fear gripped me so badly that I felt like it had a choke-hold on me! To an extent it crippled my perspective! Everything was going wrong AT THE SAME TIME! Within the span of a few months I had 3 back-to-back health issues, surgery, marriage challenges, a dead father, a sick mother and 2 unemployed, struggling family members, depending on me to carry them through! All I wanted to do was crawl in a hole and never resurface again! It was as if multiple gunshots were piercing me and I was losing too much blood to hold on any longer! Fear had a vice-grip on me. 1 John 4:18 says it like this, “fear hath torment“ And that’s how I felt, and I’m sure how Elijah felt… “tormented”. But bear in mind, that same text declares, “…perfect love casteth out fear.“ Holding on to the perfect, unconditional love of God will refocus your fearful perspective every time, no matter what or who you’re facing! Here’s another personal testimony: I went to have a mammogram done the first week of 2019. The results came to my primary doctor that the left breast was fine, but the right one needed to have further mammogram imaging and a possible ultrasound, since the mammogram was obscured. I received that letter and please let me share my complete honesty with you. My first reaction was I cried. I was nervous and fearful. I immediately thought of all the worst case scenarios. The first thing that popped in my mind was that my mom had breast cancer (she didn’t die from it, and was a year later cleared, but in my mind, she still had it, and possibly I did too). Fear immediately shifted my focus and perspective to death instead of life. It actually wasn’t until I went into my daily prayer in my living-room one morning when it hit me. The letter did not say I had breast cancer, it didn’t even suggest that. All it really said was that my mammogram was inconclusive and needed further testing. However, in that moment on that previous night, that’s not how the letter read in my mind at least. But being in prayer, and sharing my heart with God and having Him share His with me, brought a calm that I gave away to fear, freely. I needed to make another appointment, get the tests done, wait for the results, walk by faith, believe the report of the Lord that by His stripes I am healed. And when my doctor does call, we’ll go from there. I reiterate, I share this with you because sometimes we can feel like we lose a portion of our calling, anointing, gifts and ministry because we’re honest that life dealt us a blow that we weren’t prepared to receive. However, that is not the case at all. Let no one and nothing make you feel as if you are ever doing life alone. Your God is an ever present God. There’s nowhere you can go and He not already be there. You can cry, pace, and even get on the verge of throwing in the towel, and still God will be right there saying, ‘as soon as you’re done, I’ll be right here for you to talk to.’ Being saved does not in any way exempt us from trials, struggles, pain, hurt, loss, and the like. It doesn’t even exempt us from moments of human feelings of being nervous, panicked, fearful, scared or worried. The great thing for us however, is that we have a loving Father that we can take all of that too. He’s ready and willing to catch anything we cast on Him! Therefore, People of God, no matter what’s going on, what’s going wrong or what’s going nowhereREFOCUS! GOD WILL ALWAYS USE HIS PERFECT LOVE TO SHIFT YOUR FOCUS FROM FEAR BACK TO FAITH!

