“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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“Rest is NOT a Sin”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elijah thought he was the only one too, until God Himself let him know He had 7,000 additional servants! 1 Kings 19:13-18, “When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” Elijah said it again, “I’VE BEEN WORKING MY HEART OUT FOR GOD, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’M THE ONLY ONE LEFT, and now they’re trying to kill me.” GOD SAID, “Go back the way you came through the desert to Damascus. When you get there anoint Hazael; make him king over Aram. Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi; make him king over Israel. Finally, anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Anyone who escapes death by Hazael will be killed by Jehu; and anyone who escapes death by Jehu will be killed by Elisha. MEANWHILE, I’M PRESERVING FOR MYSELF SEVEN THOUSAND SOULS: the knees that haven’t bowed to the god Baal, the mouths that haven’t kissed his image.” (MSG) Like Elijah, I know you’re “working your heart out for God”, and it feels like since you’re doing Everything, you are the only servant God has, but I assure you, you are not all God has left! God has other servants that can do what you do, and several who can do it better. So, believe me when I tell you, taking an ‘inactive season’ off duty will not depress God, nor cause the heavens to go into chaos, it will not rob the angels of an assignment, it will not give advantage to hell, and it will not stop the spreading of the Gospel nor the building up of the Kingdom of God, nor will it kill the Body of Christ!

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

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

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

Which is why you should:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a REAL REST. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “5 Things to Know About Your Metabolism”

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“God’s Reserve Tank”

Christian illustrations for the whole family

Isaiah 40:28-31, “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (NLT)

A good friend of mine named Earl recently picked up a used pickup truck for a friend of ours. However, it’s when Earl started up the truck that the trouble began. You see, Earl (everybody’s friendly neighborhood mechanic) was taking the truck out for a test drive for Jim who had just bought it. And as he backed it out of the new owner’s garage, it suddenly started sputtering and stalling. He couldn’t keep it running no matter what he tried. He got to a phone and called the old owner and said, “What’s the deal with this truck you just sold?” Well, the man who sold it is an honorable man, and he was really distressed about this suddenly dysfunctional truck. Then suddenly he asked Earl, “Did you happen to mess with the radio at all?” Well, truth is, yes, he had. The previous owner told Earl to go check these two switches that are right next to the radio. You see, this truck has a wonderful feature, especially for the country roads that it travels so much. It has what they call a reserve gas tank. Earl had unknowingly turned off Tank 2, which was full of gas, and turned on Tank 1, which was totally empty. But the good news is that as soon as he switched from the empty tank to the reserve tank, Mr. Pickup Truck ran and ran and ran.

I’m assuming that your life runs pretty fast, and pretty hard much like mine. You have family, work, church, friends, schedules, children, business, school, leadership, health and financial check lists and the like. And because of it, there are times when your tank is basically empty. You’re totally exhausted, you have nothing left to give, your demands and responsibilities are much greater than the strength you have to meet them. And sometimes you just run out of ideas, you’re out of solutions, you’re out of motivation, you’re out of energy. Now why am I assuming that you know about an empty tank like this? Because I’m assuming you’re not that different from me or any other human being that has to face the grueling challenges of daily life.

But there is good news that gets delivered Right when your tank has nothing Left!

Isaiah 40:28 says, “Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He doesn’t grow tired or weary. His understanding is beyond human reach.” (CEB)

Now, in case you didn’t know, the God you belong to, the God who lives in you, is inexhaustible! And that wonderful word “inexhaustible” is defined as “of a never-ending supply; incapable of being used up because of its continual abundance; tireless; incapable of being wearied or worn out; impossible to use up completely; impossible to exhaust; plentiful enough not to give out or be used up.” It even has synonyms like: “unlimited, limitless, illimitable, infinite, boundless, endless, never-ending, unfailing, and everlasting.” This is talking about the God who holds you together when you’re ready to fall apart! He is what the theologians call infinite. And “infinite” is defined as “limitless in space, extent, or size; very great in amount or degree; the quality of having no limits or end, exceedingly great; unmeasurable.” And it comes with synonyms such as: “everlasting, foreverness, eternity, perpetuity, boundless, endlessness, permanence, and timelessness.” His resources and wisdom just never, ever run out, but yours do, and don’t feel bad because mine does as well. But as for God? He is never tired or weary! As the One who created the ends of the earth (still He is never tired or weary). And no matter what the problem or struggle is, His understanding of it is still beyond human reach. There is nothing we can bring to Him, that so perplexes us, will ever stress Him! He can handle anything and everything…now if only we’d stop thinking we can as well! God never runs low, or runs out, but we do. The good news is that when we do, we still have our connection to Him!

And here’s where the reserve tank kicks in. The passage continues, “He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak. Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up.” (vss. 29-30 TLB). Another translation says it like this: “He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted.” (vss. 29-30 AMPC). Any of the words here sound like you? “Weary, weak, tired, worn out, exhausted, feeble, faint, no might, stumble, and fall?” And what’s so interesting about this text is that even the “young” and the “selected” will not be exempt! You’d think the young would have nothing to complain about, but truth be told, life hits hard and it doesn’t care about your age! Even the youth will be exhausted and young men will all give up. And we can’t judge them either. Because you never know what someone’s struggle is. You may be 60 and battling with diabetes, but believe it or not, there’s a 6 year old battling cancer, and a 16 year old battling addiction. No one is exempt from running on empty! Not even the “select”! Listen to how this reads in a few translations:

“Even youths grow weary and tired, and VIGOROUS YOUNG MEN stumble badly.” (AMP); (“vigorous” is defined as “physical strength and good health.”)

“Young men get tired and need to rest. Even YOUNG BOYS stumble and fall.” (ERV);

“For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in THEIR PRIME stumble and fall.” (MSG); (“prime” is defined as “of the best possible quality; excellent.”)

“Even CHILDREN become tired and need to rest, and young people trip and fall.” (NCV);

“Even very young men get tired and become weak and STRONG YOUNG MEN trip and fall.” (NLV)

Even those who are physically strong, in good health, young, at their best possible level of quality, in excellent condition, are still tired, weary, need rest, stumble and fall, get weak and trip! So then why are you being so hard on yourself? Don’t attempt to ‘fake it till you make it.’ Be honest with yourself, if no one else, and admit that you’re exhausted…but don’t get stuck there…remember you still serve in Inexhaustible God!

You see, much like Earl, who got inside the pickup truck and immediately went to pressing buttons…we do the same thing. Pressing an unnecessary button (the radio) caused a necessary button (the reserve tank) to be switched off. Sometimes in life we think we know what we’re doing, but we don’t. And like Earl, who had to contact the person who owned the truck first and therefore knew it best, we need to go to God who created us first and knows us best to ask Him, “God what’s wrong with this?” Meaning, our life, our family, our finances and health, our choices, our decisions, our marriages, churches, ministries and businesses. “God why is this not working?” And as silly as it sounds, I’m certain we’ll get a response much like Earl did, “did you mess with the wrong button?” And if we’re honest and humble enough, we’ll admit that we did. Then we can have God tell us what to do next to fix it. And like Earl, it will be the same answer, switch to your reserve. And what’s your reserve tank?

Well, here’s what God promises to the totally overwhelmed and depleted person: “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power; they will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not grow tired.” (vs. 31).

When Earl’s Tank 1 on that truck was empty, the fuel in Tank 2 made all the difference! I can’t tell you how many times I have reached empty in my tank, and God’s never-empty tank has kicked in and it has made all the difference. After an exhausting week, I wake up and say, “God, I’m so tired.” He says, “I’m not.” I say, “I’m empty, Lord.” He says, “I know, but switch on My power. I’m not empty.” Which reminds me of the song I used to sing when I first got saved and I didn’t really understand it until life got a lot more complicated, but it simply says, “Little ones to Him belong, they are weak, but He is strong.”

I know men in particular, are “supposed” to be strong and able to handle anything and everything. But can I tell you how untrue that is. You are to be god-like, but you are never to attempt to be God. You will get tired and weary and worn out and exhausted. And none of that makes you a “weak man.” What makes you a “weak man” is when you think your source of strength and power comes from you alone!

2 Corinthians 12:9, “but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough – always available – regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.” (AMP)

Did you get that? No matter what you’re going through, God’s Grace, Lovingkindness and Mercy are Sufficient…More Than Enough…and Always Available…REGARDLESS OF THE SITUATION! There is nothing you can bring to God that He can’t handle in your life! Nothing that weakens you can weaken Him! In fact, His power is more evident and effective IN YOUR WEAKNESS! That’s why we can boast, because no matter what weakens us, God will always be our reserve of strength! Whether it’s divorce, debt or diabetes…God can handle any situation that’s draining you! But you have to contact Him, like Earl had to contact the previous owner of the pickup truck. God is waiting for you brothers and sisters to stop trying to be strong and hold it all together. He’s waiting for you to come to Him for Help!

Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” The Amplified Bible says it like this: “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.” (AMP). And lastly, the Message Bible says it like this: “Now that we know what we have – Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God – let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all – all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (MSG)

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I go to someone for advice and help, I like to know that they’ve already sat where I’m sitting. And who better to talk to about our weaknesses than one who has experienced weakness and overcame it?! This is our God who so desperately wants us to bring our failures, hurts, discouragement, disappointments, stress and struggles to Him. He wants us to bring Him our weaknesses and emptiness to Him.

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)

Who knew that GRACE is the GAS we need to REFUEL?! And all we need to attain it is Honesty… “Lord, I’m exhausted and empty, please fill me again! Help me to rediscover Your reserve tank of strength, just for me!”

Listen: If you dwell on how stressed you are, or how tired, or how sick or overwhelmed, you’re done! That’s like sitting in a pickup truck dwelling on the empty tank! There’s no point to it, because that doesn’t change anything about it. But if, on those depleted days, you consciously focus on your Lord’s inexhaustible strength, your Lord’s unlimited power, you will be able to keep driving when you thought you couldn’t go another mile!

The songwriter of one of my favorite songs said it pretty well. “When we have exhausted our store of endurance; when our strength has failed ere the day is half done. When we’ve reached the end of our hoarded resources, our Father’s full giving has only begun.”

Remember, Even When You’re Exhausted, Never to Forget Your God is Inexhaustible! When You Need to Refuel, He is Your Reserve!

Today, Don’t Complain About Being Empty, Just Switch Tanks!

