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#DailyDevotional — Asking for a friend

There is so much suicide, division, divorce, severed relationships, hurt and pain. There are strongholds gripping families like never before. Demonic spirits are smothering the sanctity of worship places. Mental illness is on the rise and it is taking over generations. And for the sake of “keeping quiet,” we are losing. There are ministry leaders on the verge of suicide, wives at their breaking point, husbands who feel as if they are drowning, daughters who are using sex and sons who use drugs and guns as an escape. There are people in pain and we can no longer sugar coat the situation.

It is time we move away from the patty cake preaching and offer the meat of God’s word. Too many Christians are dying due to being malnourished because the church is still feeding milk when their body needs meat. Even a baby gets solid food at six months yet here we are, at age 50 and barely functioning. Yes, milk is good but the protein from meat is important for building bones and muscles, repairing tissues and strengthening the blood. This is why the bible says in Hebrews 5:13-14, “For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”

Please understand, we have a responsibility to seek God, study and learn for ourselves but what happens when I need to be around folk who are going through what I am or when I need to be in the midst of folk who have been in my shoes without being judged? Where can I go and get help instead of being hated on because my dress looks better than hers? Where can he go and get delivered instead of being talked about because he looks feminine? Where can families go and worship without folk prying into their business? Where can she go and get help instead of being labeled a church hopper?

Beloved, I don’t know about you but I am sick of going to into a place of worship to be healed yet all I hear is “will a man rob God?” I am tired of seeing posts after posts about another person killing themselves because everybody posted “Praying for you,” but nobody actually did. I am tired of hearing the typical scriptures with a different title but same inadequate message. When will we reach that young person whose whole life is social media by way of social media? When will we get out of traditions and into scriptures? When will we stop catering to flesh and start consecrating the spirit? I’m asking for a friend!

Daily Devotional … Even when it’s dark

I decided to share this again to encourage somebody who is going through a dark time. Maybe its grief, sickness, abandonment, loneliness, financial problems, ministry woes, business failing, you feel like the black sheep of the family, struggling spiritually, tired physically or whatever your woe, here’s what I know … YOU WILL SURVIVE THIS!

You’re probably asking, how can you know? Well, because if you weren’t meant to survive, you wouldn’t. Look, there are dark moments written into each of our journeys, but they are not made to last. It’s like being on a roller coaster. There comes a time when you might have to go through a part that’s dark. It only lasts a few seconds, yet you still experience it. Why? It’s part of the journey and you knew it when you decided to take the ride. You also knew, you couldn’t customize the ride by telling the operator, “I want to skip the dark parts.”

Spoiler alert … Neither can you customize this ride of life.

Sure, there’s going to be some twists and turns, some moments that cause your stomach to drop, sometimes you’ll have to scream out, squeeze your eyes shut and pray for it to end. It comes with the ride. Yet, while you’re riding this roller coaster of life, remember the rules.

  1. Ensure you meet the requirements for the size of the ride you’ve chosen. 2 Timothy 2:15
  2. Keep your eyes forward and head in the upright position to avoid injury. Hebrews 12:2
  3. Stay in your seat until you’ve been instructed to move. James 4:10
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask the operator questions. James 1:5

I don’t know who needs this today but know, even if the darkness never ends, you will survive it. But you must trust in and follow the instructions of the one operating your ride of life. If nothing else believe this … even when you’re in the darkest parts of your journey, God is still God, and His power never fails. As a matter of history, God did His best work in darkness.

God does His best work in darkness!

Devotional Nugget — Stretching is preparation

I’ve shared a snippet of this devotional a few times over the years because it fits, every time. This year, it’s shortened and gets right to the point.

Understand, this isn’t for everybody, but for you who feel you’re being pulled, tugged on, and pushed. All around you, it feels as if hell is breaking loose and no amount of praying has halted your storm. You’re being hurt with words and actions for things you haven’t done. You keep being sent into dark places and God hasn’t turned on your nighttime vision so fear is starting to set in. Things are happening, you cannot control and crying seems to be all you have the strength to do.

Well beloved, what you’re experiencing is stretching. Yes, it hurts but stretching has added benefits. According to http://www.health.Harvard.edu, “Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way.

Spiritually, the stretching is essentially similar.

Oh, you thought all of this was for nothing. You thought this was punishment. Nawl boo, God is stretching you in preparation for what’s to come. Yes, it hurts but if you skip the stretching, the muscles and range of motion you’re going to need for the “next” part of your journey may not be strong or readily available to handle it or them.

For some of you, the stretching is going to heal the very things man has declared can’t be. For some, it’s going to restore the functions of the body, finances, faith, marriage, ministry, etc. Here’s what you do … allow the stretching. It’ll all make sense soon.

“Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the LORD. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the LORD’s.” Exodus 9:29

What if it’s God standing in the way?

There was this flight attendant who usually took a flight from Boston to Los Angeles in September. This particular time when she was scheduling her flights, she accidentally inverted two code numbers and wound up with the wrong schedule. She managed to trade flights with other attendants for all her trips — except for Flight 175 on 9/11. The night before, she tried to log into the system to change the flight, but the computer froze and by the time it processed, it was passed the deadline. In a CNN article, she says, “I was not happy that I was not on that flight. I was driving to work steamed.” The flight she so eagerly wanted to be on was one of the ones that crashed into the towers on 9/11. When her coworkers found out she wasn’t on the flight, one of them said, “God has a plan for you. You were meant to be here.”

What if it’s God standing in the way?