3…HE BECAME ISOLATED: Elijah left his servant at Beersheba and journeyed into the wilderness ALONE (1 Kings 19:3-4). When you most need support, anxiety, a sense of inadequacy and fear of failure, will push you into isolation every time! At that point you’re in the worst possible company – YOUR OWN! Elijah thought, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me” (vs 10, 14). Translated: “It’s bad and I can’t see it getting any better!Note that WHEN YOU’RE DOWN, THAT’S THE WRONG TIME TO ISOLATE YOURSELF! That’s when you need to reach for God, and the people who love you and can help you back up! Here’s some more honesty for you, I’m a loner by nature. I don’t like crowds, and sometimes even one other person is a crowd to me, especially if I’m going through something. The worse part for me is that when I’m hurting I don’t want anyone to see it, hear it or know it. So I often go into isolation. Family and friends don’t hear from me. I become very closed off and distant. If you get two words out of me in an hour that’s a lot. I don’t answer my phone. And for some this will be a system shocker, but the one place I have a bad tendency to avoid is church. As a leader, I came up under the ‘fake it till you make it’ era; show no signs of weakness or fear; hide everything and share nothing; dress up and show up no matter what. Such training however, causes you to have a very skewed mindset. I would began to feel like, ‘I’m in Elder, they can’t see me crying; I’m a Doctor of Christian Education with a second doctorate in Pastoral Care and Leadership; I have 10 degrees under my belt; I’ve overcome some crazy physical, mental, emotional and spiritual attacks; people can’t see me have a weak moment, what would they think? I’m married to an Elder; we’ve raised our children by faith to believe God for any and everything, how can I let anyone see my vessel has cracks? People come to me for wisdom, counsel, advice and direction, what do I look like going to them for the same things? I travel and teach and preach the Power of God, His Word, His Will and His Way, I can’t let anyone see that I’m now struggling to pray, avoiding His Word, not sure if I’m all the way in His Will and feel as lost as if I were never found.’ Please hear my heart when I tell you, do not isolate yourself with only yourself, when you’re down and out! As a matter of fact, today is a good day to re-exam your circle and the company you keep. Do you have people who know how to wipe your tears, who can hear your silence, who are genuine shoulders to lean on and trusted ears? Do you have people that know when to let you cry, and then when to tell you that’s the last tear I better see fall! Do you have people that will call you out of your isolation? Do you have faith infusers when your fears are draining your faith of substance? You need people in your circle that refuse to allow you to ball up in the corner and die! Pay Attention to the Admonishment of Scripture: “How can two walk together accept they agree?” “Jesus sent them out two-by-two.” “One will chase a thousand, and two will put ten thousand to flight.” So never isolate yourself when going through! Galatians 6 says, “…Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens…” If you’ll take a brief moment to lift your bowed down head, you may be surprised at how many are, “Stooped down and reaching out willing to help you bear your burdens…” You my friend are not in this life journey alone! There are people all around you who will be there with you during the u-turns; wrong turns; dead-ends; cliffs ahead; slippery roads; caution paths; steep valley’s and seemingly immovable mountains. You are not alone! We are one church with many members, but most importantly we are ONE UNITED CHURCH! Don’t separate yourself in times of struggle!

SO, after all of that, what was God’s prescription for getting Elijah back on his feet? A lecture on the Prophet’s faltering faith? NO! JUST REST AND NOURISHMENT! I know you thought it would be something really deep right (as church folks, we always do)?! But God recognizes our limitations, even when we don’t. His Word declares, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3). The Message Bible says it like this, “He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and He won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but He’ll steadily and firmly set things right.”  

Therefore, People of God, WHEN YOU’RE DOWN, DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF! GET AROUND THOSE WHO WILL HELP YOU REST AND AID YOU WITH NOURISHMENT! SPIRITUAL ANOINTING SHOULD NEVER RESULT IN NATURAL ABUSE! YOU ARE NEVER SO ANOINTED THAT YOU IGNORE THE SIGNS THAT YOU’RE BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT HAVE TAKEN ON TOO MUCH BURDEN AND TOO MUCH BAGGAGE! MATURITY IS A GOOD BALANCE OF SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL WELL BEING!

When we neglect our own LEGITIMATE NEEDS, it shows up in our Attitude!

And God understands that being down is a “Perspective” problem, and getting back up simply requires an Adjustment in four crucial areas:

(a) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S GOD-PERSPECTIVE: “Get in the presence of God and he’ll meet with you“ (1 Kings 19:11). The One who gave Elijah victory on Mount Carmel, could also sustain him in the desert of Jezreel! But first Elijah had to spend time with Him, otherwise he was stalled on an emptying tank! People of God, Before You Can Deal With Your Problem, You’ve Got to Dwell In His Presence!

(b) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S WORLD-PERSPECTIVE: Elijah said, “God’s covenant is broken, His altar destroyed, His prophet’s murdered, and I’m the only one left.” (vs. 14) But God showed Elijah that He still had the necessary resources and strategies to accomplish His purposes, even in a hostile environment! So, People of God, stop allowing your limitations to limit God! You Are Not All God Has Left! So when you need to sit out a few games, don’t feel as though you’ve lost your position, you’re just being repositioned to regain new strength in order to win!

