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Ready for Battle? Put on the Whole armour of God (1)

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I love visiting my niece and nephew. One of the privileges of being an aunty is that I get to enjoy their company for a short period of time and then leave them with their parents (Just kidding!!)
One of the games they love to play with me is the “Hug attack”. It’s not so much a game as being smothered with hugs and kisses on all sides which I enjoy but act like I don’t. During these sneak hug attacks, my niece and nephew come up with ingenious ways to discover my weakest spot and I try to anticipate their plans and thwart them (most times, unsuccessfully). I remembered these sneak attacks when I was preparing to write this article. Ephesians 6:10-18 is not unfamiliar to many of us. It has been the subject of many sermons at our local church assemblies, school fellowships and family prayer meetings.
However, more than ever before, it has become imperative that we go back to this scripture and make sure we apply its principles to our lives so that we are indeed battle-ready. As Ephesians 6:12 states, the battle is not against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world and against mighty power and evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Why is it important to put on the whole armor of God?
Eph 6: 11 and 13 sets out the importance of wearing the armor. It is important for us as Christians going into battle to wear the armor to help us stand firm against all the strategies of the devil. It is important so that we are able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. So that, at the end of the day after the dust settles, when the battle is over, we are the last man/woman standing.
Priscilla Shirer, in her devotional “Armor of God” explained that one of the enemy’s strategy in this war is to distract us so that he can blindside us. The devil does not indiscriminately choose his assault weapons when attacking us in battle. His strategy is tailor-made to attack our tendencies, habits, deepest fears and weaknesses. His attacks are thus targeted specifically at these ‘weak’ spots. Little wonder that we find ourselves struggling with sin and temptations – the devil would not tempt a person who has a love of money problem with sexual temptations, neither would he tempt a person with forgiveness issues with money. His main goal is to sidetrack our attention by setting any number of internal fires ablaze in our lives – insecurity, intimidation, anxiety, fear, worry or busyness. His intention is to confuse and make us lose focus while he sneaks up from behind, like my niece and nephew plan to do during their sneak hug attacks.
So, how can we be battle ready for these sneak attacks by the devil? By putting on the whole armor of God. Today, I will be looking at the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness.
When you think about a belt, what comes to mind? Honestly, I would immediately think of a fashion accessory that I use to beautify my dress or to hold up my jeans in place. However, the Roman soldier’s belt was more akin to a girdle. Most scholars agree that the belt, more than any other piece of the soldier’s clothing or equipment, with its intricate décor and elaborate buckles, distinguished a solder from a civilian. The belt was a strategic, primary focal point of the Roman soldier’s outfit and we would soon see why this was so.
The belt – a sturdy leather girdle – was made to reach around the torso, providing the essential support which he needed while performing the quick demanding movements of war.
Why was the belt referred to as the belt of truth? The devil’s top strategy is deploying lies and deception. He is an expert at shading reality with enticing and alluring colors, seducing us away from black & white principles – A good example is the lie he sells about issues such as pre-marital intimacy. The devil is a professional at propagating fantasies and his packaging is so clever that unless you know what is true – and really know it at your core – you easily fall prey to his ploys.
Truth – God’s opinion on any matter – is our standard as Christians. Truth is our support, Truth is our backbone. Everything hinges upon the truth. “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32)” Truth provides us with the core support needed in the middle of a spiritual warfare.
Next up – the breastplate of righteousness. For a Roman soldier, the breastplate protected some of the most important parts of the body – the heart, lungs and other organs necessary for life. The breastplate was made of bronze or chain mail and it was fitted with loops or buckles that attached it to the belt. Yes, you read that right – the belt helped keep the breastplate in place. If the belt was loosened, the breastplate slipped right off.
The breastplate was very important to keeping the soldier alive – so is righteousness for a Christian. Righteousness means right standing with God. It means living our lives in a way that is honorable to God. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we need to know what God’s word says. We need to feed on the Word until it becomes part of us. And, when the trials and temptations come, we can make informed decisions based on the Word.
The belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness are intricately linked together, and rightly so. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place. Without truth, our righteousness is simply an exercise in vain attempt to impress God – legalese or self-condemnation, just like the Pharisees or Sadducees. We wear the breastplate of righteousness by obeying God and allowing him to work in us. By making him and his ways our dwelling place and seeking God above everything else, we live a righteous life.
When we wear the breastplate of righteousness and the belt of truth correctly, we develop a purity of heart that translates into the way we live our lives. We find ourselves putting into practice what we believe in our hearts. As our lives become more in line with the Word of God, more Christ-like, we make righteous choices which protects us from further temptation and deception by the devil.