Isaiah 40:27-31, “Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me?” Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch His breath. And He knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.” (MSG)

“God wants to fill all the desperate little corners of our souls with Himself.” (Author Unknown)

Let Him Do It! Let Him Refuel You With His Reserve! Take Your Empty Tank to the God Where the Scriptures Declare “…In His Presence is the Fullness of Joy!…” (Psalm 16:11)

“Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Nobody ever tells you that emptiness weighs the most.” (Author Unknown)

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

“It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself.” (Mother Teresa)

“The usefulness of the cup is its emptiness.” (Osho)

“God wants to fill all the desperate little corners of our souls with Himself.” (Author Unknown)

“No person, possession, profession, or position ever fills the cup of a wounded, empty heart. It’s an emptiness only God can fill.” (Lysa TerKeurst)

“God created a void in your heart that is only His to fill. When life becomes meaningless, boring, and hard it’s because we’ve been filling it with anything but Him.” (Author Unknown)

“There is no friendship, no relationship, no championship, no ownership that will satisfy any of your desires in this life like a relationship with God Almighty.” (Pastor Matthew Hagee)

“If you want to live in the fullness of God’s anointing, fill your mouth with His Word.” (Joyce Meyer)

“May your prayer life be filled with the fullness of God and His powerful love.” (Stacey Hitch)

“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.” (Khalil Gibran)

“It is only in the presence of God, we find the fullness of life and joy.” (Lailah Gifty Akita)

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: “What is the Blue Zone Diet?”

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“Embracing Time Off, Time Out and Time Away”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even Jesus made time to eat, sleep and weep, so why are you speeding through life as though you are super-human and do not require necessary human breaks! Even Jesus exhibited balance, are we to do any less? “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“What’s Coming is Better Than What’s Been”

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2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day. For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!], Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.” (AMP).

One of my nieces had an interesting method of weight control. She would eat what she wanted for a while, and then suddenly she would reverse all engines for a day or two. She would announce, “Today is a Slim Fast day!” Which translates, drink diet milk shakes three times a day. However, when you like to eat like I do, drinking all three meals a day is not very satisfying in my book.

Well, one day I was out running errands and my niece went with me. We stopped at this bagel store, and I came back to the car with the aroma of fresh bagels. (One of the great aromas in the world might I add!) I said to my niece, “I’m sorry I did this today, I know how much you love bagels.” She said, “Auntie, don’t worry about it, I can handle it. It’s only one day, it’s only for a moment.

In our text of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Paul is writing his perspective on the mountain of suffering that he was experiencing. It sounds a little bit like the niece I know that would deprive herself of food…for a short time.

Here’s what it says in another version, “Therefore we do not lose heart…” Wow! In spite of all Paul went through, not losing heart is major! Some of us go through nowhere near what he suffered and endured, and yet Paul encourages us by how he encouraged himself, “…we do not lose heart…

He then says, “…Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles…” (Get that? “…light and momentary troubles…” In other words, this load as heavy as it is, will not crush you, believe it or not, it is but a light thing and as long as you’ve been going through it, it is still but momentary!) The word ‘light‘ is defined as, ‘of little weight; deficient in weight; not strongly or heavily built; not profound or serious.’ And the word, ‘momentary‘ is defined as, ‘very brief or short-lived.’ That’s how Paul describes our troubles! And does he have the credibility to do so? Absolutely! Just listen to Paul’s LIGHT AND MOMENTARY TROUBLES that he describes just seven chapters later:

2 Corinthians 11:21-29, “…(I can’t believe I’m saying these things. It’s crazy to talk this way! But I started, and I’m going to finish.) I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches…” (MSG) 

WHEN SOMEONE WITH THAT AS THEIR TESTIMONY TELLS YOU THAT YOUR TROUBLES ARE ONLY LIGHT AND MOMENTARY, YOU BELIEVE THEM!

The text goes on to say: “…are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV).

The Message Bible puts it like this: “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)

That’s what you call encouragement! Whatever you’re dealing with, Paul says to treat it as “…here today, gone tomorrow…light and momentary!”

Remember, Every Storm Eventually Runs Out of Rain! Things Will Begin to Clear Up and Clear Out Sooner Than You Think!

Keep in Mind: “…Weeping may stay all night, but by morning, joy!” (Psalm 30:5 CEB).

Paul continues that same theme from 2 Corinthians 4 in Romans 8:18. He says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (NIV). The Common English Bible says it like this: “But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him. I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us.  The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters.  Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice—it was the choice of the one who subjected it—but in the hope  that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children.” (Romans 8:17-21 CEB).

Remember: “…the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory…” Remind Yourself Daily: What’s Coming is Better Than What’s Been!

The key here is a little thing called Perspective. The description I love on “Perspective” is “a particular way of regarding something based on its relative importance.In other words, it’s how important it is to you! How do you view it? How do you see it? What is its importance? And like Paul, when you compare the temporal to the eternal and the pain to the glory, the cross to the crown, the crushing to the oil, you will also conclude that what you are going through is nothing compared to what God has planned to come to pass! It’s likened to trouble lasting “One Day”!

When you look at the comparisons you’ll begin to say: “Okay, if this is all there is, I can handle it.” You see, compared to a forever without pain and with incredible rewards for the faithful, our suffering is only for a day. So no matter what or who you have to face, face it and them with the same attitude: “I can handle it.

Believe it or not, but your loving Lord knows you are under a very heavy load of hurt right now. And as always, He shares your pain. He has seen your tears, He cares about your suffering because He’s familiar with it! Philippians 2:5-8, “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” (MSG)

If no one knows what’s it’s like to endure suffering and pain it is Jesus!

He knows sometimes you feel like this is just more than I can handle. Which is why He lovingly says to you today:  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)

I’m here today to remind you that it isn’t always going to be like this. This isn’t forever; not compared to how long you will live through eternity with your Savior in peace. In fact, compared to that, it’s not long at all.

There’s a little phrase that a sister in church taught me to say as a babe in Christ whenever I was faced with hardship. She would say, “Just remember: TTSP!” The glorious truth: This Too Shall Pass! And that’s the truth about this dark valley you’re going through-This Too Shall Pass. Maybe you have lost someone close to you recently, and the grief is heavy, but it is temporary. There’s a reunion coming. This is only an interruption in your relationship. The pain of your situation is real; maybe even devastating. But praise God there’s an eternal healing coming. The Bible still says, “…Weeping may be for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Get Ready Because There is Still a Morning Coming After Your Mourning!

I know it feels like the marriage won’t get better, the children won’t improve, your finances won’t increase, your health won’t change, the job won’t come through, the business won’t start, the ministry is struggling. But truth is still truth, TTSP: This Too Shall Pass! It’s but for a moment, it’s temporal, it’s in comparison to just One Night! You can handle this!

In Christ there is a four-letter word that makes the worst earth stuff bearable-HOPE. And the hope will last much longer than the hurt! You have in Jesus a Savior who has lived the pain. Hebrews 12:2 says, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (NIV).  The Message Bible says it like this: “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3 MSG).

Nutshell: Temporal Pain, Permanent Joy!

People of God, if you just look at today’s suffering, you’re going to stagger under the load. But if you can lift your eyes and look at the short way down the road, you’ll be a winner even with your wounds. For just beyond this valley there is a Savior waiting with His arms wide open, waiting to welcome you to the forever He has planned for you. And you will hear Him say, “It’s over, my child. You have born your pain as I did. Now, enter the kingdom I’ve prepared for you. I’ve been waiting on your arrival.

Oh, I know it hurts now, but hold on and hold out, in comparison to what’s coming, it’s only for a day.

BE REASSURED, WHAT’S COMING IS SO MUCH BIGGER, BETTER AND GREATER THAN WHAT’S BEEN!

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

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“WHO Is HE To YOU?”

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…AND HOW ABOUT YOU? WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?…” (Matthew 16:13-19 MSG).

Meteorologists have studied weather patterns to discover the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW of rain, thunder, lightning, hail, drought, monsoons and the like. They have pondered why deserts receive less than an inch of rain per year, while India’s monsoons pour down over 400 inches annually. Why does lightning strike? What causes hail? Why does thunder make the sound it does? How can we predict hurricanes and tornado’s?

While great strides have been made in observing, predicting and understanding the weather, no one has been able to change it. Why? Because while human beings have studied the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW, they often have forgotten to ask the most important question of all: WHO?

Maybe you’ve been making the very same error. Looking at your situation and focusing on the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and even WHY? But falling short in focusing on WHO?

Job’s friend, Elihu, didn’t subscribe to the weather channel or own a farmer’s almanac. He understood, however, that God controls it all: “It is GOD WHO takes water from the earth and turns it into drops of rain. He lets the rain pour from the clouds in showers for all human beings” (Job 36:27-28 GNT). He may as well said, “I don’t understand the process of condensation and precipitation, but I do understand that God is in control of it all!

So, what’s keeping you from reaching that same place? A place of complete confidence that even when you don’t understand all that’s going on in your life, you yet trust HIM? You Trust GOD! You may not understand the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, or WHY, but what’s keeping you from trusting the WHO that is Always Faithful? “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left” (Lamentations 3:22-24 MSG); “For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and his faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation” (Psalm 100:5 TLB); “God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9 AMP) Sounds to me as though we gravely underestimate our God’s Faithfulness towards us. In fact, hearing those Scriptures alone ought to lead us to repentance and a new found attitude of gratitude for the Lord’s Consistent Faithfulness.

Furthermore, the first words in the Bible are, “In the beginning GOD…” So, while we might not understand all the intricate details and secrets of life, we can hold on to this: God set the universe in motion and still sustains it! Paul put it like this: “We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence AND HOLDS IT ALL TOGETHER RIGHT UP TO THIS MOMENT. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and HOLDS IT TOGETHER, like a head does a body.” (Colossians 1:15-18 MSG). Now, if God can create and hold all of this together, surely you have no doubt about His ability to hold you and all that concerns you, together?

Jeremiah states: “Alas, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too hard or too wonderful for You” (Jeremiah 32:17 AMP). Did you read that? “…There is NOTHING too hard…for You” The word ‘nothing’ is defined as, ‘not anything.’ People of God, where is your level of confidence in your God? Do you believe that there is absolutely NOTHING taking place in your life that is too hard for your God to handle? There’s absolutely nothing that you’re experiencing, enduring, suffering or struggling through or with that is too hard for your God to handle. There’s NOT ANYTHING that you can name that will EVER be listed under the TOO HARD FOR GOD TO HANDLE category! Which is why you should be encouraged to finally reach a place where you can confidently say: “…With men this is impossible, BUT ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD” (Matthew 19:26 AMP). In other words, don’t let the government shut-down scare you; you don’t allow the doctor’s diagnosis to cause you to panic; don’t let the marital discord make you believe that what’s out of your hands is also out of God’s; don’t focus on your children doing the very opposite of what you’ve taught and trained them to do under the admonition of the Lord (God has His hands on them too); stop pacing the floor over the funds that are no longer piling high in your bank account (God is neither limited by money or intimidated by numbers). Learn how to trust God even in the moments when you can’t trace Him. Know that He’s still your LIGHT even in DARK places and seasons of life. Believe that He is still a very present help in times of trouble and that no matter how dark your circumstances get, your God is not afraid of the dark, therefore, neither should you be!

