“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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“You Will Walk Out of What You Were Carried Into!”

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John 11:1, “Now a certain man was SICK, Lazarus of Bethany…” (NKJV)

John 11:17, “So when Jesus arrived, He found that he [Lazarus] HAD ALREADY BEEN IN THE TOMB FOUR DAYS.” (AMPC)

John 11:43-44, “When He had said this, He shouted with a loud voice, LAZARUS, COME OUT! AND OUT WALKED THE MAN WHO HAD BEEN DEAD, his hands and feet wrapped in burial cloths (linen strips), and with a [burial] napkin bound around his face. Jesus said to them, Free him of the burial wrappings and let him go.(AMPC)

John 12:1-2, “So six days before the Passover Feast, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had died and whom He had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper; and Martha served, BUT LAZARUS WAS ONE OF THOSE AT THE TABLE WITH HIM.(AMPC)

Lazarus goes from being sick; to being dead; to being carried into a tomb where he would lay for four days; to Jesus calling his name; to Lazarus walking out as a live man; and then being seated at the Passover Feast Supper table with Jesus!

From the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, we learn certain lessons:

The First Lesson is About REASON: You cannot have radical faith until you’ve exhausted all REASONABLE SOLUTIONS. You see, Mary and Martha didn’t send for Jesus UNTIL THEY’D DONE EVERYTHING THEY COULD DO FOR LAZARUS. THEREFORE, THINK AND BE REASONABLE; IF YOU CAN DO IT FOR YOURSELF, GOD WON’T DO IT FOR YOU! For example, unless you are willing to change your diet and start eating right, how can you go to God with confidence for healing? Because even if He heals you, your habits will take you right back to an unhealthy place. Unless you are willing to put the needs of your spouse above your own, what’s the point in praying for a happy marriage? James writes: “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18 NKJV). Before you go crying out to God to supply a miracle, BE SURE THAT YOU’VE TAKEN THE NECESSARY TIME TO DO ALL YOU CAN DO FIRST! THERE’S NO NEED OF A MIRACLE FOR WHAT YOU CAN MANAGE ON YOUR OWN! For example, before filing for bankruptcy, make sure you’ve exhausted all your options first! In other words, see if you can make payment arrangements FIRST! If you can set up a payment plan to pay off a debt in five years, does it make sense to file for bankruptcy, when it will stay on your credit report for ten?! People of God remember they sent for Jesus WHEN THERE WERE NO MORE OPTIONS LEFT! John 11:3, “So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” Unlike our modern times, they didn’t have round-the-clock hospitals and doctor offices and urgent care set up back then. And even though there were doctors, because of their feet or a horse or camel, they had no better method of transportation to check on a sick individual. Therefore, it was the family’s responsibility to do all they could in the absence of professional medical care. The sisters would then take care of their sick brother Lazarus as much as they could, but then they would need a physician, thank God they called on the Great Physician! However, they did what they could, within REASON, for their brother BEFORE they even called on Jesus! Make sure you’re not asking God to lay His hands on something that you can fix for yourself! You see, the word ‘reason’ is defined as, ‘the power of the mind to think, understand and form judgements logically; that which is practical or possible; to find a solution to a problem by considering possible options.’ Its French origin (‘reisun), from Latin (‘reri’) literally means ‘to consider.’ Before you flip out and panic begging God to show up in the next 3 seconds, make sure you’ve considered your options. Maybe the real truth is, the mortgage miracle you’re asking for is for a house you knew you couldn’t afford before you moved in it. Maybe the financial blessing you need by midnight isn’t as important as you cutting up some credit cards; stop shopping with money that should’ve been set aside to pay off your bills. Maybe it’s not the car note that’s the burden, but you driving something beyond your reasonable means, trying to impress people who are more likely in greater debt than you! Maybe you’d get a job if you got up in the morning, got dressed and went to hitting the pavement with your resume, opposed to you sitting on the sofa watching reality tv, while waiting for a job to UPS your dream job to your doorstep! Are you getting this? Consider your options and work within your abilities and reason. Then, when you know it’s beyond your hands to handle, place it in God’s!

I have found in life that if you want a miracle you first need to do whatever it is You Can Do—if that’s plant, then plant; if it is to read, then read; if it is to change, then change; if it is to study, then study; if it is to work, then work; whatever You Have To, Do. And Then you will be well on your way of doing the labor that works miracles.” (Jim Rohn). In other words, I reiterate, sitting on the sofa watching soaps, yet believing God to send you a Miracle Job, is IDIOCY! And Idiocy is defined as “EXTREMELY STUPID BEHAVIOR!” Believing God for a Miracle is one thing, acting like a MORON is altogether something entirely different! Do what’s REASONABLE, and He’ll do the Rest!

The Second Lesson is About RELATIONSHIP: Some folks only turn to God when they have a crisis. Prayer is a foreign concept to them UNTIL they have a car wreck, or their marriage falls apart, or they lose their job. Then, incredibly, they say, “God, why did You let this happen to Me?HOWEVER, IT’S HARD TO GO TO SOMEONE WHEN YOU’RE IN TROUBLE, IF YOU’VE SPENT NO TIME BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM! Jesus often spent time at the home of Mary and Martha eating at their table. They were givers, not takers: The Bible says, “It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick” (John 11:2 NKJV). When you love the Lord to that extent, you can go to Him in faith knowing your needs will be met. HOWEVER, PLEASE BEAR IN MIND, THE LORD IS NOT YOUR PERSONAL GENIE THAT YOU RUB THE RIGHT WAY WITH WORDS OF PRAISE, WORSHIP AND ADORATION WHEN YOU NEED HIM TO GRANT YOU THREE WISHES! (Lord please keep the 1) Foreclosure, 2) Repossession and 3) Death Demons Away…Hallelujah, I Love You…THAT’S NOTHING MORE THAN PURE MESS)! HE CARES NOTHING ABOUT YOUR RELIGIOSITY, HE WANTS A RELATIONSHIP! AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RELIGION AND RELATIONSHIP! Look at it this way: RELIGION is like INSPIRATIONAL MUSIC (you don’t necessarily have to be saved to sing it, nor do you necessarily have to even mention the name Jesus!); But RELATIONSHIP is like GOSPEL MUSIC (it has to speak of the Life, the Death, the Burial, the Resurrection and the Coming Again of the Lord Jesus Christ…IF IT IS IN FACT “GOSPEL” MUSIC!!) FURTHERMORE, RELIGION is MAN-MADE; the GOSPEL is GOD-GIVEN! RELIGION is What Man DOES FOR GOD; the GOSPEL is What GOD DID FOR MAN! RELIGION is MAN’S SEARCH FOR GOD; the GOSPEL is GOD’S SEARCH FOR MAN! RELIGION is MAN’S TRYING TO CLIMB UP THE LADDER OF HIS OWN SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, WITH THE HOPE OF MEETING GOD ON THE TOPMOST RUNG; The GOSPEL is GOD COMING DOWN THE LADDER IN THE INCARNATION OF JESUS CHRIST AND MEETING US SINNERS AT THE LOWEST RUNG! GOD DOESN’T WANT THE INSPIRATION OF RELIGION, BUT THE IMPARTATION AND INTIMACY OF RELATIONSHIP! ‘Impartation’ means ‘to communicate, to grant a share of, to make known or disclose information, to give and bestow something, to contribute, add to, carry or express’! GOD IS LOOKING TO DO ALL THIS WITH YOU! HE WANTS TO TALK WITH YOU, DISCLOSE INFORMATION TO YOU, BESTOW AND GIVE GREAT THINGS TO YOU, AND TO LIKEWISE RECEIVE THEM FROM YOU! HE DESIRES A RELATIONSHIP! AND AFTER ALL HE’S ALREADY GIVEN YOU, SURELY GIVING THIS TO HIM IS NOT ASKING TOO MUCH OF YOU!

To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; To seek Him, the greatest adventure; To find Him, the greatest human achievement” (Augustine)

The Third Lesson is About RELINQUISHMENT: As long as you believe you can handle the problem on your own, you will not reach for the miracle-working power of God. You have to be in a situation so bad that you pray the prayer of Relinquishment:Lord, I’ve done all I know and things aren’t getting any better. So I’m through trying to fix it. I turn it completely over to You. I don’t know how You’re going to handle it, but I know you love me and want only what’s best for me. So here it is, Lord; it’s all YoursTHIS IS NOT A PRAYER OF DEFEAT, IT IS ONE OF TOTAL TRUST. David wrote: “Though I am surrounded by troubles, You Will Protect Me…You Reach Out Your Hand, and the Power of Your Right Hand Saves Me. The LORD Will Work Out His Plans For My Life – For Your Faithful Love, O LORD, Endures Forever…You Made Me” (Psalm 138:7-8 NLT). THAT’S HOW YOU RELINQUISH! The word ‘relinquish’ is defined as, ‘to willingly cease to keep or claim; to give up.’ Its Latin origin ‘relinquere’, from ‘linquere’ literally means ‘to leave.’ And that’s what you need to learn to do today, give it to God and leave it there! One of the greatest blogs I’ve read regarding Relinquishment is called “Relinquish Control to Abba Father God” by Hazel Straub, and it reads as such: “Trust me with all your problems and do not lean on your own understanding. I am the solution for all of your difficulties and problems. Hand them over to me and watch me as your Problem Solver. Worship and keep your focus on me, not the difficulty. Rest from your struggles. Direct your eyes to me. Is anything too hard for me? Deliver your problems to me. Give me control and relinquish your grip. I am more than able to handle your difficulties and cares. Has it worked for you to leave me out of your solution, as you struggled? Hand them over to me and let them go. I am God, who loves you and bears your burdens. I am your help and strength. Let my love and joy invade you. Abba Father, there is no one greater than you and I give you all my worship. I relinquish control to you. I turn from trying to solve and handle my problems, on my own and release them to you. Thank you for bearing my burdens. I will be still and know that you are God. I trust you.THAT’S HOW YOU RELINQUISH!

Proverbs 3:5-6, “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!…” (MSG)

The pastor of a great church tells of running out of money when they were only halfway through the construction of their new sanctuary. The congregation was growing and there was no doubt that they needed the extra space. But the bank wouldn’t give them any more funds. So the pastor prayed and said, “Lord, personally speaking, I don’t need this big building. I already have a place for all my children. You need a place for Yours. I don’t know how You’re going to take care of this, but those are Your kids, Lord, so I’m turning it over to You. I’m relinquishing this responsibility into your capable hands.GOD ANSWERED, THE MONEY CAME THROUGH, AND WITHIN A FEW YEARS THEY WERE WORSHIPING IN A BEAUTIFUL SANCTUARY, DEBT FREE! SO, NO MATTER HOW IMPOSSIBLE IT LOOKS, LOOK TO THE WORD THAT TELLS YOU WITH GOD NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE! SIMPLY GIVE YOUR PROBLEM TO HIM AND DON’T ATTEMPT TO TAKE IT BACK! Philippians 1:6, “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]” (AMP) RELINQUISH IT ALL TO GOD, HE CAN HANDLE WHAT YOU CAN’T GET A HANDLE ON!

The Fourth Lesson is About RADICAL FAITH: When somebody is dead and buried, that’s as “final” as it gets! To believe God in the face of such a situation requires Radical Faith! Until this moment Martha had “IF ONLY” faith.  “Lord, IF ONLY You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21 NKJV). But then she began to realize what Jesus could do, and moved to “EVEN NOW” faith. She said to Jesus, “But EVEN NOW I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (vs. 22 NKJV). Radical Faith says, “Lord I believe that my future can be greater than my past, that You can turn the situation around and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, that nothing is too hard for You.Radical Faith in the face of Radical Circumstances brings Radical Results! That means, no matter what the doctor says, your only Radical Response of Faith is, “…And By His Stripes (Wounds) We Are Healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 AMP); “…For By His Wounds You [Who Believe] Have Been Healed.” (1 Peter 2:24 AMP). That means, when the job lays you off; when the mortgage, car note, and tuition are all behind, and the lights and gas are about to be cut off. When there’s no food in the fridge, when you don’t have enough money to even get on the bus, your only Radical Response of Faith is, “And my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 AMP). When God gives you a dream and vision so big it scares you into believing the people around you that are saying the bank won’t give you a loan for that; you can’t get that grant; no one will underwrite that; you’re asking too much; that’s too big; that’s ridiculous; that’s outrageous; that’s impossible. Your only Radical Response of Faith is, “I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose – I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.” (Philippians 4:13 AMP); “…With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 AMP); “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 AMP) When people say, but you’ve had that habit and addiction forever; you’ve messed up every day of your life; you cheated; lied; failed; missed the mark; fallen short; walked in deliberate and willful disobedience and sin; there’s just no way God will ever redeem you! Your only Radical Response of Faith is, “Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin; You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; He got you out in the nick of time. He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death. So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves; Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what He’s done—sing it out!” (Psalm 107:17-22 MSG) Are you getting this people?! All you have to do is exercise your Radical Faith and watch God handle your Radical Results!

Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” (AMP); Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.” (AMP)

The Fifth Lesson is About RESTORATION: Therefore the sisters sent to [Jesus], saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick’…Then…He said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea’” (vss. 3, 7 NKJV) You’ll never know what the Lord can do until you invite Him into your situation. He can give you back what you have loved and lost! He can restore what life has taken from you – and then some! It’s not too late! Send for Jesus! No matter how bad your situation may be, pray,Lord, EVEN NOW I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You

Deeply moved again, Jesus went to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone covering the entrance. Jesus said, “Take the stone away.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, told Jesus, “Lord, there must already be a stench. He’s been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see God’s glory?” So the stone was moved away from the entrance of the tomb. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I’ve known that you always hear me. However, I’ve said this so that the crowd standing around me will believe that you sent me.” After Jesus had said this, he shouted as loudly as he could, “Lazarus, Come Out!” The dead man came out. Strips of cloth were wound around his feet and hands, and his face was wrapped with a handkerchief. Jesus told them, “Free Lazarus, And Let Him Go” (John 11:38-45 GWT).

For most people that’s their happy part in the story. However, mines is found in John 12:1-2, “So six days before the Passover Feast, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had died and whom He had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper; and Martha served, BUT LAZARUS WAS ONE OF THOSE AT THE TABLE WITH HIM.(AMPC)

He was sick; died; carried into the tomb; called by name by Jesus; walked out of what he was carried into and then finds himself alive and well, and seated at the table with Jesus being served supper! Now, I know you’ve been through a rough patch, and that rough patch may have been months, years or even decades, and still I speak by faith over your life that you will walk out of what you were carried into! Yes, that situation was hurtful; that sickness was painful; their rejection is sorrowful; and still you will end up better than you began!

John 11 is a hard season to be in because it’s surrounded by hurt, pain, loss, death, waiting, fear, and the like, but your John chapter 12 is just around the corner! Not only will you be revived and restored and fully recovered, but the same people who saw you be carried in will be the same people to watch you walk out! And NO you will not come out smelling like roses! After all, there was no way for Lazarus to be bound head to toe in graves clothes and lie in a grave for four days and come out without any stench at all! And neither will you! Your coming out won’t look or smell good, but you’re coming out anyway!

Before you know it you will go from the Tomb to the Table…so don’t throw in the Towel yet!

Do your part, and watch God do His!

People of God, Do What Is Reasonable; Improve Your Relationship With the Lord; Relinquish the Impossible to God; Have Radical Faith that God Can and Will Do It; then Rejoice, for He Will “…Restore To You The Years That the Locust Hath Eaten…” (Joel 2:25)

LEARN FROM LAZARUS AND LIKEWISE, YOU’LL WALK OUT OF WHAT YOU WERE CARRIED INTO!

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: “6 Health Benefits of Spinach”

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“There’s a Blessing Behind Closed Doors!”

