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.
… 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!
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.
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.
Not only do the skies look bleak during these winter months, it feels as though darkness, despair and doubt cover our minds, hearts and lives at this time. It’s no surprise that we are living in strange & difficult times and it’s easy to question: Where is God? Does He care? Oh Yes, He cares, Yes he sees and No, he has not left. Make this declaration: My gloomy nights will clear up; Joy will come in the morning. God’s light will shine brighter than ever; He will dry my tears from the stressors and worries of this year. In these seasons of drought, I shall be like a tree planted along a riverbed – unbothered by the struggles and trials because I have entrusted my uncertainties and unknown future to a known God who has never lost control.
People pursue several things in life; pursue materialistic things such as possessions, some pursue friendships & relationships, some pursue goals & achievements and others pursue things that a value can’t be placed on. The list is endless but the overall gist is that we are all in pursuit of something; but whether that pursuit is worthwhile or realistic is another question.
I have always wanted to share my thoughts on what I consider are worthwhile pursuits and it seems appropriate to discuss it now. It will not be a surprise to you that people across the UK and perhaps globally are in pursuit of toilet paper because of the current pandemic: COVID-19. Yes, the virus is spreading quickly but FEAR is spreading even more rapidly leading to some irrational pursuits of materialistic things such as tissue paper. I’ve heard people ask – why are people buying tissue paper?, and honestly, I cannot think of a specific reason to explain why the aisles are empty and people are fighting over toilet roll. At the end of the day it all boils down to fear, fear causes us to do irrational things and as I like to say “move mad unprovoked.” I would like to challenge us all to pursue PEACE in times of panic and chaos so this an appropriate time to discuss this.
Here are some definitions of the word pursuit:
an activity that you spend time and energy doing
an attempt to achieve something
the act of trying to achieve a plan, activity, or situation, usually over a long period
I would like to add that the pursuit is an intentional task in which you have to be willing to put in the required effort where necessary. To be in pursuit of something worthwhile a person has to remain focussed on that goal. Chris Gardner who is known for the inspiration of the movie The Pursuit of Happiness said: If you want something go get it. PERIOD.
The Hebrew word for “peace” which you may already be familiar with is “shalom”. Shalom – is a condition where there is freedom from disturbance: outwardly and inwardly. It also means safety, wellbeing, happy, friendly, healthy, prosperity and favour. In the New Testament, we are introduced to the Greek word for peace which is “irane”; it can mean peace, prosperity, one, quietness, rest, to set at one again and to restore. Isn’t the concept of peace a great thing? I am sure you will agree that it is and therefore is a worthwhile pursuit.
The devil deceives us into believing that various things in this world can give us the peace we desire, these include finances, relationships, social acceptance, achievements – however, they are all counterfeits of the peace which can only be found in God. I experience peace when I distract myself from the realities of life and deliberately ignore responsibilities however this sense of peace is temporary and before I know it I am back in a spiral of confusion, fear and panic. We are told in John 14:27 ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ‘ the peace that God gives can’t be compared to that of the World. Life can be so unpredictable as we can tell from the COVID-19 pandemic; all that once provided safety and peace is now under attack -this is why we should not get complacent with a false sense of peace. As Christians and people of faith, we are to pursue real peace – God’s peace which surpasses human understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Steps to Pursuing Peace
The enemies of peace are fear, anxiety, greed, ambition, anger, envy, pride. These compete for our inner peace. We can’t have the peace God promises if we are holding onto these traits. Therefore we need to take the necessary steps to remove & manage these elements in our lives.
“The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace. A persistent simplification will create inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one’s life.” – Peace Pilgrim
GET TO KNOW GOD
Eliminating negative forces will only provide temporary peace. Eventually, some other crisis or issue may arise which threatens your “world” and once again you are in a limbo between peace and worry. True peace must be something more.
Martin Luther said “True peace is not merely the absence of some negative force. It is rather the presence of some positive force.” This positive force is God.
A popular saying goes like this: NO GOD NO PEACE. KNOW GOD KNOW PEACE. Job 22:21 says, “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” How do we get to know God? Simply by spending time with Him and in His Word.
Now that we’ve been advised to #stayathome we have less busy schedules and whilst it’s easy to squander this time on social media apps (I’m guilty of scrolling endlessly on insta & creating TIKTOK videos), we should be intentional about spending quality time with our creator the positive force that can grant us peace.
One important fact to remember amidst the storms of life is that GOD IS IN CONTROL. Regardless of how much or how long the sea rages when God deems necessary it shall be still on His command. God allows all that happens to us to occur to fulfil His perfect plan and purpose. Even though the facts about a situation creates turmoil the unchanging truth about God’s nature and character creates peace.
ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
I am sure it’s not a surprise that this is on the list as you all know how I feel about positivity – Negative energy genuinely repulses me.
