The Prodigal In Me

Over the last few years, there have been several changes that have made our usual activities that mark the life of a Christian more difficult to follow. I’d say it began when churches were closed due to the pandemic. For someone like me who was a regular church attendee, it was a shock to my system that we no longer went to the actual building. Attending church was soo dear to me, not only was it a place where I could worship and “meet” God, it was a setting where I enjoyed sharing and fellowshipping with other like-minded people. Most importantly, Friday evenings were a time of the week I would eagerly count down to because it meant that the Sabbath was here and I could finally REST with no strings attached. So during the pandemic, I made it my duty to hold sabbath school classes with my youth group and attend the zoom or YouTube live churches I wanted to attend. I was even able to finish reading the entire New Testament which was a huge achievement for me. The ‘pick and choice’ aspects of worship created flexibility but also allowed space for “laziness” and cracks to filter into my usual idea of what the sabbath was and soon these would filter into my overall relationship with God.

Last summer, I started my first proper job post-university in a different city (Leicester, UK). In between settling into a new work routine, attending a new church, and settling into this new city, my priorities started to lean towards getting through the day. The routines I had formed, such as spending 2-3hrs reading my bible, when life allowed more flexibility were a lot harder to maintain. It worsened when I started a new work rota 4 months after I began working – this new rota meant that I had to work at least one weekend sometimes two a month, this meant that I could no longer have my usual sabbaths to countdown to. I did not think this would cause as much of a problem as it did in my walk with God, but I would be lying if I said it did not. I even lost my bible app streak of over 1400 days (Whelpppp). I have learned so much in my overall faith journey and I continue to do so. I am sharing this with you all because transparency is key and I am hoping someone else can be blessed by what I have to share.

You see I didn’t just suddenly stop building an intentional relationship with God, it slipped in through the cracks and this is what happens when we do not actively try to remain on guard and watch out for the enemy’s darts and distractions. I will not bore you with all the details because I am sure you can all understand what I mean when I say you do not hold your first love in the same position as they had always been in, in summary, I would go days without reading my bible and even without prayer – I would whisper a word here and there in emergency moments but I allowed the gifts and blessings that God had granted me push him to the outskirts of my life. Despite it not being my intention by not being intentional about strengthening my walk it was inevitable. For someone who has tasted and seen that the Lord is good, it reaches a stage where your soul craves God and is not coping because it has been starved. This lack of communion with God has fruits; feeling overwhelmed, falling into temptation, lack of peace and feeling distant from God. Despite this, God never departed, I could still feel and see his presence, beauty and handiwork in my life. Even though I felt far from him, He was always near and when I decided enough was enough and change had to be implemented he was right there waiting to give me a warm embrace. You may be familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son: a young son who is impatient and greedy asks for his father’s inheritance ahead of time. The father agreed and the son leaves home and wastes ALL the money, he eventually becomes homeless and gets to a stage where he is in a pigsty considering eating their food. He decides to return home and to his surprise, his father welcomed him back with open arms.

We are never given the name of this prodigal son, but I think that is because we can all put ourselves in his shoes at one or several points in our lives. I see myself as the prodigal daughter, I stumbled in my walk with Christ and to an extent believed the lies of the devil and allowed busyness to be a tactic in my life – I grew distant from God. But the most beautiful part of the story is that similarly to how the father of the Prodigal son waited patiently for his son’s return and did not hesitate to run to embrace him when he returned, God eagerly waits for our return. He is knocking on the doors of our hearts waiting for us to let him in – A life lived without God is seriously not worth living.

We are never told how long the son was away from home, it’s not important because it doesn’t matter if you have been doing life in your strength for one day, a few months or years, God is waiting for you. The father sees the son from a distance – surely this means that he was eagerly anticipating the return of his son. To make a direct parallel to God – our father; he is patiently waiting for us to “come to our senses”  in the pigsty that we are in and return to him. We may feel that we have squandered everything and seems like all hope is gone but I want to remind us all that our father never stopped loving us. We may have strayed far from his divine presence but all it takes is that decision to turn back towards him and we will find him waiting for us with open arms. We do not need to remain in our hopeless state, choose to repent and turn towards God, then we will surely realise the demonstration of his reckless love towards us: in that whilst we were STILL sinners he sent His son to die for us.

And that is a key lesson from the easter narrative: God is a God of second chances. Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection illustrate the second chance we have all been given. God loves new starts and new beginnings, He does not place limits on how many fresh starts one can have. The devil, our adversary, wants us to lose sight of God’s ability to give us the fresh start we desire so he keeps us stuck in a cycle of our past, our mistakes – essentially keeping us in the pigsty. But just like the Prodigal Son had an AHA moment [ a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension]; which led Him back to the Father we can also have one.