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Psalm 42:1-5, “As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God.  I thirst for God, the living God. Where can I find him to come and stand before him?  Day and night I weep for his help, and all the while my enemies taunt me. “Where is this God of yours?” they scoff. Take courage, my soul! Do you remember those times (but how could you ever forget them!) when you led a great procession to the Temple on festival days, singing with joy, praising the Lord? Why then be downcast? Why be discouraged and sad? Hope in God! I shall yet praise him again. Yes, I shall again praise him for his help.” (TLB)

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a bookaholic! I read everything! There is absolutely no time in which there isn’t a book in my hand, on my desk, in my bag, or on my nightstand. I love reading books! And when my daughters were little, I would always make sure that they had reading time at home. They had to read a book, and give me a book report, yes, even as little tots! I always wanted them to be educated, intelligent and in the know. And I made sure that they read everything from Encyclopedias, to Dictionary’s, to Novels, to Magazines and Newspapers. I pushed them hard to read, and to this day, nothing has changed, they still love to read (but for some reason, they refuse to give me book reports any longer) go figure.

Well, unlike many kids today, my children spent a lot of time at the public library. I would take them, they would find their particular book and I would find mine. But there’s one particular memory about our library trips that I remember most. It’s what stirred today’s devotional. Me and the girls, as usual, went to the library, however, this time was different when we got there. Usually, it would be full of parents, guardians and kids, but this time there was no one. And it suddenly dawned on me that this time wasn’t a good time to go. You see, this was the time in which they traditionally conducted their inventory. Yep, what a lousy time to go to a place you really want to be in, but you can’t, because they were shut down to take stock.

Now, before we go on, let’s define this word “inventory”. It means “a complete list of items such as goods in stock or the contents of a building; a quantity of goods in stock.” Its Latin Origin “inventarium” means “a list of what is found”, from “invenire” which means “to discover”. Inventory is conducted to discover what’s good, what’s bad, what’s out-dated, what’s needed, what’s no longer needed, and how much of all of this is present. Inventory is done to find out the cost of the good and the cost of the bad, in stock.

With that in mind, there was one man in history who was called the man after God’s own heart by God Himself. His name was David. It’s this man whose personal spiritual diary is in your possession. It’s called the book of Psalms. One of those is in Psalm 42; it’s a real look inside David’s heart. No pretense, no mask, no phoniness, no cover-up, but the real heart of David.

Psalm 42 beginning at verse 1, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Then here arises David’s question, “When can I go and meet with God?” Now what’s David’s frame of mind in this Psalm? Well he reveals it in verse 3, “My tears have been my food day and night.He later describes himself as being downcast, and disturbed. In a word David is struggling. In essence, something’s not right. But instead of sinking, he knows the lifeguard to call on for help. He says this in the Psalm, “My soul is downcast within me: therefore I will remember You.

Here, David is much like the library, he’s saying it’s time to close the store and meet with God. It’s time to take an inventory of my life and where I am right now. It’s time to discover what’s good, what’s bad, what’s out-dated, what’s needed, what’s no longer needed, and how much of all of this is present. It’s time to find out the cost of the good and the cost of the bad, I have in stock.

Maybe it’s that time for you too. It’s time to meet with God, let Him close the door (that no man can open) and you take close inventory. Truth is, we can only go but so long without time away from all the other voices. And can we dare be honest? There are a lot of voices. Our spouses, children, family members, coworkers, bosses, clients, church, neighbors, and the list could go on forever. Someone, somewhere is constantly talking to us about something. But with so many voices to listen to from day-to-day, when do you get quiet time just to hear the voice of the Lord? And isn’t that the one voice we can’t afford to ignore?

Life has a strange way of simply spinning out of control without a periodic time of uninterrupted inventory with God. Because, besides listening to all the other voices, we also have jobs, school, responsibilities, appointments, meetings, and once again, the list could go on and on. For instance, there was a time when I was heading out the house for work with a million things on my mind, court dates for work, teaching sessions, leadership workshops, preaching engagements, my mom’s doctor appointments and bills that needed to be paid, on top of handling the household affairs of my own house, and my own doctor appointments etc… All of the distractions didn’t dawn on me until I was almost to work, and a woman on her phone stepped out into the street on a green light and was almost hit by a car. She screamed “Jesus! Thank God I prayed before I left home this morning!” And that’s when it hit me…did I pray this morning? I honestly couldn’t remember. I had so much to do, so many places to be, so many meetings to attend, so many workshops to facilitate, so many decisions to make, I simply couldn’t remember praying before I left home. That’s a rarity for me, since walking around in the quiet of my living-room is my absolute favorite place to pray every morning. But somehow that morning, I didn’t “have time to pray.” But when I finally got to my job, I went in my conference room and just sat quietly for a moment. As ironic, and maybe even comical as it may sound, my silent prayer to God was asking God, “did I pray this morning?” So grateful that He didn’t disconnect His communication with me, because I could clearly hear Him say… “No…” Immediately I wondered what God’s grace, mercy, favor and protection had spared me from, as I walked along the morning without ever asking Him to keep me covered by His blood and by His name? I thought about that woman so distracted by her phone that she almost lost her life getting struck by a car, but even in her distraction, she still remembered that she’d prayed that morning.

I know for most, that sounds tragic coming from a preacher, but it’s my truth. Sometimes I can get so busy (with both the good and the bad) that I don’t take time out for God or even for myself. Even more disturbing is that morning prayer, in particular, is my most favorite. I always come out of morning prayer feeling like a super-hero (don’t laugh!) But I do. I feel like I have God, all His angels, the whole armor of God and the whole host of heaven walking out the door with me to face the day. I feel so inspired, empowered, encouraged, lifted, strong, and yet, I was too busy that day to pray.

I do hope this will encourage and inspire you to re-evaluate (and do a personal inventory) of your life. Go to God like David did, “Lord, when can I meet with You?” God will close the door, and you will have uninterrupted, personal time with your Savior. Which makes me think of the many times in the Bible (Old and New Testament) when a door was closed, there was often a miracle performed on the other side of it. From Noah and Elisha to Jesus and the Disciples, something awesome happens, when doors are closed!

Stores know you can’t really take stock of what you have while you’re still selling and servicing customers at the same time. They have to close the doors. They have to hang out a closed sign to do it. It’s the same spiritually, mentally and emotionally for us. Because it’s hard to really see where you are and where God wants you to be while you’re still meeting all the demands of your daily responsibilities and servicing all the “customers” in your life. It’s hard to know what You need, while simultaneously serving all the needs of others.

But what I’ve learned (albeit the hard way) is that you have to value you enough to ask God to close the door because you need to meet with Him to re-evaluate your inventory.

One of the things I hate the most (especially when it comes to my hair products) is when I go to the beauty supply for something specific (usually something I absolutely love), only to have them tell me “we have to order more”. UGH! Well, Miss, I (like every other woman) knew at 9am this morning that I would be washing my hair at 7pm this evening, and I came in here for the Only shampoo I use! What do you mean, “we have to order more”, or “we’re out of stock”. Either phrase will get you a roll of the eyes or a snap of the neck or worse, a fierce comment! However, that only happens when you over-estimate or under-estimate your stock! And doing inventory is designed to avoid that very thing. But how many times do we all make this mistake in judgment? Either we’re more empty than we thought, or assume we’re more full than we are. Which is why inventory is so vital.

There must be those times when you hang out the closed sign and just say, “I’m all yours, God.” Spend some extended time with your Lord. Remember David’s question: “When can I go and meet with God?” It might be a day; it might be a couple of days or once in a while a longer period of time. And what you do is, just take you, your bible, a pen, and a big notepad to write down what comes to you while you’re listening to the Lord and you can expect Him to fill that pad. He loves when we come to Him with an empty piece of paper, instead of our own full personal agenda.

This is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your spouse; taking over their responsibilities so they can close for inventory. It’s a gift to you too. You get a better husband or wife out of the deal. A son or daughter can offer extra help so their mom or dad could spend this time. A church or a ministry is wise to allow, even to encourage their leaders to stop all the business and running the church machine, and take time out for inventory. Truth is, many marriages, relationships, friendships, businesses, and churches are going under because everyone is too busy to do inventory. You need some quiet time away from it all (and them all) to sit with God and see what’s good, what’s bad, what’s out-dated, what’s no longer needed, what requires more. If not, you’ll find yourself still trying to make deposits in others, when you’re depleted yourself.

In honesty, there are some relationships/friendships/companions we no longer need, and we’re stressed out over their very presence. However, if you took the needed time to sit behind closed doors and talk to God, He would’ve shown you that months even years ago. Many of us have people, places and things that have been long out-dated, and still they’re hanging onto us because we haven’t taken out the necessary time to re-evaluate them, and realize that keeping them is far too costly!

Listen: When you do go meet with God, open up every corner of you to His search light. Psalm 139:23-24, “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about…” (MSG) You need to ask the Lord to do this for you. That word “investigate” means “to carry out a formal inquiry so as to establish the truth.” Its Latin Origin “investigare” means “to trace out”. When you “trace” something, it means “to find out by investigation”. And there are simply some things in your life that you will never discover need to be removed from your life until the Lord does His own private investigation. It’s not until you sit with the Lord, with your undivided attention, and listen attentively to Him, that you’ll be able to finally trace where your exhaustion is coming from; where your discouragement is coming from; where your depletion is coming from; where your peace, joy and contentment are going. It’s not until then when you’re able to trace where your aggravation is coming from. It takes investigation, and investigation doesn’t happen in 5 minutes. You need time to spend time with the Lord. You’re losing too much sleep, money, sanity and strength. You need to trace the source.

You need to deal with wrong actions, and wrong attitudes that have developed. Stand back with Him and get the big picture again. Then ask Him to help you see each of the key people in your life as He sees them – through His eyes. And when He says he goes…then you let him go! When He says she stays, whether you like it or not, she stays! You need clear and concise guidance and direction, and you can’t get that surrounded by a multitude of noisy distractions!

So how long has it been since you closed for inventory? Are you afraid they’ll get mad? Are you afraid you may miss an opportunity? Are you afraid the time a part will destroy the relationship/friendship? Are you afraid you’ll miss out on money? Are you afraid you’ll lose ‘friends’, posts, likes, and tweets? Are you afraid you’ll lose your seat, title, office and position? Are you afraid you’ll lose your ring and robe? What has you so afraid of temporary closed doors, that will grant you permanent peace? Listen, anytime you spend time with the Lord, you Gain…you never Lose! So anything (or anyone) that falls off in your silence, was a quiet blessing!

God has so much He wants to show you and you need to hear His voice so much. You’ll come out of that seeking time really ready for business again. But first you have to be still and know that He is God. You Have to Take Time to Be Still! Some may not like this, but I’ll say it anyway, you are not that anointed, gifted, talented, important and vital that all of the world and the Kingdom of God will go on hold because of your absence.

Know when you need a Break before you’re Beyond Repair!

Jesus shares these interesting words in Luke 14:28-30, “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’” (MSG) You need to have the Lord close doors, and sit you down to do inventory. You need to know if you have all that you need to do and be all that the Lord desires, or are you missing something? And if you are, do you even know what it is? Well, you’ll never know until you sit down and count the cost. Do your inventory before you start the business, open the church, relocate, marry him/her, go to school there, take this job… Can you finish what you started with what you have? And I understand potential and ambition, dreams and desires, but I also understand the importance of time with God to hear His voice and heed is direction. You need to know how much you’ve gained by having her in your life, you also need to know how much you’ve loss by having him in your life. And you’ll never know either without time with God.

I’m a firm believer that God closes doors to force you to turn to Him, so He can finally point you in the direction, to the right door, you should’ve entered. Even David knew that. Because as distressed as he was, he at least knew he needed some time with God. He said, yes, I’m going to praise Him again, but for right now, I need some help with what I’m feeling. So do you, and that’s not a bad thing to admit.

Let God close the door, so you can both sit down and reason together, what’s working and what’s not. Where is the gain and where is the loss? What should be added, what should be taken away? And you can’t sit with God, while you’re busy serving others. You need to put your “closed for inventory” sign up, and let people know, “not today…” You’re not out of commission permanently, you’re just under New Management, and receiving some Over-Due Repairs, and when you open for Business again, this time, you’ll turn a better Profit! Let God restructure and renovate you and your life. Let Him go over the plans and look at the numbers. Let God Handle It, and Take Your Hands Off It. You need a break from being everything to everybody all the time. Let God replenish you. Let God restore you.

Keep in mind: YOU are not the only person people can go to! For instance, there were other libraries I could’ve taken the girls too, and there were other beauty supply stores I could’ve went to. In other words, get rid of your Elijah Complex, You Are Not the Only One God Has Left to Use!

Today, Ask God For a Meeting, and When He Closes the Door, Take Out Your Pen and Pad and Do Some Much Needed Inventory!

Listen to Matthew 6:6:

“But when you pray, go into your [MOST] PRIVATE ROOM, AND, CLOSING THE DOOR, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.” (AMPC)

“But when you pray, GO TO YOUR ROOM, SHUT THE DOOR, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.” (CEB)

“When you pray, GO INTO A ROOM ALONE AND CLOSE THE DOOR. Pray to your Father IN PRIVATE. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you.” (CEV)

“But when you pray, GO AWAY BY YOURSELF, ALL ALONE, AND SHUT THE DOOR BEHIND YOU and pray to your Father SECRETLY, and your Father, who knows your secrets, will reward you.” (TLB)

 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a QUIET, SECLUDED PLACE so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (MSG)

“But you, when you pray, go into YOUR INNER ROOM, CLOSE YOUR DOOR and pray to your Father who is in SECRET, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (NASB)

“When you pray, go into a room by yourself. After you have shut the door, pray to your Father Who is in secret. Then your Father Who sees in secret will reward you.” (NLV)

BASED ON THESE TRANSLATIONS, HOW IS YOUR BEHIND CLOSED DOORS MEETING SUPPOSED TO BE DONE WHEN DOING INVENTORY WITH GOD?

YOU ENTER YOUR MOST PRIVATE ROOM AND CLOSE THE DOOR; YOU GO TO YOUR ROOM AND SHUT THE DOOR; YOU GO INTO A ROOM ALONE AND CLOSE THE DOOR BEHIND; YOU GO AWAY BY YOURSELF, ALL ALONE, AND SHUT THE DOOR BEHIND YOU IN SECRET; YOU FIND A QUIET, SECLUDED PLACE SO YOU’RE NOT TEMPTED TO ROLE PLAY BEFORE GOD; YOU GO INTO YOUR INNER ROOM AND CLOSE YOUR DOOR; YOU GO INTO A ROOM BY YOURSELF AND SHUT THE DOOR!

IN OTHER WORDS, THIS IS A PRIVATE MATTER BETWEEN YOU AND GOD! NOT YOUR PRAYER CIRCLE, NOT YOUR BFF, NOT EVEN YOUR PASTOR, SPOUSE OR CHILDREN! YOU AND GOD ALONE NEED TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION AND COMPLETE THIS INVENTORY! SO BY NO MEANS THINK THAT YOU ARE BEING SELFISH, THIS IS ABOUT SELF CARE! AFTER ALL, YOU ARE NO GOOD TO THE BODY OF CHRIST IF YOU CAN’T EVEN TAKE PROPER CARE OF YOUR OWN BODY!

DO NOT TAKE THIS LIGHTLY! LIKE DAVID, SET ASIDE YOUR MEETING TIME WITH GOD, TAKE YOUR PEN AND PAD, AND GET TO WORK! WE HAVE NEED OF A HEALTHY, HEALED AND WHOLE YOU IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD TO AID IN FIXING THIS FRACTURED WORLD!

