In this month May you learn how to embrace every season with grace and gratitude. Because in every season there’s a lesson God’s trying to teach and wants you to learn. May God use what appears to be difficulties to launch you forward in life. Have a lovely May! xx
My favourite cuisine after Nigerian delicacies is Chinese. As a family tradition, when celebrating a birthday it is customary for us to go to our favourite Chinese restaurant. Everyone apart from my dad orders Sweet and Sour Chicken Hong Kong style with egg fried rice or noodles. As the name suggests it has a sweet and sour taste, it is strange to imagine how this would taste having both flavours on the same dish but it’s actually very appetising. I digress…
Over the last month, I would describe my life as a sweet & sour experience; I’ve had moments in which people have upset, annoyed or made me angry, I’ve had unfortunate things happen like breaking my phone again and losing money, but it in the midst of all that I’ve also had sweet moments; going horse riding with my sister, going to the theatre with my friends, useful and educational experiences whilst on placement like getting involved in surgery.
What I found myself doing was focusing more on the sour moments, when the sour things happened it felt as though my whole world was crashing around me, I let it control my emotions and place me in an overall negative state. The more I focused on the negatives the more I spiralled in despair. So one day I decided enough was enough, I gotta start focussing on the more sweeter aspects thus the more I did that the more positive my overall outlook was.
The bible put it simply in Proverbs17:22; A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. It is healthy to be cheerful. A merry heart is as good as medicine. Negative emotions and feelings such as anger, unforgiveness, worry, anxiety, fear, resentment and bitterness cause many physical illnesses by raising our stress levels. When we solely focus on all the negatives our spirit is crushed, we become stressed, overwhelmed and may eventually become ill as a result of emotional fatigue. As you can see there is a relationship between our attitudes and our physical well-being. God doesn’t want us to be a slave to our emotions but when we allow our emotions to rule us we let that happen. In my devotional by Joyce Meyer entitled: Trusting God, she advises us that “to manage [our] emotions and life [we] need to ask God for His wisdom instead of trusting [our] feelings”. The more stable our emotions are the healthier we will be. So, how do we trust God to help us manage our emotions instead of letting our emotions manage us? Below I have explained a practical method I used.
Of course, focusing on the positives may not completely remove the existence of the negatives in our lives so I decided to write a list. If you are like me and love making lists to organise yourself, your life and thoughts you will find this useful. I made a list entitled: Things that are threatening my peace. I wrote the list, prayed over it and ‘put it in God’s hands’. If there were things on the list that had an obvious available solution, I initiated the solution and crossed it off. One thing on my list was that: I kept losing money. This was because I had lost £15 in cash and was so frustrated after my search for it was futile. After writing it on my list, I left it in God’s hands and decided not to let it continue to keep me down. About 2 weeks later (I had forgotten about it by now), I was out for dinner with friends and as I reached to collect my Nandos loyalty card from my purse to my surprise my £15 was folded up behind it. What I thought was lost, was right there underneath my nose, isn’t God great? By leaving it in His hands I saved myself 2 weeks of continued anger and stress. There are still some things on my list but I trust God that gradually these things will eventually be resolved and my peace will be fully restored.
To finish with one of my favourite quotes (I have many favourite quotes haha😂😂): Those who leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything – Anon. Let’s pay attention to the words “Leave” and “eventually“. Often times I am guilty of “leaving” things in God’s hands but then go about worrying about how God will fulfil His promises. 🙅🏾 That wasn’t the deal. By praying to God I am supposed to trust in Him, to rely on Him totally and “eventually” I will see the way He has been working behind the scenes.
When we pray for something we may not get an instant answer but we should trust that God will “eventually” let all things fall into place. He is not deaf to our prayers, not blind to our tears nor silent to our pain. He sees and will deliver.
Undiluted Points to take away from ‘Sweet & Sour’
- There are sweet & sour moments in life but we should not let negative emotions rule us
- A cheerful heart is good medicine – positive thinking is the way forward
- Cultivate a habit in which you continually and purposefully place & LEAVE things in God’s hands
- When you leave everything in God’s hands you will eventually see God’s hands in everything
- TRUST TRUST TRUST God’s plan and timetable
P.S Students stay tuned for an Exam Season post that will be coming out soon.
“Coincidentally” April fools aligns with resurrection Sunday this year. Satan has been fooled big time. Because of what Christ did on the Cross we only face the “shadow of death”, death lost its sting. We face the shadow of death because Jesus took the full reality of death in our place. The shadow of a dog can’t bite, the shadow of a sword can’t kill and thus the shadow of death and all the devil throws can’t destroy us. Whatever you may be going through be assured that the victory is already yours. You will have the last laugh! Have an amazing April!
