2019 Spoiler Alert ¡!

Wishing you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

There are different metaphors that have been used to describe life. A few that I’ve heard before are: 

  • Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out just take another shot.
  • Life is like a box of chocolate you never know what you’re going to get.
  • Life is like a cup of tea, its all in how you make it.

And I’m sure you’ve also heard of life being likened to a book with different chapters. 

Life is like a book. Some chapters are sad, some happy, some exciting. But if you never turn the page you will never know what the next chapter holds.  There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book.

2018 was a chapter that has come and gone. If you could think of a genre to describe that year what would it be… Drama? Horror? Action? Adventure? A thriller? A romantic comedy? 

As with any best selling book, you have reviews such as “Astounding. Thrilling. Lovely and amazing’ “a mesmerising novel”. How would you rate the year that has just gone by? What star rating would you give it? Did God (the BEST selling author of your life) keep you on the edge of your seat? 

When I was younger I loved reading. I’d spend hours after my bedtime turning page after page so that I would find out what happened to the characters I had fallen in love with. I had a few friends who would read the first chapter then skip to the last one and attempt to fill in the details, strange right? My thoughts exactly. Why couldn’t they just read the book normally and enjoy watching the story unfold? But then again it would be great to know the ending to a new beginning. For example, we have started the 2019 Book, you may have already set out goals or made plans that you want to know how they turn out. Unfortunately, I’m not here to fill in the minute details of what this year might hold for you but I do have something to share, it’s a spoiler though. So drum roll, please… GOD WINS!

I want to challenge you this year to increase your OPTIMISM. A more familiar synonym to optimism is HOPE. “Let your hope in Christ shape your future”. When God is weaved into the intricacies of your life there is truly no limit to the wonders He can display.

‘What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

What shall we say to anxiety and / depression

What shall we say to financial troubles

What shall we say to unemployment

What shall we say to educational problems

What shall we say to confusion or doubt

What shall we say to poor health and illnesses

What shall we say to failing friendships and relationships

What shall we say to challenges and obstacles

What shall we say to fear or other negative traits or habits

IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO/WHAT CAN BE AGAINST US?

We will certainly have opposition in this world, but what is the world compared to God? What is satan compared to God? What are the obstacles or difficulties we encounter compared to God? What are the trials and temptations we face compared to God? The Answer is resounding NOTHING.  You + God is always an unconquerable majority. When God is added to the equation it is impossible to find yourself on the losing side. To those without hope and faith it may appear that you are defeated but ultimately victory belongs to Jesus. He is our deliverer and provider. The Psalmist reminds us that With God, we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” (Psalms 60:12)

As I mentioned earlier, God is the BEST selling Author and He has great plans for your future, you are destined for success this year.  With only a few days into the New Year I ask you; What do you want the review of this chapter in your life to be? Be optimistic and Trust that God has you in mind and He will cause you to have total victory. Everything will be more than alright in the end and if it isn’t, it simply isn’t the end of that chapter. The Word of God over your life outweighs the plots of the enemy against your life. God had a plan before the enemy had a plot. I pray that God will surprise you and surpass your expectations because absolutely nothing is difficult for Him.

I leave you with this excerpt from Jesus Calling: Do not be weighed down with problems and unresolved issues for Jesus is your burden-bearer. In the world, you will have trials and distress, but don’t let them get you down. Jesus has conquered the world and deprived it of power to harm us.

When you get a chance listen to the words of this song “Victory Belongs to Jesus by Todd Dulaney and be encouraged.

Once again Happy New Year, thank you for your continued support.

Stay blessed,

Dara xx

P.S : Are you living your best life? Check out how you can on last year’s New Year’s Post Living our best life in 2018

 

Advertisements

From a place of Victory

The date is 24th August 2018 and I am writing this blog post from a position of Victory. I’ve said in a previous blog post that as Christians we should fight from a place of Victory and not for victory. So back to my initial point, I just finished resiting some medical written exams. I had not been successful during my first sit but I write this post in faith and Thank God for the Victory he has granted onto me.

