08 Sep

Count it joy, name it joy.

This reveals to us our own power to define our situation. Feelings of sadness do not necessarily mean you are in a sad place. Thoughts of scarcity does not mean you are lacking.

We have the privilege and the power to name our state of affairs whatever we choose. When we fall into various trials, we can rename it a season of joy. Whatever we name or christen our situation to be is what our spirit, soul and body will interpret it to mean, and therefore act accordingly.

I have chosen to call challenges, ‘Teacher’, because I have not been in a single trial where there wasn’t a lesson to be learned. Mind you, it’s a choice. Being a student is a choice and it is only when you put on that attitude of learning that you can be taught. In the past I have been through trials that were just that, trials. Now I know they were actually teachers but I just wasn’t a student at the time. An old Tao saying says ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear’.

Currently,  as I address the issue of fear in my life I have chosen to name it  ‘Faithful Guard Dog’- because it never leaves my side. It is there to protect my interests and warn me which is great, but it isn’t the master, I am. I hear it barking, I feel it tugging at me to pull me away from the offending situation but  I make the decision whether to advance or not.

What are you dealing with this season? Rename it. Count it joy or peace or a teacher or a season of strengthening. There is nothing we will go through that we can’t handle.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

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03 Feb

Controlling your Past

I was in conversation with a dear friend recently and we talked about how an embarrassing past can hold you back.

Years ago I lost my business & my near-perfect lifestyle. The fall to grass was spectacular. I didn’t think anything good could come out of my new reality and I lived solely for the purpose of carving out a better one to overlay the old.

Then I read an article on rewriting your story. This didn’t suggest we run away from the past and live in the future, this was about taking the truth and writing it from a point of victory as opposed to viewing it from a place of loss and defeat. When I was done writing, I read it and what once felt shameful to me now felt inspiring. I kept that sheet of paper by my bed and would refer to it from time to time when I was in low spirits and without meaning to, I memorised it.

In the following weeks I met up with a journalist who wanted to do a story on my business. At the end of the meeting, she got up to leave, she asked casually how I got into the business. Without warning my mouth opened itself and offered my inspiring, re-written story. She was so impressed that she called the editor of the newspaper she represented and said “I have a story for you, a good one. We must run it.”

That was how I became free at last from the tangled mess of my past challenges. I learned a powerful truth which I’m sharing with you today, the past ceases to have power over you when you grab a hold of it and rework it into a valuable lesson that others can learn from. I am not suggesting you pull out every skeleton from under the floorboards of your 200-year family history and exhibit them like contemporary works of art, but you need to go eyeball to eyeball on issues from your past that currently cause you to shrink back from fear or shame.

The enemy has a knack for making us regurgitate the old and the shameful, relive the negative emotions associated with it & keep us bound by it. Once that becomes a habit, the past becomes your identity and you will not fit into the bright new future God has for you.

The best part of being in control of your past it is the freedom and the power you will operate in once you take  control of it, you you will be able to live authentically and freely express your individuality without trying to fit into a predetermined mould. You will no longer walk around feeling the need to hide any part of your story, rather you will offer it as nuggets of gold that bless others. The truth is everyone has faced challenges in life and some are not pretty. These issues may belong in your past but still form a part of your story.

God takes the threads of our challenges and weaves it into a beautiful garment, so wear it!

Now if you’ll be in London on the 11th of April, I’d love you to join me and some wonderful folks for Brunch. Here’s more: http://bit.ly/167yfMO

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13 Jul

Distressed? That’s just the beginning

Someone sent me a text to read 2 Sam 22 this morning and verse 19 jumped out at me:
He will coover You with His wings

They attacked me when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. 2 Sam 22:19.

We are more vulnerable to attack and pain when we are in a state of distress or unhappiness. The enemy knows that our resistance and strength is reduced while in that state. So while you may think the issue causing the distress is an attack, the reality is that it is just the precursor. Ever gone through a season where it appears it’s just one challenging situation after another? It most likely began with you being offended, or distressed about something else. That made you vulnerable and then the attacks followed.

It would appear that joy is the antidote to this vulnerability. You cannot be joyful and distressed at the same time. Joy is perhaps one of the pinions, or feathers of the Lord’s wings that cover us. Ps 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadows of the almighty. The secret place is the presence of God, and in His presence there is fullness of joy. Ps 91: 4 says He will deliver you from the fowler and from the deadly pestilence, He will cover you with His feathers (pinions).

