Faith

Articles to encourage you to keep the faith and grow in it!

When your face is not beat and your body isn’t perfect, what do you have left?

What are you saying?

Who is listening?

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I remember when I was 12 and I got a make up item for my birthday. I was the happiest child alive at that point. I think it was an eye shadow palette, but I just remember being ecstatic. I had a big party for my 12th birthday and the day after I was going through my presents. I was just about to open the make up and my mum flips the script and tells me I’m not having it. I thought she was speaking another language. In fact, she actually got the palette and threw it in the bin. It wasn’t the bin in the house, but the bin outside the house. At that moment I actually thought she was on power trip. I laugh now at the response of a Nigerian mother who didn’t want her baby to grow up too fast. Fast forward, I’m 26 and I can wear make up when I want but my concern is somewhere else now.

Everyday as women, we see beautiful faces, and perfect bodies – welcome to the selfie generation. We are in a time where the channels to be seen are numerous.

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We have access to facilities, resources and services to basically look how we like, but you have something more precious that you can’t afford to lose today, especially as a woman of faith. It’s worth more than a make up a palette.

My mentor said something and it never left me. He simply said “Your life is message. Your life is an example or a lesson.” Whether we like it or not our lives are messages and they speak to someone. I’ve heard celebrities say things like ,“I’m not a role model”, but to be honest I believe none of us have a choice in whether we are role models or not. Scopes and platforms of influence vary but someone is looking at you and me.

We all have a responsibility.

We are all giving someone an excuse or a reason.

I believe the thing that will separate you in this time and keep you relevant is this: your voice. Your voice is worth more than your appearance. By voice I don’t just mean audible sound. Your voice is how you impact. Your voice is what you’re known for. Your voice is what your life is saying as message. We have to ask ourselves as women what do we want to be known for and then does our life currently fit that?

Matthew 5:16 says “….let your life shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Your voice is also how Jesus is glorified through your life. I believe that there are at least 3 things you need to think about in regards to your voice:

1. Your voice is the problem you strive to solve

People remember those who helped them solve a problem. People remember those who make things easier and better for them. There are people who do nothing, people who complain about others doing nothing and then those who decide to do something – the problem solvers. Wherever Jesus went he solved a problem and attended to a need. He wasn’t the type to just ‘fill pews’ as some people are described as today. Even when he stopped to rest he didn’t let an opportunity pass him by. We can ask the Samaritan woman at the well (please refer to John 4:1-42). Where do you fit in? You may not have the answer to world starvation right now but look closer to home.

What problem are you solving?

What solutions do you bring problems within your family, your workplace/career, your business, your local community?

2. Your voice is what you give 

Acts 9:36-43 speaks of woman who contributed. Her name was Dorcas and she looked after the women that some would have forgotten about, the widows. When she became ill and died, those widows appealed to Peter the Apostle because Dorcas was a woman who gave and who was needed. Who are you giving to? We can give when an opportunity arises, but it is another thing when intentionally you look for areas to be a blessing. Giving is not just about finances, but it can be about giving your time, expertise, your space, your resources and anything else of value. Out of what you have what are you giving intentionally? Think about a person, an organisation or cause in need of help. Could you make a commitment to contribute?

Proverbs 11:24-25 says “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

3. Your voice is who you empower

When I hear the word empower, weirdly I picture a warrior who is old and who has fought many battles. I see him giving his well used weapons and tools to someone else for their first battles. Who are you giving your tools to? I totally believe that one of the reasons why you have rough times in life is because you can make it is easier for someone who is behind you. Who are you giving your knowledge to? Who are you showing the way? Write down 2 people you could be pouring into. My mentor says “the greatest investment to make in a life is in a life.”

The Bible reads “The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot” (Proverbs 10:7 NKJ). Those who empower will never be forgotten.

I hope you don’t think I’m a joy-kill or I don’t care about my appearance. I certainly do care! (I love faux fur jackets actually lool.) Should we look good? Yes. Do I feel myself sometimes? Yes. However, don’t trade that in for your voice. The cost is too high.

 

Thanks so much for reading – be sure to leave a comment and share  with other sisters.