Writer:  Tomilola Adebiyi

DIWPRTEAMReady for Battle? Put on the Whole armour of God (1)
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WHAT IS IN YOUR HANDS

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It’s Monday again, yes!
For some people, it is exciting to wake up on Monday mornings to pursue their passion – that is, what ticks their heart and gives them a sense of fulfilment- while for others, Monday mornings come with trepidation – they wake up thinking “Oh No! why so fast?”
When you do what you love and enjoy, every day is a Monday, it’s all the same. That sense of knowing that what you do makes a difference, and every little action takes you closer to achieving your life aspirations and biggest dreams. But are we all there yet? Do we all get that tingling feeling of excitement on Monday morning? Are you in that place where you rule your world and understand how you fit into the big picture? Or that your efforts, small or great, counts and goes a long way? Do you experience the pure joy and delight of knowing that you are impacting your world with your ideas, work and diligence? This is something we all desire.
How do you change the narrative from feeling sick when it’s Sunday night because you have to resume at the office in the morning because you are doing something that drains the life out of you or something which you find no pleasure doing?
Let’s talk about a few things to help you wake up better on a Monday morning if you didn’t like it before now 
1. The Power of Choice
You may not love what you do but you have the power to make the choice to enjoy it even as you work towards your dream role or assignment.
One of the greatest capabilities of man is in making choices. You may not be able to help what people do to you but you have control over how you react and respond to them. You may have little or no control over the circumstances of life thrown on your path but you have the power to decide how it would shape you. You may not have total control over your current job – but you certainly have control over how you chose to do it, so what would your choice be? Will you choose to be sad about a job you cannot change immediately? or Will you choose to make the best of your time without wasting any time on negative emotions and feelings that drain you? Make the right choice!
2. What do You Have?
Many people hate their jobs because they do not feel they have what it takes to excel at their roles. However, God created each one of us in His image with unique capabilities and skills. We spend time looking at others with skillsets that do not come naturally to us and feel inadequate. What we should be doing is asking ourselves the question, “what skills do I have and how can I maximize it in my present role?”.
I currently work as a Sales Person and while i do not enjoy sales at all, I do love interacting with people and building valuable relationships. I have been able to focus on my natural strength of making friends easily to build my clientele and as a result of my excellent relationship-building skills, I easily get referrals to new prospects in addition to guaranteed repeat business. If you do look deeply inside you, there is something you possess that you can turn into your advantage at your current job.
3. Seek to Always Add Value
There is a popular saying that to lift your spirit, find someone who needs lifting and lend a helping hand, you automatically feel lifted too. This is a tried and tested principle. In your current role, find ways to add value to others, to the work, to the process, to everything around you. Do not stay focused on yourself or your dislike for the job/assignment, that just gives you a bad attitude.
When you add value always however, you set yourself up for recognition and upliftment. I particularly love the story of Joseph and he is one of my favorite male Bible Characters, coming closely after David and Daniel .
So what’s so special about Joseph? Here was a young lad who was sold into slavery at the tender age of 17, far away from home or any form of family, a long distance away from his culture and belief. It was enough for him to be lost and forgotten in history but not Joseph. He brought so much value that he was put in charge of everything in Potiphar’s house – his Egyptian Master. Being a slave couldn’t have been pleasant, especially being a slave hundreds of miles away from home with no familiar face or thing; in a country filled with strange gods and customs, strange meals, strange clothing and different way of life. Nevertheless, Joseph was too valuable to be ignored. Potiphar must have had other servants and slaves, even those much older and maybe with better years of experience in slavery  (no pun intended actually) but you get my drift. He was a Value adder (new word alert!). Did Joseph want to be sold into slavery? He sure didn’t. He did not choose to be a slave but that was where he was, and he made good use of the opportunity by adding value.
Remember when Pharaoh had a dream and needed interpretation of his dreams? That was when the butler (whom Joseph had also interpreted his dreams to while in prison) remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him. Joseph was summoned from prison. All he had to do was interpret the dream but Joseph with his attitude of being a Value-adder, went on to provide Pharaoh with a solution to the problem highlighted by the dream. He not only interpreted the dream with the help of God’s Spirit but further proffered solution to a very clear and imminent challenge of famine. So you see, solving problems especially when you didn’t create them is adding value. I am certain that was what set Joseph apart even in Potiphar’s house. Even though he did not choose to be a slave yet by adding value constantly everywhere he went, in due time he was elevated.
So dear reader, you may not be where you really want to be however you can make good use of where you are now as you chart the course to where you want to go. Use your choices positively and focus on things that give you energy and make you happy, start from where you are – look inwards and find that one thing that is unique to you, I am certain you will find a way to apply it to your current role to make your output better and erase your feeling of inadequacy; lastly cultivate the habit of adding value by being a problem solver not a problem creator – be the one with a solution.
God bless you.
Writer:   Ademorayo Apara