For me this is not only a faith-building exercise, it is also a way for me to firstly testify about God’s goodness and secondly, encourage you all. It feels very strange that I am thanking God and testifying about how he brought me through another year of medical school when I can’t physically see it in front of me, but I am more than assured that there is power in Praising God in advance. Where do I begin? I want to keep this short, but that may not be the case depending on how the Spirit leads.

It is often difficult to avoid worrying about the events that unfold in our lives and the hurdles that come our way. We find ourselves falling into a trap in which we ask God why? But the truth is we may never truly get to know why we end up in certain situations or why God makes us go through seemingly longwinded paths to make it to a particular destination. As Christians, it’s important to cultivate a habit in which we aren’t always trying to be the detectives and figuring out God’s plan & purpose for our lives because as I said it’s GOD’S PLAN. We can’t expect to know more than our maker, that’s not how it works.

Fighting from a place of Victory is not easy at all, the enemy detests this so He’s already trying to get into my head but as I go through this experience, I’ll keep adding to the list below which are ways I maintained my stand in fighting from Victory.

  1. Gospel Music
    • Listening to gospel music has a very calming effect on the listener and it is an opportunity to partake in praise & worship
    • There is power in Praising God in advance
    • Some songs that have been on repeat for me include; Won’t He Do It by Koryn Hawthorne, Praise on the inside by J Moss, Olowogbogboro (The outstretched hand of God), Great is the Lord by Jonathan McReynolds, Victory belongs to Jesus by Todd Dulaney
  2. God’s Word
    • God will use all possible routes & means to communicate to you and encourage you
    • The Bible plan devotions and bible texts I read during this whole period were very applicable to my circumstance – it was as though God was directly speaking to me.
    • 29/08, Another devotion – Happy You, Happy Life! by Drenda Keesee: “If we stay in God’s word, we are able to fight successfully. Don’t wait till the evil day to prepare; instead, meditate on God’s Word day and night. If an attack comes, God’s Word stored up inside of you will quench it!”
    • Some other devotions that helped me during this time were: Stay The Course Because God is Faithful to His promises, Goliath Must Fall: Winning The Battle Against Your Giants by Louie Giglio. Both of which I highly recommend and can be found in the Bible App Plans section (links can be found below)
  3. Positive Affirmations
    • The devil is a pathological liar, he wants you to doubt all that God has promised you. The best way to counteract this is to use God’s Word against him
    • Everything the Devil whispers into your head you profess the opposite.
    • Another thing I did was that when I was leaving campus, I repeatedly whispered: “I am returning in September as a 4th-year student”. There is power in the tongue!
  4. Inner Circle – Support Network
    • I can’t stress this enough, having an inner circle with godly people is the way forward. An inner circle is a group of people (friends/ loved ones) that you trust and are open with. When you are down and want to give up, these people will continue to encourage you and pray on your behalf (an amazing feeling)
    • There were some days I would be so fixated on the soon coming of my results that it hindered me from enjoying myself even whilst on holiday. However when I shared how I felt with those in my inner circle they sent words of encouragement which eventually lifted my spirits. They prayed for me and with me even when my faith was shaking.
    • Don’t be disheartened even if you feel as though you don’t have an inner circle, God will send unlikely destiny helpers to assist you. I have a friend who I spoke to occasionally in my 3rd year of Uni who been through a similar situation (having to resit his exams in the past). He had kept in touch with me since the first sit results came out, he assisted a lot in my preparation for the resits and continued to keep in touch & encourage me during the wait. God certainly placed this person in my life to be nothing short of a blessing.
  5. The Name Of Jesus
    • On the 25/08, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a gospel concert. I am certain that God specifically orchestrated that whole experience from me being able to secure the tickets even though they were sold out and then making it “on time” despite being late for an hour and a half.
    •  Earlier that morning my devotion said: I am intimately involved in all your moments, and I am training you to be aware of Me at all times. I have taken up residence within you; I am central in your innermost being. Your mind goes off in tangents from its holy Center, time after time. Do not be alarmed by your inability to remain focused on Me. Simply bring your thought gently back to Me each time they wander. The quickest way to redirect your mind to me is to whisper My Name. When I arrived at the event you will not believe it each ministration had a recurring theme which was about the power in Jesus’ name. Definitely not a coincidence – the Holy Spirit was moving and had directed all my steps that day.
    • The name of Jesus is very powerful, Whisper, Shout, Scream it. If fear and anxiety threaten to paralyse you and you can’t say anything else, His Name is more than sufficient to redirect your thoughts and mind back to Him.
  6. Prayer is a major Key!
    • Pray Pray Pray!
    • Specific prayer points I had:
      • God, please give me the courage to deal with the outcome of this trial in a mature way. 
      • God give me your peace that passes all understanding.
      • Lord, I believe but help my unbelief. 
    • Share your request with people of God that you trust & are comfortable with; your friends, family, pastors. You can never have too many prayers being sent up on your behalf.

