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Be in good health

General healthy eating guidelines – Carbohydrates

By Hannah Ng’uni

 In today’s post and subsequent posts, we will take a closer look at what healthy eating is and what makes up a balanced diet one food group at a time. The Eatwell Guide (Gov.uk, 2016) will be just that, our guide to achieving that balance daily. The focus is on the nutrients we get from these food groups and their role in the body.

 If you have any medical conditions, please seek advice from your GP before making any dietary changes.

The Eatwell guide (2016)

Carbohydrates – the basics

Unfortunately, there are so many myths about carbohydrates, some have led to people cutting out the whole food group from the diet however it is important to understand that it is a combination of the portion size, frequency, type of carbohydrate and the food you combine your carbohydrate with that makes a difference. It would take more than one post to explain carbohydrates in great detail so here are basics.

There are two main types of carbohydrates: simple sugars and complex carbohydrates (starch and dietary fibre).

Simple carbohydrates consist of single ‘sugar’ molecules like those naturally occurring in fruits, vegetables and double ‘sugar’ molecules i.e. table sugar, honey, milk and dairy products. Products such as syrup, jams, sweets, fruit juices, fizzy drinks, biscuits, chocolate, cake are classed as ‘free sugars’ (added sugars) within this group.

In 2015 the Government’s guidelines on sugar changed significantly to push a reduction in intake of ‘free sugars’ due to health risks associated with high levels of consumption.

 

Complex carbohydrates structurally are made of many ‘sugar’ molecules some linked in straight chains and others branch off, this affects how they are digested and absorbed in the body. Starch is a complex carbohydrate stored in plants, sources include grains (wheat, rice, corn, oats, millet, barley), legumes (peas, beans lentils), potatoes, yams, cassava etc. Most starches are easily digested in the body.

Dietary fibre, however, does not get digested but can be partially broken down in the large intestine then absorbed to provide energy to the body. There are various types of dietary fibres defined by how they present in plant cells walls and the structure of the sugar’ (glucose) units – like starches. Food sources include wholegrains, rolled oats, legumes, lentils, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables.

Why eat carbohydrates?

During digestion, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which is a body’s source of fuel for energy. Most cells in the body, the brain, red blood cells and nervous system rely on glucose for fuel. Some glucose is stored in the liver to regular blood levels, some is stored in the muscle and used to fuel muscle activity. If the body is not getting carbohydrates, fats and/or proteins will be converted to glucose to supply energy and meet the demands of the brain cells and red bloods cells that need a constant supply of energy.

Fibre remains undigested until it reaches the large intestine where it is partially broken down (fermented) by resident bacteria and is still used for energy. Fibre is seen to be beneficial for promoting a healthy gut and immune system. Fibre also helps to reduce constipation, lower cholesterol levels and help regulate blood glucose levels.

It Is important to include a variety of fibre foods in your diet to benefit from the different roles in the body. Should you wish to increase your fibre intake, be sure to also increase your fluid intake.

The current recommendation for fibre intake in adults is 30g and this can be achieved daily by having 5 a day (mixture of fruits and vegetables), including wholegrain foods or starchy options to meals and choosing high fibre snacks instead of high fat/sugar foods. Aim for 3-4 portions of carbohydrate-containing foods a day.

In conclusion

Carbohydrates are not the enemy and remain a key component of a healthy balanced diet. Remember, it is the portion size, type of carbohydrate, frequency of intake and the type of food you mix your carbohydrate with that will have the biggest impact on your nutritional intake. It is advisable to consult your GP if you have a medical condition before making changes to your diet.

 

Additional information:

British Dietetic Association (2021) Carbohydrates: Food Fact Sheet. https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/carbohydrates.html

British Dietetic Association (2021) Fibre: Food Fact Sheet. https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/fibre.html

 

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When health and purpose meet

By Hannah Ng’uni

An often-cited definition of health dates back to 1948 by World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. However, over the years, this definition has been debated and found to be unrealistic as many people would be categorised as unhealthy at any time point. A newer proposed definition of good health speaks of a persons’ ability to adapt and self-manage when met with various challenges be it social, physical or emotional. Whatever definition you identify with, the point remains that health relates to the whole being.

