Isaiah says: God declares the end from the beginning, He gives us inside information on what has not happened on our timeline and how He intends to do what He has set out to do. This comforting passage reminds us that God sits outside of time; whatever He Wills He does, whatever He promises He performs and whatever He wants He gets. God isn’t just watching things unfold and “spiral out of control”; He is orchestrating ALL things. Be assured that what is above your head is still under God’s feet.
Of all the metaphors used to describe God; God as an eagle whose feathers I can stay under is a top favourite. Life is filled with diverse challenges, choices, change and characters but under God’s wings, we are blessed with His presence, protection, provision, promotion, prosperity and preservation. There’s no protection for the young bird that strays away from the nest, so in this month intentionally decide to trust God and take cover under His wings because His promises cover ALL bases.
Wouldn’t it be a relief to find out that the past year was an April fool’s joke and life would return as normal? Unfortunately, that’s not the case but, God is a ‘God who restores’, so we always get the last laugh. Don’t take things that are happening to you too seriously; learn to laugh as it lightens the load you carry. The password into God’s presence isn’t necessarily the loudest cries but is thanksgiving and joy. Declare that: My mourning will turn into dancing, and my mouth will be filled with laughter and joy. I exchange my pain & heartbreak for a garment of praise. My cup is not just half full; it is overflowing.
If the birds & lilies are taken care of, how much more will he provide for us; His image-bearers. Jehovah Jireh means “The Lord will provide.” God does not hesitate when it comes to meeting our needs; it’s in His nature. Make this declaration: I declare that God shall supply all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. As I delight in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart. I am fully equipped for the journey ahead. God has provided a way of escape during trials and temptation. His provision will arrive at the appointed time. He will not withhold his limitless provision. I declare that Jehovah Jireh will be evident in my life.
Whilst navigating life we tend to search for paths of least resistance. However, the fruits of resistance are increased strength, perseverance and growth. Don’t miss out on God’s best by running away from tests or trials that are training your faith. I declare that as you remain close to God your experiences will not be dull or predictable; you will safely make it to the destination He has prepared for you.
… where the money resides. Have you come across this viral catchphrase? A car salesman in Louisiana shared a creative Ad as a form of marketing to potential new customers, I’ve inserted the video below.
And as usual, according to social media custom, a lot of people have taken on this term as their aim for the year. However, I beg to differ. Honestly speaking I’m concerned with how our society is obsessed with the acquisition of money amongst other materialistic things. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have good things and I’m certain God also wants the best for us but there is more to life than having money and good things. A lot of people will disagree with the phrase ‘money cannot buy you happiness’ – I have had several discussions in which people have tried to convince me that money can buy happiness; however, I am yet to be convinced. Yes, money can help achieve happiness to an extent but after interviewing 21 billionaires, entrepreneur Rafael Badziag discovered that billionaires appreciate the simple things of life and find their happiness outside of being rich. After all, being a billionaire does not protect one from tragedies such as the loss of a loved one or illnesses. Having enough money has enabled me to go on holidays, eat out at restaurants and buy the clothes I want however there comes a time when the holiday ends, the food is digested and excreted, the clothes get worn out or become ‘out of fashion’; the extent of the happiness has halted.
As Christians when we fall into the trap of thinking that being “where the money resides” is what would bring us happiness we conform our thoughts to the thoughts of the society we are living in. Of course, I am not a millionaire or have thousands upon thousands in my bank account but I can truly say that I am happy and in 2021 there’s somewhere else I’d rather be than where the money resides. This post will share a concept in terms of where our place of residence should be in 2021.
Over the years, Psalm 91 is a psalm that I have fallen in love with. Here it is for reference.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.””
Psalms 91:1-16 NIV
A close study of the overall theme of this Psalm reveals that God promises security and safety amid danger – he does not promise us a world without danger but he promises to help us when we are faced with danger. Just like an eagle which spreads its wings to protect its young, God is described as a tender, loving and caring father that uses His metaphorical feathers to cover us His children.
We are promised protection from the ‘snare of the fowler’ – these are traps that are set up for your downfall. The fowler (someone who captures birds) is quiet and secretive however if you dwell with God you will not be deceived by Satan or those around you. Your eyes will be opened to see the traps.