The time was 3:33pm when I received an email;

I am pleased to confirm that you have…

I had successfully completed the academic year and was through to the next chapter. This was a confirmation of what God had already promised me, an earthly confirmation that I had reached my place of Victory. At the beginning of this post, I told you I was fighting from a place of Victory and not for victory and I am here to testify now that as a 4th-year medical student God has brought me to that place of victory.

Thank you for being a part of this faith-building exercise, I pray that you will also be encouraged and reminded that “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see”. My prayer for you is that as you fight from a position of victory may you receive your report saying: I am pleased to confirm that… 🙏🏾

Leaving you with this final passage: James 1:2-4; Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. We don’t really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure. It is easy to have faith when everything is going well, but can we still keep that faith when our world appears to be turned upside down? This scripture says that the aim of testing our faith is to make us mature and complete, therefore instead of complaining and throwing tantrums when life doesn’t go as we’ve planned, open your eyes to see the opportunity for growth. I once read a quote: Great things never come from our comfort zones. Thus in order for growth to occur it is mandatory for us to be made uncomfortable. Faith thrives in discomfort. 

I tweeted this a while ago and I think it is very appropriate to end this post:

Stay blessed,

Dara x

P.S – If you have any prayer requests please feel free to send me a message via this link: Prayer Request form

Links to the Bible Plans discussed above:

  • Stay The Course Because God Is Faithful To His Promises – Sometimes God seems to work so slowly. We wish things could be the way we envision them RIGHT NOW; yet we must trust that God is building a bigger vision, weaving our stories together into His rich tapestry. Pastor Bayless Conley teaches you to remain stable, having a heart free from anxiety and full of confidence that God will get you to exactly where you need to be on time. https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/2768-stay-course-because-god-faithful-to-his-promises
  • Happy You, Happy Life! – God has an incredible plan for your life, but it starts with discovering your joy in His presence. In this 14-day devotional, Drenda Keesee combines wit, humour, and encouragement to create a dynamic and prophetic space to encounter God. When we create space for God to move, He never fails to meet us in a powerful way! Get ready to embark on an eye-opening journey toward a happier you. https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/11177-happy-you-happy-life
  • Goliath Must Fall: Winning The Battle Against Your Giants – It’s likely you have a giant in your life that is holding you captive, intimidating you, and stealing your joy. Adversaries like fear, rejection, comfort, anger, and addiction stake a claim and gain a foothold in your heart. In this seven-day reading plan, Louie Giglio examines the David and Goliath story to show how those giants can fall: by focusing on the size of our God, not the height of your giants, and by walking in the victory Jesus has already won. https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/4024-goliath-must-fall-winning-battle-against-giants

Errr so I almost drowned… 

Around this time about 8 years ago I was involved in a swimming competition. From what I can reconstruct from the story, it was a sunny and bright day, myself and my team members were preparing for a relay race in an outdoor pool. So 13 year old me ( I think) eager to show everyone that I had reached the 25m milestone in swim school put myself forward and It was decided that I will be the second leg. It seemed pretty straightforward to me; my teammate that took the first leg swam towards the deep end where I was waiting to dive in. I had never been taught how to dive in but hadn’t told anyone, it couldn’t be that difficult right? As my teammate reached me, I instantly did what I perceived was diving and entered the water. And that’s all I remember properly, probably a few moments later I felt a tight grip around my waist as I was hauled out of the water. The designated lifeguard had come to my rescue & thankfully I’m here to testify years after the incident. 