As alluded to in the previous post (May 2021), we can conclude from the Bible that God desires for us to be well physically and spiritually. I believe this is an important aspect of living a fulfilling and purpose filled life because; 1) God is about people and 2) He has created us for a purpose (2 Timothy 1:9) not just to live for ourselves (Psalm 100:3). Therefore, it is safe to say His purpose for our lives would be linked to people or involve people in one way or another and being well or healthy puts us in a better position to serve this purpose.

Not to say someone cannot serve God when unwell but for example, if my diet were poor or unhealthy and do not engage in any physical activity, my body would be weak, lethargic; my mood would be low, and I would unlikely be motivated to do anything. Helping someone, talking to someone about Jesus or even reading the Bible would be the furthest thing from my mind. My physical, spiritual, mental and emotional state would all be affected. How then can I serve God’s purpose for my life this way? I could sit there and pray to God for strength etc but if I do not take the steps to make changes to my diet and lifestyle, it would all be in vain.

I hope you get the picture.

Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually]. 3 John 1:2 AMP

John’s prayer to the elder Gaius is my prayer for the body of Christ because we have work to do.

For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]. Ephesians 2:10 AMP

Now that the foundation has been laid, we will look more closely at different aspects of healthy eating in upcoming posts.

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Be in good health

Be in good health

By Hannah Ng’uni

Nutrition is a broad topic, can be complex, sensitive and at times controversial depending on who you are speaking to. But want stands true across the board is that we all want to be well and live healthy lives and good nutrition is key to maintaining good health. Food is fuel for the body but in the same way that putting the wrong fuel in a car damages the engine with costly implications, putting the wrong food in our body can cause ill health with effects on quality-of-life overtime. Exercise is also an essential part of good health.

A recurring thought crosses my mind as I reflect on my Christian journey thus far and the different churches I have followed in recent years, ‘how come we do not talk much about nutrition?’. We are quick to pray away the conditions linked to diet e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes etc but not address what we eat. This is not a criticism at all, just an observation and I am sure there are many reasons for this that would make for an interesting discussion another day.

The Lord wants me well.

What has become apparent on this journey is that the Lord cares about every aspect of our lives and desires for us to be well in spirit, soul, and body. It is not the Lord’s will for us to be unwell, in the Gospels we read how Jesus went about healing all sicknesses and diseases (Matthew 4:23, 9:35). Some people believe Jesus put sickness on them, if that were the case, why would He go around healing? How can you want someone sick and well at the same time? That belief is not in line with the person of Jesus. Because He is faithful and remains the same (Hebrews 13:8), we can conclude that sickness if not from Him and He heals even today because He wants us well. Amen somebody!

Spiritual and physical health.

Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually]. 3 John 1:2 AMP

This was John’s prayer for Gaius, one commentary suggests John “affirms that Gaius is indeed well off spiritually, and he prays that Gaius’ physical health would match his spiritual health”(W. Hall Harris III, 2004)

So, is it possible to be spiritually healthy but physically (nutritionally) unhealthy? Yes, I believe so. Somehow, we separate the two or not pay as much attention to our physical health, I have been convicted of this during prayer. Another commentary interestingly stated that “many Christians would be desperately ill if their physical health was instantly in the same state as their spiritual health” (David Guzik, 2018), wow! A ‘selah’ moment right there. Let us prosper in our spiritual and physical health.

My desire is for us as believers to have an awareness of what we are putting in our body and how it would affect us short term or long term. To make healthy eating a lifestyle not just a ‘once-in-a-while’ option. My desire is for us to experience all round wellness – spirit, soul and body.

 In the next post, we will discuss health and purpose. God bless

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God wants to work through you

By Belina Sithole

The book of Esther shows that God works through people to fulfil his purpose for our lives:

·God gave Esther the gift of beauty, and this gift allowed Esther to find favour in the eyes of the King

·God used Mordecai to save the King’s life from the guards who were plotting to assassinate him

·God used the palace servant who was reading to the King to bring Mordecai’s kind actions to the King’s knowledge

·God used Esther and the King to bring proud Haman down. Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall

·God used the King to save Mordecai’s life from Haman’s plot

·God used Esther, the King and Mordecai to save the Jews from their enemies

We also learn that it is important to be wise and humble in all situations, continue to do God’s work and he will lift you up in due time.

