Humble YOURself

Since this pandemic, we have heard 2 Chronicles 7:14 repeatedly quoted, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Quite frankly, I have been stuck at the “humble themselves” portion of this scripture. I know the Church, collectively, has been praying and seeking God for the healing of our land. Nevertheless, I believe we need to spend some time on the criteria for the healing of our land. I want to discuss the humbling requirement.

It is interesting how, for the most part, the humbling portion of this scripture is passed over. I fully understand how that can happen. I have read this scripture countless number of times with the intent to just get to the “good part” – “then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” The seriousness, uncertainty and dangers of this present time have given me much pause. I cannot do what I have been doing; I cannot think the way I have been thinking. It is time to submit every motive, every action and every thought for examination. This, I believe, will lead to the pathway of humility.

According to Merriam-Webster, humble is defined as: one of the definitions for humble is: “not proud or haughty; not arrogant.” Of course, we do not think of ourselves as prideful or arrogant, so we quickly give ourselves a pass on humility. However, if we would look deeper at another meaning for humble, we would find there are some things we need to work on (emphases added): “reflecting (thinking deeply or carefully), expressing (conveying – a thought or feeling – in words or by gestures and conduct), or offered (extended or presented) in a spirit (attitude) of deference (respectful submission or yielding to the judgment, opinion, will, etc., of another) or submission (the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person),” The Bible explains it this way in Philippians 2:3 (emphases added):

Let nothing (no thing) be done through strife (angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues) or vainglory (inordinate pride in oneself or one’s achievements); but in lowliness (lack of vanity or self-importance) of mind (the part of a person that enables them to think, feel emotions and be aware of things) let each esteem (respect and admire) other better (of a more excellent or effective type or quality) than themselves (yourself). (KJV)

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit (excessive pride in oneself) [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves. (AMP)

Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. (TPT)

When we look at the definition, along with the descriptive words in these scriptures from the various versions, we can clearly see that we really do not pass the humility test. There is indeed some humbling that is necessary.

In our social media driven society, self-promotion is the norm – showcasing our talents, telling of our goodness – all in an effort to amass a large following to gain access to large platforms. It is difficult to check our motives and hidden agendas when we think we are only grinding and promoting our ministries and businesses. We are working so hard to be great, when the Bible gives us the formula for greatness, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6. While we are racing to get to the top, Jesus said, “But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” Matthew 19:30.

The pursuit for greatness is the biggest trap for selfishness, conceit, arrogance and pride – everything becomes about us and what we want to achieve. Considering another person is not on our radar, neither is promoting someone else – unless we stand to gain something. Humility is not demonstrated through an attitude of every man for himself; every church for themselves; and every denomination for themselves; not according to Philippians 2:3.

There is no better time than right now to pause and ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts, search our motives, and search our actions; and allow Him to show us what is there. We cannot search our own hearts because our own hearts will deceive us. (“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9). When we pray, “If you find anything wrong,” that is false humility from a deceived heart. We should follow David’s example of a sincere prayer – Psalm 139:23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.” The Amplified version reads: “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.”

“For God resisteth the proud, and gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5(b)

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I Have No Man – Women’s Edition

Women have often looked to men to define us, to affirm us, and to lead us. Men told us that women belonged at home raising the children and in the kitchen – even in the Church, we were relegated to the kitchen. Again, in the Church, men told us women couldn’t preach and, instead, appeased us with the title of missionary. As a number of men received spiritual insight, their position changed and they later allowed women to preach. Some men used the demeaning analogy of a jackass to explain their change of heart; “If the Lord can use a jackass to deliver His Word, surely He can use a woman,” (Numbers 22:28-30). Although women were eventually permitted to preach, we were prohibited from occupying the position of pastors and apostles. Once again, as men’s eyes were opened, and as women became more determined to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29); women also began to take their places in those positions.

I read a quote recently, “Never let someone who didn’t create you, define you.” Thank God for pioneering women who relied on their Creator to define them, tell them what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Thank God for trailblazing women who, in spite of being told what they could not be and what they could not do, dared to be and do anyhow. Thank God for those daughters that burned with a desire to please their Father, and did not allow men’s opinions to intimidate them.

