“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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“Don’t Let FAKE FOOL You!”

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Matthew 13:24-25, “Jesus gave them another parable [to consider], saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds [RESEMBLING WHEAT] among the wheat…” (AMP)

I guess as a woman it would be considered rather strange that I don’t particularly care for Roses. I don’t consider them ugly, I just don’t possess a particular fondness for them. And to be honest, I really don’t like any one set flower. However, if you really want my heart to sing, give me a mixed bouquet of wildflowers! I absolutely love a bouquet of mixed flowers with all the different shapes, scents, sizes, colors etc…it just captures my heart and instantly makes me smile!

However, I must share this. One of my coworkers had a beautiful bouquet of flowers on her desk. I stopped by to pick up some work, and there I saw these amazing flowers in a vase. Wildflowers! My Wildflowers! I actually noticed a few more times as I hustled down the hall past her door. I really felt like a flower stalker! I just couldn’t help myself. I would walk past her office, even if I had no reason to, just to take a glimpse at her huge bouquet of the wildflowers I so love. But then one day, I actually put on the brakes for a moment and I stuck my head all the way in the office and told her, I have just got to smell the flowers on your desk. I leaned over and inhaled deeply…needless to say…it wasn’t worth the stop. You see, after all of that peeking, visiting, stalking, admiring, smiling and smelling…I exhaled my disappointment. The beautiful, breath-taking wildflower bouquet was a FAKE! It LOOKED so real, too real, so real in fact that I couldn’t tell they were fake until I got close enough to realize they didn’t have the scent real flowers possess.

Which made me think of us, the church, the body of believer’s. Do we carry the REAL Scent of our Savior? 2 Corinthians 2:15, “For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (AMP)

You know, those flowers can sure fool you. They look so real, but they have NO LIFE. They look so authentic, but they have NO SCENT. Just like so many folks who look like they really belong to Jesus Christ, but there’s no life, no sweet fragrance of Christ.

Jesus warned us about this fatal difference in His story about God’s Kingdom being like a wheat field. Listen: Matthew 13:24-30, “Jesus gave them another parable [to consider], saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds [RESEMBLING WHEAT] among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the weeds appeared also.  The servants of the owner came to him and said, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have weeds in it?’ He replied to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants asked him, ‘Then do you want us to go and pull them out?’ But he said, ‘No; because as you pull out the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.  Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First gather the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”(AMP)

Just because God hasn’t uprooted the phony weeds now, doesn’t mean He won’t later. In fact, the phony weeds will be first to be gathered, tied and burned. So, don’t by any stretch of the imagination think that you’re getting away with Imitation Christianity. God knows who are His and who are not. He knows who’s real, and who’s fake (no matter how well a performance or appearance they put on).

In another place, Jesus describes people who will come before Him on Judgment Day, talking all the right Christian words and beliefs and activities. But He’ll tell them, “I never knew you.Now, that’s what you call some frightening words! Here’s the Scripture in full: Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’ (AMP) The Message Bible reads like this: “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’ (MSG)

I don’t know about you, but that certainly gave me a Selah moment! And that moment took me straight to 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers. Examine yourselves [not me]! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves [by an ongoing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test and are rejected as COUNTERFEIT?” (AMP) The Message Bible reads like this: “Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it…” (vss. 5-9 MSG).

The time to realize that you know ABOUT Jesus but you don’t KNOW Him is NOW, not when you’re standing before Him, BECAUSE THEN IT’S TOO LATE! Now, is the time to self-exam and get yourself together! Now, is the time to make sure you’re planted, deeply rooted among the wheat, the real wheat, not them ‘Resembling Wheat!’ If you find yourself amongst the Tares, tear yourself away and get right! Or you’ll find yourself falling in the same category as those whom Christ said, “I Never Knew You!” And pay attention to the text, because it doesn’t say let the Apostle, Bishop, Pastor, Prophet, Elder, Evangelist, Minister, Deacon, Missionary, evaluate you and your lifestyle of faith to make sure it’s genuine. No, this is an inside job! “TEST AND EVALUATE YOURSELVES…” Your faith, and lack thereof, are your responsibility alone! You have no one to blame but yourself if you ‘miss the boat!’ It’s too late in the end-time hour to keep faking, pretending, acting like, and impersonating righteousness! It’s time to simply get Right and get Real!

Remember 2 Timothy 3:5, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Now, let’s look at this in a few translations shall we:

“holding to a FORM OF [OUTWARD] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.” (AMP);

“They will LOOK LIKE they are religious but deny God’s power. Avoid people like this.” (CEB);

“Even though they will MAKE A SHOW OF BEING RELIGIOUS, their religion WON’T BE REAL. Don’t have anything to do with such people.” (CEV);

“They will go on PRETENDING to be devoted to God, but they will refuse to let that “devotion” change the way they live. Stay away from these people!” (ERV);

“having the APPEARANCE of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (ESV);

“They will APPEAR to have a godly life, but they will not let its power change them. Stay away from such people.” (GWT);

“they will hold to the OUTWARD FORM of our religion, but reject its real power. Keep away from such people.” (GNT);

“They will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. Don’t be taken in by people like that.” (TLB);

“They will do things to make it LOOK as if they are Christians. But they will not receive the power that is for a Christian. Keep away from such people.” (NLV)

Just like those artificial flowers that are so beautiful but so dead, it’s so easy to look like someone who belongs to Jesus but not really know Him. Especially if you’ve been around Jesus most of your life. You know the words. You believe the beliefs. You try to do the right things. You go to the right meetings. You give to the right things. And, quite possibly, everyone around you assumes you belong to Him Except Jesus! And He’s the only one who matters.

Listen: That “examine yourself” verse says to make sure “Christ Jesus is IN YOU.Not on you, as all the “I’m a Believer” symbols like to imply. You know, we like to carry the bible, talk in church lingo, have 10 titles, 15 robes, 20 crosses, all to look like we’re something we’re not. We’re attending Sunday School, Bible Study, Prayer Meetings, Revivals, Anniversaries, Outreach, and the like and still heading straight to hell as the Non-Believer we are at heart. It’s time we stop “wearing Christ” and actually have Him on the INSIDE. Because truly that is the only thing that will make a REAL difference.

A lot of people simply have Jesus AROUND them, but not IN them because there’s never been a time when they consciously and personally really opened up their life to Him. And I do mean all of it, not just the compartments you feel safe or comfortable in letting Him visit. But I mean letting Him move all the way in. Take your name off the deed to your body, and make it His sole property alone. It’s time to stop having Christ in our HEAD, but not in our HEART. Which means you will miss heaven by eighteen inches. (That’s how far it is from your head to your heart). And God says, “It is with the HEART man BELIEVES and is SAVED” (Romans 10:9). You Need Jesus in Your Heart, Not Just in Your Head, if You are to Ever Have a Real, True, Genuine, Authentic Relationship With Him!

Look at it like this: One night Keith went into a church…not married. The woman he wanted to marry came down the aisle. They stood in front of the minister. They walked out together, but Keith left still not married. Why? Because it was the rehearsal. However, the next night, same woman, same man, same minister, same aisle, but this time Keith walked out married. You see, the first night Keith was just going through the motions. But the second night he committed his life to her. Maybe you’ve been going through all the motions of knowing Jesus. But somewhere, you’ve missed the step of saying, “Jesus, I know what you did on that cross was for me. And you’re my only hope. Beginning right here, beginning right now, I am completely Yours! I turn my entire life into Your capable, nail scarred hands!” You see, that’s when you commit yourself to Him. Not practice, not rehearse, not go through the motions, not resemble, not look like, not pretend. But for real! Which means no more going to church every Sunday, singing the songs, dancing, leaping, running, clapping, shouting, praising, speaking in whatever tongues. In other words, no more show, no more performance, no more acting and acting like. But this time being real with God so you can finally be right with God. Because the truth is, you don’t have any more time to play and waste. As cliché as it may sound, His return is soon. And you don’t want to be unprepared. You want to be rapture ready. With no sorries, no explanations, no reasons, no requests for just a little more time. You want no remorse and no regrets. And the only way to secure that is to be Real, be Right and be Ready!

Matthew 25:1-13, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish [thoughtless, silly, and careless], and five were wise [far-sighted, practical, and sensible].  For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take any [extra] oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil along with their lamps.  Now while the bridegroom was delayed, they all began to nod off, and they fell asleep.  But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! The bridegroom [is coming]! Go out to meet him.’  Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order [trimmed the wicks and added oil and lit them].  But the foolish virgins said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’  But the wise replied, ‘No, otherwise there will not be enough for us and for you, too; go instead to the dealers and buy oil for yourselves.’  But while they were going away to buy oil, the bridegroom came, AND THOSE WHO WERE READY WENT IN WITH HIM to the wedding feast; and the door was shut and locked.  Later the others also came, and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open [the door] for us.’  But He replied, ‘I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I DO NOT KNOW YOU [WE HAVE NO RELATIONSHIP].’  Therefore, be on the alert [BE PREPARED AND READY], for you do not know the day nor the hour [when the Son of Man will come].” (AMP)

For me, this was yet another Selah moment…

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be Left Behind. I want while I’m here to be planted and well rooted so that I may bear good fruit. And when it’s time to go home, I’m ready because I’m certain of my eternal resting place. So, two things need to take place for us. One, we need to be planted and rooted as Real Trees/Plants/Flowers that grow, develop and produce fruit! Matthew 7:15-20, “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. THESE DISEASED TREES WITH THEIR BAD APPLES ARE GOING TO BE CHOPPED DOWN AND BURNED.” (MSG); Luke 13:7-9, “Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. CHOP IT DOWN! WHY WASTE GOOD GROUND WITH IT ANY LONGER?’ “The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; IF IT DOESN’T, THEN CHOP IT DOWN.’” (MSG).

WISDOM NUGGET: Don’t take advantage of your grace-period! Get planted, rooted, develop, grow and bear fruit before your barrenness gets you chopped down!

Secondly, don’t put off getting real and right for tomorrow!  James 4:13-17, “And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.” As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.” (MSG)

Today, is your best day to get real, get right and get ready! Don’t put off until tomorrow when you may very well end up among the tares, among the foolish virgins or the chopped down barren tree!

Don’t Let Fake Fool You, the Time to Get Real With God is TODAY!

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “What is Nutritional Psychiatry, and Can it Help You Feel Better””

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“Pretty Container, But Poisonous Content!”

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My girlfriend Caroline absolutely loves the country, hiking, and camping! She loves animals of every kind, and always has a story to tell from her adventures. Well, the last time she saw a frog, she was with one of her grandchildren. She loved it when her grandson Jake picked up a little bug-eyed green fellow and held him close so she could get a better look at him. It was one of Kermit’s cousins, you know. Now, Jake didn’t have any second thoughts about picking up a frog. They’re harmless, after all! Well, most of the time – unless that’s if it’s what they call a poisonous dart frog! No worries though, I’m pretty sure we don’t have those, but they’re about one and one-half inches long, and they live in tropical rain forests in Central and South America. And they are the good-lookers of the frog kingdom family. You see, they’re not a boring, plain ol’ green color. They are quite diverse in color, and can come in multiple colors at the same time. The dart frog is extremely brightly colored. He looks very interesting, but he can be carrying enough poison to kill 20,000 mice! Or more important to you and me – enough poison to kill ten people!

Here’s a creature who looks so good and yet kills so dead! Just like sin; maybe the sin that’s been looking pretty good to you lately. So many people have reached out and touched what they should have never touched, and they paid a painful price that they could have never imagined. Sin may appear pretty at times, but it’s pretty poison!

James 1:13-15. “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (MSG)

Those are some sledgehammer verses! It traces a moral disaster from the first desire for something that’s wrong to the sinful choice to get what looks so good, to its final result. When that “baby” called sin finally is born, what you get is death because sin always kills. It kills families, it kills marriages, it kills character and reputations, and it kills ministries and churches. Sin kills your self-respect, people’s trust in you and even your closeness to the God that you can’t live without.

The story of this attractive killer goes all the way back to the very first humans God ever created, Adam and Eve. With all the beauty of the Garden of Eden available for his enjoyment, God gave Adam this one prohibition: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Satan came to Eve and told her the exact opposite: “You will not surely die.” And “when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it” (Genesis 2:17; 3:4, 6). And they learned the hard way that no matter how much you think you have to gain from going outside God’s boundaries, you have so much more to lose! They lost Eden, they lost walking with God, they lost intimacy with God, and instead they gained so much pain and even death!

It may be that the same devil is lying to you right now about the sin that looks so good to you. “It won’t hurt,” “Everybody’s doing it,” “Hey, you deserve it,” “You need this,” “Only a little,” “Ah, just this once.” Anything to get you to bite! Anything to get you to take the deadly poison of sin. It looks like you have so much to gain if you’ll just lie a little, cheat a little, flirt a little, try a little, or take just one look. But you have so much to lose! However, you won’t know that until it’s too late, unless you listen to what God says.

Wisdom Nugget: First sin fascinates you, and then it assassinates you!

However, I, in God’s love, have come to you TODAY to wave you away from a choice that will take you where you never wanted to go, it will keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and it will cost you more than you ever wanted to pay. Don’t walk away from that sin – RUN away from it! Sin looks so good yet it kills so dead! Much like the pretty, yet POISONOUS dart frog!