Esther 10:3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.

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God Saves and Rescues

By Belina Sithole

Esther 9:1 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned, and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.

God lifted Mordecai from a man that used to sit outside the palace gate to a powerful man that was in a position to write decrees in the name of the King and write orders to protect his people. Mordecai was loyal to his King by saving his life from the guards that was plotting against him, and in turn, the King saved Mordecai’s life from Haman’s plot.

God saves and rescues us from trouble and situations that we are not even aware of.

Esther 9:4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.

Esther 9:29 – 30 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom—words of goodwill and assurance.

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Wisdom and Purpose

By Belina Sithole

Esther 8:3 Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews.

Esther 8:5 – 6 “If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if he regards me with favour and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. 6For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?”

Esther had now summoned the courage to ask all her requests, but she asked wisely, not asking for everything all at once, she had planned her requests. As you can imagine how demanding it might come across asking the king to come dine with her, then on the same day ask that he grants her her life and that of all the Jews. She waited until each request was met then ask for the next.

From this passage we learn that we should apply wisdom in all situations and make the most of the opportunities presented to us.

Ephesians 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  

Esther also revealed that she was related to Mordecai and Mordecai was appointed over Haman’s estate. Mordecai then wrote a new decree in the king’s name on behalf of the Jews

Esther 8: 11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies.

Esther’s purpose was beyond being a beautiful queen, her beauty was a gift she used to fulfil a purpose to save her people from a massacre. We all have God given gifts which we were given to fulfil our purpose.

You might not know what your gift or purpose is yet, but the best thing we can do is focus all our efforts on God and everything else shall be revealed to us.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

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Favour

By Belina Sithole

The King and Haman were at the second day of queen Esther’s banquet when the kings asked again what Esther’s request was, to which she finally answered:
 

Esther 7:3 “If I have found favour with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.

Esther was the queen but even she had to be humble before the king and phrase her request in a way that didn’t come across entitled. The king loved her so much that he was willing to give her anything, but Esther was wise enough to not take this love for granted.

It’s easy to feel entitled and expect special treatment in some situations but we can see that humility goes a long way.

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Esther clearly had found favour before the King, in Chapter 5 we saw that she went before the king without being summoned which is punishable by death but he allowed her to see him, and here she phrases her request in a flattering and polite way.

The king was furious to hear Haman’s plans and he had Haman killed on the same pole he had set up for Mordecai.

Esther 7: 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” The king said, “Impale him on it!” 10So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

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Opportunities and God’s plans

By Belina Sithole

Esther 6:2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.

3“What honour and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.

“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.

In chapter 6 we see how Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, had previously exposed the guards who were plotting against the King, and it just so happened that the night the King was struggling to sleep this is the story that gets read to him…coincidence? I do not think so, I think God was at work here.

God knew that Haman, the King’s right hand, was planning to kill Mordecai and God used this opportunity to bring Mordecai’s loyalty to the King’s knowledge. When Mordecai saved the King, he did not do this to be rewarded or find favour with the King.

When we do something nice for someone, we usually expect to receive something in return or at least some sort of acknowledgement, from Mordecai’s situation, we learn that its best to act out of our own kindness and leave the reward to God as he will work it out in his time. Ecclesiastes 3 teaches us that there is a time for everything.

As we go with the chapter, Haman is under the impression that he is the one that the King wants to honour when he asked, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honour?” As anyone would, he lists all the things that he would like to receive only to find out that the honour was for Mordecai!

Esther 6:11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honour!”

This was humiliating for Haman, the man he is planning to kill is the same man he is parading around the city! God timing is always perfect, had Mordecai demanded to be rewarded for his actions earlier on this would not have worked out the same way it did.

Let us put our trust in God and wait on him because he got it!