My definition of Repentance is to make a 180 degree turn away from that which does not glorify God. Imagine a child doing wrong and not feeling bad, the parent will be worried because if the child does not feel bad there is a low likelihood that he/she will want to change. As Christians, we should not feel good about doing bad or straying away from what we know is right. The Holy Spirit convicts us for sin, i.e. He lets us know that we are guilty of sin. This is when you have that “ah-ha” moment, Isaiah said, “Woe is me for I am ruined”, David said, “I have sinned against the Lord”, this is a Eureka moment – the point at which you come to your senses and see you are indeed in the pigsty.

I had an AHA moment and I want to share with you this simple acronym which I hope you can implement in your lives as well.

Prodigal Son referenceExplanation
Awakening“But when he came to himself/to his senses, he said, How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” Luke‬ ‭15:17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬What alarms are ringing in your life? What alarms do you keep snoozing? Alarm bells must have been ringing as the prodigal son continued spending his money recklessly but he continued to snooze them till he ended up in the pigsty.
God doesn’t want us to reach rock bottom before we come to our senses.
HonestyHe said to himself...” Luke 15:17

“I will arise and go to my father and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:18-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
Brutal honesty is hard but essential. God knows everything [even the “hidden sins”] so we do not do it for his benefit, it is more about us acknowledging the state we are in. Honesty is a vital ingredient in having life changing moments / spiritual awakening. This involves us looking at ourselves in the mirror and speaking the truth about the person staring back.

The son was honest about what he deserved, this can be difficult to come to terms with and admit. However, avoiding brutal honesty steers us away from lasting change.
Action“So he got up and went to his father.” Luke‬ ‭15:20‬ ‭NIV‬‬Unless our story says “so she got up / so he got up” – nothing changes. A lot of people remain in the stage between honesty and action. We wake up to the alarms, are honest with ourselves but remain the same. This is when we have to obey God even when we don’t feel like it, the feelings will eventually catch up.

The son identified the first step which was to return to his father, that is also our first step. He can take it from there.
AHA adapted from Devotional and Book by Kyle Idleman

AWAKENING must lead to HONESTY, CONVICTION must lead to CONFESSION.

HONESTY must lead to ACTION, CONFESSION must lead to REPENTANCE.

That brings me back to repentance: that 180 degrees turn to set you back on the correct course. It is not easy, but with the help of God, it is possible. When I decided I must turn back to God, He opened up ways and new ideas and most importantly the strength and motivation for me to continue to develop my relationship with him again (regardless of having the bible streak or not). I am still struggling to get through the Old Testament books as it can get repetitive, but I persevere because I have already tasted and seen that God is good and it would be silly not to carry on and experience him fully.

Joyce Meyer once said: ” You cannot do anything about what is behind you, but you can do a great deal about what lies ahead of you”. So dear reader, as we remember Christ’s demonstration of love towards us on the cross, I appeal to you; Think of an area in your life that needs a fresh start and decide to take that first step in the direction toward God. As you do this I pray that God allows you to experience an AHA moment, wipes your sin stained slate and brings beauty out of the ashes in your life.

I’ll leave you with these declarative lyrics;

I’m turning away from the things that I do
That I know aren’t pleasing in your sight
I’m turning away from the messed up mindset
And the things that I know aren’t right
I’m turning away from the past the hurt and shame
All the things that had me bound
I’m turning away, turning away

When temptation tries to lure me off my course
I will choose you, I’ll choose you
Cuz I’ve been there and I’m not going there no more
Said I want a new start I’m giving you my heart
From your love I never want to depart

Lyrics to Turning Away by Bryan Andrew Wilson

Stay blessed and have a reflective Easter Season,

Dara

P.S – If you’ve read to the end of this post you have the privilege of knowing that as of midday on April 17th – Easter Sunday the trailer for Season 2 of The Undiluted Word Podcast has been released. Go and Listen now and please share with others.

By faith she put God first… The Undiluted Word

In this episode of the hall of faith, Dara brings a hero of faith who demonstrated faith in God with regard to relationships. Listen closely to hear how this guest's faith has been tried, tested and transformed.  Follow @theundilutedword on Insta, read blogs on http://www.theundilutedword.com  and listen to the Gospel playlist on Spotify.  Send feedback via direct message or an email to theundilutedword@yahoo.co.uk. Stay blessed!
  1. By faith she put God first…
  2. A Walk-through the Hall
  3. Season Two

The weary world rejoices

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 in trouble (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 mankind we 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.

Stay Blessed,

Dara

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.

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