(c ) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S SELF-PERSPECTIVE: The Prophet saw himself as helpless and inadequate: “Lord, let me die…I am no better than those who preceded me.” (vs. 4). But God showed him there were still kings to anoint, battles to win, and He “…knew the plans He had…” for Elijah, and the important role he was to play in all of it (vs. 16). You May Want to Throw in the Towel, But There’s Far Too Much More God Has For You To Do! So, People of God, Take That Same Towel, Wipe Your Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Weep From the Pain, Wrap Your Wounds, and Keep On Fighting!

(d) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S FRIENDSHIP-PERSPECTIVE: He sent Elisha to minister to him (vs. 21). You’re not supposed to carry it alone! No matter how big and bad you think you are! Allow yourself to need help, and watch who God sends! Church, Check Your Friendship Circle and Make Sure Your Elisha Is Present! If He Is, Lean On Him, If He’s Not Locate Him!

Today, ask God to Adjust Your Perspectives and Help You to Refocus!

Truth is, You’ve Been Down Long Enough…It’s Time You Finally Get Back Up, the Kingdom and the World Has Need of YOU!

“A person who falls and gets back up, is much stronger than a person who never fell.” (Author Unknown)

“In life, many things don’t go according to plan. If you fall, get back up. If you stumble, regain your balance. Never give up.” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you have ever been, to stand up taller than you ever were.” (Author Unknown)

“Never quit. If you stumble, get back up. What happened yesterday no longer matters. Today’s another day, so get back on track and move closer to your dreams and goals. You can do it.” (Author Unknown)

“Never let a stumble be the end of your journey.” (Author Unknown)

“The true measure of success is how many times you can bounce back from failure.” (Stephen Richards)

“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs, but how high he bounces back when he hits bottom.” (George S. Patton, Jr.)

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” (Author Unknown)

“Everyone gets knocked down in life, but not everyone bounces back. Victory belongs to those who manage to get back on their feet every time.” (Author Unknown)

“Get your fire back. It’s not over until God says it’s over. Start believing again. Start dreaming again. Start pursuing what God put in your heart.” (Author Unknown)

“No matter how many steps you take away from God, it still only takes one to get back.” (Author Unknown)

“God didn’t give you the strength to get back on your feet so that you can run back to the same things that knocked you down.” (Marvin Sapp)

“For every set back, God has a major come back.” (Author Unknown)

“No matter how many times you get knocked down, keep getting back up. He sees your determination. And when you do everything you can do, that’s when God will step in and do what you can’t do.” (Joel Osteen)

“Don’t forget you’re human. It’s okay to have a meltdown. Just don’t unpack and live there. Cry it out and then refocus on where you’re headed.” (Author Unknown)

“God will give you new pictures. Instead of going back into your memory, let God move you into your future through your imagination. Your memory replays your past; your imagination pre-plays your future.” (Mike Murdock)

“It’s time for you to get back up again! It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve fallen or how many times you’ve messed up. God still has a plan for your life and He’s telling you to get back up again!” (Matthew Johnson)

“There is no setback you can face in life that God doesn’t already have a comeback plan for.” (Author Unknown)

“Don’t let setbacks set you back; turn them into challenges and get back on track.” (Patrick Manifold)

“The circumstances and events that we see as setbacks are oftentimes the very things that launch us into periods of intense spiritual growth.” (Charles Stanley)

“The comeback is always stronger than the setback.” (Author Unknown)

“Failure: it can destroy you or it can make you so freakin’ mad that you work even harder to become the winner you know you are.” (Author Unknown)

“Making a comeback is one of the most difficult things to do with dignity.” (Greg Lake)

“Try to avoid complaints. Self-pity, even when legitimate, never fails to undermine your strength.” (Mariane Pearl)

“One must not let oneself be overwhelmed by sadness.” (Jackie Onasis)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “16 Immunity-Boosting Foods”

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“Jesus Spent Time Alone…Do You?”

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Mark 1:35, “The next morning Jesus woke up very early. He left the house while it was still dark and went to a place where HE COULD BE ALONE AND PRAY.” (ERV)

Believe it or not, but in a day where everybody wants to be in the ‘in crowd’; have a clique; be a part of a pack; be a member of the team; or surrounded by an inner circle; being ALONE isn’t always a bad thing! In fact there are times when it’s Absolutely Necessary in Order to Hear From God!