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

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Discern the time

By Hannah Ng’uni

‘Then Esther answered and said, “My petition and request is this: If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfil my request, then let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.” Esther 5:7-8

On the third day of the fast, dressed in royal robes, Queen Esther went into the inner court and appeared before the king. Remember one was permitted to go there uninvited (Esther 4:11). This was a courageous. It is no coincidence that she summoned up the courage on the last day of the fast, I believe God directed her and gave her the assurance that she would be protected.

Queen Esther found favour in the sight of the king (Esther 5 vs 2), he did not hesitate to extend his welcome and offer, twice, to grant her request whatever it would be (vs.3 and 6). It seemed like Esther was hesitant to mention the request at the first banquet. You would think with the pressure she was under, as the only hope for her peoples’ deliverance, that she would have immediately said it. But I believe Esther was operating in wisdom and being attentive to God’s direction regarding the right time. God had a plan but it was Esther’s part to trust in His timing and be willing to obey.

The Bible says there is a time for every matter, and it takes wisdom to discern that right time (Ecclesiastes 8:5-6). Sometimes we may have our own agenda or life plan mapped out with times allocated for when we would like something to happen. No, there is nothing wrong with planning ahead and setting smart goals, that is great. The point is there may be certain decisions we need to make with the guidance from the Lord. Like Esther, sometimes it may take setting aside some time to fast and pray. Ephesians 5:15-17 says we should be wise, make the most of every opportunity and understand the will of God.

So, let us seek the Lord’s wisdom to discern the time because He knows the end from the beginning and accomplishes His purpose.

‘declaring the end from the beginning

    and from ancient times things not yet done,

saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,

    and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ Isaiah 46:10 (ESV)

For this weeks bible study guide

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Courage under pressure

By Hannah Ng’uni

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”. Esther 4:15-16

If you have ever needed courage and wisdom to do something you knew would take more than your own strength accomplish then you may identify with Esther or at least be encouraged by her stance should you find yourself in such a situation.

The king promoted Haman to second in command, servants started bowing to him, Mordecai refused to follow suit. Haman was not pleased and sought to destroy all the Jews, a decree was signed by the king and word went out (see chapter 3). This was distressing for Mordecai, the Jewish people and Esther when she found out, Mordecai directed her to appeal against this to the king because so many lives including hers were in danger. There was a sense of urgency given a day was already fixed for this horrible deed (3:13). Talk about pressure!

Initially you sense Esther’s fear in her response to Mordecai, she had what sounded like a valid excuse. No one could go before the king uninvited as per the law, the price was death (a bit harsh) and she had not been called in to see him for a month – the reason is beyond this post but aren’t you glad we can come confidently before the throne of the King of Kings Jesus anytime without an invitation?!

Mordecai’s response was so profound (Esther 4:13-14), essentially he reminds Queen Esther that if fear is holding her back, she would die either way as she was not any more protected by the palace walls once the king found out she was a Jew. He stirs up her faith and helps her see that she was in a privileged position to be used by God as part of His plan to deliver the Jews, her silence would not stop this plan but deliverance would come another way. The reason she found favour and was promoted to queen was not just about her beauty but was all part of a bigger plan and purpose.

Something awakened in Esther, fear turned into faith and courage to be obedient, there was a realisation of purpose and her heart turned away from self-centredness, “if I perish, I perish” (vs 16) is such a bold stance! She committed herself to serving God by serving His people.

‘Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others’. Philippians 2:4

She recognised the need for spiritual strengthening and wisdom, we see this from the call to the Jews to complete three days prayer and fasting before she went before the king.

‘Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered’. Romans 8:26

Prayer

Lord help us to recognise that you have a plan and a purpose for our lives, that You who has created and called us for such a time as this has also equipped us with everything we need to fulfil that purpose. Holy Spirit we cannot do without You. We come against fear and we declare courage and boldness over our lives. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Inner beauty

By Hannah Ng’uni

The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Esther 2:17

In chapter 2, we meet Esther, a lovely and beautiful young Jewish woman. An orphan raised by her cousin Mordecai as his own daughter.