The Father still seeks those daughters that will allow His Word to define them and allow His Spirit to direct them; daughters who will trust what He says about them; daughters who will be bold and who will not allow fear to stop them; daughters like the daughters of Zelophehad. (Numbers 27:1-8). These five sisters dared to challenge the religious system of their day. They dared to ask for what they thought was rightfully theirs. Even though the law was not on their side, they did not allow the law to deter them. The sisters courageously went to Moses and the leaders and pled their case. Because they dared to speak up, they not only received their father’s inheritance but the law also was changed. They had no man to speak for them – their father was dead and they had no brothers – they had to speak for themselves and the Lord honored their request.

The Father equally seeks those daughters who will pursue Him. “But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship Him.” (John 4:23). In Mark 14:1-9, a woman dared to walk into a room filled with men and unashamedly, unapologetically, despite the whispers and the looks, worshipped the One that delivered her from bondage and gave her a new life. The One she was worshipping is the One who defended her against the whispers, and He also spoke a blessing over her that is still being fulfilled today (vs. 9). This woman did not need the approval of the other men. She only needed the approval of one man – “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Or, as I like to say, He will give you what you need, when you need it, every time you need it!

Daughters of the Most High God, we must free ourselves from the opinions of others. It is imperative that we follow after God and do all that He places in our hearts to do. He will define, affirm, establish, defend and bless us. He will break down the barriers that stand in our way. We do have a man – the One that died for us (John 15:13); the One that all power in both Heaven and earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18); the One that sent us a Helper in this earth to counsel and guide us (John 16:7-14). We have Christ Jesus – the One who has promised to be with us always, until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). So, let us break open our alabaster boxes and break out of the boxes of others’ opinions.

So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Hebrews 13:6

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And God’s voice suddenly spoke from the cloud, saying, “This is my dearly loved Son, the constant focus of my delight. Listen to Him!” Matthew 17:5 (TPT)

A significant part of communicating is listening – to pay attention to or take note of what the other party is saying. According to The Skills You Need website, “Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood.” When we listen, we gain understanding and we get clear instructions. How many times have we been in a conversation with someone and they said, or we said, you are not hearing me. Stephen R. Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” In doing so, we do not actually hear or heed what the other person is conveying to us.  

Listening is so important that, in Matthew 17:5, God interrupted Peter’s excitement of seeing Jesus transfigured on the mountain to tell him and the others to listen to His Son. It is interesting that rather than listening to what Jesus, Moses and Elijah were talking about (Matthew 17:3); Peter interrupted the conversation with his big idea to build three tabernacles in honor of them. If we are interrupting the speaker, it is a clear indication that we are not listening. We too do this – the Lord may speak or lay something on our hearts and we get all excited and begin to formulate our own ideas and make our own plans. Never considering or checking to see if He has more to say; never stopping for further instructions; assuming our big idea is what He wants.

In Rick Joyner’s book, The Apostolic Ministry, he says, “The Lord does not want us trying to build on our revelations, not even our revelations of who He is. When revelation comes our first response must not be to build, but to keep listening – there is much more.” Today, Jesus is interrupting our building and saying to us, listen. Listen to His Spirit. Attend to and heed instructions and directions from His Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, and our Helper. (John 16:13-15). He has much to say, but we are too busy building to listen.

In Luke 10:38-42, while Jesus was visiting her home, Martha busied herself being a good hostess. However, Mary, her sister, sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to Him. Martha interrupted Jesus to ask Him to scold her sister for not helping. “The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.’” (vs. 41-42, TPT). This is us! This is what we do. We are so busy doing what we think is good and important at the time, that we do not even see that it is distracting us from what is most important – listening to Him.

The Passion Translation says this of Mary, “Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation He shared,” (vs. 39). She stopped what she was doing and, because the scripture says she was “attentive,” she even stopped thinking about what she could be doing, and listened and received (absorbed) every Word that Jesus was saying. Can we honestly say we have been giving this level of attention to what the Spirit of the Lord is saying, or have we been just grabbing bits and pieces and trying to build with only that? As Rick Joyner said, “there is more.”