 

Slowly but surely, we are approaching 2019! I don’t know about you all, but the first half of the year for me was filled with some amazing days of fruitfulness, getting loads done, and other days of erm, not being so fruitful…

Being on maternity leave at the moment I’ve found that I have a lot more time, but it feels like I’m constantly busy. Now if you’ve been following Cocoon Blogs for a while now, you will know that busyness does not necessarily equate to fruitfulness. I realised this, and have spent the past few months evaluating my headspace and activities to ensure that I remain fruitful, and not just busy. So how did I do that?

Below are some of the questions I’ve asked myself that are helping me live a life of fruitfulness.

Am I spending Quality Time with God?

Quite often when we go through a busy stint most of us are tempted to skip quiet time (or maybe shorten it just a little) and get straight into our to do lists and tasks for the day. I’ve been guilty of this! Toying with the idea that if I hit my to do list as soon as the day begins I will be more fruitful. The idea that if I can start ticking tasks off before I’ve left bed makes me super woman…it’s a lie! The best way you can start your day is simply by meeting with God first. John 15:5 tells us clearly that fruitfulness starts by being intimately connected to Christ. Scripture regularly speaks of Jesus going away to pray before dawn [before everyone else was awake, before people began to make demands on his time, before he began his tasks for the day].

 

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Being a new Mum has meant that I’ve had to tweak my morning quiet time routine significantly because my princess usually wakes up before I get a chance to have quiet time. So during those first few moments of her waking up [around 4am, 5am, or 6am plus the other night wakings lol!] I play some worship music, meditate on the verse of the day, pray out loud (with Moriah) and commit the day to God. Later on in the morning once she’s gone back to sleep I will go back and spend some more time in prayer and studying. In the days where I’ve skipped quiet time or not connected with God nothing fruitful ever really comes from it, apart from me ending up flustered with a void in my heart that only God can fill. Filling yourself up on time in God’s presence is absolutely key when it comes to living in a way that is pleasing to God. Sounds slightly contradictory right? But I can confidently say that if you are full of some thing good, you generally won’t have room for anything that isn’t good. Staying connected to God is essential to fruitful living, whether you’re a student, employee, an entrepreneur, a mum, whatever you are; stay connected to the true vine and in him you will be fruitful.

 

Is this disturbing my peace? 

I’m sure we’ve all experienced a time in our lives where we have been worried, anxious or frustrated about a particular situation.

When this has occurred in my own life I’ve often allowed myself to get so fixated on the issue that I neglect other more important things. When my peace is disturbed my productivity becomes limited, and my fruitfulness is hindered. In this season if there is anything that disturbs my peace I speak to my Heavenly Father, hand it over to him and then look for practical things that are within my power to appropriately respond to these sometimes discouraging situations. If it is beyond me, I leave it in my prayer closet and trust that as I cast my cares onto God he cares enough about me to work it out for my good. Are there things disturbing your peace that you need to deal with? Do so ASAP and get your peace back! Peace is the presence of God in our hearts in any situation. When we acknowledge and depend on His presence fruitfulness is a natural by product.

Does this push me towards my goals and ultimately my purpose?

The definition of success based on scriptural principles is fulfilling the assignment that the Lord sent us to earth to carryout [purpose].

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During my maternity leave I have had a number of opportunities – courses, people to meet, projects to engage in etc many of which I’ve turned down. Some of these opportunities have been sooo good, but when I look at where I am going they don’t fit in. They would be fun for the season and look good on paper, but they were not in line with destiny, so the time commitment and effort it would require of me would not be justified. Instead I’ve used this season to connect with people going in the same direction as me, I have skilled myself in areas that will assist me in my journey. This is not always enjoyable, but it has been very necessary in developing discipline, and consistency in me as well as other practical skills.

In order to be fruitful it is important for us to be so in tune with God that we know what things he would have us focus on in the season that we are in. When we know where we are going in life and what we have been called to, we will begin to edit our day to day activities to prioritise walking in purpose. Fruitfulness is found, not just by going with the flow, or doing whatever pops up, but in intentional daily living.

 

Be encouraged you are already more fruitful that you probably would have imagined. Make a daily commitment to connect with God more deeply than ever before and watch how you blossom.