Some years after Vashti was dethroned, King Ahasuerus’ servants felt it was time for him to find a queen, a decree went out to all provinces in his kingdom for young beautiful virgins to gather at the palace under a custodian of women Hegai. Esther was taken to the palace and something about her stood out to Hegai, she found favour and received preferential treatment including everything she needed for the 12 months of beauty preparations before meeting the king. When it was her turn to meet the king, Esther she did not request any special jewellery or clothes like the others and kept to what she was advised. The king fell in love immediately and wasted no time in crowing her Queen Esther.

Esther’s humble heart and grace in this chapter that set her apart, it is no wonder she found favour in the sight of all who saw her (vs. 15). She was humble enough to follow Hegai’s instructions during the preparations, 12 months may have sounded like a long time to spend preparing just to meet the king for one night but I believe this was more than just a physical but also a spiritual preparation. Do no negate your time of preparation, there is always a due time (1 Peter 5:6).

Esther was also wise enough to obey Mordecai’s guidance not to reveal she was a Jew just yet for her protection. There was also an element of faith in God and trusting in His timing as the events in her life unfolded, we will explore this further on day 4.

In this chapter, we see that beyond a physical beauty, was an inner beauty of the heart more pleasing to God.

‘Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God’. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Before you ask, no there is nothing wrong with taking care of your outward appearance but what is more precious to God is a gentle and gracious spirit. Let what is admired about you be the condition of your heart, a heart after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

What do you learn from this chapter? Feel free to comment, would love to hear from you.

For this weeks study guide click the link below

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A costly but bold decision

By Hannah Ng’uni

“But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him”. Esther 1:12

This weeks’ bold Bible woman is Esther later known as Queen Esther. To fully appreciate her journey, we need to build some context. In chapter 1, we are introduced to a wealthy Persian King Ahasuerus who reigned over 127 provinces. There were still several Jews under Persian rule at the time.

In his third year, the king hosted feast lasting a total of 187 days at the palace, that is some feasting! On the last day, in a drunken state he commanded some of his princes to bring his wife Queen Vashti to show her beauty to the officials gathered but she declined. This displeased the king which lead him to consult men skilled in law about what he could do because the queen disobeyed the command.  Likely out of embarrassment and to maintain respect in his kingdom. As per his advisors, he decides to dethrone her and accepted to make a decree that men should rule their households so ‘all wives will honour their husbands, both great and small’ (vs. 20-22). According to the Persians, the law could not be altered even by the king.

Before Esther comes into the picture, I would like us to consider the woman in today’s chapter, Queen Vashti, from a different perspective to what she was portrayed here – a disobedient wife and bad example to the others.

When she received the request, she was placed in a difficult position; go out and parade herself in front of drunken men or refuse and face the consequences. We are not told in the Bible why she refused; some commentaries suggest due to the nature of the event, her display may have involved lewd behaviour as the king wanted to show off her beauty. It is unlikely he would have made such an unreasonable request had he not been in a drunken state. What I see is that Queen Vashti made a bold decision to maintain her modesty and dignity even at the cost of her royal position (Esther 1:19), she could not bring herself to dishonouring her body and comprise her values. Though I imagine it was not a decision made lightly.

As a woman in today’s society, you may find yourself faced with a decision that, if you say ‘yes’ may lead you to compromise your faith, dignity, morals, values, modesty etc or cost you something e.g. loss of a job, business opportunity, friendships, comfort, status etc if you say ‘no’. So how should you respond as a Christian?

We learn from Daniel that we must choose to obey God and purpose in our heart to do what is right and pleasing to Him. God will always honour His word and provide direction. Daniel was known for his excellent spirit, faithfulness to God and his custom of praying three times daily. He was steadfastly committed to God and did not compromise on this (Daniel 1:8-9). When he decided not to worship King Darius, it almost cost him his life, literally! He was thrown in the lions den but the Lord protected him, he was not consumed ‘because he believed his God’ (Daniel 6:23).

Last week, we explored the decisions Ruth made and how God turned things around for her. I encourage you to read the blog post and listen to the podcast.

So, remain steadfast and in close fellowship with the Lord. Purpose in your heart that you will not comprise His word. Put your trust in Him, He delights in directing your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Happy International Women’s Day!