Even now, during these unprecedented, unpredictable times in the world, God is releasing Kingdom strategies to those who will take the time to hear Him. It is critical that we set aside our busyness to hear what the Spirit of the Lord has to say. It is also important that we do not direct the narrative with our list of “urgent” matters, but we permit Him to freely dispense His wisdom. We have been talking long enough, now it is time to sit and listen.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

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Immersing In The Love of The Father

Meditating On His Love – 30 Days of Scriptures for Meditation

Let’s take the plunge and immerse ourselves in the love of God for 30 days. For the next 30 days let’s remind ourselves of just how much we are loved and cared for by our heavenly Father. Let’s meditate on His love for us and receive the joy and peace that comes from the knowledge and understanding that we are loved with a great unending and unfailing love. Let’s absorb (soak up) His love for the next 30 days.

Click on the link below for the mini book’s page, then simply click “Immerse.”

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I Believe I’ll Testify

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony. . . Revelation 12:11(a)

A childhood friend and sister of my mine gave me a journal last year and the cover read, “She believed she was loved and it made her brave.” That quote spoke to the very depth of my soul. I will be eternally grateful for the Father’s love and the strength it gives me. On many occasions, I have been told I was strong and I have said it about myself giving the credit to being raised by strong women. However, I have realized over the last decade that my strength lies solely in the assurance of God’s love for me. As the old Black gospel song goes, “You can’t make me doubt Him, I know too much about Him.” I often say that the Lord has a proven track record with me. He has never failed me; He has never forsaken me; and He has been with me through all my stuff. When it has counted the very most, He has always shown up in a very special loving way through His peace, His Word, and His Spirit to reassure me that all was well.

Some of you may recall reading my testimony of being diagnosed in 2011 with colon cancer. If you have not, it is available on my website titled, “Savior, Redeemer, Healer.” In May 2018, to memorialize my seven year cancer free milestone, I wrote a mini book titled, “Healing: It is Our Birthright,” which shared some valuable lessons I learned while going through my healing process. It is also available on my website.

Ironically, in November 2018, I was shocked with a diagnosis of breast cancer. Since my previous mammogram was in March 2018, I was certain that it was nothing. Nonetheless, since I had money in my health savings that had to be used before the end of the year, I decided to follow up with my doctor. The doctor did not see or feel anything; nevertheless, as a precaution, she sent me for another mammogram and an ultrasound. The first mammogram did not show anything, so the radiologist asked if they could do a 3D mammogram and I consented. Something was detected on the 3D mammogram and they then proceeded with an ultrasound. The ultrasound confirmed that there was a lump. I still was not concerned because I had been through this before many years earlier, including a biopsy, which was the next step. I completely thought the biopsy would be negative; however, it came back positive for cancer.

It would literally take volumes of books for me to tell all that the Lord did for me throughout this process, so I’ll just hit the highpoints. Number one, He gave me His peace. Number two, He gave me His Word. Number three, I had the assurance of His love – remember what I said earlier – He has a PROVEN record with me. The very first thing the Lord spoke to me was, “Every challenge is an opportunity to trust Him more.” My first thought was You think this is just a challenge? And the Lord responded, “Because I am with you, it is just a challenge.” He also reminded me that the same strategies that He had given me to overcome colon cancer, would work this time too. From that point forward, I relied on His peace, His love, His Word and His Holy Spirit.

All of this happened the latter part of November just before the Thanksgiving holidays, and of course, followed by the Christmas holidays. Therefore, I made the decision to not tell my family so as not to burden them during the holidays. For that same reason, I did not reach out to friends whom I would normally trust for prayer. After the New Year holiday, I told my family.

I wish I could tell you that it was smooth sailing from there; I would be lying. My declaration was, “I know I am healed, I just do not know what the healing process will look like.” Nonetheless, I was fully persuaded that death was not even an option. Therefore, I focused on fighting the good fight of faith, trusting God and not giving space to the enemy through my words or actions.

