Daily Devotional – 1/11/18 “From struggle to sacrifice”

On my ride to work this morning, the song “Different” by Tasha Page-Lockhart was playing and she said, “You can see it, I’m different in my walk. Others see it, in how I talk. I can see it in how I pray, I start to shed some tears each word I say. See I’m different. They tell me, I’m different.” Listening to those words, the Holy Spirit said to me, the difference is moving from struggle to sacrifice. And as I thought about that, it begin to resonate within me. See, one definition says struggle is to have difficulty handling or coping with and sacrifice is an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy. Let me break this down in order for you to shout.

In my struggle, I found it difficult to make ends me. In my sacrifice, my ends have met with the same money I had in my struggle.
In my struggle, my prayers were empty promises I kept making to God knowing full well I probably wouldn’t keep them. In my sacrifice, my prayers changed to use me Lord and I’ll go and I meant it.
In my struggle, I was going to church. In my sacrifice, the church is in me.
In my struggle, I cussed folk out. In my sacrifice, I pray for and still love them.
In my struggle, I did some stuff I’m not proud of. In my sacrifice, I forgave myself for those same things.
In my struggle, I answered to my past. In my sacrifice, my name changed to favor.
In my struggle, I used God. In my sacrifice God uses me.

So you see, your struggle isn’t meant to harm you but it’s preparing you. The things I thought I needed in my struggle proved to be an obstacle in my sacrifice. The things I thought I couldn’t live without in my struggle were the very things I willing gave up in my sacrifice. This is why you cannot discount your struggle, no matter how hard it is or how much it hurts. Come here Abraham. Your struggle, beloved, is the very thing strengthening your trust in God to be able to take the thing you love (Isaac) to a mountain with wood, rope and a knife as your sacrifice when He tells you too believing He will show up with a ram in the bush!

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Daily Devotional – 1/10/18 “End the silence!”

I know this is the New Year and while many spend time regrouping, making goals to make themselves and their family better, creating vision boards and such but the reality is, there are some people who are silently fighting mental illness and the date change hasn’t bought them relief. For them, they woke up on January 1, still battling a something that attempts to suffocate them while they sleep and crush them while they’re awake. It’s a sad fact but many of those, with mental illness, are people you see every day. They are the ones who are smiling and being helpful around the office. They are the ones showing up for the PTA meetings. They are the ones who are faithful in church. They are the ones who will give you their last. They are the ones who are the most encouraging. You want to know why? It’s because they want to help somebody else, seeing they cannot help themselves. See, for them this fight isn’t new, it’s a thing they’ve been trying to get loose from. And beloved, while praying and fasting is good, those who are struggling with mental illness, depression, psychotic episodes, suicidal thoughts/urges, bouts of crying, panic attacks and etc.; need physicians and treatment. Yes, slaying them on the altar is alright but they also need to seek medicinal help. Everything cannot be chalked up to being demon possessed that can be removed by a prophetic being who has the ability to blow and you fall down.

Understand me clearly, I am all for the prophetic, the laying of hands, the casting out, the crying loud and sparing not but baby I am also for utilizing God’s gift of doctors. And it is okay for us to need both, the prophetic and the physician. (Even Luke was a physician) Look, there are too many people suffering silently because they are afraid of how society will view them, too many dying at the hands of mentally ill people because no one recognized the signs and too many, especially in the church, who are suffering because they’ve been labeled as “acting out,” when they are crying out. This is why, if you aren’t qualified to handle what they are fighting, move so somebody who is, can. Pastoral counseling won’t help a person drowning in depression if the pastor isn’t qualified too. Marriage counseling won’t do it for the spouse who’s mentally ill if the counselor isn’t equipped to manage it. These fancy single meetings is good but what about the single whose words were asking for help but nobody realized it until it was too late? Please, do not be afraid or ashamed to get help. Talk to your doctor, connect with someone who understands, learn about mental illness and/or visit www.nami.org.

“I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief. Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people?” – Jeremiah 8:21-22