Think about your worst day ever. One of my apparent worst days was when  I was on holiday in Nigeria and my iPhone was stolen from me. I remember screaming and crying for hours. The type of crying that you get snot coming out of your nose. I was very UPSET and ANGRY. I also remember being extremely scared to tell my parents because of how they would take it. So I ask you again up to this moment what has been your “worst day”? That one thing you thought will finish you or that you wouldn’t be able to get past… Did it end you? Clearly not, you’re here reading this blog post. That is just to show that your worst days are just one of many bad days that’ll come and go. Those 24 hours will come to an expected end. Whilst in the midst of that day you probably couldn’t imagine ever getting past it but let me assure you that you will and you can live beyond your worst days! Trust me whilst I was crying my eyes out over the tragic loss of my phone I didn’t think I would be able to move forward from there, but here I am over 5 years after. Alive and kicking with an iPhone SE (smashed up screen but you get the point). Plus my parents didn’t even take the news as badly as I had perceived.

Okay, the example of the phone may seem quite meniscal but we tend to do the same thing about other things in life.  Maybe it’s a failed assignment, poor grades, unpaid/overdue bills, doctors health report, failed or failing marriage, an unfaithful spouse, disloyal friends, pathological liars, betrayed trust, wayward children, unemployment … we lament and cry over it instead of remaining focused on the one who holds our future in his hands. 

God says in Isaiah 43:2; When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”

Let’s dissect this verse

1. Trails are inevitable 

  • Note the verse says when you pass through the waters, it doesn’t say if which suggests you may go through waters. So they are bound to come. It’s as though when we signed up to be Christians we also signed a waiver – Hey Devil hit me with your best shot.
  1. You will Walk through the fire.
  • I don’t know about you but if you had to go through danger wouldn’t you run through it. The last thing you want to do is take a stroll. But here we are told you’ll go through the fire as though you weren’t in a hurry, you aren’t bothered or aware of the fact that doing so may get you burnt. It’s only someone that is anxious and scared that will want to run through the fire. This will not be your portion In Jesus Name.

3. Nothing is New

  • The metaphors used have already happened; at the Red Sea (the Israelites passed through the waters) and then the 3 Hebrew boys were thrown into the fiery furnace and they weren’t burnt
  • God has already exhibited that he can do what seems impossible to the human eye and mind, it wouldn’t make much sense to ignore this and distance ourselves from such miracles. We should claim these promises in Faith that If he did it before He is more than able to do it again. (Check out my post: If He did it before. He can do it Again if you’re interested in this topic)

As I’ve mentioned above trials and tribulations are inevitable in our walk with God, it’s as though we have a bullseye target on our backs. However, when we go through rivers of difficulty there are 2 possible outcomes; we either drown or we are forced to grow stronger. If you go on your own strength, you are more likely to drown. If you invite the Lord to go with you, he will protect you. If it “appears” as though you are drowning like I almost did Remember your lifeguard walks on water and He is ready to haul you out.

Think about your equivalent to my stolen phone example (it could be something of similar or greater severity). That circumstance that threatens to overwhelm you, drown you or burn you. As you think about it make this declaration:

When I pass through the waters, God will be with me. And through the rivers, they will not overflow me. When I walk through the fire, I will not be burned, the flame will not scorch me. My clothes will not even smell as though I have been through the flames. I will not look like what I have been through.

Key Undiluted points to take away:

  1. Bad days don’t last forever. Search for the silver lining in a seemingly disastrous day or circumstance.
  2. God can immensely bless you through the “bad” circumstances you are in. I say bad in quotation marks because it wasn’t intended to be a bad thing. Change your perspective and instead of asking “why me?” ask “How is God going to bless me?, What does God want me to gain from this experience?”
  3. The bad days will come but when they come remember your lifeguard (Jesus) walks on water and He will always come through on your behalf.

 

Stay blessed,

Dara x

P.S – Listen to the song Oceans by Hillsong, I believe it gives a really good summary of the topic discussed. Stay tuned for more blog posts.

