Category Archives: Spiritual Guidance

Finding Your True North

“Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world.  ”      1 John 2:15-16 (New Living Translation)

As part of my Girl Scout experience, I was given the opportunity to earn several merit badges.  I specifically remember working on my camping badge and learning how to utilize the North Star if I found myself lost in the woods.  Later I discovered that there was another “north”.  It’s called true north.  It differs from the compass north I used in Girl Scouts in that true north is depended on the traveler first knowing “where they are”.  It is important to know our “spiritual true north.” Not knowing our true north leaves us vulnerable to Satan lies and exposed to misdirection by the world.

What does finding your true north mean?  In Bill George’s book, True North, he says, “it’s the internal compass that guides you successfully through life.  It is your orienting point – your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track.  It’s based on what is most important to you, your most cherished values, your passions and motivations and the sources of satisfaction in your life.”

In our text, the Apostle John warns this early church to guard against allowing the world to define who they are (their values and beliefs).  John’s warning is still valid in the 21st century.  The world (its systems and influences) attempts to define what’s important to us in three (3) areas:  the lusts of the flesh (what makes us happy), the lust of the eyes (what we have) and the pride of life (who we are).  Like the world, believers are tempted to base their happiness, their security, and their significance on the things that the world offers.  These are the “luxurious lies of money, materialism, and marketing.”   The results of these misguided beliefs are an exhausted workforce, financially overcommitted families, and angry, disillusioned individuals.  They need to find their True North.

Solomon found neither happiness, nor security, or significance in the things the world offered.  On the contrary, he described the pursuit of these things as “vanity” or meaningless (Ecc. 12:8).  We need only to peruse the latest tabloid headlines at the grocery checkout to see the broken promises of fame and riches in the lives of individuals who thought “having it all” would make a difference.  Unfortunately they failed to look at the only Person who is able to make good on that expectation—Jesus Christ who came to provide life more abundantly (John 10:10).  They failed to find their True North.

Believers are not to “love” (agapao) the world or the things in it.  This is not a statement of a “minimalist” but the wisdom of God who warns that we are neither to focus on nor be envious of the things of this world—especially the things that are counter to the will of God (Rom. 1:25) .  Paul warned the church at Rome (and us today) not to be conformed to the world (in its thinking and behavior) but transformed by the renewing of their mind (by the revealed Word of God) (Rom. 12:2).  While we as believers cannot divest ourselves from the world, we are not to look like the world.  Our lives are to be a reflection of who we are—the redeemed children of God (Luke 1:68; John 1:12).  We are to keep our eye on our True North, Jesus Christ.

Happiness, security, and significance can only be found in God.   He is our exceeding great reward (Gen. 15:1).  We are complete in Him (Col. 2:10).  He is our strong high tower (Ps. 144:2).  Jesus understood the challenge of living in this fallen world.  That why He prayed to the Father not to remove His disciples (including future believers) from the world but to “keep them” from evil while living in the world (John 17:15).   Knowing our True North, Jesus Christ, will enable us to follow the right path.

SELAH:  In life’s journey we are often uncertain where we stand, where we are going or what is the right path for us personally.   Meditating on God’s Word will help you to “remove the cobwebs” and see more clearly.  Meditate on 1 John 2:15-16 in your favorite bible translation.  Begin with prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to join you in this time of meditation.  Read the text aloud and slowly; note “any word or phrase” that seemed to capture your attention.  Read it a second time paying attention to “the tone and emotion” the Apostle John used in this text.  Read it a final time and then sit silently and expectantly for one minute.  Then ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through His Word.  What does He have to say to you regarding your “True North”?   Journal what you hear—share it with a friend.

Get Wisdom

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”  Proverbs 4:7 (KJV)

Is wisdom important?  When was the last time you complimented friends or family for their wisdom?  Has a political candidate ever run on a wisdom platform?   As I listen to daily newscasts and assess our current world affairs, I wondered if Jesus views us as “wise” or foolish stewards.  Do people, in general, care about wisdom? With that in mind, I input into my search engine, “where is wisdom in the 21st century?” I was overwhelmed by the number and variances in responses—7.6M to be exact.  People do care about wisdom!  So with that information in hand, we begin a new series entitled, “Desperately Seeking Wisdom” as we direct our attention to the Source and Sustainer of true wisdom—God.

