God

Google and the Holy Spirit

An advert ran in the Nigerian media recently that featured a child asking her mum several questions which she could not immediately answer. Finally the child said to her mum, ‘Why don’t we ask Google’, to which her mum replied, ‘Good question’.Google

Google is a popular search engine this side of the world at least. I reckon that in China, Baidu is the equivalent of Google to them. We all use Google to get answers on the Internet, from quick updates on trending topics to resources for a thesis. And with their Chrome explorer, it becomes easier to quickly do searches on your smartphone, tablets, laptops, etc.

Almost everyone has enjoyed the help of Google at one time or the other. As funny as this might sound, the search engine has saved several relationships from a breakup or at a least a quarrel over who was right on an issue. Matters have been resolved by a simple search. Google seems to have the answer to everything you ask it. Once something is not clear, almost by reflex action, we turn to Google.

Google is accessible. Google knows your location. It knows your preferences and can return search results based on your preferences or browsing history. The information provided is increasingly reliable. And this is so because the information provided is usually tailored to your search preference, location, etc.

Google provides answers and does that quickly depending on your internet connection. So why ask God for His opinion on a couple of choices when Google can give you enough information to make a reasonable decision almost as quickly as you want it.

People ask Google questions and expect a sincere answer. Some of the top personal ‘Why/What’ questions on Google include:

  • Why did God make me?
  • Why did God make me ugly?
  • What is the meaning of love?’

So, when God said He would send the Holy Spirit who would teach us all things, was He referring to Google? Absolutely not!

There are several life defining decisions Google would not be able to make for you. Google does not know God’s purpose for your life. Google would make suggestions based on a man-made algorithm which is just but a guess. God alone knows what is absolutely right for you at any point of your life. God has a plan for you which only He can reveal to you. He does this through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows the heart of God and can reveal it to us (I Corinthians 2:9-10).

How close are you to the Holy Spirit? Have you sought His counsel today? Maybe you think He is not speaking to you again or maybe you are sure you have never heard Him before.

First you have to expect to hear from Him and then you have to listen for His voice. You also have to be willing to follow His counsel.

Some try to select what they need His counsel for. We usually want to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us on big issues – who to marry, what career path to follow, what business idea to invest in, what city to settle in, etc. But if we have not learnt to hear from Him on little things, we most probably would miss His counsel on the big things. Start to involve the Holy Spirit in the small matters. Involve Him in your plan for the day as ordinary as it may appear. Seek His counsel before you step out to visit that friend. Ask for His thoughts before you raise that issue at the departmental meeting. Ask what He thinks before you make that dress choice.

You would be pleasantly surprised to know He is interested in all that and can help you choose right. The same way you hear Him speak to you on the small issues is the same way He would speak to you on the major ones.

He wants to be involved in our lives to guide us on the big and little decisions we make. He can teach us the things we need to know and solve the mysteries Google has no clue about. So while Google continues to serve us in the ways it can, let remember that our ultimate Helper is the Holy Spirit.

 

Thought check: How can I improve my relationship with the Holy Spirit?

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OF TIME AND VALUES

I took some time to reflect on the passing of time and its effect on our lifestyle. I thought about the impact time has had on our values and how we have changed our preferences over the years. I realized that what was hype to my generation a couple of years ago is now old fashioned. And what we were crazy over a decade ago now has a distaste in our mouths today. What we built our lives around before has suddenly become an unwanted relic in our space.Pebbles

Material possessions come and go and even an insurance policy cannot keep them longer than their determined lifespan. At best, you would get a replacement. Take a look at your parent’s house and look through the things you find in the house. Now imagine you want to build a new house for your parents and equip it for them making it as comfortable as you would for them. I bet a lot of the stuff they had in the old house would be given out, sold or destroyed. Those stuff would have no place in the new house. You might consider such things an intrusion in the new ambience you are trying to create for your parents. Now, some of those things which are now unwanted were da bomb in the years past. It appeared there could be nothing better than those items. We held unto them dearly and acquired more and more. Remember the TV in a box with shutters in front that now has a broken tube or the lovely 1980’s suitcase we were eager to take on a trip because we thought it just showed class. What about the trending fashion styles of the 90’s you had in different colours? Now you probably would be ashamed of wearing them today. Of course, there might be similar styles because of the fashion cycle we are sucked into, but it would not be that exact item, if you get what I am saying.

Time also has its impact on values. Time can appear to strengthen values and it can also erode them. Over time, we have redefined the values of beauty, confidence, devotion, faith, individuality, love, truth, … the list goes on. But I have learnt (and I am still learning) to reinforce the fundamental essence of certain values, placing value on the things that matter most – my relationship with God, my marriage, my family and the relationships I have built with people around me. The wind of time would blow over the things we hold on to, to twist and redefine our values in varying ways. We need to hold on to the things that matter most – things that bring real benefits, the things that money cannot buy. Know that material possessions are temporal and we can always get better ones. But getting a messed up value system can wreak a future. So never have a heartbreak over the loss of a material item. God is bigger than it.

