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 he walked boldly… The Undiluted Word

In this episode of the Hall of Faith, Dara brings a hero of faith who has and continues to walk boldly with God whilst navigating important decisions. 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 he walked boldly…
  2. By faith she saw the light…
  3. By faith he sought the Lord…

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

Nail Holes

A father was trying to explain the consequences of careless living to his son. So the father told his son to drive a nail into the post each time he did something wrong. Whenever the boy did a kind act he was allowed to pull out the nail. The son followed his fathers instructions but he found out that although he could pull out the nail he could do absolutely nothing about the nail hole. Thus, one might change his ways, but the scars remain

Nail Hole

David disobeyed God when he numbered Israel. The real issue was not that David took the census it was that he disobeyed God by carrying it out. David insisted on things being carried out in his way, even when God had said “No”. An iron law of life is that evil will not go unpunished, and  the sin David committed was no exception. Judgement did come for David, but fortunately for him he was given the opportunity to make a choice out of the punishments.  Here is an account of this major Bible prayer;

2 Samuel 24:10-14

10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.11 For when David was up in the morning, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,12 Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.14 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man. 

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands” (Verse 14) Out of the 3 choices David was given he chose to take his chances with God than rather than man. David wisely chose the form of punishment that came most directly from God. He knew how brutal and harsh men in war could be, and he also knew God’s great mercy. From this we can learn that whenever we sin greatly, we should turn back to God. To be punished by him is greater than to take your chances without him.

There are 2 important lessons that can be derived from this major Bible prayer.

  1. We can never get away with evil. We are always going to suffer with the scars of sin
  2. We can always rely on their mercies of God to restore us, if and only if we come before God in full confession and sincerely seek His help. Wouldn’t it have been better to just obey him in the first place?

Now remember, just like the son in the story one can change his ways, but the scars of sin remain. 

Stay blessed,

Dara Dare

P.S- Please share with friends, family and your social media. The next blog post is about Spiritual Atrophy and will be entitled Prayer Practice, Be sure to check back for that post, on Monday. If you have any prayer requests, no matter how big or small they are send them through this form (click here for the form) 🙂

The Blot 

Now we are going to move into the book of Joshua. I found this entry particularity interesting, when I read it on the bible plan. 

An author went to visit his friend, and he found her very upset. She had ruined an expensive handkerchief by a blot of indelible ink. She cried out “Nothing can be done about it”. The author took the cloth home that night, and returned it to her a few days after. The blot that was on the handkerchief could not be recognised . The author had made a spectacular design by using the blot itself as the basis for a pattern. The cloth was even more valuable than it was before it got stained. 

This story is also illustarated in the book of Joshua. After the great victory the Israelites had at Jericho, they were embarrassingly defeated at Ai.  Joshua was very frustrated because of their defeat and questioned God, on why he let such happen to them. Joshua also complained that such a defeat would be a blot on Israel’s reputation and would reflect badly on God as well. This account is in Joshua 7:6-13;

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭7:6-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

6 Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening. 7 Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side! 8 Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? 9 For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?”10 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. 12 That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.

God pointed out the problem that Israel had to Joshua, and then Achan’s sin was corrected. ( if you are not familiar with this story read chapter 6 &7 of Joshua) The second time the Israelites went against Ai in battle they were victorious. God had taken the blot, being defeated terrible because of Achan’s sin, and made something beautiful from it. Just like the author in the story told earlier. It has been said that when the Israelites where in Jericho they learnt the lesson of faith and at Ai they learned obedience. No one can argue that the lives of the Israelites were enriched by the blot of Ai. In the same way the lives of Israelites were touched by the incident, our lives are sometimes touched with defeat. If at those times we remember to pray and seek the face of God, He will point out all our problems and take the handkerchief of our lives to make a beautiful and valuable masterpiece.
While we are looking at this passage I would like to point out some things I discovered while studying.  We are told in verse 6 that Joshua and the elders tore their clothing and put dust upon their heads as signs of deep mourning before God. They were all confused about their defeat of Ai, which was a small city compared to Jericho where they had conquered. Their actions demonstrated that they went before God in deep humility and sorrow in order to receive instructions from Him. When our lives fall apart, we should turn to God for direction and help. Likewise, we should humble ourselves so that we will be able to hear His Word

Another thing we can learn from this major prayer, is how we pray. Re-read verses 7-9. Imagine if you prayed in that same way to God. It is far from being formal, at that time Joshua was afraid and confused by what happened, so he poured out exactly what was on his mind/chest. It is pointless to hide your needs from God, because that’s like ignoring the only person who can truly help you out. God welcomes our honest prayers and so we should express our true feelings to Him. A believer can become more honest in prayer by remembering that God is all knowing (Psalm 139) and powerful and his love for each of us is everlasting. 

Remember when you are defeated seek The Lord in prayer; He will point out all your problems and take the handkerchief of your life and make an unrecognisable masterpiece out of it. 

Stay blessed,

Dara x
P.S- stay tuned for more posts in this series. Feel free to also send in your prayer requests on the prayer request page