How to Shaku Shaku in the Storm

Let me start with a Disclaimer: I am not here to actually teach you how to Shaku Shaku. And if you do not know what that is, it’s the latest Nigerian dance style that has stormed the internet over the last few months. In an attempt to jump on this new dance wave I have watched endless YouTube tutorials and music videos, let’s just say there’s a very small glimpse of hope. 😂

If you are a student like myself you are probably in a storm or about to encounter one, and by storm I mean the long-awaited exam season. Stress levels are high, deadlines are fast approaching, exam dates creeping up not so slowly. And for those who aren’t students, I am sure you can agree that there are some storms that you may or may not be currently in. Each gospel has the account of the Jesus calming the storm, here it is in the Gospel of Matthew 8:23-27 :

23 Then he [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Do we sometimes feel as though Jesus is sleeping in the midst of our storms? Whilst the waves were raging Jesus was sleeping!! He was cool, calm & collected. Imagine that. When Jesus wakes up he rebukes their fear and unbelief. That same rebuke may apply to us right now Jesus is asking:  “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” When we trust God correctly, there will be very little room left for fear.
The thing with the disciples is that they had reasons to have faith despite the raging sea; they had seen Jesus perform wonders in the past, they had seen people like the Centurion who displayed a big trust in Jesus and most importantly Jesus was on board. It takes great faith to trust that a “sleeping Jesus” cares about us even when he seems very silent. A bible commentator says: “There are many Christians today who seem to think the boat is going down! I am tired of the wailing of some of my friends who take that view. The boat cannot go down. Jesus is on board.” (Morgan)
The boat cannot go down: Jesus is on board.
 Key points to take from this story:
  1. Jesus is Lord over all; He has full authority & power over the circumstances that we face. Jesus appeared to have left them in the midst of their chaos but in reality, he was always with them – the same way he has never left our side.
  2. We Must trust Jesus in the storms of life
    • Storms often reflect our lack of trust in God – Sometimes we need to become weak so that we will learn to rely only on Christ’s strength
    • Not all fear is wrong, however, when our fear is excessive and causes us to panic & not think of God’s control over our problems – it is.
    • If we are so focused on a problem & can’t see God’s control over it, we are not trusting him.
  3. Storms should drive us towards God; One thing I have learnt about the storms of life is that the more we trust Him in our current storm, the more we will know Him and be able to trust Him in the upcoming storms.
  4. Storms hit us unexpectedly and without warning; thus in order to survive we must be prepared in advance. NOW is the time to prepare for the storm, if we don’t learn to trust God in the calm of life we will not be prepared to trust him when the storm hits.

Once upon a while ago, I heard: life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. A bad habit I have adopted whilst at Uni is playing music whilst revising and recently because of this new dance style – Shaku Shaku I find myself getting up every time a suitable song comes up to practice my moves. 😂😂 I’m literally dancing in the storm, my revision (which is driving me crazy) is there but I’m dancing instead.  What am I trying to say? This is the attitude we should have whilst in a storm. The reason we should be able to dance in the rain is that we understand that we have a firm anchor – God. I am reminded of the hymn:

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

So there’s only one main step on how to Shaku Shaku in the storm and that is to anchor our faith in God’s promises and presence. The purpose of an anchor is to prevent the raging waves from smashing the boat into the shore and to stop the boat from drifting or being swept away. And so the same applies to God’s role when we encounter storms, He keeps us sane despite the adversity around us, He gives us serenity amidst the hustle and bustle of life.