The Bible points out the following “ALONE” moments of Jesus:

  1. “But JESUS would OFTEN go to SOME PLACE where he could be ALONE and pray.” (Luke 5:16 CEV).
  2. “…JESUS…CROSSED LAKE GALILEE to go to some place where he could be ALONE…” (Matthew 14:13 CEV).
  3. “Then HE went UP ON A MOUNTAIN where he could be ALONE and pray. Later that evening, he was still there.” (Matthew 14:23 CEV).
  4. “After leaving them, HE went UP ON A MOUNTAINSIDE to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the MIDDLE OF THE LAKE, and he was ALONE ON LAND…” (Mark 6:46-48 NIV).
  5. “When the voice had spoken, they found that JESUS was ALONE…” (Luke 9:36 NIV).

Now, many of you will say, ‘but I don’t have time to go away and be alone.’ But, Jesus went ‘SOME PLACE’, He ‘CROSSED A LAKE’, was on a boat ‘IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LAKE’ and He ‘WENT UP ON A MOUNTAIN AND ON A MOUNTAINSIDE.’ In other words, Jesus didn’t select easy places to get away too. He crossed lakes and went up mountains just to be alone. And please note, He didn’t have a speed boat, a jet ski, plane, or helicopter! Which means getting away to these places was not a 123 escape route! And yet if alone time was this important to Jesus to do whatever He had to do in order to get it, how can you say you don’t have time? I’m sure Jesus was just a tad bit more busy than you don’t you think? Furthermore, you can have access to a speed boat; jet ski; plane or helicopter to take you anywhere in the blink of an eye, so what’s your excuse? Now I can even hear your next excuse, ‘but that’s expensive.’ Let me help you out again, the Scripture says, “…JESUS would OFTEN go to SOME PLACE where he could be ALONE and pray.” Key words? SOME PLACE! No one is telling you to rent a private villa in Paris, JUST MAKE TIME TO GO SOMEPLACE ALONE! Surely you can do that, and for free!

Listen, we often talk a lot about Jesus being active in ministry, however, He was also well-balanced in ministry and in life. Even as the Son of God, He took advantage of alone time. And more often than not, it was to pray. Church, do you take advantage of your alone time? Do you take advantage of the privilege of prayer? Or are you like most who get so busy in ministry and life that the crowds consume them and everything about them? Jesus, with all the miracles, blessings, healings, deliverance, teaching, leading and even enemy attacks, He still made time to get away alone to pray. Brothers and sisters, if you’re schedule is so overwhelming that you don’t even have alone time to get away and pray, than much of your schedule has nothing to do with the Agenda of God. Programs, Protocols, and Positions should never become more Potent than your alone time with God which carries with it the Priority of Prayer. If the Son of God made time to get away alone and pray, but you can’t, does that really mean you’re busier than God? I think not…

And so that we don’t get stuck on Jesus alone, but He was in a great company of people who spent time alone:

In Exodus God said: “Moses ALONE shall come near the Lord; THE OTHERS SHALL NOT COME NEAR, NEITHER SHALL THE PEOPLE COME UP WITH HIM” (24:2 AMP). God wanted Moses to come to Him alone, this speaks volumes of a relationship with intimacy at its core. Truthfully, there are some things going on in your life that don’t need public opinion! Some of that stuff that you keep taking to Tommy and Tammy should only be spoken in the ear of God, alone! People flip out and go off on folks because they found out somebody they ‘confided’ in, shared their personal business that they themselves already shared all over social media! How can you get mad at the world, when you posted your life on the world wide web?! There’s a reason God desires private, intimate alone time with us. Because it’s in settings like those where God can heal us without anyone knowing we were hurt; He can deliver us without anybody knowing what we were delivered from; He can save us when nobody knew how much of a sinner we were; He can silence the gossip before Gabby Gabriella parts her lips; He can mend the marriage without anybody knowing it was torn; He can restore our children without anybody knowing they were the prodigal sons and daughters eating slop with pigs; He can give you a job without anybody knowing you were laid off; He can reverse sickness without anybody seeing a symptom! That’s why it’s so important to spend private, quality, intimate, alone time with God! There’s just some things He’s going to do in private that do not need a public display!