Let’s take a look at a few facts about this little terror, and see what Spiritual truths we can gather from their Natural world:

FOR ONE, THE BRIGHTER THE DART FROG IS, THE MORE TOXIC IT IS! And isn’t that a lot like sin? After all, it’s always the APPEARANCE of something that gets us in trouble every time! Our EYES fall in love with what we ‘SEE’, not knowing that what we can ‘SEE’ is just on the Surface! For example, we SEE someone else’s marriage and it LOOKS like it’s absolutely perfect; we SEE someone else’s children and they LOOK ideal; we SEE someone else’s home and we become dissatisfied with the apartment we live in; we SEE what someone else is driving and then we’re mad that we’re still taking the bus; we SEE the job someone else has and all of a sudden we’re ready to change careers; we SEE the position someone holds in church and overnight God has called us to a new office, title and position! But what we don’t know is all that lies underneath the SURFACE of all of that stuff we covet. You see, underneath all that brightly covered stuff, their marriage LOOKS perfect, but he beats her daily; their children LOOK ideal, but their son is in a gang and their daughter is on cocaine; their home LOOKS beautiful, but neither of them can get any sleep at night worrying about making the payments they can’t afford; their car is in a class all by itself, and yet their children have to take out loans because the car loan emptied their college funds; they have a well-paid job, and little do you know they hate it every day because of all the compromising they have to do to maintain it; they sit in a big chair at church, but possess so little character in the comfort of their own home! Be careful of allowing your EYES to LURE you into lusting after ‘SHINY, BRIGHT’ things. You just may discover that it’s nothing more than poison gift wrapped in pretty paper! 2 Corinthians 11:12-15, “And I’m not changing my position on this. I’d die before taking your money. I’m giving nobody grounds for lumping me in with those money-grubbing “preachers,” vaunting themselves as something special. They’re a sorry bunch—pseudo-apostles, lying preachers, crooked workers—POSING as Christ’s agents but sham to the core. And no wonder! SATAN DOES IT ALL THE TIME, DRESSING UP AS A BEAUTIFUL ANGEL OF LIGHT. So it shouldn’t surprise us when his servants MASQUERADE as servants of God. But they’re not getting by with anything. They’ll pay for it in the end.” (MSG)

GUARD YOUR EYES AGAINST THE APPEARANCE OF PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS! LOOKS CAN STILL BE DECEIVING AND THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE!

SECONDLY, THE DART FROG IS SMALL, BUT DEADLY! As believers, we’re quick to jump on those who commit adultery, fornicate, drink, smoke, curse, lie, and steal, but I’m often amazed by how we alter the definition of sin when it comes to our OWN! We like to categorize it and give it a size, when it becomes personal. You see, adultery is a “big sin”, oh but sister girl in the corner slandering her sister in Christ with gossip, now that’s a “little sin.” But the bible does not differentiate! Sin, is Sin, no matter who does it or what kind of sin it is! The dart frog can be as SMALL as a paperclip, and still it is DEADLY! And whether they get caught drunk driving while you’re sowing discord among the brethren, sin is still sin! It is still deadly, no matter how ‘small and insignificant’ you may think it is! Proverbs 6:16-19, “These six things the Lord hates; Indeed, seven are repulsive to Him: A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others], a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that creates wicked plans, Feet that run swiftly to evil, A false witness who breathes out lies [even half-truths], And one who spreads discord (rumors) among brothers.” (AMP) But most don’t pay these things any mind, because clearly the “bigger” sins, are adultery and drunkenness! LISTEN, anything that God deems a sin, is a sin! And sin has no size, no category, just the consequence of death! Today, is a great day, to get rid of ALL sin! Just as the ‘little foxes’ spoil the vine, even the sins in your life that you deem ‘little’ will spoil you! Song of Solomon 2:15, “Our vineyards are in blossom; we must catch the LITTLE foxes that DESTROY the vineyards.” (CEV) What You Deem a SMALL SIN Can Bring You BIG DESTRUCTION!  James 3:3-12, “Now if we put bits into the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we guide their whole body as well.  And look at the ships. Even though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are still directed by a very SMALL rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines.  In the same sense, the TONGUE is a SMALL part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See [by comparison] how great a forest is set on fire by a SMALL spark!  And the tongue is [in a sense] a fire, the very world of injustice and unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our members as that which contaminates the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life [the cycle of man’s existence], and is itself set on fire by hell (Gehenna).  For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and sea creatures, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.  But no one can tame the human tongue; it is a restless evil [undisciplined, unstable], FULL OF DEADLY POISON.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers, should not be this way [for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts].  Does a spring send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.” (AMP)

I REITERATE, WHAT YOU DEEM A SMALL SIN CAN BRING YOU BIG DESTRUCTION! DON’T COMPROMISE YOUR CHARACTER! ALL SATAN NEEDS IS A SMALL OPENING TO GIVE HIM OPPORTUNITY TO OVERCOME YOU! Ephesians 4:27, “Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].” (AMPC) A “foothold” is defined as “a place where one can lodge a foot to give secure support while climbing; to secure a position from which further progress may be made.” You may not think a ‘little sin’ can cause much damage, but the Bible disagrees with you! You see, all the devil needs is a foothold, enough room just to get his toes in, and as soon as you allow him that little wiggle room, it will become the place where he can lodge his foot to give him secure support while climbing into your life, making further progress until total takeover and destruction has been accomplished! So…do you still think ‘little’ isn’t such a BIG deal?!

THIRDLY, THE FOOD THE DART FROG EATS IS WHAT MAKES IT POISONOUS! Which is why you have to be so careful about what you DIGEST! The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, so clearly he’s not digesting anything good! Therefore, nothing to do with sin can be good! I don’t care what it looks like, feels like, or the lies it promises, sin is still a deadly killer! Everything out of the enemy and sin is ugly, damaging, and life threatening. It’s fear, discouragement, jealously, anger, maliciousness. And when you partake of sin, that’s the poison you digest! Stop coming into contact with people, places and things that will kill you! Don’t play around it, don’t flirt around it, don’t go near it, avoid it at all costs! Because nothing from it can ever produce anything good, just further destruction! People of God, Let’s Use the Wisdom of Scripture! Proverbs 4:10-15, “Dear friend, take my advice; it will add years to your life. I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way, I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road. I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys, or wasting time making wrong turns. Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip. Guard it well—your life is at stake! Don’t take Wicked Bypass; don’t so much as set foot on that road. Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth. Make a detour and be on your way.” (MSG) THE MORE WORD YOU DIGEST THE LESS CHANCE YOU HAVE OF SIPPING ON SIN AS YOUR CHOICE SUBSTANCE ABUSE! FOLLOW THE ADMONISHMENT OF THE PSALMIST: “How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of Your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of You; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked Your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in Your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from Your mouth; I delight far more in what You tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from You, I attentively watch how You’ve done it. I relish everything You’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.” (MSG)

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DIGEST, IT CAN VERY WELL MEAN LIFE OR DEATH TO YOU!

FOURTH, AS COLORFUL AS DART FROGS ARE, THEY ALWAYS HAVE BLACK ON THEM TO MAKE THEM EASIER TO CAMOUFLAGE! And that’s just like sin! It can camouflage as something good and fulfilling. But no matter how well it camouflages itself, sin is still sin, and sin still kills! You can dress it up all you like, the poison it possesses still remains intact! The Dart Frog is the Epitome of Hypocrisy…and Unfortunately, So are Many of God’s Children! 2 Timothy 3:5, “holding to a FORM of [OUTWARD] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [FOR THEIR CONDUCT NULLIFIES THEIR CLAIM OF FAITH]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.” (AMP). The Message Bible reads like this: “Don’t be naïve. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a SHOW of religion, but BEHIND THE SCENES they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.” (vss. 1-5 MSG) Which is why today is a good day to re-exam the company you keep! Why? 1 Corinthians 15:30-33, “…But don’t fool yourselves. Don’t let yourselves be POISONED…BAD COMPANY RUINS GOOD MANNERS.” (MSG); Matthew 7:15, “Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [APPEARING GENTLE AND INNOCENT], BUT INWARDLY ARE RAVENOUS WOLVES.” (AMP). Some people are nothing more than pretty containers with poisonous content! A form of godliness; a show of religion; wolves in sheep’s clothing! Nothing more than the appearance of godliness. Therefore, use wisdom when selecting your circle so you don’t end up boxed into a circus full of clowns!

Now, there are so many more facts about the dart frog that could be shared, but I’ll close with this last one:

POISONOUS DART FROGS DO NOT LIVE IN THE WATER AS THEY LACK TOE WEBBING AND ARE POOR SWIMMERS. However, like all frogs they begin life in the water as tadpoles. They live in small pools found in the leaves of bromeliads and other tree dwelling plants until they emerge as tiny frogs. And why is this my favorite fact? Because of Ephesians 5. A portion of it reads like this: “Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], JUST AS CHRIST ALSO LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER,  SO THAT HE MIGHT SANCTIFY THE CHURCH, HAVING CLEANSED HER BY THE WASHING OF WATER WITH THE WORD [OF GOD],  so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless.  Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.” (5:25-28 AMP)

Focal Point: “…SO THAT HE MIGHT SANCTIFY THE CHURCH, HAVING CLEANSED HER BY THE WASHING OF WATER WITH THE WORD [OF GOD]…”  

I’ve learned that to keep myself from sin, I need to position myself where the enemy can’t get to me! You see, the dart frog is full of poison and can kill 20,000 mice or ten people, yet it has to be able to get to them first! And if I dare to stay with Christ, and allow Him to sanctify me by washing me with the water of the Word of God (the enemy), that pretty, poisonous dart frog, can’t get to me, BECAUSE IT CAN’T SWIM! Reminds me of Moses and the Red Sea! They went through, while their enemies went under! Or like the unclean spirits that came out of the man and asked Jesus if they could enter the pigs. They were granted their request, and rushed down the steep bank into the sea; and they were drowned [one after the other] in the sea, says the Scripture! How awesome is that! If I keep myself out of the enemies reach, he can’t touch me! But family, that means that we actively do what we must to stay out of harms way! You can’t play with sin and the devil, and then get mad when you get hurt! You can’t play with hell then cry when the heat burns you! A safe place for you is to dwell in the presence of God, in the Word of God, in prayer with God! Allow Him to be the Rivers of Living Water flowing out of you (more water that the enemy can’t swim in!)

People of God, don’t be tricked, or fooled, it (and they) may look real good, and may promise to make you feel even better. However, don’t fall for it! It may be pretty, but it (and they) can be quite poisonous! Stay clean, stay holy, stay drenched in God, and stay alive!

Remember: Just as God has plans for our lives (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); so does Satan have plans for our lives! 2 Corinthians 2:11, “I did this so that Satan would not win anything from us, because we know very well what Satan’s plans are.” (NCV) And what are his plans for our lives? “…TO STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY!” (John 10:10) Let’s Not Be the Ones Who Supply Him With the Ammunition to Take Us Out! Instead, Let’s Obey Christ’s Orders: Matthew 10:16, “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.” (MSG)

The enemy is playing for keeps, so keep yourselves alert in this hazardous kingdom assignment! Don’t compromise and don’t live contrary to Christ’s commands:

Ephesians 5:11-16, “Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!” (MSG);

Romans 12:1-2, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (MSG)

Hebrews 12:1-3, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (MSG)

2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way: “I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people. So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,” says God. “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself. I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to me.”  The Word of the Master, God.” (MSG)

We will not lose our crown, nor silence His ‘well done good and faithful servant!’

Let’s exam our lives saints, and get back to raising the standard bar of a Spirit of Excellence among God’s Children. Let’s not be fooled again by Satan’s Pretty Containers With Poisonous Content, We Have Too Much to Lose! Holiness Will Always Keep Us Safe From What’s Hellish!

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 Earliest Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Water”

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“The Power of Influence”

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1 Corinthians 8:8-9, “But fortunately God doesn’t grade us on our diet. We’re neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can’t stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.” (MSG)

My girlfriend Charlene relocated from the big city to live in the South with her parents who inherited a huge family-owned country estate. Now, the estate, including a farm, doesn’t have any cows on it, but the place is surrounded by cows on all sides (after all, it is the country). Charlene would often say that it made her feel so peaceful when she could sit on the porch and see the cows inside the fence across the road, just quietly grazing or sitting in the shade. However, it didn’t make her feel peaceful when she got up one morning and saw one of her neighbor’s cows in her front yard grazing and leaving little ‘souvenirs’ of her visit.

You see, her neighbor left his pasture gate wide open, but that’s OK. The cattle guards are there in the ground; you know that little grate that cows are afraid to cross for fear of getting a hoof stuck. Well, they’re supposed to be afraid. But this one cow had somehow found her way to pick her way across the cattle guard, which left her free to wander all over the countryside! Charlene even named her – ‘Grazing Gloria’. But then, pretty soon, another cow saw what ‘Grazing Gloria’ did and managed to navigate that cattle guard too; this one she named ‘Copy-Cat Cathy’. After that, a little black calf followed ‘Copy-Cat Cathy’ out. In the end, several cows ended up wandering everywhere, even up toward the main highway, which is dangerous!

Moral of the story: As soon as one cow ignored the boundaries, others followed her, without question, where they were never meant to go (even into places that could’ve easily taken their lives)!

Now, it isn’t just cows that follow cows out of bounds. Which is why Paul issues this warning in 1 Corinthians 8 beginning with verse 9. “Be careful that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” As is my custom, let’s view this verse in a few translations:

“Only be careful that this liberty of yours [this power to choose] does not somehow become a stumbling block [that is, a temptation to sin] to the weak [in conscience].” (AMP);

“Only be careful that this power of choice (this permission and liberty to do as you please) which is yours, does not [somehow] become a hindrance (cause of stumbling) to the weak or overscrupulous [giving them an impulse to sin].” (AMPC);

“But watch out or else this freedom of yours might be a problem for those who are weak.” (CEB);

“But be careful that by using your freedom you don’t somehow make a believer who is weak in faith fall into sin.” (GWT);

“Be careful, however, not to let your freedom of action make those who are weak in the faith fall into sin.” (GNT);

“Since you are free to do as you please, be careful that this does not hurt a weak Christian.” (NLV)

You see, the danger for us is that we have the right of choice. We have freedom and we have liberty to choose as we please. But one of those translations reads, “…this POWER to choose…”, and where there’s power there’s responsibility. Because our power is influence (whether good or bad), and we are to be held accountable (especially as LEADERS) with how we exercise our rights, choices, power and influence, because others are watching, listening and following our lead. Yes, we can choose as we please, but we bear the responsibility to make choices that don’t cause catastrophic consequences to the lives of others who emulate our examples. We are to avoid tempting anyone to sin; influencing anyone to sin; or justifying others while they sin.

