“A Place Where Wounded Men Can Bleed and Heal”

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

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

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

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

Which is what I want to address today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 4:15-16, “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (MSG)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to our text again:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Good and Bad Exercises for Lower Back Pain”

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“Don’t Judge My Character When You Don’t Know My Story”

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“…What’s the STORY behind these ruins?” (1 Kings 9:6-9 MSG)

“I’m on the edge of losing it – the pain in my gut keeps burning. I’m ready to tell my STORY of failure…” (Psalm 38:17-20 MSG)

Anybody that knows me, knows how much I love dogs! In fact, if I wasn’t so busy, I’d have a dog right now! You see, I’ve had them ever since I was a baby. Every breed, every size! And those that know me best, know that German Shepherds have always been my favorite dog, since my favorite childhood dog was a German Shepherd named “Captain.” Every time I see a dog, whether walking down the street or if I’m in the car or on the bus, I instantly turn into a 5 year old screaming, “daddy can I have him?” In a nutshell: I Love Dogs!

However, I’ve never met a pup quite like my friends Yorkie “Bella”. You see, Bella wasn’t very easy to get to know. She was such a cutie pie though! So little, so adorable, but not approachable at all! In my experience, most dogs run up to you when you come to the door, even if you’re a stranger, and they’re usually all over you. But Not Bella! She ran the other way and cowered in the corner! No matter how gentle, or how friendly you were to her, it didn’t matter. As soon as she saw someone coming, she ran in the opposite direction! She refused to come out of her corner for anybody! Strange dog,” I thought. However, that was until my girlfriend explained that Bella had been terribly abused by her first owners. So, when she saw people, she saw pain.

You couldn’t understand the way Bella ACTED, until you knew her STORY. Believe it or not, but people are like that, too.

You watch how they act, how they treat people, you see the bad attitude they have, and you say, “I don’t know what her problem is, but I don’t have to deal with her foolishness! I don’t know why he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but I will not be treated like I was his aggravating alarm clock that disturbed his beauty sleep! Or, you respond with the same garbage they just dished out to you. So often we judge people with little, distorted or no information at all! We see what they do, and assume that’s who they are. But rarely is that ever the case.

I’ve discovered that the “make a difference” people in this world, the healers, are the ones who never forget this critical issue in dealing with people: YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND THE WAY THEY ACT, UNTIL YOU KNOW THEIR STORY! AND EVERYBODY’S GOT A STORY!

I remember discovering how wrong I had been about some of the women in my leadership group, AFTER many of them poured out their hearts at our women’s retreat. Late into the night, people you thought you knew, revealed the pain in their background. Some of the women who were “distant” were physically, mentally, verbally, and sexually abused. Some of the women who had “bad attitudes” actually suffered from varying mental illnesses (such as depression). Some of the women who “dogged men out“, were in relationships that treated them like property instead of like a person. Some of the women who didn’t like to be a “part of our social gatherings“, were actually ex-alcoholics, and although our events had no alcohol at them, for them, just being in a place with a lot of people, laughing, joking, having fun, listening to music, all gave them urges to need a drink (since that was mostly the settings when they did drink). They were simply trying to avoid the triggers that have shot them in the past!

In other words, suddenly the lights went on and I said, “So that’s what I’ve been seeing all these years! It had nothing to do with their personality, just their personal, private, painful past.I felt bad that I had been responding to them based on their deeds, and never considered the needs behind those deeds.

Reminds me of parenting my children as babies. I had my oldest daughter at 17 and my youngest at 19, so I wasn’t exactly the most patient, understanding or experienced parent! I could deal with them crying because they were hungry or wet, but it was those times when they would cry, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they were crying about, that drove me nuts! There were times I would cry because I couldn’t figure out why they were crying. Panic attacks would set in, depression would be overwhelming…and then my mom would come in the room, pick them up, close my door, and take them to her room. I guess some “motherly sixth-sense” would kick in and she would know when to come to my rescue. I remember feeling so discouraged, inadequate, and like a down-right poor excuse of a mother, because I couldn’t figure out why my children were crying. Me and mom had a little chat not long after those early days, and she said, “every cry has a story behind it, some chapters are quick and you find out right away, but then some you have to wait it out until chapter 40 before you figure it out. Either way, every cry has a story behind it.” I have no idea what made me recall that today, but that’s what brought out this devotional.

And the truth is, there are some people that we come into contact with on a daily basis (in our homes, churches, work, school, supermarket, laundromat, hair and nail salon etc…) that are “crying”. But unfortunately, we get so frustrated because we don’t know why they’re crying that we simply ignore the cry, or wait for someone else to come and pick them up and figure it out. I can’t even imagine the amount of people who have left our churches because they were “crying” and no one took the time and patience to figure out why. We were so busy being frustrated by the “noise” of their behavior, attitude, ways, and words, that we didn’t listen for the story behind the act of ‘crying’.

Problem is, we’re too busy reacting, instead of listening. Which brings to mind Ephesians 4, beginning with verse 29. He says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their NEEDS, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV).

Let’s, as my custom, view this verse in a few translations, shall we?:

“Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the NEED and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” (AMP);

“Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is NEEDED for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.” (CEB);

“When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people NEED—whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you.” (ERV);

“Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is NEEDED. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.” (GWT);

“Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is NEEDED, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” (GNT);

“Watch your talk! No bad words should be coming from your mouth. Say what is good. Your words should help others grow as Christians.” (NLV)

In other words, don’t say things that will tear a person down, only things that will build that person up! Why? Because you’re focusing on their NEEDS, not their DEEDS! The word “need” is defined as “something required because it is essential or very important; expressing necessity or obligation; circumstances in which a thing or course of action is required.” And despite what their deeds may have been, there were needs that they stemmed from (if only we would take the patience and time to figure them out).  And according to Scripture and the very definition of the word “need”, this is what God is requiring of us, as essential for them.

Listen: Whether that person is your child, your spouse, your parent, your friend, your coworker, or someone at church, they’re response is more about their need than their deed. And no matter what their response, your reaction is to meet their need! You are to love them enough to listen to their story until you can find the chapter their stuck in that needs and requires your help. Are you obligated to do that? Absolutely! “You are your brother/sisters keeper!John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” (AMP) The Message Bible says it like this, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (vss. 34-35 MSG). Then 1 John 4:20-21, declares, “If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” (MSG)

And no matter how badly they’ve Acted, you have to love them enough to hear their Story, and be concerned enough to help them write a new Chapter! You can’t love God and not love people! God Himself calls you a liar!

Listen: If you knew their story, you’d understand that many have been made to feel worthless much of their life. So they make choices based on the fact that they’re viewed as trash by some (especially those closest to them). And that’s one of the hardest battles to be won, is helping a person get past their past, and to forget what they keep recalling. You have to love them Forward! Your love for your brothers/sisters needs to be progressive (which is defined as, ‘proceeding gradually or in stages; engaging in or constituting forward motion’)! They will never get to where they need to be if they remain stuck where they are. And sometimes that means we have to be their “pen” of inspiration. When they feel the horror story is how it ends, we need to step up to the “desk” and say “oh no it’s not! There’s another chapter in you and we’re going to write it out!They need to know that their character doesn’t die here; this is not the final chapter; the story is not over!

No Matter How They ACT, You Are Responsible to Stay In CHARACTER! Never ACT Out of CHARACTER!

Now, if we’re being honest here, we’ve all been in situations where we wanted to (and some of us did), treat other people the same way they treated us! After all, no one smiles at the person they held the door open for, and when they walk through they never parted their lips to say thank you. No one is happy about a person they’ve helped, that treats them harshly in return. But does that give you reason, justification, license or excuse for us to Act out of Character? Absolutely Not! Ephesians 4:26-27, “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” (MSG); Then Matthew 18:21-22 shares, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when someone won’t stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive them more than seven times. You must CONTINUE to forgive them even if they do wrong to you seventy-seven times.” (ERV); [By the way, that wonderful word “continue” is defined as “to persist in an activity or process; to remain in existence; to carry on with; to carry on traveling in the same direction.” Its Latin Origin “coninuare”, from “continuus” literally means “uninterrupted.” So no matter their response or reaction, you have to CONTINUE to forgive them, with no interruptions!]

1 Peter 3:9, “and never return evil for evil or insult for insult [avoid scolding, berating, and any kind of abuse], but on the contrary, give a blessing [pray for one another’s well-being, contentment, and protection]; for you have been called for this very purpose, that you might inherit a blessing [from God that brings well-being, happiness, and protection].” (AMP);

Romans 12:17-19, “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (MSG);

And My Personal Favorite: Matthew 5:38-42, “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” (MSG)

Are You Getting This?! Your Only Reaction to Their Response is Love!

You have to step in their shoes, after all, that’s what Intercessors do. They fill the gap, step in the middle, carry a load that’s killing somebody else! And truth is, maybe their story includes some awful hurt that has turned them hard, just so they won’t get hurt anymore. Maybe there’s some morally dark chapters in their past that can make them critical and legalistic today because they hate what they used to be. They may wound because they’ve been wounded. Remember: “Hurt People, Hurt PeopleSomewhere behind the way they act is a story of a perfectionist parent, trust lost because of abuse, the absence of a father’s love, abandonment, failure, tragedy and the like. So stop judging their story, intercede instead, and simply help them to write a new chapter!