When Elijah spent the night ALONE in a cave, God told him to: “…Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by…” (1 Kings 19:11 NIV). He didn’t however, call a men or women’s ministry meeting to have everybody go with him, he was sent alone. There are some assignments God gives you alone, stop trying to take the crowd with you!

Daniel was: “…left ALONE, gazing at this great vision…” (10:8 NIV) All eyes don’t need to see the great vision that God is about to show you! That’s how plans and purpose get messed up, we show people more than they were pre-approved to see!

The Prophet Jeremiah needed time alone due to ministry: …I sat ALONE because Your hand was on me…” {Jeremiah 15:17 NIV} For some reason we assume that as soon as God calls us, we’re supposed to run off to do a 10 day revival in Africa, but what happens when God’s hand is on you and all He wants you to do is sit down? Believe it or not saints, but sometimes you’re anointing won’t flow while you’re standing up in the pulpit, but when you’re sitting down in the pew!

Even our Patriarch Jacob had an “ALONE” moment: “So JACOB was left ALONE, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” (Genesis 32:24 NIV). And what happened in this alone time? Jacob received a name change and a blessing! Dare I ask, what are you missing out on and messing up in, all because you want to bring 10 people to a table set up by God as a table for two!

Like it or not, but Many of Your Greatest Spiritual Victories Come From the Battles God Calls You to Fight When YOU’RE ALONE! Most times He outlines and clarifies His plans for your life when there’s NOBODY ELSE AROUND! That’s because He wants YOU to be more Influenced By HIM, than ANYONE ELSE!

When God’s grooming you for a special work you’ll be Required to Spend Time Outside the Company of Others. And does that make the others bad? No, just not full-time necessities! Even Jesus knew how to divide His time between the 12 Apostles, the 3 Inner Circle, and when it was necessary to just be alone By Himself! And the same goes for you! You don’t always need an entourage; you don’t always need your boys or your girls; you don’t always need all the armor bearers and adjutants; you don’t always need the whole men and women’s ministries! You can’t always take your family, friends, your network, your social media ‘friends’, your church, your ministry, your business, etc…Sometimes It Will Only Be YOU!

Now, can you imagine if any of these men forfeited their alone time with God? Moses would have missed the presence of God; Elijah would have missed the voice of God, Daniel would have missed the vision of God; Jeremiah would have missed the assignment of God and Jacob would have missed the blessing of breakthrough with God. Which makes me wonder, in forfeiting your alone time, how much of God have you missed out on? Has the crowd cost you the presence of God; the voice of God; the vision of God; the assignment of God; the blessing of breakthrough from God? Was your alone time really worth what it cost you to lose God in the crowd?

People of God, your alone time is good and vital!

But the problem with many is that they confuse ALONE and LONELY. They are NOT one in the same. People who are LONELY can feel that way Even When Standing In the Middle of Grand Central Station! They can be right in the Midst of a Crowd and Still Feel Deserted.

But those who are ALONE, are usually “PURPOSELY” so! 

When I have to teach or preach I purposely spend time ALONE because I Don’t Want Any Outside Distraction or Interference With Me Hearing God’s Directives Clearly. I need to hear what He wants me to say and do, and in order to be sure I hear Him Alone, I need time Alone with Him! And I feel no sadness or despair, I don’t feel abandoned or left out, because I DELIBERATELY do as Jesus did and “…often go to some place where [I can] BE ALONE AND PRAY” (Luke 5:16 CEV).

Jesus, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Daniel and Jeremiah all spent time ALONE Because of the Assignment On Their Lives to Fulfill. Likewise, YOU Will Have to Spend Time ALONE To Fulfill the Assignment That Has Been Mandated For Your Life. And that’s difficult to accomplish when you’re so wrapped up in the lives of others.

