For weeks the apps on my phone have been reminding me to install the new updates. I’d become quite used to seeing the numerous reminders in the Notifications tray, but I put it off for later.
It came to a head one day when my Twitter app wouldn’t let me open it until I installed the latest updates. According to them, the new update would help to protect my app from recent security issues that previous software definitions were not prepared for. Now I saw reasons not to put off that update, so I set out to do it.
I could go into explaining the lessons I learnt from that experience, but there’s more.
One of the reasons I hadn’t downloaded the updates hitherto was because my phone’s storage capacity was quite full. Every time I tried to download an update my phone would require me to uninstall one of my other apps. All of them were important to me, so I would instead look for photos, videos, audio files or documents that I could delete to clear the space. It’s usually difficult for me because I find it a little hard to let go of these. I can be quite sentimental, I find.
But this time, I had to give in. I deleted I think over a thousand files that day to make room for the new update. Some were dear to me, some were easy to let go of, and others had me wondering what they were doing on my phone in the first place. In the end I cleared enough space and the download could go through.
The app’s now got a couple of changes in its interface but it almost looks exactly the same. I may never know why it needed the update or the security risks it’s protecting me from, and that’s probably for the better. Unless, of course, it’s a backdoor channel for them to monitor me (cue the ominous music: dun dun DUUUNNN!)
Not all my phone apps are updated yet, but I’ll still get to them.
Updates from Heaven
Do you know that just like my phone app needed an update, we also need our God-updates at every point in time? That every day, there are heaven-rooted updates tailored for you?
As God’s people we’ve received His Life through the finished works of Jesus Christ in Redemption. Our spirits are renewed so that we can be all God intended for us to be; His children bearing His nature. That’s perfect and, like Jesus said, “It is finished.”
In this world there are new challenges in every season and every day. Like Jesus said in Matthew 6:34,
…Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Now the life God has given us in Christ is powerful enough to face these challenges. Through the power of God at work in us, God is able to do exceeding abundantly above what we could ask or think, even beyond whatever adversity there is out there. But our minds and bodies are exposed daily to experiences in opposition to God’s Word.
Whether we like it or not, there could be circumstances to try and make you feel discouraged, people ready to ruin your day with unreasonable words, and news and online threads ready to order the course of your thoughts and mind-set for the day. It’s not all bad, but more often than not, they are content created without our best interests in mind.
In the midst of this, Lamentations 3:22 and 23 reminds us of the words you probably remember from that song;
It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.
Just to put it in perspective, just as the days are evil, the Lord has new compassionate and preserving mercies for you every day. Every. Single. Day.
Tailored for your specifications, beyond and above whatever could be thrown at you. 2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
One of my former pastors loved to describe it as you having a full tank of water but having an empty bucket. It doesn’t change the fact that you’ve got water ‘cause there’s a supply available with your name on it. You receive from your supply when you turn the tap. He was talking about the grace of God available to meet our needs and help us give, but I think it also applies here.
For each and every task you are given and each circumstance we face, for everything that would lay a demand on the life in you, God is able to make all grace abound toward you so that you can have all you need to have an abundant supply for every good work.
Why you can download the update
No matter how hard I try, that Twitter app update could never work on my computer. That particular update could never work for the Facebook app or the Instagram app on my phone either because it was not made by them or for them. The reason I can download the update on my phone is because the update is made for the app on my phone. It was made by Twitter for the specific version of the app that’s present on my phone.
In the same way, because I belong to Jesus, I am capable of receiving the updates of strength, instruction and grace that are my inheritance as His child. It is His delight for me to receive and walk in them. Because I have His Spirit in me, I can receive from Him.
In 1 Corinthians 2:12 it says
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
When we got born again we received the Spirit of God. And it is because we have the Spirit of God that God can reveal to us His will at every point in time. Like it says earlier in that chapter in verses 8 and 9,
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
God is willing to show you things beyond what you’ve seen, to let you in on secrets beyond what you’ve heard, and to cause you to conceive thoughts and ideas beyond what you’ve ever imagined. Just as He shared His plans with Abraham like a friend, He intends to have that kind of relationship with you. Even much more, because now you are His child.
You are the child of the Maker of all that is. Wow!
So just like a child learns to talk the more he/she hears us talking with, God’s updates are to bring you to His level of thinking so that He can relate with us and guide us well in all the peculiar circumstances that we could face.
So How do I Download the Update?
In Romans 12:2 Paul writes,Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to Him.
Have you noticed that the more time you spend with an individual who makes puns and cracks dry jokes, the more you’d find yourself deciphering puns? Soon you’d probably be the one others will be running after crying, “Don’t leave me! Take me with you!” (someone reading this in 2038 didn’t get this reference. Sorry, kid 😉)In the same way, we let God change the way we think (our mind-sets) by actually spending time with Him, by giving our time and attention to reading and studying His Word and in prayer. That way we can know what His will is and we can do it, empowered by His Spirit in us.
Paul also wrote about the importance of making the best use of time in Ephesians 5:15, 16
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
When we live our lives by the wisdom of God we are walking circumspectly, making the best use of the time, and equipped not to give in to the adversity we may face in the day.This is why it is usually encouraged to start your day with a time set apart to read the Bible and talk with God. Some call it Morning Devotion, others call it Quiet Time, but nobody calls it Steve 🤷🏽♂️.Either way, the value is not in what we call it but in Who we’re setting out time for. It helps to set the agenda for our minds and to get His agenda for the day.
Clearing the Clutter
Just as I had to remove some apps from my phone, opening our hearts for His updates may require letting go of some things we’ve held on to.