It is easy to get agitated and focus on the negatives. Let’s use Coronavirus as an example; every day the news is filled with negativity. Newscasters are constantly reporting the number of cases and deaths – what about those that are surviving, recovering? What about the initiatives and new technologies that are being discovered? I’ve had to leave the living room whenever the news is on simply because there is nothing positive and it just aids and fuels more fear & anxiety – enemies of peace. Similarly, we have to physically and mentally remove ourselves from a space of negativity to fix our minds on positive things – that way inner peace can flourish.
As Christians, we are commanded to not be conformed to this world (its fears & anxieties) but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). You can determine how you think in any given situation. Chose to refocus your mind to a new topic instead of dwelling on that which will steal your peace. Chose to trust God and He will help you. By guarding your mind you guard your peace thus inner peace will be yours.
Isaiah 26:3 says; [God] will keep in perfect peace, those whose mind is stayed on you Because they trust in you”
In Hebrew “perfect peace” = shalom shalom. The repetition highlights how profound this promise is.
The message version reads: “People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole.“
Here we see the importance of the mind: When we keep our minds settled on God, He will give us peace in return. God will guard us against the devil’s attacks of distress.
What your mind is stayed on communicates what you trust in. If you truly trust God your mind should stay firmly fixed on Him and Him alone.
As I mentioned earlier the pursuit is an activity so “being still” seems contradictory however being ‘still’ allows us to truly sense God’s presence.
Whilst being “still” we can read and meditate on the promises God is communicating to us; that way we can be assured that God’s peace will infiltrate all areas of our lives.
The presence of God is not the absence of trouble. He is a very present help IN time of trouble. Despite the raging storms, I pray that you have the overwhelming assurance that reminds you: God is your only shelter.
BE OBEDIENT & WALK IN GOD’S WILL
Psalm 119:165 says; Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
If God reveals light to you, walk in it and do not insist on doing your own thing. This is illustrated in this favourite passage of mine: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22-25
At the start of this year, I felt very uneasy, as though my heart and mind were battling each other. Choices and decisions I knew I had to make due to the light God had shown me in His Word but I was trying to do my own thing. I did not get the peace of mind I desired until I decided to stop being stubborn and align myself with God’s Will and Word.
Whenever we feel a sense of unrest we should ask and search whether we are doing something that isn’t in harmony with God’s Will? When we seek the answers to that question we find explanations for the discord within our soul.
BE A PEACEMAKER
The same way you gain happiness and love by giving it away is the same way we retain peace. We ought to be peacemakers; when we spread peace we receive peace. This follows the simple principle of reaping what we sow; if we sow strife and discord we will surely reap the results which are enemies of peace.
One of the ways we can best advertise Christ and showcase our lives as Christians is to emulate peace. Be that light in a world filled with darkness, chaos, fear and anxiety.
I urge you all to communicate God to an anxious world, even though there are a lot of reasons to fret choose peace!
This time at home should be used to reconcile relationships and live with peace with others (especially family members we are having to spend more time with during the Lockdown)
Let me close with another all-time favourite memory text from Philippians 4:6-7; Be anxious for nothing but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guide your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
You may or may not have enough tissue paper in your homes but I urge you to follow the steps discussed above in pursuing peace and most of all pray that the Lord Himself will grant you peace because He is the source of true peace.
We are more than halfway through January but I still want to wish all my readers a Happy and Blessed New Year!
A random fact about myself is that I used to wear glasses when I was younger (probably at the start of last decade 😜) however after a few years I was told I didn’t need them anymore as my eyesight had been corrected. I was so happy because I hated my appearance with glasses. 🤓
I was diagnosed as being long-sighted. For those who aren’t familiar with that term, a long-sighted person can see objects at a distance but closer objects are usually out of focus. The opposite is short-sightedness; a condition where distant objects appear blurred while nearby objects are clear. These conditions of the eyes amongst several others can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses and even laser eye surgery. Without adequate correction, a person will continue to have blurred vision.
So what happens when Specsavers is not enough? – you are stumbling around, confused, unaware of what is happening and what is to come. May I propose to you the idea that some of us Christians are suffering from spiritual short-sightedness. Our vision does not have the clarity that is needed to successfully navigate through life’s circumstances. So where do we go from here? Hold that thought.
I’ve recently gotten into one of my favourite hobbies again: reading. In the past 3 months, I’ve read 6 novels; 5 of which were written with multiple narratives. This a writing style in which I’ve grown to love. In the past when I’ve read a book with a single narrator, I could not help but feel as though I was not getting the whole truth. With a single narrator, there are unknown aspects of the story that do not come into the light until later so for the majority of the time you are kept in the dark. The truth of a story is made up of a variety of viewpoints. The more perspectives you have the closer you are to having a better overall understanding of what is happening. Come to think of it the person who probably has the greatest advantage is the author because he or she has a bird’s eye view of the sequence of events from the start to end. Similarly to the novels, our lives also have an author who knows the end from the beginning, He sees the bigger picture, I’m sure I don’t have to spell that out to you.