Here are some of God’s promises to claim as we encounter storms in our lives:

  • God will keep me in perfect peace because I trust in him and my thoughts are firmly fixed on him. (Isaiah 26:3)
  • When I pass through deep waters, God will be with me, and when I pass the rivers of difficulty, I will not drown. When I walk through the fire, I will not be burned, the flames shall not consume. (Isaiah 43:2)
  • The Lord’s loving kindness never ceases. I am not consumed, for his compassions never fail and they are new every morning, Great is His faithfulness. The Lord is good to me because I seek Him and my hope is in Him. Therefore I will wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentation 3:21-26)
Fully trusting and relying on God & His promises means that in spite of the circumstances you can dance in the middle of the storm because you know; God will be with you, you will not be consumed, you will not drown and you will come out better and stronger to face the next storm. Faith is not an automatic thing, we must choose to exercise it daily, and sometimes you have to recall previous storms and remind yourself of God’s faithfulness. He hasn’t failed you in the past and he would not start now.
So I urge you today to drop your anchor and stand on the Rock of Ageslay a firm foundation in God and His Word and you will be able to Shaku Shaku in the Storm.
To all my fellow students, Go smash those exams and remember the same God that brought you here is still on board with you and will take you even further.
Stay Blessed
Dara xx
P.S: Students check out my previous blog posts for exam season for more encouragement & prayers :When fear creeps in… (for those who become very fearful & anxious during exam season), Do your BEST and He’ll do the REST (has a prayer especially for procrastinators) and Commit it to the Lord (a revision tool that works for EVERY & ANY subject).

…as yourself

You may or may not recognise that the title of this post is the end of a verse that is repeated in several portions of the Bible (to be exact in 10 separate passages). Here is the full text as it is found in Mark 12:30-31:

30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment.31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Whilst preparing for this post I was certain about the points I wanted to raise with regards to the topic of self-love, but after researching and studying more of the Word there is an additional angle I will be presenting. Over my teenage years, I have come to realise that the relationship I have with myself sets the tone for every other relationship I have. If I love and appreciate myself those around me are more likely to do the same. If you don’t love yourself whether it be your appearance, qualities or characteristics it would be a lot harder to appreciate and love the positive aspects of those around you.

What is self-love? The dictionary says it is “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness”. Now self-love can be seen as both a negative and positive thing, as with all things in life one needs to strike the right balance. On one hand, a person can be prideful, arrogant and believe he/she is better than everyone else, which is a sin. And then there is naturally loving yourself. Naturally loving yourself is to be thankful for how God made you. Whilst searching for bible verses about loving yourself there isn’t an explicit command to do so and I reckon it’s because it is something that naturally occurs in humans. However, what I did find was the connection made between loving your neighbours as yourself and warnings against certain types of self-love.

So going back to the key text about loving your neighbour as yourself, it is not explicitly a command to love yourself, as this is our default position. The society in which we live in doesn’t lack self-love. The command is telling us to love others as we would ourselves. Our actions and attitudes towards others will be motivated by love, specifically the one that we display towards ourselves. As believers, if we lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for the good in them and only see & focus on their faults. The real problem in our society is the excess of self-love. If we cast our minds back to the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, only one of the men that passed the injured man was a true neighbour. The Levite and priest failed to help the man in need not because they loved themselves too little but because they loved themselves too much and as a result put their interests first. However, the Samaritan showed true love, he gave his time, resources and money with no regard for himself. His focus was outward and not inward. Now loving your neighbour as yourself doesn’t mean that we must love ourselves before we can love anyone else; it means that in the same way we take care of ourselves and are concerned about our own interests we should do the same towards others.

We are reminded in Philippians 2:3-4 – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.” From this passage, I have learnt the following:

  • We don’t tend to do things out of love, but rather for our own desire for benefits or praise (selfish ambition) | the bible warns against this
  • Doing something through conceit is to have excessive pride in oneself, self-interest and self-preoccupation
  • When we put away our selfish ambitions, our conceit and tendency to be self-absorbed we will naturally have more concern for the interests and needs of others
  • Paul isn’t saying it’s wrong to look out for our own interests, but that we should NOT only look out for our own interests
  • Loving others requires humility, valuing others and always making an effort to put others’ interest first. Anything other than that is selfish & vain and far from God’s standard.

Now I am not saying that we should see ourselves as worthless because after all we are made in God’s image and that makes our net worth veryyyy high. The balance that we need to strike is that you and I are God’s unique creation, loved by God in spite of our sins (& many flaws), and redeemed by Christ. We should respond to His love by sharing it with those around us.