 

I suppose the title is a bit controversial in that killing your faith is not something you want to learn how to do. However, I think it is important to know these things in order to ensure they are not killing your faith ….. 

Rely on your intellect.. 

Yep! Your intellect. I bet you didn’t think this one would make the list.  I’ve learnt that being a Christian means being dependent on Christ. Not just dependant on him for some things but for everything! So this means for instruction, wisdom, understanding etc. Sometimes what God is telling us or where He is leading us doesn’t make sense to us and if you are like me you will try to to work it out your self and give God all the real and legitimate reasons this can’t be so. BUT we must remember God is all-knowing, he can see what we can’t see.  This is why the Bible says we should not lean on our own understanding. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3: 3-5

It’s like when you tell a child not to do something but because of their lack of experience/knowledge/understanding they do not know that what they want to do is dangerous. That’s how much we don’t know the things that God knows. I find comfort in the fact that his thoughts for us are good and not evil. 

For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

I am still working on this because I am such a realist and like to use my brain to rationalise everything but that is not how God works and that is certainly not how miracles work. e.g. You’ve prayed for a job and somehow you got an interview for a role you are under qualified for. So you decided that because you don’t match the requirements you will turn down the interview. But God intended to promote you despite your qualifications. If you had faith and put that interview in God hands you could have seen that but sometimes our intellect restricts God from doing the supernatural. 

So can I encourage you to rely less on your brain and more on God?

Turn your ears ‘off’ ..

The bible says that faith comes by hearing. 

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 

Sometimes we allow ourselves to hear all manner of things, through conversations, tv programmes, music, thoughts in our head… but we need to be hearing things that inspire and encourage faith in order to produce and build faith.

We need to be intentional about ensuring we are hearing the word of God. There are many ways to do this;

  • Your personal Quiet/Study Time with God 
  • Church 
  • Listening to christian sermons, podcasts, YouTube videos 
  • Godly conversations with like-minded people 
  • Meditation 
  • Prayer 

These things should happen very regularly in our lives and I find that when they do not, faith becomes a little more difficult. If we aren’t hearing the word of God, we are likely to be hearing what the world has to teach us and that will naturally begin to take over and this kill our faith. 

Do not exercise..

No, not like in the gym! But like our bodies, faith needs to be exercised and we should not be afraid to do so. The more you see God do amazing things the more your faith will grow.

We learn from Romans 12:3 that God has given us all a measure of faith so we all have something to start with. Matthew 17:20 tells us that even faith as small as a mustard seed can make nothing impossible for us. 

We lose nothing by having faith in God. For example, if I am believing God for a job, me having faith in God doesn’t take away from that, in fact it gives me hope. But if I chose not to have faith, I would be worried and anxious and this does not yield good fruit. So.. you might as well have faith!

It can be a struggle when things are really tough but remind yourself of every testimony, every blessing you have experienced and how good God has been to you, your faith will surely be encouraged.  l like to write these things down because as humans its so easy to forget.

You do not have to wait for tough times to exercise your faith. When you pray about something exercise it immediately by taking action! So how can we do this. An example would be, following the job example, if I have prayed for a job and I have faith that God has heard me, how I talk will change. So instead of complaining, my speech about job hunting will be more positive e.g. “I know God will come through”, “God is preparing the perfect role for me.” You can even start preparing and practicing interview techniques! This is evidence of your faith in God. 

Beware Faith can be a scary thing to pray for because how can God increase your faith without a situation that requires you to have faith. So be prepared!

I would love to hear in the comments your views on this post or if you have any other killers to add or how you overcome them. 

My next post will focus on BUILDING your faith. Although doing the opposite of the above 3 headings will do just that but I’d love to go into more depth. 

Thanks so much for reading, please share!

The No.1 way to make Scripture work for you.

We design and sell products that are Scripture based, so I am sure you know we love the word of God around here! We are also big on fruitfulness which basically means that for all the activity we do there must be productivity. So ultimately we want to see Scripture produce fruit in your life. And that’s why we love our Scripture Canvases because they help to create an edifying environment in your home and remind you of Gods promises. 