We are promised protection from the ‘deadly pestilence. The pestilence is a posh way of describing a contagious disease (would you look at that – cough cough corona cough cough! ). If you dwell with God, he protects you from terrible health conditions and he acts as a shield during pandemics. This is not an absolute promise for everyone in every circumstance so it does not mean that those who have lost their lives did not dwell with God. But as believers, there are still times when you can see God delivering you from dangers as you place your trust in Him.
We are promised peace of mind – ‘shall not fear‘ – even though there are reasons to be fearful when you dwell with God he gives you strength and courage so that your fears will not have complete rule over you. His peace will make you calm amidst the troubles.
True safety can only be found in God. The society that we live in can fool us into thinking that we will find safety in our possessions, the figures in our bank account, our jobs, our degrees, our friends and loved ones – but the reality is that these supposed safety nets do not provide a fool-proof safety. We are still vulnerable to all sorts of harm and danger. However, taking this further, calamities in this life ultimately cannot harm us because through Christ we already have victory: everything has been overruled for good. Death is sad but, in view of, eternity it brings us closer to our reward in heaven, so it is a gain.
So let’s go back to the beginning of this post; Roses are red, God is on my side, in 2021 I wanna be under His wings. The “shadow of God’s/His Wings” is repeated several times across the bible; so it’s not just an isolated concept. Let me tell you what’s so special about being in the Shadow of God’s Wings. Dwelling in the shadow has connotations of close companionships; we must be near God to have His shadow on us. The fruit of being under the shadow of God’s wings are peace, protection, joy, goodness, mercy, grace, comfort and care what a blessed place to reside. To experience these blessings we must place our full trust in God – there is no protection for the young eagle that strays away from the nest or from under the mother’s wings.
At the end of this Psalm: God speaks of promises and blessings he gives to those who chose to love Him. So I ask today, have you chosen to love God. In the year 2021 are you going to love God more than the things that this life has to offer? Are you going to love God by spending time with Him, listening to Him, reading about Him, adoring Him, thinking about Him, speaking to Him, speaking to others about Him, giving and happily making sacrifices to Him and for Him? – more about this in an upcoming post.
Believers miss out on numerous blessings because we would rather chase things that God created such as money and declare that we want to be “where the money resides” than choosing to chase after God the creator and trusting Him as we should. As explained in David Guzik’s Bible commentary when we chose to “reside under the shadow of His Wings” we receive the blessing of God’s presence, protection, promotion, prosperity and preservation.
God is saying to you today if you love me and trust me – I will be with you in time of trouble, I will answer you, I will deliver you, I will honour you, I will give you long life, I will show you my salvation – what is your response?
P.S – If you would rather listen to this post check out the podcast episode amongst others on your favourite listening platforms.
Have you written a résumé or CV before? Were you successful in getting the job or being called for an interview after? In this bonus episode, Dara shares her insights about The perfect résumé – you will want to get your notes app or notepads out for this one.Follow @theundilutedword on Insta, read blogs on http://www.theundilutedword.com and listen to the Gospel playlist on Spotify and Youtube. Stay blessed!
As you’ve seen the first day of 2021, may you also see the last day of this year. In your pathway there’s life, goodness, joy, favour, peace and provision. I declare that God shall give you beauty for your ashes. I pray that you will thrive and explosive blessings shall be your portion. Have a prosperous New Year!
If I asked a room of people to raise their hands if they were sick and tired of the year 2020, I am sure majority of the people present would raise their hands. It has been a weary year, to say the least. Many have suffered from loss of loved ones, job loss, zoom fatigue, cancelled or postponed plans and not to mention the loss of security, freedom and peace of mind. The dictionary definition for ‘weary’ is “feeling or showing extreme tiredness, especially as a result of excessive exertion”, synonyms for the word ‘weary’ include; tired, worn out, exhausted, fatigued … I am sure you can add your word to describe how this year has left you feeling.
When listening to my Christmas Gospel Playlist (link here), the lyrics of the popular carol – O Holy Night stood out to me.
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth! Long lay the world in sin and error pining Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
O Holy Night – Adolphe Adam translated by John Dwight
Pay particular attention to the words “a thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices“.
The state of the world 2000 years ago when Jesus came to earth does not seem much different from the world in 2020. The prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-2 unfolds five consequences of sin (wrongdoing) and what Jesus was coming to do about it. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings (news) to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;’ Isaiah 61:1. The society at that time was poor, broken-hearted, held in captivity, blind and oppressed. Likewise in the year 2020, we can say that we see; poverty, oppression, injustice, sickness, suffering and hopelessness. Despite all we have experienced this year I still have a thrill of hope. What is this thrill of hope?