Stop concerning yourself with what they’re drinking; what they’re smoking; how long they’ve been fornicating; how many tattoos and piercings they have; why the marriage ended; why they didn’t finish school; why they left that church; why they dress the way they do; or why do they have 5 kids with 3 baby daddies! Concern yourself more-so with helping them to write their next chapter, instead of being stuck re-reading their last one!

The Bible is clear, “…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31 NIV) Which for many of us, that has been our response to their deeds. But instead, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ in God forgave you.” (vs. 32 NIV) That’s how we’ll respond if we operate, trying to understand there are needs beneath those deeds; there’s a history behind those hang-ups.

One thing I can tell you from a lot of years of learning what’s really inside people – when a person is hardest to love, they need your love the most! And that’s when you ask Jesus to release His love through you because your love just isn’t enough. React to their bad attitude or their bad treatment, and you can be just another person who just wounds an already wounded person more. Respond with the mercy and the grace and the compassion you received from Jesus and you can be part of healing that wounded person. Everybody’s got a story, and you can help write a new chapter.

Remember the opening text: “…What’s the STORY behind these ruins?” (1 Kings 9:6-9 MSG) Everybody has a story behind their ruins! So don’t be so quick to respond and react! James 1:19, “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];” (AMP) If that be our reaction, maybe, just maybe, their response will be our other opening text: “I’m on the edge of losing it – the pain in my gut keeps burning. I’m ready to tell my STORY of failure…” (Psalm 38:17-20 MSG) No one wants to talk to someone that’s not listening. How about today be the day we stop lashing out at the way they act, and simply listen to their story?

Remember this: “…But that’s not the end of it. There’s MORE to this STORY.” (Daniel 11:27 MSG)

Likewise, there’s more to their story as well, and it will be a beautiful best-seller, if only you’ll listen and not judge their story, then let your response and reaction be, “Let Me Help You Write a New Chapter!”

“Everybody’s got a story to tell. The only problem is finding a person that will listen…and care.” (Author Unknown)

“Every single person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them. The truth might surprise you.” (Author Unknown)

“Everyone has a story. It might or might not be a love story. It can be a story of dreams, friendship, hope, survival or even death. And every story is worth telling. But more than that, it’s worth living.” (Savi Sharma)

“Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is a writer, some are written in books and some are confined to hearts.” (Savi Sharma)

“Before you judge my life, my past or my character, walk in my shoes. Walk the path I have traveled, live my sorrows, my doubts, my fears, my pain and my laughter. Remember, everyone has a story. When you’ve lived my life then you can judge me.” (Pinterest)

“Don’t judge people for the choices they make when you don’t know the options they had to choose from.” (Pinterest)

“Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on.” (Author Unknown)

People of God: “Don’t Judge Their Character, Before Hearing Their Story!”

Matthew 7:2, “For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.” (AMPC)

Galatians 6:1-5, “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” (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: “Fasting: What You Should Know”

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“You Can Stop Hiding Now”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Your HURT is HELPING Someone HEAL”

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2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “What a wonderful God we have—He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.” (TLB)

Working with youth ministry is probably one of the most unpredictable ministries to work with. You just never know what you’re going to encounter with young people. Sometimes they want to be bothered, and sometimes they don’t want to be bothered at all. But nothing was worst for my youth pastor friend who decided to take a bus load of youth on their first ever mission trip! Now, to be honest, sometimes a bus ride full of kids can be fun, but then there are also those times when it can be as boring for them as watching paint dry! Hence, you will begin to hear the famous “are we there yet?” line. But this group of young people were excited because it was their first mission trip to a Navajo Reservation from Michigan! However, I don’t think they’ll remember their trip as boring at all! You see, unfortunate for them, the carelessness of another driver, forced their bus to swerve sharply at one point, causing the bus to go off the road and roll all the way over into a ditch! Well, as you can imagine, they were absolutely horrified! But, one by one they emerged from the bus. Some of them were injured and they had to be treated at a local hospital, but thankfully no one died.

By the time they finally arrived at that reservation they were a pretty sorry looking bunch. They didn’t exactly come running into that Native community. They came limping in and hurting. They weren’t able to bring all their luggage with them, and some of the kids were on crutches, in braces, patched up, and bandaged up.

BUT, that became the very reason why those Navajo young people listened to those white kids from Michigan. The comments of the Native young people made it pretty clear. If those Michigan young people had arrived looking like they had no idea what pain felt like, the Native youth who live in so much hurt probably would have never listened to a single word they had to say. But as one teenage leader from the youth group said, “Our wounds became our credentials.

Which brought to mind for me 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. It’s about finding meaning in your pain; maybe even the pain you’re going through right now. Here’s what the text says, “What a wonderful God we have—He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.” (TLB)

So you go through a hurting time. You know how the pain feels. You reach out to God for whatever resources He can give you to get through it and you start to experience God’s greatness, God’s grace, God’s kindness. And now you’re qualified by those experiences to help other hurting people. You can tell them in a very personal way the difference Jesus makes in a hurting time. And just like those Native American young people with those banged-up white kids, they’ll listen. You know why? Because you’ve been there.

It’s almost ironic. The worst things that happen to you in your life teach you the most about your God, and they give you the best chance you’ll ever have to tell people about Jesus Christ. Day after day you’re with people who, just under the surface, are carrying so much pain, a lot of scars, and unimaginable wounds. And they won’t listen to just anyone. But they will listen to someone who’s been through a deep valley too; maybe someone like you.

Truth is, no one wants to share their pain with someone who they don’t believe can relate. It’s like leaving your 3 bedroom house, and going to the shelter and telling a woman with 2 kids on a cot that “you understand”. When in fact, at home, you’re 2 girls are tucked away nice, cozy, comfortable and safe in their own separate bedrooms. It’s hard to share with someone the pain of a marriage heading for divorce, when every time you see them with their spouse, they are as happy as ever. Who wants to tell someone they don’t have enough change to get on the bus, while that person hops in a brand new car saying, “it’ll get better”. You want to talk to someone who can understand, who can relate, some who can personally identify, someone who gets where you’re coming from, because they just left there themselves. Which is why we have to be so careful about trying to avoid every pain, ache, moment of suffering and affliction. Because at the end of the day, someone, somewhere, needs something you have to offer, and they will more readily receive it through your pain than through your joy.

Which is why for me I love ministering in shelters (I can relate); I love ministering to those suffering through domestic violence (I can relate); those eating dinner at the soup kitchen with their children (I can relate); those trying to heal from the scars of rape, abortion, and addiction (I can relate); those feeling abandoned, rejected, left out, overlooked, under-estimated (I can relate); those suicidal and depressed (I can relate).

If you ever want to find out where your strengths are in ministering to others, just locate the places of pain where you can relate.

Your pain can become your credentials to answer hurting lives with the love of Jesus Christ that you’ve experienced in your darkest hour. And they’ll listen to you, someone whose bus has rolled over and who carries some of the scars and the damage from the crash. Those are pretty hard earned credentials, ones you’d have never chosen to have. But they are credentials God can use mightily in a hurting world. He uses wounded messengers to become agents of His healing. Which is why you should stop trying to get out of every painful event. Believe it or not, but God can bless you and use you to bless others, even while you’re still in the midst of personal pain yourself!

Romans 8:37 says, “Nay, IN ALL THESE THINGS we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Did you catch that? We’re not more than conquerors because we conquered our pain and now we’re out of it. But we’re more than conquerors “…IN ALL THESE THINGS…” We can help someone OUT, even while we’re still IN! That’s what I call a powerful testimony! I love the way The Living Bible states it, “BUT DESPITE ALL THIS, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us.” (TLB). In other words, it doesn’t even matter what I’m dealing with, because despite it all, I have overwhelming victory, even in the midst of it! And someone around you today needs you to know that, so when it’s rooted and engrained in you, you can share the same mustard seed faith with them!

Even the greatest pain, serves an even greater purpose! Genesis 50:19-21 reads, “Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, YOU PLANNED EVIL AGAINST ME BUT GOD USED THOSE SAME PLANS FOR MY GOOD, as you see all around you right now—LIFE FOR MANY PEOPLE…” (MSG) God can use the same thing that hurt you, to help someone else! I love the way the translation puts it, God used the SAME plans! The evil his brothers meant for him, turned out for his good, and life for many! Never doubt that your pain has a purpose! Our Father is a loving parent to us His children. He does not cause us pain that serves no purpose. Which is why Psalm 119:71 is one of my absolute favorite Scriptures, because those things that helped me most, hurt me most first! But I’ve learned from God’s Word, that the bad, worked for my good.