Focus on nurturing the values that define your life. For example, nurture the habit of giving and generosity. Let giving be a very convenient virtue and not an act of compulsion. There are things you really can do without. There are some things you really would not need in future, contrary to what you think now. Bless someone else with those items. They would bless you from the heart. Remember, what you give out has not left your life, it has just become a sown seed in your ground. Luke 6:38 in the Message translation says, Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.

Be generous with words of appreciation. Find good things to say about people around you. When you condemn, criticize negatively and put others down, you have not improved your own life and you have not blessed another either. But when you appreciate others and speak kind and positive words, you attract goodwill, you speak into your future and you bring a smile to the face of another – which is never a bad thing to do. Proverbs 16:24 says, Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Everyone has the capacity to appreciate others and to do so generously. If you can have a conversation with anyone, then you can appreciate someone. You only have to make up your mind to be more appreciative than critical.

You would also want to place value on your relationship with God. You could determine not to let anything interfere with that relationship. This is one relationship, like the one with your spouse and family, which must improve with time. You should be able to look back and say you have become more intimate with God over the weeks, months, years… Are we reading more of His Word, are we spending more or less time in prayer and communion? Has there been a change in attitude and character? Or are we explaining away our shortcomings, taking our acquisitions as a sign of God’s approval? Dear friend, time must have a positive effect on our relationship with Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

These are just some values that time must strengthen. You can keep getting better if you focus on what matters most in your life. These would always be relevant to your world and would never go out of fashion.

Thought check: What are my core values? How important were they to me five years ago and how important do I think they would be five years from now?

 

FINDING GOD WITHOUT A GPS (PART 2)

Sometimes, making sense of what God is up to in difficult situations can appear awkward. For some, it could be likened to looking for the colours of the rainbow on a monochrome painting or seeking out the rays of the sun on a dark stormy night. But I want to assure you – and please take this from me because God said it – that God’s love is everlasting and His faithfulness is eternal. So regardless of what you see or feel, His attributes and thoughts toward you remain unchanged.

This is what I have learned…

Don’t stereotype God. Sometimes we try to compartmentalise God and fit Him into a particular mold, possibly based on what people around us have presented as their own view of God. So we expect Him to behave or respond in a certain manner. When we relate with God that way, it is easy to get disappointed, anxious, or impatient. We can also miss God’s movement when He acts. In I Kings 19, we read of God’s revelation of Himself to Elijah the prophet. God told him to stand on a mountain before Him. There was a great wind, then an earthquake, then a fire before a small voice. Elijah might have expected the fire, quake or wind to be markers of God’s presence as He most likely had heard or experienced before. Remember He had just seen God come in a fire to consume the sacrifice on Mount Carmel. This time God chose to come in a whisper.  As you progress in your walk with God, you actually find out that the more of Him you know, the more of Him you realise you don’t know. Of course, He is God. He is infinite and cannot be completely known by a finite being. If your mind is fixed on seeing the hand of God in a certain way, you can easily miss out when His hand shows up in another fashion. I have learned this on so many occasions leading me to appreciate the diversity of God. You get to know that really, God ain’t boring. Have a mind that is open to the multi-faceted demonstrations and instructions of God through His Spirit. A lot of the workings of God may go against the traditions you have held unto or even stories that have become doctrines in some churches.

Be mind-full of God. I have heard my pastor, Kola Falayajo use this phrase once and again. God reveals Himself to those who seek Him. Those who have God in their thoughts can more quickly spot a touch of God in any situation than those who give little thought to God or who only think of His presence or absence in the ‘pit’ moments. This is not about being in the church auditorium every day of the week or at every service – which is not bad in itself – but about living a God-conscious life every second of the day, 365 days a year. As we carry on with the business of life each day, what role does God play in our decision making? Is he at the back of our minds or on the front burner? Even for the simplest of choices, decisions or actions, we should bring the influence of the God we know to bear. When your thoughts are about pleasing God in all you do, you would see Him manifest in more ways than you can imagine. When there is a consideration for what God thinks about what you are about to do or say, you endear yourself to Him and you see His signature on everything about you. And even when the dark moments come and you are wondering what role God has played or not played, finding His help is easier because you have a mind already conditioned to seek Him.

Feast on His Word. Now, my premise for this point is that it is a settled fact that the Bible is the Word of God.  John 1:1 says, In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. From this scripture, we can infer that if we find God’s word, we have found God. More specifically, a revelation from the word of God is a revelation from God. I encourage people to read their Bibles and know what God actually says. A lot of folks are content with receiving a ‘word’ from their pastor or prophet but seriously, get the WORD from God by feasting on the word. Make a conscious and deliberate effort to take out time to ready the Bible and seek to get an understanding from the Holy Spirit about what you are reading. Have a culture of just reading the Bible at any time, not just at your quiet time or prayer time. It helps build a good support for a God-conscious mind.

God works in very ordinary ways but He doesn’t act randomly. He is quite deliberate in His dealings with us.  I pray that you would be overwhelmed with His goodness, love and faithfulness as your eyes and heart go after Him.

Amen.

Still in His grip.