DIWPRTEAMWHAT IS IN YOUR HANDS
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Wisdom: The Real Beauty

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In the book of Esther, Queen Vashti is described as a very beautiful woman. She was married to King Xerxes who organized a banquet in the third year of his reign. This means Queen Vashti also had only been queen for about three years too. She too gave a banquet for the women at the palace to celebrate the third year anniversary.
While in this celebratory mood, the King ordered Queen Vashti to come dressed in her royal apparel with her crown to ‘show case’ her beauty. But the Queen refused.
My initial conclusion when thinking about this singular action of Queen Vashti was that she was full of pride. But on a closer look, I began to see her action from a different angle – the Queen may have been trying to ‘caution’ the King on his excesses. Remember that the King had earlier shown off his riches, his kingdom in all its glory, and the honor of his excellent majesty during the celebration. In fact, the King displayed his vast wealth over 180 days, one of the longest displays of wealth described in the Bible.
In fairness to the Queen, (1) she could have been stressed out (2) she may have been uncomfortable with the arrogance being displaced by her husband (3) she may have been busy with the women in the palace whom she was hosting at her own banquet and (4) she may have felt embarrassed or angered that seven eunuchs were sent to bring her.
Upon a closer look, Queen Vashti had some level of freedom given to her by her husband. She was the women leader and was granted access to the kingdom’s resources.
Dear sister, any woman whose husband supports and gives her the freedom to be who God wants her to be, who also has access to her husband’s resources – time and money – is highly favored.
Wisdom has built her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.
For the purpose of this write up, I will like to outline two lessons I learnt from the ‘home’ of Queen Vashti.
1. There is no excuse that can justify disobeying, correcting, confronting and embarrassing one’s husband in public. Imagine if Queen Esther had publicly confronted the King about Haman’s plan just because she was under pressure, or because of the urgency the matter required.
Instead, she wisely sought a private moment with the King by inviting him and Haman to a private banquet. A wise woman discusses issues with her husband in private.

2. It is important to dress beautifully for your husband. The same royal robes that Queen Vashti refused to wear following her husband’s orders were worn by Esther but she achieved a different result. Perhaps the King would have given Vashti an open check if she had worn her royal robes. Let us put on our royal robes, sisters.

Hmm, the two women were described as beauty to behold but what made the difference was WISDOM! I pray that we will embrace wisdom in dealing with our husbands, in Jesus name.

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God sure like a ‘Ugly’. Qualifying the Unqualified

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“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”
(1 Corinthians 1:27-30 NLT)

Recently, I came across a book titled “God Nuh Like Ugly” by Nicole Dennis-Benn and the first thought that came to my mind was “God sure likes ugly. This person doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” I ended up reading the book, but I’m not here to talk about its contents.