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: “There’s a Blessing Behind Closed Doors”

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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”

Feel free to join us at: http://www.chefshermainesbiblecafe.home.blog Today’s Chef Special Word: “FORGIVE”

LETS STAY CONNECTED!

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“The Process of Pruning Produces the Fullness of Potential”

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“I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.” (John 15:1-2 AMP).

Unlike my mom, when it comes to growing things, I’m not exactly Seedling Sam the Gardening Man. I grew up in New York, but my mom on the other hand, was the epitome of a farm girl who had the most amazing green thumbs! As soon as you’d walk in her apartment, you would be immediately welcomed into a living room that could be best described as a personal green house! I’m not as good as mom, but I can, however, keep a plant or two alive based off what she’s taught me about how things grow and flourish. I was reminded of one of those lessons when I read an article about growing blueberries in a local Sunday newspaper. The writer of that article is a recognized expert on blueberries. He explained how one of his most important steps in making blueberry bushes fruitful Is to Chop Off Branches! Sounds Destructive, But Actually It’s Constructive! He Prunes Away A Lot of TOP BRANCHES So the Interior Branches Are Exposed to the Sunlight! The result? BIG BLUEBERRIES AND LOTS OF THEM! And all because he Chopped Off the Top Branches!

“Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.” (John Trapp).

We all really need to understand this pruning process, especially since it’s one of God’s Most Important Methods In Growing Us! In fact, some of the difficulty and loss that you’re experiencing right now May Actually Be Your Heavenly Father Cutting You Down to Help You Grow Up! And the results are going to be far greater than they ever could have been, if He left what He has been taking away! “If God didn’t think twice about taking Pruning Shears to the natural branches, why would he hesitate over you? He wouldn’t give it a second thought…” (Romans 11:21 MSG). In other words, God is not struggling with cutting you down so He can help you grow up! He hasn’t given it a second thought, because He knows it’s ultimately for your good, growth and development!

As Jesus was in His final hours before the cross, He prepared His disciples for the battles and the assignments ahead with some powerful teaching. And since they saw grapevines pretty often, He chose that as an analogy of their, AND OUR, relationship with Him. In John 15, beginning with verse 1, Jesus says: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (NIV). Another version says it like this: “I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.” (AMP).

In short, HE LEAVES YOU WITH LESS, SO YOU CAN BE AVAILABLE FOR MORE!

Sidebar: Pastors, when the ministry begins to go through shifting changes and all of a sudden you began to notice that the numbers are lowering, don’t panic! This is not always a bad sign! God simply has the Pruning Shears on the ministry for its’ future growth and development! It’s a necessity to have the ministry pruned for its later potential and prosperity. Before God takes you into Greater, He will Cut Off those who have Stunted Growth and even those who are Consistently Growing, just so they will Grow All the More! Remember: “…He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that CONTINUES TO BEAR FRUIT, TO MAKE IT BEAR MORE AND RICHER AND MORE EXCELLENT FRUIT.” Sometimes when it looks like a Loss, it’s actually God’s Greater Gain! Of course He loves the fact that the ministry has experienced Growth, but that’s why He Prunes, so it not only experiences Growth, but so it can, “…BEAR MORE AND RICHER AND MORE EXCELLENT FRUIT.” Take note, the, “…RICHER AND MORE EXCELLENT FRUIT”, ONLY COMES AFTER THE PRUNING PROCESS! So, don’t be discouraged, just continue to trust your Gardener during the Pruning Process!

Jesus went on to explain that all the things we do for Him have to flow from our deep relationship with Him – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man REMAINS in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; APART from Me you can do nothing…If you REMAIN in Me and My words REMAIN in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.” If you keep pursuing Jesus and getting ever closer to Him, your life is going to be Abundantly Fruitful! You’re going to make a Greater Difference with your life than you’ve ever made before! You’re going to be More Spiritually Magnetic, and having you around is going to be more and more like actually having Jesus Himself around! You are going to attract more people into the Fruitful Kingdom of God! The key is to Remain in a Healthy Relationship with Jesus! Why? Because, Apart from Him You Can Do NOTHING! But, If You Remain In Him and His Word Remains in You… “…ASK WHATEVER YOU WISH AND IT WILL BE GIVEN YOU!”

BUT…Before You Receive the Richer and More Excellent Fruit, FIRST COMES THE PRUNING!

I imagine if a vine could talk, he’d say to the pruner, “You’re killing me, man!” And the gardener would reply, “I know this hurts, but I’m actually removing things you don’t really need so you can explode with greater fruit.” THAT MAY BE EXACTLY WHAT’S HAPPENING IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW! IT DOESN’T FEEL GOOD, OH, BUT IT IS GOOD! Romans 8:26-28, “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. THAT’S WHY WE CAN BE SO SURE THAT EVERY DETAIL IN OUR LIVES OF LOVE FOR GOD IS WORKED INTO SOMETHING GOOD.” (MSG)

AS BAD AS IT FEELS NOW, STAY IN THE PRUNING PROCESS, BECAUSE IT’S ABOUT TO GET REAL GOOD!

GOD IS LOVINGLY REMOVING THINGS (AND PEOPLE) YOU THINK YOU NEED, BUT MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, THESE THINGS (AND PEOPLE) MAY ACTUALLY BE HOLDING YOU DOWN, HOLDING YOU BACK, AND HOLDING YOU CAPTIVE! SO BE ENCOURAGED, THE CUTBACKS ARE COSTLY BUT WORTH IT! THE PRUNING IS PAINFUL, BUT ESSENTIAL TO YOUR POTENTIAL, PRODUCTIVITY AND PROSPERITY!

I actually learned that there are a few types of pruning methods:

FIRST, THERE’S “THINNING”: This is a drastic form of pruning, a thinning out cut is the removal of an entire shoot, limb, or branch AT ITS POINT OF ORIGIN! When performed correctly, THINNING ENCOURAGES THE FORMATION OF NEW GROWTH THAT WILL MORE READILY BEAR FRUIT AND FLOWERS!

NOW FOR THE SPIRITUAL APPLICATION OF “THINNING”: In order for many of us to GROW PROPERLY, WE HAVE TO BE PRUNED TO THE EXTENT THAT WE REMOVE, ENTIRELY, PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS THAT HELPED US GET TO THIS DAMAGED PLACE WE’RE IN NOW! REMEMBER: THINNING REMOVES THE ENTIRE SHOOT, LIMB OR BRANCH AT ITS ORIGIN! IN OTHER WORDS, WHERE IT ALL STARTED! For instance, if that’s liars who got you lying; the bars that got you drinking or the credit cards that got you in debt, REMOVE THEM ENTIRELY! DON’T BE AFRAID OR ASHAMED TO THIN SOME FOLKS AND SOME STUFF OUT! REMOVE HIM, HER OR THEM, IF THEY DARE TO COMPROMISE YOUR POTENTIAL TO PROSPER! IF YOU DO, YOU’LL THEN BE IN THE POSITION TO FORMULATE (HEALTHY PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS) SO THAT NEW GROWTH CAN TRANSPIRE, MORE READILY FOR BEARING FRUIT! RESPECT GOD’S THINNING PROCESS! LET HIM REMOVE PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS THAT YOU STARTED OUT WITH…BUT DON’T NEED TO FINISH WITH!

SECOND, THERE’S “TOPPING”: Topping is a very severe form of pruning which involves removing all branches and growths down to a few large branches or to the trunk of the tree. When performed correctly, IT IS USED ON VERY YOUNG TREES TO TRAIN THEM TO GROW INTO SPECIFIC SHAPES!

NOW FOR THE SPIRITUAL APPLICATION OF “TOPPING”:  When used correctly, TOPPING IS USED ON YOUNG TREES TO TRAIN THEM TO GROW IN SPECIFIC SHAPES OR IN SPECIFIC DIRECTIONS! When you see those beautiful trees, with all their unique twists and turns to them in various shapes and designs, THEY ARE THE RESULT OF TOPPING! But in order for that to take place, IT HAS TO START YOUNG! Now, it would be very easy for me to pick on our YOUNG PEOPLE (Which the Church Does Far Too Often), but instead we’re going to go in a different direction, and speak of “YOUNG” IN TERMS OF “IMMATURITY!” PEOPLE OF GOD, IF YOU’RE EVER GOING TO FINALLY GROW UP, AND COME TO FULL MATURITY, YOU’VE GOT TO SURRENDER YOURSELF TO TOPPING! IT MEANS BRINGING ALL YOUR IMMATURE ISSUES BEFORE THE GARDENER FOR HIM TO PRUNE, SO YOU CAN FINALLY GROW UP INTO THE SPECIFIC SHAPE AND DESIGN THAT HE HAD IN MIND LONG BEFORE YOUR BIRTH! THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT YOU CAN’T DO THIS FOR OLD TREES, THEY’RE ALREADY SET IN THEIR WAYS AND HARDENED, SO IF YOU’RE STILL AN “IMMATURE SAINT”, THERE’S HELP AND HOPE FOR YOU YET! YOU’RE IN THE BEST POSSIBLE POSITION TO BE RE-DIRECTED FOR THE DESTINY YOU’VE BEEN DESIGNED FOR! PEOPLE MAY TALK ABOUT YOUR “IMMATURITY” BUT GOD IS WAITING, WILLING AND READY TO USE HIS “TOPPING” PRUNING METHOD TO SPECIFICALLY SHAPE, DESIGN AND DIRECT YOU TO LOOK MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE! THINK ABOUT IT: THOSE BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED TREES ALWAYS MAKE PEOPLE STOP AND STARE OR TAKE A DOUBLE LOOK! AND WHEN GOD GETS FINISHED “TOPPING” YOU…THEY WILL DO THE VERY SAME IN LOOKING AT YOUR LIFE!

THIRD, THERE’S “RAISING”: This removes the lower branches from a tree IN ORDER TO PROVIDE CLEARANCE FOR BUILDINGS, VEHICLES, PEDESTRIANS, AND VISTAS!

NOW FOR THE SPIRITUAL APPLICATION OF “RAISING”: This type of pruning is of a necessity, not for you, BUT FOR THOSE AROUND YOU! “RAISING” IS A FORM OF PRUNING THAT MOVES YOU OUT OF THE WAY, SO OTHERS CAN GET BY AND GET THROUGH! I hate to say it like this, BUT THIS LEVEL OF PRUNING IS OFTEN FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN DOING SOMETHING SO LONG THAT THEY’VE PERFECTED IT AND CAN’T NOBODY ELSE ON PLANET EARTH DO IT LIKE THEM OR BETTER THAN THEM, AS LONG AS THEY’RE STILL ALIVE! YOU HAVE TO BE PRUNED TO MAKE ROOM FOR OTHERS! AFTER 30 YEARS, YOU SHOULDN’T SEE ALL THE SAME PREACHERS IN THE SAME PULPIT; THE SAME CHOIR MEMBERS, THE SAME MUSICIANS, THE SAME DEACONS, THE SAME MEMBERS! WHERE’S THE GROWTH IN THAT?! LOOK AT IT FROM THIS SIMPLE ANALOGY: YOU CAN’T PUT ANYMORE WATER IN A FULL GLASS WITHOUT IT SPILLING OVER AND MAKING A MESS! NO, YOU DRINK IT ALL! AND THEN IF SOMEONE COMES ALONG THAT NEEDS YOUR GLASS, YOU DON’T HAND IT TO THEM USED AND DIRTY! NOR DO YOU TELL THEM I ONLY DRANK WATER OUT OF THIS GLASS SO YOU HAVE TO DO THE SAME! NO, WHAT YOU DO IS CLEAN IT (REMOVE ALL EVIDENCE OF WHAT YOU HAD IN IT), THEN YOU GIVE IT TO THEM GLADLY THAT THEY MIGHT FILL IT HALFWAY OR ALL THE WAY, WITH WHATEVER BEVERAGE OF THEIR CHOOSING! YOU DON’T, HOWEVER, ATTEMPT TO CONTROL THE USE OF THE GLASS JUST BECAUSE YOU HAD IT FIRST, OR HAD IT LONGEST! PEOPLE OF GOD, THERE IS A WHOLE NEW GENERATION THAT IS TRYING TO PRESS FORWARD, BUT CAN’T BECAUSE THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN IN THE SAME PLACE FOR 30 YEARS WON’T MOVE OVER AND MAKE ROOM FOR FRESH GROWTH! THEY WILL REPLACE YOU (THAT’S THE LAW OF AGE), BUT THAT’S NOT THEIR GOAL! THEY’RE SIMPLY TRYING TO HELP, IN THEIR YOUTH, IN THEIR STRENGTH, WITH BUILDING THE KINGDOM OF GOD! SO STOP BEING SELFISH, AND MOVE OUT THE WAY SO OTHERS CAN GET BY AND GET THROUGH! MOSES IS DEAD AND SO IS JOSHUA…BUT THERE IS A NEW GENERATION! DON’T BLOCK THEM WITH YOUR OLD SET WAYS!

FOURTH AND FINAL, THERE’S “REDUCTION”: This reduces the size of a tree, OFTEN FOR CLEARANCE FOR UTILITY LINES! Reducing the height or spread of a tree is best accomplished by PRUNING BACK THE LEADERS AND BRANCH TERMINALS TO LATERAL BRANCHES THAT ARE LARGE ENOUGH TO ASSUME THE TERMINAL ROLES! Compared to ‘Topping’, ‘REDUCTION’ HELPS MAINTAIN THE FORM AND STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY OF THE TREE!

NOW FOR THE SPIRITUAL APPLICATION OF “REDUCTION”: This type of pruning HURTS LEADERSHIP! BECAUSE REDUCTION REMOVES BRANCHES THAT ARE HIGH UP BY THE POWER LINES, CUTS THEM BACK SO THAT ROOM FOR THOSE UNDERNEATH THEM CAN ASSUME THEIR ROLE! OUCH! LORD HELP! IN ACTUALITY, THIS SHOULDN’T BE ALL THAT HARD AT ALL, SINCE THE LEADER BRANCH THAT IS BEING CUT BACK, IS ONLY MAKING ROOM FOR THE LATERAL BRANCH TO COME UP AND TAKE IT’S PLACE! NOT BECAUSE THE LEADER BRANCH DID ANYTHING WRONG, IT’S SIMPLY THE TIME FOR  WHAT’S GROWING OUT OF ITS SIDE (LATERAL) TO COME UP A LITTLE HIGHER! “LATERAL” means: “FROM THE SIDE OF; ESPECIALLY A SHOOT OR BRANCH GROWING OUT FROM THE SIDE OF A STEM”.  ITS LATIN ORIGIN “LATERALIS” literally means “SIDE”. LEADERS, IT’S NOT SOME STRANGE, FOREIGN ENTITY, BUT SOMETHING/SOMEONE THAT CAME FROM OUT OF YOU! THAT SHOULD PUT YOUR EGO, PRIDE AND COMPETITIVE NATURE TO REST! IT’S A PART OF YOU, THEREFORE, REGARDLESS TO HOW HIGH IT OR THEY GO, THEY STILL CAME FROM YOU! LEADERS, ENDURE THE PRUNING OF REDUCTION, IT DOES NOT REDUCE YOUR MINISTRY, PURPOSE, GIFTS, ANOINTING OR EFFECTIVENESS, IT SIMPLY MAKES ROOM FOR OTHERS TO REACH THE HEIGHTS OF POWER THAT YOU HAVE ALREADY ATTAINED! TRUTH IS: YOU MAY NOT ENJOY THE PROCESS…BUT YOU AND EVERYBODY ELSE WILL LOVE THE RESULTS! YOU MAY HAVE TO STEP ASIDE, BUT YOU’LL ALWAYS BE CLOSE ENOUGH TO WATCH YOUR “LATERAL” STEP UP AND STEP THROUGH! BE PROUD…THEY’RE PRODUCTIVITY AND PROSPERITY CAME OUT OF YOUR PRUNING PROCESS!