Our Strength of Choice should never Weaken a Fellow Believer!

Which is why Paul addresses a lifestyle choice he made, simply based on how a certain behavior would affect other believers. Now, that’s responsible leadership!

A little background: The issue back then had to do with whether or not Christians should eat meat that had been offered to idols in pagan ceremonies. Apparently, some felt they could eat that meat in good conscience – after all, it was just a piece of meat. But for others, it might be the first step backwards toward the darkness that Christ had delivered them from. So Paul says, “If what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” Paul says in essence, “I can’t make my choices based only on how it will affect me. If I go there, someone else may follow me…and worse, fall!”

Listen to Paul in, 1 Corinthians 8:10-13, “For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, SOMEONE WHO LOOKS UP TO YOU AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong. Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals IF THERE IS ANY CHANCE IT WILL TRIP UP ONE OF YOUR BROTHERS OR SISTERS.” (MSG)

This is the danger of being irresponsible with our power of choice and influence. There are people around us (some we know, some we’ll never know), that see us, according to the text, as, “…SOMEONE WHO LOOKS UP TO YOU AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE…”, which in a nutshell tells them, “if you hear them say that…you can repeat it, without question…if you see them do that…you can do the same, without question…” Why? Because we’re, “…SOMEONE TO LOOK UP TO AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE …” So, naturally we can be trusted, obeyed, followed, and imitated, because clearly with so much knowledge and maturity, we wouldn’t lead them astray now would we?

Now back to Charlene’s wandering neighbor, ‘Grazing Gloria’. I don’t think she ever thought about a calf or any other cows following her outside the fence. All she knew was there was something she wanted that was beyond the boundaries. Actually, she should never have crossed the cattle guard herself (remember, most cows are afraid to cross it because they know they can be hurt). But what made it worse was that her example emboldened other cows to go where they shouldn’t go; to go where they could get hurt! And all because one cow decided to graze beyond the boundaries.

There’s a term “out of bounds”, that’s often used particularly in sports. A portion of its definition reads like this, “to be outside of specified or prescribed limits; to enter forbidden territory; to cross a boundary line; something that is not allowed or approved; to go beyond established limits; to break rules; to do what is unreasonable; to violate or exceed acceptable rules or standards.”

People of God, we are to set standards, not step outside of them! And certainly we are not to leave footprints for others to follow us in our folly! Which is why we need the Word of God so desperately in our daily lives and lifestyles.

Psalm 119:105-112, “By Your Words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by Your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again with Your Word. Festoon me with Your finest sayings, God; teach me Your holy rules. My life is as close as my own hands, but I don’t forget what You have revealed. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, but I don’t swerve an inch from Your course. I inherited Your book on living; it’s mine forever – what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing exactly what You say – I always have and always will.” (MSG)

Listen, if we are to be living epistles, we have to know what the Word of God says. We have to read it, apply it, practice it, share it and above all, live it! If we are to lead those that follow us, we need to be sure that our feet don’t go out of bounds of what the Bible says! We need to live and lead in such a way that those who follow us will know that we obey the specified and prescribed limits of the Bible; we do not enter forbidden territory; we do not cross the boundary lines; we do not transgress what is allowed or approved; we do not go beyond established limits; we do not break the rules; we do nothing unreasonable; and we certainly do not violate or exceed the acceptable rules or standards of the Word of God! We Do Not Live Out of Bounds, We Do Not Lead Out of Bounds, and We Will Have No One to Follow Us Who Desires to Go Out of Bounds!

Which means we need to alter our lifestyles accordingly! Why? Because people are listening, watching and emulating us. So when we (especially as LEADERS), are INVISIBLE in Sunday School, Bible Study, Prayer, Sunday Services, Meetings and Rehearsals, We Are Setting the Example For Others to Follow! When we lie, cheat, steal, gossip, hate, run the rumor mill…we are setting the example for others to follow! When we are stubborn, malicious, disobedient, contrary, jealous, envious, coveting and unkind, we are setting the example for others to follow! When we’re critical, negative, pessimistic, fearful, anxious, mean-spirited, condescending, belittling, backbiting and gossiping we are setting the example for others to follow! When we are argumentative, complaining, murmuring, bickering, divisive, temperamental, moody, and full of attitude, we are setting the example for others to follow! Are you getting this? We are not to become ‘Grazing Gloria’, guiding people to dangerous, out-of-bounds territories of sin!

Now hopefully, you and I are a little smarter than cows! We have to remember that when we do things, people are watching and even following us because of that invisible power called influence. And because we can’t see it, we forget we have it and that it’s affecting people around us. Your behavior? Your choices? You’re giving permission to someone who’s watching you to do the same thing. A child is watching, a younger and weaker Christian, a coworker, a friend, your spouse, your church. Even people in the supermarket, hair and nail salons, barbershop, mall, McDonalds, and the laundromat are all watching you. You step outside the boundaries a little, and they might follow you and end up where they never would have gone otherwise; going farther than even you would ever go. And it’s all because of your choice; your power; your influence.

The word “influence” is defined as “the power or ability to affect someone’s beliefs or actions; the power to produce physical change.” Its origin, ‘influx’; from Latin ‘influere’ literally means ‘to flow in.’ And, ‘to flow in’ is defined as ‘to be encompassed in moving along steadily and continuously.’ When we make choices, and our choices influence others to follow, they are encompassed and moving along steadily and continuously in the choice and consequence that we set as a proper example for them to follow. When we make choices, others can be entrapped by our decisions. They can suffer consequences because of choices we made without responsibility for them. Which is why we need to be very cautious when entering into LEADERSHIP positions. There are many people who will listen to us, and follow us, just because it’s Us! And God help us if we ‘appear’ to be sound, strong, mature and right, they will follow us right into enemy territory and not even know it!

Now, a further danger is this, ‘Grazing Gloria’ never thought about the consequences of her choice; nor did she think about all the old cows and young calf’s that would follow her lead; nor did she ever look back to see the irresponsible and poor choice she made. But since she’s a cow, we can excuse her behavior…but then, what justifies ours?

We must always take time to do self-examination, and inventory so we can make appropriate adjustments before anyone gets hurt by our words, actions, choices or LEADERSHIP. We have to evaluate ourselves:

  1. Am I in the right place?
  2. Am I doing the right thing?
  3. Am I with the right people?
  4. Am I fulfilling the right purpose?
  5. What am I saying?
  6. What am I doing?
  7. Am I helpful, hurtful, or hindering?
  8. Am I lazy, hesitant, or procrastinating?
  9. Am I bitter, angry, hurt, disappointed, or discouraged?
  10. Am I getting stronger?
  11. Am I getting weaker?
  12. Do I have the right vision?
  13. Am I functioning in my gifts, talents, and skill-set?
  14. Am I obedient?
  15. What kind of example am I setting?
  16. Who’s following me?
  17. Who am I following?
  18. Who’s watching me?
  19. Who’s listening to me?
  20. How am I leading?
  21. Who’s keeping me responsible and accountable?
  22. How do I dress?
  23. Am I faithful, committed, and dedicated?
  24. Am I loyal and dependable?
  25. Do I talk to people, or just talk about them?
  26. Do I resolve problems, or am I the problem?
  27. Am I a servant?
  28. Am I trustworthy?
  29. Am I an example worthy of emulating?
  30. If people were asked about my influence, would it be good or bad?

You see, the problem with many of us is that we don’t want anyone to correct us, and we certainly don’t want to self-exam ourselves, because no one knows us better than us, therefore, many tests we already know we’ve failed! But the Psalmist admonishes us by his example: 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; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (MSG)

A Life Unexamined is Unhealthy…be it Leader or Laity!

You see, if we have no check-points, our blind-spots will cause us and others injury…and sometimes the damage is irreparable.

Like it or not, but we are responsible for our influence. We are responsible for the choices we make, even the ones we deem personal. People are watching, listening and following. And at the end of the day, we don’t want to be someone else’s excuse to watch or listen to something questionable. We don’t know where it might take them. So, don’t be someone else’s excuse to swear, or to cheat, to act selfish, to be disrespectful, maybe to flirt with sexual sin or a moral compromise, or just to shade the truth a bit. No, wear your character and integrity like a daily garment. Let people see it on display at all times. Be the example of godliness, holiness, order, obedience, discipline, and the fruit of the Spirit that they should seek to follow. Remember, there are people around you making choices, based on your choices, and they will suffer consequences one way or the other. Make your choices such that they reap gain and not loss.

Could it be that you’ve gotten a little careless, thinking you can wander just a little out of bounds, and you think you’ve found a way to do it where you won’t get hurt, you won’t get stuck, you won’t get caught. Even if that’s true, please look at what you’re doing to those who are watching you, who may follow you. Like ‘Grazing Gloria’s’ gang, you may inadvertently be leading someone down a road they should never be on. Your exercise of freedom could lead someone else into bondage or hurt. If it might cause a brother or sister to fall, don’t even go there! You are your brother and sisters keeper.

1 Corinthians 8:10-13, “For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, SOMEONE WHO LOOKS UP TO YOU AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND MATURE, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong. Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals IF THERE’S ANY CHANCE IT WILL TRIP UP ONE OF YOUR BROTHERS OR SISTERS.” (MSG)

Never Be the Reason Someone’s Fall Happened Simply Because They Were Following You!

Job 31:12-31, “If I’ve ever used my strength and influence to take advantage of the unfortunate, Go ahead, break both my arms, cut off all my fingers! The fear of God has kept me from these things – how else could I ever face Him?” (MSG);

Proverbs 11:11, “By the blessing [of the influence] of the upright the city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.” (AMP)’

Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion].” (AMP);

Mark 12:14, “They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and have no personal bias toward anyone; for You are not influenced by outward appearances or social status, but in truth You teach the way of God…” (AMP)

“You don’t have to be a “person of influence” to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” (Scott Adams);

“Never underestimate the influence you have on others.” (Laurie Buchanan);

“Who and what we surround ourselves with directly influences our attitudes, goals and lifestyles.” (Pinterest);

“Attitude is greatly shaped by influence and association.” (Jim Rohn);

“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” (George Eliot);

“It would be difficult to exaggerate the degree to which we are influenced by those we influence.” (Eric Hoffer);

“Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.” (John Maxwell);

“The most important influence in my childhood was my father.” (DeForest Kelley);

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” (Henry Adams)

“As much as people refuse to believe it, the company you keep does have an impact and influence on your choices.” (Pinterest);

“Your circle of influence dictates your path.” (Jon Bielecki);

“Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.” (Billy Graham);

“God chose to introduce Himself to us in the first verse of Genesis as a Creator. And yet so few Christians really understand the power of creativity to influence the culture.” (Phil Cooke);

“Our generation is in need of Christian women who are willing to rise up and show the culture the powerful influence a God-Defined woman can have.” (GirlDefined);

“The schools, the courts, the media – all seem determined to erase Christian influence from public life and confine religion to the four walls of the church or home.” (Bruce L. Shelley)

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

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“What is Your Appetite Costing You?”

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Hebrews 12:16-17, “Watch out for the Esau-Syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a SHORT-TERM APPETITE. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing – but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” (MSG)

To be honest, I am not at all a television junkie. Well…maybe to clarify I should say I am not a television junkie, where today’s television shows are concerned. However, when it comes to old re-runs’, I promise you I should go down as the champion holding the world’s greatest record for watching old-school shows! I could binge watch them for hours…okay, possibly days is more like it. And one of my favorite’s believe it or not is…let’s see…there was Gilligan, the Skipper, too, the movie star, the millionaire and his wife. You know, it was the cast of that eternally rerunning sitcom, Gilligan’s Island. Maybe you remember the story. They boarded the S.S. Minnow that day to take a what? (I want to sing it so bad!) A “Three hour tour.” But little did they know a storm would come up and they’d end up shipwrecked on some desert island, and they’d have to stay there trapped forever in rerun-land!

However, keep in mind, when they boarded that day, they had no idea how far they were going to go or for how long they were going to stay. Some three-hour tour that turned out to be!

Now, Gilligan’s Island was, of course, just a TV show. But three-hour tours that take you too far and keep you too long are very much Real Life. Just ask a man named Esau.

His story is found in Genesis 25, beginning at verse 31. In a nutshell, he’s the older brother in the family, which means in a Jewish family of that day he had the birthright. In other words, he would someday inherit the family leadership and a double portion of the inheritance, and a lot of other wonderful privileges. But before you get excited about all these great things that will happen for this brother, read on first. You see, one day he’s coming in from hunting and he’s really hungry, and his more domestic brother is cooking up his specialty, ‘Stew Ala Jacob’. Here’s what happened in detail: “Jacob had cooked [reddish-brown lentil] stew [one day], when Esau came from the field and was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, “Please, let me have a quick swallow of that red stuff there, because I am exhausted and famished.” For that reason Esau was [also] called Edom (Red). Jacob answered, “First sell me your birthright (the rights of a firstborn).” Esau said, “Look, I am about to die [if I do not eat soon]; so of what use is this birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:29-32 AMP)

Like I said in the opening, I’m not crazy about today’s television, but there is one show that I have watched that can glue me to the edge of my seat. And it’s “Deal or No Deal?” Why does that ring a bell right about now? Because as I read the text I’m ready to scream at the Bible, and yell at Esau, “Don’t do it, man! Deal or No Deal? NO DEAL! It’s a lousy trade!” But unfortunately, Esau can’t hear me. And so the Bible goes on to say, “Jacob said, “Swear [an oath] to me today [that you are selling it to me for this food]”; so he swore [an oath] to him, and sold him his birthright. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and got up and went on his way. In this way Esau scorned his birthright.” (Genesis 25:33-34 MSG)

Esau felt better, for a few hours. But because of that choice, he felt miserable for the rest of his life!