God’s love for mankind is unique – it can be likened to a parent-child relationship. There is a popular Nigerian saying, “Monkey no fine but him mama like am” (a monkey may not be beautiful, but its mother loves it). God loves us, his children, regardless of how ‘pretty’ or ‘ugly’ we may be. In fact, it is safe to say that God loves the ‘ugly’ more. In the parable of the prodigal son, we see how God’s love for the ugly is brought to the fore – the wasteful, spendthrift son who squandered his inheritance, was welcomed back home with open arms by the Father.

Many of us feel unqualified for God’s love. However, there are several examples of broken and lost people in the bible whom God used for his glory. God loves to use broken repentant people. Vance Havner, a Baptist pastor, once said: “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever”.

Have you wondered why Jesus chose each of the 12 disciples? They were surely not all the crème de la crème of their society! We have Peter, Andrew, James and John, all fishermen. Matthew, the tax collector. None of them appeared to be fit to walk closely with the Messiah, yet Jesus chose them and used them mightily. Can you imagine how puzzled the Pharisees and the Sadducees were when they looked at the motley group Jesus surrounded himself with? It is probably why they found it hard to believe he could be the long-awaited Messiah.

Examples abound in the Scriptures of imperfect people whom God used to showcase his glory. Abraham was an old man when God chose him to be the father of many nations. Elijah was suicidal at some point due to the persecution from Jezebel, yet God used him. Moses had a speech problem. Gideon was timid and fearful. Samson was a womanizer. Rahab was a prostitute. The Samaritan woman was a serial divorcee. Noah was a drunkard. Jacob was a cheater. David was a murderer. Peter denied Jesus three times and Paul was a persecutor of the early church.

God sure likes ‘ugly’. If you are ever in doubt, read the stories of the lives of these examples in the Bible. Men and women who had the dirtiest pasts and physical impediments. God wants to use you and I. Don’t let the devil fool you into believing you are beyond redemption. You are not. Especially if you are currently struggling with sin and the devil constantly reminds you of it. Know today that Jesus wants you to come as you are. As stated in 1 Cor1:27-30, God chooses the despised things. The broken and contrite hearts, the ones who know that all that they are could have only been by the grace of God. Come as you are today. You are worthy. You are loved. You are special to God. He loves every bent, broken, twisted and dirty part of you. He wouldn’t exchange you for anything else. You are worthy of His love. You are worthy to be used by Him.

God sure likes ugly.

Writer: Tomilola Adebiyi

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Navigating Office Politics – Making Lemonades out of Lemons

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What is your initial reaction when you hear ‘office politics’? If you are like me, you’ll probably scrunch up your nose in distaste. What immediately comes to mind on hearing the term ‘office politics’ is backstabbing, gossiping, spreading malicious rumours, schmoozing with the powers that be, portraying a façade in order to make the ‘right’ impression and generally sucking up to the right people to get ahead.
Most people’s initial reaction is to stay far, far away from office politics and just bury their head in their work, believing that their hard work would eventually pay off. Excellent work ethics are great, but you need to pay attention to what is going on in your workplace to avoid sabotaging your own career.

Office politics is present in all workplaces – big or small. If you are seeking career growth, its important to be politically savvy. Thankfully, becoming politically savvy is an acquired skill, one that you can develop over time. You can develop this skill without compromising your integrity. To do this, you need to pay attention. Understand that your work alone will not get you promoted. Be aware of what’s going on in your company. Here are a few things to bear in mind as you navigate the maze of office politics:

i. Power & Influence: Who has the power and influence over your career? Spend time analysing the organisation’s chart. Sit back, observe and then draw a map of political power and influence in your organization (not necessarily by job rank or title). Figure out who the real influencers are? Who is the brains behind the business? Create visibility with the influencers and build a strategic network of allies who can advocate for you in your absence.

ii. Identify the Rules: What are the written and unwritten rules of the Company? Pay particular attention to the unwritten rules i.e. the socially acceptable norms in your workplace. A good example of an unwritten rule is where the employee handbook provides for a 40-hour work week. On your first day at work, you arrive at 9am to find out that everyone else in your department have been there working since 7:30am. What happened? There is an unwritten rule that you need to arrive work 90 minutes before the boss and stay an hour after the boss leaves. Note that this rule is not written any where in the employee handbook, but what happens where you fail to comply? Will you get promoted? Very likely not.