Despite your present circumstances, look to Jesus your shepherd – our very present help in time of need. As the famous Psalm 23 says; “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of evil I will fear no evil for you are with me”. The valley you may currently be going through is not a dwelling place or destination you are merely passing through it. Whilst going through the valley remember that our shepherd’s presence may not eliminate our problems, but his presence eliminates the fear of evil. Don’t let the enemy convince you that you’re alone, because you certainly aren’t.
Have a Marvellous March! xx
You may or may not recognise that the title of this post is the end of a verse that is repeated in several portions of the Bible (to be exact in 10 separate passages). Here is the full text as it is found in Mark 12:30-31:
30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment.31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Whilst preparing for this post I was certain about the points I wanted to raise with regards to the topic of self-love, but after researching and studying more of the Word there is an additional angle I will be presenting. Over my teenage years, I have come to realise that the relationship I have with myself sets the tone for every other relationship I have. If I love and appreciate myself those around me are more likely to do the same. If you don’t love yourself whether it be your appearance, qualities or characteristics it would be a lot harder to appreciate and love the positive aspects of those around you.
What is self-love? The dictionary says it is “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness”. Now self-love can be seen as both a negative and positive thing, as with all things in life one needs to strike the right balance. On one hand, a person can be prideful, arrogant and believe he/she is better than everyone else, which is a sin. And then there is naturally loving yourself. Naturally loving yourself is to be thankful for how God made you. Whilst searching for bible verses about loving yourself there isn’t an explicit command to do so and I reckon it’s because it is something that naturally occurs in humans. However, what I did find was the connection made between loving your neighbours as yourself and warnings against certain types of self-love.
So going back to the key text about loving your neighbour as yourself, it is not explicitly a command to love yourself, as this is our default position. The society in which we live in doesn’t lack self-love. The command is telling us to love others as we would ourselves. Our actions and attitudes towards others will be motivated by love, specifically the one that we display towards ourselves. As believers, if we lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for the good in them and only see & focus on their faults. The real problem in our society is the excess of self-love. If we cast our minds back to the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, only one of the men that passed the injured man was a true neighbour. The Levite and priest failed to help the man in need not because they loved themselves too little but because they loved themselves too much and as a result put their interests first. However, the Samaritan showed true love, he gave his time, resources and money with no regard for himself. His focus was outward and not inward. Now loving your neighbour as yourself doesn’t mean that we must love ourselves before we can love anyone else; it means that in the same way we take care of ourselves and are concerned about our own interests we should do the same towards others.
We are reminded in Philippians 2:3-4 – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.” From this passage, I have learnt the following:
- We don’t tend to do things out of love, but rather for our own desire for benefits or praise (selfish ambition) | the bible warns against this
- Doing something through conceit is to have excessive pride in oneself, self-interest and self-preoccupation
- When we put away our selfish ambitions, our conceit and tendency to be self-absorbed we will naturally have more concern for the interests and needs of others
- Paul isn’t saying it’s wrong to look out for our own interests, but that we should NOT only look out for our own interests
- Loving others requires humility, valuing others and always making an effort to put others’ interest first. Anything other than that is selfish & vain and far from God’s standard.
Now I am not saying that we should see ourselves as worthless because after all we are made in God’s image and that makes our net worth veryyyy high. The balance that we need to strike is that you and I are God’s unique creation, loved by God in spite of our sins (& many flaws), and redeemed by Christ. We should respond to His love by sharing it with those around us.
As I mentioned above loving others requires humility. I probably haven’t finished a post until I’ve included a thoughtful quote so here is one by Rick Warren: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less”. True humility is service to others, service to a cause greater than your own personal ambition.
My prayer is that the Lord will fill us all with a humble spirit. A heart of flesh that sees the best in others and doesn’t focus on their flaws. May the Lord remove the spirit of pride, jealousy or boastfulness from our beings. May God also help us to remember His great love for us, and as we remember this may we be able to share this love with those around us.
Key Undilutedword points to take away;
- Focus on the strengths of others and don’t point out their weaknesses & flaws
- When we as believers lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for the good in them and see only their faults.