There’s even a tragic “P.S.” to Esau’s life in the New Testament in Hebrews 12:16-17. It says, “Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.” (NLT)

Two other translations read like this:

“None of you should fall into sex sins or forget God like Esau did. He had a right to get all Isaac had because he was the oldest son. But for one plate of food he sold this right to his brother. You know that later he would have received everything. But he did not get it even when he asked for it with tears. It was too late to make right the wrong he had done.” (NLV);

“Watch out for the Esau-syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing – but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” (MSG)

There’s so many lessons in just these few short lines of Scripture, but let’s take a glance at a few:

1…Esau had the right to inherit everything of his father’s, but he traded his prosperity for a plate of food! And before you get on Esau to railroad him, let’s self-exam first, shall we? What have you forfeited of your Father’s blessings and inheritance, because you traded it for a ‘plate of food’? Did you allow one more drink, one more smoke, one more hit, one more affair, one more night, one more slip, one more lie? What did you trade in the moment, assuming you would have another moment? Listen, I don’t care what the offer is, if it causes you to miss out on what God has purposely laid up for you, then the only thing that should come out of your mouth is, “No Deal!” You have too much to lose on a bad trade! Ephesians 1:3-6, “How blessed is God! And what a blessing He is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, AND TAKES US TO THE HIGH PLACES OF BLESSING IN HIM. Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, HE HAD US IN MIND, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to ADOPT US INTO HIS FAMILY through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of HIS LAVISH GIFT-GIVING BY THE HAND OF HIS BELOVED SON.” (MSG) People of God, I don’t know about you, but there is nothing the devil or this world has to offer me that would be deemed a fair or even trade for the Family of God’s Blessings and Inheritance! So the next time temptation rears its ugly head like it did with Eve and the Serpent, don’t hold a long conversation, just simply say, “No Deal”! I can’t afford to trade my Father’s Inheritance to me!”

2…Esau had it all, and didn’t lose it or have it taken or stolen, but he freely gave his rightful blessings away! Again, before you judge him too harshly, there are some blessings that your Father had in hand to bestow on you, and unfortunate as it is, you halted His hand. How? Willfully trading your spiritual prosperity for a plate of flesh! Listen, it’s one thing to go to the police and say my car was stolen (and it really was); however, it’s something altogether different when you go to the police and tell them, my car was stolen (but I gave them the keys, and permission to take it). Can you imagine what the officers’ face would look like? In fact, he would probably have you arrested for impersonating someone with common sense! People of God, your Father has blessings that He desires to bestow on you simply because you’re His sons and daughters. Don’t blow your benefits by getting caught up in a moment. It’s dangerous thinking you have one more moment, one more minute, or just a little, or just this one last time, or I’ve got time to make this right…and so you trade…only to never recover! Don’t think it can happen to you? Just listen to another of your brothers, who stepped out of line and lost it all in just one brief moment. The Bible reads: “That was stupid!” Samuel said. “You didn’t obey the Lord your God. If you had obeyed Him, someone from your family would always have been king of Israel. But no, you disobeyed, and so the Lord won’t choose anyone else from your family to be king. In fact, He has already chosen the one He wants to be the next leader of His people.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14 CEV). Can you imagine, once again, having it all, then giving it all away with just one foolish act? Or in the words of Samuel, one stupid act! And sadly, in Saul’s case, his foolish act didn’t just affect him, but no one else from his lineage would be able to be king. Even if they did absolutely nothing wrong, the family as a whole suffered from Saul’s moment of impulsiveness and disobedience. Children of God, let that also be a lesson for you, you have husbands and wives, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters and the last thing you want to do is put your whole family in a position of loss, because you couldn’t find a way to say “No Deal!” Don’t give away your Father’s blessings and inheritance! Don’t allow your appetite to be the liability that takes away your asset!

3…Esau couldn’t even make his wrong…right, because even with tears and repentance, he was already rejected, there was no more time left. And isn’t that like a lot of us, we willfully sin, and then assume we’ll have time to repent. Well, what happens when you find yourself walking in Esau’s shoes? “… afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.” (NLT) The term “too late” is defined as, “after the proper or available time; or when the time or opportunity is past” And that’s exactly what happened to Esau, he missed the opportunity to inherit his father’s blessing. And worse, he didn’t get to make his wrong, right. Don’t Let This Happen to You! Yes, repentance gives you the opportunity to turn, but sometimes time will cause you to miss your turn! So whatever you’re in today, if it would cause you to lose what you’ve found in God, turn now, while you still have time left!

4…Listen to this again, “Watch out for the Esau-syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing – but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” (MSG) The word “impulsive” is defined as “doing things or tending to do things suddenly and without careful thought; done suddenly and without planning; to be rash, quick or hasty.” Sounds just like Esau! “…and Esau said to Jacob, “Please, let me have a QUICK SWALLOW of that red stuff there, because I am exhausted and famished.” Saints, what’s important to know is this, Esau was not in the dark about his birthright and inheritance. He knew at a young age, because they are informed of it at a young age. And yet, even knowing what he would be trading (and ultimately losing), he did it anyway. Likewise, brothers and sisters, you already know the blessings God desires to give you, you know that because reading your Bible tells you that. So you are in no position to say “Oops, I didn’t know.” Yes, you did, and you went on and did that anyway. Be careful about picking up the “…Esau-Syndrome, of trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite…” You already know what you’ve gained, and therefore, what you stand to lose, so when the opportunity of trade comes up, turn it down fast! Don’t allow your impulsive flesh to cause you to miss out on your inheritance.

With one short-sighted decision, Esau entered the Gilligan Zone. Which is that place where you decide to do something that will feel good for a while, thinking it will only be a three-hour tour. But you end up in the Gilligan Zone, farther than you ever wanted to go, staying longer than you ever wanted to stay. And for you, that may be no TV plot! It’s happened to you. It all starts when we pull an Esau. We do something because it will get us through the moment. It will meet a need for us for now, only to hurt for years to come.

That’s the ugly secret about sin. It looks like it will get us through something. That deceit, that giving in to the pressure, that compromise of your integrity, that drink, that sexual sin, or cutting corners to get ahead or get accepted. Something appears in front of you that looks like it might meet a need, it might relieve the pain or help you get ahead. And you only mean for it to be just a little while, maybe just this once. Right? Just a three-hour tour.

But sin does not let you go once you let it out of the box. It will take you farther, it will keep you longer than you ever bargained for. Thus bringing out the truth of, James 1:15, “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” The Message Bible reads like this, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from US AND ONLY US. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of OUR OWN lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (vss. 13-15 MSG)

Too many people never make it back from sin’s three-hour tour! In the power of Jesus the Savior, you can resist sin, you can resist that compromise that looks so good but will cost you so much. James 4:7 says, “So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you.” (AMP) A moment of relief is not worth a lifetime of regret. Especially when you willingly made a bad trade!

Proverbs 5:21-23, “Mark well that God doesn’t miss a move you make; He’s aware of every step you take. The shadow of your sin will overtake you; you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark. Death is the reward of an undisciplined life; your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.” (MSG) Do you really want that to be descriptive of you? Sinful; Undisciplined and Foolish? Of course not. So today, determine that you will not suffer from the “…Esau-Syndrome, of trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite…” Because ultimately Esau was full, for the moment, but at the cost of being empty for a whole lot longer. And not only did he give his birthright away freely, but he also suffered later when he wanted the opportunity to make his wrong, right, but it was too late, repentance had run its course, and Esau was left in tears. Friends, can you honestly say that “him, her, them, or it” would be worth that as a trade-off for what God has to offer? Let me be the first to tell you, no it is not! So the next time the offer to sin, or accept anything that would hinder the Hand of God bestowing His blessings on your life shows up, I strongly suggest you remember Gilligan Island’s three hour tour…that was a whole lot longer! And then respond with “No Deal!”

Anything or anyone that would cause you to lose your Father’s Inheritance to You, is not a good trade, is not beneficial, is not promising, is not worth it!

Lastly, the word “appetite” is defined as “a natural desire to satisfy a bodily need, especially for food.” However, its’ Latin Origin “appetitus” means “desire for”, coming from “appetere” meaning “to seek after”. Listen, your appetite is what you desire when you’re seeking after something. Which is why it’s so important to be careful when you’re seeking comfort, love, friendship, marriage, money etc…because sin, according to James, comes from within us, our own lusts, enticements and desires. All things of the flesh, in which no good thing resides. Esau’s momentary appetite for food, caused him to lose his inheritance. Be mindful in the things/people/places you desire, you seek after and want for yourself…even if but for the moment. It will cost you, and cost you big. And sometimes, just like Esau, there is no recovery from the loss! Check your appetite, and make sure that you hunger more for the things of God than the things of your faulty flesh.

Galatians 5:16-18, “But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds IMPULSIVELY without regard for God and His precepts].  For the sinful nature has its DESIRE which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [DESIRE of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do.  But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.” (AMP)

Start to Walk Habitually in the Spirit, and You’ll Stop Impulsively Stepping Into Satan’s Traps for Your Flesh!

“You are free to make whatever choice you want, but you are not free from the consequences of the choice.” (Author Unknown)

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” (Author Unknown)

“What you feed your mind determines your appetite.” (Tom Ziglar)

“We must be careful not to let our Current Appetites steal away any chance we might have for a Future Feast.” (Jim Rohn)

“The key to Christian living is a thirst and hunger for God. And one of the main reasons people do not understand or experience the sovereignty of grace and the way it works through the awakening of sovereign joy is that their hunger and thirst for God is so small.” (John Piper)

“God releases more of His power and presence according to the measure of our hunger for Him.” (Mike Bickle)

“It’s abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible. It has been written into our spiritual DNA to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow at the name of Jesus.” (Bill Johnson)

“Worship and spiritual hunger make you so attractive to God that your circumstances cease to matter anymore. He will move heaven and earth to find a worshiper. When you begin to worship with all your being and desire, your heart turns Him toward you. You capture His attention and attract His affection.” (Tommy Tenney)

“Neglecting proper biblical nourishment spoils the spiritual appetite, and the result is theological malnutrition.” (Alistair Begg)

“When it comes to satisfying our spiritual appetites, there is no such thing as excess. There are no restraints placed on us by God. There are no rules of temperance or laws requiring moderation or boundaries beyond which we cannot go in seeking to enjoy Him. We need never pause to inquire whether we’ve crossed a line or become overindulgent. You need never fear feeling too good about God.” (Sam Storms)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How to Do Laundry When Someone’s Sick?”

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“You’re Facing the Wrong Way!”

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Isaiah 43:18-19, “Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past. See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening now. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (NLV)

I have been to my fair share of amusement parks both as a child and as an adult. And honestly, I’ve enjoyed quite a few of the rides. However, I must admit, I am not a fan of the roller coaster! Oh, I’ll watch you on it, and will scream when you scream, and will laugh myself silly, but I will do every bit of that on the ground! You see, my rides on roller coasters are very few and really far in between! But there is this particular amusement park that I visited many years ago, and they had two roller coasters side by side and two lines to get to them. Over on one line was a sign that said, “Forward.” Over on the other line, a sign said – yeah, you guessed it – “Backward.” Either way, it was your choice. You could ride looking forward or looking backward. But you had to pick one!

The older I get, the more I realize there are two lines in life as well, and two cars you can ride in. One says, “Forward” and the other says, “Backward.” Either one you pick, it will be your choice. Frankly, I don’t want to ride looking back at where I’ve already been. No, I’d rather ride looking ahead to where I’m going. I hope you do, too.

And that’s what God wants for you. Don’t believe it? Just listen to the Bible: Isaiah 43:18-19, here’s what it says, “Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past. See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening now. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (NLV)

God wants today to be the first day of the rest of your life, not just another day of what your life has already been up until now. This can be page one of a whole new volume or just another page of the same old story. Either way, the choice will always be yours to make.

Maybe you’ve been riding too long looking backward. You keep rehearsing and reliving the hurt of your past, your failures, the painful losses you’ve experienced, and the regrets over what you’ve done or what you should have done or what was done to you. But that’s the past, and none of it can be changed. But if you don’t move beyond the pain, the anger, the bitterness, the self-pity, the grief, and the self-condemnation – if you keep dwelling on that, you’ll miss the part of your life that can be changed – the future.

Think about it: If you choose the roller coaster ride where you’re facing backwards, all you’ll ever see is where you’ve already been. And haven’t you been facing that way long enough? Every time you tell a story it’s always past tense, because instead of your past being a reference, you’ve allowed it to become a residence. My dear, that is not the purpose of your past. You are not to live in the prison of your past confined to all the people, places and things that didn’t go right. Living like that is wrong! You are at the amusement park, enjoying the ride, but with no new attractions to see, because you  continue to deliberately choose to face the wrong way. All you see is “been there, done that, got the t-shirt.” All you see is what they said and what they did and what you didn’t accomplish. But that was then, this is Now! And what does God say about Now? “…See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening NOW…” (NLV)

Just imagine what you’re missing because you’re facing the wrong way?! You see, when you ride the roller coaster ride and you’re facing forward, there is always something new to see! Whether you go up or down, and in life you will experience both, still you will see it in a new view. Imagine going low, but the anticipation and expectation of what you’ll see when you come up again! You’ll always be in a  constant excitement of what is next! Not, “oh, I saw that already, or I knew that was coming.”

One of God’s great representatives, Paul, said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christ-like] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching FORWARD to what lies ahead, I press on TOWARD the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the UPWARD call of God in Christ Jesus.” (AMP)

People of God, it’s time we stop facing BACKWARD, and instead start facing FORWARD, as we press TOWARD, the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the UPWARD call of God in Christ Jesus!

No more back peddling, no more staring in the rear-view mirror as if we can go back and undo what we’ve done or what’s been done to us. No, today is the day that we stop hesitating, stop procrastinating, stop remaining stuck and stagnant. Today is the day we move Forward, Toward and Upward! Today is the day we change direction and face the right way!

We don’t need faith for what has happened already, we need faith for what is about to happen. We have to prepare for what God is going to do, not what He has already done!

Stop treating your life like a hamster on a wheel, constantly moving, but going nowhere but in circles!

Which means you have to do quite a bit of self-examination. You need to test the people, places and things in your life and see what needs to be restored and what needs to be replaced! It’s time for new, not just the same old, that you keep slapping patches on in hopes it will ‘this time’ hold itself together.