When will you reach a place where you trust what He SAID and not what you SEE? After all, “…we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our convictions…” (2 Corinthians 5:7 AMP). So, when will you therefore, begin to conduct yourself by your convictions? A ‘conviction’ is ‘a firmly held belief; the quality of showing that one is utterly convinced of what one believes or says.’ And ‘convinced’ is ‘to cause to believe firmly in the truth of something; to be fully persuaded.’ Its Latin origin ‘convincere’ literally means, ‘to overcome and demonstrate’, from ‘vincere’ which means, ‘to conquer.’ You see, when you reach a growth level where you trust God without question, you began to stretch and strengthen your faith to the point where your convictions are firmly held in their belief because they are utterly convinced of what they believe and what they declare and decreed. Your faith reaches a point where you’re convinced and believe firmly in the truth of what God has already said concerning you, knowing that His Word can’t fail and can’t lie, therefore, you are fully persuaded to overcome your fear by the demonstration of your faith and conquer all that life’s struggles tell you can’t be conquered! You began to walk, talk, think, act and live in the full knowledge that there is Absolutely Nothing Too Hard for Your God, and Nothing With Him Will Ever Be Deemed Impossible!

Know this: Trusting GOD, NOT Your Circumstances, is What Matters Most!

So, are you going through a difficult situation in your life right now? Are there circumstances that you cannot understand? Well, instead of trying to fix it or control it, rather than trying to figure out the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW of your struggle, why not simply focus instead on WHO:

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS ELOHIM: The Creator, Who Made You With a Plan and For a Purpose!  “…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:10-11 MSG). People of God, you have no need to worry, fret or fear about your past, present or future, for God has a plan, a purpose and a promise, and neither of them will fail due to your problems!

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS EL ELYON: The God Most High, Whose Ways are Higher Than Your Ways! “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. “For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them” (Isaiah 55:8-11 MSG). So stop trying to figure this out on your own! God’s Got It And You! Trust Him, Follow Him, Lean On Him, Obey Him! He Cannot Lie And Won’t Fail You! He Can Handle What’s Got a Hold of You! 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” (Jeremiah 33:2-3 MSG). Imagine That! God Himself is sitting by waiting for you to call on Him! He’s waiting for you to bring to Him all of your WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW questions! Because He alone will “…tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own” So, why are you still struggling with this? Why are you continuing to lose sleep, hair, peace, joy, comfort and strength? When you can simply talk to God, the One WHO is the answer to all of your questions?!

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS EL ROI: The God Who Sees and Knows Where You are and How You Feel! “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?” (Genesis 16:13 AMP). Much like Hagar, you can be at your lowest point in life right now, wandering through the wilderness ready to give up and throw in the towel. Not knowing what to do for yourself or your child. With no provision or protection, and worse yet, having those who should be there to support you, be nowhere to be found. And yet, it is at this very same place where God manifests Himself to you and like Hagar all you can say isI looked upon Him Who sees me [and lived]…”. In other words, yes you’ll survive this, yes you’ll make it through this! There will be an “After This” testimony for you too! But like Hagar, you have to focus on WHO, not WHAT! “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG). Did you catch that? “…Take the mercy, accept the help”. God is waiting to extend mercy and help to you, so, what are you waiting for? If you can simply take your eyes off everything and everyone else and focus them where they need to be on (WHO) you will come out of this a lot better than you went into it!

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS EL SHADDAI: The Lord God Almighty, the One Who Can Change You or Walk With You Through Your Circumstances as Surely as He Can Send Rain From Heaven! “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!…” (Proverbs 3:5-12 MSG). If you want to live and have a good life than simply follow God! You want restored health than simply follow God! The WHO is all you need to get through all the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and WHY! The greatest exercise to maintain good health and a good life is walking with God! “But look!” he said. “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25 NKJV). Saints, there is absolutely nothing you can walk in, where God is absent! Remember: “God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 AMP). The Message Bible says it like this: “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains.” (MSG). You are never alone! Your God loves you too much to ever leave your side! “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG). Now that’s what you call comfort! Need a little more reassurance? Here you go: “for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (Hebrews 13:5 AMP). You my friend are tucked away safely under the wings of God and in the hands of God, whereby nothing and no one can touch you or take you away! “Count on it: Everyone who had it in for you will end up out in the cold – real losers. Those who worked against you will end up empty-handed – nothing to show for their lives. When you go out looking for your old adversaries you won’t find them – Not a trace of your old enemies, not even a memory. That’s right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’ (Isaiah 41:11-13 MSG). Now that’s what you call safe!

And just in case you think something or someone in the world can harm you, God loves you enough to even give you a protection plan that’s better than ADT:

“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!” (Psalm 91 MSG).

And just in case your faith fuel hasn’t reached all the way on full yet, here’s a little more:

“The earth belongs to God! Everything in all the world is His!” (Psalm 24:1 TLB)

“Do you have any idea how powerful God is? Have you ever heard of a teacher like him? Has anyone ever had to tell him what to do, or correct him, saying, ‘You did that all wrong!’? Remember, then, to praise his workmanship, which is so often celebrated in song. Everybody sees it; nobody is too far away to see it.” (Job 36:22-25 MSG)

“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. Men of God in days of old were famous for their faith. By faith – by believing God – we know that the world and the stars – in fact, all things – were made at God’s command; and that they were all made from things that can’t be seen” (Hebrews 11:1-3 TLB).

“Don’t you yet understand? Don’t you know by now that the everlasting God, the Creator of the farthest parts of the earth, never grows faint or weary? No one can fathom the depths of his understanding.  He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak.  Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up.  But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31 TLB).

“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.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG).

People of God, Don’t Allow Focusing On WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW, Distort Your Vision That You Can’t See WHO! And YES, It’s Vital That You Know WHO He Is!

When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He pressed them, “AND HOW ABOUT YOU? WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?” Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of WHO I REALLY AM. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out. “And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19 MSG).

SO, DO YOU KNOW WHO HE IS? WHO HE REALLY IS? Because if you did, you wouldn’t worry about WHAT is going to happen in the government, WHEN will I be healed, WHERE will I find the money to pay the bills, WHY did the promotion pass over me, and HOW am I going to get out of this? NOPE! You stand confident in your faith knowing that the God WHO is responsible as the source of your faith has never failed before and He most certainly won’t fail you now!

So inspite of WHAT you’re going through, WHO will you allow God to be to you?!

“Though you have changed a thousand times, He has NOT changed once.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [ALWAYS] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages).” (AMPC)

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

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“Overcome Overload”

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“The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” Your love, God, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, You calmed me down and cheered me up.” (Psalm 94:18-19 MSG)

Before a violin can produce music, STRESS must be put on the strings! But pull the strings too tightly and they’ll SNAP! The same is true of you! Enough stress gets the juices flowing and helps you do what needs to be done, but beyond that, YOU SNAP! And everyone around you knows when it happens because your attitude gets funky, your temper gets short, your mouth gets reckless, your moods are swinging in every direction, you become sarcastic and belittling, you become combative and pit-bull attackingly miserable and painful to be around! This is what happens when too much STRESS causes you to SNAP!

Someone quipped, “You know you’re on overload when you have no time to cook a tv dinner, the cat’s on tranquilizers, and family reunions have to be mediated by law enforcement!Seriously, before it gets to that point, do these 2 things first:

(1)   ASK FOR HELP: During Hurricane Katrina, 8 dolphins were swept out of their aquarium into the sea, but because they Stuck Together they were rescued! If One had tried to go it Alone, he’d have perished! That’s why you have to remember when you’re Alone too much you lose perspective. If the enemy can Isolate you, he can Influence you! Which is why God designed His Family to Stay Connected! Or as Paul says, “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care for another” (1 Corinthians 12:25).  Lena Horne said it best: “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry itMaybe you need to stop trying to use 2 hands to carry a 4 hands load! In a Nutshell: ASK FOR HELP! It takes nothing away from your ability, calling, gifts, talents, skill-set or anointing. It’s simply being honest and real that what I’m carrying is heavy and I need help! Anything beyond that is pure arrogance, pride and self-conceit at its best. And believe it or not, but some people see you have too much and wait and watch to see if you’re going to be humble enough to ask for help. And sadly enough, most people don’t! Which is why I will never understand how they get so bent out of shape, when their load levels them! All you had to do was Ask For Help! Truth is many of our mountains are really just several molehills piled up! Therefore, if you want to avoid building mountains start delegating some of your molehills! “Sometimes asking for help is the bravest move you can make. You don’t have to go it alone.” (Author Unknown); “Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” (Author Unknown); “Don’t be shy about asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it only means you’re wise.” (Author Unknown); “Everyone no matter how big and strong, could use a little help sometimes. Never be afraid to ask for help when you need it. What are we here for, if not for each other?” (Author Unknown); “Ask for help, not because you’re weak, but because you want to remain strong.” (Les Brown); “I’m courageous enough to know I can accomplish great things. I’m humble enough to know when to ask for help.” (Katrina Mayer)

(2)  GET REAL WITH GOD: Under stress a surge of negative emotions can be overwhelming, and unless you unburden your soul before God you’ll explode at the wrong people! The Psalmist suggests: “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22 NIV ); “Trust God, my friends, and always tell him each one of your concerns. God is our place of safety” (Psalm 62:8 CEV). It’s no coincidence that many of the Psalms start out with the Psalmist crying out to God for help, and end with him rejoicing because he vented his pent-up frustrations! Maybe you should follow his example! “I am so weak that I can hardly write, I cannot read my Bible, I cannot even pray, I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child, and trust” (Hudson Taylor). Sometimes that alone, Is Enough! In other words, stop trying to act like Bionic Woman, 6 Million Dollar Man, Superwoman, Superman, and the like. Truth is, you are flesh and blood and a lot more like the Hulk than any other (because one stresser too many and you’re going to turn into a green explosion)! I know you are Spirit and that Spirit has power, but it never diminishes the fact that you are still 100% human, with human limitations! Think about it: Even Jesus had to deal with human emotions! He was compassionate; angry; greatly distressed; sleepy; in anguish; in pain; sorrowful; grieved; thirsty. He asked others to pray with Him and for Him. He wept. He had to deal with difficult family members, friends, disciples, and enemies. Daily He was confronted with the sick, those with ailments and disease; those in need of sight, hearing, speech; forgiveness. Jesus had a full Human plate just as many of us have today. And yet He was still humble enough and honest enough to get away by Himself for alone time with God. The Bible shares, “…Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their ailments. As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.” (Luke 5:16 MSG). And this is the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing Jesus the Son of the Living God! And yet, He needed time away, because He never allowed His deity to mask his humanity. He shows us how to deal with varying daily struggles and yet be smart enough, human enough, to pull away and say enough. And if He can do it, surely He desires the very same of us. In fact, in His own words: “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.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG) Sounds to me that God Himself doesn’t mind you getting a little rest in! “I do the best that I can do, and leave the rest to God.” (Danny Dummitt); “When we rest, we trust that God holds everything together.” (Margaret Feinberg); “When we do not allow time to rest, cracks in our spirit can leave us emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually fragile.” (Karen Ehman); “Rest in the security of your Heavenly Father’s arms until you see His power transform your circumstances.” (Stormie Omartian); “Throw yourself upon God’s faithfulness as you do upon your bed, bringing all your weariness to His dear rest.” (C.H. Spurgeon); “Rest is a weapon given to us by God. The enemy hates it because he wants us to always be stressed and pre-occupied.” (Author Unknown); “You have permission to rest. You are not responsible for fixing everything that is broken. You do not have to try and make everyone happy. For now, take time for you. It’s time to replenish.” (Author Unknown)