“MY SUFFERING was GOOD FOR ME, because through it I learned Your statutes.” (CEB);

“It was GOOD THAT I HAD TO SUFFER in order to learn Your laws.” (GWT);

“It is GOOD FOR ME THAT I WAS TROUBLED, so that I might learn Your Law.” (NLV);

“The punishment You gave me WAS THE BEST THING THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO ME, for it taught me to pay attention to Your laws. They are more valuable to me than millions in silver and gold!” (TLB);

“It is GOOD FOR ME that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (KJV)

How amazing to know that my suffering was good for me; it was good that I had to suffer; my punishment was the best thing that could have happened to me; and it was good that I was afflicted. Sounds ironic, but my bad was for my good! Why? Because it was only then that I learned to pay attention to His statutes and laws. My affliction was my best teacher. After all, I didn’t learn until it began to teach. And it is likewise for someone near you today. They need you to share your mess ups, screw ups, missteps, mistakes, flaws, imperfections, bad decisions. They need you to share and show the vulnerability of unmasking your wounds and scars. They need someone just like you who can identify, so they can finally stop allowing their pain to keep them in hiding.

Some people will only get free when you share the blessing from your bondage! Which is why you need to be like Lazarus. When Jesus called him, he came out of the grave, still wrapped in his dead man garments. And as bad as he must have looked and smelt, when Jesus called him to come out, he came out! Jesus could have had him come out right out of the garments, but no, He then spoke to those around Lazarus to loose him. There are people around you that will watch as your dead man clothes are being unraveled, and they will be encouraged to know that it’s more important for them to be a part of the miracle, than for you to come out looking like you never needed a miracle to begin with. It’s okay for people to know that you don’t cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’. It’s okay for people to know you don’t always feel strong, powerful, anointed, and gifted. It’s okay for people to know that you don’t always smile and laugh and feel upbeat. It let’s them know you’re real. It let’s them know you’re human. You hurt; you experience disappointment, let downs and pain…just like them. After all, it’s what Christ did.

John 1:14, “The Word became FLESH AND BLOOD, AND MOVED INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD. We saw the glory with our own eyes…” (MSG);

“And the Word (CHRIST) BECAME FLESH, AND LIVED AMONG US; and we [actually] saw His glory…” (AMP);

“The Word BECAME FLESH AND MADE HIS HOME AMONG US. We have seen His glory…” (CEB);

“The Word BECAME A HUMAN BEING AND LIVED HERE WITH US. We saw His true glory…” (CEV);

“CHRIST BECAME HUMAN FLESH AND LIVED AMONG US. We saw His shining-greatness…” (NLV)

Christ lived among us, made His home among us, became flesh and blood, and moved right into the neighborhood, so why are we avoiding people and their pain?! He didn’t. He spoke to hurting people, touched them, encouraged them, healed them, defended them, ate with them, and if all of that wasn’t enough, He let them touch Him in return! He loved us enough to be just as human as divine. He wasn’t so concerned with being Royal, as He was with being Relatable!

Hebrews 4:14-16 reads, “Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior].  For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.  Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].” (MSG)

He understands, He sympathizes, He knows, He can relate. Now it’s our turn to do the same! Understand, sympathize, know and relate. Truth is, if we are to finally be effective witnesses, we need to touch more than we talk! Stop saying what you think they need or want to hear; stop throwing clichés at them; stop drowning them in Scripture showers. Sometimes a simple hug, shoulder or smile, can say more than any word in the dictionary. Today, determine to touch, and be touchable!

Remember, Doubting Thomas didn’t believe until he saw the wounds. You know some people are like that. The pain you’ve been through may never make much sense to you until you see Jesus and He shows you the grand design of which that pain is a part. But until then, offer that pain to Him as credentials to make a difference for Him to other wounded people. To actually, maybe, even help them change their eternity by finding your Jesus. His wounded rescuer – that’s you! Thomas needed to put his hands in His side, and there are some people out there that need to put their hand in yours! They need to know your pain, they need to know you understand and can relate. They need to know you’re real. They need to know that as bad as it is right now, you are their living proof that it doesn’t get perfect, but it does get better.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (MSG); The Amplified Bible says it like this, “For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]!” (AMP).

They need to know it won’t be like this always. They need to know this trouble will pass; they need to know it’s just a momentary, light distress; they need to know that this is really just small potatoes! And you my friend, are the one to tell them that! Let them know, that you personally know, God can do some awesome things in the midst of pain!

Psalm 30:5, 11, “…The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter…You did it: You changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about You. God, my God, I can’t thank You enough.” (MSG)

You are the one to inform them that they will not cry always, and that their mourning clothes are not permanent. God has a time limit on all things, and therefore, their pain is not indefinite. They will laugh again, they will dance again, they will sing again. You are their proof. Remember, your wounds are your credentials that qualify you to help others heal.

Allow the proclamation of Isaiah 61:1-5 to be on your lips today, as you minister healing through your wounds to those who are hurting, and need you! You’ll show up like those kids from Michigan with bruises, scars, bandages, crutches, wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and of course pain. But you are also showing up and showing them that none of it stopped you from sharing it with them!

“The Spirit of the Lord God is on me, because the Lord has chosen me to bring good news to poor people. He has sent me to heal those with a sad heart. He has sent me to tell those who are being held and those in prison that they can go free.  He has sent me to tell about the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day our God will bring punishment. He has sent me to comfort all who are filled with sorrow.  To those who have sorrow in Zion I will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I will give them the oil of joy instead of sorrow, and a spirit of praise instead of a spirit of no hope. Then they will be called oaks that are right with God, planted by the Lord, that He may be honored.” (NLV)

Today, Allow Your Hurt to Help Someone Else Heal!

“Your greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt.” (Rick Warren)

“Remember that even in the midst of suffering, God’s Will is being done.” (Paul Chappell)

“God has a purpose for your pain; a reason for your struggle; and a reward for your faithfulness. Trust Him and don’t give up.” (Author Unknown)

“Everything that God allows to come our way is always with a purpose. He uses even the greatest error and deepest pain to mold us into a better person.” (Author Unknown)

“God will give you the power to have peace in the midst of the storm.” (Joyce Meyer)

“What if the thing that produces your pain, is the very thing that God will use to release His power?” (Steven Furtick)

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” (Helen Keller)

“Sometimes God will use our deepest pain to launch our greatest calling.” (Author Unknown)

“Your purpose is greater than your pain.” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“You were afflicted so that you can help deliver other people from what you escaped from.” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“Your brokenness is not useless. God can always use your pain to rebuild a stronger you.” (Trent Shelton)

“Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.” (Rick Warren)

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

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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

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“Marriage RIGHTS For When Things Go WRONG”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Hurt…Honest…Healed!”

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Psalm 69:29, “I’m hurt and in pain; Give me space for healing…” (MSG)

They often give you one of these when you check into some sprawling hotel, huge mall, a big theme park, or even a large convention facility center. It’s a map of the place. And for the directionally challenged, like myself, there’s one important and specific thing I look for first on that map. It’s that big red “X” and those three very helpful words, “YOU ARE HERE!” 

It doesn’t help me very much by just giving me a drawing of where EVERYTHING is! In order for me to use that to get to where I need to go, I NEED THAT ONE FUNDAMENTAL PIECE OF INFORMATION – AND THAT’S LOCATING EXACTLY WHERE I AM RIGHT NOW! IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO GET TO A SPECIFIC DESTINATION, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO GET TO GOD! In fact, the failure to talk to God about where you REALLY ARE may explain why He seems a little farther away than He once did – and a little less real than He once appeared!   

Fanny Brice put it like this: “Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?And isn’t that like many of us today? Regardless to how we feel, or where we really are in life financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally and the like, we learn how to master the art of façade! You see the word ‘façade’ is defined as ‘a deceptive outward appearance.’ Its French Origin, ‘face’, literally means just that, ‘face’. It’s to put a mask or disguise over your face to hide what reality is and how it’s truthfully affecting you. And many of us do that daily. We go to church smiling on the outside, and crying on the inside; we go to work trying to be happy little team players, but we’re stressed trying to get our own home team of spouse and kids to work from the same play book; we go to school with the intent of making an A, but our brain is so fried from all the closet demons we silently battle with that no one knows about, that we can barely string two sentences together that make sense; we go to family functions and we’re on auto-pilot, because we can’t let on to anyone that the dream couple they see, has actually become one another’s worst nightmare! We’ve learned to master the art of façade! Sadly, we do this with our precious and real lives, and yet even actors know when the scene has ended, to drop the role, the character, and the script and pick up their normal, every day, imperfectly real, lives. Saints, living behind a deceptive appearance is dangerous to your overall health and well-being. At some point if you are to be completely healthy, healed and whole, you’ll have to first begin by being honest!

Hebrews 4:16 is God’s powerful invitation to come boldly to His “…throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 

However, the verses that precede this promise of God’s total availability, HAVE TO DO WITH OUR TOTAL HONESTY!   

Hebrews 4 beginning at verse 12, states that God’s Word “…is sharper than any double-edged sword…In other words it opens up our soul surgically and it exposes WHAT’S REALLY INSIDE! That brings to mind when the doctor has come up with your diagnosis, and lets you know where we’re going from here to get you back to optimal health. And for some, that requires surgery, whether you like it or not. Yet, the surgeon even with all of his/her skill, talent and knowledge, will most often still tell you a truth you may not want to hear. That truth is, I can tell you what I see from the blood work, from the x-rays, from the MRI and the like, and I have a plan for surgery and I’m prepped, capable and confident, and yet I still have to inform you that anything can happen once I go in! Why? Because there are some things that aren’t clearly visible until the surgeon begins cutting and removing layers, before he/she sees what’s hiding behind it all. And sometimes they’ll go in for one thing, and end up having to do 3-5 things, depending on what they discover! Likewise, God does the same with us when we go to Him in honesty. He goes in surgically and removes all the layers and then He sees what’s truly the problem and resolves it. But that first requires us going to Him openly and honestly and trusting Him with the scalpel, the layers and the discoveries! 