Listen Leaders, I know a lot of this was hard to take in, but I promise you, it was indeed to encourage your heart! Pruning is Painful, but nothing is more Painful than Missing Out on Your Purpose, Potential and Prosperity! Let God do the Gardening that’s a Necessity to Your Future Growth! He Knows What He’s Doing, After All His Pruning is Apart of His Great Plans Just For You!

Jeremiah 29:10-11, “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)

Pruning is Part of the Plan, All You Have to Remember, is What God Has Said… “…I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING…”

“Every Living Thing Needs to be Pruned, So It Can Reach Its Fullest Potential – Including You and Me.” (Author Unknown)

“Every Experience is Part of God’s Pruning Process. You’ve Been Picked Out to be Picked On. He Cuts Off Fruitless Branches and Prunes Fruitful Ones.” (Author Unknown)

“Give A Lot, Expect A Lot, And…If You Don’t Get It, Prune.” (Tom Peters)

“For Me, Slowing Down Was Simply Another Way to Prune the Bush. To Force Myself Into Cutting Away Certain Parts of My Life So That I Don’t Wake Up Next Year, Blooming Roses I Don’t Like.” (Erin Loechner)

“Pruning is a Necessary Part of Life. In Order to Move Forward, You Must Let Go.” (Cheryl Richardson)

“People Aren’t Too Much Different From Roses. They Both Need the Sunshine of Encouragement, Proper Feeding, Water, Tender Loving Care, Skilled Pruning and Room to Grow.” (Lila Peiffer)

“Gardens Are Great Projects. Like Great Careers and Relationships That Last. They Are Tended, They Shift, They Grow. They Endure Over Time, Gaining a Personality and Reflecting Their Environment. When Something Dies or Fades Away, We Prune, Replant and Grow Again.” (Seth Godin)

“When God Has You in a Place of Waiting, He’s Preparing You For Greater. He’s Sifting, Pruning, Refining, and Shaping You For the Best That is to Come.” (Author Unknown)

“God Prunes Us When He is About to Take Us Into a New Season of Growth and Expansion.” (Christine Caine)

“Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.” (John Trapp).

“When we can become skilled at selectively knowing what to prune out of our lives, what remains becomes stronger, brighter, clearer.” (Lisa Byrne)

“Remember that growth always involves some pruning.” (Pinterest)

“The purpose of pruning is to improve the quality of the roses, not to hurt the bush.” (Florence Littauer)

“The vinedresser is never nearer the branches then when he is pruning them.” (David Jeremiah)

“God loves you too much to give you the promotion without the pruning.” (Bob Sorge)

“No one likes the process of pruning and the pain of loss, but fruit only grows on new wood.” (Leonard Sweet)

“The trees which are pruned, watered and nurtured by caring hands bear the greatest fruit; it is the same with people.” (Bryant McGill)

“Prune the branches that no longer belong to the future.” (Dr. Joe Dispenza)

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: “Low-Grade Depression – Here’s What That Means”

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“No Matter How Long It Takes, WAIT For God!”

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Micah 7:7, “BUT ME, I’M NOT GIVING UP. I’M STICKING AROUND TO SEE WHAT GOD WILL DO. I’M WAITING FOR GOD TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT. I’M COUNTING ON GOD TO LISTEN TO ME” (MSG)

I seem to vaguely remember this old nursery rhyme from when I was a kid. It went like this: “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” If you asked my niece that question, she’d probably say, “Real Slow!And maybe that’s why Mary was so contrary! You see, last spring, my niece worked with her Dad to clear a little area in the yard where she could have a vegetable garden. She was all excited about planting seeds in the ground: tomato seeds, green beans, carrots, and lettuce. But then she went out THE NEXT DAY to look at what she had planted. What did she see? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Then the NEXT WEEK, and the next week, and the week after that. She watered the garden when it didn’t rain. Helped pull up weeds. For the longest time, she went out to that garden to see what was happening and found out…NOTHING WAS HAPPENING – OR SO IT APPEARED! NOW, HAD SHE TRIED TO DIG UP THE SEEDS TO SEE IF ANYTHING WAS HAPPENING, SHE WOULD HAVE RUINED EVERYTHING! But you know the story. It finally happened: The tomatoes and beans and carrots and lettuce finally showed MANIFESTED EVIDENCE, that what LOOKED LIKE NOTHING, WAS ACTUALLY SOMETHING ALL ALONG…IT JUST TOOK TIME!

To everything there is a season, and a TIME for every matter or purpose under heaven…He has made everything beautiful in its TIME.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 AMP);

“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.” (Habakkuk 2:3 MSG).

Listen: No Matter What It Looks Like NOW, Remember It Will Look Even Better LATER! “‘This Temple is going to END UP FAR BETTER THAN IT STARTED OUT, a glorious beginning but an even more GLORIOUS FINISH…” (Haggai 2:9 MSG) And YOU Will Enjoy the Same Awesome Testimony! You Just Have to WAIT For It! No Matter How You Started Out, You Will Have an EVEN MORE GLORIOUS FINISH! But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, PATIENCE (AN EVEN TEMPER, FORBEARANCE), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness.” (Galatians 5:22 AMP). Just Be PATIENT!

Something had been happening all along to those seeds in my nieces garden! AND SOMETHING HAS BEEN HAPPENING ALL ALONG TO THE SEEDS WE’VE PLANTED AS WELL! REMEMBER: JUST BECAUSE WE CAN’T SEE WHAT GOD IS DOING, DOESN’T MEAN HE’S NOT DOING ANYTHING! In fact, that may be something important for you to remember right now. You’ve been praying about that need, that situation, that person for a long time and it LOOKS LIKE NOTHING’S HAPPENING! But the key words to keep in mind are: LOOKS LIKE! When a seed’s been planted, it LOOKS LIKE there’s NOTHING going on for some time, until that plant breaks through and ultimately produces some wonderful fruit!

When a new life has begun in a woman’s body, it doesn’t LOOK LIKE anything’s happened for quite a while. BUT EVERY DAY, THAT LIFE IS GROWING EVEN WHEN WE CANNOT SEE ITS GROWTH, UNTIL IT FIRST RESHAPES THAT MOTHER’S BODY AND ULTIMATELY APPEARS AS THAT PRECIOUS LITTLE BABY BEING BORN! Reminds me of a quote I’ve learned to live by: “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is Patience.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). The Bible says it this way: “But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, WE WAIT FOR IT WITH PATIENCE AND COMPOSURE.” (Romans 8:25 AMP).

The problem is that when it LOOKS LIKE nothing’s happening, we tend to say, I’ve got to do something!AND MOST OFTEN, IT’S THE WRONG THING TO DO; MUCH LIKE DIGGING UP THE SEED TO SEE IF IT’S GROWING OR PLOWING UP THE GARDEN BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE NOTHING’S HAPPENING!

Example: In 1 Samuel 13, beginning with verse 7, we receive a sobering example of how much we have to lose when we can’t WAIT for God to do it His way! You see, Saul, Israel’s first king, has been told by God’s man Samuel, to go down ahead of him to Gilgal. Samuel assures him that he will surely come down to him to sacrifice burnt offerings…BUT Saul must WAIT seven days UNTIL Samuel comes to him and tells him what he must do. HOWEVER, with the Philistine forces massing against them, the Bible says this, “…Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter.” (vss. 7-8 NIV). SAUL PANICKED, AND HE DID WHAT NO KING WAS ALLOWED BY GOD TO DO: HE OFFERED THE BURNT OFFERING HIMSELF AND HE CROSSED A SACRED LINE! The Bible says, “Just as he finished making the offering…”, (hear this), “…Samuel arrived…” (vs. 10). And Samuel asks, “What have you done?…” (vs. 11). 

Saul answers by talking about what “…I SAW”…”I THOUGHT” …” I FELT…” (vss. 11-12 NIV).

Here’s the text in full: “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I SAW that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash,  I THOUGHT, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I FELT compelled to offer the burnt offering.” (NIV)

Three of the greatest keys to blocking God’s blessing that’s trying to spring forth in your life is: YOUR EYES (“I Saw”); YOUR MIND (“I Thought”); AND YOUR EMOTIONS (“I Felt”)!

When Your Something looks like Nothing the last thing you need to do is have BLURRED VISION, IMPURE THOUGHTS AND INTENTIONS AND UNCONTROLLABLE EMOTIONS!

When Your Something looks like Nothing and you’re tempted to do Something about it, Beware of the Dangers of YOUR EYES, MIND AND EMOTIONS and bring them under subjection quickly! 

Why? Look at what the Bible admonishes: 

1…CONTROL YOUR EYES: The Bible says, “For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] NOT BY SIGHT OR APPEARANCE” (2 Corinthians 5:7 AMP). “But GOD told Samuel, “LOOKS AREN’T EVERYTHING. DON’T BE IMPRESSED WITH HIS LOOKS and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. GOD judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women LOOK at the face; GOD LOOKS into the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 MSG). Wisdom Nugget: DON’T LET YOUR PHYSICAL SIGHT, DESTROY YOUR SPIRITUAL VISION

2…CONTROL YOUR MIND: The Bible says, “But whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what makes a man unclean and defiles [him]. For out of the heart come EVIL THOUGHTS (reasoning’s and disputing and designs) such as murder, adultery, sexual vice, theft, false witnessing, slander, and irreverent speech. These are what make a man unclean and defile [him]…” (Matthew 15:18-20 AMP). “Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the THOUGHTS OF THE MIND [our cravings dictated by our senses and our DARK IMAGININGS]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:3  AMP). Wisdom Nugget: CHOOSING BETWEEN A REPROBATE MIND (Romans 1:28, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient“) AND A RENEWED MIND (Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.“), WILL DETERMINE WHETHER YOU CONTINUE TO REIGN OR COME TO RUINS! Bear in MIND, THE CHOICE IS YOURS!

3…CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS: The Bible says, “A FOOL EXPRESSES ALL HIS EMOTIONS, BUT A WISE PERSON CONTROLS THEM” (Proverbs 29:11 GWT). “In the end they will be destroyed. THEIR OWN EMOTIONS ARE THEIR GOD, AND THEY TAKE PRIDE IN THE SHAMEFUL THINGS THEY DO…” (Philippians 3:19 GWT). Wisdom Nugget: FULFILLMENT COMES NOT FROM FEELING, BUT FROM FOLLOWING! Look at it like this: THE COAT OF A ROTTWEILER IS SOFT, BUT HAPHAZARDLY REACHING OUT TO FEEL IT, MIGHT RESULT IN YOUR GOING INTO YOUR FUTURE WITH A FEW LESS FINGERS! LIKEWISE, FOLLOWING YOUR FEELINGS IS JUST AS DANGEROUS! DON’T LET YOUR EMOTIONS MAIM YOU! “MAIM” MEANS: “TO WOUND OR INJURE (SOMEONE) SO THAT PART OF THE BODY IS PERMANENTLY DAMAGED!” IN A NUTSHELL: TEMPORARY EMOTIONS CAN PERMANENTLY MAIM YOU! 

Saul messed up with what he SAW, THOUGHT AND FELT, therefore, Samuel informs him, “You have done a foolish thing…You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure…because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” (vss. 13-14 NIV). SAUL FORFEITS THE MAJOR LEGACY OF HIS LIFE BECAUSE OF DISOBEDIENCE THAT DISQUALIFIED HIM; A DISOBEDIENCE THAT CAME BECAUSE HE COULDN’T WAIT FOR GOD TO DO IT HIS WAY! 

INSTEAD, HE OBEYED HIS EYES AND MISSED OUT ON SEEING HIS KINGDOM ENDURE! 

HE OBEYED HIS THOUGHTS INSTEAD OF RESPECTING THE FACT THAT GOD’S THOUGHTS ARE NOT OURS. Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Oftentimes your real sacrifice is in waiting the full seven days, and even when nothing seems to happen, even on the appointed day, WAITING, TRUSTING AND KNOWING THAT GOD DOES NOT FAIL AND DOES NOT LIE, HE WILL PERFORM IT AND I’M GOING TO CONTINUE TO SIT UNTIL HE DOES, is the best thing you could ever do!  

LASTLY, HE OBEYED HIS FEELINGS AND FORFEITED A PROMISED FUTURE! 

HOWEVER, BEFORE YOU POINT YOUR FINGERS AT HIM, KNOW THAT YOU AND I ARE PRONE TO MAKING THAT SAME KIND OF MISTAKE! Nothing seems to be happening, things are starting to fall apart, and it LOOKS LIKE we’re at the point of no return! So we take matters into our own hands and, in so doing, WE RUIN WHAT GOD WAS GOING TO DO! God is so often the God of the eleventh hour! He waits until the moment when everyone will know IT HAD TO BE HIM! He waits so our faith can stretch farther than its’ ever stretched before so He can do greater things for us than He’s ever done beforeGod is working in ways we can’t see, but ultimately something beautiful will be born for all to see! 

In the words of the Psalmist:Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and HE WILL DO THIS…be still before the Lord and WAIT PATIENTLY FOR HIM” (Psalm 37:5, 7). Let God Do It His Way and In His Timing! And no matter how long you have to wait, remember: “God is not a man, that He should tell or act a lie, neither the son of man, that He should feel repentance or compunction [for what He has promised]. Has He said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken and shall He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19 AMP). Yes He Will!

People of God, Regardless to what you See, Think or Feel, Your Nothing Has Something…You Just Have To Wait For It! SO WAIT! The Bible Admonishes Us: “WAIT and HOPE for and EXPECT the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, WAIT for and HOPE for and EXPECT the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14 AMP).

Some of the most exciting moments in sports are the touchdown or field goal that win the game, especially, when there’s no time left on the clock! That game-winning basket as the final buzzer sounds is unforgettable! The game-winning home run with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning is remarkable! I’ve come to find out that whatever the sport, there is nothing like a sudden victory when victory seemed out of reach! It makes the fans go absolutely ballistic! Which reminds me of a quote I love: I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man’s failures.” (Earl Warren). Truth be told, it can be real nerve-wracking when you’re behind and time is running out! But it’s an awesome moment when a hero pulls out an unexpected victory…at the last minute! And the longer I walk with this God of ours, the more I’ve come to appreciate Him as the God of the last-second victory, or the God of the eleventh hour, as I’ve called Him so often. The Bible reveals many names by which God wants us to know Him. One that has meant so much to so many for so long is “Jehovah-Jireh”. It means, “The Lord will provide or the Lord will see to my provision.

You may be facing a need or situation right now where that is literally your only hope – that the Lord will provide. Maybe it’s a job, a friend, or much needed finances; maybe it’s the house, the healing, the breakthrough or soundness of mind you need. Well, if that’s the case, today you need to be reminded that we have a rock-solid promise in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (NIV). Understand that this Scripture lets us know that God’s supply has nothing to do with what’s happening in the economy, in the news, at work, or in what your limited resources can or can’t do! It’s all about His UnlimitedGlorious Riches in Christ Jesus account in Heaven, which transcends every limitation earth can provide!

People of God, You Need NOT Attempt to Understand God or His Ways or His Timing, or His Supply. You Need Only to Remember That He Is and Will Always Be…UNLIMITED! Which is why you should never fret over your LITTLE, when you serve such a BIG God! Another quote I love says, “If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshiped.” (Author Unknown) And the truth of the matter is, you may never understand how God supplies rivers in the desert, but when you’re thirsty, knowing that He can and He will is Enough!  So before you allow your fears to get the best of you, remember: “The Fear of God kills all other fears!