On January 11, 2019, I had a double mastectomy. The recovery was wicked. I believe this is where some give up and choose death. You can easily become overwhelmed with the recovery/healing process. I cried on many occasions. I asked God when would my health be restored; when would I finally be pain free; but not once did I doubt that He was going to bring me through – the question was simply when. Three months post-surgery I was still in pain. I ended up firing the surgeon because he was not addressing my concerns. Through the Lord’s mercy and a series of circumstances, He allowed me to finally get to the right place to receive the help I needed which was a huge turning point in my healing.

Through it all, the Lord was very gracious to me. In the midst of the difficult recovery, my family and I received the good news that I would not need radiation or chemotherapy. Because of His peace, I was able to endure; because of His Word, I was able to remain hopeful; and because of His unfailing, unchanging love, I am still here still declaring that, “Healing is the children’s bread” (Matthew 15:26); still declaring Him as my, “Savior, Redeemer, Healer;” and still testifying of His goodness!

Jehovah-Rophe – The Lord Our Healer!

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The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord . . . Psalm 37:23

This journey called life takes us through many doors all while we are in search of “the” door. The scripture tells us not to despise small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)). Those small beginnings, like the many doors, help us to gain experience for use when we arrive at “the” door, and those various experiences help to mature us and prepare us to walk in “the” door with confidence.

Naturally, we tend to become frustrated as we walk through our many doors trying to find “the” door. In our pursuit of the right door or the right path, or the big break, we can lose sight of the experiences we gain. We often quote Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose;” however, if we really believed that scripture, we would have peace in the place or whatever door we find ourselves. After all, the scripture did say, “according to His purpose.” We are walking out His purpose for our lives and not our plans.

Frustration also sets in when we assume our plans are in-synch with God’s purpose. If we are honest, most times they are not. Our plans are based on what we want; how we want it; when we want it; and with whom we want it. We simply assume that God cosigned them. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) tells us that, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” When we find ourselves frustrated with where we are, that would be a good time to pause and ask the Lord what is His purpose for that particular door. Because, again, if we believe that “all things work together for good. . .,” whatever door we stand before, God already has a plan to use it for our good.

Romans 5:3-4 (NIV) also illustrates why we walk through many doors. It reads, “. . . we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Each door we walk through, every path we take, and all of our collective life experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – shape us into the person that God has called us to be. As we walk through these different doors, the Lord wants us to grow through them – develop perseverance/endurance, character and allow hope/faith to be formed in us. When our hope/faith is in the Lord, we are not put to shame. (“Hope does not put us to shame.” Romans 5:5(a)). We know He “always causes us to triumph.” (2 Corinthians 2:14 (a))

As we prepare to go into a new leap year, and a new decade, let us walk through every door with the assurance that our God is with us always (Matthew 28:20), and He has assured us that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) for each and every door we face.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.” Jeremiah 29:11 (VOICE)

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Let Go and Let God

After several conversations with various people on the importance of letting go, I sat down to write a blog on the subject; however, it quickly turned into something more. As a result, I recently published my third mini book – “Let Go and Let God.” “Let Go and Let God” is not just another cliché. It is a necessary stage in our lives for us to be all that we want and are called to be. This mini book helps identify some of the reasons why we are unable to let go and it also gives us encouragement and faith to let go. I pray that, like me, you will find yourself in the pages of this book. If by chance you do (I have a feeling you will), I pray that you will find the strength and courage to let go of whatever or whoever you need to free yourself, so that God can work in you and through you to do His will. The mini book is free on my website – Simply click on the menu button, “Let Go and Let God.” Please feel free to share with others. Continuous blessings, always.

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7 Years

DearEncourager is seven years old! It really does not seem like it has been seven years. I remember when I first began my blog and a co-worker said to me that I should write a book, and I replied, “I don’t have that many words in me.” Well fast forward seven years and I have written two mini books that began as blogs but were so long I published them as mini books. I discovered that I do have many words in me.

Although I have much to share, I have not published anything in quite some time. I think a common misconception is that if a writer is not writing then they must not have anything to say. I suppose that is where the term writer’s block originated. This is definitely not true with me. In fact, I have so much to share until I find myself in a quandary as to what and when to share.

