Chapter Seventeen: A Place to Belong

You are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian ~ Ephesians 2:19b (LB)

  • Being a Christian does not only mean believing; it also means belonging. Just like my eyes cannot perform their function on their own except attached to my body, I can’t fulfil my second purpose in life (i.e. loving others) unless I belong to a living, local church.
  • I love the part about the church being a place to test our maturity. So true! It’s just like I’d be all good and patient if I’m home alone all day but a trip to the market may change that! I may meet an annoying meat seller that’d test my patience. The same way, interacting with other imperfect Christians (like me) would test me, thereby facilitating my spiritual maturity.
  • Am I doing enough in being a church member and not just a church attender? Do I need to commit more? Is there any such thing as doing too much (AKA Martha syndrome)? 🤔🤔

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Chapter Sixteen: What Matters Most

No matter what I say, what I believe and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love ~ 1 Corinthians 13:3b (MSG)

  • After learning to love God (worship), learning to love others is my second purpose in life. Relationships are what matter most in life. I mustn’t become so busy with life (schedules, timelines, meetings, work KPIs, business hustle) that I forget to live (nurturing relationships by giving time, energy and attention required). A life devoid of love is worthless.
  • The importance of things can be measured by how much time I invest in them. What/who do I devote the most time to (consciously or unconsciously)? That thing or person is my object of Love. I have to be intentional about realising how I spend my time lest I unwittingly wander into the terrain of idolatry.
  • Procrastinating love may lead to regrets because tomorrow’s not guaranteed in that sense. Think about couples who hadn’t been nurturing their friendship in the past and imagine how the lockdown period would have been for them… Whatever awkwardness and resentment going on for them would be “payment” for not “loving in the moment“! Perhaps during the “normal days”, the husband saved the hugs and affirmations for “special days”… Perhaps the wife piled up resentment in her heart and refused to forgive. Perhaps a minor disagreement lingered and escalated, building up to something bigger. I must always grab every opportunity to show love. It can mean ignoring my IG feed to play a silly game invented by my daughter… It may mean taking my eyes off the report I’m working on to listen attentively to the gist Mr G is giving me, even if it is for the 9th time 😁… It may mean pausing by my colleague’s desk to ask “how are you?” and really meaning it… It may also mean immediately calling a friend who crossed my mind and not saying “oh l should check up on her later”.
  • The best use of life is love. The best expression of Love is time. The best time to love is now!
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Chapter Fifteen: Formed for God’s Family

See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children, and we really are! ~ 1 John 3:1 (NLT)

  • God is big on relationships and that’s why He created us. However, not everyone created by God is His child. Being His child begins with being born again into God’s family.
  • My spiritual family is eternal while my physical family is temporary.
  • Being a member of God’s family grants me access to many benefits here on earth and an unperishable and priceless inheritance in heaven. This eternal inheritance (not retirement) is what my eyes should be fixed on. Having an impressive retirement savings is great but if that is all I’m working towards, then it’s foolishness.
  • My self esteem and worth is rooted in the fact that God is my father and that I have the privilege of belonging in His family.
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Chapter Fourteen: When God Seems Distant

The Lord has hidden Himself from His people, but I trust Him and place my hope in Him ~ Isaiah 8:17 (TEV)

  • My challenges do not change the fact that God is God. Even when He seems absent, He remains real. The hardest thing to do is worship in the midst of pain and trials. I know this so well! There was a time that I’d just “bone” God when it felt like He was ignoring me… kinda like tit for tat 😆 How silly! That doesn’t do any good at all… I learned over time that me beefing God doesn’t change His status! So instead of keeping malice with Him, I tell Him exactly how I feel… Whatever emotion it may be – hopelessness, anger, despair, even envy. The thing is that whenever I unload my feelings to God, I usually feel lighter even if it’s just for some time
  • Focus on who God is – His unchanging nature: Circumstances can change but God can NEVER change. He is good. He wants the best for me. He loves me. He is with me. He will never abandon me… These are constants. Keeping these at the back of my mind gives me the strength to hold on in challenging times. What I always tell myself is that God can bring something beautiful out of the pain I’m going through (Romans 8:28)
  • Trust God to keep His promises: Rely on His promises not on my feelings. God is not a man that He should lie. I can take His word to the bank. I think the problem we have as humans- well if I speak for myself- is that we have timelines we feel (there’s that word again) things should happen. We forget that God’s timing is unparalleled. One thing I must always remember: When God says a thing, He does it!
  • Remember what God has already done for me: To be honest, after I read this sub-heading, I assumed the accompanying write up would say something along the lines of how we should remember past answered prayers and how God intervened during our times of difficulties. How shortsighted! Actually, the agonising death of Jesus on the cross to pay for my salvation is the ultimate reason I should always be thankful and always know that God is for me: In view of all this, what can we say? If God is for us, who can be against us? Certainly not God, who did not even keep back his own Son, but offered him for us all! He gave us his Son — will he not also freely give us all things? ~ Romans 8:31‭-‬32 (GNB)
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Chapter Thirteen: Worship That Pleases God