It could be things we love and prize above all else. It could be our time, some of our friendships, some of our goals, or even the feeling of entitlement from our rightful achievements. It could be our media choices or our online presence. Sometimes the Lord may be instructing us to let go of some of these so that our attention can be on Him. For some of them, it is as He becomes our priority that we can have a healthy understanding of their roles in our lives. Otherwise they could become idols in our lives, distracting us from the Lord and all that’s important for our lives.
It could be things that have hurt us or guilt in our past. We don’t hold on to them deliberately, but they may have a hold on us, defining our approach to things and keeping us from reaching for all God has for us. I touched on this partially in my story, Portal.
For all, Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Offer your past, present and future to the Lord and trust Him with it. It may not be as easy as an instant thing, but trust Him with the process.
When we let go of things that have a strong hold in us, our hands can be open to receive all the Father has been trying to show us.
Spending Time with God
This is a lesson I am still learning. I wish I could come to this article from a place of mastery in this aspect, but I am a learner. And I don’t mean that in the Christianese sense where I’m really a pro trying to be humble, NO! I’ve literally found myself going through days without reading my Bible and I’m trying to work on that too. So, now that I’ve burst your expectations of me, hope you can see that I’m really a learner.
But it’s in spending time with God that we receive these updates.
In 2020 of course most of us may not be able to gather with other people yet, but I encourage you to be part of a church. Be regular and committed to the community. The teaching and fellowship (friendship) are essential for our growth. There are some things God would give you through your fellow believers, and some things He wants to share with others through you.
You can also set apart a specific time for it. You can find moments in the day to spend time with Him, cut off from your phone and other distractions. You can even take a day off to spend time with God. The Christianese term for these are ‘Retreats’. It’s allowed and very essential.
You can have devotionals and Bible reading plans that help you keep at it. Pray about what you’ve read. Bible apps like YouVersion can help with that too.You can have a prayer list of people and things you need to pray for and about. The thing is even as you pray He would show you more that you should pray about.
What if it’s boring?!
Don’t worry, you’re not an evil person for thinking that these times can feel boring sometimes. Sometimes it can feel like we’re not getting anything done. Your mind may have trailed off while reading a chapter and you’d find yourself 50 verses away from the last thing you remember in the narrative. You may have prayed for what felt like an hour only to check the clock to see that only 5 minutes have passed. If you’ve never experienced any of these then you’ve either not tried it out or you’ve got a special gift I really want to receive🙌🏼. Please, share in the comments🙏🏼.In these times, I like to be honest with God. I can sit and just talk with Him, telling Him what’s going on in my mind. Truthfully, these conversations don’t end there. They go throughout the day. Sometimes I get instruction or things become clearer. Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening.
But don’t stop. It is in seeking that we find.
Don’t look for a disembodied voice. The primary means of God talking to us is through His Written Word. Every other impression is by the Holy Spirit within us, not compulsorily by an external audible voice. He could use that, but my advice is not to set out looking for the spectacular. Seek Him.
I once heard a quote by someone that said prayer is like starting the day by saying, “In Jesus Name,” then going to bed saying, “Amen.” That’s because throughout the day you were talking with God.
Share your day with God. See what that does to your interactions.
When my heart is overwhelmed…
What about those moments when we really don’t have the strength? When the day has just been terrible and we don’t feel like doing anything ‘spiritual’?
One of my favourite verses is Psalm 61:2
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
David’s desire when his heart was overwhelmed is to be reminded of the One, his Rock, Who is bigger than that problem. Knowing that my world does not revolve around me because I have Someone bigger, greater and wiser on my side and at work in me, gives me courage to face the challenges. It’s one of the reasons we find another Christianese word in the psalms a lot: magnify.
O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:3
Or even Psalm 35:27
Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
Ever used a magnifying glass before? It makes things look bigger. It doesn’t make the thing bigger but it makes my perspective of that thing to be bigger.
God doesn’t need to be bigger or more powerful or wiser or stronger. He already is! But sometimes I forget that the Greater One is for me and with me. That’s why I need that reminder.
I need God to be magnified in my eyes.
And that only happens when I look at Him. When I behold Him, I can see Him. Not literally now because I’m still mortal, but as I read about Him in His Word and listen to others talk about Him, as I listen to music that expresses His wonder, as I worship Him, I realise that I really am not as big as I thought, and neither are my problems. He is so much bigger, so much richer in love, and He is so much able to help me more than overcome.
We see this pattern in David’s life. One time when his people’s families were carried away by raiders, his soldiers were angry with him and mutiny was afoot. They were even talking about stoning him. David, whose own family was also carried away, was in great distress. But the Bible lets us know that he ‘encouraged himself in the Lord.’ (1 Samuel 30:6) And right after he asked God for direction, and God told him what to do to get his people back. His stability was in that place where God was bigger than everything else.
Our stability is in the Holiest Place like in the temple (Hebrews 6:19), where Christ is seated having conquered all and redeemed us. Where our sins are forgiven and we obtain mercy and find grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). It is why we have the Spirit of God in us. You, God’s child, are evidence that God is more than able to deal with whatever problem comes your way.
You have access to the King and Conqueror of Eternity, especially at your weakest moments. He’s your stability.
This is what I do. I tell Him exactly what it feels like. Sometimes I just play worship music and sing along to Him. It helps lift my thoughts and feelings, and I worship along.
It takes our attention off our fears and limitations and focuses it on His strength available and at work in us. Like He said to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9,
My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness
Share your experience
In recent times I’ve had a couple of interactions with friends who are also making a deliberate consistent culture of spending time with God. What’s your experience like? What lessons have you learnt?
Please share with us in the comments. It could be an encouragement to someone too.
Thanks for coming by!