Which is why you need to prepare yourselves because there will be seasons in which you have to “…come out from among them and be ye separated…” (AND THAT INCLUDES BELIEVERS AND NON-BELIEVERS ALIKE) Why? Because oftentimes you’ll experience what Jesus experienced: “And when daybreak came, He left [Peter’s house] and went into an ISOLATED [DESERT] PLACE. And the people looked for Him until they came up to Him and tried to prevent Him from leaving them” (Luke 4:42 AMPC)

You’ve Got To Realize That Your Time ALONE With God Is VITAL, And NEEDS To Be Respected, Even By Those Who Need You The Most!

As soon as Jesus went to be ALONE, HERE COMES THE CROWD! “The next morning Jesus went out to a place where He could be alone, and crowds came looking for Him. When they found Him, they tried to stop Him from leaving.” (CEV)

Max Lucado said it best: “A Man Who Wants To Lead The Orchestra Must Turn His Back On The Crowd” You Can’t Fulfill Your Vision to Lead the Orchestra While Focusing On the Audience! And Sometimes The Hardest Thing to Do Is Walk Away From Those Who Want to Walk With You…But Can’t! The Bible says, “…they tried to stop Him from leaving.” And people in your life will do the very same thing to you. And it’s not because of something bad either. But when you have an assignment and anointing on your life, you are a blessing to the lives of people, and who wants to be apart from a blessing? Of course they want to cling to you, they’ve heard God preached, taught and prayed through you. You’ve been a blessing to them. And still, you have to know when to turn your back on the crowd, spend alone time with God, and finish fulfilling your assignment.

Another translation says it like this: “…And Tried To Keep Him From Going Away From Them” Another Hard Truth? People Who Can’t Go Where You’re Going Will Attempt To Stop You From Going Anywhere! If they can’t go with you, they don’t want you to go at all! So, how did Jesus handle this? The Bible says, “…But He replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God IN OTHER PLACES TOO, FOR THAT IS WHY I WAS SENT. SO HE CONTINUED TO TRAVEL AROUND PREACHING IN SYNAGOGUES THROUGHOUT JUDEA.” (vss. 43-44 TLB) Don’t get so busy and caught up in ministry, crowds, assignments and life, that you get distracted and derailed! Saints, don’t get stuck where you were never supposed to stay! Jesus deliberately went to spend alone time, got away from the crowds, informed them of why He couldn’t stay in the same place with them, and He kept on preaching! Family, know how to pull away before you press forward! Even Jesus didn’t attempt to keep preaching UNTIL AFTER He spent alone time away from the crowds! Remember, He is your example to follow!

Sadly, so many are busy self-promoting themselves and running after people, places and things, they’re missing out on time with God. The crowd has become more important than the closet! The greatest mistake you can ever make is to spend all of your time with the people in the crowd, and yet having no time to spend with God alone in the prayer closet. Far too many of us will quickly take an assignment from God, and yet not have any time on our agenda for Him. Oh, we’ll accept a full itinerary for ministry to travel all over the world, yet at the same time, God can’t get five minutes with us on our face in the living room!

Listen, far too often, God speaks in a STILL, SMALL VOICE, and when we’re so caught up in the Need To Have Someone Around Us, Their Voice Has a Way of Amplifying Itself Above His! Which isn’t hard to do, because remember, HE’S NOT YELLING, SCREAMING OR GRABBING AT YOUR EAR…HE’S SPEAKING IN A STILL, SMALL VOICE. And It’s Hard To Hear Direction From God When Mike’s Voice Is Directing You To The Movies, Keisha’s Voice Is Directing You To The Concert, Alicia’s Voice Is Directing You To Olive Garden, Tim’s Voice Is Directing You To The Football Game, Craig’s Voice Is Directing You To The Sales At the Men’s Warehouse, the 15% off at the Barbershop, and the Buy One Get One Free at DSW!