Now to be honest, I believe God often waits a while to meet our needs…On Purpose! Let’s look at Scripture: “A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany…the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so very much is sick.” When Jesus got the message, he said, “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.”…Then Jesus became explicit: “LAZARUS DIED. AND I AM GLAD FOR YOUR SAKES THAT I WASN’T THERE. YOU’RE ABOUT TO BE GIVEN NEW GROUNDS FOR BELIEVING. Now let’s go to him.” (John 11:1-4, 14 MSG). So before you panic, know that God always has a reason for allowing you to sit in the waiting room! And His reason is always the same: “…it will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son…and…You’re about to be given new grounds for believing…”. Your waiting, while wounded, gives God Glory and Increases Your Faith by giving you New Grounds or New Reasons to Trust Him even at the Eleventh Hour! That’s why you can’t get discouraged because “…it’s usually the last key in the bunch that opens the lock” (Author Unknown)! So, be patient, a door of opportunity is about to open just for you…all you have to do is WAIT!

Philippians 4:19 says He promises to meet all of our needs, But He does Not promise WHEN! See, most of us already know that He can do it, and that He’s promised to do it, but if only He’d share WHEN He’s going to do it, we’d be less likely to flip out when the last grain of sand is found in the hourglass! But then that wouldn’t be considered faith, now would it?! Ramona C. Carroll said it best: “Faith is putting all your eggs in God’s basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch.But unfortunately for many of us, when we get to that last grain of sand, we panic, and come up with desperate and oftentimes ridiculous ways to so-called meet our needs on our own!

Again, let’s look at Scripture: “Sarai, Abram’s wife, hadn’t yet produced a child. She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “GOD has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her.” Abram agreed to do what Sarai said.’ (Genesis 16:1-2 MSG). And believe it or not, nations are still paying for that ridiculous attempt at helping God out”! Too often we abandon our trust in God because, He’s – if we dare be honest—TAKING TOO LONG! Even the Psalmist knows what this feels like: “Please, God…Treat me nice for a change; I’m so starved for affection. Can’t you see I’m black-and-blue, beat up badly in bones and soul? GOD, HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR YOU TO LET UP? Break in, GOD, and break up this fight; if you love me at all, get me out of here. I’m no good to you dead, am I? I can’t sing in your choir if I’m buried in some tomb!” (6:1-5 MSG). See, you’re not the only one who wants to stamp “Federal Express” or “Overnight Delivery” on God! But such actions take us right out of the Will of God and aborts what God was going to birth on our behalf if we would’ve trusted Him enough to wait the full 9 months!  “But those who WAIT for the Lord [who EXPECT, look for, and HOPE in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” (Isaiah 40:31 AMP).

Now, it’s in Genesis 22, where we find that God is known as Jehovah-Jireh for the very first time. We can learn a lot from how He worked that day for Abraham. See, Abraham had, by faith, obeyed God’s direction to take the son God had once promised to him, climb Mt. Moriah with him, and sacrifice his son there; as God (the Father) would do Himself one day with Jesus (His Son). Believing that God will somehow provide something he can’t imagine, Abraham yet promises his servants that both he and his son Isaac will return from the mountain. Genesis 22:10 says his faith and obedience went so far that “he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” At that very LAST MOMENT, God stopped him and showed Abraham a ram, stuck in a thicket, who would be sacrificed instead of his son. And the Bible says, “So Abraham called that place, ‘The Lord Will Provide.’Remember: Jehovah-Jireh – often steps in right on time, which is usually—when there’s no time left! Which reminds me of a quote I love, “Faith isn’t faith until it’s all you’re holding on to.” (Author Unknown)

God loves to come through for us when there is absolutely no place else that answer could come from, and there is no time left on the clock. It’s 11:59! The buzzer is about to sound! But that’s when God shows up with His provision, at a time and in a way that will blow you away, give Him all the glory, and show people around you the greatness and faithfulness of your God! Then it’s only natural that you’ll experience a whole new level of faith in Him and worship for Him! God’s last-minute victories are some of the most awesome moments of your life! So don’t lose faith now! Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” (Oswald Chambers). Keep in mind: The greater the need, the later the hour, the more amazing God’s work on your behalf! That’s why you need to determine to be like your sports heroes and hang in there until the end of the game! And when God steps in and grants you a last-second victory, before the last grain of sand falls in the hourglass, remember, like the sports fans, go absolutely ballistic…in praise, worship and thanksgiving!

Will the wait be easy? Absolutely not, in fact it’s one of the hardest things to do! But remembering that God watches over His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12); remembering that God does not and cannot lie (Numbers 23:19); remembering that God keeps His Word and every promise He makes (Isaiah 55:11), certainly makes the wait a little easier! And yes, I understand that the mortgage is over-due; the tuition seems impossible to pay; the car note is about to turn into a bus pass; the doctors may as well sign your cause of death certificate; the marriage is on life-support; the job is strangling your sanity or the lack of one is strangling your empty bank account. And yet, I still say wait on God and watch Him work, even at the 11th hour! He’s done it before, and He can and will do it again! Don’t lose heart, patience, peace, joy or faith. God sits too high to let His people down! Hold on and hang in there, before the last grain of sand falls, God will step in with a last minute miracle!

“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);

“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” (Romans 8:22-25 MSG);

“Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.” (Psalm 37:7 AMP);

“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.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG)

“How we handle the journey will determine the destination.” (Billy Cox)

“When it looks like nothing is happening, God is at work.” (Bishop James R. Chambers)

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on what we’re waiting for.” (Charles Stanley)

“Sometimes we don’t understand why we are waiting. Often it is because God has something great in store, it’s just not the right time.” (Joel Osteen)

“No matter how long it takes, when God works, it’s always worth the wait.” (Author Unknown)

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

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“Men Helping Men Through Failure, Encouragement and Restoration”

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Acts 15:36-41, “After a few days of this, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let’s see how they’re doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia to build up and sinew in those congregations.” (MSG)

2 Timothy 4:11, “…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very helpful to me for the ministry.” (AMP)

Remember This and Never Forget It: Every Man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul…at Some Point in Life!

One of the things I absolutely love is to watch a baby learn how to walk. It’s the most funniest thing to me ever! In fact, I like to call it the Frankenstein Walk! It’s so clumsy, so mechanical. It’s kind of a “step, boom” method. Someone comes along and says, “I think it’s about time“, then sets them up on their legs – you know, kind of spaghetti legs – and they take one step, then boom! And, of course, they get up again, and the next time it’s step, step, boom! And then step, step, step, boom! You get the idea. But what I love is that even babies don’t call it quits after a fall! As often as they wobble, step, then go boom, either someone helps them back on their feet or they struggle their way back up to give it another shot! Believe it or not, but it’s like that for many believers as well.

I remember when my youngest was learning to walk, she pretty much had the same step, boom, method as all babies have. But when she went down, you could see her grabbing something and battling to get her muscles going all in one direction so she could get up again. But then there were also those times when you saw her big sister reaching over to give her a hand. Actually, that’s what it takes whenever you go step, boom! Sometimes you can pull yourself up, and other times you need someone else to help you back up again! Are we our brother’s/sister’s keeper? Yes We Are!

And so, I think today is a good day to look at a man who stepped out to serve the Lord and went “step, boom!” His name is John Mark. Acts 15 is where we’re hearing about a missionary journey that Barnabas and Paul were launching. “Barnabas,” it says, “wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it was wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus.

Now, in order to get the full story, realize you need to turn to 2 Timothy 4, where at the end of Paul’s life he is now alone in a Roman prison. He will soon be executed for his loyalty to Jesus Christ, and guess who he mentions? Guess who he wants to see? MARK! The same guy who bombed out earlier in his Christian work, and Paul said, “Boy, I don’t think this guy’s going to make it.” But then Paul writes, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful for me in my ministry.” Wow!

Brothers, it is indeed my prayer that today’s devotional will help you look at yourself and your brothers in a new, and even better, light. I want you to look at these three men and see yourself and your brothers, and possibly began responding to each with a clearer perspective.

First, there’s MARK (HE FAILED). And believe it or not, you’ve failed and so have many of the men you know. Does that mean you or they have to live in failure forever? No! Failure never has to be fatal. It doesn’t have to end your marriage, ministry, career or life. Yes, Mark, went the wrong way, he let people and leaders down, but thank God that’s not how his story ended, and neither will it be the closing chapter of your life. In truth, maybe you did fail at the marriage: (you didn’t give it everything you should have, you weren’t as supportive, or kind, or faithful, or loving, or committed, or encouraging as you should have been); maybe you did fail at fatherhood (you weren’t there for the events, activities, talks, and medals); maybe you did fail at the ministry (you didn’t tithe, you didn’t go to prayer, bible study, Sunday school, or afternoon services, you didn’t support the men’s ministry efforts); maybe you did fail at the business/career (you didn’t pay attention to the over-head, you didn’t handle the budget right, you didn’t do better by your staff, you took advantage of your sick and vacation time, you were late to clock in, early to clock out, and went into overtime on lunch). Let’s say the truth of the matter is, this is the truth of the matter! You Failed! But do you have to stay there, absolutely not! Be honest with yourself first (and then others), that you didn’t get it right. Then, if you can pull yourself up, then pull yourself up! But if not, know that you are not the only one, and that there is help available! Which is why you have to be so careful in how you judge your brothers. You don’t know what led them to where they are, just like they don’t know what led you to your failures. So, instead of gossiping or getting and staying stuck, just turn around and start looking for Barnabas!

Second, there’s BARNABAS (HE ENCOURAGED). Mark may have screwed up, but thanks be to God he wasn’t left to his own devices! And neither are you. There will be times that you and your brothers will be Mark (you will have failed at many things, badly). But there will also be times when Barnabas will come to your aid, and then there will also be those times when you’ll need to be the Barnabas that comes to your brother’s aid. You never want to kick someone when they’re already down. And the best way to keep you from doing this is to remember when you were Mark too.  You needed someone to look beyond the worse in you and still see the best. Well, there are men around you who need the same thing.  Not all men will come to church! And those that do, won’t always come speaking in church lingo. Some will come, but not dressed like you, act like you, conduct themselves as you do. Some will come and they will come with more baggage than the baggage claim at an airport. Some will come from gangs, drugs, alcohol, failed marriages, poor fatherhood, estranged relationships with their children and family. Some will come with no job, no place to live, no hope, no faith. Some will come bitter, discouraged, angry even combative. But Barnabas, if you can encourage the Apostles to take a shot and believe in Paul who was the King of the Killers of Christians, most certainly you can work with these brothers also. Some brothers just need to feel like they’re not going to be picked last to be on the team. Like Barnabas, he could’ve said, listen Mark, I’ve worked with Paul a long time, I’ve built a friendship with him, I trust his leadership, I’m loyal to our covenant. I can’t help you, you should’ve done what you were supposed to do from the beginning. But that was not at all Barnabas response, instead, he picked the one person no one wanted on their team, and he says in essence, ‘I’ll take him’! Brothers, there are some men in your church, in your home, in your family, on your job, in your community that simply need to hear,I’ll take him!” Yep, with all his baggage and all his failures, “I’ll still take him!” Men of God, be the man that watches Mark go “step, boom,”, then go over and help him back up! And do it knowing full-well that he may go down again! But after all, when did you get it perfectly right? You still wobble in some areas, and yet you still have God’s grace, mercy, favor and forgiveness. Are you really going to withhold such a wonderful gift like that from your brother, that you open every new day?

Third, there’s Paul (HE RESTORED). Now, Paul had a two-fold responsibility. Because first of all, as a leader, he had to be honest. Mark did fail! And there’s no such thing as an effective leader who doesn’t correct bad behavior. Paul still had more journey’s to go on, more people to reach, more work to do. He couldn’t just take into account Mark, but the danger of Mark relapsing again in failure that would affect others. So he makes a leadership decision not to take him. But what I love is that even though as a leader, he corrected and reproved Mark, that wasn’t the end of their relationship!

You know what the message is? When you’re following Christ, failure is not final! But it takes two kinds of people to recover someone from a fall. It takes Barnabas to encourage the one who has fallen, to get back up, but it also takes Paul the restorer, to say I’ll give him another chance. I still see hope, a future, a change, some more potential, he deserves another chance.

You know, if that baby goes “step, boom” he can’t just say, “Well, I fell down. I guess I’ll never walk. I’m not cut out for this.” He can’t just keep lying there helpless on the floor. No! Because if he does, he’ll still be there when he’s 18; his Mom will be vacuuming around him! LOL! But no, instead, he gets up and he says in his own little brain, “I will try this walking thing again.But sometimes you need help, you need a Barnabas to Lift and a Paul to Re-Launch!

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’ve been giving up because you failed. But the gospel of Mark’s life is that you can be restored. You can be useful again if you’re willing to battle your way back up, even on wobbly legs. But recovery also requires a brother; one like Barnabas, who will work with you patiently, who will deal with your weaknesses, who will give you an another chance. And it takes a brother like Paul, who though he had his doubts, is willing to accept him once he’s restored, and not to continue to say, “Oh, yeah, he’s the failure.

Now, one of these is you, or it needs to be. Maybe you’re a Mark and you feel that you’ve fallen. But now ask the Lord for the courage and the patience to battle your way back up. Maybe you’re a Barnabas who reaches out to that person that others have given up on, maybe even a member of your own family. Or maybe you’re Paul, who can make or break somebody’s comeback by whether you greet them with open or folded arms.

When one of God’s kids goes “step, boom” there is still hope if there’s a battler determined to walk again and a brother who’s offering a hand of help.

Can we be honest brothers? Life is not easy, and most times it’s horribly unfair. So you never get the opportunity to be Paul all the time. The strong one that restores. But when life happens, you will find yourself being all three of these men, and sometimes you can find yourself being all three, all in the same day. But know this, Mark didn’t die in his failure; Barnabas didn’t overlook him; and Paul didn’t completely give up on him. In fact, the Scripture says, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11 KJV). Let’s look at Paul’s words in a few translations:

 “…Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING.” (ASV);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY.” (AMP);

“…Get Mark, and bring him with you. He has been A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY.” (CEB);

“…Take Mark, and bring him with you, because he is a VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK.” (CJB);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, because he CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK.” (GNT);

“…Bring Mark with you when you come, FOR I NEED HIM.” (TLB);

 “…Bring Mark with you; HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN.” (MSG)

As badly as Mark messed up, Paul says, I need him, he’ll be my right hand man! Can you imagine what those words must be like to hear after you’ve failed so miserably? And more importantly, to hear them from the very person whom you failed! I wonder if the man (who you know) that messed up, but was received like this by the brethren, if he would still be a member of the church today? You know that same ‘Mark’ in your ministry, in your home, on your job, who failed in his leadership; who didn’t complete his assignment; whose wife left him; who’s estranged from his children (by his own fault); whose lost the job. You know, that Mark. What kind of man could he have matured and grown and developed into had he been mentored in his mistakes?

Paul went from, “Acts 15:36-41 saying, “…Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. BUT PAUL WOULDN’T HAVE HIM; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia…” (MSG); to saying in 2 Timothy 4:11, “…Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR SERVICE.” (NASB)

Paul, says, don’t leave him down in his failure, pick him up and bring him to me because even after his failure he is still, “…USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING; … VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY… A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY… VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK… CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK… FOR I NEED HIM… HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN! Now, that’s what you call Restoration!

Men of God, please know that you as well as your brothers will all experience times of being Mark (who failed), Barnabas (who encouraged) and Paul (who corrected and restored). And whichever stage you find yourself in, know that it’s progressive and repetitive. You don’t stay in either stage permanently. As anointed, gifted, talented, powerful and awesome as you are, you will fail again, you will need to be encouraged as well encourage others again, you will need to give and receive rebuke and restoration again. And all of this is a blessing because Mark teaches us Humility; Barnabas teaches us Hospitality; and Paul teaches us Hope. Give these wonderful gifts to yourself, as well as to your brothers!