The new lens I want to encourage you to intentionally use is God’s. This omniscient being says:
For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts
This text clearly states that our thoughts are not compatible with God’s thoughts. It would be foolish to assume that we know God’s thinking and planning. How can we know more than our creator? As humans, we try to fit God into our mould of thinking but this is the wrong way to approach life, we are to conform to His perspective. This distance between God’s thoughts/ways and our thoughts/ways is constant; God will always remain God and us mere humans. Isaiah 55 reiterates the fact that God sees things from a higher perspective, like an author who has the overall picture of a book, like a bird soaring high in the skies. This higher altitude allows things that would not be otherwise seen whilst on the ground to be seen clearly: So why not trust His perspective?
An unbeliever judges events and things by worldly standards, by his or her senses; this lens is defective as it is doesn’t reflect God’s perspective and it often leads to frustration, discontentment and disappointment. A person who wants to view life from a perfect perspective needs to consider God’s views and values in everything.
A person who wants to view life from a perfect perspective needs to consider God’s views and values in everything.
I’m currently reading ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren and there’s a chapter solely dedicated to ‘Seeing life from God’s view’. Pastor Rick says ‘The way you see your life shapes your life. How you define life determines your destiny” (p.41). I will share more from this book in a future post but a key point that was made is that ‘life on earth is a temporary assignment therefore this should alter our values’. The deciding factors for the decisions we make should be based on eternal values and not temporal ones. Earth is not our final home, we are just passing through so we will experience things that do not make sense to us and sometimes only in hindsight will certain scenarios in our lives make sense.
Life is a test. This metaphor for life can be seen in various biblical stories. God tests people’s character, faith, obedience, love, integrity and loyalty. In the bible, we have examples of those who failed God’s tests (Adam and Eve in Eden, David) and those who passed God’s tests (Joseph, Ruth, Esther and Daniel). One thing we know about God is that He is interested in our character and not our earthly achievements or possessions thus He uses tests to develop and reveal our true character. The specific tests God may put you through this year can’t be listed however we can predict how God may test us through what has already happened in the bible; major changes, delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism and even senseless tragedies. Personally, in hindsight, I notice ways in which God has tested my character; during those periods I was frustrated, angry and confused but when I decided to switch my basic inadequate ‘human lenses’ to God’s perfect perspective, I understand that God is developing and testing my character. Therefore this year when you are going through a trial or you’re faced with confusion seek answers from God: What do you want me to learn?. The best way to seek these answers is to communicate with Him and engage with His Word. When you know that life is a test you realise that nothing is insignificant in your life, you just have to use the correct lens to comprehend what is occurring.
When you know that life is a test you realise that nothing is insignificant in your life, you just have to use the correct lens to comprehend what is occurring.
To conclude I want to share the lyrics of a song I came across last year called ‘Perception’ by a group called Livre’:
one may see a storm
another might just see rain
it’s all a matter of ones perception
Perception by Livre’
I’m sure I don’t have to stress the importance of positive thinking once again but knowing that our thoughts are often flawed and unreliable should prompt us to observe how this affects our perception. Being aware of God’s perspective is vital in navigating the world around us. Without trying to adapt to a glimpse of God’s perspective there is a high likelihood that we wander with negative emotions and dissatisfaction associated with a lack of understanding our experiences.
Finally, remember that “every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning”James 1:17. This ultimate goodness of any gift must be measured in light of eternity, so some things that appear good now may lead to our destruction – I pray that we put on an eternal God-given lens/perspective on all that we encounter: Life is a test & Life on earth is temporary.
P.S – Please share and bless your friends & family.
The 10th of October 2019 was World Mental Health day – day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. This is a great initiative that began in 1992, however, the importance of mental health should not be reduced to one day as it is something that I believe should always be at the forefront of our minds.
Did you know that in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (anxiety, depression) in any given week? This means that it’s highly likely that you’ve come in contact with at least one person that has experienced a form of anxiety or depression or you may personally identify with that.
As a medical student, I have had exposure to learning more about depression and other mental conditions. Today I will like to share more about depression and also put a Christian spin on the topic. I desire that you will be blessed or will be able to be a blessing to others after reading this piece.
Firstly a definition for Depression:
An affective mood disorder that is chacterised by a persistent low mood (≥2weeks), loss of pleasure and/or lack of energy accompanied by emotional, cognitive and biological symptoms.