And to bring it further home for us “CHURCH FOLKS”, It’s Also Hard To Hear Direction From God When You’re Singing On The Choir, Overseeing The Youth Group, Setting Up for the Church Meeting, Preparing Communion, Planning  Anniversary Celebrations and Driving the Church Van, ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

PEOPLE OF GOD, STOP CONFUSING ACTIVITY WITH PRODUCTIVITY! JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE BUSY DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE FULFILLING THE WILL OF GOD FOR YOUR LIFE! CHURCH WORK AND KINGDOM WORK ARE JUST AS DIFFERENT AS LONELY AND ALONE! TOO OFTEN WHAT WE DO IN THE CHURCH ISN’T WHAT HE’S CALLED US TO DO IN THE KINGDOM ANYWAY! AND I’D RATHER BE APART OF THE PLANS OF GOD FOR THE KINGDOM THAN MISS OUT BECAUSE I WAS TOO BUSY BEING APART OF THE PROGRAMS OF THE CHURCH, THAT HE NEVER ASSIGNED TO MY HANDS IN THE FIRST PLACE!

That’s why you’ve got to learn the NECESSITY of FOLLOWING JESUS’ EXAMPLE: “Very early the next morning, JESUS got up and went to a place WHERE HE COULD BE ALONE AND PRAY” (Mark 1:35 CEV).

PEOPLE OF GOD, GUARD YOUR ALONE TIME WITH GOD! IT’S THE PLACE WHERE YOU SEEK HIM AND HIS WILL FOR YOUR LIFE! IT’S THE “SOLITARY PLACE” WHERE YOU AND HIM ALONE SPEND QUALITY TIME TOGETHER! The word ‘solitary’ is defined as ‘done or existing alone; secluded or isolated; single; and only.’ Its Latin origin ‘solitarius,’ from ‘solus’ literally means, ‘alone.’ God loves you so much He desires to have you secluded; isolated; and alone. Only you! Single, meaning ONE, and you are that ONE! Do you even realize just how treasured you are by God that in all His greatness, all He wants to do is spend alone time with YOU alone. Is He really asking too much? I think not.

Hear God’s Heart, He Has Already PROMISED: “…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). IF YOU WOULD ONLY GET TO A QUIET PLACE ALONE WITH GOD, YOU COULD FINALLY STOP TRYING TO FIGURE IT ALL OUT ON YOUR OWN! ALL YOU WOULD HAVE TO DO IS CALL AND HE’LL ANSWER AND TELL YOU MARVELOUS AND WONDROUS THINGS! THAT’S CERTAINLY A LOT LESS STRESSFUL THAN THE WAY YOU’VE BEEN DOING IT DON’T YOU THINK? He said, ‘CALL ME AND I WILL ANSWER YOU…’ But we’re too busy talking and texting everybody else! But doesn’t it make you wonder what you’re missing out on receiving from God, and all because you took your QUESTIONS to THEM when only He said, “I WILL ANSWER YOU.”

Listen, the Crowd will kill you, just ask Jesus!

Church, if Jesus made time to be alone, you are certainly not busier than He that you can’t do the same. You have a lot of responsibility to meet, and that can’t be done with your agenda alone. You need time away with God, His plans are more important than your agenda and His purpose is more important than you itinerary! Getting away from the crowd and in some alone time with God will grant you insider information on how to be a better man, woman, husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, teacher, preacher, leader, believer, and person in general. You can’t get that from yourself or the crowd, only God, and He’s still speaking in a still small voice. If you don’t get away from THEM, you’ll never hear HIM, and surely what He’s got to say supersedes anything they do.

Today, rearrange your schedule and MAKE alone time for God!

“In Order to Be Open to Creativity, One Must Have the Capacity For Constructive Use of Solitude. One Must Overcome the Fear of Being Alone” (Rollo May)

You’re not being asked to be Tom Hanks in the movie“Cast Away”, but you do need time alone to yourself and with God. Today, Make Sure You Take It!

“One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is time alone with God.” (Author Unknown)

“Spending time with God, puts everything else in perspective.” (Author Unknown)

“Time spent alone with God is never wasted.” (Author Unknown)

“If you are feeling inpatient, irritable, bitter, forgetful, disorganized, and disconnected from God, it’s time to tend to your soul. Grab your Bible. Get alone with God.” (Courtney Joseph)

“Sometimes loneliness is God’s cry for time with you.” (Author Unknown)

“We can be tired, weary, and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength.” (Charles Stanley)

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: “27 Ways to Boost Your Energy Without Caffeine”

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