FINDING GOD WITHOUT A GPS (PART 1)

Recently, I travelled with my family to a city I wasn’t very familiar with. I had a car to move around with but I needed help getting around to the places I wanted to visit. Fortunately with Google Maps on my phone and with the aid of the Global Positioning System (GPS), I was able to navigate my way to those places. Even when I missed a turn, it was quite reliving to see the app automatically re-plot and display the next suitable route to my destination. But interestingly, Google Maps didn’t know every place I was going to and I had to use the nearest identifiable location and figure out the rest of the trip. It was still a decent helper anyway. With such levels of technological advancements as we have today, could we possibly someday, find God by some form of technology, maybe by the GPS?

One established fact is that God is not searching for us. He sees us and knows our location every time. He is omniscient and omnipresent. He can reach out to us at any time. And because He is God, He can choose to manifest Himself to us in a new way at any time. The question is, ‘Would we recognize Him when he reaches out to us? We might be looking out for the miraculous or some physical show of unusual powers, because we think that is what we need and that that is what would indicate the touch of God in our lives.

People think a supernatural manifestation would change their situation. They look forward to some ‘light, camera, action’ sort of display from God. Folks want to see the dramatic, eye-popping and jaw-dropping… to be convinced of the workings of God. Interestingly, God Himself knows that not all spectacular displays of His power draw people to Him. As we see around us this days, such displays for so many people produce a momentary high before they are back to where they were before. In Luke 16, Jesus told a story of the rich man and brother Lazarus who both died and went to different places – one to hell and the other to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man wanted Lazarus sent back to preach to his siblings, expecting that a revival would occur because someone had come back from the dead to preach to them. But father Abraham told him that if Moses and the prophets who they had with them couldn’t help them, neither would a resurrected beggar bring any change.

God might reveal Himself in a supernatural way and He can also decide to reveal Himself in very ordinary circumstances. Some times when we pray, we ask God to demonstrate His power as if a failure to do so would put a dent on His reputation. We say such things like, ‘show your power in my life so that people would know I serve a living God’ or ‘change this condition of mine so that my faith in you is strengthened’. But the truth is that God has nothing to prove to anyone. He owes no one any explanation for what He does or doesn’t do. God is not on trial here. He is not in the dock.  He has a pedigree that outlives eternity. There is no event or circumstance that can smear his reputation. The heavens already declare the wonders of God and the skies show what He has done. He is God and He calls Himself I AM. This name represents all our finite minds can visualise about God and much more.

The kind of relationship God wants to have with us is one in which we love Him more for His person than for His acts. Such love keeps our focus on Him and helps us know Him better. So whether He comes with the brightness of the sun or wrapped in a cloak of darkness, we can still recognize Him and walk with Him.

In the concluding part of this writing, I would share some tips I have learned on finding God without a GPS.

A new persecution

I struggle with evangelism. I also struggle with presenting my faith to others. Sometimes you wonder if it’s the right place or time to do so. You wonder if you would be able to say it right. You are scared of being called a religious bigot or if you are in the right spiritual or mental state to do it. But one thing I have come to realise is that what Paul said in IITim 3:12 (Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.) is actually true and is being fulfilled among us even unknowingly. One of the aims of persecution apart from making us deny our Lord is to keep us from witnessing (both are related anyway). The early Christians had it rough, being burnt alive, fed to lions, sawn into two, etc but we are having it rather subtly but equally deadly. Friends hush us or make fun of us when we sound too ‘Christian’, office and school policies are not too favourable. And equally importantly, our mindset, strongly influenced and shaped by the media, would make witnessing out of place when we try to. Our faith and values are seriously being weakened by the internet and media since most of what is thrown at us is anti-God. So a thousand and one opposing thoughts bombard our minds when one thought about shining God’s light comes to mind.
One of the things the devil does when we try to speak for Jesus or the truth is to remind us that we are not particularly any better. He reminds us about our faults. But I believe that if I do something wrong and realise it is wrong and turn from it; I am justified to tell someone else who is doing the same thing that it is wrong without feeling bad. That doesn’t make me a hypocrite; it only means I don’t want you to make the same mistake I made. I think that is witnessing too.
Let us make a simple decision to change our style of praying. Focus more on praying according to the word of God. Pray that God’s priorities would become ours. Ask God to teach us the secrets of pleasing Him. And remember to always pray for others too. And like I have discovered from personal experiences – sincerely – God would always cover your back. That surely does not rule out warfare prayers because we are still soldiers for Christ engaged in battles.
Also in our present world we must make a very conscious and deliberate attempt to stay connected to God via his word and in prayer. There is so much pressure around us, from work or school, from friends, from the media, etc, that hearing from a pastor on Sundays and during mid-week services is not enough. Satan is very busy at his assignment of stealing, killing and destroying and we too should be busier at growing in maturity and talking to others about Christ. It requires discipline and actually setting goals for ourselves, for example concerning how many chapters of the bible we would read in a day, how long we would pray, friends and places we would stop visiting, etc. Yes you might say it is easy to start but difficult to continue. But I say start first. And each time you stop, start again. Very soon, you would be starting everyday to do what you purpose to do. Catch my drift?