Biological – weight loss & loss of appetitie, early morning wakening,
Psychiatry : A Clinical Handbook by Mohsin Azam, , Mohammed
We are going to focus on cognitive symptoms as I am an advocate for positive thinking and would like us to incorporate biblical truths on this matter.
Aaron Beck is a psychiatrist that developed a theory on negative thoughts. He proposed that there are 3 types of negative thoughts; negative views about oneself, the world and of the future. He also describes certain thinking errors that make a person more prone to depressive feelings. The table below explains these thinking errors. I was able to relate with some of these and I’ve included examples from my friends in the table.
Focusing on one minor aspect rather than the bigger picture
I have failed that exam because I got one question wrong I was late because the bike lock didn’t open
All or nothing thinking
Thinking of things in all or nothing terms
If I fail this class, I’ll never get a job
Magnification / Minimization
Over-or under-estimating the importance of an event
They didn’t invite me so they hate me
She didn’t say hi to me this morning so she must dislike me
They didn’t say “thank you” when I held the door so they are rude
Anticipating the worst possible outcome of an event
I’ve got a mole on my face, I have skin cancer
If one thing is not going well, everything is going wrong
I overslept so I’m going to get fired
I forgot the cheese, I can’t do anything right
Coming to a conclusion in the absence of any evidence to support it
They were talking about me before I walked in
No one finds me attractive
Were you able to relate to some of those points? When our thoughts are dominated by these thinking errors we will have a greater tendency towards depression. Positive thinking is a habit that we should all aim to cultivate so we avoid an overall negative outlook on life. Now, let us look at the biblical truths about these thinking errors?
All or nothing thinking
Since we usually only see/know our perspective it’s important to remember that only God knows the heart and as it says in Isaiah 55:8 God says: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,”
Things are usually not as black and white as we think.
When we use words like “never”, “always”, “every” we discourage ourselves from trying, pushing and most importantly having faith in God even during trials – this is counterproductive. Remember Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all through Christ who strengtheneth me.”
Magnification / Minimization
In this well-quoted psalm, there are negative experiences but the psalmist – David has chosen to also remember the positives and focus on the silver lining. ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.’ Psalms 23:4.
David could have chosen to magnify the valley of the shadow of death and filter out the part that encourages him that God is with him. However, he did not, likewise, we need to actively ensure we do not make a mountain out of a molehill and in the process miss out on the blessings in disguise.
Another example in which we are to remember to focus on the positives is 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.’
1 Thessalonians 5:21 warns us to – ‘Test all things; hold fast what is good. ‘ the message version says “Don’t be gullible. Check out everything.”, the passage was referring to false prophets but it can also apply to our thoughts. Is what you are thinking compatible with God’s truth! You say you are a failure – but God’s word says otherwise – The LORD will make you the head, not the tail (Deut 28:13)
Philippians 4:6-7 – ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’
Yes, one thing went wrong but you should never think you are so powerful that one move will jeopardise everything. We are encouraged in Romans 8:28 that ‘all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.’
A negative event will not continue to occur eternally because we’ve been promised in Jeremiah 29:11 – ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ Stop overgeneralizing a negative event, it’s a piece of your story that God orchestrated for you to eventually benefit from.
First of all, you are not a mind reader you never truly know people’s thoughts or intentions unless they’ve been explicitly stated and even then you need to be cautious.
We can be encouraged by the words of Paul in Romans 8:31; ‘What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? ‘
A final verse to conclude with:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
There are numerous occasions in the bible where the mind is discussed – ” be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”
What we choose to meditate [focus] on matters
Rather than thinking about the things that worry/trouble you, things that give you anxiety think positively on things that are: TRUE. HONEST. JUST. PURE. LOVELY. GOOD REPORT.
There is an upside and downside to everything, some of us choose to only see the downside but I urge you to try to see the silver lining in what life throws at you.
Rather than thinking about the things that worry/trouble you, things that give you anxiety think positively on things that are: TRUE. HONEST. JUST. PURE. LOVELY. GOOD REPORT.
I hope this post has been insightful. Please keep in mind that we’ve only discussed a portion of thoughts about symptoms of depression. Some other symptoms and presentations may not be completely “cured” by changing our thought processes and will require other management options such as medication. I would advise you to see a healthcare professional if you do have concerns.
P.S – Let me know your thoughts about this topic and hopefully I will be back with more related blog posts soon
Just like that we’ve stepped into the 7th and arguably the best month of 2019! 💃🏾
If you’ve been throwing a pity party for yourself in the first half of this year, NOW is the time to quit. You’ve deceived yourself to think that complaining is the way to get God’s attention. The true password into His presence is Praise & Thanksgiving! Don’t limit your singing and rejoicing to sunny skies & amazing circumstances, pray with Joy even when your life appears to be falling apart. When you enter God’s presence with PRAISE, he enters your circumstances with POWER. Have a Jolly July!
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.