The Psalmist cried out: “I’m awake all night.” (Psalm 77:4) In another translation the Psalmist REALLY lets you know how he feels: “I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord; my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal. When friends said, “Everything will turn out all right,” I didn’t believe a word they said. I remember God—and shake my head. I bow my head—then wring my hands. I’m awake all night—not a wink of sleep; I can’t even say what’s bothering me. I go over the days one by one, I ponder the years gone by. I strum my lute all through the night, wondering how to get my life together” (Psalm 77:2-6 MSG).  

The truth is, You Can’t Escape All Stress, but you can learn to cope with it by taking control of your life in small but important ways:

(1)  THINK ABOUT SOMEONE OTHER THAN YOURSELF: David was so frazzled he was awake all night. Ever been there? That’s when you need to remember: Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG). Elijah was depressed and suicidal when God showed him how to help himself. How you ask? BY LEAVING THE CAVE HE WAS HIDING IN, AND GOING OUT AND MINISTERING TO OTHERS! FOCUSING ON SOMETHING OTHER THAN YOURSELF GIVES YOU BETTER PERSPECTIVE! All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 MSG). Need help? THEN REACH OUT AND HELP OTHERS! However, this does not mean adding someone else’s load to the one you’re already struggling with yourself! It means something a little more simplistic: Tutor a teen with a subject they’re struggling with; drop off a hot plate of food to a senior who lives alone or someone sick and shut in; send someone an encouraging quote who’s dealing with a burden; sit next to someone in service you know is hurting and hold their hand. You’ll be amazed how much of a break your brain will get from constantly being drained by your own struggles. And as an added bonus, when you began to help someone who is worse off than you, it helps to put things into perspective for yourself. Just maybe something or someone you’re struggling with is not as bad as you think…remember as bad as things are they can always become worse. So learn to appreciate where you are and what you have, and the best way to do that is helping someone else! “A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli); “Helping one person might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.” (Author Unknown); “We rise by lifting others.” (Robert Ingersoll); “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” (Ronald Reagan); “The strongest people make time to help others, even if they are struggling with their own problems.” (Simple Reminders); “As you grow older you discover you have two hands: one for helping yourself, one for helping others.” (Audrey Hepburn)

(2)  DON’T GET BITTER: Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you respond to it. When somebody you trust betrays or disappoints you, or you’re struggling financially after tithing faithfully for years, it’s easy to feel let down. But “…Don’t…become bitter” (Hebrews 12:15 CEV); it destroys relationships and cuts you off from God’s presence. The answer is learning to Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP). Don’t Become Bitter, Become Thankful, and Watch Things Become Better! “Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.” (Charlie Jones); “If I thought about it, I could be bitter, but I don’t feel like being bitter. Being bitter makes you immobile, and there’s too much that I still want to do.” (Richard Pryor); “You either get bitter or you get better. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.” (Josh Shipp); “Life is flying by. You don’t have time to waste another minute being negative, offended or bitter. If someone did you wrong, get over it and move forward.” (Joel Osteen); “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34 MSG) I know today many of you have the testimony that Everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong! Your son tattooed his forehead, your daughter pierced her tongue, your husband’s paycheck went down, your wife’s blood pressure went up, the dog chewed your work shoes, the job wants overtime while you have no vacation time, the toilet’s overflowing, the roof is leaking, the washer sounds like the car and the car sounds like the train and dare we discus it’s day one of PMS?! And naturally today is the last day to send in the check, sign the permission slip, drop that off and pick that up! No Wonder You’re Stressed! Well, let’s see if we can find just a little help! When life gets overwhelming remember these 4 simple things:

(1)  GOD’S STILL LOOKING OUT FOR YOU: I know what it feels like, I know what it looks like, I know what it sounds like, I know what it seems like, and still I say God is Still Looking Out for You! When things look bad, remind yourself that God’s bigger than your problem: “…Don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. GOD WILL HELP YOU DEAL WITH WHATEVER HARD THINGS COME UP WHEN THE TIME COMES”(Matthew 6:34 MSG) God has not and will not ever leave you or forsake you! Hebrews 13:5, “…for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” (AMP) You my friend are never alone! You are never without His presence, His protection, His provision. Handle what you can handle then leave the rest in the hands of God. Remember: YOU said you trust Him…now’s the time to prove it! After all, His hands loved you enough to be pierced, nailed, bloodied and disfigured surely they love you enough to hold you in the midnight hour…don’t you think?

(2)  DON’T QUIT: Every time you reach the breaking point it’s a test! You have before you a series of choices that will add up to either quitting, or persevering through to victory. Paul was flogged, thrown in jail, shipwrecked and run out of town, but he refused to give in to circumstances and in the end he was able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have FINISHED the race, and I have REMAINED FAITHFUL” (2 Timothy 4:7 NLT).  DON’T QUIT! Don’t change jobs, change churches, or change spouses! Stick it out and wait for the Lord! He has promised you He has a guaranteed plan for your future: Jeremiah 29:11, “This is GOD’s Word on the subject…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (MSG) and last I checked He Still Cannot Lie and His Word Still Cannot Fail! (“…God is not man, one given to lies, and not a son of man changing His mind. Does He speak and not do what He says? Does He promise and not come through?” (Numbers 23:19 MSG); “…Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” Isaiah 55:8-11 MSG).  So I reiterate, Don’t Quit! No matter how many things are going Wrong…God will come through at just the Right time on your behalf!

(3)  IF IT’S NOT YOURS…DON’T TOUCH IT: Stress comes from micro-managing others and assuming responsibilities that aren’t yours! Establish healthy boundaries. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate, ask God to show you. In other words, adhere to His Word: “…mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts..” (1 Thessalonians 4:11 MSG) MAKE SURE YOU’RE NOT CARRYING SOMETHING GOD NEVER GAVE YOU! Selah!

(4)  YOUR BREAKING POINT CAN BE YOUR BREAKTHROUGH: Ever heard the expression hitting the wall?” Well, Runners use it when they’re exhausted and feel like giving up. But seasoned athletes know if they push through the pain they’ll get their second wind and experience a runner’s highthat’ll carry them over the finish line! So, Don’t let the Overload Overwhelm you, you have a finish line to cross, so get your second wind, finish your assignment, then relax! Remember: You are called to Overcome not to become Overwhelmed! So today, Unload!

“Learn how to say ‘no’. Don’t let your mouth overload your back.” (Jim Rohn)

“Saying ‘yes’ to happiness means learning to say ‘no’ to things and people that stress you out.” (Thema Davis)

It’s not information overload. It’s filter failure.” (Clay Shirky)

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

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“Don’t Forget to Meet With God”

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Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for the living God. When can I go to meet with Him?”  (ERV).

I’m definitely one of those people who’s always trying to cram one more thing in before I leave for an appointment. And if I can’t, then I make the fools attempt to make it up while I’m on the road! And to be honest, that’s OK, when the weather’s on my side! But on those days when it’s as they say, ‘raining cats and dogs’, that doesn’t exactly work out in my favor! You see, I’ve actually attempted to travel in one of those types of rain storms, while I was already running late mind you, and still trying to squeeze in another project, on my way to a project! I ended up zipping down the highway at top speed, and suddenly I felt myself losing control of the rear wheels! Now, if you’d like a fancy word for that experience, it’s called “hydroplaning”! What happens is, water builds up under your tires so you’re skimming along on water rather than pavement! In case you are unaware, THIS IS NOT GOOD! The rear of your car starts to go somewhere you don’t want it to go and never intended for it to go! If that’s ever happened to you, you know it’s a scary feeling to start hydroplaning – because you’re going too fast, your losing control, and then you end up in a place you didn’t schedule on your agenda! For many foolish drivers like myself, you could end up where I ended up once, driving my first car, a Buick in 1993. Want to know where I ended up? In a ditch! That may be part of the reason I don’t drive today! LOL!

For my sake the Chinese Proverb proved to be true:A fall into a ditch makes you wiser.

With that memory in mind, I thought of King David. King David was ‘hydroplaning’ when he wrote Psalm 42:1-5. You see, things were moving really fast and he was losing control, especially of his emotions. David says, “A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I’m thirsty for God-alive. I wonder, ‘Will I ever make it – arrive and drink in God’s presence?’ I’m on a diet of tears—tears for breakfast, tears for supper. All day long people knock at my door, Pestering, ‘Where is this God of yours?’ These are the things I go over and over, emptying out the pockets of my life. I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd, right out in front, Leading them all, eager to arrive and worship, Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving – celebrating, all of us, God’s feast! Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?…” (MSG).

David’s hurting, David’s crying – morning, noon and night, David is an emotional wreck, David has people looking at him and his situation and so they began pestering him: ‘where is this God of yours?’ Which is how some people may view you and what you’re struggling with: ‘Where is this God of his?’ ‘Where is this God of hers?’ They say things like, ‘I thought you said God was all-powerful; all-knowing; ever-present; almighty; awesome; powerful; your provider; your healer; your protector; your deliverer; your way-maker; your loving and altogether wonderful Heavenly Father. But, if He is in fact all those things, and He’s your God, where is He in your situation? Where is His help in your time of need?’ And David was clearly so friendless while battling this ordeal that he in fact started talking to his own soul: ‘why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues…?’ David’s slipping, David’s overwhelmed, David’s emotions are hydroplaning out of control! Are Yours Too? It’s okay to be honest. After all, only the truth sets you free. Masking, masquerading, pretending, faking it till you make it, are all nothing but chains of bondage. Don’t allow them to keep you bound any longer.