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength ~ Mark 12:30 (NIV)

The kind of worship that pleases God:

  • Accurate worship: Not my personal made up version of God. My worship must be based on the truth of the scripture and not my personal opinion.
  • Authentic worship …(with all your heart and soul): Genuine and heartfelt worship. Like I always say, God is the expert heart checker and if my attitude is wrong, my “worship” is worthless! The best style of worship is the one that most authentically represents my love for God… If I’m not dancing exuberantly like the person next to me, it doesn’t mean I’m not worshipping right…Maybe I’m not just a dancing person…🤷 I may be a “lifted hands” person… What matters most is that I’m being both accurate and authentic
  • Thoughtful worship… (with all your mind): Giving thought to the act of worship and not just chanting some customary prayer. If worship is mindless, it is meaningless. Being specific is also key…When I think well, I will thank well. I think recording a gratitude journal helps in being specific in worship.
  • Practical worship… (with all your strength): Worship with my body which involves sacrificing my time, my will, my money…even when not convenient or comfortable.
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Chapter Twelve: Developing Your Friendship with God

Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you ~ James 4:8 (NLT)

Just like any other of my friendships, I must be intentional in cultivating my relationship with God

  • Honesty and authenticity are very vital for me to be close to God. My take is that He already knows my most hidden emotions anyway so why pretend? 🤷 Being real is what God wants. Realising that God has my best interest at heart will always redirect my negative emotions to praise and thanksgiving
  • Total obedience (in faith and trust) to God is another way to develop my friendship with God. Not out of duty or fear but rather out of Love and gratitude for all He’s done for me💜. I obey Him because I know He wants to bless me and would never mismanage my life
  • I love love the part that says we don’t have to do something “great” to please God. He is interested in the little things we do that may not even be noticed by others as something ghen ghen… God is not a man… He is an expert at “heart checks”… In that “little thing” I’m doing whether it be serving as a wife, mom, sister, daughter or friend… Whether it be being kind to the cleaner at work… Whether it be showing empathy to a colleague going through a challenge… God is pleased as long as I’m doing it to His glory

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Chapter Eleven: Becoming Best Friends with God

Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence Him ~ Psalm 25:14a (LB)

Jesus’ death on the cross granted me direct access to God. Being friends with God is not just a casual relationship but a close and trusted one. It is intimacy with God. This involves more than just having alone or “quiet” time with God. It involves staying aware of God’s presence in everything single thing I do. It means “carrying Him along” and never excluding Him in my thoughts and actions.

Worship is not an event to attend but a PERPETUAL ATTITUDE. Worship mustn’t be complicated. Rituals and ceremonies are not necessary. Simply just “being” – doing all that I do for and unto God – is sufficient.

  • Practising the presence of God… Deliberately thinking about God throughout my day… Training my mind to remember (be conscious of) God. This is something that I’ve been doing and it has changed my attitude for the better.
  • I love the comparison Rick made between worry and meditation. The same way I can make a problem seem bigger than it is through worry is the same way I can magnify God by meditating on His word. When I think about God’s word (and also talk about it with my husband – we do this a lot), He speaks to me and reveals deep knowledge and insights to help me live better.
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Chapter Ten: The Heart of Worship

Give yourselves to God… Surrender your whole being to Him to be used for righteous purposes ~ Romans 6:13 (TEV)

