Using circumstances to label God’s will
Bible Reading: Acts 8:1-8
A brother once came to me for counseling. He said he was convinced God wanted him to embark on a particular project but all his efforts to actualize it had yielded no result. He then asked this very common question: If it is God’s will for me to do it, why am I experiencing difficulties along the way? Many Christians have found themselves in similar situations. They throw away God-given projects just because they experienced some difficulties along the way. In fact, I’ve noticed that when some believers share their difficult experiences in the projects they have embarked upon, the next suggestion you will most probably hear is – “may be it is not God’s will for you to do it”. Adversity is now popularly regarded as an indication that you are walking out of God’s will. Usually, this is not true.
Favorable circumstances don’t always mean you are walking in God’s will. For example, things went well initially for the prodigal son – His father granted his request; he traveled safely abroad; he met nice friends as soon as he landed in another city. But what was the end of his story? Similarly, Jonah was having a swell time until he found himself in the belly of a fish – he had a safe trip to Joppa even though God instructed him to go to Nineveh; when he got there, a ship heading to Tarshish was waiting for him; while on the ship, he was having a sound sleep in the midst of a raging storm. So the fact that things seem to be going on well now is not a sound basis for confirming that you are in tune with God’s will.
In like manner, unfavorable circumstances may not necessarily mean you are out of God’s will. Sometimes they even accelerate the fulfillment of God’s will in your life. The brothers of Joseph were the ones who attacked him, though they indirectly hastened his advancement towards the throne. Apostle Paul suffered betrayal from some of his closest pals in ministry. When the early believers were preaching, Bible recorded that they ‘faced a great wave of persecution’. Sometimes such circumstances are necessary to show and strengthen our conviction even as we walk in the will of God. Proverbs 24:10 says “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small”.
May be you should look back into your life to identify those areas where you easily chickened out from divine guidance/projects just because you faced a difficulty. If it is not too late, get back on track. Refuse to be a victim of circumstances. Instead, let the word of God be a lamp to your feet (Ps. 119:105) and ‘the peace of Christ guide you in the decisions you make’ (Colossians 3:15).
– tope aladenusi
The litmus test in labeling God’s will
Bible Reading: Colossians 3:9-17
As a student, I remember the first time my science teacher came to the class to coach us how to differentiate between an acid and a base. Among all the points she gave, the most fascinating was when she dipped a moist litmus paper into an acid and immediately it turned red. Right away, I felt like having a bag of litmus paper so I could apply this indicator on any liquid I see. Many believers have asked the question similar to – ‘how do I really know that it is God’s will?’ I wish I could hand them a bag of “God’s will litmus paper”. Although such a thing does not exist, there are two powerful indicators that can easily let you know if your heart messages or the prophecies from other believers are in line with God’s will:
- Is it in agreement with God’s general will revealed in Scriptures? – A young vibrant employee once took money from his company’s purse to donate to the poor and when he was accused of stealing, he said he was led by God to do so. Whereas the bible says “steal no more” whether your intention is wrong or right. A Christian lady once described her fiancé like this – ‘oh! You need to meet him; he is such an amiable, charming and caring gentleman. Though he is not a Christian, I believe God that he will change soon’. Whereas II Cor. 6:14 (GW) reads “stop forming inappropriate relationships with unbelievers. Can right and wrong be partners?”
Let’s learn from Apostle Peter. In II Peter 1:17, he narrated that he was present at Jesus’ baptism when a voice sounded from heaven saying ‘this is my beloved son’. However, in verse 19-20, he said beyond the voice, we have ‘a more sure word of prophecy in the scriptures’. It is very unlikely that God will lead you to do something that contradicts his will and nature as revealed in scriptures. So if we do not have a thorough understanding of scriptures, we will be ranking very high in the list of gullible Christians.