If the truth be told, I was there not too long ago. My challenges were a lot bigger than my resources. I felt like my faith was like a twin-sized fitted sheet on a king-sized mattress; it just couldn’t stretch far enough to cover! I was overwhelmed and anxious. I felt like I’d never catch up on anything. I was falling behind in school work, devotionals, proper scheduling of engagements, etc…Everything just seemed too much! It felt like having 2 body parts being stretched into 20 different directions! The stress of it all had me losing weight, gaining weight, breaking out in acne, losing hair and sleep, and if I kept at it, I could’ve lost my sanity!

But, I must say, I’ve been there before, and if truth be told, I can’t honestly say that I will absolutely never be there again. But that day I wandered into this psalm, Psalm 42, where I was hit with a probing question which turned out to be the answer for me. Now, if you’re feeling yourself hydroplaning right now, maybe it’s an answer for you, too. In Psalm 42:2, David asks an extremely important question, that I had to learn to ask likewise, he asked: “…When can I go and meet with God?” (NIV).

Like David, I needed to stop my spinning world and simply get away with God. So I got away with just my Bible and my notepad, and I met with God. That may be your Lord’s prescription for all that’s ailing you right now as well. Although many of you may respond, “No way! There’s just too much for me to do to just stop everything!” Well, that’s exactly why you need to! Whether you know it or not, you’re losing control. You have to slow down to listen to your Lord for an extended, uninterrupted, unhurried period of time if you’re ever going to get back on track! Trust me, I’m the Queen of, ‘I don’t have time!’ But that’s why you have to be proactive. Purposely Schedule Time With God! That word ‘schedule’ is defined as, ‘a set plan for carrying out a process or procedure; arranging a timetable.’ And what’s the first thing you need to do in order to start scheduling anything? You have to figure out what your priorities are! A ‘priority’ is defined as, ‘something that is regarded as more important than others; something that is superiority in rank, position, or privilege; preferential; something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives; something that is deemed urgent; supreme and most valued.’ And shouldn’t that be descriptive of our God as our priority before any other person, place or thing? Isn’t He more important than the hair and nail appointment you scheduled? More preferred than your brunch date? Higher in rank and position than going to the laundry, movies, supermarket, or even a church or ministry event? Shouldn’t God be the first person we give preference and privilege to? After all He’s done for us, and means to us, doesn’t that merit giving Him our attention instead of all the other competing alternatives in life? And certainly in these end times, wouldn’t you say that meeting with God consistently is urgent?!

You see, my former pastor used to say, ‘people do what they want to do.’ And it’s true. A lot of the things we say are out of our control, and out of our hands, are not. We’ve simply chosen them as higher on the priority chain than God. How insulting is that to one who laid down His life that we might live?!

Truth is, I understand. Life can become overwhelmingly busy. But nothing in life should become so busy that we have no time to spend with God. And that means outside of Sunday morning services; Wednesday night prayer and bible study; Sunday school or other ‘church/ministry’ activities. But this spills over into purposely getting up at 5am just to sit in quiet time with God. Not to repent; not to ask for stuff; not to seek His favor; but to sit and listen to the heart of God. I’m persuaded we can no longer hear God because we talk too much! We can sit in prayer for a whole hour, and we’re the only ones talking. Then we say ‘amen’, and off to the races. But God has things He wants to say too. How much of God’s directions, wisdom and guidance are you missing out on simply because you can’t be quiet and listen? But no, we can’t sit and wait for God to speak, because we have to beat the clock coming and going every day!

But here’s a quote that has come to be one of my favorites: “Nature does not hurry, yet Everything is accomplished.” (Lao Tzu). If you think about it, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, all come year after year, and neither ever rushes to get here, yet they come faithfully and consistently! “For as long as Earth lasts, planting and harvest, cold and heat, Summer and winter, day and night will never stop.” (Genesis 8:22 MSG).

In other words, all the things that God has set or better yet “pre-ordained” in life and for your life, Will Occur, in their Proper Season! Habakkuk 2:2-3, “And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.” (MSG); Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: (MSG) That word ‘opportune’ is defined as, ‘done or occurring at an especially appropriate time.’ Its’ Latin Origin ‘opportunus’, comes from the combination of: ‘ob’ (meaning ‘in the direction of’) and ‘portus’ (meaning ‘harbor’). Which is descriptive of the wind driving towards the harbor, hence the idea ‘seasonable.’ It’s when something happens at the right time and season, so it’s effortless, even a simple blow of the wind can send it off in the right direction. It’s timely and well-timed. It’s appropriate; fitting, proper, suitable, fortunate and seasonable. And ‘seasonable’ is defined as, ‘something appropriate for a particular season.’ That’s why you have to stop running around trying to make everything happen for yourself overnight! What God deems necessary to happen in your life will happen when it’s the right season for it to happen! You don’t have to be so busy trying force what is going to fail because you’re attempting to make it come to pass, out of season! What God has ordained for your life, will have to happen by His hands, not yours. And when you leave it in His hands, you can be assured that it’s already Handled With Care! You Just Have to Wait For Your ‘Due-Season’, which means, ‘a good and appropriate time.’ Saints, God has something Good in store for you, you just need to wait for the right, appropriate, good time for it to come to pass! Remember, God knows seasons, which is why you don’t have 90 degree weather in winter; nor do you have snow in summer! God has ordained the seasons in the earth and in your life! Trust Him, and Trust His Timing.

Therefore, you need not hurry, rush, or attempt to bring forth fruit in the wrong season! If it is to happen, it will! Don’t make the mistake that many, especially those in ministry, are making…and that’s driving so fast up the mountain to reach the top, that they’ve missed the breathtaking scenery along the journey! In their hurry to reach the top of the mountain, to mount a flag of victory, to make a name for themselves, they missed all the “little miracles” along the way! They missed the clouds and the silver lining, they missed the calming powder-blue sky, they missed earth’s most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, they missed the flowers that determined to push their way through the dirt and sprout forth anyhow, they missed all of the creatures, the creation and the Creator rushing to “create” something themselves!

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” (Saint Francis de Sales).

People of God, slow down! Reprioritize your schedule and pend down more time with God. You need His guidance and direction. You need His instruction and wisdom. You need to hear His voice. And you cannot get any of that rushing into prayer and rushing out. You can’t get that while having a to-do-list longer than your time spent with God.

I came to a startling revelation in my quiet time with God recently. He reminded me of all the doctor and specialist appointments, all the ‘abnormal’ reports, the pseudo tumor, all the migraines, the heart murmur, the ectopic pregnancy, the breast surgery, and other surgeries etc…and then He reminded me that TODAY not a one of those things is a problem for me. Why? Because He healed and delivered me and granted me wholeness! And for what purpose? That I run around the earth, under the disguise of “ministry” or “kingdom” work? No, so that I would be mindful of His promise to me:…I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” (John 10:10 AMP).

Now, does that mean ministry/kingdom work is unimportant? Not at all! But the Scripture gives us the best advice:Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!” (Matthew 5:6 AMP).

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

SAINTS, STOP HYDROPLANING, GET IN HIS PRESENCE AND HUSH!

Stop running around, in my father’s words, like a chicken with his head cut off! Life goes by fast enough, don’t rush and hurry through it, and don’t busy yourself so much that you have no idea where 10 years went! God will provide for you naturally and spiritually, so stop hydroplaning in all the wrong directions, stop wasting your time and your life!  Both of which you cannot get back once they are gone!

Take the time this week to write down what you’re feeling and thinking as you make it your most important business to meet with God and listen to Him. Ask Him for a fresh look at the people in your life, at the pressures, and at your priorities. Ask Him to help you see the forest as a whole again; because if the truth be told, you’ve been overwhelmed by focusing on all the individual trees!

In His presence, set some priorities. Make some plans and weed some things out. You can trust what you’re sensing in an extended time with God. Which needs to be on a more regular basis. 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) If you want to learn how to live freely and lightly without being tired, worn out, burned out and weighted down with a life that is heavy and ill-fitting, then do what Jesus invited you to do: “COME TO ME; GET AWAY WITH ME; WALK WITH ME; WORK WITH ME; WATCH ME; KEEP COMPANY WITH ME!” That a lot of ‘ME’! Which tells us just how important Jesus feels about our relationship with Him. He desires to spend time with us and He makes it a priority because He wakes us up every morning without fail; keeps us safe throughout the day; and blesses us with sweet sleep every night. How can we NOT desire to spend time with Him…On Purpose?!

And I’m not talking about spending time with God when the doctor gives you a bad report; or you’ve lost a loved one; or the job laid you off; or the kids are acting up; or the marriage is about over; or the bank accounts have a whole lot of zero’s but with no other number in the front! No, that’s the times when we always go running to God. Then, He’s a Priority, Because for Us Our Problem is a Priority. But that’s not how you build a solid relationship. Spending time with God has to be purposeful and consistent. Spend time with God when everything in your world for a change seems to be going ‘right and good.’ Since those are the times when God is greatly ignored. God has already promised to meet our every need, but that doesn’t mean we treat Him like that’s all we need Him for. He desires a relationship, and a relationship requires time. Make sure you’re not short changing God on your end!

If you’re traveling at a high speed right now and you feel yourself losing control, first of all, SLOW DOWN! You need to carve out time away where your Lord can show you what He wants, what He sees when He looks at the people in your life, when He looks at the situations in your life, and when He looks at the needs in your life. Remember, you have to be still to know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”). Here’s some instructions for you everyday from the varying translations of that Scripture: “Be still…” (AMP); “Let be and be still…”; (AMPC); “Our God says, ‘Calm Down’…” (CEV); “Let go of your concerns…” (GWT); “Stop your fighting…” (CSB); “Stand silent!…” (TLB); “Cease striving…” (NASB); “Be quiet…” (NLV). And lastly the Message Bible says, “…“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at Me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” (MSG) That’s what you need to do today: Be still, calm down, let go, stop fighting, be silent, cease striving, be quiet and step out of the traffic, take a long, look at God, your High God, and know that He alone is Above Everything! Even Your Schedule!

There is more to life than increasing its speed.” (Gandhi).

Stop allowing your entire life to be arranged around trying to get something done, outside of God’s Will, God’s Plan, God’s Purpose, and God’s Timing. It’s all futile, and you’re missing out on life and more importantly, you’re missing out on a relationship with God! Therefore, today, I challenge you to slow down long enough to ask a simple question:…When can I go and meet with God?” Then, if you’re smart, you’ll also take time to answer it by saying, ‘Right Now’!

Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for the living God. When can I go to meet with Him?”  (ERV). The word ‘thirst’ is defined as, ‘a sensation of dryness; parched; deficient of moisture; eager; hunger; restless; breathless; longing; pining; dehydrated.’ And ‘dehydrated’ is defined as, ‘burned out; drained; exhausted; fatigued; sapped; weakened; worn out; discouraged; disheartened; dispirited.’ That’s how David described his soul. Maybe that’s how you can describe yours too. And if that is the case, all you need to do to quench your soul’s thirst is meet with the Living Water. When your well is empty, you need to know where to go: John 4:14, “But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.” (AMP)

David experienced a crazy emotional roller coaster ride throughout Psalm 42:1-5. But the last part of Psalm 42:5 says this, “…Fix my eyes on God – soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” (MSG) This is how you bounce back like David did. You meet with God and fix your eyes on Him alone. You purposely remove all the distractions and see and hear only Him. You Get In His Presence and You Stay Present. And if you do, the conclusion of your meeting with God will be, “…I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Check your calendar, this is One meeting you can’t afford to miss, rain-check, reschedule, or cancel!

Saints, Schedule Time With God, Your Soul (And Your Life) Needs a Drink of His Living Water!

“If you find yourself a bit irritated or overwhelmed, it’s a sign that you’re spending less time with God and more time with the world.” (Author Unknown)

“Spending time with God is the key to our strength and success in all areas of life. Be sure that you never try to work God into your schedule, but always work your schedule around Him.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Look at your ministry as a marathon not a sprint – build deep foundations of intimacy with God and never let your public schedule get fuller than your time alone with God.” (Vicky Beeching)

“We schedule meetings to keep our business going in the right direction – we need to schedule meetings with God to help keep our lives going in the right direction.” (DeVon Franklin)

“Christian, your time is not your own. You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your schedule.” (David Mathis)

“The biggest battle you will face in life is your daily appointment with God; keep it, or every other battle will become bigger.” (Ravi Zacharias)

“It is not easy to shut out the world, set aside a few minutes by yourself, and spend time in God’s Word and prayer. But it is essential if we are to grow in our relationship with God and be strengthened for the battles ahead. Don’t delay. Begin now to spend time alone with God every day.” (Billy Graham)

“It is impossible for a believer, no matter what his experience, to keep right with God if he will not take the trouble to spend time with God. Spend plenty of time with Him; let other things go, but don’t neglect Him.” (J. Oswald Sanders)

“To hear the whisper of God you must turn down the volume of the world. Find time to disconnect from everything around you and be still in His presence today. He is waiting for you to draw near.” (Author Unknown)

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

“We simplify, not just to be less busy…rather, we simplify to remove distractions from our pursuit of Christ.” (Donald S. Whitney)

“Perhaps we should stop talking about being faithful to have a quiet time with God each day, as if we were doing something to earn a reward. It would be better to talk about the privilege of spending time with the God of the Universe and the importance for our own sake of being consistent in that practice.” (Jerry Bridges)

“When you spend time with God and open your heart, your mind and your spirit, He will unfold dreams and images before you. He wants you to see what will happen on the inside before you see it happen on the outside.” (Terri Savelle Foy)

“The time you spend alone with God will transform your character and increase your devotion. Then your integrity and godly behavior in an unbelieving world will make others long to know the Lord.” (Charles Stanley)

“More is accomplished by spending time in God’s presence than by doing anything else.” (Heidi Baker)

“Spending time with God isn’t a magic formula for a perfect life; it’s a rock-solid foundation that will hold you up when everything around you is shifting sand.” (Author Unknown)

“Reduce your stress level by taking time to unplug from the world, open your Bible, and listen to what God has to tell you.” (Author Unknown)

“God wants more than five minutes of your day. He wants to be part of your every moment. Your highs and lows, and everything in between.” (Author Unknown)

“Trust in God’s timing. It’s better to wait a while and have things fall into place than to rush and have things fall apart.” (Author Unknown)

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” (Stephen Covey)

“Every one of your Disappointments is Your Appointment with God.” (Author Unknown)

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

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

“God is never too busy to listen. Never be too busy to talk to Him.” (Author Unknown)

“Prayer is the time you spend alone with God.” (Art Hochberg)

“Nothing will help us grow spiritually more than spending time alone with God every day, reading His Word and praying. Time alone with God is essential to our spiritual welfare.” (Billy Graham)

“When we choose to consistently spend time with God, we will bit by bit begin to find Him present in every area of our lives.” (Sally Clarkson)

“The reason we spend time with God is not so that we will feel invigorated and ready to face the day and get through our agenda; the reason we spend time with God is so that He can set the agenda.” (Author Unknown)

“You don’t need a diploma to preach about Jesus, you just need to spend time with Him.” (Author Unknown)

“There is also a third blessing that comes from spending time alone with God. When we spend time alone with Him, this releases all God’s potential, His power, grace and anointing, all of which are so essential for doing work for the Kingdom of God.” (Sunday Adelaja)

“Stop spending quality time with unqualified people.” (P.L. Wilson)

“You may think you do not have time to feed yourself spiritually, but I assure you that you cannot afford not to.” (Crystal Paine)

“Spend your time in nothing which you know must be repented of; in nothing on which you might not pray for the blessing of God; in nothing which you could not review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed; in nothing which you might not safely and properly be found doing if death should surprise you in the act.” (Richard Baxter)

“Folk spend so much time trying to be connected to people because of who they are; what that relationship represents to them or what they think that person can do for them. Just give me people who I know in my heart know God personally. That’s the greatest human connection I can have. That’s real networking.” (Jason M. Lee)

“If God has called you, do not spend time looking over your shoulder to see who is following you.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

“As you read or listen to God’s Word and spend time talking to Him in prayer, your spirit will eventually become stronger than your flesh.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Do you spend more time focusing on the circumstances of your life instead of on the Almighty God who has chosen every path for you?” (Marci Ferrell)

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

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“Hold Onto Your Hope, Help is Coming”

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Lamentations 3:19-27, “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, His merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great Your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly HOPE FOR HELP FROM GOD. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.” (MSG)

I have friends that literally live all of the world! No matter the state, country, or island, I am assured to have a friend with that as their residence. From Belize to Norway, from South Korea to Pakistan, from Russia to Sweden, from Switzerland to Botswana, from Roosevelt to New Jersey, I have a friend! If only I could finally start to make time for visiting!

Anyway, I have one particular pastor friend who lives in a beautiful spot in the country! Daily he sees things there that I would never see in New York City. The bird life there is pretty much limited to sparrows, and there are a few rowdy crows, an occasional robin or blue jay. Oh, yeah, and then the parrot (kept in his kitchen). He’s able to see all of those beautiful birds daily, including one of the classiest birds around – the hummingbird. Now, I’m pretty sure at one time or another, you’ve seen them probably doing their amazing hovering thing and flying from one flower to the next. But what I love most about them, is their ability to always be attracted to the most beautiful things in the yard. My friend loves watching the hummingbird above all the others, for that one reason too, it’s always attracted to that which is beautifully scented. Now, as much as he loves to watch the classiest of birds (the hummingbird), he also, unfortunately, gets to see one of the un-classiest birds around too – the buzzard. I mean, what an amazing contrast. You’ve got the hummingbird (attracted to that which has the fragrance of life) and the buzzard (attracted to that which has the fragrance of death), flying over the same ground! The hummingbird looks for the beauty in life; the buzzard only looks for the ugliness of death!

Thinking of these two birds made me also think of the book of Lamentations, written by the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, who wrote from a broken heart. You see, his country is devastated, and likewise, his personal life is devastated as well, and so he talks about his feelings in chapter 3, verses 19-20. He says, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” (NIV). We’re talking about a depressed prophet here! And he’s thinking about all of the negatives and the pain and the failures. Listen to him in the following translations:

“Remember [O Lord] my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and the gall (bitterness). My soul continually remembers them and is bowed down within me.” (AMP);

“The memory of my suffering and homelessness is bitterness and poison. I can’t help but remember and am depressed.” (CEB);

“Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed.” (CEV);

“Remember my suffering and my aimless wandering, the wormwood and poison. My soul continues to remember these things and is so discouraged.” (GWT);

“The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed.” (GNT);

“Oh, remember the bitterness and suffering you have dealt to me! For I can never forget these awful years; always my soul will live in utter shame.” (TLB);

“The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.” (NLT);

“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom.” (MSG)

Jeremiah is in deep pain! In this moment he has ‘buzzard vision’! He’s looking at the ugly, looking at what’s dying, or looking at what’s dead. He sees affliction, wandering, homelessness, bitterness, depression, troubles, loneliness, misery, discouragement, grief and loss. But before we judge him too harshly, can’t we all be honest and admit we’ve felt some of those things too? And some of us felt many of those emotions for a long time, and even at the same time, for a long time. We’ve all had those moments when we couldn’t walk by faith, because we were stumbling in fear. When the loved one died, when the marriage is looking at divorce, when the children are struggling with sin and peer pressure, when we were afraid we’d lose the house or the car, afraid that we might have to pull the aspiring student out of college because we couldn’t pay the tuition. Or the moment when the doctor gave the diagnosis. When our strong parents, have become so weak and frail with age and ailments that they’re now weaker than we were as babies. When business fails, the church declines, the job lays off. The long-time friendship/relationship ended in the blink of an eye. We’ve all had something, (whether it’s listed above or not), that dampened our spirit and deflated our faith. So, let’s not judge Jeremiah too harshly. After all, when you’ve sat where someone else is sitting, shouldn’t it bring out compassion, empathy, concern, patience and understanding?

So, Jeremiah the prophet is depressed and in pain. And before we move on from here, can I say this…Leaders Are Not Exempt From These Same Emotions! Jeremiah, THE PROPHET, the mouthpiece of God, proclaiming God’s word and directions to the masses, still battled pain and depression, loss and discouragement. Therefore, never let anyone tell you to just ‘get over it’ (no matter what your ‘it’ may be.) Believe it or not but Apostles deal with ailments; Bishops battle discouragement; Pastors press through pain; Elders have to endure suffering; Deacons go through bouts of depression; Ministers have countless miserable moments. In other words, we ALL, even LEADERS, have to deal with LIFE, and all that it brings. Which means you should never feel guilt, shame or embarrassment when hurting. Don’t masquerade, don’t hide, don’t pretend, don’t cover up. And despite what most will tell you, don’t make the fools mistake of ’faking it till you make it’. Please hear me, nowhere in all of Scripture does God tell any of His children to pretend to be okay! What He does say is this:

“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.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG);

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” (1 Peter 5:6-7 AMP);

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

Nothing about that says ‘fake it till you make it’! No, instead you’re admonished to be honest about how you’re feeling, what you’re feeling, and then to take it all to God. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to play a role and perform for God? He loves you, as is, and that’s a wonderful feeling! So leader, and laity, alike…don’t let anything or anyone shame you because of what you’re dealing with right now. Be honest about where your emotions are visiting right now, because that’s all they’re doing is Visiting! They will not, cannot, stay and Live here!