Verse 13 goes on to say, “NOTHING in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. EVERYTHING is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.Therefore saints, you might as well come to God TOTALLY UNMASKED, BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING HE DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT YOU ALREADY! Like Adam and Eve hiding behind their fig leaves, and God calls out to Adam, ‘where are you?’ It’s not like God had amnesia, he wants His children to be honest with Him, as our earthly parents want honestly from their children. God is looking for us to tell Him the truth, after all, He is truth! Therefore, since everything is uncovered, nothing being hidden (no matter how masterful we become with the art of façade) all is laid bare before His eyes and we must be honest with Him because we owe him an account!

If you talk to Him about how you’re honestly feeling, He’s not going to say, “Oh, you’re kidding Me! Wow! I’m surprised! That caught Me completely off guard! I didn’t see that one coming! What in the world will be the back-up plan I have to come up with to solve that? 

Now it’s understandable why you may not tell other folks about how you’re REALLY feeling; since most of the time it positions them to think less of you. BUT GOD ALREADY KNOWS, AND THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO MAKE HIM LOVE YOU MORE OR LOVE YOU LESS! In fact, these words go on to remind us that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence.” Why? BECAUSE GOD ALREADY KNOWS ALL ABOUT US, AND BECAUSE WE ARE COMING TO THE FATHER THROUGH A SAVIOR, HIS SON, WHO HAS FELT ALL THE FEELINGS OF BEING HUMAN! This my friends gives us license and right to come to God, as is!

Think about it: What better counselor is there, than The Wonderful Counselor Himself? (Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace” AMP). Listen, you can stretch out on the sofa’s of earthly counselors all you want; you can see the therapist, the psychiatrist, the psychologist, the social worker, none of them can do for you what your Wonderful Counselor can! Is that to say they are of no use and not helpful? Absolutely not, but we have to stop running to man every time something goes wrong in our lives thinking they alone can make it all right! God alone is the one who sees all, hears all, knows all and can save, heal and deliver all! You need to make Him your first choice not your last resort!

So, the next time you decide to give God a watered down version OF WHERE YOU ACTUALLY ARE, recall the following Scriptures:

  1. The eyes of the Lord are IN EVERY PLACE, keeping watch upon the evil AND the good.” (Proverbs 15:3 AMP).
  1. The LORD is CONSTANTLY WATCHING EVERYONE…” (2 Chronicles 16:9 CEV).
  1. And he keeps a CLOSE WATCH ON EVERYTHING I DO.” “God WATCHES EVERYTHING WE DO.” (Job 31:4 & 34:21 CEV).
  1. …He WATCHES EVERYONE CLOSELY, EXAMINING EVERY PERSON ON EARTH.” (Psalm 11:4 NLT).
  1. For MY EYES ARE ON ALL THEIR WAY; THEY ARE NOT HIDDEN FROM MY FACE, NEITHER IS THEIR INIQUITY CONCEALED FROM MY EYES.” (Jeremiah 16:17 AMP).
  1. CAN ANYONE HIDE HIMSELF IN SECRET PLACES SO THAT I CANNOT SEE HIM? Says the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:24 AMP).
  1. …YOU SEE EVERYTHING THAT MEN AND WOMEN DO AND RESPOND APPROPRIATELY TO THE WAY THEY LIVE, TO THE THINGS THEY DO.” (Jeremiah 32:19 MSG).
  1. …people don’t realize that I AM WATCHING THEM. Their sinful deeds are all around them, and I SEE THEM ALL.” (Hosea 7:2 NLT).
  1. GOD said, “I’ve taken a GOOD, LONG LOOK at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come down to help them…” (Exodus 3:7-8 MSG).
  1. So she called the name of the Lord Who spoke to her, YOU ARE A GOD OF SEEING, for she said, Have I [not] even here [in the wilderness] looked upon Him WHO SEES ME [and lived]? Or have I here also seen [the future purposes or designs of] Him WHO SEES ME? Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi [A well to the LIVING ONE WHO SEES ME]…” (Genesis 16:13-14 AMP).

Never forget: El-Roi SEES EVERYTHING! Yes, he saw the cigarettes, the alcohol, the drugs, the hotel/motel stay, the divorce papers, the disconnect notice, the foreclosure sign, the pink slip, the diagnosis, the cut paycheck, the denied mortgage loan, the defaulted tuition payments, the car dealership refusal, the scholarship that fell through, the business plans that never left the blueprint stage, the demotion, the miscarriage, the betrayal, the tears, the hurt, the pain, the struggle! Yes, God SEES it all! He SEES everything so today is a good day to stop faking with the façade! Today is a good day to be real with God about where you really are!

Yet, there are some of you who may still say, “Well, if God already sees, if God already knows, why do I need to tell Him?IT’S SO YOU CAN OPEN UP THAT PART OF YOUR HEART AND YOUR LIFE, WILLINGLY, TO HIS CLEANSING, HIS RESTORING, HIS HEALING AND HIS WHOLENESS! ALWAYS REMEMBER: GOD IS A GENTLEMAN, AND ONLY GOES WHERE HE’S INVITED!

Maybe you’ve been saying, “God doesn’t seem all that real to me right now.But look at it from His perspective, He just may be saying the very same thing about you! You’re coming to Him super religious, all together, dressed up, and eloquently quoting scriptures. So, if God doesn’t seem real to you, maybe it’s because you aren’t being real with Him! Simply put, you aren’t stating where you really are! You’re making the same, common mistakes most church folks make, and that’s coming to God not as you really are, but as you think you’re supposed to be! Keep in mind though, when you come in this manner, you never receive from God all that He has to give you! God isn’t trying to help the future you, or the fake you, He’s trying to help the hurting you, that you are right now, at this very moment! He’s trying to meet you where you really are! Stop lying, and stop hiding, if you want Him to help you! Because He can’t heal who you pretend to be!

Listen: I shared this analogy with a Ministers-in-training class, and hopefully it will help you just the same: Sister Taylor needs $100, and I have the $100 to give her. I ask Sister Taylor to tell me where she’s at so I can bring her what she so desperately needs. Now, if Sister Taylor says she’s in New York, that may well be true. But if she tells me she’s in Roosevelt, New York when in actuality she’s in Freeport, New York, although the state is true, she wasn’t honest about the town she’s actually located in! So because she didn’t tell me ‘EXACTLY’ where she really was, what she needs, I have, but she’ll never receive it until she can honestly say “I’M RIGHT HERE.

Far too many of us do not go to God honestly about where we really are! Yes, He already knows. But that’s not the point. The point is when you really have a relationship with God, and you trust Him you’ll take all the stuff you can’t trust people with, to Him! You’ll comfortably and confidently go to your Holy God and expose all of your Unholy Self, knowing that when the encounter with the honest to God truth is over, He loves you no less!  

Another Example: My husband knows I’m at work from 9-5. But just because he knows WHERE I am, he doesn’t know HOW I am unless he calls me or I call him to share that. God likewise, knows where you are, but He wants you to share with Him HOW you’re really doing where you really are! He knows about the troubled marriage, the wayward children, the depleting bank account, the strife amongst siblings, the plotting coworkers, the stress of the ministry. He knows about your depression, your loneliness, your despair, your confusion, your tears, your heartache, your frustrations. And He’s still sitting by waiting for you not to just tell Him where you are, but how you’re really doing where you are. Remember you’re in a Relationship with Him, you’re not a part of a Religion with Him. For Him, this is not about a list of principles, it’s about a personal relationship. He wants to hear your voice, he wants you to share your emotions, pour all that’s in you out to Him, before you take it to others as usual who can do you no good.  It’s about your Relationship not Rules, Regulations and Religion.

And a real relationship with God is honestly telling Him when you’re hurting, when you’re afraid, when you feel like giving up, when you’re angry, when you’re tired, when you’re frustrated, when you’re lonely, when you’re suicidal, when you’re confused, when you can’t forgive, when your jealous, when your envious, when your discontent, when you can’t fight anymore, when you don’t understand, when you’re desperate for love, when you’re spiritually deflated, and the list could simply go on forever! Because you’ll never reach a point in a real relationship with God where you run out of things to share with Him, good, bad, ugly and beautiful alike!  

Can you imagine how many marriages could’ve been saved had the couples went to God to tell Him exactly where they were? How many children would not have run away from home, joined gangs, or lost their virginity, had they known to go to God with all they’re feeling and talk to Him? How many lives could’ve been saved had they went to God with their deepest hurts, disappointments, anger, and feelings of despair and loss instead of to drugs, sex and alcohol? How many businesses that would not have went bankrupt if the owners went to God before they went to the attorneys? How many church splits that didn’t need to occur had the pastor and church went to the God they say, sing, and preach is the Head of the church?