As I mentioned above loving others requires humility. I probably haven’t finished a post until I’ve included a thoughtful quote so here is one by Rick Warren: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less”. True humility is service to others, service to a cause greater than your own personal ambition.

My prayer is that the Lord will fill us all with a humble spirit. A heart of flesh that sees the best in others and doesn’t focus on their flaws. May the Lord remove the spirit of pride, jealousy or boastfulness from our beings. May God also help us to remember His great love for us, and as we remember this may we be able to share this love with those around us.

Key Undilutedword points to take away;

  1. Focus on the strengths of others and don’t point out their weaknesses & flaws
  2. When we as believers lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for the good in them and see only their faults.
  3. Focus more on how you can share God’s love for you with others
  4. True humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less
  5. Love yourself but don’t let that stop you from putting the needs of others ahead of yours

Stay Blessed!

Dara x

Don’t let bitterness steal your sweetness

As you may already know I love quotes, so I might as well start with a quote that struck my attention when I started to think about forgiveness:

Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace.

Often times we find ourselves holding grudges because of what someone did or said to us. Whilst growing up with my younger sister there have been several occasions where words have been said & deeds have been done which left me feeling very angry towards her.

My sister is exactly 20 months younger than me but that doesn’t stop her from going into my wardrobe and helping herself to MY clothes and accessories. There was a particular time she took a clutch that I had received for my birthday and till this day I never officially got it back (to add insult upon injury she broke the clasp on it). I remember finding out about the broken clasp and was sooo angry with her – how can you take something that doesn’t belong to you, break it and not even feel remorseful? I was more than angry!! But as I reflect on those days, I realise that the more I stayed angry the more I didn’t give myself the chance to move on, but my sister, on the other hand, was living her merry life (WITH MY CLUTCH). It’s a petty example but it just goes to show and represent the fact that a lot of the time we want to stay mad at someone for petty reasons. At the end of the day, the other person is living life as though nothing had happened and you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to have the peace God wants for you.

If we don’t learn to forgive the “petty” things how would we be able to forgive the bigger things? Click to Tweet this!

I once watched a video about things we practice and the overall gist was that when we constantly practice certain habits we become experts at it. So if we constantly practice the art of being unforgiving we become experts at that. If we always hold grudges against people we will always find a reason to hold grudges – even when there isn’t one. You go around with a jar filled with hurt, pain, grief, and anger. That is very toxic and it certainly isn’t the life God intended for us.

Countless times in the Bible we are reminded to forgive others because God has forgiven us: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you”, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven”. So it is no surprise that the key to forgiving others is to remember how much God has forgiven us. Time for another favourite quote of mine by C.S Lewis: To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. 

Peter asked Jesus “how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Imagine only giving someone 7 chances, if I apply this to my sister I am certain she has used up all her chances. But Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22.  Of course, Jesus didn’t set a literal limit to how many times we should forgive, he isn’t sitting in heaven counting a tally chart. God’s mercy doesn’t run out after 490 allotments of grace, if he did I’m sure we have all probably exhausted our quota. As long as we repent God is willing to forgive us. God then asks us to extend this grace onto our fellowmen, don’t keep a track of the number of times you’ve forgiven them.

Jesus doesn’t end there he goes on to tell the parable of the unmerciful debtor. You can read Matthew 18:21-35 for the full version, but the overall gist is that: a servant owes the king 10,000 talents which he is unable to pay but the King instead of throwing the servant into prison and selling his family into slavery allows him to go free & cancels all his debt. This same servant is owed 100 denarii by a fellow servant, but the king’s servant grabs the man by his throat and demands to be paid. He then throws him into jail. Now there is a huge difference between owing someone 10,000 talents and 100 denarii (1 talent = 6,000 denarii). This parable illustrates God’s forgiveness towards us. It’s as though our debt to God is like the distance from the earth to the sun. Now compare this to the debt of our fellow human beings which is mostly like a few yards. God is willing to forgive us the distance between the earth and the sun (149.6million km), but we struggle to forgive each other a measly 12 inches. Think about this when you are unwilling to forgive others.  Just to clarify; God forgives us first (not only after we have forgiven), he shows an example that we should aspire to follow.