It is futile to try to avoid being attacked, Jesus said in this life you will face many trials. A soldier expects to be attacked in battle that is why he wears protective armour, thank God we have our own God-fortified armour!

A two-pronged approach can be utilised:

1) Stay in God’s presence.

Under the shadows of God’s wings is a safe and warm place to be. Your view of the outside world may be obstructed while you’re there and there is the temptation to keep running out to see how big your threat has grown. Resist it. You are safe, God is taking care of the threat, stay in God’s presence, that is where you’re meant to be.

2) Guard your heart against anyone or situation that would steal your joy, the joy of the Lord is indeed what covers and strengthens us. This means taking an active role in deciding what you allow into your mind, who you spend time with and curbing bad habits that seem harmless. When you are shielded with the joy of the Lord the attacks will come but the arrows won’t pierce.

Do let me know if this blessed you by leaving a comment!

Image: © Wikipedia

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13 Jan

In Blessing I have Blessed You

God bless you. I am blessed. Bless me Lord, please bless me.

I have no idea how many times I used the word, ‘bless’ in its various forms last year. But I know that this year, 2013 I have asked the Lord to bless me quite a few times already. In some cases it was merely an extension of the requests I made late last year- which were yet to be manifested. In other cases I had accepted that last year had ended, but needed Him to bless me afresh for this year. And He did. But not in the way I was expecting.

Last Sunday the scales were removed from my eyes. I have practically been living in an oasis of blessings Besides the very obvious- I’m alive, I’m healthy, fed and clothed,  God showed me the wealth of blessings I had ignored. Here’s how it was all revealed.

The first big reveal came while I was going through my journal, collating the lessons learned in 2012. I saw that I had endured and overcome so much. It was good to read how many of my fears were alleviated, God came through for me- often in the last hour- but He always did. Of all the challenges I went through, there wasn’t a single one without a lesson. I also found out how in a few cases the same lesson was being taught, simply because I didn’t learn them the first time or I just didn’t get it. I cried, I laughed I giggled, I praised.

I came across promises He made me. I read about some very profound dreams I had. Considering the fact that my dreams rarely mean much, they tend to be scattered and inane. But this year I had about 4 dreams that were clear-cut, God speaking to me. Reading about these and the interpretation that the Holy Spirit gave warmed my spirit, gave me renewed hope. I was moved with emotion that the Lord actually speaks to me and I was reminded of Jeremiah 29:11, I know the plans that I have for you; plans that are good and to give you a hope and a future. Even though the financial breakthrough I had been seeking had not yet materialised, God told me my future was in no way jeopardised by the lack of funds. Even though in order to move forward with the present project, I needed money, the Lord assured me that the life of the project was intact.

Next I came across some prophecies I had received last year. Again I’m not very charismatic and it’s only the 2nd or 3rd time I have received a very specific word- that I believed. To be frank I can I bit of a sceptic with regards to words or prophecies. I read and prayed over these words as I believed them to be true. About an hour later I got an email from a friend giving me a word that was exactly in line with one of the prophecies. That was profound and I was truly blessed.

One of the words I got had to do with a spirit of boldness. I have been inundated with situations that tempted me to cop out of exercising boldness. I tend to shrink from confrontations but in life there are times we do need to address and confront people. So I was blessed as I realised the spirit of God had no plans of leaving me unfinished. He makes sure that the good work He started in us will be faithfully completed by Him.

Later in the week while scrolling through my inbox in search of my friend’s phone number- she moved to Canada a few years ago, I needed to call to wish her a happy birthday. I came across some emails she had sent me during the course of 2012 and boy was I blessed! She has been speaking words of life and encouragement consistently into my life. Her old emails really blessed me as I began to recognise that some of the traits she saw in me ages ago, I now see in myself. Once upon a time I would argue with anyone who told me I was an inspirer. I’d explain it away by saying, ‘we’re all inspirers’ or ‘no I’m not, you are too kind to say that’. I sometimes shy away from compliments and see myself as the eternal student and not the teacher. Occasionally I feel uncomfortable when people tell me they’ve learned from me or I have encouraged them with my words or friendship. I wonder what they see. I don’t think I have any self-esteem issues. I just see myself as a normal, happy girl. Our hour-long phone conversation blessed us both. She encouraged me to begin a journey I have been holding back from and I promised her I would. Now I have accountability and can’t hide any longer, I’ll be sharing that journey with you too, soon! God showed me that my friend in Canada was a gift to me. He then went on to show me that in fact I was surrounded by good friends who are a blessing to me.