iii. Develop strong interpersonal skills: You need to develop a keen sense of perception and excellent emotional intelligence in order to decipher people’s emotions and understand the best approach to deal with them. Consciously choose your reaction to every situation. Your basic instincts when faced with uncomfortable office politics is to fight or take flight. However, it is important to understand that these aren’t the only options available to you. It is necessary for you to take a step back to reassess the situation before reacting. Learn to actively listen to others. Slow down, focus and learn more about the people around you.

iv. Don’t be naïve: Be purposefully in all your interactions. Avoid fuelling the fire and joining negative politics. Maintain your professionalism at all times. Avoid passing on rumours without taking the time to carefully consider their source, credibility and impact. Don’t rely on confidentiality. It is safer to assume that whatever you say will be repeated, so choose carefully what “secrets” you reveal. Don’t take sides and avoid getting sucked into arguments. Where conflicts arises, work on finding a solution that is possible to find a solution that satisfies everyone.

v. Study the company culture: what is the prevalent culture at the company? Female-friendly? Gender-biases? Does the company’s values align with your values? Will you be given the opportunity to showcase your talent in this environment?

Office politics does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. Practicing “good” office politics can help you promote you and your team’s interests fairly and appropriately. Being sensitive enough to identify “bad” politics will also help you avoid some tricky situations in the workplace.

Sources: Forbes Women article by Bonnie Marcus – “What I learned about office politics that changed my career”; “Great Leaders Embrace Office Politics” by Michael Chang Wenderoth, April 11, 2016 Harvard Business Review

DIWPRTEAMNavigating Office Politics – Making Lemonades out of Lemons
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UPSTREAM 4.0 IS HERE!!!!

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*For Facebook:*

*Final Reviewed Copy Edited*

It is that time where every instrument of outreach is being pruned and sharpened for the Kingdom.

It is unusual, radical and apostolic in nature.

The revival is on and hence a huge recruitment of the Lord’s generals is on-going for the army that will war to win.

Your place in this is to be a part of the endtime generals that will go to the battlefields to expand, extend and explore territories of the earth for the establishment of God’s Kingdom Agenda.

It’s that time to equip women in Leadership, Enterprise and Ministry who are emerging from unknown terrains to take over the Mountains of the earth, take on unchartered courses, tear down anti -God systems and institute the Mountain of the house of the Lord.

UPSTREAM 4.0 is the formation ground for His endtime agenda.

Come join other women to be equipped and prepared for the day of the Lord which is NOW.

Save the Dates!!!!!

Register TODAY by clicking on the Link below👇

UPSTREAM 4.0 2019

We rise Strong!

See you at UPSTREAM 4.0!!!
#UPSTREAM2019
#TheEmergence
#deborahinitiativeforwomen
#LeadingWomen
#KingdomEntrepreneurs
#MinistryGifts

DIWPRTEAMUPSTREAM 4.0 IS HERE!!!!
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IT IS TIME FOR THE DAVID DANCE

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If you hear the sound of a danceable beat right now, would you rock your body and have some fun? Maybe yes.

For me, I’m a born dancer especially when it comes to ”alujo” (the music made with by the talking drum). Regardless of time and space, I will still shake my body to the rhythm. That’s my own simple invitation to dance.

There have been countless moments in my life, when I was battling serious life issues, and I literally needed God and God alone to intervene.

But once alujo comes on the scene, I momentarily forget about my problems. Don’t call me what yorubas would call someone like this- “Alajota” (hired or passionate dancers) 😋🤩

Whether you are like me or not, there’s a special kind of dance that transcends every issue facing you in that moment. This dance comes from a heart that is perpetually joyful in and out of season. It is the David Dance!

David danced over 2000 years ago but it is still a point of reference today and I will tell you why!

Oya let us sing first 🎼🎵🎶🥁🎹🎺🎻🎸🎷🎤When the Spirit of the Lord is upon my soul, I will dance like David danced. I will dance (2×), I will dance like David daaanced. 💃💃💃🕺🕺🕺

The Scripture says in 2 Samuel 6:14 “And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment.” This was when the Ark of the Lord was brought back to the City of David, David’s long time dream fulfilled.