- Is there peace in your mind: There are times when it is not an issue of black and white, but it is of cream and white? For example, “don’t marry an unbeliever” is so clear in scripture. But amidst all believers, who exactly should you marry? In such cases where you want to know what is right for you among the goodies around, thenColossians 3:15 (GNB) gives a perfect instruction – “The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make”. As a matter of fact, I believe that all other ways God leads believers have a way of working in line with peace in your mind as a confirmation. Where there is unrest and anxiety in your mind, it may be an indication that you should exercise caution. Although sometimes we have unrest as a result of fear and not necessarily because God is saying ‘No’, it is good that we always draw a line between the two.
I believe if you make use of these two indicators, it will help you a lot in telling if a message is from God. In situations where it still appears difficult to label God’s will after using these indicators, then you should apply patience. This is because for every genuine Christian, it’s just a matter of time for you to get back to the right track.
– tope aladenusi
God’s leading through other believers
Bible Reading: I Thess. 5:13-21
As I was about to write this piece, I remembered that when I was in my teenage years, I was very concerned about my future and so I visited a prophet to make inquires about it. He made predictions about some things that will take place in my life. Although some of those things came to past, it doesn’t stop my action from being a gross expression of ignorance. Why? Hebrews 1:1-2 (GW) says – “In the past God spoke to our ancestors at many different times and in many different ways through the prophets. In these last days he has spoken to us through his Son”.
If we had existed before Jesus Christ, it would be very valid to run to a prophet when you want to know the mind of God, because that was the way God related to his people. But after the glorious death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, things have changed. The mind of God has been revealed in Jesus Christ and we have unlimited access to it if we have received Him. God said in Hebrews 8: 10-11 (MSG) “This time I’m writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts. I’ll be their God, they’ll be my people. They won’t go to school to learn about me, or buy a book called God in Five Easy Lessons. They’ll all get to know me firsthand, the little and the big, the small and the great.
Wow! We will get to know Him firsthand thereby making it easy to know His will firsthand. God does not want to breed spiritual toys that are jumping from one prophet to another seeking to know his will, but he desires to have matured Christians who are enjoying the provisions of redemption by getting to know him and his will firsthand.
Does this mean you shouldn’t listen to prophesies of other believers? No. Am I trying to say you should despise the inspired messages of your pastor? Never. I just want you to know that you have the privilege and responsibility of knowing God’s will. Any other message that comes from other believers should serve as a confirmation and corroboration to what you already know. It is a secondhand means that should be thoroughly examined before it is accepted most especially when there was no initial conviction on your part. The Bible says “… Don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good” – 1Th 5:20-21 (MSG).
But how do you examine your hearts’ messages and the ones from other believers to be sure that they are actually from God? The answer and many more insights will come your way in our subsequent messages.
– tope aladenusi
Getting familiar with God’s voice
Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 3: 1-10
If you know the exact sound of God’s voice, then it will be easy for you to recognize it whenever you hear it. Do you agree?
When believers say God spoke to them, have you ever questioned further to know how it sounded when they heard him?
Some of the Christian movies I’ve watched have portrayed God’s voice to have a very loud, husky and croaking baritone sound. So you can imagine what came to my mind when someone told me God spoke to him/her. Besides, God had been speaking to me all the while but I always disregarded it because it never sounded like what I heard in the movies. However, my story changed when I read 1st Samuel Chapter 3, where the bible gave an account of how the Lord called Samuel three times and he thought it was Eli calling him.
I asked myself the question – if the voice Samuel heard was unusually strange like what I hear in the movies, would he have gone to Eli? I don’t think so because he went to Eli three times saying ‘thou calledst me’. He didn’t say ‘I heard a strange voice’. Could it be God speaking to me during those countless number of times that I’ve been saying “Something said to me?” What exactly do I mean when I say ‘something told me’? What is that thing?
I began to study my ‘heart messages’ i.e. what I was told by this “Something”. I observed the way it came. I wrote them down. I obeyed some of them and evaluated the final result in the case where it was an instruction. I compared these messages with God’s word before making a move. I made inquiry from many matured believers. I studied some books. I also observed the trend in the bible.