The Bible has been referred to as ‘God’s love letter’ to us or even an ‘instruction manual’ to this thing called life. I pull two things from this;

  1. That it was written specifically for me and for you; and 
  2. That we are supposed to live it out 

Remember that the word of God is true and is living and therefore should not be redundant in your life (Hebrews 4:12). It’s very easy to read and forget or see the Word as this far-away / unattainable thing. 

One of the best ways I have found to make Scripture work for me is to personalise it. 

Here is a quick exercise I was once asked to try and it changed my perspective on Scripture for life! 

Where ever it says ‘love’ in the following passage, replace it with your name. Read it aloud!

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, love is not puffed up; love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.’ 1 Corinthians 13 : 4-7 

How did that make you feel? Are those statements true?

With the greatest commandment being to love, we should see ourselves all over that passage. Personalising scripture challenges us and helps us to see where we fall short. We should be constantly checking ourselves and using the Scripture as our standard to ensure we level up. This is not to condemn us but to push us to strive to be better. 

Personalising scripture also makes the promises more real to us and its good practice to declare these things over our lives.

Try this one:

‘For God so loved [YOUR NAME], He gave His one and only Son so that [YOUR NAME] would not perish but have everlasting life’.  John 3:16

Can I challenge you to take the word of God more personally ? 

Personalise and tell me what is your fave scripture in the comments below …

“Dear Diary God… ”

Yup, there’s times when I dedicate a set time aside to be in God’s presence and I get nothing, absolutely nothing loool. It’s as if your speaking to a stranger and you must ask them questions to get to know them such as “who are you” or “where are you from?”. At times, we can feel disconnected and it can be a struggle to speak to God directly from our mouth. Don’t get me wrong, other times we can spend hours and hours alone just voicing out our emotions to God and being soaked in his presence, however I realised that those times for me, were not to frequent at all.

Speaking to God is personal, it’s not about who can do the longest prayer, or who prays the loudest or who prays with the most vim (If you go to African churches then you could probably relate to this!) it’s just about a personal message that you would want to deliver to God either through words or even just through a thought in your head.

As I like to read poetry, or listen to spoken word I realised that these thoughts of these poems all had to be written down at some point, right? So, I pondered to myself if I struggle to voice out my deepest fears and thoughts to God why don’t I put it on paper. It started with prayer topics for me. When I prayed, I made a list in my head of all the things I need to tell God about, sometimes it would be such a long list that I would end up forgetting some and not praying about them at all, so I then went to my phone (the notes app) and jotted all my topics there as a list so I could go through each one of them individually with God. Now that wasn’t a bad idea however I started to refrain from using my phone whilst praying as I wanted to dedicate my absolute self to God without any distractions- which was the phone itself.

So, I thought why don’t I just write my prayers down on paper. That way it will be straight from the mind and I could just write out my feelings without saying it aloud which I felt uncomfortable with doing at the time. Think of it as a diary; in a diary you write down everything that happened in the day and you take the time out to reflect to yourself. Bible / Prayer journaling is the same thing, only that you are reflecting to God about your day or any issues that may appear in your life. At first, I started to doubt myself about how this would work. I thought to myself; is this a legit way of praying? Am I avoiding physically talking to God? Is this journaling even a form of prayer? But I realised that God listens to us in many ways and it doesn’t always have to be verbally, it can be through your thoughts or words on paper. Remember God is all knowing, he knows your heart, your needs and your desires already. Whatever the struggle you may be going through, God always understands. However, never completely neglect the verbal aspect because the bible tells us that the tongue is powerful and there truly is something powerful and uplifting about speaking aloud your prayers.

I guess the best part about prayer journaling is that you can look back at all the answered prayers you have received. It’s like a record of God’s unfailing love. When you have received an answered prayer, look back to the week or day you wrote that request down for it and use that as a testimony and reassurance that the God who did it before can do it again. It will stimulate your faith in many ways.

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Thanks so much for stopping by. Why not have a look at our collection of notebooks / journals..

 

 

Galatians 3:3

NKJV – “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh”

NLT – “Having begun your new life spiritually with the Holy Spirit, are you now reaching perfection by dependence on the flesh?”