But can you imagine a whole King dancing without holding back or being self conscious, praising the King of all the earth, while the people watched him?

“I still have things that I’m trusting God for, but let me give thanks to God for this one that He has done, it’s been a long time coming”, David must have thought to himself.

This dance became a point of reference because it came from the very core of David’s spirit, the King of God’s most precious people on earth, he was in his priestly robe, he danced with all his might and his only audience was God even though many eyes were on him.

Beloved, it is time for the David Dance. Okay, call it your own dance – Nike’s Dance, but can you do it with all your heart and all your might, from the depth of your spirit, in your priestly form, with God being your only audience.

This is why you have to do this – You may be trusting God for an intervention, a breakthrough, healing, restoration, provision, marital fulfillment etc. This dance is proof that you are assured that He didn’t bring you this far to leave you. It’s your way of thanking him for all He has done in the past, because you know He will do much more, even beyond your expectations. This dance is an invitation to God to turn everything around for your good. This dance is proof that you have asked God to have His way and you are grateful eternally for all He has done for you. This dance is thanking Him for the breath you breathe and all the blessings that money cannot buy.

It is time for the David Dance! Switch on the music. TGIF!

Written by Adenike Akinbode

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Compassion in Marriage

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It is true that no two marriages are the same. Also, godly wisdom has taught us that there are appropriate dispositions that strengthen the bond between a husband and wife. Many times, marriage requires sacrifice that seems humanly impossible, and we may sometimes believe our partner is undeserving of it. By the virtue of living together in our unvarnished form, we are likely to hurt each other’s emotions. Most hurtful and inimical experiences couples have in marriage are inescapable. It is like the literal setting of rice and beans that are forever inseparable should they be cooked together as one dish. As much as the imperfections of one challenge the latitude the other can afford, there is also an absolute possibility that marriage can be as beautiful, glorious, fun filled and fulfilling as God purposed it to be. Increasing one’s capacity to show compassion to a spouse, is one of the scriptural principles that would help us have the blissful marriages we desire.

The scriptures have established the truth that the relationship between Christ and The Church typifies the marriage relationship between a man and woman. One element that is impossible to miss in the relationship between Christ and the church is Compassionate Love. A demonstration of love at its peak is what we received from Christ when He died in our place, and this while we were yet sinners. Even after we had expressed our faith in Him and accepted Him as our Savior, we have had our moments of shortcomings but His outstretched arms still pull us because He is full of compassion towards us. Jesus is ever before the Father interceding for the imperfect church that she might be made perfect. He has sealed believers with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption that they might be presented holy and blameless. Scriptures recorded events where He listened with compassion, replied with compassion, taught with compassion, looked upon men with compassion, and fed people with compassion. This is because LOVE has the absolute, no gain-saying capacity to win people over.

In our marriages, we daily need measures of COMPASSION. When one slips, compassion should move the other to help them stand up. When one is weak, compassion should move the other to help them regain strength. When both have divergent needs at the same time, compassion should guide one to satisfy the other’s need first. Compassion should move one to intercede for the other, to respond in love and respectfully. We should show compassion as people who got it when we didn’t deserve it. Christ will reign in a home where there is compassion because it is at the core of His being.
Just as Apostle Paul urged the people of Colossae, ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ (Colossians 3:12) we should urge ourselves to be compassionate, so that our homes may be filled with all that is of Christ.

Grace to you and me in Jesus name.

Writer: Adenike D-light.