Social media/blog experts “SMEs” say that a reader’s attention span can only accept 250-300 words. They say, if you click on my website and see a post of 600 words, you will automatically think it is too long and you will not read it. In spite of what the SMEs say, I believe there is a Higher Power that draws you to my website, touches your heart and opens your mind to receive the Words He speaks through me to share with you. So, stay tuned because I have been given much to share.

I sincerely thank you for your support these past seven years, and I hope to continue encouraging you for many more.

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Get Ready To Bloom Again!

One of the things I inherited from my mother was her love for gardening. I love to nurture plants and watch them grow and thrive. While having a bad day, and on the verge of having what I call, a full PJ (my great grandson) meltdown, I texted a friend who also loves gardening and shared how tough the day was. Her response blessed and strengthened my soul and spirit. She replied, “We’re perennials honey, you just lay dormant, receive your nutrients, and get ready to bloom!” This gardening analogy immediately shifted my perspective and brought a smile to my face.

Just in case you are not a gardener, let me explain. Perennials are plants that grow and bloom over the spring and summer. They die every fall and winter, and then return in the spring. In the fall, gardeners prune or cut back the plants almost to their roots. During this time, if you looked at the perennials, you would not think they were alive, and you definitely would not consider the possibility of them returning to full bloom. It is beyond consideration because you cannot see any life in the plants. The life is found in the roots and the roots are buried. The underground roots give life to the perennials and cause new above-ground growth to be produced every spring.

I too felt as though I had been cut back and was now lying dormant; however, I was not dead. I may have been pruned but it was for my good. It actually saved my life. I was having some challenges, but I still had a life giving, life sustaining Anchor in Christ Jesus. According to John 15:1-2 (ESV), God is the gardener and Jesus is the life giving root.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

With the reassurance that this too shall pass, I began to focus on the hope of His promise – blooming again – bearing more fruit. After all, spring is just around the corner! So, if you are feeling like things are not moving forward in your life, or there are situations or circumstances beyond your control remember, you are a perennial honey – get ready to bloom again!

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Romans 8:28 (AMP)

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A Season of Thanks

This Month’s Word:  Grateful

Definition:  Feeling or expressing thanks; having or showing the desire or reason to thank somebody

Synonyms (words with same meaning):  Thankful, Appreciative, Indebted,

Antonyms (words with opposite meaning):  Unthankful, Ungrateful, Unappreciative, Unmindful

The Thanksgiving holiday season is upon us and, even with the insanity and sadness all around us, and although we have many things vying for our attention, we still must take the time to really look beyond these circumstances and be grateful. I realize that some may have to look deeper than others, but regardless of what our present situation may be, there is always a reason to be grateful. My mother would say, “Thank God things are as well as they are;” and “Thank God for a reasonable portion of my health.” It may be hard to believe, but it could be worse. Instead of having to deal with aches and pains, or having to take medication, or treatment, we could not be here; so we should be grateful that we are still here and able to do and be. If we pause and take our eyes off of our situations, we would see that there are others that are by far worse off than we are. That is yet another reason to be grateful.

One of the definitions of grateful given above is that it is an “expression” of giving thanks. This implies that we cannot be grateful and not express it. Being grateful is not lip service; it is not just saying it; it is showing it. Therefore, I challenge us that as we go through this week that we consciously think about the people that we are grateful for and express that to them not only by saying it but doing something for them. It does not have to be anything grand. The smallest demonstration of appreciation from the heart brings a smile to most people. Personally, I give cards or write a note expressing my heart, or give some small token that will let someone know I am grateful for their presence in my life.

During this week, I also challenge us to express our gratitude for all things that are good in our lives to the One that makes it all possible. Let us wake up every morning expressing a heart of gratitude towards Him. Throughout the day, let us give thanks to Him for all that He has done for us and all that He has given us – shelter, provisions, protection, and sanity. It only takes a second to pause and say thank you Lord, I am truly grateful for your presence in my life. Then express that gratefulness and show His love to someone else; be a blessing to someone that is less fortunate.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless and gratefully praise His holy name forever and ever. Psalm 145:21 (AMP)

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