Context

Related imageBefore salvation, we as humans were dependant upon our flesh. We were dependant on what we thought and felt was right, however, the Bible says that there is a way that seems right to a man but the end of it is death (Proverbs 14:12). So, God made a covenant with us via the law (Ten Commandments) to communicate to us what it right and what is wrong. Even then, if you live by the law, you are actually still dependent upon your flesh. The law has not got the power to put us at right standing with God as Romans 8:3 tells us.

“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His Son in the likeness of the sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”

Jesus came to save us from what the law could not; he came to establish the new covenant which strips us of our independence so that we no longer rely on ourselves but on Him.

When we became saved we became a new creature with a new dependence.

The word Abba from the phrase ‘Abba Father’ means. Abba means source. A source of a thing is what sustains that thing. For example, a new born baby’s physical source is from its parents and so that is who babies are dependent on for physical sustenance.

As believers, our source is now God. Saying yes to God is to say no to ourselves. We cannot serve 2 masters. God is who we must depend on in order to sustain the life of the new creature we have become. We can in no way sustain ourselves and trying to is belittling what Jesus done on the cross.

Back to Galatians 3:3…

We began this journey of salvation by the Spirit. When we get saved our Soul and Body need to catch up with the Spirit, this is the process that the Bible refers to as being made perfect. Our flesh died and we became alive in Spirit. Romans 8:9 says

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.” So we all definitely started in the Spirit, or never started at all.

So where did this shift to the flesh come from? For most people, this is not a conscious decision. There are many reasons, most common being complacency. We get into the routine of our new life and just stick to it. It quickly turns from a spiritual walk and relationship to a religion. The key difference is we begin to depend on the flesh while Christ requires us to depend on Him. To depend on Him means we need to have a relationship with Him. Going back to my earlier example, similar to how a baby also has a relationship with its parents.

The absence of a continual fellowship with God is what it means to ‘reach perfection by dependence on the flesh.’ Dependence on the flesh is to just follow the laws with no relationship, as seen in the Old Testament.

Galatians 3:10 says “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written; Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

We cannot do it by the law and so no matter how hard we try, that curse would be upon our heads. God knows this and this is why He sent His Son. A relationship with Him helps us to stay on track.
I wanted to use this explanation of Gal 3:3 to encourage anyone who has become complacent and shifted into the flesh. This is such a basic yet fundamental teaching.

Here are some tips to avoid falling out of a relationship with God:

  • Find a mentor; someone who is strong in the faith who you look up to and can lean on for advice;
  • Never let your mouth cease from prayer & praise: this is the no.1 method of communication;
  • Study the bible as though it was for an exam. If you just read it, it is unlikely to have real impact in your life. The aim is to understand the heart of God and replicate this in our actions;
  • Go to Christian events and gatherings, get involved in whatever your church / fellowship are doing: this ensures you remain active in serving and learning and constant in fellowship with other Christians. Remember iron sharpens iron;
  • Listen to Christian music and sermons: this is another method of learning and feeding your spirit.

James 4:8 Come near to God and He will come near to you.

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Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. Hebrews 2:1

The warning in this verse is so key, I have seen what it can do if you do not heed it.

We are told to give more earnest heed (in other translations, it says ‘take seriously’) to the things we have heard lest we drift away. The things we have heard refers to the word / the good news / the message of salvation.

The word ‘drift’ stood out to me … Here is why:

The definition of drift is when something is carried away slowly by a current of air or water. For example a balloon drifting in to the sky. When something drifts it tends not to have control. When you think of the action of drifting, you rarely associate that movement with purpose or intention because whatever is drifting is carried by whatever surrounds it. We can’t afford to just be carried because Peter 5:8 tells us to be sober and alert because the enemy prowls around like a lion looking for whom to devour.

We can avoid being at the mercy of the enemy by taking earnest heed. So we need to stop being passive and nonchalant. E.g. It is extremely easy to think “I hear the message in church every Sunday, I don’t need to do my own personal bible studies everyday.” Yet, although you go to your uni/school lectures everyday you still think it is vital set time aside to revise. Why? Because you take your exams and education seriously. How much more with the word of God that will do what your education cannot.