Why do we need wisdom?   Wisdom is particularly important for us in our technological society, where we place a strong emphasis on knowledge.  Climate change, social oppression and injustices, political strife, the erosion of truth and trust in our traditional institutions—these are just a sample of the problems our world faces.  None of these pressing challenges can be navigated unless tempered with biblical wisdom.  Only when one abandons what seems wise by human standards to accept without hesitation the “divine viewpoint” as revealed in Scripture by the Holy Spirit can true wisdom be claimed (1 Cor. 3:19-20) .

What is wisdom?  Wisdom is generally defined as knowledge guided by understanding.  Knowledge without understanding often results in misunderstandings and errors in judgment.  But I would expand that secular definition and say that “godly wisdom” is a way of thinking and conduct that is orderly, socially sensitive, and morally upright.  It is a way of viewing and approaching life that results in purposeful, God-honoring living (1 Pet. 1:13, 14).  While wisdom may be relatively easy to define it, the real challenge lies in how to acquire it.

How do we gain wisdom?  Though wisdom cannot be learned, its development begins with the access of knowledge; it must be honed by experience.  We can gain wisdom vicariously through the experiences gleaned from others—seeing how they handle situations similar to ones we may face.  For wisdom that can only be gained through experience, we might seek mentors, special “tech” groups, and life coaches, to help guide our decision making and problem solving.  These are a few examples of how we hope to gain understanding, insight, and ultimately wisdom. However, the best source of wisdom is God (Prov. 2:5, 9-10,12).

The wise person is one who is sensitive to God and who willingly subjects himself to Him. The wise person is one who goes on to apply divine guidelines in everyday situations and guided by God’s will, makes daily choices. It is only in joining the Lord’s words to experience that wisdom can be found or demonstrated (James 1:23-25).

I like Eugene Petersen’s Message translation of our opening text.

“Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding. Don’t forget one word! Don’t deviate an inch! Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life; love her—she keeps her eye on you. Above all and before all, do this Get wisdom!”

SELAH:   Meditate on the benefits of wisdom found in Proverbs 4:5-10.  Journal how God’s wisdom has benefitted you this past week.

 

 

 

 

The Paths of God

What comes to your mind when you think of paths? For me, I visualize the well-worn shortcut I followed as a child, as I ventured to my grandmother’s house on Sunday afternoon.  While hidden from the casual traveler in the area, this path represented a familiar and direct route to my final destination. For believers, the paths of God will also lead to our final destination-eternity with Him. Join the Psalmist David as he explores the paths of God.

The 25th Psalm was written by David and given the title, “Prayer for Guidance and Deliverance.” It is fitting then that we speak of the paths of God in the context of guidance and deliverance. The Hebrew translation for path is orach (o’-rakh) and is used to described as a well-trodden road. Orach appears fifty-eight (58) times in the Old Testament; found predominately in the books of Proverbs, Psalms, and Job. Most often it is used in a figurative way, describing the way to life or to death. (Prov. 4:14)

In our text, David is asking God to teach him His paths–the ways to life (to be pursued) AND the ways to death (to be avoided). God’s paths represent His best for our lives, even when we don’t understand where the “end” will take us. We can trust in God. (v.2) We can be confident He will lead us in mercy and truth (vv. 5 and 10) and that His paths reflect His tender mercies and lovingkindness. (v. 6) As we travel the paths of God, “He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths.” (Micah 4:2) Where do we begin?

  1. Meditate on God’s Word.   There we will learn of God’s ways. “They word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my paths.” (Ps. 119:105)
  2. Spend time with God.   There we better understand God’s path for our life. “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Ps. 16:11)
  3. Listen for His Voice.  There we align our thoughts with the God’s through the Holy Spirit.  “The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17)

Knowing God’s paths will relieve worry and concern with the events in the world and in our life. Be aware of the paths God daily chooses for you. Because of His lovingkindness, we can trust that He will always “lead us in the way that you should go.” (Ps. 143:8) All the paths of God are good.

Good to the Last Byte…

Paths are very different from highways. While the later are usually traveled by greater numbers of people, paths offer a more solitary route for arrival. While highways offer a better maintained and smoother journey, paths are found in areas where the terrain is rough and uneven in spots. Paths may be well-trodden by the few who found them both dependable and worthwhile. Following God’s “paths of righteousness” (Ps. 23:3) will get you where you need to go–on earth and through eternity.