Every Believer at one point or another has struggled with hearing from God. I hear things like "Am I sure that was from God?", "I thought I heard from Him but I guess I heard wrong", "I don't know when it is God and when it is me", "God doesn't speak to me".
Many struggle to identify God's voice or impressions especially at times when they need to hear from Him the most because they are not used to His voice.
There is only one formula - to be used to someone, you have to spend time with them.
By spending so much time in God's presence, you become familiar and used to Him. You know when it is Him and when you are not yet sure. You know when to move and when to just wait, you know when it is a 'yes' or it is a 'not right now' or a 'no'. You also know when God is silent and you trust His silence! There is just some kind of trust you have and so you are hardly ever deterred or anxious about things or about the future.
That is where God wants all of us to be in terms of communion and fellowship with Him. Being millenials however, we want things right here right now or else we bounce. God is not like that. He is looking for a long-term relationship, pretty much a marriage with us i.e. for the long haul, forever and eternal.
He is also the same God who appeared to many people in the Bible each in a unique way. See some examples:
The Old Testament
*Abraham - He visited Abraham together with two angels to tell him His plans (Genesis 18:1)
*Isaac - He appeared to Him to tell him not to go to Egypt even though going sounded like the rational thing to do (Genesis26:2)
*Jacob - He physically wrestled with Jacob and then blessed Him (Genesis 32:24)
*Moses - He appeared to Moses (showing him His back only) to reveal Himself and His attributes (Exodus 34:6)
One common thing about those God appeared to was that they had a consistent and growing relationship with Him. He desires this and you would be surprised at how your life would transform if you imbibe such a rhythm. One of communion and fellowshiping with Him, as well as putting Him first, that is, saying to Him "What would You have me do?", "What is your kingdom agenda for me Lord?", "It is not about me but about You."
God also sends His angels and speaks to us through visions, dreams, words of prophecy and knowledge.
Here are some examples of people He sent angels to in
The New Testament:
*Joseph - An angel was sent by God in a dream to tell him Mary would bear Jesus Christ (Luke 2:9)
*Zechariah - An angel physically appeared to tell him Elizabeth would bear John the Baptist (Luke 1:11)
*Peter - An angel physically appeared to him to release him from prison (Acts 12:7)
*Cornelius - An angel appeared to him in a vision to tell him to locate Simon Peter (Acts 10:3)
Even in the New Testament, God was still sending His angels to people - both young and old; so why do you think He also cannot appear to or speak to you in a unique way? (For other appearances of God and His angels to people in the bible, see here.)
It is time to get back to making God our everything and putting Him first in our lives. We need to spend more time studying His Word. We tend to be getting lazier in our generation but that is truly the secret - The Word. Today, there are tonnes of resources online to help us navigate the Bible in an easier way so we should leverage them and not miss out on so much goodness that awaits us even in this lifetime!
May God bless us all as we do! Amen
This Week's Listening:
Everything by Israel Houghton
Yikes! I don’t know about you but the most daunting task for me as a new believer was soul-winning. It always seemed so unappealing and I had no interest in it. Many believers feel the same; evangelism activities are usually glossed over when trying to plug one's self into serving at church. Yet that is the main reason why we are here – to love and glorify God, and to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Loving God means doing things that are pleasing to Him and giving Him glory means doing things which gives only Him honour. By sharing the Good News with others, we are putting God first and honouring Him and His word [Mark 16:15]
Loving our neighbours means we want them to enjoy the same benefits of being a believer as well as make heaven. It doesn’t matter what religion - our primary primary purpose is to share the Gospel of Christ with our neighbours, in love.
This is where it is tricky though. I always felt it took a lot of liver to speak to someone who is Christian but not necessarily a believer talk-less of approaching someone who practices another religion. Scary stuff. However in the final analysis, God categorises everyone as either believer or unbeliever. It is neither about being a good person/having been born into a Christian home/being the child of a preacher nor is it about doctrines and practices. God's only trigger for salvation is the conscious acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour into one's heart [John 1:12, 3:16]
In shying away from it altogether, many believers would give reasons such as:
1) "I am sure I can just pray for him or her from afar, that is fine too."
Counter Argument: The reason you are here is to serve God and to be used as a vessel by Him for His Kingdom expansion. It is more rewarding to be proactive in doing so and also willing. [2 Timothy 2:21]
2) "I am still trying to work out my own salvation and I am not a mature Christian. Shouldn't it be a pastor doing that?"
Counter Argument: God can use anyone, it doesn’t matter when you came to know Him [Jeremiah 1:6-8]
3) "I am neither social nor an extrovert and find it hard to talk to people."
