March 2021

If the birds & lilies are taken care of, how much more will he provide for us; His image-bearers. Jehovah Jireh means “The Lord will provide.” God does not hesitate when it comes to meeting our needs; it’s in His nature. Make this declaration: I declare that God shall supply all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. As I delight in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart. I am fully equipped for the journey ahead. God has provided a way of escape during trials and temptation. His provision will arrive at the appointed time. He will not withhold his limitless provision. I declare that Jehovah Jireh will be evident in my life.

Have a Marvellous March!

Stay blessed

Dara x

February 2021

Whilst navigating life we tend to search for paths of least resistance. However, the fruits of resistance are increased strength, perseverance and growth. Don’t miss out on God’s best by running away from tests or trials that are training your faith. I declare that as you remain close to God your experiences will not be dull or predictable; you will safely make it to the destination He has prepared for you.

Have a fruitful February!

Stay blessed

Dara x

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

September 2020

Too often we allow many things happening around us to take up our central vision. As a result we are unable to see what’s in front of us such as God’s providence, love and faithfulness. When we place our cares and concerns first we push God to the periphery; thus inviting fear, doubt, despair and anxiety. In this month, Don’t let your problems eclipse God. Let God eclipse your problems.

Have a Centrally-focussed September!
Dara

March 2020

Waiting is a foreign concept in today’s fast-paced society, so when we are forced to “Be Still”, it’s frustrating. You may be waiting for some good news, change in circumstance or status or simply waiting for a day/event whatever it is – the wait is worthwhile! Just like a mother needs to wait 9 months to see her baby you need to wait. When a baby is removed prematurely from the womb there are associated issues; so don’t be in a hurry. Waiting time is not detrimental it is developmental! God is transforming you into the best version of yourself.

Have an Ah-Mazing March.

Dara xx

November 2019

Late in the midnight hour God’s going to turn it around. On numerous occasions in the bible there is action at midnight. As we get nearer to the end of the year I want to encourage you that GOD IS A GOD OF SUDDENLY. We can’t predict when He will show up but we can be certain that He will show up & turns things around in your favour. Trust that God will suddenly show up and turn your situation around for the better – Don’t lose heart.

Have a Notable November!!

February 2019

Stop rehearsing your future troubles. You end up putting yourself through an experience several times when you are only meant to experience them once. Don’t multiply your suffering. Instead relax in God’s presence & peace. I declare that God is strengthening and preparing you for the future. He will transform your fear into confident trust.

Have a fear-less February!

Happy New Month – July

Congratulations on stepping into the second half of this year and my special month – July. In this month & for the rest of the year, doors that appear to be shut shall be opened, paths that appear crooked shall be made straight. Remember that your faith can move movements but doubt can also create them. Unexpected and unexplainable miracles are coming your way. Have a fabulous July!

P.S – I’ll be back with more blog posts once my exam season is over.

How to Shaku Shaku in the Storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s LOVE got to do with it? 

Yes, February has passed by along with Valentine’s day and all it’s festivities, but I hope the “love” shared and displayed hasn’t faded either.  In this post I’m going to talk about a 4 letter word that is most important in the life of a Christian. This word isn’t  FAITH or HOPE, I’m sure you could have guessed by the post title – it is LOVE.

You may have come across the verse in 1 Corinthians 13:13 – “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Love is greater than both Faith & Hope, really!?   FAITH is the foundation and content of God’s message, HOPE is the attitude and focus, LOVE is action. When faith and hope are in line, you are free to love completely because you understand how God loves. Paul says though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2) Having the highest degree of faith without love is nothing. Without love, genuine hope cannot exist. Is it possible to hope (long for or have a desire) for something you don’t love? I don’t think so …  Therefore unless faith and hope are coupled with love they are dead. 

It’s no surprise that love is a keyword in the 2 greatest commandments: Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). I want you to draw close attention to verse 40. What’s love got to do with it? Rather than focusing on all the things we shouldn’t do in the 10 commandments, we should channel our focus onto what we should do. That way we are looking at God’s Laws in a more positive light. I’ve heard some people use the above passage to support the opinion that we are not required to keep the laws of the old testament. However, if we love God we are naturally going to obey the first 4 commandments which deal with God ( vertical relationship). Additionally, the remaining 6 are centred on our relationship with  one another ( horizontal relationship), if we love one another we are going to think twice before stealing, lying or murdering them. As I mentioned earlier the greatest commandments have a central theme. So verse 40 can be read as “All the Law and the Prophets hang on Love”.  Love is the fulfilment of the Law, love enables you to keep the Law.

Horizontal and vertical Love is what the cross is all about. Firstly, you come to the Lord and then you share or display that same love with others. Therefore if you do not have vertical love, you will not be able to display horizontal love. Let me use a song I sung at primary school to explain this concept; Love is something if you give it away, Give it away, give it away. Love is something if you give it away, You end up having more”. You’ll agree with me that you can only give away something that you possess. So, in order to love and be loved completely we need to love ourselves first. In Matt 22:39 Jesus says: You shall love your neighbour as yourself, if a person doesn’t love him/herself, this command amongst all others becomes very difficult to follow.

Then again, you might have self-love but find it extremely difficult to love those neighbours who have carved wounds so deep you think they can’t be healed. You develop love through trial, by surrounding yourself with people that are difficult to love. Falling in love with God for example may not be at first sight, it takes time. The love you have for God develops through strain and the trials of life, if we persevere real love muscles eventually develop.

So I ask again what’s love got to do with it?

At the centre of Christianity is love, the greatest sacrifice in history was done because of Love. Love is a practice that our Saviour embodied. Through love we may do good deeds, care for our bodies and possess a desire to help humanity. Love involves unselfish service to others.  If our lives are full of quick-fix, feel good approaches to our fellow humans instead of intentional and purposeful responses to God’s unselfish love, we have failed to understand the meaning of the gospel. God’s love is evident throughout the bible, it governs the actions and decisions He made and continues to make. And finally, God is love

No matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do, I am bankrupt without love.

I love this song called “The Proof of Love” by King & Country, please listen to and meditate on the lyrics.

Stay blessed,

Dara xx