A great example is someone falling asleep on a boat for a night without tying it to the shore. When that person wakes up he is going to wonder where he is because it is highly likely that the boat will have drifted pretty far. If the person took seriously their safety, they would take actions to ensure they did not drift. This is how we wake up from spiritual slumber and wonder where we are with God. Such a dangerous place to be because you don’t know what has happened while you have been asleep.
“Whilst men slept, the enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” (Matt 13:25)

One thing I have learnt is that this walk with Christ is NOT passive. You will not be carried to heaven, you will need to get up and walk with Christ. It sounds cliche but the less time we spend with God and in the word the easier we will find it to sin. We become increasingly tolerant of the things that contradict the word until we are in a really bad place and wonder how we get there.

We DRIFTED!

We need to actively ensure our surroundings are Godly by spending time with Him, in the word and in fellowship with like minded people. Otherwise our sinful nature takes over.

I pray that if you are experiencing drifting that you wake up and take charge of your spiritual life. Seek God diligently! You can’t regret it.

The next part of this chapter talks about why Jesus had to be human.

I would like to point out that verse 7 refers to psalm 8 which talks about Jesus being made lower than angels. The word angels should actually say Elohim, which is God. This was a mistranslation due to lack of understanding. If you grab a study bible and check your concordance, you will see that it also says Elohim. This is because Jesus was made human and humans are lower than God but remember humans are ‘higher’ than angels.

Jesus had to be human so that he could be the appropriate high priest. To redeem us He needed to become one of us. The blood of an animal would not suffice. It is also important so that he could go through what we go through. Eg. He was tempted like we are. Now no one can say God does not understand because He does. He understands your struggles, pains and temptations because He went through them too. Yet He overcame them. He was fully human, so if He could we can. However, just because he was human does not mean He was no longer God, but that is why we have the Holy Spirit. The God that raised Himself from the dead lives inside of us. We basically have no excuse. It is possible to live as Jesus did!! He had to come as a human in order to pave the way for the rest of humanity. So thankful that He did!

Comment & Share! thanks for reading!

For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6: 12

As believers, we are at war every day spiritually. Believe it or not but the enemy is trying to draw us into his bondage and is never at rest.

As soldiers who have been enlisted into God army, we need the support of other soldiers to successfully defeat the enemy and stay alive. Imagine being in a war and having to fight alone?!

 

Picture this:

Some soldiers are on the battlefield fighting against the enemies, and they decide to pair up in twos so as to defend one another, but there’s this one soldier who refused to team up and decides to fight all alone. I think we can all assume that the lone soldier is more likely to die first and he is going to be the target of the enemies since he is all alone.

I used to be a lone soldier, and I can tell you I got defeated a lot of times.

I was a ‘secret Christian’, and didn’t have fellowship with other believers. I would go to church, listen and go back home to my lone and defeated life. I was a mess until I decided to join a small group of believers and I got to experience what true Christianity is all about.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.Ecclesiastes 4: 9 – 10

As Christians, we should NEVER go through life alone.

God does not want us to walk alone. God is all about relationships! We have the privilege to interact with other members of God’s family and encourage one another. There is nothing like a group of like-minded people who share the same purpose of pleasing God regardless of their individual differences.

“No man is an island.”

Here are 3 reasons why fellowship is so key:

LOVE

Fellowship is all about LOVE. Our God is love, and we must grow to become like him in our characters and to be in isolation from other believers does not help in developing these characters and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

1 John 4: 20 says, “If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” That is totally impossible. As Christians, we exemplify love to the world, and we do that by loving one another.

John 13: 35 says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

1 Corinthians 13: 3 says we are bankrupt without love and it goes on in that chapter to tell us all about Love and we will see that love deals with the relationship we have with one another. Love is eternal and unconditional, which means we don’t just stop loving others. If we do not have the spirit of love through fellowship with our brothers and sisters now, there’s no way we will be able to do that in heaven. I love this saying from Rick Warren book, The purpose driven life, “Life on earth is just the dress rehearsal before the real production (in heaven).” So we have to start getting ready now.

GROWTH

Fellowship helps us to grow spiritually and keeps us motivated.

Iron sharpens iron.