People of God, if you only knew how badly your God desires for you to let it all out so He can finally let in His mercy (that is new every morning); His grace (that is sufficient for whatever you’re going through); His lovingkindness (that will always be better than life); and His unconditional love (that will always cover the multitude of your every sin)! All He’s waiting for is a meeting with the Real You, at the place You’re Really At! Just tell Him! Don’t walk out on the marriage, don’t give up on the kids, don’t quit the job, don’t leave the church, don’t drop out of school, don’t end the friendship/relationship, don’t take your own life, don’t throw in the towel, just Talk to God, He’s waiting to hear from you! “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); “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking to me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” (Isaiah 65:24 TLB) God is waiting to hear from you, why are you still so silent?

Your spiritual drifting, your distance from God, or your unnecessary pain may be because you’ve been coming to God without the real you! But He said: “I know the plans I have for YOU…” (Jeremiah 29:11). Not the plans for the person you’re attempting to be, not the figment of your imagination, not the covered up Cover Girl, not the masked man! But plans for the real you! Flawed you, rejected you, abandoned you, failed you, imperfect you, addicted you, diseased you, God is waiting to hear from YOU, the real YOU, because He has Plans for YOU that neither pain nor problems can stop!  

Today, I challenge you to get your life map out and mark the “X” of where you Really are right now. Why? Because, it’s then, and only then, that God will take you from there to where He’s destined you to be! Which is why you should be encouraged to tell God where the real you is today, right now, in this moment. Because where you are doesn’t distract God from where He’s taking you. Your current location does not in any way intimate God, no matter how bad it is! God specializes in using shattered people in broken places! Noah was a drunk; Abraham was old; Jacob was a liar; Leah wasn’t the most attractive; Joseph was abused; Moses stuttered; Gideon was afraid; Sampson was a womanizer; Rahab was a prostitute; Jeremiah was young; David had an affair and was a murderer; Elijah was suicidal; Isaiah preached naked; Jonah ran from God and his assignment; Naomi loss her husband and both her sons; Job loss his family, went bankrupt, and had a wife who wanted him to curse God; John the Baptist dressed a little funny and ate bugs; Peter had a temper and denied Jesus Christ by saying he never even knew Him; The Disciples fell asleep while praying; Thomas had doubts; Miriam talked about her own brother; Aaron helped the people make up their own god out of a golden calf; Sarai was impatient; Hagar was a single mother wandering around the desert waiting for her and her son to die; Martha worried about everything; the Samaritan Woman had a few too many men (none of which were actually her own); Saul was tall; Abigail was married to a fool; Zaccheus was short; Paul was beaten and shipwrecked; Timothy had ulcers; and Lazarus was dead! So do you really think that God is intimated by you and where you really are in life?!  I promise you, God can still use, Even YOU!

Hear Jesus’ heartfelt plea to us, “Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together.” (Revelation 3:20 CEV).  Today, He wants to come in and share with you substance “…we will eat together“. He wants to share with you something that will feed you, nourish you, and strengthen you! And He wants to do it With You!  

Saints, He’s at your door knocking, will you open the door of your heart to Him and finally say “Lord, I’m Right Here”? “Lord, I’m Hurting, But Here is the Real Me!” Because once you do, you and your life will never be the same again!

Psalm 69:29 says, “I’m hurt and in pain; Give me space for healing…” (MSG) Brothers and Sisters, our Father already knows your hurting and in pain, and He so desperately wants to heal you. In fact, He already has that “space for your healing” set aside just for you, He’s just waiting for you to show up! That space is found in Psalm 91, “You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in You and I’m safe!” That’s right—He rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; His arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered His angels  to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path. “If you’ll hold on to Me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust Me. Call Me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” (MSG)

Saints, here’s God’s “space for your healing” (Psalm 91), so are you going to make the wise decision today to bring the real you there so you can finally be healed, or are you going to make the foolish decision to remain hiding in pain behind your diseased facade?

 

It is My Sincere Prayer That Today You’ll Take Your Hurt to God, Be Honest With God, and Be Healed By God!

“Be honest with God and ask Him to give you a willingness to do the work of prayer.” (David Jeremiah)

“I’m honest in my conversations with Him because I know He can handle it.” (Lysa TerKeurst)

“God blesses people who are real. When you’re honest, you open the door for God to come in and change things.” (Joel Osteen)

“God’s grace is sufficient. You’ll never face a hill you don’t have the strength to climb.” (Joel Osteen)

“The beauty of grace is that God already knows about our sin. He just wants us to be honest with Him.” (Author Unknown)

“To be God’s friend, you must be honest to God, sharing your true feelings, not what you think you ought to feel or say.” (Author Unknown)

“You might as well tell God what you think, He already knows it anyway.” (Todd Burpo)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “18 Habits of the Happiest and Healthiest Families”

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“The Benefit and Blessing of Circumcision!”

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Joshua 5:8, “And after the whole nation had been Circumcised, they remained where they were in camp Until They Were Healed.” (NIV)

BEFORE the nation of Israel could go into the Promised Land…THEY HAD TO BE CIRCUMCISED FIRST! 

Circumcision is Painful, Bloody, and Personal…However, For the BELIEVER…SPIRITUAL CIRCUMCISION IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! 

God REQUIRES each of us to be Circumcised IN HEART BEFORE we are allowed to enter and receive the blessings that await each believer in the Promised Land!

Circumcision can often be very Painful But it’s always Purposeful! 

Circumcision requires cutting off our old way of life! 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” (AMP); Romans 6:4, “We have therefore been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways].” (AMP) I reiterate, circumcision requires cutting off our old way of life! And when you look at circumcision in the Natural, what is Cut Away is neither Kept, Reused, or Put Back In Place! IT’S COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY DISCARDED…NEVER TO BE REATTACHED AGAIN!

Can you imagine if we had our LIFESTYLES CIRCUMCISED…TO THE EXTENT THAT NOTHING THAT WAS CUT AWAY EVER REATTACHES AGAIN??!!

CAN YOU IMAGINE HAVING THAT NASTY ATTITUDE CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN?! THAT DISOBEDIENT NATURE CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? THAT LUSTFUL SPIRIT CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? THAT PERVERSE MOUTH CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? THAT BOASTFUL, PRIDEFUL, ARROGANT, CONCEITED, ENTITLED DEMEANOR CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN?! THOSE CORRUPT COMPANIONS, ASSOCIATES AND FRIENDS CIRCUMCISED THAT THEY NEVER REATTACH AGAIN? THAT JUDGMENTAL, CRITICIZING, CONDESCENDING, BELITTLING BEHAVIOR CIRCUMCISED THAT THEY NEVER REATTACH AGAIN?! THAT HABIT/ADDICTION CIRCUMCISED THAT IT NEVER REATTACHES AGAIN? WHAT WOULD THE CHURCH LOOK LIKE IF THAT BACKBITING, SLANDERING, GOSSIPING, LYING, RUMOR FILLED TONGUE WAS CIRCUMCISED, NEVER TO REATTACH AGAIN?! WHAT IF JEALOUSY, COVETING, ENVY, COMPARING, AND COMPETING WERE CIRCUMCISED, NEVER TO REATTACH AGAIN?! WHAT IF BITTERNESS, ANGER, SPITE, MALICIOUSNESS, UNFORGIVENESS, AND HATRED WERE CIRCUMCISED, NEVER TO REATTACH AGAIN?!

PEOPLE OF GOD, THAT’S THE PURPOSE OF CIRCUMCISION (SPIRITUALLY AND NATURALLY)…IT IS PURPOSED TO CUT AWAY WHAT’S NOT NECESSARY SO THAT IT’S NEVER ALLOWED TO REATTACH AGAIN!

And Despite What You’ve Heard, Circumcision, Both Natural and Spiritual, Is NOT Gender Specific! Both Males and Females Have Been Circumcised (HOWEVER, I BELIEVE THE LORD’S PREFERENCE (According to the Word of God) IS MEN NATURALLY, AND MEN AND WOMEN SPIRITUALLY …READ YOUR BIBLE SAINTS!)

SO, HAS YOUR LIFE BEEN CIRCUMCISED YET?! Have you finally made the decision to get rid of some UNNECESSARY Stuff (WHICH INCLUDES PEOPLE, PLACES, THINGS, CONDUCT, BEHAVIOR, THOUGHTS, DEEDS, SPEECH ETC…)? Have You Matured Enough To Go Without the Stuff You Should Be Without In the First Place!?  

And bear in mind, just as a natural circumcision takes time to heal, so does a spiritual one! Truth is it’s not easy having God cut away some stuff and people that have been attached to us for a very long time. And it doesn’t even matter if we already know they’re poisonous, toxic and infectious, they’ve been attached to us too long for them to easily be detached without wound or pain! So, when you’re ready to reap the promises of God for your life, and you finally make the decision to be circumcised, you will need time to heal. Which is why like the children of Israel, we must WAIT UNTIL WE ARE HEALED BEFORE WE GO FORTH INTO THE PROMISED LAND! 

If we launch out too early, we will not only be Ineffective but we may Risk Infection and Disease and will not be at our Full Capacity! You see, Circumcision opens you up to Vulnerability and Pain, two things none of us like to be in! And when you think about (I pray you can handle this) but Circumcision is in a very Private Area, and not just Private, But Vital to Life! It’s an Organ Where LIFE Itself Is Produced! It All Starts Right There! Yep, I Said It…Nicely! This Very Place Will Release a Seed for Something to Be Birthed (9 Months Later) So It Is Indeed the LAST Place You Want Infected! Hello! 