That’s the danger of ‘buzzard vision’, it doesn’t just look for something dead, it Always looks for something dead. Neither its vision or focus ever change. That cannot be you! It’s one thing to deal with hurt, pain, and discouragement, but it’s another thing to let that be all you see! And no one can better show us how to shift our vision and focus from ‘buzzard vision’ (only looking for ugly death) to ‘hummingbird vision’ (only looking for beautiful life)!

Read where Jeremiah’s vision shifts, it’s found in verse 21. He says this: “YET this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.” (NIV) Let’s look at this in more detail:

“Then I remember something that fills me with hope” (CEV);

“The reason I can still find hope is that I keep this one thing in mind” (GWT);

“Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing.” (GNT);

“Yet there is one ray of hope” (TLB);

“But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope” (MSG);

“Yet I still DARE TO HOPE when I remember this.” (NLT)

You see, after all of that “affliction, wandering, homelessness, bitterness, depression, troubles, loneliness, misery, discouragement, pain, grief and loss”, Jeremiah says there’s ONE thing he remembers, and it’s that ONE thing that gives him hope! I must say, that ONE thing must be something absolutely awesome and powerful, to only be ONE thing, and yet when he remembers it, all the rest is irrelevant! I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to find out what that ONE thing is!

Jeremiah, goes from downcast to hope; from slumped shoulders to his chin held high! Reminds me of the Scripture, “But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory [and my honor], and the ONE who lifts my head.” (Psalm 3:3 AMP).

But, what made the difference for Jeremiah? What lifted his downcast soul to an uplifted position? Let’s read and find out: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him.’” (NIV) The Message Bible says it like this: “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, His merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great Your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.” (MSG)

What a change here! Jeremiah starts looking at the HOPE factors instead of the HURT factors! Can you believe it? As much pain as he was in, all it took was ONE thing, HOPE in God for HELP, to shift his entire perspective! And that’s all you need today as well! HOPE in God for HELP with what’s HURTING You!

NOW, before you get to running and praising…here’s a tough question to ask Jeremiah: Has the situation changed? And his answer? NO. But his focus is about to, because he talks first of all about the margin of difference when times are tough. He says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed.He is suddenly deciding to focus on the Lord’s great love. When you realize just how much the Lord loves you, it deepens your hope in Him. Because when you think about it, when it comes to the people we love, what do we do? We guard them, treasure and cherish them, protect them, provide for them, help them, encourage and strengthen them. And likewise, God loves us so much that he doesn’t leave us in our helplessness, He steps in with a reminder of His love that brings back to our remembrance…HOPE! A hope that reminds you that you won’t always feel this way, you won’t always be in this place. A hope that reminds you that change is still possible. A hope that reminds you that no matter how long you’ve been driving down this dreary, miserable road, there is yet a TURN coming! “You have TURNED my mourning into dancing for me; You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy” (Psalm 30:11 AMP) Your Turn is Coming! You’ve Endured, now get ready to Enjoy! “Weeping may ENDURE for a night, but a shout of JOY comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 AMP) In a nutshell: GOOD MORNING SAINTS!

And not only does Jeremiah now focus on Hope and God’s Great Love, but then he talks about the Lord’s Compassions that are new every morning. Those compassions, I think, are like specific, customized actions of love from God that are in each 24-hour period of time. And you’ll see them if you’ll look for “God sightings” every day. They’re God’s little interventions and sometimes big interventions. And Jeremiah has decided to look at those instead. And because they’re new every morning, God never misses a day of making sure you have Hope, which is your reminder of His Great Love and Great Compassion! There’s always some to see, but you have to look for them!

God always supplies us with mercies for what this day will need. The Bible says it like this: “Give us THIS DAY our DAILY bread.” (Matthew 6:11) The New Living Version says it like this: “Give us the bread we need TODAY.” (NLV). How wonderful to know that God looks after us DAILY! He provides and protects us DAILY! He hears us DAILY! He grants us His Great Mercy, Great Compassion, Great Love DAILY! No matter what a day may bring, you are never in that day without God! Which is why you need not worry, fret, fear, or be discouraged. God is with you every-day! Don’t worry about yesterday or even today or even tomorrow, God has them all covered on your behalf!

Here’s Proof: “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. YOU’LL FIND ALL YOUR EVERYDAY HUMAN CONCERNS WILL BE MET. “Give your entire attention to what God is doing RIGHT NOW, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:25-34 MSG)

Yet another reminder of the Lord’s Great Love, Great Hope, Great Provision, Great Compassion and Great Faithfulness Towards YOU!

Maybe you’ve been dwelling on the pain, you’ve been kind of falling into the identity of being a life-long victim. Maybe the monster of self-pity is consuming you. You’ve been focusing on your failures and building this wave of self-doubt and paralysis of faith. Well, if that’s you, know this: It’s only Satan who focuses on the past, because it can’t be changed. A portion of John 10:10 says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…” Satan focuses on the past (and tries to get you to do the same), that which is done and over with. Those issues that are dead and not to be revived. He has ‘buzzard vision’, all he looks for is the bad and the unchangeable. He focuses on dead things, but You Don’t Have To! Why? Because the rest of that Scripture reads, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Satan and his ‘buzzard vision’ only focuses on the dead, but God in His ‘hummingbird vision’ only focuses on life! God points to the future that has yet to be written, and so should you. After all, aren’t you tired of just seeing the carnage, the ugly, the hurting, the negative? Why don’t you choose to focus on what you can thank God for each morning? Look for His love. Review His interventions and His blessings and you’ll feel wind start to rise under your wings instead of weights growing on them pulling you down! It’s a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute, second-by-second deliberate choice! And Only You decide what you want to focus on as you fly over today’s ground!

Don’t be a buzzard! Go for hummingbird vision! Look for the beauty. After all, when you can wake up in the morning knowing that Last Night wasn’t your LAST Night, why would you want to dwell on anything negative? You made it over into a new day, leave the old behind!

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, BE PRESENT. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say ‘THANK YOU!’ —the coyotes and the BUZZARDS—
Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.” (Isaiah 43:16-21 MSG)
How funny that you get to enjoy forgetting about old history…but even the ‘buzzards’ will have to tell God ‘Thank you!’ And surely if God can cause ‘buzzards’ to tell Him Thank You, so can you! Today, make a deliberate decision to be happy and joyful and content. Today, remember the Lord’s Help, Hope, Compassion and Care. Today, remember the Lord’s Great Love and Great Faithfulness that are yours for the taking! Today, Dare to Hope Because God is There to Help!

“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom…”

Yes, like it or not, but we will ALL have moments just like the prophet of utter hopelessness because of varying life struggles. However, we must do as the prophet did, keep moving forward as you remember:

“…there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, His merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great Your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly HOPE FOR HELP FROM GOD. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.” (MSG)

Saints, stick it out through the hard times knowing that you have God’s loyal love, His mercy, His faithfulness, His goodness! And all you have to do is passionately wait and diligently seek God knowing that your quiet hope is bringing some loud help from God that all will hear! Keep trusting and relying on God; keep pressing through the pain; keep releasing all your hurt in prayer, your turn around will come right on God’s schedule, and He is never late!

Dare to Hope, God is There to Help!

Romans 5:5, “Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (AMP)

Psalm 62:5, “For God alone my soul waits in silence and quietly submits to Him,
For my hope is from Him.” (AMP)

“Though our faith may waver, God’s faithfulness will not.” (Alicia Bruxvoort)

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

“God has a purpose for your pain, a reason for your struggle, and a reward for your faithfulness. Don’t give up.” (Dave Willis)

“Your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.” (Author Unknown)

“Never let a bad situation bring out the worst in you. Choose to stay positive and be the strong person that God created you to be.”  (Author Unknown)

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

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“Overcoming the Fear of…’What If?'”

What If

Proverbs 15:15, “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].” ( AMP).

The word “foreboding” is defined as “fearful apprehension.” The word “apprehension” means “fearful anticipation.” And “anticipation” means “to look forward to; to be aware of (a future event) and prepare for it.” How sad to say that far too often, we as believers, find ourselves foreboding. We walk around with a ‘fearful apprehension, anticipating and looking forward to future events that we’ve already deemed unfavorable for us, and then we even go so far as to prepare for the absolute worst scenario (which however, rarely happens).’ Reminds me of the quote: “Most of the things you worry about NEVER happen.” (Author Unknown).

Which is why I rather follow the advice of Joseph Hall, he quoted, “He that taketh his own cares upon himself loads himself in vain with an uneasy burden. I will cast all my cares on God; He hath bidden me; they cannot burden Him.” Sounds a lot like Scripture to me! “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” (1 Peter 5:7 AMP) The word “cast” has several definitions, however, the one I love most means “to assign, allocate, discard, and shed.” Furthermore, the word “Assign” means to “transfer to someone else”. Its Latin Origin “assignare”, from “signare” literally means “to sign”. And who has officially signed His name to your cares? Just one name, JESUS! “…By the name of JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. JESUS is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; NO OTHER NAME HAS BEEN OR WILL BE GIVEN TO US BY WHICH WE CAN BE SAVED, ONLY THIS ONE.” (Acts 4:8-12 MSG). JESUS has the Authority by His Name to Carry Any Concerns or Cares You Cast On Him! So Why Are You Still Carrying Them?! In addition, that word “shed” means to “allow to fall off; to discard; to get rid of; to take off; to cast or give off; to separate, to divide; to scatter.” With that said, what I love most about ‘shedding’ is that we can learn a lot about it from animals. Think about it: Have you ever seen a cat or dog gather up and save the fur it ‘sheds’, so it can keep it and reapply it later? Absolutely not! Just the thought of it sounds silly, and so does the fact that you keep reapplying what God keeps ‘shedding’ from your life!

Listen, When You Give it to God, Don’t Be an Indian-Giver as They Use to Say When I Was a Kid! Don’t Give it to Him, Then Take it Back! That’s Stealing! Remember: He Has Officially Signed His Name to Your Cares, They Now Legally Belong to Him! Therefore, Why Do You Keep Stealing Them Back?!

Lastly, the word “cast” is defined as “a bandage stiffened with plaster, molded to support and protect a broken limb.” How amazing, when you “cast” it protects until it heals! So what are you going to do today? Cast Your Cares On God, for He Will Protect You From Them as You Heal!

“For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” (Proverbs 15:15 NLT)

The word “despondent” is defined as “to be in low spirits from loss of hope or courage.” Its Latin Origin “despondere” literally means “to give up and abandon.And isn’t that what we do when life becomes too much? We get low in our spirit, we lose hope and courage, and eventually give up and abandon our faith as faulty.