Like I said earlier, I used to be a lone soldier and I got defeated a lot. This was because I wasn’t growing and I had no one to inspire and motivate me with their faith and walk with God. I was a baby Christian and was totally lukewarm. However, since my first Christian book study with some brothers and sisters, my life has never been the same. I started growing like I ought to, I started spending more time with God. I get inspired and motivated to know God for myself when I hear testimonies from my fellow brothers and sisters about their relationship with God, it inspires me and keeps me going. As Christians we are all at different levels of maturity, so we can support one another and help one another grow. We get mutually encouraged by each other’s faith (Romans 1: 12), and as iron sharpen iron, we also sharpen one another (Provers 27: 17).

ACCOUNTABILITY

Fellowship also keeps us accountable and on track. A lone Christian is more likely to fall back into the world and get off the narrow path easily. But with fellowship, we hold one another accountable in love and truth. Sin is rebuked, and we pray for one another. A true fellowship ensures that all members stay on the right path.

Fellowship in one word is simply family. It’s a special kind of family. We are not bonded by normal blood but we are bonded by the spirit and love of the Father and blood of Jesus. We don’t have to share the same physical features, language, culture or background but we must share the same Spirit.

They say blood is thicker than water, but I say the spirit/love of God is thicker than blood. A fellowship bonded by the spirit of God and love is formidable against Satan. 

Fellowship helps us to go through life and survive as a believer here on earth but it also prepares us for the kind of relationship we are going to enjoy in heaven.

If you are not in a fellowship yet, can I encourage you to please get involved in one. This doesn’t mean just attend and leave, really get involved, serve attend socials and get busy doing the right things!

Hebrews 10: 25 (NLT) says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

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Complaining is meditation on the wrong thing

Complaining… We’ve all had those days where life gets a little too much and a rant seems acceptable. Sometimes people disappoint us, sometimes life looks like a mess but there’s nothing wrong with venting our feelings, there’s nothing wrong with saying how you feel… Or is there?

We start out with a complaint and realise years down the line that we’ve become complainers. We focus on the negative, we love to play the blame game and our expectation of good becomes so small. And we wonder how did we get here?

Complaining is more than venting. Complaints start from within. Then they become murmurs and then they become a person’s fluent language if not stopped in its tracks. I know this all too well. Not too long ago God brought to my attention a bad habit that I had become desensitised too. I realised I was a person who did not always speak out offence but I would harbour it, chew on it, meditate on it – this is the inward complaining. When you meditate on something it gets bigger.

It amazes me that a whole generation wandered the wilderness for 40 years and was wiped out because of their constant complaining (have a read through the book of Numbers). God had set His people free from Egypt where they were in bondage. They were taken through but God provided for them (Deuteronomy 29:5). They complained about thirst, they complained about hunger and they even wished they had stayed in Egypt, in the ‘comfort’ of bondage. Do you know why God disliked their complaining and He cringes at ours? Complaining is cousins with disbelief and disbelief is lack of faith. Without faith we can’t please God. Our constant complaining tells God the situation is bigger than Him.

In your business, in your family, job and life as a whole, constant complaining is a contamination to your success. When you choose to mediate on the negative, it gets magnified and it becomes your language, which then forms your world. Will you have a successful business if you keep complaining about hard it is? Will you get promoted if you keep complaining about hard it is?

Let’s look at 3 things you should be cautious about when it comes to complaining.. 

1 – Complaining about lost time

First all complaining about lost time is a waste of even more time. We spend too much time thinking about what we should have done and what we could have done. The time is gone! We can’t do anything about it now. I used to be that person. I would say “if only I knew what I know now, back then. I know I would be further ahead.” We need to transfer that misery into the joy of taking advantage of now. Now is the only thing certain. Take time to reflect and evaluate, like looking at the rear view mirror in the car. You need to then look forward and decide what you will do now, that’s looking on the road ahead. If you stare at the rear view mirror you’re at risk of getting into an accident. I tell myself this when I start to feel myself going back to my old ways – do what you can while you can with what you have. 

2 – Complaining when offended

Offence will come, Jesus said this. How do you handle offence? Do you tend to sit on it or harbour it like I used to. Harbouring offence is unhealthy for your spirit because it breeds bitterness and bitterness is a poison that kills the harborer, not the offender. We are allowed to feel hurt and offended. We are human, however because you have great things ahead, you can’t hold onto it.

Pray or pray and express, that’s what I say:

Pray about how you feel, offended or hurt, and choose to let go and let God (Matthew 5:43-48).