Another aspect of forgiveness that seems to be forgotten a lot of the time is the act of forgiving oneself. Ever made a mistake and continued to beat yourself up about it? If you want to be able to forgive others you must first foster an attitude to forgive yourself first. 

Forgive yourself first. Release the need to replay a negative situation over and over again in your mind. Don’t become a hostage to your past by always reviewing and reliving your mistakes. Don’t remind yourself of what should have, could have or would have been. Release it and let it go. Move on. Click to Tweet this!

Undiluted word points to take away:

  1. Forgiving frees you from a life filled with toxicity
  2. If God was able to forgive the inexcusable in you, you should attempt to forgive the inexcusable in others
  3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you let people off the hook for their behaviour
  4. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we constantly allow people to use us as a punching bag
  5. Forgiveness is the act of giving up bitterness and resentment in order for you to live a sweet life (your best life 💃🏿 )
  6. Pray for those who have offended you
  7. And most importantly, Learn to forgive yourself!

Stay Blessed,

Dara xx

P.S – Don’t forget this page is available to send any prayer requests you have.

Living our best life in 2018

First and foremost – Happy New Year!

New Year New Me? Does that sound like a phrase you are familiar with? Some people detest hearing that phrase as it seems unrealistic for one to completely change and be a new person after the clocks strike midnight on the 31st of December. Okay, so if it’s not new year new me, how can we make this year different from the last? A phrase that was thrown around a lot last year was “I’m living my best life”. For those of you who have never heard it till now – it’s a statement made at the end of a sentence declaring the actions you are doing are causing you to live your greatest life possible. 

I don’t know about you but I want to live my best life, not many of us would want to settle for a mediocre life. Towards the end of last year I noticed myself saying the phrase “I’m living my best life” more and more. Examples of when I believed I was living by best life included; travelling to France for my 20th, going to Disneyland, travelling to 5 different American states within 15 days, eating out and eating good good food, crossing things like golf, pottery and going to a west end theatre show off my bucket list. Even though those are all valid examples of living my best life, after coming across a tweet on twitter (see below) I believe there’s more to living your best life.

After seeing the above tweet I couldn’t help but consider the truth behind it: If I am not living for Jesus am I truly living my best life? I am reminded of Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Here we find a call for Christians; to represent Christ at all times – wherever we go and in whatever we say. The bible goes on to say in Psalm 37:4 – delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heartTo delight in something means to experience great pleasure and joy in his or her presence. This can only happen when we know that person well. Therefore if we are to delight in the Lord, we must get to know him better.

Earlier on in Psalm 16:11 David says; you make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermoreIt simply states in the Lord’s presence there is fullness of joy. David had full confidence that his life with God-both now and forevermore – would be marked by the highest and best pleasures. This is a life lived above shallow entertainments and excitements.  Thus to truly live our best lives we must actively seek to remain in the Lord’s presence.

I came across another tweet which stated: Our best life is in obedience to God’s Word! – not far from the truth is it. In Matthew 6:33-34 we are admonished to: Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. What I then concluded was that in order to live our best life possible we need to be obedient to God’s word and a prime example in which we can show obedience to God is by seeking his kingdom above all else – Above all the trivial things this world fools us into being preoccupied with. Only then can the aspects of “living our best life” be our portion.

Now my final verses to share with you; Psalm 34:12-14

12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

Here are some Undiluted words to take away from that passage. If you want to live your best life;

  1. Keep your tongue from evil 
  2. Keep your lips from telling lies 
  3. Turn away from evil 
  4. Do Good
  5. Seek & Pursue Peace

I would say those are all pretty self-explanatory points and essential keys to follow in order to live our best life in 2018.

Now I leave you with Joyce Meyer’s words:

May your 2018 be filled with nothing but the BEST that God has in store for you. Go forth and  seize every opportunity to live your best life possible for God and yourself.

Stay blessed,

Dara x

P.S – Hope you’ve stopped collecting Ls, if not I guess you need to be reminded of last year’s New Year Post – https://theundilutedword.com/2017/01/05/a-year-without-ls/  😜<<
p>