What did I get from all these? First, the emphasis is not on the sound of God’s voice but on the state of heart of the recipient of a message. What do I mean? Sometimes it is loud, other times it could be a still small voice. It could also appear to be that you are talking to yourself. But amidst all, there is usually a conviction in the heart. The second thing I learnt is … I am now getting familiar with how God often speaks to me.
– tope aladenusi
Follow your heart Bible Reading: Philippians 2:1-15
Last night before I went to bed, I set my alarm clock to wake me up by 5:30 this morning. I was just about taking my sleep to the fourth gear when it started ringing. So I stretched my hand to the clock and without opening my eyes, I silenced it and continued sleeping till 7:00am. Why should I do this? – I said to myself when I woke up. My reasoning tells me that I had a lot of reasons why I should obey my alarm clock, but my earnest desire was to have some more time to sleep. And like it often happens, I followed my desire.
Most times we do not end up doing what we think we should do, but what we desire to do. There were so many times when I desired to wake up by 4:00am, and without the aid of my alarm clock, I woke up at exactly that time. There is a power that unleashes from within when you are acting based on your own will or desire. God is very much aware of this that is why one way he communicates his will to us is by ‘wiring’ them into our deepest desires.
Philippians 2:13 says it so well “…for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight” (AMP).
Do you know why I love the way the Amplified version puts it? It is because of the phrase “all the while”. Yes! All the while God has been cultivating in you the desire to start that business, but you say ‘No, I need to hear a voice’; For some years, your heart has been nudging you to end that relationship, but you say “no voice, no way”; All the while your heart has been craving to be a missionary, but no one seems to be in support of it; Your heart is ticking to buy those shares, but you say they have not risen in the past six months. Why disregard the ticking of your wristwatch because it is not a church clock. We have been saying “No” to the desires God has placed in us because we have not heard an audible voice. No wonder many are not progressing in the way that seems right to them.
You may ask, what if my desire is not really God’s will. Well, we will address this in our subsequent messages. But before that, I will like you to absorb the verse of scripture above. God is constantly at work in you to make you please him. To achieve this, he creates in you a desire/will. This ‘Will’ comes with an energy that guarantees success once it is obeyed. Look back into your life and you will see so many instances where you desired something deeply and you thought it would take ages to get it, but it came your way without difficulty. Look now at your life and you will realize that you are already experiencing some of your deepest desires of yesterday.
If genuine Christians really followed their heart, their lives will be an epitome of excitement. Above following men or trend, learn to follow your heart.
To be continued …
– tope aladenusi
Figure out God’s will
Bible Reading: Acts 16:1-15
I once met a guy who had graduated from the university for over five years and I was surprised that he had no job. Also, I noticed that he wasn’t making any effort to get a job or venture into any business. So I asked him the reason for this. He said he was still waiting on God for direction; he wanted to get a clear-cut leading from God on the particular job to do.
This sounds out of place, but many Christians behave in a similar way. Some are waiting for the so-called clear-cut leading (usually an audible sound) for their future partner, others for their profession, etc. But we do not need to wait for a voice for everything we have to do. We are to act based on our knowledge of the general will of God while we are still sensitive to God’s nudging, if peradventure he wants us to do something else. Remember, there is no voice that you may hear that can be surer and stronger than what has been written.
The Bible says in Ephesians 5:10 (MSG) “Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it”. Wow! I love this. It tears down our “waiting attitude”. We are to decipher the right way to go and then act spontaneously just like we brush our teeth without hearing any voice. A good example can be seen in the life of Apostle Paul. Let’s read the verses of scripture below.