Jesus is the Lord of new beginnings, of fresh starts, of clean slates. You need to come to Him and let Him release you from being tied to the people who’ve hurt you, by getting His grace to forgive them. You need to ask His help to begin to define your life, not by what has happened, but by what’s going to happen; what can happen because of Jesus in your life. Yes, it is Jesus alone that still makes the difference!

Think about it: The lame walked because of Him; the deaf heard because of Him; the blind was able to see because of Him; the adulterous were forgiven because of Him; a 12 year old girl was brought back to life because of Him; the woman with the issue of blood was healed because of Him; the four friends were able to get their friend delivered off that mat because of Him! The testimonies are endless regarding the change that Jesus makes in the lives of people! And if you dare to allow Him to help you get past your past, He can do some wondrous things in your life too! But you can’t stay stuck in the same place! You can’t keep turning backwards. You have to move forward. You have to change direction. You have to do something different.

Can you imagine if the woman at the well stayed there; can you imagine if Lazarus would’ve ignored Jesus call; can you imagine if Mary said, ‘sorry God, but this is just too outrageous for me to be a part of’; can you imagine if Ruth said, ‘nope, I’m going back to what’s familiar’; can you imagine if Abraham said, ‘leave my family and go somewhere without a destination in mind, I don’t think so?’; can you imagine if Esther said, ‘oh well, at least I made it to the palace, hope the rest of yall survive somehow’; can you imagine if Deborah said, ‘Barack I don’t have to go with you so I’m not’; Can you imagine if Gideon didn’t listen to God but kept all the useless people he had with him? All of these people had to do something unfamiliar, uncommon, and uncomfortable to see something new and different. And my friend you will have to be put in the very same position!

Yes, that means you may have to work on an auxiliary you never have before; yes, that means you’ll have to finally go back to school and finish your education; yes, that means you may have to accept that, that particular friendship and relationship has run their course; yes, that means you may have to take a job in a field you know nothing about; yes, that means you may have to take this next journey alone; yes, that means you may have to break out the box by reshaping your inner-circle; yes, that may even mean a change in the most simple of things (a change in hairstyle or hair color; a different style of dress; a different restaurant; different foods; learning about different cultures or a different language; taking up yoga, Zumba or Pilates). In other words, you can’t expect to see something new if you keep staring at something old. You can’t expect to experience something new when you keep hanging around something old.

You have to force yourself to face the challenge of doing new things, so you don’t die with the same ole, same ole.

“Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past. See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening NOW. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (NLV)

Your new thing is trying to happen NOW, but do you see it? No! Do you know it? No! Because the old has your undivided attention! And the most expensive thing in the world is paying attention to people who don’t value you! Enough is enough!

God is trying to do such remarkable things that you’ve never seen or heard before, and you’re missing out on all of it because your eyes have a distorted vision of the past only, and no insight of the future that can’t wait to be revealed!

2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (MSG)

As hard as your past may have been, it is but small potatoes compared to the coming good times! There’s so much greater ahead of you if only you’d stop focusing behind you!

Listen, if that bad relationship was enough to take you out you wouldn’t be alive today. Maybe the reason you haven’t seen the right person for you is because all you can see is the person who was wrong for you! Forgive them, forgive you, and face forward! You have no idea what and who you’re missing out on! Stop reliving, stop rehearsing, stop rehashing. Your life is a great ride, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you’ll face the right way! Stop complaining about your former church, you haven’t been there in years! Focus on where you are now, and where you’re on your way to, it’s a much more exciting view! Stop retelling the stories of coworkers that betrayed you in 1990, you do know it’s 2020 right? Yes, dad left (when you were 6) and if you’re not careful, you’ll be 60 and still telling the story of when he was supposed to come back with your bag of chips and never did. Yes, that person broke your heart, and believe it or not, but your heart is still beating! Who knew someone could break your heart and still not stop your pulse?! They picked her over you for the promotion. I get it, you’re more qualified. But at the end of the day, you still have a job, a paycheck, and you can still pay your bills, you my friend are still ahead of the game!

I’ll even go so far as to tell you to stop talking down to yourself and about yourself. Very few of us are the same size we were in high school, and guess what? We’re still here, so what exactly do we have to complain about? If you don’t like your weight, change your eating habits, diet, go to the gym, see your doctor. But don’t keep taking out the family photos from 1970 to compare yourself to who you are in 2020!

The dog you loved when you were 10 is dead. You do know you can get another dog right?

Are you getting this? You don’t have to stay stuck, you don’t have to be complacent, you don’t have to live in your comfort zone or your past. You are free to change, to move and to do something different and new, so do it! Don’t let yet another year come and go and you find yourself at December 31, 2020 with the same old story of what you’re going to do different in 2021!

No! Today is your day to change position and direction! We’re not going over that old history any longer!

Listen, when you can start your story and anybody can finish it at the drop of a hat, it’s been told too often! Enough! Take a pen, get a new book, and start a new chapter! Preferably, one no one has heard of before! Let people see things in your life now and wonder when did you do that, when did you go there, when did you finish that? Instead of, ‘yeah, I remember you told me, quite a few times before.’

Saints, no more settling for what you SAW, it’s time to SEE!

Get out of your Past, into your Present and preparing for your Future! You’ve been focusing behind you long enough, today, decide to Face Forward and enjoy a Better Ride with a Better View of the Better Things Coming Just for You!

“If you think your best days are behind you, they are. If you think your best days are ahead of you, they are.” (Jon Gordon)

“How you see your future is much more important than what happened in your past.” (Zig Ziglar)

“As years and experiences add up and life begins to wear us down, it’s easy for the vibrancy of our passion and purpose to fade…never let your best days be behind you. In my mind, they’re always ahead.” (Shawn Anderson)

“Get your hopes up. Raise your expectations. Your best days are still in front of you.” (Joel Osteen)

“Your life isn’t behind you; your memories are behind you. Your life is always ahead of you. Today is a new day – seize it!” (Steve Maraboli)

“The only way you may correct the bad things in your past is to add better things to your future.” (Shiloh Morrison)

“Don’t fall in love with what God did for you yesterday.” (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

“To reach up for the new, you must let go of the old. What lies behind you is not nearly as important as what lies in front of you.” (Joel Osteen)

“The past is like using your rear-view mirror in the car, it’s good to glance back and see how far you’ve come, but if you stare too long, you’ll miss what’s right in front of you.” (Author Unknown)

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” (Author Unknown)

“Even though there are days I wish I could change some things that happened in the past, there’s a reason the rear-view mirror is so small and the windshield is so big, where you’re headed is much more important than what you’ve left behind.” (Author Unknown)

“Every morning, we get a chance to be different. A chance to change. A chance to be better. Your past is your past. Leave it there!” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes you just have to turn the page to realize there is more to your book of life than the page you’re stuck on. Stop being afraid to move on. Close this chapter of hurt, and never re-read it again. It’s time to get what your life deserves, and move on from the things that don’t deserve you. Don’t spend your days trying to correct your past, instead, let go and let God create something better for your future.” (Author Unknown)

“When your past calls, do not pick up! It has nothing new to say!” (Author Unknown)

“The best way to stop stumbling over the past is to walk boldly into the future.” (Author Unknown)

“God put your eyes in front of your head for a reason, now stop looking back!” (Author Unknown)

“Progress is made by moving forward not looking backward!” (Author Unknown)

“No matter how much you revisit the past, there’s nothing new to see.” (Author Unknown)

“There comes a time to stop looking back and trying to figure out ‘why’? At some point, we need to shift our attention to ‘what’s next’?” (Author Unknown)

“Just because the past taps you on the shoulder, doesn’t mean you have to turn around and look back! It simply means you’re not moving forward fast or far enough!” (Author Unknown)

“It is not possible to go forward while looking back.” (Author Unknown)

“Once you make the decision to move on, don’t look back. Your destiny will never be found in the rear-view mirror!” (Mandy Hale)

“It’s okay to look back at the past, just don’t stare!” (Author Unknown)

“Lord, remove anybody out of my life that means me no good, serves me no good purpose, and is not real and loyal in my presence and absence. Bless me with the discernment to realize and give me the strength to let go and don’t look back!” (Author Unknown)

“Stop crying over spilt milk and start looking for the next cow!” (Author Unknown)

“You’ll never see all the awesome things ahead of you if you keep looking at all the bad things behind you. Sometimes you just have to turn around and give a little smile, throw the match and burn that bridge! Live, learn and don’t look back!” (Author Unknown)

“Never look back. If Cinderella went to pick up her shoe, she would not have become a Princess!” (Author Unknown)

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

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“Embracing Time Off, Time Out and Time Away”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Big Man, Big Head, Big Fall!”

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2 Chronicles 26:11-18, “On the military side, UZZIAH had a well-prepared army ready to fight. They were organized by companies under the direction of Jeiel the secretary, Maaseiah the field captain, and Hananiah of the general staff. The roster of family leaders over the fighting men accounted for 2,600. Under them were reinforcement troops numbering 307,000, with 500 of them on constant alert—A STRONG ROYAL DEFENSE AGAINST ANY ATTACK. Uzziah had them well-armed with shields, spears, helmets, armor, bows, and slingshots. He also installed the latest in military technology on the towers and corners of Jerusalem for shooting arrows and hurling stones. HE BECAME WELL KNOWN FOR ALL THIS—A FAMOUS KING. Everything seemed to go his way. BUT then the strength and success went to his HEAD. ARROGANT AND PROUD, HE FELL. One day, contemptuous of God, he walked into The Temple of God like he owned it and took over…” (MSG)

More than likely you’ve heard many nursery rhymes growing up. Either your parents have shared them with you or you’ve shared them with your children. Some of the most popular ones are: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”; “Three Little Kittens”; “Three Blind Mice”; “This Little Piggy”; “Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”; “Row Row Row Your Boat”; “Rock-a-Bye Baby”; “Rain Rain Go Away”; “Pop Goes the Weasel”; “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater”; “Old Mother Hubbard”; “Mother Goose”; “Mary Mary Quite Contrary”; “Mary Had a Little Lamb”; “London Bridge is Falling Down”; “Little Bo Peep” and the list can go on forever! However, there is one particular nursery rhyme that crossed my mind today: “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpy Dumpty had a great fall; all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

But Wait! I thought Humpty Dumpty was just a nursery rhyme. You know, the big egg who sat on a wall, but had a great fall. But as it turns out, Humpty has got a lot of company these days from men sitting on a high wall, and smashed by a big fall!

Take one of the world’s most powerful financial figures, for example, in a $3,000-a-night Manhattan hotel suite one night, and then the next night, in a tough New York jail. He stood accused of serious sexual violation of a hotel maid. Now, those accusations had to be proven in court, but they did resonate with a reputation for mixing power with sexual aggression.

But then that story isn’t what we want to focus on. That’s just the latest of many high-profile stories of a powerful man who has taken a precipitous (‘dangerously high or steep; hasty; sudden and dramatic’) Humpty Dumpty crash! You can think about athletes, politicians, financial high-rollers, and yes, even prominent men in ministry!

Now, at the root is a time-bomb mindset identified by a man who knows this scenario all too well–Tiger Woods. After his darkest secrets spilled out of the closets for all the world to see, here’s what he said: “I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I felt I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me.” Now, listen to his key phrase: “I felt I was entitled.

The word “entitlement” is defined as “to give someone a right to do or have.” In a nutshell, entitlement is the gateway to moral disaster. Entitlement says, “My position means the rules don’t apply to me. I have a right to go out of bounds.” You know, in 2 Chronicles 26:16, the Jewish king Uzziah had led his nation to a new pinnacle of greatness, all the while, he was deeply reliant on God UNTIL the Bible says, “He became successful” and “pride became his downfall.” The Amplified Bible says it like this: “But when Uzziah became strong, he became so proud [of himself and his accomplishments] that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful and sinned against the Lord his God…” (AMP)

He walked into the temple and began to take privileges that God had clearly given only to His priests. And like Icarus flying too close to the sun, Uzziah came crashing down.

Even the great King David must have felt that he’d won so many victories and done so much good that, well; he was entitled to sex with the wife of a trusted friend. However, his life was never the same: 2 Samuel 12:15-18, “After Nathan went home, God afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he came down sick. David prayed desperately to God for the little boy. He fasted, wouldn’t go out, and slept on the floor. The elders in his family came in and tried to get him off the floor, but he wouldn’t budge. Nor could they get him to eat anything. On the seventh day the child died…” (MSG)

It’s just all too easy to succumb to that feeling of entitlement, especially when you’ve escalated in rank, order and position. Some feel entitled because of the position they’ve achieved, or some because of the pressures they face: “If you only knew what I’m going through….I deserve this…I need this…” And even some because of the pain they’re going through. It can be a high-flying leader, a lonely wife, a much-loved pastor, or a very busy, very tired man. Entitled to some relief, some attention, some affection, some stolen pleasure, some reward, a spiritualday offif you will. And it is those detours at Entitlement Junction where lives and families and reputations and ministries are ripped apart.

In this day and age of the church, every other day it seems you hear of someone else with a ring, robe, cross, church, position, title, chair, elevation etc. However, the danger is that titles have a tendency to make one feel entitled, even to the things and people they know not to touch. Everyone is important, powerful, anointed, gifted and the like. Everyone is walking around with 20 people following behind them wiping their sweat, pouring their tea, carrying their bible, chauffeuring them around as if they can’t get in their own car and drive from one location to the next. The church has become full of stages, performances, shows, roles, and characters with no Character.

You can’t find humility, servanthood, or anyone willing to work behind the scenes, because they’re all too busy fighting for the starring role and lead! Pride has become prevalent and even acceptable as we make failed attempts to cover it up withself-confidence”.