On Thursday I dialled into a teleconference, the topic was on setting goals, more on the speaker in another post but Valorie Burton is someone I admire greatly and have a great deal of respect for. We exchanged emails over the next few days and it warmed my heart that I was chatting with her. She helped me achieve clarity on a decision I needed to make. One advice she gives is to let your friends know what you value in them. Now coming from a Nigerian background being verbally affectionate to my friends does not come natural to me. I don’t often tell my best friends that I love them and appreciate their friendship. I show them via my actions. Maybe in an email or phone call I might end with ‘I love you’. But this isn’t the norm. I decided to email a friend to tell her just that. That blessed me because it blessed her.

So while all along I was crying out to God for a financial breakthrough with the words ‘bless me Lord’, He was busy blessing me. I didn’t know it. And not only that, I was busy blessing others. I receive emails from folks who tell me they were blessed by my blogs or emails. Someone told me this week that she gets disappointed when she checks to find I still haven’t updated it. I had no idea, but I am so humbled and thankful that I am blessed and God has seen it fit for me to be a blessing too.

Thank you for taking the time to read and share my writing, I encourage you to open your eyes and see what’s around you. Take your eyes off what you’ve been praying for and look and see what you have been blessed with. It is so easy to take for granted the fact that we are alive, where there is life there is indeed hope. And hope does not disappoint for while we were still in sin (death), Christ died for us.

Have a blessed week!

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03 Dec

These are the good old days!

 

God is present in the dark clouds

God is present in the dark clouds

Ps 18:11
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.

12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.

Have you ever been in a situation where you are praying for a dark cloud to pass, and then it gets darker? Praying for healing for a loved one and then they pass away? Or praying for a job and more bills and expenses show up? You start looking back reminiscing on how good you had it before. These are the good old days, rejoice and be glad!
God is present in the darkness of your trials, in fact he covers himself with it as though its a canopy. Yet His presence is so bright that its light pierces the darkness. In God’s presence your clouds will retreat, they’ll draw back. Take some time out, find a quiet spot- I use my bathroom sometimes- and enter into God’s presence with praise and thanksgiving.

Nothing to be thankful for? Thank Him for life, thank Him that even though things haven’t been perfect for a while you have food and shelter. Thank Him that He is doing a work with you and even this current difficult situation is part of the plan to launch you into greatness. Afterall ALL things work together for the good of those that love God and are called according to His purpose.  Ask for wisdom so you are not suffering needlessly, perhaps the solution has already been given to you and you don’t even know it.

Spend time in His presence today, determine that this new week will be your best one in years and have a great week!

Here’s the full scripture (Amplified Version)

Psalm 18

To the Chief Musician. [A Psalm] of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said:

I love You fervently and devotedly, O Lord, my Strength.

The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower.

I will call upon the Lord, Who is to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.

The cords or bands of death surrounded me, and the streams of ungodliness and the torrents of ruin terrified me.

The cords of Sheol (the place of the dead) surrounded me; the snares of death confronted and came upon me.

In my distress [when seemingly closed in] I called upon the Lord and cried to my God; He heard my voice out of His temple (heavenly dwelling place), and my cry came before Him, into His [very] ears.

Then the earth quaked and rocked, the foundations also of the mountains trembled; they moved and were shaken because He was indignant and angry.

There went up smoke from His nostrils; and lightning out of His mouth devoured; coals were kindled by it.

He bowed the heavens also and came down; and thick darkness was under His feet.

10 And He rode upon a cherub [a storm] and flew [swiftly]; yes, He sped on with the wings of the wind.

11 He made darkness His secret hiding place; as His pavilion (His canopy) round about Him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

12 Out of the brightness before Him there broke forth through His thick clouds hailstones and coals of fire.

13 The Lord also thundered from the heavens, and the Most High uttered His voice, amid hailstones and coals of fire.

14 And He sent out His arrows and scattered them; and He flashed forth lightnings and put them to rout.

15 Then the beds of the sea appeared and the foundations of the world were laid bare at Your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

16 He reached from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.

17 He delivered me from my strong enemy and from those who hated and abhorred me, for they were too strong for me.

18 They confronted and came upon me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay and support.

19 He brought me forth also into a large place; He was delivering me because He was pleased with me and delighted in me.

20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness (my conscious integrity and sincerity with Him); according to the cleanness of my hands has He recompensed me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God.