“They traveled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit did not let them preach the message in the province of Asia. When they reached the border of Mysia, they tried to go into the province of Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So they traveled right on through Mysia and went toTroas. That night Paul had a vision in which he saw a Macedonian standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” Act 16:6-10
Paul was called by God to preach the gospel but he wasn’t waiting to hear a voice before deciding where to preach. He had his plans to preach in Asia and Bithynia but he was also sensitive to any tuning from the Spirit. This is a fundamental principle for walking in God’s leading. Have a good grasp of God’s mind as revealed in scriptures and then make your plans because God is leading you by default (An option that is selected automatically unless an alternative is specified). Also be sensitive to any signal from the Spirit as you execute your plans.
To be continued …
– tope aladenusi
Sharpening your sensitivity to God’s leading – 3
Bible Reading: Philippians 4: 1-8
Let us highlight three more things that can boost your sensitivity to God’s leading:
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, set Barnabas and Saul apart for me …” – Acts 13:2
Some early believers were in that act of worship. In the midst of it, they received instructions from the Spirit. Worship allows you to focus on God. It acknowledges God’s supremacy in everything and places your mind in a very receptive position. Good worshippers are predisposed to identifying God’s will.
- Prayer and Fasting
From the verse above, we can see that these believers secluded themselves from worldly distractions so they can commune with God. It was not just a time to set deadlines for God. Fasting goes beyond fast tracking answers to requests. As a matter of fact, the greatest gift God gave and can ever give is salvation; we did not get it by fasting, how much more the petty things of this life. Fasting should present you with an opportunity to relate with God with very minimal distractions. Imagine if five people are talking to you at the same time, it is likely you won’t hear all of them clearly. So fasting helps narrow down the number of interactions you are having at a time. It is also a time to obey God’s instructions in Jude 1:20 which reads “dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit”.
- Free yourself from Anxiety
In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (ASV)
Some men are anxious about the prospect of being fired, and they are asking God to lead them into another job or business. Other folks are anxious because they are uncertain about who to marry and they run to God to express their anxiety. James 1:6-7 (MSG) says ‘People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way’. So like Philippians 4 prescribed, you have to first get rid of all anxiety and then go to God in prayers and thanksgiving. After that, a peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your mind. This peace is a super understanding that comes from God and gives you a direction that puts an end to your confusion. It tells you “this is the way you should go”.
– tope aladenusi
Sharpening your sensitivity to God’s leading – 2
Bible Reading: Romans 12
When you visit an experienced Medical Doctor and you explain your symptoms to him, most times he is able to say exactly what is wrong with you. His sensitivity towards labeling ailments did not come overnight. The Doctor had spent years developing his mind. He has consumed many books on anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. He has rubbed minds with people who reason and talk like Doctors. His lecturers have succeeded in making him change the way he thinks. So it is natural for him to easily label ailments.
In like manner, identifying the will of God should be natural to every believer. Romans 12:2 tells us the shortcut towards sharpening our sensitivity to God’s will. It reads “… be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may provewhat is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. If you want to know God’s will, then you have got to update your mind. You need to continuously meditate on God’s word so you can start reasoning like Him.
Think about this: when we say we want to know the will of God, we are indirectly saying we want to know the mind of God concerning a subject. The Bible contains the mind and thoughts of God. A sound knowledge of it places us in a vantage position to know his will concerning any subject.
You may ask ‘how does reading the Bible help me?’ When I read the Bible, I see things about Nazareth, Israel, Jesus, David, Adam and Eve, etc. How do these things relate to me in the 21st century? Well, remember that when a Medical Doctor is studying in school, he is exposed to various materials. None of these materials may tell him the exact ailment of the patients sitting right in front of him. But he is able to place a label on their symptoms by tapping into the knowledge he has been exposed to over time. Likewise, as you have a regular intercourse with the Bible, you are exposed to God’s way of thinking. And as you face the challenges of life, you unconsciously tap into it before making decisions. You begin to walk in the will of God unconsciously and naturally.