However, God really is “no respecter of persons.Romans 2:9-11, “If you go against the grain, you get splinters, regardless of which neighborhood you’re from, what your parents taught you, what schools you attended. But if you embrace the way God does things, there are wonderful payoffs, again without regard to where you are from or how you were brought up. Being a Jew won’t give you an automatic stamp of approval. God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind.” (MSG); Acts 10:34-36, “Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from – if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message He sent to the children of Israel – that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again – well, He’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.” (MSG);

In other words, as entitled as you may think you are, God doesn’t think so! So whatever pedestal you’ve put yourself on or allowed others to put you on, get off it before God helps you down! Proverbs 16:18, “First pride, then the crash – the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (MSG).

And, as Warren Wiersbe says, “A lifetime of obedience will not buy you one hour of disobedience.” Just ask King David. God made it clear “your sin will find you out.” Why? Because He loves you too much to let you keep getting away with what will ultimately destroy you. And sad to say, but we really don’t have leaders who are correcting, we just have leaders who are covering! And as my mother always said, “what’s covered won’t heal.” Sounds like she paraphrased that from Proverbs 28:13, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But whoever confesses and turns away from his sins will find compassion and mercy.” (AMP).

Brothers, you don’t need anyone else giving you pats on the back, you need to instead surround yourself with those who will give you a swift kick in the behind when you’re heading the wrong way and doing the wrong thing! You need a brotherhood that will be the epitome of James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].” (AMP)

Listen, can you imagine how things would have turned out for Uzziah had he had another brother give him a swift kick when he needed it? He wouldn’t have ended up with a Humpty Dumpty irreparable crash! And the worse part isn’t that he fell, but that his fall was so great that he wasn’t able to recover from it. Reminds us a little of King Saul:

1 Samuel 13:8-14, “Now Saul waited seven days, according to the appointed time which Samuel had set, but Samuel had not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering away from Saul.  So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering [which he was forbidden to do].  As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel finally came; Saul went out to meet and to welcome him. But Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “Since I saw that the people were scattering away from me, and that you did not come within the appointed time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash,  therefore, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked for the Lord’s favor [by making supplication to Him].’ So I forced myself to offer the burnt offering.”  Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for [if you had obeyed] the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man (David) after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as leader and ruler over His people, because you have not kept (obeyed) what the Lord commanded you.” (AMP).

One bad decision, one act of disobedience and Saul lost everything forever! Men of God, surely you don’t want this to be your testimony!

Which is why it’s a must that you build walls high around the places where you’re most vulnerable. And fall to your knees in repentance where you’ve strayed out of bounds before any more damage is done.

1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” (AMP). Make one of your simple 911 prayers, “Lord, in the midst of this temptation, bring back to my remembrance that you’ve already provided me with a way of escape. Grant me the discernment to see it and the wisdom to take it, NOW!”

Don’t allow pride, temptation, or disobedience to be your downfall! Because as much as we like to teach and preach the “fluff” messages that God will restore all things, truth is, sometimes that is not the case. Humpty Dumpty NEVER recovered! Remember? “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpy Dumpty had a great fall; all the king’s horses and all the king’s men COULDN’T put Humpty together again.” I reiterate, Humpty Dumpty NEVER recovered and neither did Uzziah or Saul, and David barely made it by!

Brothers, don’t take your chances! Don’t assume that you are simply entitled to do whatever you want to do, for that is far from the truth. Your every choice comes with a consequence, and some of those consequences are not temporary. Therefore, never get so caught up in who you are or who you think you are. Never become so consumed by your accomplishments or their accolades and applause. After all, even Jesus had those cry out Hosanna and Crucify Him in the same breath! Never become so big-headed that you become hard-hearted. Uzziah did and look what happened to him: 2 Chronicles 26:16, “But then the strength and success went to his head. Arrogant and proud, HE FELL.” (MSG). Other translations read like this:

“Uzziah became proud of his power, and this led to his DOWNFALL…” (CEV);

“But when Uzziah became strong, his pride caused him to be DESTROYED…” (ERV);

“But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his DESTRUCTION…” (ESV);

“But when he became powerful, his pride DESTROYED him…” (GWT);

“But when he became strong, he grew arrogant and it led to his own DESTRUCTION…” (HCSB);

“But when Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his RUIN…” (NCV);

“But when he became strong, Uzziah’s heart was so proud that his actions were SINFUL…” (NLV)

And he had no one to blame for his own self-destruction but himself! James 1:13-15, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (MSG)

Men of God, don’t let this happen to you! Always remain humble and obedient and use godly wisdom for every decision. And before every choice, weigh out the consequences. Remembering that although some may be temporal, others will be permanent and eternal and unable to be undone. In doing this, you won’t end up the Big Man Whose Big Head Caused Him a Big Fall!

“Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.” (T.S. Eliot)

“The truth is hard to swallow when you’re choking on your pride.” (LiveHappyNow)

“God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.” (Dwight L. Moody)

“Arrogance is the camouflage of insecurity.” (Tim Fargo)

“Arrogance is out of fashion. It is just a façade used by the ego to hide your most authentic you.” (Roxana Jones)

“Pride will cost you Everything but leave you with Nothing.” (Author Unknown)

“Arrogance requires advertising. Confidence speaks for itself.” (TheGoodVibe)

“Arrogance is just insecurities playing dress up.” (Author Unknown)

“I wish you self-esteem so high that you’re humble.” (Author Unknown)

“Knowledge makes people humble and arrogance makes people ignorant.” (Author Unknown)

“Arrogance is an unhealthy ego in need of repair.” (Thomas Faranda)

“Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil’s reach as humility.” (Jonathan Edwards)

“Swallow your pride. You will not die. It’s not poison.” (Bob Dylan)

“When one lives attached to money, pride or power, it is impossible to be happy.” (Pope Francis)

“For pride is a spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” (C.S. Lewis)

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: “Male Breast Cancer Awareness”

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

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“The Danger of Seeking Validation”

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I know for a fact that I’m really going to date myself when I share this, but oh well! You see, when I was a teenager, you could often tell a girl was going “steady” with a boy by the jacket she wore. And when my cousin started going “steady” with a girl, she couldn’t wait to get into his jacket; his football jacket that is – the one he earned with blood, sweat, tears, and my aunt’s hard earned money. You could tell this girl was “going with” my cousin. How? The jacket she wore had his name on it. I have to tell you though, it was slightly amusing to me to watch her wear it. You see, my cousin was a big lineman! He was over 6 feet tall and over 300 pounds! His girlfriend on the other hand, was lucky to ever break a hundred on the scale! In other words, she swam in that coat! It completely drowned her! And she wasn’t the only one. We had a lot of girls in our school who were dating athletes, (including myself) and we all wore their jackets as a symbol that stated, “Hey, I belong to him. He’s mine.But the truth is, most of us didn’t look that great in those guy’s jackets. You see, I discovered that wearing what a man gives you for security may not be the best fit for you after all! Keep that in mind as we journey forward!

We’re going to take a look at Genesis chapter 29. But first let me give you a brief background. Jacob has worked seven years to earn Rachel’s hand. However, he didn’t realize until he lifted the veil on his wedding night that he had been deceived. He had married the sister, Leah, who was not Miss America or Miss Israel for that matter. So he had to work seven more years to get Rachel, the one he really wanted. Now he’s got two wives. The Bible says, “Rachel he loved. Leah was unloved by him.” 

Leah, like many women, had a very deep love hunger that was slowly starving to death.

Genesis 29:31-32,When God realized that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb. But Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and had a son. She named him Reuben (Look-It’s-a-Boy!). “This is a sign,” she said, “that God has seen my misery; and a sign that now my husband will love me.” (MSG) Interesting isn’t it? She’s looking to this man for the love and the identity she needs and she’s coming up empty.

Well, then, she finally has another baby…and another… It says in Genesis 29:33-34,She became pregnant again and had another son. “God heard,” she said, “that I was unloved and so he gave me this son also.” She named this one Simeon (God-Heard). She became pregnant yet again—another son. She said, “Now maybe my husband will connect with me—I’ve given him three sons!” That’s why she named him Levi (Connect)” (MSG). Again the man does not give her what she needs. 

I’ve always found this story absolutely amazing because it opens up with Leah knowing that this man doesn’t love her, and never has. He has always wanted and loved her sister Rachel. Can you imagine a woman knowing full well that a man does not love her, from the very beginning, and even after he sleeps with her, his only response is, how do I get Rachel your sister instead? And her response to that? I’ll get pregnant and give him sons. You see, it was a big deal in their culture to have the firstborn be a son. So to Leah, it was a sign that Jacob would indeed finally love her (even though he’s given her absolutely no reason to believe he’d changed his mind, or that he ever would). After all, Rachel (no matter how much you love her), is barren. I, on the other hand have given you your firstborn son. Surely, “…my husband will love me…” (MSG). And when that doesn’t happen, Leah continues on her love-deprived search and quest. She gives him 2 more sons, Simeon and Levi. Now she believes God has heard of her unloved misery and that now her husband will connect with her. However, Leah is in for more discouragement and disappointment.

Leah, wanted the love of her husband, she wanted God to hear of her misery and intervene and then she wanted to connect with her husband. Son after son after son…Leah is let down over and over again. She keeps trying to give a man what she thinks he wants so she can finally get what she needs. However, Leah remains unloved and let down.

In truth, Leah reminds me a lot of the young girls/women that I counsel. I just recently had a teenager in my office who just turned 17 and she’s currently pregnant with her third child! (Yes, I said third!) All of them are by the same boy. The same boy in fact, who has told her repetitively that he does not love her or want her. Yet, she’s under the impression that if he didn’t love or want her he wouldn’t keep sleeping with her. One of her last statements to me was: “we have 3 children together so we’ll always be together.” I must admit, I sat in total amazement. But that wasn’t what pushed me over the edge. It was her next statement that did that. She said: “I just pray this baby is finally a boy, he’s always wanted a son, and I just know if I can give him his junior, he’ll love me too much to ever leave me again.” Sadly, this is the mindset of many teenagers, young adult and even adult women. If I just give him what he wants, he’ll give me what I need. This my sisters is a grave mistake! Reminds me a lot of my cousin’s girlfriend wearing his football jacket. The jacket was leather and heavy! Then to add on its size due to his size made her look ridiculous. She couldn’t even walk right wearing that thing. Not to mention she had her own book bag, pocketbook etc…she was weighted down with something she thought gave her validation, identity and a since of security, entitlement and belonging. No matter how foolish it made her look!

The word “Validation” is defined as “to check or prove the validity of; to make or declare legally valid; to confirm; to grant official sanction; to recognize; to establish; to illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of.”

The word “Value” is defined as “the regard that something is held to deserve; importance or worth; to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness or importance; considered beneficial; assigned worth; to regard or esteem highly; to calculate, assess or appraise”

Women, looking for a man to give you what only God can will always leave you empty, deprived and longing. No man, no matter who he is, where he comes from, what he has, what he does, what he looks like, can validate your value! Your worth and worthiness come from God alone. The sooner women grasp this, the better! I don’t care how fine you look, how shapely your figure, how wonderful you may be in the kitchen and in the bedroom, no man can validate your value. You are the sole property of God alone. Therefore, it is He alone that proves your worthiness, importance, significance, and usefulness. No man has the right to do this. You can wear all the name-brands in the world, wear the most stylish of hairstyles, have flawless skin (or flawless makeup), and still your worth cannot be validated by a man. So, stop attempting to prove your worth to a man. Stop giving him what you need to keep for yourself. Stop lowering your standards, self-respect and self-esteem. Stop compromising your convictions. Stop waiting by the phone for it to ring. Stop sitting on the sofa staring at the door hoping he comes knocking. Stop jumping and running every time he opens his mouth. Stop crying, begging, pleading, and degrading yourself in hopes that he will love you, want you, need you, or value you. Stop getting in that bed over and over again, only to leave with sex, not love. Stop depleting your bank account in hopes of making him happy. Stop buying him stuff. Stop trying to prove your worth so he deems you worthy. No man can validate your value! Giving him what he wants sexually, giving him children, giving him stuff, will never prove your worth! 

Leah had son after son after son, and each time it had nothing to do with her, she did it all for a man. Grant it, it was her husband, but a husband she knew never loved her. She kept trying to prove she was worthy of his love, and yet he continued to overlook her because his sight was on Rachel alone. She didn’t have children because she wanted to be a mother, she had them because she wanted the love of a man. And before you judge her too harshly, might I ask you to self-exam and see what have you done down through years for the love and attention of a man? What bed did you enter for a man? How much money did you waste for a man? How much of your self-respect went out the window for a man? How much of your future have you lost focus on for a man? How many of your gifts, talents and abilities are still lying dormant, because you’re still laying like a doormat for a man? 

If women could only see their worth and value, the fashion, hair and makeup industry would literally dry up. We wouldn’t have so many Barbie dolls trying to look “ideal” for a man that’s not “ideal” himself. No matter how sexy you look or how sexual you are, your value and worth have nothing to do with either. I’ve never seen an age with so many “sex symbols” at such young and tender ages. Cleavage is hanging out of everywhere. Panty-lines are visible. Skirts are the width of belts. Clothes are being worn 3 times too small. Boots are coming up to the thighs. Lace used to be considered an undergarment, and now it’s the only garment. Now, I know the world believes that sex sells, but as women of God that has absolutely nothing to do with us! We are indeed more than lips, hips and fingertips. We are more than eye-candy, a trophy wife or notch on a man’s belt. As women, our Significance isn’t founded on Sex!

1 Corinthians 6:16-20: There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” (MSG)

Daughters, you are of high value and worth. Neither sex, or looking sexy is validation of value. You don’t “look” valuable, you simply are!

1 Peter 3:1-4, “The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.” (MSG)

1 Timothy 2:8-10, “Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” (MSG)

Titus 2:1-6, “Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine…Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior…” (MSG)

Women, are you getting this? It’s not about your hair, clothes, style, looks, or sexiness. It’s about the beautiful woman you are on the inside that knows her value and worth are established by God, and none other. It’s about maintaining your character, integrity, dignity, elegance, and class. It’s about letting a man know your worth, not proving your worthiness to a man.

Which reminds of the following poem: “Women are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the top of the tree. The men don’t want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they just get the rotten apples from the ground that aren’t as good, but easy. So the apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, THEY’RE amazing. They just have to wait for the right man to come along, the one who’s brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.” 