Counter Argument: God's strength is made perfect in your weaknesses, the key is to just let Him use you [2 Corinthians 12: 9]
Now to the approach. Most people imagine soul-winning to be standing by the roadside with a megaphone or distributing tracts to others or even preaching on buses. If that isn't really your scene (not mine either), there are modern ways to evangelise such as:
- Simply talking to others
- Music (singing, writing)
- Social Media
- Organising events (e.g. movies, soccer games, book-readings, similar interest groups)
There are so many channels, the key thing is to find how you can share the Word with authenticity, care, trust and transparency.
So get going, some people's clocks are ticking! Here are two very apt songs for some motivation! The bottom line is to move your ego/interests aside so He can use you:
1) I Give Myself Away by William McDowell (video)
2) Background by Lecrae (video)
God bless you! Please leave a comment :o)
...were the words that came to my mind when I got yet another tragic piece of news recently. I wondered, why me? Why now? Why after all the challenges I have been through in life? Shouldn't God at least pardon the fact that I have been through stuff so I deserve some level of immunity? But no.....yet another trial. Rather than mope like I did shortly after I lost my mum, this time I had a different resolve - God cannot leave me hanging this way. He will show up for me, whenever, however - it's fine by me. This is the cross I will bear, for whatever reason.
Then another thought came to my mind - who am I to say "why should this happen to me?" After all, a lot of unfair things happened to Jesus Christ - He was lied against, spat upon, beaten, bruised, whipped and even killed, true story! It is funny how we forget and regard ourselves so highly that we think going through trials is something that should not happen to people like us, but again I guess it is our human nature.
The scripture James 1:2 really did my head in on several occasions, it goes as thus - Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Whenever I read this passage, I thought, okay.... so how about those who don't go through such trials of many kinds? How come they get to just bask and enjoy their lives while some of us have to consider 'pain' as 'joy'? I could never connect with the passage and it became so cliché that I would quickly flip past it whenever I came across it during my study. However the word of God is the ultimate truth and the thing that gives God the sweetest smelling glory is when we rejoice in our pain and suffering. In fact it drives the devil mad. It is as though - "why is he/she not down where we want him/her to be after that sudden blow, why is he/she rejoicing?" It doesn't add up - and the truth is it SHOULDN'T add up for satan. Whatever pain or difficulty or trial or challenge or mountainous situation you are going through, you MUST find a way to rejoice in God our father, and genuine rejoicing too. Our primary purpose for being on this earth is to give God worship ALL the time; even before our earthly matters such as family, work and other life considerations.
My pastor, Godman Akinlabi always uses this saying - "Don't waste your pain" and then he decided to preach about it. That single sermon changed my life forever. Do you know you can use the challenges you are going through to expand God's kingdom? Lol - super bizarre but God's ways are not our ways. Check out this verse:
2 Corinthians 1:4 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows
This is truly amazing, how else can I help or minister to someone in a situation if I have not been through it myself? Does it surprise you how the most unusual guest preacher who comes to preach at your church, who has no accolades to his name and had what some might refer to as a very 'undignified life' before he got saved, always wins more souls at the end of service, more than the PhD, English speaking, renowned pastor? If you haven't noticed, try and observe it next time. Human beings connect more with reality, with people who have been through real life situations because if God could bring the person ministering to them out of that mess, then they believe that God can do it for them too.
So your pain should not be some soundtrack on repeat in your heart and mind, rather use it for God. You don't have to stand at a podium to minister to people - you can give of your time, share encouragement and the Word at work, write or blog :), you could share someone's burden or do something unconventional for God. Don't waste your pain.
If you believe you will break through according to God's will i.e. you have faith, then you will! However, focus less on how the breakthrough will come and use the time you have to really expand God's kingdom. He needs you, even in the situation you are in now.
If you have never had a relationship with Jesus Christ and you want to take a bold decision to accept Him, leave a comment so I can connect and pray with you. (Comments are not posted without moderation so your privacy will be kept)
A song for your listening pleasure: Even when it hurts (Praise Song) by Hillsong United
God bless you,
For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place:
14 “This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation, And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
17 There I will make the horn of David grow; I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame, But upon Himself His crown shall flourish.”
I want to lay down a few definitions before we go into this scripture. Many people are often confused as to what Zion in the bible truly represents.
Zion: The word Zion has a broad spectrum of meaning that is greater than any one single entity or identity because Zion was also known as the seat of power for the kingdom of Israel but also for the Kingdom of God. We know that it is a place that God loves and cares deeply about because the city is also associated with God’s chosen people, Israel.
Zion is used interchangeably with Jerusalem in many Scriptures so any time you see the word Zion used it is referring to Jerusalem, the City of God, the City of David, the people or nation of Israel or the people of God and sometimes typifies God’s place of rule or where His presence resides” [Jack Wellman, Patheos]
Essentially, this means Zion today, represents you and I (being God’s children)
Choose: The dictionary defines choose as: “to pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives”
Dwell: Other words for 'dwell' include reside, live, be settled, be housed, lodge, stay.