Life is not easy, and there is no flawless, perfect male specimen walking around on this planet! All have sinned, all have missed the mark, all have made mistakes, all have messed up, all have gotten it wrong at some point in life. Pointing fingers is not a remedy. Gossip, rumors, slander, and lies, is not a remedy. Favoritism, is not a remedy. Encouragement and Restoration, now that’s a Remedy! That’s a Recipe for Greatness and Recovery!

Today, Remember that every man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul at some point from moment to moment in this life. Be as forgiving, encouraging, supportive and strengthening as you would want someone to be to you. Be the living proof that any man can go from failure, to encouragement, to restoration! And make it your business to personally be a part of his process!

Which means you will not only need to be Barnabas and Paul, but you’ll also need to be Peter: Luke 22:32, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen they brethren.” (KJV) Let’s review this text in a few translations:

“but I have prayed [especially] for you [Peter], that your faith [and confidence in Me] may not fail; and you, once you have turned back again [to Me], strengthen and support your brothers [in the faith]” (AMP)

“But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.” (AMPC)

“But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others.” (CEV)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (ERV)

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you recover, strengthen the other disciples.” (GWT)

“but I have pleaded in prayer for you that your faith should not completely fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up the faith of your brothers.” (TLB)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (NCV)

“But I have prayed for you. I have prayed that your faith will be strong and that you will not give up. When you return, you must help to make your brothers strong.” (NLV)

“Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.” (vss. 31-32 MSG)

Brothers, Today, Determine to be There for Your Brothers!

“Conflict cannot continue without your participation.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer)

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” (William James)

“Do not kid yourself, a conflict is never about the surface issue. It’s about issues unsaid, untreated, and unhealed.” (Author Unknown)

“The goal of resolving conflict in a relationship is not victory or defeat. It’s reaching understanding and letting go of our need to be right.”

“Explain your anger, don’t express it, and you will immediately open the door to solutions instead of arguments.” (Author Unknown)

“Conflict is Inevitable, but Combat is Optional.” (Max Lucado)

“Bringing a problem to resolution and closure through continued discussion and compromise is an honorable act as it shows respect for the needs of both partners.” (Lynne Namka)

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” (Albert Einstein)

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

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“You’re Too Close to Lose Focus Now!”

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“LET’S KEEP FOCUSED…those of us who want everything God has for us” (Philippians 3:15 MSG)

My mama always said, “You Become Effective By Being Selective!”

It’s human nature to get distracted! Many of us are like gyroscopes, spinning around at a frantic pace but not getting anywhere! Without a clear purpose you keep changing directions, jobs, relationships, churches, etc., hoping each change will settle the confusion or fill the emptiness in your heart. You think, “This time will be different,” but it’s not because it doesn’t solve your real problem—Lack of Focus!

The power of focusing can be seen for instance in LIGHT. With a magnifying glass the rays of the sun can set paper on fire! But when light is FOCUSED even more as a laser beam, it can cut through steel! Just as it is with Light, so it is with LIFE, nothing is as Potent as a Focus! The men and women who make the greatest difference in life are the most Focused! For instance, the Apostle Paul said,I am bringing all my energies to bear on this ONE THING.” (Philippians 3:13 TLB). Paul’s obsession was to make Christ known, and maintaining a Focused Life, allowed him to do just that. So if you want your life to have impact, FOCUS it! Remember: “You Become Effective By Being Selective!” Which means in a nutshell: Stop Dabbling! Stop trying to do it all! Do less in fact. Turn away from even good activities and do only that which matters most. I learned a hard lesson that I hope you’ll learn easy: Never Confuse ACTIVITY With PRODUCTIVITY!

Poet William Matthews wrote, “One well-cultivated talent, deepened and enlarged, is worth a hundred shallow faculties. The first law of success in this day when so many things are clamoring for attention is Concentration—to bend our energies to One point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right nor to the left.

Focus doesn’t come easily or naturally, it’s a Discipline that must be practiced Daily!

Paul told Timothy to Focus on his strengths:That special gift…you were given…keep that dusted off and in use.” (1 Timothy 4:14 MSG). Focused people don’t hide their weaknesses or excuse them; instead they focus on their strengths!

There’s a story about a couple who decided to build a farm. Then they began to argue. The wife wanted to build the house first. The husband wanted to build the barn first to house the animals. They went back and forth until finally the man said, “Look, we have to build the barn first—because the barn will enable us to build the house, the garage, the silo, the kid’s swing set, and everything else!” In other words, When You Focus on Putting FIRST Things FIRST, Everything Else Falls Into Its Proper Place Automatically!

Anthony Campolo says, “What you commit yourself to, will change what you are and make you into a completely different person. The future conditions you, not the past. What you commit yourself to become, determines what you are—more than anything that ever happened to you yesterday. Therefore, I ask you, ‘What are your commitments? Where are you going? What are you going to be? Show me somebody who hasn’t decided, and I’ll show you somebody who has no identity, no personality, and no direction.

Focusing on weaknesses instead of strengths is like having a handful of coins, a few made of gold, the rest of tarnished copper, and setting aside the gold coins to spend your time shining the copper ones in hopes of making them more valuable. Think about it: No matter how long you spend polishing tarnished copper coins, they’ll never be worth what the gold ones are! So, Stay Focused on your God-given strengths! That is an investment that will yield great dividends!

Another way to look at it is this: Why focus on the many that were called, instead of the important few that are chosen?! Remember: “You’ll Become Effective By Being Selective!” So make sure your selections today are those Few things and people that Matter Most!

“Do not swerve to the right or the left.” Proverbs 4:27 NIV

Bear this in mind, Focus does 3 things for you:

(1) IT KEEPS YOU ON TARGET: We find ourselves pulled in a dozen different directions, spending much of our time and energy on things we don’t really care about. Author Don Marquis put it this way: “Ours is a world where people don’t know what they want, and are willing to go through hell to get it.” The Bible says: “Let your eyes look straight ahead…Do not swerve to the right or the left.” (Proverbs 4:25-27 NIV) Focused People Develop a Discipline that helps them to Stay On Target Without Swerving to the Right or the Left! Distractions Invite Detours From Your God-Given Destination! So, Stay Focused!

(2) IT INCREASES YOUR ENERGY: Attempting everything, like attempting nothing, will suck the life right out of you! Focus gives you energy. Admiral Richard Byrd, the Polar explorer, said, “Few men come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used.One of the reasons those wells go untapped is Lack of Focus. The mind doesn’t reach toward achievement until it has clear objectives. Focused People have Learned to Focus All of Their Efforts Into One Thing or One Direction, which in Return Replenishes the Energy and Strength that was Zapped from Multiple Activities that didn’t Produce an Ounce of Productivity! All you desire will come together once you stop letting everyone and everything pull you apart!

(3) IT LIFTS YOU: It’s been said thatthe world stands aside to let anyone pass, who knows where he or she is going.In a sea of mediocrity, just knowing what you want to do and making an effort to pursue it, distinguishes you from almost everybody else. Henry David Thoreau asked, “Do you ever hear of a man who had striven all his life faithfully and singly toward an object, and in no measure obtained it? If a man constantly aspires, is he not elevated?Just by striving to become better than you are, you become elevated—even if you don’t accomplish all of what you desire, and even if others don’t step aside for you. By trusting God and aiming higher, you move to a higher level—Regardless. Staying Focused Isn’t All About Elevating to Another Level, Another Position, Another Title. Staying Focused Gives You The Best and Highest Level of Elevation There Is…Which is Simply Becoming a Better You Today Than You Were Yesterday, and a Better You Tomorrow Than You Were Today! Now That’s What You Call a Worthy Elevation!

Acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:6).

When it comes to staying focused, keep in mind these 3 additional notes:

(1) FOCUSED PEOPLE ALWAYS LOOK FOR A BETTER WAY: What got you where you are, won’t necessarily get you where you need to be. A family who moved into a new neighborhood got a late start one morning. As a result their 6-year-old missed her school bus. Though it would make him late for work her father agreed to take her to school if she gave him directions. After 20 minutes of going in circles they finally arrived at the school, which turned out to be only a few blocks away from where they lived. Steaming, her dad asked why she drove him all over the place when the school was so close to home. “We went the way the school bus does,” she said. “That’s the only way I know.” Focused People Don’t Get In a Rut, Nor Do They Get Stuck and Stagnant! They Continuously Reinvent Themselves and How They Do Things. They Grow and Change Constantly! They Don’t Regress, They Progress! They’re Forever Moving Forward Looking to Do Better In 2020 Than They Did in 2010! If Everything You Do Is Still Done the Same Way and The People You Are Around Are Still the Same People, You My Friend Are In Serious Danger of Never Becoming Better!

(2) FOCUSED PEOPLE CONCENTRATE A LITTLE HARDER AND A LITTLE LONGER: Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron said, “What separates a superstar from the average ballplayer is that he concentrates just a little bit longer.Focused thinking is the ability to remove distractions and mental clutter so that you can concentrate with clarity. Examine Your Thoughts, Examine Your Emotions, Examine Your Speech, Examine Your Attitude, Examine Your Heart, Examine Your Habits and Certainly Examine Your Associations and Immediately Remove Anything or Anyone That Clutters Your Clarity or Breaks Your Concentration! Keep In Mind: Folly and Focus Can’t Dwell In the Same Place!

(3) FOCUSED PEOPLE MAKE COMMITMENTS, NOT EXCUSES: A sign on the desk of an officer at the Pentagon read: The secrecy of my job does not permit me to know what I’m doing.It’s a cute joke, but not so cute when it’s true. When you don’t know what you’re doing, you become frustrated and end up failing. That’s why praying and getting direction from God, is critical for every area and aspect of your life.Do not swerve to the right or the left”, says the Scripture.  To ’Swerve’ means ‘to make an erratic deflection from an intended course.In other words, your lack of focus, when heading in the direction of your destiny will cause you to ’swerve– or stray from the intended course God has set for your life. Which is why you must always remember: In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (NIV). And when He does—STAY FOCUSED!

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I FOCUS on this ONE THING: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13 NLT)

The poorest man in the world is not the one without money, he’s the one without a vision for his life. But Vision requires Focus. When you’re spread too thin you become mediocre at everything and excellent at nothing! Failure always results from saying yes to too many things. Because something is good doesn’t mean it’s right for you. When your plate’s full doing what God has given you to do, learn to say no to everything else! “No” doesn’t mean never, it just means “not now.” If you try to fight on every front you’ll wear yourself out and fail to win where it counts most. Fighting a battle without spoils is like pouring water on a burning shack. Unless somebody’s life’s in danger it’s probably not worth fighting for. Conserve your energy for when something important is at stake!

Know that you’ll always lose when you: Fight the wrong battle; Fight at the wrong time; Fight when you shouldn’t be involved; Fight because you need to win in order to feel good about yourself; Fight, though the battle has been lost, but your pride won’t let you swallow it! Learn to Stay Focused on your goals. Keep your eyes on the prize that God has set before you. And be warned: If the enemy can’t defeat you, he’ll distract you with side issues or disqualify you by getting you to make bad decisions. Either way, he wins and you lose! 

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I FOCUS on this ONE THING: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.Notice 3 more things about Focused people:

(1) FOCUSED PEOPLE DON’T LIVE IN THE PAST: Too many of us yearn for the past and get stuck in it! Instead, we should learn from the past and let go of it. Elbert Hubbard wrote, “A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is a token of greatness. Successful people forget. They’re running a race. They can’t afford to look behind. Their eye is on the finish line. They’re too big to let little things disturb them. If anyone does them wrong, they consider the source and keep cool. It’s only the small people who cherish revenge. Be a good forgetter…success demands it.

(2) FOCUSED PEOPLE DON’T THINK ABOUT THE DIFFICULTIES, BUT THE REWARDS: If you dwell on the difficulties too long you’ll start to develop self-pity instead of self-discipline. As a result you’ll accomplish less and less. By focusing on results you’ll stay encouraged. Make Christ your example.He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross BECAUSE OF THE JOY HE KNEW WOULD BE HIS AFTERWARDS.” (Hebrews 12:2 TLB).

(3) FOCUSED PEOPLE CHOOSE THEIR FRIENDS CAREFULLY: Here are 5 types of people you’ll encounter: 1) REFRESHERS—who strengthen your faith and energize you; 2) REFINERS—who sharpen you and clarify your vision; 3) REFLECTORS—who mirror your energy, neither adding to nor subtracting from it; 4) REDUCERS—who try to diminish your goals and efforts to their comfort level; and 5) REJECTERS—who don’t understand you or what God’s called you to do. At some point in time you will have to encounter all five of these people! So, remain Focused and you’ll stay grounded; the praise of others is less likely to go to your head, and the negative impact of your critics will be minimized!

“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” (Genesis 12:1 NLT)

I use to wonder why God would take people like Moses, or Abraham away from their familiar environments, after He called them. Uprooting them from family and friends to use them for greater works. But the more I look at where I was, where I’m at, and where I’m going, the more I understand why God does such a thing as this. The harsh reality is, there are many limits put on us By Our Very Own Loved Ones! Especially those that have watched us come up and fall down many times before. Often, their perception of us distorts our vision and causes us to doubt ourselves, God, and even the planned purpose He has for us. But what we must remember is, whenever someone says you can’t do it or be it, they are a liar! Because the Bible Clearly Declares,I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” {Philippians 4:13} Understand that too often people will speak into your life, according to what THEY were able or NOT able to accomplish for their own. They will judge you based on what they could or Moreso, what they couldn’t do themselves. But Listen: A vision is only seen by the bearer of it and because you were selected to bear it, it is therefore invisible to others. In actuality, they only get to see the back of it, after the glory of it has passed by, (Exodus 33:12-21) That’s why folks get mad with you, because they want to see the personal face-to-face of your vision, but have to settle for the hind parts instead! So prepare yourself, because when you’re chosen by God to carry out a vision, not everyone’s going to understand what you’re doing or why.  So they’ll label you based on the outside, because they don’t have inside access! Don’t let them shift your focus because they can only see the container and not the contents! 

And they said one to another…this dreamer cometh…let us slay him…and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” {Genesis 37:19-20} Listen: Don’t feel bad when you don’t have a lot of friends and family around, or when people abandon you and walk away. Count it all joy, because those that God wants in your life will never leave and those that are from Him will never lead you astray. Friends and family are good to have, but many times God removes them so prepare yourself for it. Don’t fight it. Stop holding folks hostage in your life that need to be set free! Allow God to add and subtract what’s best for your multiplication! There’s so much more to you than meets the eye, so surround yourself with people that can see past your appearance. If you just Stay Focused, you’ll say like Joseph,…Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” {Genesis 50:20} Need I remind you, Joseph didn’t say that to enemies, or even friends, but to FAMILY!

Isn’t this the carpenter?” {Mark 6:3} Please be careful around those who love to say, “I knew you when…” in an attempt to label or limit you. When David volunteered to fight Goliath his faith was an embarrassment to his big brother Eliab, an officer in King Saul’s army. Think of Eliab’s position, “If my little brother wins, everybody will ask, ‘How come you couldn’t do it—big brother?’” Beware: your decision to step out and follow God will put pressure on others around you! And the first place you’ll feel it will be amongst those closest to you, especially if your calling sets you apart, and takes you higher than them! The Bible records that Eliabburned with anger at [David] and asked, ‘Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is” (1 Samuel 17:28). Take Note: Before David could overcome Goliath, he had to overcome the thoughts and opinions of those around him, especially his family. And you will too! Look at the life of Jesus. When He went back to His hometown they said,What’s this wisdom…given him,…he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son…they took offence at him. Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them…he was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mark 6:2-6)

Bottom line: Don’t allow those “who knew you when”, to hinder where you’re going! Neither friend, family or foe! STAY FOCUSED!