David said “by God’s words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path” – Psalm 119:105 (MSG). Failure to recognize the will of God may have many roots, but ignorance of God’s word is the taproot. God’s word is the key that opens the door of His will.
– tope aladenusi
Sharpening your sensitivity to God’s leading- 1
Bible Reading: Hebrews 5:7-14
I grew up having a phobia for water. So I never attempted to swim as a child. But one day during my teenage years, I went to a swimming pool and saw something that destroyed my phobia. A young boy was afloat on water. I could not see any of his body parts moving and yet he wasn’t sinking. It appeared to me as though he was sleeping on water. I was so captivated and motivated to the point that I said to myself – “one day I must also be able to stay afloat on water without any aid”.
The next day I was in the pool. I really wanted to learn. I asked my friends to teach me how to float. They laughed sarcastically and told me it doesn’t work that way. I needed to start from the basics. First, I learnt how to stay in water for some minutes, later I was taught how to paddle my legs, then I started learning most of the swimming strokes. The day I ‘slept’ on water, no body taught me.
My story should remind you of the behavior of most believers. They get saved and never cultivate the habit of recognizing the will of God. But when it is time to get married, choose a career or vocation, or venture into something they think will have a great impact on their lives, they start seeking the will of God. Their first attempt in the pool of knowing God’s will is to ‘sleep on water’, without learning the basics. No wonder they experience so much pain that some even begin to doubt the existence of God.
Hebrews 5:14 (GNB) is so sweet; it says “Solid food … is for adults, who through practice are able to distinguish between good and evil”. I want you to pay attention to the fact that it is through practice that we are able to know the exact will of God. How do I practice? First, you have to learn to stay long in the ‘waters of the word’. God has a general will that applies to all believers; study the Bible to know it. This will form the bedrock for knowing His specific will that concerns to you alone.
To be continued …
– tope aladenusi
|The potential to discern the future Bible Reading: John 14
One day Jesus Christ looked into the eyes of Peter and said “this night, you will deny me thrice before the cock crows”. Shortly after saying this, Peter denied Jesus three times. This and many reasons have made me to believe that “nobody knows tomorrow” is not a Christian vocabulary. The language and lifestyle of Jesus were a demonstration of the knowledge of the immediate and far future. Interestingly, Jesus promised all believers the ability to exhibit similar tendencies.
He said in John 16:13 (BBE) “However, when he, the Spirit of true knowledge, has come, he will be your guide into all true knowledge: for his words will not come from himself, but whatever has come to his hearing, that he will say: and he will make clear to you the things to come.
Yes! The Holy Spirit wants to make tomorrow clear to you. Most people have read this verse and concluded that the Holy Spirit will make them understand the Bible. This is true. But there is more to it. Jesus understood the scriptures and also the things that pertain to his daily living. However, many believers are giants in dissecting scriptures, but toys in handling life challenges. They have narrowed the ministry of the Holy Spirit to explaining scriptures alone.
Every Christian has the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) and we all have the potential to know the things to come and the will of God for our lives. I’m in love with Romans 8:14 which reads “And all those who are guided by the Spirit of God are sons of God”.
Jesus once told Nathanael that “while you were under the fig tree, I saw you”. He told his disciples that “one of you will betray me”. He once instructed them to “Go into the village ahead of you. You will find a donkey tied there and a colt with it”. What about when he said “our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I will go and wake him up” even when he had not seen Lazarus. He also guided Simon on where to invest his time and energy when he told him, “take the boat into deep water, and lower your nets to catch some fish” … and Simon caught fishes like never before.
All these are not just written in the Bible so we would say “Oh! What a wonderful Jesus”. They are patterned to inspire us to live a wonderful life. You have the ability to know … the exact place to invest … the price of that share will rise by $5 in 5 days … there will be a riot in that city… this is the bone of my bone … the people of City XYZ are crying for salvation. Yes! The Holy Spirit wants to make clear to you the things to come.
– tope aladenusi