22 For all His ordinances were before me, and I put not away His statutes from me.

23 I was upright before Him and blameless with Him, ever [on guard] to keep myself free from my sin and guilt.

24 Therefore has the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness (my uprightness and right standing with Him), according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.

25 With the kind and merciful You will show Yourself kind and merciful, with an upright man You will show Yourself upright,

26 With the pure You will show Yourself pure, and with the perverse You will show Yourself contrary.

27 For You deliver an afflicted and humble people but will bring down those with haughty looks.

28 For You cause my lamp to be lighted and to shine; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.

29 For by You I can run through a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.

30 As for God, His way is perfect! The word of the Lord is tested and tried; He is a shield to all those who take refugeand put their trust in Him.

31 For who is God except the Lord? Or who is the Rock save our God,

32 The God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect?

33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places.

34 He teaches my hands to war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand has held me up; Your gentleness andcondescension have made me great.

36 You have given plenty of room for my steps under me, that my feet would not slip.

37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them; neither did I turn again till they were consumed.

38 I smote them so that they were not able to rise; they fell wounded under my feet.

39 For You have girded me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me and caused to bow down those who rose up against me.

40 You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me, that I might cut off those who hate me.

41 They cried [for help], but there was none to deliver—even unto the Lord, but He answered them not.

42 Then I beat them small as the dust before the wind; I emptied them out as the dirt and mire of the streets.

43 You have delivered me from the strivings of the people; You made me the head of the nations; a people I had not known served me.

44 As soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me; foreigners submitted themselves cringingly and yielded feigned obedience to me.

45 Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their caves or strongholds.

46 The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted,

47 The God Who avenges me and subdues peoples under me,

48 Who delivers me from my enemies; yes, You lift me up above those who rise up against me; You deliver me from the man of violence.

49 Therefore will I give thanks and extol You, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to Your name.

50 Great deliverances and triumphs gives He to His king; and He shows mercy and steadfast love to His anointed, to David and his offspring forever.

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11 Mar

Out of the Wilds (wilderness)

Recently I asked the Lord a question. I was taking stock of a particular area of my life (like I seem to do a lot of these days) and wasn’t too pleased with the final count. It appeared I was moving forward but very, very slowly. It seemed as though while I was out of the pit,I was not out of the wilderness. Have you ever felt like you are constantly tethering on the brink of a breakthrough or a desired solution but never quite making it? This particular day I pictured Moses sitting on Mt Abarim, chatting with the Lord. God shows him Canaan, Canaan that he had risked his life for, that he gave up his past, present and future for. The place he lived for, after-all  Moses’ sole purpose was to get the children of Israel to the promised land. Children of Israel that were for the most part, disobedient, down right difficult and a rather annoying group of people.

Anyhow, that’s how I felt. Like I was sitting atop the mountain I’d painstakingly been climbing and all I could do was look at my dream, the success I’d laboured for, stare blankly at the vision I’d nursed and carried about for years and yet I couldn’t go in. So I asked God, Why? Why did it feel like all I was given was glimpses of what could be, like I was being fed with morsels while the main meal sat atop the table, untouched.

God’s response is what I’ll attempt to articulate. Elijah was a mighty man of God, faith wasn’t an issue with him. He was brave and made crazy, bold declarations. Yet he ended up in the wilderness in obedience to God and he had to rely on birds for sustenance. Yes we all know it was a miracle that birds would feed him, God did send those birds and that in itself is mind-blowing. I think that story is an excellent example of God’s promise never to leave or forsake us. The morsels of food brought by the birds was a blessing from God wasn’t it? But it wasn’t God’s best. Elijah wasn’t living in abundance. He had enough to keep hunger at bay. The wilderness is not a place for abundance. There is a time and a place for everything. If you happen to be surviving on scraps, just enough to get by despite God’s promises of provision or if you seem to be looking into your bright future (since you also know the plans He has for you) but can’t seem to get to the promised land, you just might be in the wilderness. And if you’re in the wilderness, God is right there with you and He is your sustenance. He is meeting your needs.