To those who were around when Jesus came as a baby into the world, His coming was met with a variety of reactions. Some had not expected him to come as a babe in a manger, they thought a knight in shining armour was going to overthrow the government by a revolution. However, God’s ways are different and higher than the ways of man; he used an unexpected pregnancy to bring Hope to a weary world. The good news for you and I today is that although Jesus came, lived and died he also resurrected so He remains with us. We are told in Matthew 1:23: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” To me, the title – Immanuel, has a twofold meaning in terms of His proximity and empathy. God is nearby so we can lean on and rely on Him. His nearness/presence means that we don’t have to go out of our way or go through great lengths to find Him – all we need to do is call upon Him. As we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. Secondly, as God the Son, came to earth to live and dwell among us he knows and understands the struggles that this world is filled with therefore He can empathise with us. Jesus is with us, to comfort, enlighten, encourage, guide, protect and defend us. This should surely give us a thrill of hope. Additionally, when Jesus was leaving earth He said the Father will send the ‘advocate’ / ‘helper’ which in Greek is the ‘paraklētos’ – this word describes someone who is called to one’s side especially to one’s aid. The Holy Spirit is available to us all to give us divine strength that enables us to undergo trials and hardships. We have a thrill of Hope because of the work of God, The Spirit.
There are several weary people in the bible so you and I are not alone, fortunately, there is also a wealth of encouragement in the scriptures. In Matthew 11:28; Jesus asks those who labour and are heavy laden to come to Him and he will give them rest. What burdens do you still hold onto today as a result of the disappointments and stressors of this year? Place these burdens in Jesus’ hands he wants to take care of them for you. Isaiah 40:29,31 tells us that: ‘God gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.’ those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. For us to receive strength from God, we have to admit that we are weak, it is okay, to admit that the year has not gone how we expected, it is okay, to be honest about our feelings, this vulnerability allows us to be filled with God’s strength. We are instructed to wait on the Lord to renew our strength meaning we actively wait and seek Him whilst He is near and with us. The text in Isaiah says our strength will be renewed, this means we already had this strength when we first came to God but this world, this year has drained it however we are given assurance that God will jumpstart us and give us fresh strength to move forward. This should give us hope for the new year ahead of us all. The result of this renewed strength is the ability to “mount up with wings like eagles” and therefore soar above the circumstances that are thrown our way. Finally, the Psalmists says; God is our refuge and strength, a very present help introuble (Psalm 46:1); indeed He is a present help in trouble. In God, we have shelter, protection and Hope amid troubles.
So as a weary world, I ask you to rejoice and be glad. Considering the year we have had it may seem strange that I am asking that of you as you probably have a growing list of complaints. However rejoicing is a command we are repeatedly instructed to follow, Philippians 4:4 says: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. This was written by Paul whilst he was in prison yet this letter to the Philippians has a theme of having joy despite one’s circumstances. The joy Paul talks about wasn’t just based on optimism or having a positive mindset, it was more of confidence that God was in control – GODFIDENCE. Joy in the Lord. Unfortunately, I cannot promise you that the festive season and holiday traditions will fill you with joy or that when the clocks strike midnight on the 31st of December things will get better but there is still a thrill of Hope. Cling to Jesus today for in Him there is unwavering hope.
As I mentioned earlier and as stated in the lyrics above the world is filled with sin and there is so much darkness around; the pandemic and events that unfolded in the past year made things even more unbearable but that is the reality of this broken world we are in. Life on earth makes one weary but that is why we have been given this gift – Jesus who came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Jesus’ eventual death on the cross defeated sin and the effects of sin in our world and thereby giving us hope and a better ending when we are in our final home – heaven. All this would not have been possible without the birth of Jesus; so the birth of Jesus (then) and the continual presence of Jesus (today) is a reason to have a thrill of hope.
The Undiluted Word take home-point: In a world where we are weary of injustice, weary of inequality, weary of pain & suffering, weary of constant sad & bad breaking news, weary of disappointments, weary of corruption, weary of disasters, weary of mental turmoil, weary of exploitation and to sum it all weary of the consequences of greed and the deceitful nature of mankindwe have a thrill of Hope; because of Jesus we can rejoice in all circumstances. Cling tightly onto Jesus and allow him to make your heart glad as we await his second coming that will change the course of our current lives.