 Sisters, stay at the top of the tree! Make him climb, exert effort, pursue you (not the other way around!) Take the signs off your back that read: “for sale; bargain; discount; great deal; thrift; inexpensive; used; hand me down; negotiable; disposable; clearance” Daughter, you are worthy, valuable and priceless! Walk like it, talk like it, think like it, dress like it, act like it, live like it!

Back to Leah…yes, she indeed wanted the love of Jacob. She had 3 sons to prove that’s what her heart’s desire was. She wanted to be loved, she wanted to be heard, she wanted to be connected to. But all of those things were to a mere man. However, that is not the ending of Leah’s story. In verse 35, “She became pregnant a final time and had a fourth son. She said, “This time I’ll praise God.” So she named him Judah (Praise-God). Then she stopped having children'” (MSG). 

Leah had hoped to find her identity in Jacob’s love. She didn’t get it. But finally, after three times of counting on a baby to secure her man’s attention, she refocuses her love hunger from Jacob to Jehovah; from her husband to her Heavenly Father. There’s many of women who have been disappointed by a man; hurt by a man. There’s frustration, there’s bitterness. There’s a distorted view of real love. There’s been hurt by the lack of love or approval that you could never seem to win, or maybe a boyfriend or a husband has let you down like Jacob did Leah. You feel betrayed, abandoned, unloved, unnoticed and unworthy. Leah, like so many women, was looking in the wrong place for identity. No woman was ever meant to derive her identity and worth from the approval of a man. And so, Leah said, “I’m going to turn to the Lord.Maybe it’s time you do the same. 

The jacket that reflected some of my cousin’s identity didn’t fit the woman in his life. She was never meant to find her identity in being his girl. Every woman is headed for disappointment and chronic insecurity if she’s trying to define herself by some man in her world. It’s a liberating day when you discover that no man could do for your worth what the Lord can do. He loved Leah; even when her man didn’t. He gave her His divine blessing when her man wouldn’t give his. Don’t waste time trying to find your identity in the fickle, fragile love or approval of a man. Look beyond them to the Lord. Start drawing on Him for all you need. Remember, the Scripture does not say, “A man is my Shepherd. I shall not want.”…NO! It states, “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” Remember That!

Your identity is that you are a unique, masterpiece creation of a loving God: Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” (AMP). You are the Masterpiece of the Master, not that of a mere man! You were created to be Used By God…Not Used By a Man! You are a Daughter of the King! He thought you were worth dying for! And loved you too much to even stay dead! Then loved you even greater, because He refuses to leave you here…He’s coming back just for YOU! What man can possibly love you like that?

Women, be sure that you bring your love hunger to the only One who will never disappoint you – your Savior, your Shepherd, Jesus Christ. 

Now, in closing, I would love to end this on a good note, however, let’s read a little further into the Life of Leah: Genesis 30:16-21,When Jacob came home that evening from the fields, Leah was there to meet him: “Sleep with me tonight; I’ve bartered my son’s mandrakes for a night with you.” So he slept with her that night. God listened to Leah; she became pregnant and gave Jacob a fifth son. She said, “God rewarded me for giving my maid to my husband.” She named him Issachar (Bartered). Leah became pregnant yet again and gave Jacob a sixth son, saying, “God has given me a great gift. This time my husband will honor me with gifts—I’ve given him six sons!” She named him Zebulun (Honor). Last of all she had a daughter and named her Dinah.” (MSG)

Leah unfortunately continues her journey of unrequited love. She’s still looking for validation of value from Jacob. Two more sons and a daughter, and still she’s in the same place of saying, “…This time my husband will honor me with gifts—I’ve given him six sons!”  

Women, please do not make Leah’s mistake of spending an entire lifetime seeking for a man to give you what he has no right to give you. Your value is never validated by a man, only by your Master.

As a last “Selah”…remember this, Leah had 6 sons, and then lastly a daughter. Daughters were supposed to stick close to their mothers and learn from them. They were taught by their mothers how to be wives. They were to emulate their mothers teaching, behavior and conduct. Makes you wonder, what could Leah possibly teach Dinah about a healthy relationship with a man or a husband? Our children often imitate us to, especially our daughters. And the last thing this world needs, is more young girls watching older women chase after desperate and deprived love, approval, acceptance and validation from a man.

Sadly enough, Leah desperately, but willfully and legally,  gave herself to Jacob (a man she knew from the very beginning never loved her). However, Dinah, you’ll discover in Genesis 34, was raped, and then had her rapist ask for her hand in marriage. And people think watching reality shows is something! Read Genesis 34!

“Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out [unescorted] to visit the girls of the land. When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince (sheik) of the land, saw her, he kidnapped her and lay [intimately] with her by force [humbling and offending her]. But his soul longed for and clung to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke comfortingly to her young heart’s wishes. So Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this young woman as a wife.” Now Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled (violated) Dinah his daughter; but his sons were in the field with his livestock, so Jacob said nothing until they came in. But Shechem’s father Hamor went to Jacob to talk with him. Now when Jacob’s sons heard of it they came in from the field; they were deeply grieved, and they were very angry, for Shechem had done a disgraceful thing to Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing is not to be done. But Hamor conferred with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem [deeply] longs for your daughter [and sister]. Please give her to him as his wife. And [beyond that] intermarry with us; give your daughters to us [as wives] and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 In this way you shall live with us; the country will be open to you; live and do business in it and acquire property and possessions in it.” 11 Shechem also said to Dinah’s father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor in your sight, and I will give you whatever you ask of me. 12 Demand of me a very large bridal payment and gift [as compensation for giving up your daughter and sister], and I will give you whatever you tell me; only give me the girl to be my wife.” 13 Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, because Shechem had defiled and disgraced their sister Dinah. 14 They said to them, “We cannot do this thing and give our sister [in marriage] to one who is not circumcised, because that would be a disgrace to us. 15 But we will consent to you only on this condition: if you will become like us, in that every male among you consents to be circumcised, 16 then we will give our daughters to you [in marriage], and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live with you and become one people. 17 But if you do not listen to us and refuse to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter [Dinah] and go.” 18 Their words seemed reasonable to Hamor and his son Shechem, 19 and the young man did not hesitate to do the [required] thing, for he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. Now he was more respected and honored than all [others] in the household of his father. 20 Then Hamor and Shechem his son came to the gate of their [walled] city [where the leading men would meet] and spoke with the men of the city, saying, 21 “These men are peaceful and friendly with us; so let them live in the land and do business in it, for the land is large enough [for us and] for them; let us take their daughters for wives and let us give them our daughters [in marriage]. 22 But only on this condition will the men consent to our request that they live among us and become one people: that every male among us become circumcised just as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their cattle and their possessions and all their animals be ours [if we do this]? Let us consent [to do as they ask], and they will live here with us.” 24 And every [Canaanite] man who went out of the city gate listened and considered what Hamor and Shechem said; and every male who was a resident of that city was circumcised. 25 Now on the third day [after the circumcision], when all the men were [terribly] sore and in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s [full] brothers, took their swords, boldly entered the city [without anyone suspecting them of evil intent], and they killed every male. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house [where she was staying], and left. 27 Then Jacob’s [other] sons came upon those who were killed and looted the town, because their sister had been defiled and disgraced. 28 They took the Canaanites’ flocks and their herds and their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field; 29 they looted all their wealth, and [took captive] all their children and their wives, even everything that was in the houses. 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have ruined me, making me a stench to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites! My men are few in number, and the men of the land will band together against me and attack me; I shall be destroyed, I and my household.” 31 But they said, “Should he [be permitted to] treat our sister as a prostitute?” (AMP)

Leah made a deliberate desperate decision regarding her body, Dinah unfortunately was made subject to a man that made a decision on behalf of her body. Women, we cannot debase ourselves any longer over the flawed desire for having a flawed man’s validation, which proves and approves nothing. Dinah couldn’t stop what happened to her, but the whole ugly story line that involves two families, neighboring communities and even death are harsh realities that come with choices and consequences relating to sex. Sisters, let’s make better decisions for ourselves, our bodies and our lives and be better examples for our daughters as well. Ladies, remember, they’re watching us. So, let’s make sure we set good examples for them to model.

“The only permission, the only validation, and the only opinion that matters in our quest for greatness is our own.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Self-esteem comes from within. No amount of validation or approval ‘out there’ will ever give it to you.” (Pinterest)

“The woman who does not require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.” (Mohadesa Najumi)

“A vibrant and independent woman is much more beautiful than a woman who waits for people to validate her existence.” (Kelly McNelis Senegor)

“It takes a strong person to do their own thing and not wait for anybody else to validate their existence.” (Steven Aitchison)

“Live life in such a way that someone else’s validation means absolutely nothing to you.” (Pinterest)

“An amazing thing happens when you stop seeking approval and validation: You find it. People are naturally drawn like magnets to those who know who they are and cannot be shaken!” (Mandy Hale)

“The more you begin to love yourself, the less you’ll look to others to validate, approve of, or complete you.” (Mandy Hale)

“The dream is yours…why are you asking others to validate or nourish it? Your journey must be self-propelled. It must be fueled from within.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“If you persistently seek validation from others you will inadvertently invalidate your own self-worth.” (Dodinsky)

“Stop allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions. Stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Your self-worth is determined by YOU. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.” (Beyonce)

“There’s a difference between caring about what others think and worrying about it. When you care about what other people think, you respect and value their opinion. When you worry about it, you depend on their validation for your worth. So keep caring. Keep treating people like they matter. Just know that you matter too, whether they confirm it or not.” (Lori Deschene)

“Stop validating your victim mentality. Shake off your self-defeating drama and embrace your innate ability to recover and achieve.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“Women have to learn where their true source of validation is.” (Maureen Murdock)

“If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection.” (Lecrae)

“When you depend on people to build you up, they’ll have the same power to break you down. You don’t need their validation to know your worth.” (Pinterest)

“I’m secure in who I am. I don’t need the validation of those that would say, you have to be a certain way in order to be accepted. I’m comfortable going against the grain. I’m walking my path and I will always walk the direction my heart tells me to go, even if I must walk alone…all fired up!” (Collective Evolution)

“No effective guidance will ever be achieved by seeking approval of others.” (Pinterest)

“It doesn’t matter what other people think. If you make the choice to create positive changes for yourself, that is all that matters. You don’t need anyone’s approval, validation or support…and a lot of the time, you really should avoid it.” (Stephanie Zamora)

“Happiness is discovering that the most worthwhile and powerful validation is the one you give to yourself.” (Dodinsky)

“When I accept myself, I am freed from the burden of needing you to accept me.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“In a relationship, one must not seek validation from the other, it should come naturally. If it’s not there, the worst thing you can do is beg for it.” (Dodinsky)

“Never get your sense of worth from outside yourself. Don’t let other people tell you how much you’re worth, decide for yourself. It’s called SELF-Worth not other’s worth.” (Pinterest)

“True confidence is knowing who you are in Christ, and that your validation, approval and acceptance comes from Him.” (Kim Brooks)

“I want to be in a relationship where you telling me you love me is just a ceremonious validation of what you already show me.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“The more I fill myself with God’s Truth, the less I need validation from others.” (Lysa Terkeurst)

“You don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough. When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, it isn’t actually about you. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs, and you don’t have to internalize that. Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you – it’s something inherent. You exist, and therefore, you matter. You’re allowed to voice your thoughts and feelings. You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space. You’re allowed to hold onto the truth that who you are is exactly enough. And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who makes you feel otherwise.” (Daniell Koepke)

“Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.” (Pinterest)

“Stress, anxiety, and depression are caused when we are living to please others.” (Paulo Coelho)

“Once you know your worth, you’ll never feel compelled to give another discount again.” (Pinterest)

“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” (Mark Twain)

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

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“An Encounter With God”

See Me (v 5-7) Journey Inward. See Others (v 8-9) Journey Outward.

If it’s one man I love and respect, it’s our former President Barack Obama. And I’ve come to discover, that when the President of the United States comes to speak, it’s a rare opportunity. So if you desire to be physically present when he shows up to speak, you better get there hours early because of the mass of people that will be there as well! Think about it, it’s hard to find a place to park, to stand, to sit or to see and hear. Yet, if you should happen to be able to squeeze in and find a spot, you still then have to wait until he arrives! Finally, you can hear a ripple go through the crowd as they hang the presidential seal on the podium. Then comes the announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.” Everybody gives him a standing ovation that lasts quite a while, and when the applause dies down, he begins to speak. While he speaks, nobody leaves. In a nutshell, when you go to hear someone important, you don’t just applaud and leave. You stay after the applause to hear what they have to say.

You can find in Isaiah 6 perhaps the greatest worship scene in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah says the following in Isaiah 6:1-4: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw [in a vision] the Lord sitting on a throne, high and exalted, with the train of His royal robe filling the [most holy part of the] temple. Above Him seraphim (heavenly beings) stood; each one had six wings: with two wings he covered his face, with two wings he covered his feet, and with two wings he flew. And one called out to another, saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is filled with His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, and the temple was filling with smoke” (AMP)

This is what you would call true worship! It is getting lost in who He is, and being overwhelmed by His very presence. It is the place where no flesh glories in His sight. It is the place where the true-worshiper dwells.