- Focus more on how you can share God’s love for you with others
- True humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less
- Love yourself but don’t let that stop you from putting the needs of others ahead of yours
If He did it before, He can do it again. The same God who got you through your past trials, is the same God with you now. If you find yourself faced with a Red Sea situation and it seems as though you can’t move forwards, backwards left or right, remember the God who parted the waters of the Red Sea can part the sea in your life. He will make a way, where there “appears” to be none.
Have a fruitful February! xx
As you may already know I love quotes, so I might as well start with a quote that struck my attention when I started to think about forgiveness:
Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace.
Often times we find ourselves holding grudges because of what someone did or said to us. Whilst growing up with my younger sister there have been several occasions where words have been said & deeds have been done which left me feeling very angry towards her.
My sister is exactly 20 months younger than me but that doesn’t stop her from going into my wardrobe and helping herself to MY clothes and accessories. There was a particular time she took a clutch that I had received for my birthday and till this day I never officially got it back (to add insult upon injury she broke the clasp on it). I remember finding out about the broken clasp and was sooo angry with her – how can you take something that doesn’t belong to you, break it and not even feel remorseful? I was more than angry!! But as I reflect on those days, I realise that the more I stayed angry the more I didn’t give myself the chance to move on, but my sister, on the other hand, was living her merry life (WITH MY CLUTCH). It’s a petty example but it just goes to show and represent the fact that a lot of the time we want to stay mad at someone for petty reasons. At the end of the day, the other person is living life as though nothing had happened and you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to have the peace God wants for you.
I once watched a video about things we practice and the overall gist was that when we constantly practice certain habits we become experts at it. So if we constantly practice the art of being unforgiving we become experts at that. If we always hold grudges against people we will always find a reason to hold grudges – even when there isn’t one. You go around with a jar filled with hurt, pain, grief, and anger. That is very toxic and it certainly isn’t the life God intended for us.
Countless times in the Bible we are reminded to forgive others because God has forgiven us: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you”, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven”. So it is no surprise that the key to forgiving others is to remember how much God has forgiven us. Time for another favourite quote of mine by C.S Lewis: To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.
Peter asked Jesus “how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Imagine only giving someone 7 chances, if I apply this to my sister I am certain she has used up all her chances. But Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22. Of course, Jesus didn’t set a literal limit to how many times we should forgive, he isn’t sitting in heaven counting a tally chart. God’s mercy doesn’t run out after 490 allotments of grace, if he did I’m sure we have all probably exhausted our quota. As long as we repent God is willing to forgive us. God then asks us to extend this grace onto our fellowmen, don’t keep a track of the number of times you’ve forgiven them.
Jesus doesn’t end there he goes on to tell the parable of the unmerciful debtor. You can read Matthew 18:21-35 for the full version, but the overall gist is that: a servant owes the king 10,000 talents which he is unable to pay but the King instead of throwing the servant into prison and selling his family into slavery allows him to go free & cancels all his debt. This same servant is owed 100 denarii by a fellow servant, but the king’s servant grabs the man by his throat and demands to be paid. He then throws him into jail. Now there is a huge difference between owing someone 10,000 talents and 100 denarii (1 talent = 6,000 denarii). This parable illustrates God’s forgiveness towards us. It’s as though our debt to God is like the distance from the earth to the sun. Now compare this to the debt of our fellow human beings which is mostly like a few yards. God is willing to forgive us the distance between the earth and the sun (149.6million km), but we struggle to forgive each other a measly 12 inches. Think about this when you are unwilling to forgive others. Just to clarify; God forgives us first (not only after we have forgiven), he shows an example that we should aspire to follow.
Another aspect of forgiveness that seems to be forgotten a lot of the time is the act of forgiving oneself. Ever made a mistake and continued to beat yourself up about it? If you want to be able to forgive others you must first foster an attitude to forgive yourself first.
Forgive yourself first. Release the need to replay a negative situation over and over again in your mind. Don’t become a hostage to your past by always reviewing and reliving your mistakes. Don’t remind yourself of what should have, could have or would have been. Release it and let it go. Move on. Click to Tweet this!
Undiluted word points to take away:
- Forgiving frees you from a life filled with toxicity
- If God was able to forgive the inexcusable in you, you should attempt to forgive the inexcusable in others
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean you let people off the hook for their behaviour
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we constantly allow people to use us as a punching bag
- Forgiveness is the act of giving up bitterness and resentment in order for you to live a sweet life (your best life 💃🏿 )
- Pray for those who have offended you
- And most importantly, Learn to forgive yourself!
P.S – Don’t forget this page is available to send any prayer requests you have.