Seasons Greetings to you all!
If you would like me to pray for you about that thing that has made you weary or continues to wear you out feel free to send a request on this link.
In a world where we are weary of injustice, inequality, pain & suffering, corruption, disasters, mental turmoil, exploitation and to sum it all up – weary of the deceitful and fallen nature of mankind we have a thrill of Hope; in Jesus we can always rejoice.
These words summarise this rollercoaster year: “Trouble comes from every side but we are not consumed. We’re buried by the cares of this world but we are not consumed”. No matter what you may have faced in the last few months may you be comforted by the words “BUT NOT consumed”. The fact that you are alive is a reason to testify – God has kept your head above the water. Wherever God leaves life, He leaves Hope. In this month; expect the unexpected and count your blessings.
If I asked you at the beginning of the year – Have you got your PPE? You may have probably scratched your head and gave a puzzled look as you were unfamiliar with the term. But I am sure you are now well acquainted with those three letters which stand for Personal Protective Equipment. PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health and safety risks at work. Some examples include gloves, face masks, aprons and glasses. Healthcare workers working on the front lines continue to risk their safety and life; without adequate protection, they are at exposed to the invisible enemy (Corona) that is roaming and seeking whom to devour. And now as the wider community attempt to resume a “normal” way of living people are required to wear PPE specifically a face mask. I have made a few observations of people you may meet in pubic:
Those who don’t have a face mask
Those who use clothing such as scarves or hoodies as a face mask
Those who incorrectly wearing their face masks (i.e their nose is visible or it has become a chin mask or even something to keep their neck warm)
Those who are correctly wearing their face masks
It’s quite funny to see the variety. Which group do you belong to?
I am not here to scold or instruct you on how to wear your physical PPE against COVID-19 but I do want to talk about another type of PPE we should all be aware of. I recently came across this triggering quote on Instagram:
“Spiritually speaking, you and I are on the front lines and without having Personal Protective Equipment, we can be infected with the virus of sin.”
It should come as no surprise that there is an ongoing war between good and evil. Although the physical realm appears harmless (when there isn’t a pandemic) we are still on a battleground: the spiritual realm is where the majority of the action takes place. Paul says in Ephesians 6:12: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.In the remaining of that passage, Paul gives an analogy of the Spiritual Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that should be used. I will give a breakdown of these items below;
The Belt of truth
This belt was used by Roman soldiers to hold up their trousers and put their undergarments together. Without this, the soldier will be in discomfort under the rest of the armour.
It is vital to know the truth, this foundation aids our success in battles.
Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) and John 8:32 adds that: ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free
Truth is part of God’s character, it is who He is and his Son Jesus represents Truth therefore the Truth is always God’s view on any subject. We need to know our biblical beliefs as Christians because only the biblical truth can set us free from the power of darkness.
On the opponents’ side, you have Satan – the father of lies, who attempts to use deception to win. Thus, it is essential to get acquainted with the truth, respect the truth and live by the truth. A popular saying goes – If you don’t stand for something you fall for anything; hence why we must always be ready to give a response for the faith and hope we have.
During spiritual warfare resist the urge to consult everyone else’s view on the matter before considering God’s view.
Breastplate of Righteousness
This breastplate was used to protect vital internal organs such as the heart and lungs thereby protecting the soldier from attacks in close combat.
Righteousness is the quality of being morally right or justifiable. This righteousness is not through our works, we receive it by faith in Jesus and His death on the cross thus making it possible for us to have eternal life.
Satan’s strategy is to attack our heart by manipulating our emotions; he manipulates us into thinking that our works make us right before God. He aims to accuse and condemn us when we sin thereby forgetting that it’s Jesus’ work that makes us righteous.
The truth is: we are not saved by our feelings because they can be deceptive; you can feel like a horrible and worthless person but that doesn’t mean you are not saved and vice versa.
We are called righteous because of our faith and trust in God not by how we feel about ourselves; don’t let Satan make you believe otherwise.
Gospel of Peace (Sandals)
In ancient battle, sharpened sticks were often buried in the ground and if this was stepped on whilst bare-footed that soldier would be disabled.
Adequate footwear is essential in navigating and successfully fighting as it provides a firm foundation. Likewise, we need solid footing. The Gospel is the foundation for all we do and say, so it’s vital to know what it says.
You cannot afford to be wishy-washy about where you stand when it comes to sin; as I mentioned earlier if you don’t stand for something you fall for anything.
