Have you got your PPE?

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:

  1. Those who don’t have a face mask
  2. Those who use clothing such as scarves or hoodies as a face mask
  3. 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)
  4. 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.”

Mark Finley

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;

Spiritual PPE

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.”

Ephesians 6:10-18

The Undiluted Word Points:

  1. Know the Truth and what you stand for
  2. Remember that God has called you righteous 
  3. Have Faith in God and His Promises
  4. Have the Hope of Salvation
  5. Attack the enemy with scripture
  6. 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.

Stay blessed & Please continue to stay safe,

Dara xx

3:16 – The Gospels

In my last post, I told you about a book named:  3:16 The Joy of the Gospel and how I was going to share more from that book – so here I am with some more juicy gospel truth. Some Quick Disclaimers – I may not actually go through all books of the New Testament (well 6 books don’t actually have a 3:16), but I will try to share as much as I can.  This post will cover the 3 other gospel 3:16 in Matthew, Mark Luke.

Matthew 3:16

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

Matthew’s 3:16 discusses The Gospel in the Baptism of Jesus. Did you know that baptism is about the only doctrine that is in the New Testament but not in the Old Testament? It was introduced during the intertestamental period (time between the end of OT and start of NT). The word baptism or baptise comes from the Greek word baptizo – to immerse or dip or plunge. Jesus did not go to have water sprinkled or poured over Him, he was fully immersed under water which correlates with what Paul says in Romans 6:4 –“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism [immersion]  into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life [resurrection].”

You may have wondered was it  necessary for Jesus to be baptised and “thus  fulfil all righteousness”? Jesus was pure, he didn’t  have sins to be repentant of. However, Jesus identities himself with us – His people and leaves an example for us to follow. Although there was  No sin in Him, every sin was on HimJesus had the sins of the world on Him thus needed to symbolically wash them away. Verse 17 of Matthew 3:16, further illustrates the unity of the Godhead during Jesus’ baptism and how each one is a necessary component of the Good News of Salvation.

Mark 3:16
And Simon he surnamed Peter;

A rather small and insignificant looking text. Mark’s 3:16 explores The Gospel where you may not expect itIf you recall, Jesus had an inner circle out of all the disciples who were given special privileges on at least 3 recorded occasions; raising of the daughter of Jairus, Mount of Transfiguration & in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus went to pray. It is no surprise that Peter whom he names – Cephas which meant a Stone, is part of this circle. In several instances in Peter’s life before the cross he displays a lack of understanding of Jesus’ mission.  Peter, in his usual speak-before-you-think manner, declares his undying loyalty to Jesus and we all know how that ended – denies Jesus  3 times and the last one included swearing & cursing.

So what has the Mark 3:16 verse got to do with the Gospel ? Peter is a person of complex nature, which I’m sure we can all relate to in one way or another. Peter is impetuous, well-meaning, loyal, frail-of-faith, unconverted-though-we-think-we-are, remorseful when our spirituality is revealed for its weakness, talented, able to achieve beyond our ability when we are really converted [not just on paper], self-opinionated Jesus said to Peter “when you are converted, strengthen your brethren” Luke 22:32 This same message applies to us, we need to examine ourselves to see whether we are truly converted. But when you see the latter part of Peter’s story, you see he dedicated his life to spreading the good news. That is the glory of the Gospel when it touches the hearts of men & women, you and I. It transforms the character, it puts a backbone into spineless “Christians”.  When you are indeed converted, when you understand the Gospel, you will certainly strengthen your brethren just as Peter did.

Luke 3:16
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

Finally Luke – The Beloved Physician – And the Gospel. From this 3:16 text we can see John the baptist’s greatest quality ; Humility. The well known text “He must increase, but I must decrease” was by John. Additionally, John reveals 2 things: 1. He was a forerunner. 2. Christ would baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire.

To put simply this text tell us that John’s baptism with water symbolised the washing away of sins, which is in line with his message about repentance and reformation. Jesus’ baptism with fire equips a person with power to carry out God’s Will. This began on the day of pentecost when the Holy spirit came upon the disciples and they began speaking in tongues which enabled them to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection in a variety of languages. Having said that speaking in tongues is not the only way in which you can be baptised by the Holy Spirit, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t speak in tongues. The Bible says you can tell if someone has the spirit by their fruits (love, joy, peace …) not gifts. Different people get different gifts and you don’t prove that someone has the Holy Spirit by their gifts. The Holy Spirit comes in different degrees, It can come as waves in our lives. When we need more of the Holy Spirit we get more. Jesus said when you’re brought to bear witness for your faith, the Holy Spirit will be given to you in special portion men, to defend the truth. When the Holy Spirit came on Samson, he was given supernatural strength. The Holy Spirit came on King Saul and he prophesied. The Holy Spirit came on David and he was able to write Psalms.