In the Bible, Numbers 22, there’s a story about Balaam and his donkey. To make a long story short, Balaam was tempted by King Balak to come and curse the children of Israel. Balaam consulted God who told him to leave the people alone, Balak would send messengers with an even bigger temptation, changing Balaam’s heart against God. So, God tells him to go. In his going, Balaam would put opposition between him and God. Numbers 22:22 says, “And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him.”

Balaam was so blinded by sin that he couldn’t see the angel of the Lord standing in the way, but the donkey could. You know what Balaam did, each time the donkey delayed his impending death, he beat him. He never once took time to see if there was anything wrong with the donkey because he was eager, by temptation, to get to sin. And some of us have been there. You don’t have to admit it, but there’s been times we’ve been so entangled with sin and captivated by temptation that we’d admittedly lie to momma, break traffic laws, and go against what we know is right just to get to sin. All while cursing the delay that could save our life.

Yet, even when we’ve made God our adversary, He’ll still send a delay to spare out lives, if we’re willing to see it. This is why I asked, What if it’s God standing in the way?

Let me ask it this way. Biblically, a donkey is called an ass. A female donkey is called a she-ass. In this passage, verse 27 says, “And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam.” What if falling on your ass saved you? What if the layoff saved you from working at a place that’ll test your sanity every day of the week? What if the failing business was God standing in the way, saving you from putting money into a building that’ll cost you more than it’s worth? What if God allowed the contract to fall through because you were getting in bed with the enemy, although you couldn’t see it? The relationship you thought was love was lust dressed up and smelling good, so God let them walk away to save you from years of heartache.

What if the fall wasn’t punishment but placement in a position to be chosen? What if the fall that crippled you, is also the thing that changes you? What if the thing that hurts you also hides you until God honors you? What if the fall that caused jail time is the thing God is going to use to propel you to purpose? What if the bad decisions that put you in a desolate place is the very place, you’ll hear God calling your name? What if the fall turns into your testimony to save others?

Balaam didn’t see God until the ass fell. Some of us, God is literally blocking our path and we’re still doing everything to get through. Balaam was run into a field, had his foot crushed against a wall and still he was eagerly trying to get to evil. The donkey laid down then started talking, and Balaam was too blinded by temptation to recognize his life was being spared. And that’s some of us. Still fighting when we ought to be thanking God for blocking what should have killed us, what wasn’t for us, for severing what we didn’t have the strength to end and for standing in the way when we were too drunk off sin to see the danger in our actions.

Some of us ought to be praying, “God, thank you for standing in my way because you stopped me from chasing what has the power to crush me. Thank you for standing in my way because I was headed to revive what you’ve been telling me to let die. God, thank you for standing in my way because I couldn’t see it was me causing the problem. God, thank you for standing in my way, freeing me from inflicting the wounds. God, thank you for standing in my way because your standing, saved me.”

This Memorial Day

This Memorial Day may bring somber memories of loved ones who’ve passed away. Your heart may be broken all over again as the thoughts of servicemen and women who have served this country wholeheartedly and paid the ultimate sacrifice with their life weigh heavy on your mind. You may be burdened with grief and tears, finding it hard to face the reality of a tombstone at the gravesite bearing the name of your child, spouse, parent, sibling, or family member. Or maybe it’s a fresh wound of death which just happened recently.

But don’t lose hope.

Will you allow the memory of your loved one to carry you through? Will you remember the memories instead of allowing the ache to take your joy? On this Memorial Day, will you remember the good even though the empty chair hurts to look at?

Why? Because your loved one is now resting with God who promised to receive them, at death. I know this because Bible tells me in Ecclesiastes 12:7, “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

It doesn’t make the pain any less, I know, but I just believe they’d want you to happily remember them. And I pray this Memorial Day will bring you peace.

Let us pray …

Our Father, whose name is Holy and worthy to be praised. I know sometimes we aren’t worthy of asking yet you still provide, forgive, and bless us. Thank you for loving us even when we’re too selfish to love others. Thank you for covering us even in our mess. Thank you, God, for paying a debt we’d never be able to repay.

Now, I petition your throne for me and the mother who doesn’t think you’re hearing her prayer, the daddy who’s been away from you and afraid to call your name, the sister who’s in pain and can’t get a word out, the brother who’s struggling just to live, the pastor who pressing but feels it’s in vain and the person who’s contemplating suicide because it hurts too much to live. Help, God.

For those grieving from loss, hear their cry and comfort, God. For the communities affected by senseless violence, strengthen God. For those with governmental power who willfully ignore the plight of this land, deal with them swiftly. God, raise a people who will cry aloud and spare not. God, raise a people who truly desire to serve and not just satisfy personal agendas.

God, let Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us daily bread to strengthen our weak places. Then, oh God forgive us for the daily sins keeping us from being like you, the faults we so blindly hold on to, the hate we’ve carried for years, and the debt consuming our lives.

God, don’t allow us to fall into temptation. Deliver us from the hands, mouths, and arms of the evil ones who have us trapped by fear and lies. Set us free from the things that keep us from you. Destroy chains of circumstances, the bondage of burdens, handcuffs of hatred, shackles of self-doubt, and governing generational curses. Cast out sickness and disease, sexual and spousal abuse, and addictions. You said if your people who are called by your name would humble themselves, seek your face and turn from their wicked ways; you’d come and see about us.

Well, here I am asking you to come and see about your children. Our cities need you, the killings have to stop, the police brutality and killings have to cease, and the burying of our children has to end. We need you, Father for yours is the kingdom and you are the power and the glory, forever.

Amen.