Remember what the Bible says about the Israelites: “And after the whole nation had been Circumcised, THEY REMAINED WHERE THEY WERE IN CAMP UNTIL THEY WERE HEALED” – Joshua 5:8 (NIV) You Can’t Go Forth Until You’ve Been Circumcised and Healed! You Have to Stay Right Where You Are! Yes they had the place of promise before them, but they couldn’t attain it: “…UNTIL THEY WERE HEALED”! And You Are No Different! Yes, God has Great Things To Be Produced From Your Loins, but BEFORE He Does, You Will Be Circumcised, Then Made to Wait Right Where You Are (In a Vulnerable and Painful Place) Until You Are Healed!

When a Circumcision takes place, the doctors give clear instructions on what to wash with, how often, what cream to use, what to do for the pain etc…and if you’re smart, You Will Follow the Doctors Orders! The very same with a Spiritual Circumcision, Yes It Is Going to Hurt, Some of the Things and People He’s Going to Cut Away Have Been Attached For a Very Long Time And Many of Those Attachments Have Been Private, So When He Removes Them, It Is Going to Hurt, But It Won’t Hurt Always! However, In the Meantime, After He Cuts Things/People Away (That You Don’t Need Anyway) and you Follow His Instructions on How to Recover, Your Painful Experience Will Be But a Memory As You Enjoy the Promised Land!

BUT…YOU HAVE TO BE CIRCUMCISED, STAY WHERE YOU ARE, AND HEAL…FIRST!

Pay attention to the text: “And after the whole nation had been Circumcised, THEY REMAINED WHERE THEY WERE IN CAMP UNTIL THEY WERE HEALED” – Joshua 5:8  (NIV) You don’t get to say, ‘Lord I’ve been Circumcised and all is well! I’m better now, I’m delivered now.’ NO! You have to remain right where you are UNTIL YOU ARE HEALED!

In other words, you don’t get PROMOTED WHEN CIRCUMCISED! YOU REMAIN RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE! GOD IS NOT TAKING ANYMORE LIP SERVICE FROM HIS PEOPLE! THIS TIME, TO ATTAIN THE PROMISE YOU ARE GOING TO GO THROUGH THE PAIN OF CIRCUMCISION…AND THEN YOU’RE GOING TO SIT RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE UNTIL YOU’RE HEALED AND COMPLETELY DELIVERED! Can you imagine if as Leaders we endured this, and made sure others endured it as well?! Remain Where You Are Until You Are Healed! Do You Know How Many Compassionate, Humble Folks Would Then Make Up the Church Body?! Instead of the Highly Decorated Peacocks We Have Poised In the Pews and Pulpit?!

Here’s another reason why waiting until you are completely healed and delivered is so important: The people of Israel fought ONLY 2 BATTLES when they were coming out of Egypt. However, in the Promised Land they fought 39 BATTLES! Wait For It…

You see, far too many in the church believe once we get to the promise or promised land that we get the glad, glads, and it’s happy go lucky every day! We’ll have no more problems, no more headaches, no more struggles, no more trials! ALL OF THAT IS A LIE THAT SHOULD NEVER BE TOLD…NO MORE!

TRUTH IS: ISRAEL FOUGHT MORE AND TOUGHER BATTLES IN THE PROMISED LAND THEN THE ONES GETTING TO IT! THAT’S WHY YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE CIRCUMCISED…FIRST! AND THEN WAIT AND MAKE SURE YOU ARE COMPLETELY HEALED AND DELIVERED (REATTACHING NOTHING THAT WAS SEVERED!) BECAUSE YOU WILL NEED YOUR FULL STRENGTH FOR THE BATTLES THAT LIE AHEAD IN YOUR PROMISED LAND!

Each of us must be Prepared to enjoy the benefits of living in the Promised Land. And that Preparation Is Spiritual Circumcision! However, we must also be Prepared to wage war against the enemy of our souls. Therefore, make sure the Lord has provided the needed healing to your circumcision experience before you enter the Promised Land!

I find it so amazing that Natural Circumcision Meant So Much In the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, For Believers, Paul Pays Natural Circumcision No Mind and Instead He Talks About the Circumcision of the Heart! He Goes Through Colossians, Galatians and Romans talking about the Pointless Need of Natural Circumcision but of the Value and Importance of Spiritual Circumcision of the Heart. There has to be something to it don’t you think?!

“Look out for those dogs [Judaizers, legalists], look out for those mischief-makers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances—…” (Philippians 3:2-4 AMP)

“In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but in a [spiritual] circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts). [Thus you were circumcised when] you were buried with Him in [your] baptism, in which you were also raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God [as displayed] when He raised Him up from the dead.” (Colossians 2:10-12 AMP)

Today, ask God to perform a Spiritual Circumcision on Your Heart! Ask Him to Remove Anything and Anyone that Serves No Purpose to Your Growth In Him! And When He Removes It and Them, Don’t Attempt to Reattach Either One!

You Have a Promise Land and Bigger Battles Ahead of You, You Can’t Afford to be Unprepared! So Be Brave and Ask God to Use the Sword of His Word and Cut You…TODAY!

“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 AMP)

The Message Bible reads like this: “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.” (Hebrews 4:12-13 MSG)

People of God, it is Vital that you have your Heart Circumcised. God has so much in store for you that will only benefit and bless you once you’ve detached unnecessary people, places and things. Let nothing and no one come between you and what God has already gotten ready for you. Remember: God is only removing people, places and things that are non-essential to your journey, life, ministry, calling, promise and purpose.  So make absolutely no attempts to hold onto what God’s hands have already determined you do not need. He has a plan and a promise just for you, but you’ve got to be prepared to receive it, and the only way that will happen, is through circumcision. Don’t miss your blessing, don’t miss your promise! Let it and them go, today, and let neither one return!

Joshua 5:8, “When they had completed the circumcising of the WHOLE NATION, they stayed where they were in camp until they were healed.” (MSG)

Something else that’s important to note is that the WHOLE NATION was circumcised. It’s not enough for you alone to endure this process, but everyone attached to you must as well. Which means it’s important to make sure that your home and your church family are all walking through the process of circumcision. Since all with you are going into the promise and promised land with you, you need to make sure that the Whole House has been Cut, Healed, Ready to Enter the Promised Land and Ready to Fight Even Greater Battles! Mom and Dad, it’s not enough that only you have been delivered, but your children need deliverance too! Pastor and Leaders, it’s not enough that only you have been cut, made to wait, endure healing and get ready to enter the promised land! No, the Whole House needs to be on the same page!

Joshua 24:15, “…but as for me AND MY HOUSE, WE will serve the Lord.” That’s not singular, that’s plural! Meaning everybody in the house will have to follow the same house rules! We all get circumcised, we all have to stay right where we are until we are healed, then we all will go into the promised land, fight and win! This is a collective effort, not an individualized event! And so your prayer life will change. Because it has to shift from ‘me, my, mine, and I’ to ‘us, we, and the whole house!’

Joshua 5:8-9, “And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have ended your shame of not being circumcised.” So the place where this was done was called Gilgal (meaning, “to end”), and is still called that today. After the ceremony the entire nation rested in camp until the raw flesh of their wounds had been healed.” (TLB) Another good thing to note, is that regardless to who you were, or what you did, or where you were, the shame is gone after the process of circumcision has been completed! They were circumcised in Gilgal! It was the circumcision to end the shame of their painful past! Gilgal means to end, or roll away! As painful as your circumcision will be, it serves a greater purpose than just pain! It closes the door on the past! It ends the shame of what was, and prepares you for what is to come! So, don’t under-estimate your process of circumcision! It is a good thing that shall work in your favor!

And don’t rush the process either! Yes it’s a painful time, place and process, but it’s also a place where God grants you rest until your wounds have healed! Which means, when your circumcision is complete, don’t rush to start the business, open a new church, buy a house or car, and seek to enter ministry or elevate in it! This is not about any of that! This is your time to let the people, places and things God severed from you, heal. You can’t cut away from flesh and not give it time to heal! You need the memories to heal, you need the what if’s to heal, you need the regrets to heal, you need the pain to heal. So don’t rush the process, let God do the cutting, and you do the waiting while healing.

And please don’t think of your process of circumcision as a horrible place either! In Gilgal, yes, there was the pain of circumcision. However, don’t forget some of the other things that transpired in Gilgal. It was also the place of the first encampment of the Israelites west of the Jordan River where a monument was erected to commemorate their passage across the Jordan River! Joshua 4:19-24, “This miracle occurred on the 25th of March. That day the entire nation crossed the Jordan River and camped in Gilgal at the eastern edge of the city of Jericho; and there the twelve stones from the Jordan were piled up as a monument. Then Joshua explained again the purpose of the stones: “In the future,” he said, “when your children ask you why these stones are here and what they mean, you are to tell them that these stones are a reminder of this amazing miracle—that the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry ground!  Tell them how the Lord our God dried up the river right before our eyes and then kept it dry until we were all across! It is the same thing the Lord did forty years ago at the Red Sea!  He did this so that all the nations of the earth will realize that Jehovah is the mighty God, and so that all of you will worship him forever.” (TLB). It was also the place where the Passover was kept: Joshua 5:10, “While they were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated the Passover during the evening of April first.” (TLB); it was also the place where their first king was crowned and altars were built and sacrifices offered 1 Samuel 11:15, “So they went to Gilgal and in a solemn ceremony before the Lord they crowned him king. Then they offered peace offerings to the Lord, and Saul and all Israel were very happy.” (TLB); it was also the place of the school of the prophets: 2 Kings 4:38-40, “Elisha now returned to Gilgal, but there was a famine in the land. One day as he was teaching the young prophets…” (TLB); in addition, it was the place where the Tribe of Judah escorted King David and the very place Joshua conquered!