The wilderness isn’t a waste of your time or your life, it has a purpose and the purpose may not simply be for you to come out with a financial blessing on the other side, it may be for vital work to be carried out on the inside. Sometimes when you think it couldn’t possibly get worse, it does. Elijah’s brook dried up. Then God told him to get up from there and go to Zarephath where He had told a widow to feed him. Can you imagine though, if Elijah had disobeyed? When the word disobedience is used in the bible it comes across as a hard, obvious sin. Like deliberately hardening our hearts. I don’t know about you but there have been times that I have disobeyed God and didn’t know I was disobeying Him. I thought I was doing the right thing. The reason I thought so was because I didn’t know God’s voice. So when the Lord gave me an instruction, I had no clue He was even speaking. Now if Elijah did not know God, he wouldn’t have been aware of the instruction to leave the desert and go to the widow’s house. And he would most certainly have died of starvation. At that point all the folks in his village would say ‘I knew he was a mad man. Why did he go and kill himself in the wilderness? Which God told him to go there?’ But Elijah knew God’s voice, and in addition to that, he was obedient.

If you are in the wilderness, it helps to quieten down, and start to listen for the voice of God. Begin to know God by spending time in His presence. When you get to know His voice, you can then take action because the time will come when you have to leave the wilderness under His command- and move into a greater abundance.

As for the work being done in Elijah, wasn’t it right after that he blessed the widow with a never-ending supply of flour and oil? And after that raised her dead son? And let’s not even go into the conquest on mount Carmel!

Let’s turn our ears to the Lord, open our hearts and begin to know Him, hear his voice and walk in full obedience to him so our dreams do not die in the wilderness.

God bless you, have an awesome week!

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31 Jan

Is God Good? Really?

There are some phrases Christians use that have become clichés. Sometimes it is an actual scripture that no longer holds the meaning it should. God is good. It is well. We walk by faith. Have faith– are just some of the examples.

The time had come in my life when I hit a brick wall, I had to ask God if His word was really true. I spent many a night praying as I begged for a breakthrough in my circumstance. I had reached the proverbial brick wall and had absolutely no way out. I asked people to pray for me, many of the pastors who prayed gave me a good word that God had “done it“. I don’t know if you have ever been given a bad word,  “No, you shall remain in poverty all your life- look at the starving people in Asia and Africa” or “No you will not be healed, you shall remain sick forever” or “your husband shall continue cheating on you, it isn’t God’s will to bless your marriage- after-all you are not the only one with problems“. Seriously though, nothing positive happened after the prayers  so in desperation I turned to God.

Isn’t it funny how as Christians it is possible to be in church regularly, be involved in ministry yet have our backs turned to God? We pray daily, read the bible and can quote scriptures in 3 to 5 different translations, yet we don’t have a close enough relationship to turn to our loving father. I am not denouncing being prayed for, by all means have someone pray for you. but I believe you can only truly meet the Lord when you come yourself. There is no mediator between God and man except the Lord Jesus. 1 Tim 2:5

In those quiet times I learned the meaning of the scripture, we walk by faith and not by sight. I came to understand that just because my circumstances hadn’t visually changed did not mean that God had not answered. And that God’s answer may not be my desired answer. I learned that walking by faith meant not walking by what you could see. I learned that sight, in actual fact was a representation of your physical senses. You don’t make decisions or come to conclusions based on what you can see, feel or hear. You make decisions based on faith in the word of God. Did God say none shall be barren in the land?  Then you start by believing you are productive because God has said so. Your body might tell you otherwise, but that’s sight right? You don’t come to the conclusion based on what your body tells you. I also understood that if the word of God says it, then it is true. So it helps to find a scripture that addresses the particular issue and ‘make it yours’.

I don’t believe God visits evil on His children. But I do believe He makes all things work together for the good of them that love Him. Rom 8:28.  This means even the challenges, he makes good out of it. The pain, He makes good. The good may not be the opposite of what you are going through, e.g riches for poverty, but it may well be that you draw nearer to Him to drink from His well. It may be learning and experiencing the goodness of God on such a supernatural level that it supersedes whatever earthly distress you are going through. It could even be that God is pruning and/or preparing you for His service, I don’t know, but I know that IT IS GOOD!

God is good. I don’t need my circumstance to define that for me. Where I am today is only temporary and unpleasant as it is, it is the painful part of the crafting of my life to form a beautiful picture… My Journal entry, May 2010

I pray that the Lord meets you at the point of your need and perfects all that concerns you. And if you have been handpicked for a trial, His grace will be sufficient for you, it is indeed well.

Thank you for reading!

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