  • The heart of worship is SURRENDER. God wants all of me not just some of me. He’s an all-or-nothing God.
  • Ironically surrender in this sense is so different from the popular definition which depicts losing or being subdued. When I surrender to God, I actually experience freedom; freedom from the world’s standards, freedom from people’s opinions, freedom from myself even. I don’t lose anything when I yield to God instead I gain everything! I experience victory
  • The more I realise how much God loves me, the easier it will be for me to surrender to Him
  • Surrendering is not passive resignation and also doesn’t mean suppression of my personality. This is why we see different personalities of people who God used: Paul was a pure choleric 😁 David seemed like he was melancholy 🤷, Peter was definitely sanguine and I think Abraham had some phlegmatic traits. This reminds me of a prayer I usually pray over my girls. They are both very strong willed and I always pray that just like Paul, God will use their strong will for His glory.
  • Lithmus test for surrender? When I rely on God to work things out instead of short cuts, forcing an issue, being controlling, defensive, competitive or selfish and self serving
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Chapter Nine: What Makes God Smile?

May the Lord smile on you… ~ Numbers 6:25 (NLT)

This chapter opens my eyes again to just how remarkable Noah was! 5 cues from him on how I can make God smile:

  1. Loving God more than anyone and anything! Loving Him even when it’s unpopular and “uncool” to do so. Putting Him above being politically correct and socially acceptable! Noah loved God even when no one else did. I think the problem is that most times we have a problem with “being the odd one out”… But just because everyone is doing something doesn’t make it right… My utmost goal and desire should always be to please God and maintain a close relationship with Him
  2. Trusting God completely is another way I can make Him smile. Noah’s trust ehn! Totally amazing! Like how did he do it?? Never seen rain, yet he went ahead to build the ark😳😳. Mehn… I tend to be logical o…Mr G is the “take a leap of faith” person in our union… But I am learning that to completely trust God, I have to let go of my logic when it comes to obeying Him because truth is that His ways are not my ways! And the wisdom of man is foolishness to God! So, I’m learning to always remind myself that God wants the best for me and believing that He would keep His promises to me even in the face of discouragement
  3. Wholehearted obedience! Wow! This table ehn… Several occasions after something unpalatable happens, I’d say something like “and something told me to do so and so”. That “something” is Holy Spirit and me ignoring the instruction led to the unpalatable happening. Most times, I don’t heed the voice because the instruction doesn’t make sense to me (see the logic thing again?🤦) Understanding can wait but obedience can’t… Obedience is what unlocks understanding. Pleasing God requires that I obey Him completely, exactly and not grudgingly… If not, I might as well just disobey with my full chest 🤷 Also, I cannot be selective about what I want to obey… Obedience to God is not multiple choice where I can pick some options and leave some. God is an all-or-nothing God. Remember the scripture about lukewarmness? (I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth ~ Revelation 3:15-16)
  4. Continuous praise and thanksgiving to God. Praising God for who He is and thanking Him for what He does pleases Him
  5. Using my abilities and being authentic. Not trying to be someone else. God also enjoys it when I enjoy His creation. Every act of enjoyment becomes an act of worship when I thank God for it. Basically, God loves me being me! His love is not performance based. He loves and likes me at every stage of my growth. What matters most to Him is the attitude of my heart…my motive; if pleasing Him is my utmost desire. He loves me as if I’m the only person on earth! 💜
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Chapter Eight: Planned For God’s Pleasure

You created everything, and it is for Your pleasure that they exist and were created ~ Revelation 4:11 (NLT)

  • Mind-blowing Fact: God finds me delightful and important. I exist for His pleasure! So why should I have low self-esteem when God considers me valuable enough to want to spend eternity with me? Why should I wait for validation from someone before I feel significant when God already validated me? This is the sole basis for my self worth: God’s complete interest in me… His relentless love for me… 💜
  • Worship is NOT for my benefit! I was just smiling as I read this part. There’s this church in my neighbourhood where the singers sing off key and I find myself critiquing and evaluating 🙈😀. But I usually have to remind myself (and my partner in critiquing, Mr G 😁) that they are doing the best they can and if they are worshipping God sincerely, then He accepts it and that’s what really matters🤷
  • Work becomes worship when I dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of His presence. I must do everything as unto the Lord… An act (and attitude) of worship!
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