In other words, don’t get stuck in this temporary place! You are not going to stay here forever! But also, know that God has done some amazing things even in painful places! Don’t despise your place of Gilgal, it’s painful, but it’s purposeful! It won’t last forever, it’s the place of your healing, it’s the place of your resting, it’s the place where your past shame comes to an end, and most important, it’s the place that will lead you into your promised land and victorious battles! There are benefits and blessings to the process of circumcision, you just have to endure the painful waiting period of healing in order to get them! My suggestion? Endure Your Process of Circumcision!

Jeremiah 4:4, “Circumcise (dedicate, sanctify) yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskin [sins] of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Or else My wrath will go forth like fire [consuming all that gets in its way] And burn and there will be no one to quench it, Because of the evil of your acts.” (AMP)

Deuteronomy 30:6, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants [that is, He will remove the desire to sin from your heart], so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, so that you may live [as a recipient of His blessing].” (AMP)

“Without this heart attitude it is exceedingly difficult for us to accept the circumcision of the flesh. Every affection, desire, thought, knowledge, intent, worship, and work of the flesh must go to the cross.” (Watchman Nee)

People of God, Do Not Despise Your Painful Process of Circumcision in the Place of Gilgal (the Place Where You Get Cut, You Wait, You Heal, and the Pain Comes to an End Before You Enter Your Promise Land!) Don’t Despise Gilgal, Embrace it, it’s the Place That Will Lead You to Your Promised Land!

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

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“Surviving Disappointment”

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Proverbs 13:12, “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a…good break can turn life around.”

If you’re still living—then disappointment is inevitable! Webster defines disappointment as,When expectations fail to be met, producing anger, frustration, sadness and discouragement.

With that said, here are some examples to help you when:

1.. YOUR DISAPPOINTED WITH THOSE YOU LOOK UP TO: Think of Samuel and Eli (1 Samuel 1-4). Samuel’s mother entrusted her child to Eli the High Priest, confident he’d mentor and prepare him for God’s service. But Eli had a serious character flaw! He was a weak, passive parent who stood by while his own sons abused their priestly privilege, bringing shame and disrepute to the family and ministry! There’s a very befitting quote that says,He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk.” (Author Unknown) I believe it’s fair to say that Eli was…only taking a walk.I mean with a “mentor” like Eli, who’d have even blamed young Samuel for taking a nose dive right into the very heart of immorality, when the man he looked up to failed him so badly?! But no, instead he fielded his disappointment and kept his eyes on God: The Bible says,…Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him.” (1 Samuel 3:19). And as a result, God turned him into one of Israel’s Greatest Prophets! Henry Ward Beecher accurately stated:Ones best success comes after their greatest disappointment.Well Done Samuel, Well Done! So, how are we to deal with the disappointment we feel in those we look up to, that let us down? Because it’s bound to happen at some point in life. Whether it’s a parent, clergy, family, friend, business associate, spouse, governmental official, etc, we are bound to be let down by those we look up to. But does that give us license to lower our standards because they didn’t raise theirs? Absolutely Not! Samuel grew and the Lord was with him. You see, even when Eli messed up his Role, Samuel maintained his Character. He never attacked Eli, he didn’t bash him, he didn’t talk about him, he didn’t spread rumors, lies, gossip or even Truth about him. No, Samuel just lived the life of a good leader, which reminds us that we can point fingers and lay blame, but where does that get us, even if we’re in the right?! The better bet is to take the high road. Live right, think right, speak right, behave right, no matter how wrong your surroundings or the people in them. So the next time someone you look up to let’s you down, keep them in prayer and be a mirror to them showing them the reflection of what good (not perfect) looks like. Why? Because Eli died and missed out, but the person you look up to doesn’t have to. So, share your heart with them gently and honestly, then whether they agree or disagree, you move onward showing everyone that you can learn a good lesson even from a bad example! Don’t judge them, just refuse to make their same errors in judgment. You can do it, I know you can!

2.. YOU’RE DISAPPOINTED IN THOSE YOU LIVE WITH: If anyone wouldn’t let you down, surely it would be your family, right? Wrong! Just ask young Joseph. When his father favors him and God promised him a big dream you’d think his own blood brothers would celebrate him, and celebrate with him! But instead they responded with jealousy, anger, spite, bitterness, ridicule and resentment, while dropping him in a pit, then selling him into slavery! Far from friends and home he languished in prison for a crime he didn’t commit! What an invitation to bitterness, and an opportunity to rehearse the wrongs done him while plotting his revenge. But if he’d done that, he’d have died an innocent, unknown convict in a foreign jail! Instead he allowed God to vindicate him, using his circumstances to position, prepare and promote him to being Egypt’s Prime Minister—now that’s how you deal with disappointment! Robert Kiyosaki said: “The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.Well Done Joseph, Well Done! So, how do you deal with family, your own blood, that stabs you in the back? What happens when the attack is from an assailant under your own roof? What do you do when it’s your sibling that drops you in the pit, or your cousin that sells you out, or your auntie that lands you behind bars?! How do you recover when it was a relative that inflicted the hurt?! You do as Joseph did, you trust God throughout the entire process! Nowhere do we read that Joseph cried out ‘why me God’; he didn’t blame dad for not being there to protect him; he didn’t retaliate against the cup-bearer who forgot him; he didn’t get angry with the whole world and try to issue his own form of the big payback. As he went from disaster to disaster God never left his side. In every bad, God produced something good. Now, is it easy, especially when it’s blood, to just trust the vindication and vengeance to God alone, no! But it’s the best way to handle it, to put what you will mishandle in the hands of God! In the end, those same relatives had to come and bow before Joseph, will that happen with you, probably not, but isn’t it worth it to trust God and let Him work? Maybe, just maybe, you’ll at least get the apology and more importantly, you’ll get the reconciliation. Saints, take the high road my friends, even when it’s family that’s trying to drive you off course!

3.. YOU’RE DISAPPOINTED IN THOSE YOU WORK WITH AND DEPEND ON: To succeed, you need people; you can’t make it without them! And when those people fail you, it’s painful. Imagine Moses’ disappointment. He leaves his brother Aaron in charge while he attends a summit conference with God and receives the Ten Commandments. Returning, he finds Israel in anarchy, idolatry and unspeakable perversion! And where’s Aaron you ask? Leading the Rebellion! When Moses needs him Most, Aaron fails him Miserably! But watch Moses; true leadership shines even in darkest of disappointment! He confronts Aaron, takes the mess to God for resolution, and prays forgiveness for Israel! God listens, then reminds Moses of his assignment! [It’s disappointing, Moses, but…] –…go, lead the people…my angel will go before you…” (Exodus 32:34 NIV). People of God, disappointment doesn’t cancel your assignment—nor does it close the door on God’s presence! So, go forth, even in the midst of disappointment, and do what He sent you to do!Man must be disappointed with the lesser things of life before he can comprehend the full value of the greater.” (Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton). Well Done Moses, Well Done! So leaders, dare I even ask if you’ve ever been disappointed by your leaders? Surely you have, many of us have. But that doesn’t mean you disown them; you don’t give up on them; you don’t give them the cold shoulder; you don’t attempt to replace them; you don’t ignore them; and certainly you don’t retaliate tit-for-tat with them! No, you follow Moses’ example. Take the issue before God! Let Him tell you how to handle it, not your ‘inner circle’; not your clique; not your buddies and pals; not people you know don’t like them; and certainly you don’t attempt to get back at them from over the pulpit! Moses took the issue he had with Aaron his leader, to God. And God could’ve told Moses get rid of Aaron, you don’t need him, you’re the key person to this assignment anyhow. No, He simply tells Moses to not focus on the attack but on his assignment, …go, lead the people…my angel will go before you…Leaders, I do not have to tell you just how difficult it is to lead people, especially those who are stiff-necked, hard headed and rebellious! But do you get to retaliate? Nope! You are still held accountable for your leadership, your life and lifestyle and your responses to offense. Your character and integrity must remain intact. You must still be above reproach, even when those you lead keep falling under it! Yes, the disappointment hurts, but you can’t let the wound infect your assignment. Do what Moses did, take it to God, receive His directives, and continue on. Why? Because God said, …go, lead the people…which means others will be affected by how you respond when disappointed. Don’t let childish immaturity be the only way your followers can describe your leadership. Handle it, rise above it and keep moving the people forward! Don’t mess up your ministry because you’re mad!