“…Stay close to the king wherever he goes.” (2 Chronicles 23:7 NIV)

Commercial flying can be a real adventure. Like the day Pastor Ron booked a last-minute flight to the Northwest to support some Native American friends who had just lost their young son. He was supposed to fly into Spokane, Washington, but fog shut it down and he was diverted to another airport for the night. So, the airline put him up in a hotel overnight and promised they’d do their best to get him to Spokane the next morning. Pastor Ron knew if he didn’t get to the reservation that next day, he would have missed what he was going for. He really needed the real scoop on whether or not his plane was going to get into Spokane. Thankfully, from a casual conversation at the hotel, he knew who the captain was. So that next morning, as he waited around trying to get some word on the fate of his flight, he saw the captain headed for a pay phone in the airport. He made sure he got close to the captain; he was calling to check the current Spokane weather. Then, as he walked over to the gate agents in charge of his flight, Pastor Ron overheard him say, “Well, we’ll try Spokane, but I think there’s only a 20% chance we’ll get in. We’ll probably end up back in Denver where we started.” Well, that inside information helped Pastor Ron pursue alternatives – one of which got him where he needed to be, when he needed to be there.

There was one reason Pastor Ron knew where to go – He Stayed Close to the Captain. Actually, that’s how all of us are going to know what we’re supposed to do and where we’re supposed to go – and that’s by Staying Close to the Captain of our flight; Staying Close to Captain Jesus!

There are eight words in 2 Chronicles 23:7 that I’ve actually typed out and posted on my wall at work. These eight words remind me of the secret of knowing and doing what God has planned in any given situation. In this chapter, a coalition of military and spiritual leaders is working to put the rightful king on the throne in Judah – even though he’s only a boy. The temple staff, the Levites, are given a straightforward assignment, and here are those eight words,Stay close to the king wherever he goes.That’s our assignment, too. And when we fulfill this assignment, we’ll be led naturally and supernaturally – into the next steps we’re supposed to take. Just like that day at the airport when Pastor Ron got his direction just by staying close to the captain. He had the information Pastor Ron needed, but he never would’ve known that information Except For His Proximity to the One Who Knew. It’s like that with knowing God’s Will for our lives. It’s not your cleverness in figuring it out; It’s Your Closeness to the God Whose Will You’re Looking For! That’s actually the Focus of John 10, which describes us as sheep following our Shepherd. Jesus said,My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27) NIV. See, it’s about being where you can hear His voice – not figuring out some spiritual jigsaw puzzle called “The Will of God.”

If you’re needing to know God’s direction right now, don’t focus so much on figuring out The Plan. Focus on staying close to the Man, to Jesus, whose plan it is. Living in God’s Will isn’t supposed to be this stressful spiritual mystery game. Relax and do the things that get you really close to the person Who is the Pilot of your earth-journey. Or in the words of the Bible, “Stay close to the King … wherever He goes!“ Unfortunate in this day and time of the church, too much attention is being Focused on Fleshly Leadership! But God’s Word still declares:You can’t depend on anyone, not even a great leader. Once they die and are buried, that will be the end of all their plans. The LORD God of Jacob blesses everyone who trusts Him. God made heaven and earth; He created the sea and everything else. God always keeps His word. {Psalm 146:3-6 CEV}. Stop focusing on the arm of flesh, for it will fail you every time. Instead, Stay Focused on Your Captain, Your Leader, Your King, Whose Word Never Fails! Knowing With Assurance that Once He Gives You Direction, You Are Guaranteed to Make it to Your Intended Destination!

It is indeed my prayer that you will now set your heart, mind and spirit to the things of God and the Will of God for your life, and that you will allow nothing and no one to distract you or deter you from destiny, Not Even You! People of God, Stay Focused and Finish Strong! Because You’re Too Close to Manifestation to Lose Sight of the Vision Now!

“If your parents ever measured you as a child, they had you stand against a wall, and made a little pencil mark on the wall to show your growth. They did not measure you against your brother, or the neighbor’s kids, or kids on TV. When you measure your growth, make sure to only measure your today self by your past self. If you compare your relationships, your success, or your anything against anyone else, you are not being fair to you. Everyone has a different path, a different pace, and different challenges to face along the way.” (Doe Zantamata)

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

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“Go Through Until It’s Granted!”

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“Later on Eve gave birth to another son and named him SETH (meaning “GRANTED”); for, as Eve put it, “God has GRANTED me another son for the one Cain killed.” (Genesis 4:25 TLB)

In one sweep of jealousy Eve’s dreams lay bleeding on the ground; her older son a criminal on the run, her younger son murdered in the prime of his life. And yet she’s supposed to be the mother of all living! In fact, this is what the Scripture says: “The man named his wife Eve (meaning “The Life-Giving One”), for he said, “She shall become the mother of all mankind.” (Genesis 3:20 TLB). Well, how do you maintain a title like that, when you’re now the mother of a corpse and a killer? Her own husband spoke “Life” in naming her, and yet the one he called “Life” would have birthed from her own womb, one that would be killed and one that would be his killer! How bad it must have felt to be called “Life”, and yet deal with “Death”?

Have you ever been there, when you’re CALLING and your CIRCUMSTANCES are opposites that DON’T attract?

Can you identify just a little bit with Eve? Or should I say it like this, have you ever found yourself asking, “Lord, this is not what YOU promised me!”; “Lord, this is not the way this was supposed to go!”; “Lord, I saw this work out a little different in my mind than what has manifested in my life!”; “Lord, after all this time, shouldn’t this and they be better?”; “Lord, I give my tithes, but the windows of heaven must be open on the wrong side of the house!”; “Lord, am I really supposed to STILL live here, STILL drive that, STILL walk there, STILL face this, STILL deal with them?” In Essence: Lord, This Is NOT How This Was Supposed to Go!

YOU Said You Have a Plan, a Purpose, and a Promise Just For Me, and Yet All I’ve Seen Thus Far are Problems, Pain and Persecution! Lord, What Happened?!

Well, if that’s where you are today, here’s my advice to you and it’s free: GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH! Or in the words of our title: GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED!

Now, many of you will say, “Thanks for the encouragement, but I’m still stuck in the middle of the tunnel, and I hear a train coming but don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel! You say Go Through, but I’m still stuck and can’t Get Through, so, now what?” I reiterate, GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH…GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED! How is that possible? Simple, just remember this: Matthew 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (KJV). However, there’s another translation of this Scripture that I love and it reads like this: “I can GUARANTEE this truth: Until the earth and the heavens disappear, neither a PERIOD OR A COMMA will disappear from the Scriptures before EVERYTHING HAS COME TRUE.” (GWT). Do you know how determined God has to be to “Guarantee” that not even a “Period or a Comma” will come up missing “Before Every Word He’s Declared Comes True”?! In other words, be encouraged, because regardless to how bleak the situation looks, whatever God has declared concerning you in His Word HAS to come to pass! Listen: The word “Guarantee” means “a formal assurance that certain conditions will be fulfilled; something that makes an outcome certain; a promise of certainty”. Its Spanish Origin comes from “Garante” and is related to the word “Warrant”. “Warrant” means: “a document entitling the holder to receive goods, money, or services.” Its Origin comes from the words “Protector and Safeguard” and thereby means “To Protect From Danger.

Hear me clearly: You will go through and get through because God has granted you a guarantee that everything He said WILL come true! And His guarantee comes with an assurance that every condition will be favorable in the end. Your outcome of victory is sealed and certain. Your promise of goods, money, and services are safe-guarded and protected. And as long as you have this promise from God you will forever be protected from dangers that attempt to sift your life!

Remember This: Satan can touch your POSSESSIONS, but he can’t take your PROMISE! Listen to Job 1:12 in a few translations:

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that Job has is in your power, ONLY DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND ON THE MAN HIMSELF.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.” (AMP)

“And the Lord said to Satan (the adversary and the accuser), Behold, all that he has is in your power, ONLY UPON THE MAN HIMSELF PUT NOT FORTH YOUR HAND. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” (AMPC)

“The Lord said to the Adversary, “Look, all he has is within your power; ONLY DON’T STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND AGAINST HIM.” So the Adversary left the Lord’s presence.” (CEB)

“The Lord replied, “All right, Satan, do what you want with anything that belongs to him, BUT DON’T HARM JOB.” Then Satan left.” (CEV)

“The Lord said to Satan, “All right, do whatever you want with anything that he has, BUT DON’T HURT JOB HIMSELF.” Then Satan left the meeting.” (ERV)

“And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. ONLY AGAINST HIM DO NOT STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (ESV)

“The Lord told Satan, “Everything he has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT LAY A HAND ON HIM! Then Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (GWT)

“All right,” the Lord said to Satan, “everything he has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT HURT JOB HIMSELF.” So Satan left.” (GNT)

“And the Lord replied to Satan, “You may do anything you like with his wealth, BUT DON’T HARM HIM PHYSICALLY.” So Satan went away; and sure enough, not long afterwards when Job’s sons and daughters were dining at the oldest brother’s house, tragedy struck.” (TLB)

“God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. JUST DON’T HURT HIM.” Then Satan left the presence of God.” (MSG)

“The Lord said to Satan, “All right, then. Everything Job has is in your power, BUT YOU MUST NOT TOUCH JOB HIMSELF.” Then Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (NCV)

“The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, BUT ON THE MAN HIMSELF DO NOT LAY A FINGER.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (NIV)

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “See, all that he has is in your power. ONLY DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND ON HIM.” So Satan went out from the Lord.” (NLV)

“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, BUT DON’T HARM HIM PHYSICALLY.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (NLT)

I REITERATE: Satan can touch your POSSESSIONS, but he can’t take your PROMISE!

You will maintain the testimony that…MY LIFE IS SAFE, AND I WILL LIVE TO TELL WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE.” (Psalm 118:17 CEV) Or in the words of the Good News Translation, “I WILL NOT DIE; INSTEAD, I WILL LIVE AND PROCLAIM WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE.” (GNT). I love that word “Instead”, it means “In Place Of”. In other words, devil, no matter what you do or bring my way, IN PLACE OF DYING, I will Survive and LIVE to tell the story! Will this always be easy? Of course not, if it was, none of us would need any encouragement at all! But is it doable, is it possible? YES! Just Let His Guaranteed Promises Keep You Anchored in His Word Which Cannot Even Allow a Period or Comma to Move Out of Place Before ALL He Has Said (Promised) Comes True!

Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that He should lie. He is not a son of man, that He should be sorry for what He has said. Has He said, and will He not do it? Has He spoken, and will He not keep His Word?” (NLV)

Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My Word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (AMP)

Jeremiah 1:12, “The Lord then said, “You are right, for I’m watching over My Word until it is fulfilled.” (CEB)

Are you getting this? No matter how bad things may be, they cannot, and will not stay this way for good! Before you know it you’ll have the testimony that “IT’S MY TURN!” Psalm 30:11, “Then He TURNED my sorrow into joy! He took away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” (TLB).

I know it’s tough right now, tight right now, stressful right now, frustrating right now, confusing right now. And yet I still assure you that with all that’s against you, you will still say like Joseph, …Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” (Genesis 50:20 MSG). You see, even when things don’t work out as we think they should, God’s plans are never put on pause because of our problems. He’s in fact so awesome as God that He won’t even change the plans of the enemy, but will even make the enemies plans work for your good! How powerful is that?!

Which is why you must always remember: Romans 8:28, “We know that God makes ALL things work together for the GOOD of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His PLAN.” (NLV); Jeremiah 29:11, “…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)

I reiterate, are you getting this? Not even the plans of the enemy, nor your own failed plans can hinder the Guaranteed Plans God has in Place for Your Future! That’s a good place to give God praise!

Look at another example of what God did for His people in the wilderness: “He led them forth by the straight and right way, that they might go to a city where they could establish their homes.” (Psalm 107:7 AMP). Your job is to Go Through, no matter how painful, just Go Through! Why? Because even in the struggles of the wilderness, God can still lead you in a straight and right way and as an added bonus, when you come out, you’re coming out Established! You know what I love about the word “Establish”? Its’ meaning of course! “To Set Up On a Firm and Permanent Basis”! His people Went Through, and When They Came Out, They Were “Set Up On a Firm and Permanent Basis”! Be Encouraged, Your Next Blessing Won’t Be Seasonal, It Will Be Permanent!

I reiterate yet again, GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH! Because on the other side of your BIG Burden is an even BIGGER Blessing!

Back to our text, you see, when Cain killed Abel God’s plan for Eve was delayed…but not denied, nor destroyed! And in spite of what you are going through right now, everything God has promised you will likewise be fulfilled: The Bible declares: And I am CONVINCED and SURE of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to FULL COMPLETION IN YOU.” (Philippians 1:6 AMP). Therefore, don’t let the disturbances, distractions and discouragement deter you, His Promises Are Coming to Full Completion In Your Life! Remember: Your God Can’t Lie, and His Word Can’t Fail!

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand)” (AMP)  Listen: When doubt and unbelief and even fear try to creep up and steal the joy of your promise, just call on God, He’ll not only answer you, but come to you and show you great and mighty things that are fenced in and hidden in your struggles!

No matter what it looks like, consult God, He will always reveal your hidden blessings! Don’t believe it? Listen to this: “I will give you RICHES HIDDEN IN THE DARKNESS and things of GREAT WORTH that are HIDDEN IN SECRET PLACES. Then you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name.” (Isaiah 45:3 NLV). Be Encouraged, You’ve Got Hidden Blessings About to Be Revealed!

Then the Bible further declares: “The LITTLE TROUBLES we suffer now FOR A SHORT TIME are making us ready for the GREAT THINGS God is going to give us FOREVER. We do not look at the things that can be seen. We look at the things that cannot be seen. The things that can be seen will come to an end. But the things that cannot be seen will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLV). All you have to do is endure a little trouble for a short time now, and then wait and watch God do great things for you forever! Now that’s worth holding on and hanging in there for! That’s worth going through until it’s granted!

In fact, God loves us so much that He even promises: “I will answer them BEFORE they even call to Me. While they are still talking to Me about their needs, I WILL GO AHEAD AND ANSWER THEIR PRAYERS!” (Isaiah 65:24 TLB) I declare, the promises of the Lord gets gooder and gooder as the days go by! (I know, bad grammar, but good point!)

Now, we’ve talked a lot about GO THROUGH and GET THROUGH…but what about GRANTED?

Well, God has a way of restoring things you thought would never come to pass again. He moved in Eve’s life and gave her another son named “Seth”, which means “One who takes the place of; compensation and granted”.

Isn’t that just like God, after all this time and frustration, and fear that things may not get any better, He steps in and declares: “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…” (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG) If you would finally stop crying over what WAS, you’d be able to See and Celebrate what IS!

Eve named “Life”, had to Go Through “Death”, but ended up being “Granted” another blessing, and his name was “Seth”. “In Place Of” all that had been loss, she gained a ‘Grant’, which is defined as ‘Favor’! In the end, Eve could testify that: “My Loss Gained Me More”! Which brings us to an additional fact: Seth’s name also means “Compensation”. And “Compensation” is defined as, “something given to compensate for loss, suffering, or injury; something that compensates for an undesirable state of affairs.” Why Go Through Until You Get Through? Because God is not a Stingy God! He Will Compensate You For Your Loss, Suffering, Injury and Undesirable State of Affairs! Which reminds us of James, the Bible declares: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, NOT LACKING ANYTHING.” (1:2-4 NIV) Sounds Like Compensation to Me!

And then as an added generational blessing, Seth bore his parents a grandson named Enosh. The Scripture declares, “Adam slept with his wife again. She had a son whom she named Seth. She said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel whom Cain killed.” And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh. THAT’S WHEN men and women began praying and worshiping in the name of GOD.” (Genesis 4:25-26 MSG).