The Holy Spirit is working in your life to bring about conviction for sin before you’re ever baptised or saved. It’s the Holy Spirit that leads us and teaches us in our understanding as we hear the truth.  Additionally, The Holy Spirit guides us in our day-to-day decisions.

Finally 3 take home points from this undiluted word…

  1. Jesus is our model for baptism, and we should follow suit when we feel like the time is right.
  2. The Gospel can transform our lives just as it transformed Peter’s.
  3. The Holy Spirit comes in different degrees throughout our lives. The fruits we bear show that we are lead by the Spirit.
Stay Blessed
Dara x
P.S – Stay tuned for more upcoming posts

3:16 : John

It’s that time of the year when everyone around the world remembers/ celebrates the death & resurrection of our saviour either by easter egg hunts, going to services or just relaxing during the break. Oh yeah I only just found out that eating hot cross buns was an easter tradition and Jamaicans celebrate Good Friday with fried fish. Haha.. guess you are always learning new things.  But what does this season mean to you specifically?

About 4 years ago I read a book about all the 3:16s in the new testament, it was a great read so I thought it was only right to share what I learnt. In this post I will speak specifically about the verse that encapsulates the gospel : John 3:16 then in subsequent posts I hope to share the other 3:16s with you.

Let me start with a question, Who was the initial recipient of this sentence? It was, Nicodemus, a troubled Pharisee who had come to Jesus in the middle of the night probably because he was afraid or ashamed to be with seen with Jesus. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again, however he did not understand how this could happen. Then Jesus gave him a fundamental element of the goodness of God and the ultimate gateway to Heaven; For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

Here are the basics of John 3:16 (J.H):

God The Author
So loved The Measure
The World The Object
Whoever believes should not perish The Purpose
Have eternal life The Ultimate Result

This analysis also shows why John 3:16 is classed as the greatest  (Anon):

God The greatest lover/giver
So loved The greatest motive
The World The greatest number
That he gave The greatest act
His only begotten son The greatest gift
That whoever The greatest invitation
Believes The greatest DECISION
In him The greatest attraction
Should not perish The greatest promise
But The greatest difference
Have The greatest certainty
Eternal life The greatest possession

and my favourite The Triune (Trinity) God in John 3:16 (Anon).

God Ruler Micah 5:2
So benefactor Psalm 68:19
Loved Lover 1 John 4:8-10
The Creator Genesis 1:1
World Maker Psalm 95:6
That Purpose Ephesians 3:11
He Governor Matthew 2:6
Gave Giver 1 Timothy 6:17
His Father Isaiah 9:6
Only Saviour Luke 2:11
Begotten Mediator 1 Timothy 2:5
Son Redeemer Job 19:25
That Intercessor Isaiah 53:12
Whoever Provider Genesis 22:8
Believes Counsellor Isaiah 9:6
In Revealer Daniel 2:22
Him Messenger Malachi 3:1
Should Commander Isaiah 55:4
Not Comforter John 14:26
Perish Deliverer Romans 11:26
But Restorer Ruth 4:15
Have Bestower Isaiah 63:7
Eternal Keeper Psalm 121:5
Life Preserver Psalm 28:8

Beautiful, right? So once again what does this easter season mean to you? Do you recognise that you’ve been given the greatest promise (shall not perish) to have the greatest possession (eternal life), by the greatest giver (God) who gave the greatest gift (life of his son)? What does this mean for you and me, saved or not, believer or not? – we are told to BELIEVE in Him.

To believe means much more than agreeing with the facts; it means personal commitment. You can believe that Barack Obama is a real person, but knowing that might not affect you personally. Similarly you can believe that Jesus lived over 2,000 years ago and died on the cross, and this may not affect your lifestlye. Believing that Jesus existed is not enough because even the devil believes {Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. James 2:19}. We know that the devil will not be saved, but what makes our belief different from his? To truly believe In Him as specified in John 3:16, we don’t stop at believing Jesus Christ existed but we commit our lives to Him and trust that He is our LORD & SAVIOUR. The devil doesn’t believe that God can save him and that is a decision you and I can make that differs us from him. The greatest decision a person can make is to trust that only Christ can truly save him/her.

I will leave you with this verse from Hebrews 11:6 : And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Believing that God exists is only the beginning, He will not settle for your mere acknowledgement of his existence. He wants to have a personal, dynamic, life-transforming relationship with you. The reward of those who earnestly seek Him is the greatest possession we could ever be certain of having : Eternal life.

Stay Blessed,

Dara x