John 4:23-24, “But a time is coming and is already here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit [from the heart, the inner self] and in truth; for the Father seeks such people to be His worshipers.  God is spirit [the Source of life, yet invisible to mankind], and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (AMP)

Here’s the KEY: “…the Father SEEKS such people to be His worshipers…”  

Can you imagine something being so important and vital to God that He actually comes looking for it? Well, that’s the power and attraction of true-worshipers. There is something so phenomenal about their worship, that God seeks for, looks for, goes after and pursues them. Which reminds me a lot of ‘new love’. We go so out of our way when it’s new love. The phone calls are never-ending, the flowers flow in constantly, the ‘I love you’s are dear, genuine, passionate and daily, the time together is precious and you never want it to come to an end. You rearrange your entire schedule just to spend a moment with the one you love. You gaze in their eyes, and smile for no reason. You can think of them and butterflies flutter on the inside. You give your everything to them, because you love them. It’s new, exciting, fun, and life-giving. It brings you joy, happiness, contentment, and you can’t stop telling everybody about the somebody that has stolen your heart and refuses to give it back. You want to hold hands all the time, your intimacy knows no limits or boundaries. You want to eat with them, go out with them, stay in with them. All because you love them. And often their response matches yours, because when someone knows just how special, valued, cherished and loved they are, they tend to give even more of themselves in return out of a heart full of gratitude. I wonder what would happen if we would dare to love God like that? What would it be like for our worship to resemble that kind of love in word, thought, and action? Could you imagine how relentless God would pursue us for rendering such worship on Him? If only we would give God even a tenth of what we give to people…Selah…

The God’s Word Translation says, “…The Father is looking for people like that to worship Him…” (GWT). Then the Good News Translation finishes like this, “…God is Spirit, and only by the power of His Spirit can people worship Him as He really is.” (GNT). Which makes me wonder, if we spend no time with God, no time talking to Him and hearing from Him; if we spend no time in prayer, no time in His Word, no time in His Presence, how will we ever be able to worship Him in spirit and in truth? How can we worship Him, by His Spirit, when our Spirit takes no time to learn who He really is? Which is hard to do in an era of the church that is “Praise” focused…ONLY. Now, is there anything wrong with praise? Absolutely not! From cover-to-cover of the Bible will you hear about the praises rendered to our God, and His response to them for He inhabits the praises of His people.

But I’m afraid that we’ve become so Praise-Centered, that we no longer know how to get to the Core of Worship anymore.

There’s a wonderful new emphasis in many places today on praise and worship. And I for one certainly recall it being called “devotion”. You see, it was the time in my former church where the Deacons and Deaconesses led in prayer, praise and worship and testimony service. It was a time when the people made the Lord the focus, when it’s so easy to forget Him, and we finally take time to forget ourselves instead and experience just how big God is. People from all over the sanctuary would share what the Lord had done for them and their loved ones, their health, their employment and marriage etc. It was wonderful, encouraging, empowering, motivating, faith-building, and inspiring. We would sing, and clap and dance, and holler. We would give God our best and noisiest praise! It was sort of our standing ovation for God! Much like the preparation for when the President is about to enter the room and speak.

Unfortunately, however, far too many of us leave after the standing ovation, not realizing that it’s only the beginning. Yes, Praise went forth and Worship went forth, but now God wants to say something; He wants to speak to us. But how can we hear Him if we leave, or tune out after the praise break stops? How can we hear Him over all the clapping, hollering, high-fiving, and ‘tap and tell your neighbor’? How can we hear Him while we’re so busy running, jumping, leaping, dancing, spinning, shouting and falling out? Is anything wrong with any of that? No, not in and of itself. And if that was the conclusion, it would be fine. However, it’s not, it’s only the beginning. Because after the ovation dies down, after the applause stops, His voice speaks, and that’s the most important part of it all. And when you realize that it is, you began to prepare yourself to hear the Lord speak.

Isaiah 6:5 says this, “Woe is me! For I am ruined, Because I am a man of [ceremonially] unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (AMP). Worship is supposed to lead to Repentance. When you are in the Presence of the Lord, you should see His holiness and the sin that you have not dealt with. You need to make things right with this awesome and holy God. Worship that doesn’t lead to cleaning up your sin is just dead-end applause, and we should not leave until God has spoken. Worship should remind us that we’ve sinned, it should convict us of our unrighteousness when we realize just how righteous He is. It should uncover our unholiness when we realize just how holy He is. Worship should challenge us to change for the better. Worship should remind us that although we serve an awesome, loving and kind, and generous God, He is also Holy.

“because it is written, “You shall be holy (set apart), for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16 AMP);

“Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14 AMPC)

This is how vital holiness is! We are to be holy, because He Is Holy and Without Holiness, No One Will Ever See Him! So, when we worship God, it is a time of preparation to hear from God. We enter that place of holy worship where we acknowledge that we are unclean and need to be bathed in His presence. We need to be made right. We need to begin again. Start afresh, start anew. We need to reevaluate ourselves, our attitudes, our speech, our thoughts, our deeds, our motives and intentions, our desires, our longings, our heart. Because we need to hear Him, we have to come close to Him, and have Him cleanse us and position us. Praise is wonderful, it gets us to the door, thanksgiving opens it up, worship allows us to enter in, and holiness allows us to stay in preparation to hear God speak.

“Then flew one of the seraphim [heavenly beings] to me, having a live coal in his hand which he had taken with tongs from off the altar; and with it he touched my mouth and said, Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity and guilt are taken away, and your sin is completely atoned for and forgiven.” (Isaiah 6:6-7 AMPC).

A lot happens after the initial cries of “Holy, Holy, Holy”. Just as a lot happens prior to the President speaking. There’s a Process before the Proclamation. Isaiah didn’t get happy just because of who he was around (the angels, or for us it’s other church folks). He didn’t even get happy because of the ovation and applause (“Holy, Holy, Holy”, or for us it’s our Praise). But Isaiah declared his sin, I’m unclean and unholy. But since I’m in your presence and have the opportunity to hear you speak, I’m not stopping here, I’m not staying here, I’m leaving here changed and better. And the very thing he declared was unclean (‘I’m a man of unclean lips’), the angels touched him and gave a new declaration, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity and guilt are taken away, and your sin is completely atoned for and forgiven.” And what happens after he confesses and gets cleaned up?

Verse 8 says, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (AMP). When we see our sin and receive God’s forgiveness, then we should see the people who don’t have a Savior yet. Our heart should ache for those who haven’t seen the King. Worship is not just getting a good feeling because you got close to God. When you see the Lord, it will help you see the lost people who haven’t gotten close to Him yet. Worship that is really worship will lead to repentance and then to evangelism. Unfortunately, we get so lost in what we desire the Lord to Personally do for us, that we assume, when we’ve received what we asked for, then that’s it, I’m good, the day is done, we can go home now. Not so! We don’t get to God, get what we can get from God, then go home. We get in the presence of God, so we can repent, change and get something to give away to somebody else.

“Here am I, Lord. I will go for You into the lives of the people around me who have yet to see the King as I have.”

You don’t get clean just to brag about your cleanliness. You don’t get clean just to hang around other clean folks. You get clean so you can go to them that are still in the filth of their sin, and you tell them I know a Man that can clean your sin better than Tide can clean your laundry!

You don’t just go into God’s presence to applaud, to run, jump, leap, spin, dance, shout, and praise, though that’s a great place to start. But you go to worship and repent, to receive forgiveness, to be cleansed and changed and to hear Him speak and then to act on what He says!

Think about this: Can you imagine traveling hours to hear the President speak, stuck in traffic, struggling to find a place to park. Then getting on a long line to be security cleared. Then to hear all the chatter from everyone else speaking all at the same time. Then to find you a little spot to try and see and hear him. Then to hear that he’s about to enter in, he’s announced and introduced, you clap and scream and get so excited. And then he comes in, and all the cheering gets even louder. He’s at the podium, then the applause dies down, and finally you get to hear him speak, BUT he just walks away without a word spoken…how disappointed would you be?

Well, on the reverse side of that, that’s where a lot of us are. We go through all we go through to get to church. Find parking, find somewhere to sit, then there’s the music, the clapping, dancing, praising, and then the mouthpiece of God gets ready to speak and we’ve completely checked out of service! Imagine God’s heart break that you don’t mind applauding Him, you just don’t want to hear from Him! Well, that’s not the purpose. We have to find our way back to what’s important in our churches. And it’s not how awesome the choir is, how amazing the music is, how high the anointing is, how fancy the footwork is. None of that has value. We need to enter in with thanksgiving and praise. But we also have to find our place of worship and repentance. So that we can be honest before God, confess and be cleansed and changed before God. Then we can clearly hear from God. And then we can take what we’ve heard from God and share it with others. Don’t lose the core importance of the Presence of God. It is not to tickle your ears or your fancy, it’s not hearing what you want to hear, it’s not about houses, cars, land, money, promotions and new spouses. It’s about becoming a better believer and person as a whole. It’s about spending so much time with God that you finally start to sound like Him, walk and talk like Him, think and act like Him, ultimately to reflect Him.

Enjoy service, enjoy the praises rendered to our God. Give Him the standing ovation and applause you freely give to the President and more so. But remember, if people can stay after the applause to hear what a ‘mere man’ has to say, surely we should stay after the applause (physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally) to hear what God has to say don’t you think? With that said, don’t become so entertained in church, that you leave unchanged! Don’t get so lost in the Noise of Praise that you can’t find the Quiet of Worship!

Example: 1 Kings 19:11-13, “So He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by, and a great and powerful wind was tearing out the mountains and breaking the rocks in pieces before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, [there was] an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake, [there was] a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, [there was] the sound of a gentle blowing.  When Elijah heard the sound, he wrapped his face in his mantle (cloak) and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (AMP)

The Contemporary English Bible says it like this, “…Finally, there was a gentle breeze, and when Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his coat. He went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. The Lord asked, “Elijah, why are you here?” (CEV)

There was a Powerful Wind that tore out the mountains and broke rocks in piece; There was an Earthquake; There was a Fire… In short, there was a lot of Noise and a lot of Action to Be Seen and Heard…but the Lord’s voice wasn’t in the verbal noise or the visible action! And truth is, our churches have become quite noisy and visibly active…Selah…However, the Lord’s voice was in “the sound of a gentle blowing…” if you weren’t quiet and still, you would never hear it or feel it. Makes me ponder if the church needs to quiet down and learn to be still just a little bit more? Maybe, just maybe, we could sense, hear, see and feel the actual presence of the Lord.

Church, praise is not the only order on the menu of the day. Now, I know praise is more like the steak, potatoes, chicken and rice on the menu. However, worship is more like the vegetables, something that’s so much better, and healthier for you. Does it mean steak is bad? Nope, but it will be better with the balance of broccoli. And with such a simple, childlike analogy, our praise is more well-balanced WITH our worship. Applaud the Lord, but when the applause dies down, worship and listen to what thus saith the Lord.

Remember, it is the true worshipers that God is seeking for, looking for and pursuing. Those whose worship continuously goes off on His radar. These are the ones God goes out on a man-hunt for. He tracks them down. He desires them; longs for them; is drawn to them. So, a good question to ask yourself is: “Does My Seeking God in Worship Move God to Come Seeking After Me?” That’s the kind of Worship you should be after, the kind that causes God to come after you! A Real Encounter With God! One Where You See God; You See Yourself as He Sees You; and Then You See Others in Outreach!

Therefore, today, let’s start fresh. Let’s set the stage for God’s entrance. Praise Him, Thank Him, Glorify Him, Exalt and Extol Him, Speak Well of Him, Applaud Him. But then ask Him to prepare you through confession, repentance, forgiveness and cleansing to enter His presence to Hear Him speak. And when He speaks, listen and obey.

Remembering that Isaiah SAT until he was SANCTIFIED and then SENT.

Your process will be the same. And when God sends you, it’s not for your glory, your name, your reputation, your self-promotion, the people’s applause and approval or exalting your gifts, skills, talents, or anointing. No, you’re sent on assignment to lead others into the same process as you’ve experienced. Your purpose is the discipleship of others. Bring people into the Kingdom, even if they don’t come into Your Church. Their Soul, Not Your Seating, is What’s Important to God and Should Be Just as Important to Us, His People, His Church, Given His Charge and Commission to Complete. Keep that in mind as you renew your mind regarding Praise and Worship and making sure that it’s not a performance or show but that it becomes your very lifestyle.

People of God, whatever you do, Don’t Miss What Happens After the Applause! Experience One Real Encounter With God and You’ll Want an Encore!

1 Samuel 3:10, “Then the Lord came and stood and called as at the previous times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”(AMP)

James 4:8, “Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your [unfaithful] hearts, you double-minded [people].” (AMP)

Psalm 24:4, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to what is false, Nor has sworn [oaths] deceitfully.” (AMP)

John 10:27, “The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me.” (AMP)

Psalm 96:9, “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; Tremble [in submissive wonder] before Him, all the earth.” (AMP)

Psalm 29:2, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty and majesty of His holiness [as the creator and source of holiness].” (AMP)

“True worship always brings you into a right relationship with God.” (Author Unknown)

“Worship that is pleasing to God, radiates throughout a person’s entire life.” (A.W. Tozer)

“Worship, it’s not about you, it’s all about Him being worthy and you being unworthy.” (Author Unknown)

“An encounter with God marks you, and makes you hungry for more of Him.” (Jenn Johnson)

“Worship is a lifestyle. What you do throughout the day is your act of worship to God.” (Patrick Mabilog)

“Worship is an act of war against the enemy of our hearts.” (Holley Gerth)

“Worship is so much more than the songs that we sing on Sunday morning. It is the life that we live the rest of the week.” (Author Unknown)

“In the case of Jesus, He is infinitely admirable, and our admiration rises to the most absolute worship.” (John Piper)

“True worshipers believe they are the Temple of God in which the Father dwells and from which they worship the Father. They are not just instruments in God’s hands, most importantly they have a relationship with God and so they are no waiting for that special time or place or call to do anything, worship is their lifestyle.” (Justice Kojo Bentil)

“Such true worship will stand the test of Christ’s great principle, ‘by their fruits you shall know them.’ It sanctifies the Christian’s life and makes them walk with God, lifting them above fear and love of the world. It enables a Christian to show God to other folks. Such worship comes from Heaven, and has the mark of God upon it.” (J.C. Ryle)

“God is looking for worshipers not professional musicians.” (Author Unknown)

“Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of His Presence.” (Rick Warren)

“A man can no more diminish God’s Glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ an the walls of his cell.” (C.S. Lewis)

“In true worship the Father must be first.” (Andrew Murray)

“It is imperative that the Christian, at the beginning of his pursuit to understand what true worship is, gets it clear that the object of our worship is to be God and God alone.” (R.C. Sproul)

Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” (AMP)

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

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