Never Judge Prematurely How Your Story Will End! After All, Eve Began Chapter 4 With LIFE…Then Stepped in DEATH…HOWEVER, Before the Closing of the SAME Chapter, She Birthed LIFE AGAIN, Plus the Added Blessing of a Grandson Who Invoked the People to Pray and Worship in the Name of GOD! “…And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh. THAT’S WHEN MEN AND WOMEN BEGAN PRAYING AND WORSHIPING IN THE NAME OF GOD.” (Genesis 4:25-26 MSG).

In a Nutshell: Don’t Get Discouraged By a Few Verses, God Can Turn Everything Around in Your Favor Before the Closing of the same Chapter!

People of God, Be Encouraged: GO THROUGH UNTIL YOU GET THROUGH, FOR WHEN YOU GET THROUGH YOUR GREATEST BLESSING WILL BE GRANTED!

1 Chronicles 4:9-10, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; but his mother named him Jabez, saying, “Because I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would indeed bless me and enlarge my border [property], and that Your hand would be with me, and You would keep me from evil so that it does not hurt me!” AND GOD GRANTED HIS REQUEST.” (AMP)

PEOPLE OF GOD, GO THROUGH UNTIL IT’S GRANTED, FOR WHAT GOD PROMISED YOU IS GUARANTEED TO COME TO PASS!

1 Peter 5:10, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.” (AMPC)

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

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“When the Valley is Better Than the Mountain!”

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2 Chronicles 20:25-26, “When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder they found more loot than they could carry off—equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away! On the fourth day they came together at the VALLEY OF BLESSING (Beracah) and blessed God (that’s how it got the name, VALLEY OF BLESSING).” (MSG)

So often we talk about the great “mountain-top experiences” of life. And they are indeed wonderful! After all, with all the work, sweat, time and energy it takes to get to the top of the mountain, who wouldn’t want to celebrate the accomplishment and relish in their time at the top? It’s a beautiful view from the top, so much to see, to embrace, to celebrate and enjoy. However, I’ve found myself to have that same experience in some of my valleys as well. Unfortunately, we often view the valley as the dark, depressing, miserable, defeated place, but I’ve come today to tell you, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

You see, there’s a beautiful spot in Vermont that my friend Pastor Jonathan and his family has loved to visit for many years. Through working in ministry together, God introduced them to some wonderful friends who made it possible for them to stay at the place they own. Pastor Jonathan will be the first to tell you, even to get there is beautiful! First, they drive through the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. And then they enter the Champlain Valley of Vermont. And as they’re leaving the one range of mountains they’re immediately and sometimes simultaneously looking at the next range; the scenic green mountains of Vermont.

Now, the inn they stay in is in the Valley between the two. So when they arrive, they look West at those mountains they’ve just been through, and they look East at those mountains they plan to explore tomorrow. It’s a great place to be in the middle of the Valley.

You see, all they’re really doing is visiting the Valley between those two Mountains. From one side they can see the mountain they’ve already come over, and from the other side they can see the mountain that they will come over. I believe God intends for us all to live in a valley just like that!

Well, to see that kind of living in action, let’s go to a dramatic example of the history of God’s ancient people in 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat is the Jewish king, and it says, “Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army is coming against you’.” Well, frankly, this threat is overwhelming. But this godly king doesn’t get overwhelmed. Maybe nervous and scared, as many of us would, but certainly not overwhelmed. The Bible reads, “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord; and he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So [the people of] Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; indeed they came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord [longing for Him with all their heart].” (vss. 3-4 AMP).

Listen to some of his prayer to God: “Oh Lord,” he says, “God Are you not the God who is in heaven? Power and might are in your hand and no one can withstand you. Oh Lord God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham? They have lived in it and they have built in it a sanctuary for your name.” (vss. 6-8) Now, what he’s doing here is, LOOKING BACK AT THE MOUNTAINS OF YESTERDAY: the walled cities, the barbaric tribes the Jews had to conquer, the taking of a Promised Land they didn’t even have an inch of yet, and all the challenges of living since then and building an incredible temple to God. And Jehoshaphat is grateful to God for making all those mountains that once looked so big into monuments to His love, and His power, and His faithfulness.

BUT THEN THE KING LOOKS AHEAD AT THE MOUNTAIN OF TOMORROW; this vast army coming. He says, “Oh Lord God, we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.“(vs. 12) By the way, that feeling of powerlessness might be right where you are right now…but keep reading. “We do not know what to do (he says) but our eyes are upon You.” (vs. 12) Their eyes were not focused on the vast army…But, Our eyes are upon You.” And the Lord’s word to His servant, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” (vs. 15)

The king is now trusting God for the mountains of tomorrow! Right there is the picture of a victorious life of faith; a life in which nothing is really overwhelming. Living in the valley between what God has done and what God is going to do. To put it simply, God leads you in such a way that there is always something to thank Him for and always something to trust Him for!

First, you’ve got to look back at the amazing works God has already done, and specifically thank Him for them. Your confidence grows as you remember all He’s already done. Can you imagine if we did this every time a crisis in our lives appears? Think about it, He’s provided before; He’s healed before; He’s delivered before; He’s made ways out of no way before. And according to the Word of God, He has not changed! “Jesus Christ is [ETERNALLY CHANGELESS, ALWAYS] THE SAME YESTERDAY AND TODAY AND FOREVER.” (Hebrews 13:8 AMP). So if He did it then, what makes you doubt Him now? When you were unemployed, He was there; when you were lonely, He was there; when you were discouraged, He was there; when you were hurting, He was there. What makes you think anything has changed, since the Bible declares “JESUS CHRIST IS [ETERNALLY CHANGELESS…”? The rent, mortgage, car note, car insurance, tuition, utilities were all a struggle before, and still He came through, so why is your faith shaken now? Why are you wavering now? Why are you doubting now? Why are you second guessing now? You’ve needed food, shelter, and transportation, before, and He came through, why are you fearful now?

This is not your first time in the valley! “Even though I WALK THROUGH THE [SUNLESS] VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH…” (Psalm 23:4 AMP). Did you catch that? You’ve walked through the valley before! God never promised that you would stop visiting the valley, but the provision is still the same, “…I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.” (AMP). You’ve been here before, and He was there with you then, and He’ll be there with you now! Never forget His power neither ascends or descends because of the height of the mountain or the depth of the valley you experience. “JESUS CHRIST IS [ETERNALLY CHANGELESS]…” No matter your location, He knows where to find you, after all, there’s no where you can go and be without Him!

Psalm 139:7-16, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I run away from where You are?  If I go up to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in the place of the dead, You are there!  If I take the wings of the morning or live in the farthest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me and Your right hand will hold me.  If I say, “For sure the darkness will cover me and the light around me will be night,” even the darkness is not dark to You. And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to You. For You made the parts inside me. You put me together inside my mother.  I will give thanks to You, for the greatness of the way I was made brings fear. Your works are great and my soul knows it very well.  My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret and put together with care in the deep part of the earth.  Your eyes saw me before I was put together. And all the days of my life were written in Your book before any of them came to be.” (NLV).

If God doesn’t lose sight of you in heaven, hell, or the earth, what makes you think He will suddenly develop cataracts and not be able to see you in the valley?!

Be like Jehoshophat, remember the mountains you’ve overcome in the past and let them restore your faith to overcome the mountains before you! You look at the mountain behind you…THEN you look ahead and you see all those huge challenges in front of you! And you trust Him for those just the same. Why? Because the same God who brought you through all the mountains before, will bring you through these as well! Never be discouraged by the valley, it’s an awesome strategic place to be positioned when you look at it from the right perspective. Hear the word given to Jehoshophat: “Don’t be afraid; don’t pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God’s war, not yours. Tomorrow you’ll go after them; see, they’re already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you’ll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God’s saving work for you take shape. Don’t be afraid, don’t waver. March out boldly tomorrow—God is with you.” (vss. 16-17 MSG) That word “waver” is defined as “to move quiveringly; to flicker; to weaken; to falter; to be indecisive.” And that word “indecisive” means “not able to make decisions quickly and effectively.” But what is there for you to be indecisive about? God has already made the decision, “…This is God’s war, not yours… You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm… Don’t be afraid, don’t waver…” You have nothing to fear in the valley, because God’s got you!    

See, the battle is the Lord’s. Those five words say it all about this day and about each tomorrow in your life. It’s another day to trust Him. That’s what the valley does, it tests, exposes and builds your faith! “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG).

When looked at from the proper advantage point, the valley is a blessing, not a curse! The enemy wants you to believe that the valley is the place of discouragement, depression, and despair. A place of loneliness, dread, fear and worry. A place of doubt and guessing. A place void of God. And my friend, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

You see, in the valley you’re positioned between two mountains. You get to see where God has brought you and where He’s taking you at the same time. So when doubt and distress rear their ugly head, all you have to do is take a glance over your shoulder. Remember when God healed you, delivered you, protected you, provided for you, strengthened you. Remember when He restored your peace, joy, sanity, and life. Remember when you thought that last trial would take you out for good. When you thought that was it. That was the last straw. There’s no recovery from this…AND THEN…GOD! The valley tells your fears they have no power over you. The valley reminds you that you’ve conquered that, you got over that, you got past them. The rumors, lies, gossip, and backbiting that was designed to destroy you, fell apart at the seams! The valley is the place where you remind the devil that your God is walking with you while you walk your way through. The valley reminds you that what was supposed to kill you, ended up breathing new life into you!

“Joseph replied, “…Don’t you see, you planned evil against me BUT GOD USED THOSE SAME PLANS FOR MY GOOD, as you see all around you right now…” (Genesis 50:20 MSG). In this case, God didn’t get rid of Joseph’s enemies/haters/brothers, instead He kept them around so they would see that all they tried to do to ruin him, didn’t work. In fact, it all worked to his good and to his advantage. And to rub salt in the wound, God even positioned Joseph’s brothers to where what they needed could only come from the hands of Joseph! The one they hurt would be the only hand that could help them! God didn’t remove Joseph’s brothers from his life, and He won’t always remove your trials, challenges, haters, and valley’s from yours either. Because the greater blessing is that God can bless you while you’re still IN the valley! God doesn’t need you to come OUT of anything in order to bless you! He can bless you while you’re still IN it! “Nay, IN ALL THESE THINGS we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37). Did you catch that? “…IN ALL THESE THINGS…” God doesn’t need to bring you OUT, He can bless you, protect you, provide for you, go to battle on your behalf, and strengthen you, even while you’re still IN it! He proves His might and power by making us more than conquerors even while we’re still, “…IN ALL THESE THINGS…” Take heart, take courage! God will show OUT, while you’re still IN!

That’s the beauty of the valley. You get to look over your shoulder and remember what the Lord has done…and what should be your response? “Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!” (vss. 18-19 MSG). Praise and Worship was the response to what we’ve already made it over!

BUT THAT’S NOT EVEN THE BEST PART!

Now you get to turn your ahead around, look forward and smile! Why? Because God gives you a view/vision of what He’s about to do NEXT!

“They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Listen Judah and Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in your prophets and you’ll come out on top!” (vs. 20 MSG) We’ve made it over the last mountain-top, and now we’re about to conquer the next one! We’re about to “…COME OUT ON TOP!”

The valley now provides you with security that what God did before He’s able to do again! He defeated our enemies before, He’ll defeat them again. He healed, delivered, answered prayer, made provision and provided protection before, and He will do it again! And all we have to do is trust Him in the Valley for the next Mountain!

Jehoshophat and the people of God trusted their God so much in the VALLEY that they began to sing, praise and worship! And God’s response? “As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, AND ALL ENDED UP KILLED. AS JUDAH CAME UP OVER THE RISE, looking into the wilderness for the horde of barbarians, they looked on a killing field of dead bodies—NOT A LIVING SOUL AMONG THEM. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder THEY FOUND MORE LOOT THAN THEY COULD CARRY OFF—EQUIPMENT, CLOTHING, VALUABLES. IT TOOK THREE DAYS TO CART IT AWAY! On the fourth day they came together at the VALLEY OF BLESSING (Beracah) and blessed God (that’s how it got the name, VALLEY OF BLESSING).” (vss. 22-26 MSG)

AND YOU DIDN’T THINK THE VALLEY WAS A BLESSED PLACE TO BE!

People of God, all this was done, in the VALLEY, not on the Mountain! They sought God there, they received instructions there, they obeyed there, they prayed, praised and worshiped there, God placed ambushes against their enemies there, and it is there where they had their enemies cut off, and there that they carried off (equipment, clothing, valuables) so much so, that it took three days to carry it all away! But it’s there fourth day response that blessed me most, “…On the fourth day they came together at the VALLEY OF BLESSING (Beracah) AND BLESSED GOD (that’s how it got the name, VALLEY OF BLESSING).”

THEY BLESSED GOD IN THE VALLEY! WON’T YOU LET THAT BE YOUR RESPONSE TODAY IN THE MIDST OF YOUR VALLEY!

Remember: The valley is not a bad place to be positioned! It reminds you (and your faith) of what the Lord did before, and what He will do again! It’s a place of encouragement, empowerment, renewal, trust, hope and confidence. Truth is, Sometimes the VALLEY is Better Than the Mountain!

In closing, take some time to look at a few other VALLEY’S below, where the Blessings of the Lord prevailed!

Psalm 84:6, “Passing through the VALLEY of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also COVERS IT WITH BLESSINGS.” (AMP)

Numbers 13:21-25, “With that they were on their way. They scouted out the land from the Wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob toward Lebo Hamath. Their route went through the Negev Desert to the town of Hebron. Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, descendants of the giant Anak, lived there. Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt. When they arrived at the Eshcol VALLEY they cut off a branch with a single cluster of grapes—IT TOOK TWO MEN TO CARRY IT—slung on a pole. They also picked some pomegranates and figs. They named the place Eshcol VALLEY (GRAPE-CLUSTER-VALLEY) because of the huge cluster of grapes they had cut down there. After forty days of scouting out the land, they returned home.” (MSG)

Joshua 11:7-9, “Joshua, his entire army with him, took them by surprise, falling on them at the Waters of Merom. God gave them to Israel, who struck and chased them all the way to Greater Sidon, to Misrephoth Maim, and then to the VALLEY of Mizpah on the east. NO SURVIVORS. Joshua treated them following God’s instructions: he hamstrung their horses; he burned up their chariots.” (MSG)

Genesis 26:16-18, “Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from here, because you are far too powerful for us.” So Isaac left that region and camped in the VALLEY of Gerar, and settled there. Now Isaac again dug [and reopened] the wells of water which had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, because the Philistines had filled them up [with dirt] after the death of Abraham; and he gave the wells the same names that his father had given them.” (AMP)

BLESSINGS, PROVISION, FRUITFULNESS, VICTORY, RECOVERY AND RESTORATION ARE ALL FOUND IN THE VALLEY!

TODAY, THANK GOD FOR YOUR VALLEY OF BLESSING!

“As you walk through the Valley of the unknown, you will find the footprints of Jesus both in front of you and beside you.” (Charles Stanley)

“Sometimes you must learn to appreciate the view in the Valley.” (Annette Harrison)

“Mountaintops inspire leaders but Valleys mature them.” (Winston Churchill)

“All of life is peaks and Valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the Valleys too low.” (John Wooden)

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” (Andy Rooney)

“No one gets to the top of a mountain without first going through a Valley.” (Steve Harvey)

“If you feel you are in a Valley today, don’t despair. Just put one foot in front of the other and continue on. Count your blessings with each step. You will soon see that you are on top of the mountain!” (Pinterest)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “The Healthiest Foods to Eat For Breakfast”

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