Listen to this: An old sea captain once asked a naval student how he’d handle a sudden storm. “I’d throw out an anchor, sir,” he replied. “But WHAT IF another storm approached?” asked the captain. “Then I’d throw out another anchor,” he said. “And WHAT IF storms just kept coming?” the old man asked. “I’d keep throwing out anchors,” said the student. “Hold on, son,” said the captain, “where are you getting all those anchors?” “From the same place you keep getting all those storms, sir,” came the reply!

Can you imagine if we would become so convinced, fully persuaded, and secure in our faith, that despite the ferocious storms of life, we simply keep ourselves anchored in God? Let’s take a peek into a stormy situation with the Apostle Paul, The Bible reads, “We came under the lee of the small island named Clauda, and managed to get a lifeboat ready and reef the sails. But rocky shoals prevented us from getting close. We only managed to avoid them by throwing out drift ANCHORS…On the fourteenth night, adrift somewhere on the Adriatic Sea, at about midnight the sailors sensed that we were approaching land. Sounding, they measured a depth of 120 feet, and shortly after that ninety feet. Afraid that we were about to run aground, they threw out four ANCHORS and prayed for daylight.” (Acts 27:16-17; 27-29 MSG). I love the fact that Paul and the crew, continuously threw out Anchors! And when the storms of life rage in your life you need to make sure you remain Anchored in God the same way!

Now before you go and physically buy a million Anchors as a symbol of strength and encouragement in God, let me finish the story about Paul’s storm! The Bible says, “At daybreak, no one recognized the land—but then they did notice a bay with a nice beach. They decided to try to run the ship up on the beach. They cut the ANCHORS, loosed the tiller, raised the sail, and ran before the wind toward the beach. BUT WE DIDN’T MAKE IT. STILL FAR FROM SHORE, WE HIT A REEF AND THE SHIP BEGAN TO BREAK UP.” (Acts 27:39-41 MSG). Now I know you must be thinking, “What kind of encouragement is that?!” “I get the anchors and still end up shipwrecked?” LOL! Yep! But don’t lose hope just yet, read on, “…Paul…gave orders for anyone who could swim to dive in and go for it, and for the rest to grab a plank. Everyone made it to shore safely.” (Acts 27:42-44 MSG). You see, you can quote all the Scriptures in your Bible Vocabulary, you can have mountain moving faith, be anchored in God and still sink the ship! However, don’t miss the blessing, the Bible yet says, “…EVERYONE MADE IT TO SHORE SAFELY.” It was uncomfortable, it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t the desired way for this to work out. YET, they survived the storm and made it out safely! Listen: No matter how severe the storm, always remain anchored in God (no foreboding, no despondency, no loss of hope, faith and courage). Just cast it all on God, anchor your faith and trust in Him and His plan and purpose, then watch Him bring you through and bring you out safely on the other side of it all! Your hair may not be perfect, your makeup will not be flawless, you will not want to sing all the encouraging hymns, you will not want to run, jump, dance or praise, but you will make it out and be grateful, despite what the storm did to your looks!!!

Let’s go a little further: When you’re in the thick of things, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the storm that’s raging inside you and start listening to the “WHAT IF’S”. Can we be honest? “WHAT IF the check doesn’t come on time…WHAT IF the stock loses value…WHAT IF my mate walks out…WHAT IF the job closes down…WHAT IF the scholarship doesn’t come through…WHAT IF I can’t afford this house or this car…WHAT IF the test results are bad…” The list is endless! And because Satan knows that “…fear hath torment…” (1 John 4:18), he’ll keep pouring on the WHAT IF’S endlessly!

You see, if he can’t get you puffed up through pride, he’ll try to bring you down through fear! It’s one of his best tools! However, you don’t have to allow his tools to work on you! Paul says, “Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].” (Ephesians 4:27 AMP) That word “foothold” is defined as “a place where a person’s foot can be lodged to support them securely.” However, the second definition is the one I want to highlight, it means “a secure position from which further progress may be made.” Do you not understand that the enemy doesn’t need to come in and invade your entire life? All he needs is an entryway. Just a small space big enough to put his foot, so he can step in your life and instead of you trampling him underfoot, he now has the opportunity, invite and advantage to trample you!

Don’t let fear win! Satan will use fear to torment you, but God has a tool of His own, and His works much better! Listen to 1 John 4:18…again…in full: “There is NO FEAR in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love TURNS FEAR OUT OF DOORS AND EXPELS EVERY TRACE OF TERROR! For FEAR BRINGS WITH IT THE THOUGHT OF PUNISHMENT, AND [SO] HE WHO IS AFRAID HAS NOT REACHED THE FULL MATURITY OF LOVE [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection.]” (AMP). You see, the WORK OF PERFECT LOVE IS STRONGER THEN THE TOOL OF FEAR! And you my friend are indeed PERFECTLY AND GREATLY LOVED! “For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “For God so GREATLY LOVED and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” (AMP).

Another Scripture I love is Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” However, I love The Message Bible translation: “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.” (MSG)

Another of my favorites is, John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.The Amplified Bible says it like this: “No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.” (AMP)

You Need Not Allow Satan to Torment You With Fear, Not When You Are So Greatly and Perfectly Loved By God! Rest On That and Sleep Well Tonight, Because His Love is a Very Peaceful Pillow!

In addition, you should Always Remember Jesus’ Words: “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” (John 14:27 AMP). Likewise, Remember our opening text, Proverbs 15:15, “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], BUT he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].” (AMP). You are not to operate out of fear, forebodings, despondency, intimidation, or anxious thoughts, but you are to have “…a glad heart…[REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES].” That word “Circumstance” is defined as “unforeseen events outside one’s control.” And as scary as that may be for you, there are a few Scriptures that should bring you immediate comfort as soon as you start to allow circumstances to scare you:

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

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);

Psalm 139:1-16, “God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in! 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. Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” MSG);

Hebrews 13:5, “…be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (AMP)

If That Doesn’t Comfort You, Regardless of  Your Current Circumstances, Nothing Else Will!

Another note on the word “Circumstance”, Its Latin Origin “Circumstantia”, from “Circumstare” literally means “Encircle (to surround) or Encompass (to surround and have or hold within)”. I know circumstances can make you feel just like that, Completely Surrounded With No Way Out! However, For the Believer, There’s Safety, Even When You’re Surrounded!The Lord’s people may suffer a lot, but He will ALWAYS bring them SAFELY through.” (Psalm 34:19 CEV).

Not to mention another of my favorites. I like to call it my 91 for my 911, Listen to the Call: 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).

People of God, I know Circumstances can be draining, and Life’s Storms can be overwhelming, however, you are so perfectly and greatly loved by God that He’s given you Word on top of Word on top of Word of His Promises to You that He’s Got You! So, no fear, no worry, no fret, no torment, no foreboding, no despondency. Just faith, hope, courage and reliance on God! Stop letting the “What If’s” beat you down, and instead turn the tables and beat them down not with “WHAT”….but with “WHO”! Remember: JESUS has officially and legally signed His name to all your cares, concerns and even to your What If’s! They belong to Him, they are no longer your property! So no more stealing and no more trespassing! Let God’s Hands Handle It!

“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. IF HE SAID IT, HE’LL DO IT!” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 MSG)

“Fear can paralyze us and keep us from believing God and stepping out in faith. The devil loves a fearful Christian.” (Billy Graham)

“Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

“A perfect faith would lift us absolutely above fear.” (George Macdonald)

“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” (Author Unknown)

“Never let fear drown the dreams God placed in your heart for He will make those dreams come true.” (Author Unknown)

“Outside the Will of God, there’s nothing I want. Inside the Will of God there’s nothing I fear.” (A.W. Tozer)

“I’m not afraid of the devil. He can’t handle the One to whom I’m joined.” (A.W. Tozer)

“Unbelief is based in fear. Belief is a necessity for God to operate and function in your life.” (Creflo A. Dollar)

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)

“With the power of God within us, we need never fear the powers around us.” (Woodrow Kroll)

“We fear men so much, because we fear God so little.” (William Gurnall)

“I will not fear, for You are with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” (Thomas Merton)

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” (Francis Chan)

“The only God-ordained fear is the fear of God, and if we fear Him, we don’t have to fear anyone or anything else.” (Mark Batterson)

“Fear of the devil is nonsense. Fear of demons is foolish. The Spirit of God anointing the Christian heart makes the soul impregnable to the powers of darkness.” (John G. Lake)

“Meet your fear with faith.” (Max Lucado)

“There is no greater terror than the fear of death. But, as a Christian, you are learning to die daily. Thus, when the actual time comes for your spirit to leave your body, you will have already gained the victory over its sting.” (Alicia A. Willis)

“The phrase ‘do not be afraid’ is written in the Bible 365 times. That’s a daily reminder from God to live every day being fearless.” (Author Unknown)

“Your limits are liars. Your fears are thieves.” (Robin Sharma)

“The enemy will try to use fear to paralyze the anointing from activating in your life. Confidence does not tolerate fear. Your past is irrelevant to God, He is concerned about your future.” (Bill Winston)

“Fear tolerated is faith contaminated.” (Kenneth M. Copeland)

“There is no room for fear. You have the Almighty God with you and on your side.” (Lisa Osteen Comes)

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. (Author Unknown)

“The one place where the Christian can be naked without fear is in the Presence of Christ.” (R.C. Sproul)

“God created you on purpose, for a purpose – and He never wants fear of the unexpected to hold you back.” (Author Unknown)

“Fear is born of Satan.” (AB Simpson)

“Replace your Fear of What If with Faith in I Am.” (Author Unknown)

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” (Robert M. Mccheyne)

“Choose faith instead of fear and life will become a lot more fun.” (Dave Willis)

“Fear God and your enemies will fear you.” (Benjamin Franklin)

“Your excuses are just the lies your fears have told you.” (Robin Sharma)

“Can you imagine a life with no fear? What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats?” (Max Lucado)

Mark 5:36, “Overhearing what was being said, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; only keep on believing [in Me and my power].” (AMP)

Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord [on the authority of His word], and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.” (AMP)

Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe.” (AMP)

Romans 8:14-15, “For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [the Spirit producing sonship] by which we [joyfully] cry, “Abba! Father!” (AMP)

Isaiah 44:2, “This is what the Lord who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you says, ‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And Jeshurun (Israel, the upright one) whom I have chosen.” (AMP)

Isaiah 41:10, “‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’” (AMP)

Isaiah 41:13, “For I the Lord your God keep hold of your right hand; [I am the Lord], Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” (AMP)

Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—Whom shall I dread?” (AMP)

Psalm 118:6, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can [mere] man do to me?” (AMP)

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].” (AMP)

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: “Petroleum Jelly: Benefits and Uses”

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