DIWPRTEAMCompassion in Marriage
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WHAT DO YOU SEEK

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Many times, my son would come to me, searching for something and ask ‘Mummy, where is it?’. My usual response was to ask him if and where he has searched for it. His usual response would be “Yes, mummy. I have searched everywhere and cannot find it”. Knowing where the object of the search was located, I’ll refuse to search for it. I was certain that my son had not searched thoroughly for what he was seeking. So, I would lovingly ask my son to keep searching.
I remember listening to Pastor Tolu speak about her mum, the late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya, who would tell her to ask the Holy Spirit whenever she was looking for something around the house. Wow! I love how we can free to totally rely on the Holy Spirit for everything, even the seemingly small matters.
Thinking about how I made sure my son searched until he found what he was looking for, Matt 7:7-8 was dropped in my heart. I could liken it to how God treats us Christians by asking us to search so we can find.
Matt 7:7-8: Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
This passage is full of action words, which I believe were used deliberately because there is an attached responsibility. The same way God took responsibility by sending His only son to save the lost, He expects us too to take some responsibility. The example of the woman who was looking for a coin is quite instructive. She swept all the house, called on her neighbors, lit up her lamp and engaged in a thorough search until she found the missing coin. When she found the coin, she was full of joy and called on her neighbors to rejoice with her for finding the lost coin. No wonder heaven rejoices for every soul won into the kingdom. (Luke 15:7 -10)
In Prov 24:14, we see that finding wisdom is sweet to the soul. And when it is found, you get a bright future and your hopes will never be cut off. There is joy at the end of every search but we can only have the joy if we are ready to search thoroughly.
There are many things we seek today but Jesus told us that we only need to find God to get it all. How desperate are we to find Him? Jesus said we shall find him if we seek him with all of our heart. (Jer. 29:13) It is not enough to desire God, we must seek Him to find Him.
Imagine losing your very expensive mobile phone, you would search thoroughly for it and you wouldn’t rest until you found it. Just like we would thoroughly search for the things that are important to us, God wants us to seek after Him with all our heart. God himself is seeking after souls and He desires to use each one of us to gather these souls. In order to achieve this mission, God is drawing our hearts to Himself so we could find Him and when we find Him, He can use us for His glory. God is a great rewarder and not a user.
Remember we seek by taking responsibility and taking action towards what we desire.
What do you seek?
Shalom!

DIWPRTEAMWHAT DO YOU SEEK
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EXCELLENCE IN SERVICE: LESSONS FROM DANIEL