You can also approach the person and appropriately express your offence then choose to let go and let God (Matthew 5:23-24).

That means after all is said and done we must choose to stop meditating on it and replaying the video of the offence. Some of us have been through some real situations in our life and it feels hard to move on. This why we have grace and we have the word of God. Asking for grace and strength will empower you supernaturally to move forward and having the word of God gives you something healthy to meditate on instead of complaining.

3 – Complaining in groups

Be very vigilant about the company you keep. The Bible says bad company corrupts good character and similarly negative company corrupts positivity. What is the common language of those you spend the most time with? Your friends influence you and when you decide what type of influence you want in your life, making a decision about the proximity of certain individuals in your life becomes easier.

When you tell your friends about a challenge in your life how do they respond? Are they solution-orientated or do you leave the conversation feeling deeper into the hole than when you started? I cannot boast in having many friends however those I have chosen to have a friendship with all contribute something to my life.

Sometimes complaining and self-pity feels comfortable. It tends to feel better when you’re doing it with someone else. Although it can be a comfortable place it is a stifling and non-progressive place. Don’t allow yourself to sit with a friend remaining in the cycle of complaints. Break that cycle.

I hope this has meant something to you. Don’t be hindered or stop by a complaining spirit. Be great.

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We all make mistakes and we all have shortcomings.

As human beings, we know that our lives are not perfect. I know many of us can look back at a time, (maybe not too long ago) in our lives where we have not made the right decisions.

I know I for one, am guilty of making some rash decisions and following the wrong path. In my case I was quite fortunate to know God from young, I could gladly raise my hand and say that I grew up with a rich Nigerian heritage in a strong Christian household. I thought I understood who God is and what it meant to be a Christian.

My name is Ifeoluwa, which means God’s Love, so obviously, I was drawn to learn about God’s Love.

However, it turned out that I didn’t fully understand this, so when tough challenges and situations presented themselves throughout my teenage years, I stopped going to church regularly and stopped studying the bible. I had seemed to stray from the path of God and His righteousness.

Last year, during my first year at university, I started going down the wrong path, innocently following the crowd. I put myself in situations where I could have been hurt as a result of the bad decisions I was making. I didn’t fully understand the depths of God’s love and grace, as much as I thought I did.

I had been wrestling and struggling with why God has been so faithful and kind to me for all these years, even when I wasn’t faithful to Him.

I was recently reading a devotional on the bible app called “finding your way back to God” by David and John Ferguson. It was an inspirational plan and a reminder about God’s love being so deep, and unconditional, even when we make mistakes it is part of His promise to love us. This led me to a verse I found while I was praying one night:

‘But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.’ Ephesians (2:4-5 NIV)

The English dictionary definition of mercy is “compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”

God’s definition of mercy, is not unlike the definition from the dictionary, but there is a deeper and more profound meaning. This verse gave me a brief glimpse of what God’s mercy truly is.

This verse in Ephesians says he is “rich in mercy,” so he has a great deal of it, and it is part of his generosity that he hands out the gift of mercy, sparing us from punishments, even punishments we deserve. Mercy is not just an attribute of God; it’s an integral part of who he is! His mercy knows no bounds!

In Ephesians 2, Paul was explaining the benefits of following Jesus Christ, he explains that naturally our sins would not have been forgiven. But, because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, through grace, God has had mercy on us. The very act of God sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins is mercy. He sent us a saviour that could what we could not. So, now our past mistakes are blotted away and we are made new in Christ. We are a product of mercy and grace!

Another key theme in this verse is ‘Grace’, which means God gives us things we do not deserve.

Mercy and Grace are precious gifts that God has given me and the fact that I’m writing this blog is a huge testimony of his mercy and grace and the generosity He has shown me. Remember, these are gifts given not because of our behaviour and actions; it is based on whom God is, so I am grateful that He is never-changing.

I pray that we will all be able to know and understand that only by his grace, we are free to live our lives without shame and guilt. I pray that you will be able to understand the immense power of his love and mercy that has impacted your life. I pray that together we can grow in faith and accept his love. I know that when we grow in faith we can show acts of mercy and forgiveness towards others too. Amen.

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