4.. YOU’RE DISAPPOINTED IN THOSE YOU’VE POURED YOUR LIFE INTO: Let’s check in again with Moses, Founding Pastor of the First Church of the Critical and the Ungrateful, a congregation of former slaves, delivered, abundantly blessed, en route to the Promised Land, but without a shred of loyalty or gratitude for the man who put everything on the line to make it all possible! Fresh out of Egypt they turn on Moses, accusing, blaming and berating him (Exodus 14). Was Moses disappointed and hurt by it? Sure, who wouldn’t be?! But each time he wanted to quit he’d discuss it with God, pray for his complaining flock, receive fresh orders from headquarters and return to work! It’s what “God-Called” men and women do when they’re disappointed and feel like giving up!If you use disappointments as sort of mid-semester exams, for learning, you will learn that every disappointment you overcome makes you stronger—and wiser. The greatest success stories have been lived by those who had to grow strong and wise in that very way.” (Loretta Young). Once Again, Well Done Moses, Well Done! Leaders, once again I want to encourage you, because it’s not easy to take one vision and try to get an entire house to see and follow it. I know it would be absolutely wonderful to have the whole house on the same page, however, realistically, our churches are family trees with a whole lot of mixed nuts! One person wants the school; the other person thinks the school won’t work; the other person doesn’t mind a school, but doesn’t like the blueprint of the school, and all the while you wish you could throw all of them in detention and keep building the vision by yourself. But unfortunately pastors, it doesn’t quite work out that way. We’re apart of One body with many members, and every member is vital to the health and well being of the whole. So even when it seems like you can’t get one good solid supporter, remember you always have God and with Him you are in the majority! Moses led a frustrated, frustrating bunch of complainers, but did he throw in the towel? No, and neither will you. Like it or not, but you will pour even more of your life into the people, and some of them have eternal leaks, but that’s not your problem! Their capacity is for God to handle, you simply pour of yourself into them. God will never allow you to dry out and die, He will continue to replenish you, His Chosen Vessel of Honor. Therefore, understand that disappointment will visit, but don’t let it move in! Stay the course, God’s got you!  

Now take a moment and look at 1 Samuel 15:10-12,…God spoke to Samuel: “I’m sorry I ever made Saul king. He’s turned his back on me. He refuses to do what I tell him.Samuel was angry when he heard this. He prayed his anger and disappointment all through the night…” (MSG). As already stated, if you’re still living—disappointment is inevitable! But might I add, it’s not ‘Impregnable, which meansUnable To Overcome! You see, when anger and disappointment threatened Samuel, he fought back in Prayer! If you’re smart, you’ll do the same! Disappointment only delivers a death blow to those who don’t fight back! You can literally read those verses and feel Samuel’s anger, after all, do you know how mad you have to be to pray angry and disappointed…All Through the Night?! But sometimes prayer is the best thing, because when you’re hurt, angry and disappointed, your mouth runs faster than your mind. So you have a tendency to say some things that you meant to say and a whole lot more that you didn’t! But when you empty all of that out to God in prayer, He’s a master-sorter, He knows how to pick through that prayer for what’s really needed. Therefore, no matter how great the disappointment, take it to God FIRST in prayer, even if you have to enter your prayer closet hurt, disappointed, bitter, angry, confused, rejected, abandoned, used, betrayed, lied on, suicidal, take it all to God in prayer, even if that prayer will last long into the night! Thank God, He never sleeps or slumbers! Take it to Him, then rest in Him, knowing He’s going to bring something good, out of your something bad!

Now, we’ve talked about disappointment with those we look up to; those we live with; those we work with and depend on and those we’ve poured our life into. But, there’s one last disappointment I want us to dig into, and that’s:

5.. DISAPPOINTMENT IN OURSELVES! It’s potentially the most debilitating kind of disappointment because it can throw you into a downward spiral that’s hard to stop or recover from! Rollo May said: “Depression is the inability to construct a future.And for most of us, who can tell the whole truth, we’ve had so many little disappointments along the way that we can’t even fathom a pencil-sketch of a big future! Well, there’s an even better quote that I want you to hold on to by Albert Ellis, he said:You largely Construct your depression. It wasn’t given to you. Therefore, You can Deconstruct it.You see, mounting disappointments are a map with all directions pointing towards the destination of depression! But remember, anything you can CONSTRUCT, you can also DECONSTRUCT, or ‘cause the destruction of”. The other definition I like is, “to dismantle and expose the workings of.” If you’ve built up and constructed disappointments in your life, you can also grab your toolkit and deconstruct those same disappointments. Take them apart, dismantle them and expose the works behind them, so you can ensure that what worked before in building that disappointment, won’t ever work again! And even if “YOU” brought the discouragement, disappointment and depression on yourself, there is still a way to recover! JUST ASK PETER! Peter had sworn undying love and fidelity to Jesus.Lord, everybody else may abandon you, but not me! I’m yours till death.” (Read—Matthew 26:33-75). And he meant every word of it! But under the pressures surrounding the crucifixion, he yields, and three times denies knowing Jesus. Later, remembering Jesus’ words,Before the rooster crows, you’ll deny me three times,Peter, heartbroken BY HIS OWN DISMAL FAILURE,went outside and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62 NIV).

Have you ever been there, asking:God, how can You possibly use someone as messed up as me? I lost the job; I flunked out of school; I had this baby out of wedlock; I have a prison record; I fell off the wagon again; I’ve destroyed my finances; my health is falling apart; my marriage is on life support and we’re both ready to pull the plug; I can’t even remember the last time I prayed or fasted or studied Your word; I can’t remember the last time my hands clapped, my feet danced or praise was on my lips and worship in my spirit. Lord my family is a feuding mess; the loans were denied; the bills are about to drown me; there’s so much to pray for regarding my kids, I don’t even know where to start; my parents are getting sicker; God I can’t get two sentences to make sense in my head, Lord, why are you still trying to use me?!

Listen, Peter failed to meet his own expectations, but Jesus was never shocked! He was well aware of Peter’s flaws when He called him into the ministry. He knew that His blustering, outspoken disciple had a tender heart, so He extended grace to him rather than remove him from office! And as disqualified as you may feel from all of your disappointments in life, God is not going to remove you from office or your assignment either!  

When Christ gave post-resurrection orders to…tell His disciples and Peter…” (Mark 16:7 NIV) to meet Him in Galilee, He reaffirmed His choice of the failed disciple! The rest of Peter’s story is New Testament History!

So, Yes, You Can Recover Even From Disappointment In Yourself!

Never forget, God is the Master Potter, and no matter how many times we His clay become marred in His hands, He never throws us away! We’re never discarded! He simply molds us again into another vessel He can use again.

Jeremiah 18:1-6, “God told Jeremiah, “Up on your feet! Go to the potter’s house. When you get there, I’ll tell you what I have to say.” So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, THE POTTER WOULD SIMPLY START OVER AND USE THE SAME CLAY TO MAKE ANOTHER POT. Then God’s Message came to me: “Can’t I do just as this potter does, people of Israel?” God’s Decree! “Watch this potter. In the same way that this potter works his clay, I work on you, people of Israel. At any moment I may decide to pull up a people or a country by the roots and get rid of them. But if they repent of their wicked lives, I will think twice and start over with them. At another time I might decide to plant a people or country, but if they don’t cooperate and won’t listen to me, I will think again and give up on the plans I had for them.” (MSG)

So let up on yourself! If you think you’ve ruined God’s purpose and plan for your life because of your screw ups, you clearly have underestimated God’s love, care, protection and provision for you! You are not strong enough on your worst day to dismantle God’s assignment on your life! Neither your mistakes nor your deliberate, willful sin, can hinder what God has for you! So know this, today is the day you forgive yourself and determine to be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you’ll be today! Every day He gives you brand new mercies, and not so you can keep going over old disappointments.

Friends, if last night wasn’t your LAST night, God still has much in store for you! So stop beating yourself up, sometimes God uses our greatest disappointments as reappointments to life and ministry! He hasn’t given up on you, so don’t give up on yourself! It’s a new day, make a renewed you, and fulfill your purpose in life! God is waiting to hand you your next assignment, now get back to work!

THIS IS THE YEAR YOU OVERCOME AND SURVIVE EVERY DISAPPOINTMENT!

Anytime you suffer a setback or disappointment, put your head down and plow ahead. (Les Brown)

“When you believe in your purpose, you can work through obstacles, overcome disappointments, and endure hardships.” (Billy Cox)

“There will be disappointments in life. It’s okay to feel sad, just don’t wallow for longer than necessary.” (Author Unknown)

“Disappointments are just God’s way of saying, ‘I’ve got something better.’ So be patient, have faith and live your life.” (Author Unknown)

“Disappointments are natural life occurrences. Their lifespan depends on how long they dominate your thoughts. The shorter…the better your life will be.” (Dodinsky)

“Disappointments were not meant to destroy you. They were meant to strengthen you and give you fortitude to accomplish your destiny.” (Joel Osteen)

“Disappointments are inevitable, Discouragement is a choice.” (Author Unknown)

“It is how you handle your disappointments that define you as a person. If you get up after the fall or just lay there in defeat.” (Author Unknown)

“When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to makes mistakes. Disappointments, defeat and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.” (Paulo Coelho)

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

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

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