Big Data and the Holy Spirit

It has happened to me, and I bet that it has happened to you.  As I mindlessly scroll through Facebook, I saw it,  There was an ad for something that I had been looking at a day before on Amazon. Maybe it was eBay or Amazon,  or  it could've been Facebook or Twitter.  It's easy to get the feeling that we are being watched, and we feel that way  because we are.  You are always being watched.  Corporations like Facebook and Amazon are always collecting data on you.  Everywhere you go on the internet they are collecting data.  They know about your shopping habits, about your diet needs, and about your special love for all things 90's.  That is why you see these ads everywhere.  It's called targeted advertising.  It's as if someone followed you around Walmart keeping track of everything you looked, everything you picked up and put down, and then suggested items to you that might be interested in.  if you are like me, there have been times I have just thought about something.  No searches, no shopping, but I see an ad for it anyways. All of this data is fed into algorithms that can predict what things you are likely to buy.  Big data is a billion dollar business, because the better they know you, the better they can figure out how to get into your wallet.

While corporations targeting you online is a fairly new thing, shoppers have been targets long before that.  Stores set up displays to grab your attention, to make you stop and look and buy.  But now these corporations know more about us than we do, and they show us just what we need to see.

I thought of all this as I put down my Bible after my morning devotional time.  For what seemed like the 100th millionth time, what I was scheduled to read that day was just what i needed to hear.  I follow a reading plan that has the whole year mapped out, so I'm not randomly thumbing through my Bible.  But with surprising regularity I find that the passage I am scheduled to read contains just the verses I need to hear that day.  If I pick up Morning by Morning by Spurgeon, it does the same thing.  How does a 150 year old book know just what I need to read that day?  It's not because some big giant corporation has stored up all my data over the years.  It's because I have a God who cares about me, and who loves me enough to orchestrate everything so that my soul is fed just the right thing for the day I need it. I can't even begin to think how God brings together a 150 year old book and a bible reading plan from 200 years ago and my life today to bring to me what I need to hear.  Or what I need to be challenged with, or comforted with, or reminded of.  God works in such a way to target my heart, not for His gain but for mine.

You don't have to go out and look for the word that God wants you to hear that day,  There are three ways that you can ensure that the word you need reaches your heart.

1. Read God's word regularly.  If this sounds basic it's because it is. There is no excuse for any Christian who has a copy of God's word to not regularly be in it.  Throughout history and even today there are christians who do not have God's word.  if you are reading this you probably have multiple copies,  But we always find excuses.  That's why we need a time that we regularly set aside in our day to read God's word. You will never meet a mature Christian who doesn't regularly spend time in God's Word. 

2. Spend regular time in prayer.  One of the ways that God speaks to us is through His word, and one of the ways that we speak to God is through prayer.  We are not telling God something that he doesn't already know.  But you will find that when you pray regularly to God that it softens your heart to hear from God in through His Word.  We don't just speak to God through prayer, we learn to listen to God through prayer. And yes my first two points are "read your bible and pray," because it is that simple. 

3.  Keep your heart and mind set on God.  Throughout the New Testament we are reminded that one of the marks of a healthy Christian is that they keep their hearts focused on God.  We are commanded to "set our mind on things above," "seek first the kingdom of God," and to think on whatever is noble, right, true, and pure.  This ensures that our hearts are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and that we will hear when God speaks.  When we will fill our mind with worldly things we shouldn't be surprised when we miss a heavenly message.  


God has just the word that you need to hear.  He knows what you need not because he wants to make a profit for himself like a corporation, but because He loves us and wants what is best for us.  When we make sure our hearts are in the right place we will always hear the word of God

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