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I really love reading the book of Daniel! It sets out the remarkable story of four Hebrew young men whose excellence was undeniable even in a strange land. And the best part is that this same principle adopted by the young Hebrew men can be applied in business or career today by Christians. In today’s article, I will be focusing on the life of Daniel, one of the four Hebrew young men.
Lesson 1: When we are determined to put God first in our business and careers, God will bless the work of our hands and supply all we need to excel.
We were first introduced to Daniel in Daniel 1. King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon had just captured Jerusalem. He ordered his chief of staff to select the finest young men from Judah’s royal family – men who were well-versed in every branch of learning, gifted with knowledge and good judgment and suited to serve in the royal palace. He wanted the best of the best. These young men, born into prominent royal families were then taught the language and literature of their captors, Babylon. Their training was for 3 years after which they would serve the king.
Let’s pause and reflect on this for a minute…. Imagine the resentment that these young men were entitled to share, they lost their prestige, riches and position only to become servants, at the beck and call of their captor king. Not only that, they had to learn a new language and culture by force. And to make things worse, they even got a name change!! Babylonian names for that matter. They were stripped of their identity – language, culture and names. They should have been angry at God for failing them and letting them down.
“But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.” Daniel 1:8
In the midst of all this events, Daniel and his friends did not forget their God. In verse 17, we see how God rewarded their faithfulness, “God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom, and God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.”
Growing up, I recall taking the common entrance exams and getting a very high score, I was informed by my principal that I was qualified to attend the Suleja Academy, a National Centre for nurturing gifted and talented children. I ended up going to another school, but I can imagine how competitive the Babylonian training school was for Daniel and his friends. Yet, God made them stand out in excellence because they honoured him.
Later on, Daniel and his friends graduated from the training school and attended an interview with the king. And they wowed the king with their intelligence so much that the king found them to be ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.
Lesson 2: Only God can make us stand out from the pack. Not the work of our hands alone.
My first year at the university was really bad! The first semester, I was barely settled into a routine when it was time for tests and exams. Needless to say, my results weren’t great. Second semester was even worse. I sometimes joke about it now that I got all classes of grades except F in my first year. And I wasn’t lazy. I studied but it just was not translating into results. One day, I decided enough was enough. I told God that I was tired of working like an elephant and eating like an ant. I told him I needed his help, I could not make it without him. My life, in its entirety, was nothing without him. I prayed and cried that day from the depth of my heart. And God heard. That marked the turning point for me at OAU. And I learnt a valuable lesson…. Not by power nor by might… but by the Spirit of God. If we want excellence, we need the Spirit. Without the Spirit, we are nothing.
Lesson 3: Guard your reputation zealously, in career or business. Be purposeful about the kind of reputation your colleagues and clients take away when they come in contact with you.
Daniel served King Nebuchadnezzar, then his successor King Belshazzar. Once again, Daniel’s reputation preceded him.
“But when the queen mother heard what was happening, she hurried to the banquet hall. She said to Belshazzar, “Long live the king! Don’t be so pale and frightened. There is a man in your kingdom who has within him the spirit of the holy gods. During Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, this man was found to have insight, understanding and wisdom like that of the gods… This man Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, has exceptional ability and is filled with divine knowledge and understanding. He can interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.” (Daniel 5:10-12)
Wow! What a resume! What a character reference! What a reputation!
Word travels fast…. Especially bad news. Your reputation is your market value. If you were to take stock today, what value do you think your reputation has in your industry? Are you known for doing good work? Or are you known for tardiness, gossiping and a general lackadaisical attitude to work? Do you go to work each day determined to do an excellent job or do you just go in to fulfil all righteousness and get paid?
Lesson 4: When you are excellent at what you do, you will break glass ceilings and make strides in your business and career.
After King Belshazzar, came King Darius. And yet again, Daniel was chosen as an administrator to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interest. Yet again, Daniel proved himself more capable than the other administrators and high officers, his peers. As a result of his exceptional ability, the king planned to place him over the entire empire.
Daniel, a foreigner, was going to be placed over the entire Babylonian empire. He was about to be put in charge of his own captors. How amazing is that? This reminds me of the story of Joseph, the slave boy who was made Prime Minister in Egypt. The common trend in both men’s lives was their excellence and total commitment to God.
“Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible and completely trustworthy. Therefore, they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.” (Daniel 6:4-5)
They could not find any fault whatsoever with the way Daniel handled government affairs. Can this be said about you? If your work was audited today, will it be found blameless? Will you be found faithful, always responsible and completely trustworthy?
Lesson 5: Again, back to lesson 1 – Put God first. Pray incessantly. Prayer changes everything. Prayer changes you.
After Daniel’s enemies realized they could only attack him through his religion, they went to the king and asked him to pass a law to ensure that if anyone prays to any other person (divine or human) except for the king, that person would be thrown into the lion’s den. The king passed the law.
“But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” Daniel 6:10
What would you have done if you were in Daniel’s shoes? How many times have you been faced with decisions either in your business or in your career, which threatened your faith in God? How did you respond? Did you put God first or chose ‘self-preservation” first?
Daniel’s faith was no secret. Even the king knew about it. Daniel did not hide it. He prayed in the open window of his house three times daily. Everybody knew that yet the king still found him worthy to lead the Babylonian empire. After Daniel’s enemies came to the king to tell him they had caught Daniel praying, the king tried to save him unsuccessfully. After giving orders for Daniel to be thrown into the Daniel’s den, the king prayed that Daniel’s God whom he served faithfully will rescue him. He spent the night fasting and could not sleep all night. Very early the next morning, the king was at the lion’s den calling out to his beloved Daniel. Lo and behold, there was Daniel, untouched and unscathed. For he had trusted in his God.
Daniel was not just excellent in business, he was excellent in his service to God. Praying incessantly three times daily is no mean feat. Many of us lack the willpower and consistency to even pray once a day. If we want to enjoy excellence in all we do, we need to be excellent in our relationship with the Father. There are so many lessons to be learnt from the story of Daniel. I hope that this article encourages you to spend some time reflecting on his life and applying some of the principles to your own life.

Writer: Tomilola Adebiyi

DIWPRTEAMEXCELLENCE IN SERVICE: LESSONS FROM DANIEL
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