If we apply these definitions to verse 13, it gives it much greater meaning –
"The Lord has picked you out as the best or most appropriate. He has desired to live in you. He says you are His resting place forever and in you, He will be housed for He has desired you."
…and we all know that where God dwells, blessings exist [Recall the story of Obed-Edom and the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6:10-11]
This scripture outlines the so-called ‘blessings’ that exist where God dwells. They include:
- Divine Ability
- His Name
I found the last blessing in this list a bit strange when I came across it during my study. However think about when you hear of a dodgy situation or an unpleasant story about a person, and you say “I don’t want my name associated with this thing or I don't want my name associated with that person”, it is the same thinking. Although in this case God is saying “I want My name associated with him or her!”
God desires to dwell in you and I. How do we know this?
First of all, from the passage in Psalm 132:13-18, His word says so.
Secondly, having accepted Christ as your Lord and Saviour, there is a sweet smelling aroma that comes from your ‘house’ to Him, thus He singles you and out makes living in you His objective and His desire.
We must also note that once God has chosen, He will never turn from it - so His choosing to dwell in you is not by virtue of your works, your being good or ticking ‘Christian’ boxes, it is as a result of grace, His covenant and love for you.
This should give you confidence then, that the aforelisted blessings (and more) are yours because you are God’s dwelling place. You are special to God. He self-selected you to rest in you forever; you should also rest in Him forever and favour should be your mantra.
God bless :)
Matthew 14: 1-11
When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee,[a] heard about Jesus, 2 he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.” 3 For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). 4 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet. 6 But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, 7 so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. 8 At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” 9 Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. 10 So John was beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother.
I read Matthew 14:11 this morning - "and John the Baptist's head was brought on a platter to Herod" and I thought, but this man was a servant of God, a prophet, what a brutal way to die?!
It is one thing for God's child to be imprisoned, we say it is for the glory of God, then the person is killed and we say they are martyrs but when they are killed in such a brutal manner, it makes me wonder where God is.
Why did God allow this to happen?
It is a question we have asked several times. This took me back to a conversation I had recently with a friend - about why Christians die untimely deaths, are killed in accidents, etc.
· Why would God allow His daughter to be killed during a kidnap?
· Why would God allow a pastor to die in a plane crash?
· Why would God allow a little child to die from a surgical mistake?
There are these questions in the bible too....
· Why would He allow Stephen to be stoned to death?
· Why would He allow John who served Him fervently to be beheaded?
Why would He allow Job to lose every single thing and be afflicted so much?
The truth is we never will really be able to fathom everything like God does (His ways are not our ways). However in the absence of sin and spiritual attacks (i.e. we strike out as a possible option), when such things happen, the final deduction is that it happened for God's glory.
Even writing it still makes me shudder - it is hard to agree that God allowing my mum to die from a seemingly simple medical procedure back in 2012 is for His glory.
But then we forget....
Why would He allow Jesus Christ to be killed/murdered in a very degrading way for doing absolutely nothing wrong?
God has His reasons. I read somewhere:
"The entire affair of John`s martyrdom reeks of evil, yet God brought good out of this awful mess in that John`s faithful disciples joined Jesus Christ. " [Patty, JesusCentral]
Essentially this ‘for God's glory’ we keep referring to means God will always bring good out of a bad situation.
Sound's bizarre doesn't it? But if we think about it, when Christ died, He opened the gateway for us to access God unhindered [Matthew 27:51], all our sins are forgiven, we can go boldly to God now even when we fall and ask for forgiveness. This could never be done in the Moses days [Exodus 32:30 and Leviticus 4].
While we may not be able to translate this directly to our situation(s) on a case by case basis or we may not yet see the good (or immediate gain) in the loss of a loved one, we must allow our faith to trust that God has His reasons, a plan and will bring good out of every evil situation.
Romans 8:28, 'We know that ALL things work together for GOOD to them that love God, to them who are CALLED according to His PURPOSE for them
God does not cause calamity or misfortune to befall us; but He allows or permits tragedies, in order to prove His attributes. The reason is to train us to discern between the flesh, the spirit and the soul. Between the world and temporary things and reality. [Anthony, Bible Believers]
*God is eternal, this world is temporary
*The things of God are spiritual, the things of this world are flesh (bodies, etc)
*God has a kingdom agenda, the world has a vanity agenda (what's in it for me, instant gratification, who does society say I am or what does society say I should do?)
So, if we shift our focus to the things of God, we can begin to better accept His ways and though we may not understand every single iota, we become more farsighted regarding our final destination.
Reflection: Is there something you are struggling to understand concerning loss? Ask God for insight and boldly believe He will give this to you. If you have experienced a loss, try to shift your focus to "what is His plan regarding that situation" as opposed to "why did it happen"? Here, you are trusting that He has a much greater plan concerning the situation. God bless you