Don’t allow Satan to deceive and sway you into believing a counterfeit Gospel, we ought to test everything we hear and see against God’s Word. When we remove Jesus from the equation of the Gospel everything falls apart.
Shield of Faith
Faith represents a shield, you are probably aware of the text in Hebrews 11:6 “without faith it is impossible to please Him[God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Essentially we win in spiritual warfare when we have faith.
Satan’s strategy is to make us doubt God’s word, we see this in the account with Eve in the Garden of Eden: whilst the serpent is tempting Eve to eat the fruit he asks “Has God said?” “is that really what he said?”. When doubt seeps into our mind it is even more vital to understand God’s truth and stand by it.
We win in spiritual warfare when we make up our mind to understand God’s word, have faith in His Word and His promises.
Faith is trusting who and what God says even when our situation appears otherwise. It involves depending on God and not our ability. As God tells Abraham in Genesis 15:1 – [He] is our shield. God is our shield of faith that sends Satan’s darts back at him.
Faith allows us to fight temptations, doubts, guilt, fear, unbelief, anxiety. Faith says to Satan – “I trust God so I am sticking with Him.“
Helmet of Salvation
The soldier’s helmet protects his head i.e. our minds.
Satan’s strategy is to attack our mind by playing mischievous mind games. If we don’t have a foolproof strategy to guard and filter what we process we open ourselves to being defiled.
To prevent spiritual concussions our thoughts must be aligned with the Truth; a great formula for this is in Philippians 4:8-9 [description of things we should focus on]
The helmet is described as the hope of salvation in other bible texts [1 These 5:8]; having the hope of salvation helps in spiritual warfare when Satan attempts to discourage us. Satan plays mind games with us and leads us to think that being a Christian and living a godly life in today’s society is impossible so we should give up. However the hope of salvation protects us against giving up – we have hope and assurance that God will triumph; we are on the winning side.
A bible commentary explained that Salvation has 3 tenses
We have been saved from the penalty of our sin –Justification
We are being saved from the power of sin – Sanctification
We shall be saved from the presence of sin – Glorification
Don’t lose sight of eternity whilst fighting in spiritual warfare, there is hope that sin will one day no longer have the rule over us.
Sword of the Spirit
A soldier has a sword that is used for attack and defence; we have the Word Of God as our attack and defence strategy against sin and temptation.
For the sword to be effectively used in battle, the soldier has to train with it beforehand likewise for us to effectively use the Word we must read and practise what it says.
The temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness which is documented in Matthew 4:1-11 explains how Jesus successfully fought the devil’s temptations with scriptural comebacks.
The psalmist says Your word I have hidden in my heart that I may not sin against you – Psalm 119:11. David understood that familiarity with God’s Word helps in the battle against sin because it keeps us from sinning and the devil can’t twist and use it against us.
Doug Batchelor once said: It’s either the bible keeps you from sinning or sin keeps you away from the bible. The choice is ours; what will it be?
Success in spiritual warfare is highly dependent on how well we know and implement biblical truths into our life.
Last but certainly not least – Prayer
Prayer should always be our first resort as a lack of prayer is essentially telling God – I can do this on my own.
Jesus warns the disciples in Mark 14:38: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – we are also warned to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” I Peter 5:8
Satan wants to surprise and knock us down before we realise what’s happening, therefore, we must stay PRAYED UP at all times.
I am not going to labour the point but Prayer is our best weapon in pulling down strongholds in the spiritual realm. Being in communication with the father also gives you that much-needed encouragement and sustenance during the waging war.
Summarising with this Message translation of Ephesians 6:10-18
“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”
The Undiluted Word Points:
Know the Truth and what you stand for
Remember that God has called you righteous
Have Faith in God and His Promises
Have the Hope of Salvation
Attack the enemy with scripture
Prayer must be the first resort
God gives every believer a full set of PPE and sends us out into battle with everything we need at hand. If you were paying attention you may have realised there is no armour to protect your back – why is that you may ask? God does not expect us to run away from battle therefore exposing our backside – we are told to take up the whole armour and STAND – Stand for and with CHRIST. Now I ask you again Have you got your PPE and secondly are you wearing it properly?
May God continue to be with us all as we face the forces of the spiritual realm. May we stand strong as Soldiers in the Lord’s army ready to fight and win in the battle against sin with God on our side.