I heard a commentator, just before the two candidates came out to begin their debate, describe them both as being the worst candidates in the history of our country to have ever run for the office of President of the United States. Sadly, this does not seem to faze either of the two candidates but it does show us an accurate picture of just how polarized we have become as a nation. There really are no quick fixes that can solve the problems that our nation faces. Our nation is made up of individuals and though the pollsters may be able to accurately predict what a large percentage of the population may think about a topic the direction our country goes in lies in the personal beliefs held by each individual that make up this country. To change the direction our country is currently heading in we must change the direction we as individuals are facing.
I found it interesting that the builders of our personal computers programmed into each of them a ‘reset’ function so that if our computer becomes compromised it would be possible for it to be returned to its original state. Of course that means you would lose all the data that you had worked on and only the operating system that it came with would be left. As a nation and as individuals we are in need of a ’reset’ that will take us back to the moral operating system that God placed within us. The only problem is the ‘old information’ will not be totally deleted and as individuals and as a nation we will have to confess and repent of the unhealthy decisions that we made in the past. However, with Jesus a ‘true reset’ of us individually as well as a nation is possible and the Good News is the old data from our past can be erased. Maybe the following story will help us to understand just how we as individuals and as a nation ended up so far off course.
Years ago I read a story of a ship’s captain who had accidentally dropped his compass onto the deck of his ship. Picking it up and carefully examining it he thought it still to be in excellent shape and quickly forgot about the incident. But the compass had been broken and though it looked to be fine it was, from that point, slightly off in giving a true direction. For short trips the compass was adequate and there was no reason for any alarm. But, there came a time when the captain was asked to take his ship a considerable distance and then the truth about the compass was discovered. For short distances the damaged compass proved to be good enough and no cause for alarm, but over the long haul it led the ship a thousand miles off course.
To keep our lives heading in the right direction we must be sure our moral compass is always pointing toward true holiness and righteousness. Even the slightest or momentary deviation from the narrow path without recognition and repentance will cause us to find ourselves off course. Every choice we make on what we say, allow our eyes to see and continue to entertain will lead us to marginalize sin and in doing so we run the risk of finding ourselves later in life to be, ’way off course’ from where we thought we would be. In the day-to-day decisions of life, we often rationalize our actions as having little to no effect on the outcome of our life, but life is not a ‘short haul’, every decision and choice we make ultimately affects our destination.
For many of us our moral compass is like the captains in the story above, damaged and not pointing towards true north. Many of us realize that not all of our past decisions were the best and many times what began innocently enough did not turn out as we expected. Each choice and decision we make will change our course so we need to recognize that we must keep anchored in the word of God and follow His precepts to keep facing the right direction. We need to be consciously aware that each decision will affect the next decision until a lifetime of bad decisions shipwreck the ultimate plan that God had for our lives. This is why, it is so important that we remain connected to the vine and draw close to Him as we follow the guidelines that God has laid for us in His word and listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks guidance to us.
In War To Be Defeated Is To Become A Slave
The Word of God is Divine Truth, given to guide us, each sentence is a call to us to move forward away from some sin, danger or self-indulgence that always leads us on the course of deception and destruction. Our loving Father knows what is best and it is His course that guides us to attain a higher plane of living, a new holiness of thought and deed, leading us to a richer, fuller life.
It is our duty and our privilege as His beloved son/daughters to stay the course, to be victorious. Everything that comes our way is an opportunity to do what is right and noble knowing that it will lead us to Christ-likeness. Heaven is for those who overcome. In war to be defeated is to become a slave. To lose any battle against sin is to become a slave of sin.
Attaining a noble character comes from a well-lived life. It can only be reached through struggle and through conflict. This is not a natural outcome for everyone. Christian character is reached through submission of our wills—to the will of Christ; and denying our selfish desires to be under the control of the Holy Spirit.
The other day we were driving past the battlefields in Gettysburg, PA. You cannot help but feel you are treading on hallow ground as you go through such a historical battlefield. Two great armies met on these fields in deadly combat, it is not hard to imagine the cannons thundering and hear the shouts from men on both sides as they ran towards one another. If you listen closely you may still hear the groans of the wounded and dying filling the air. Now the battle is over and the grass waves over the bloody fields and flowers bloom where men lay dead and dying. Children play, birds sing and people speak softly as they walk along the paths being respectful of the terrible struggle that took place there not so long ago.
It reminds us all that life contains conflict and the freedom and good things we have attained in our lives come through struggle. From infancy to old age, even in gaining an education we must have the strength to persevere through to gain the degree we want. In our spiritual life the same is true, our progress is measured by the battles we have lived through. No one attains a noble character except through struggle and perseverance.
The importance of setting a straight course is so important. There are two important reasons we fail to reach the ultimate goal God has for us. First, we do not guard our hearts from the influences of the world nor do we defend that which has been entrusted to us allowing our slothfulness to pollute the purity of our hearts. Secondly, we neglect making the most out of our lives by not allowing the guidance that the Holy Spirit has provided to us. Without submission to His will and staying anchored in His love we will not cultivate or develop our character to attain the highest level of purity.
Each day we have the opportunity to ‘reset’ the course of our lives. His mercies are new every morning. (Lam.3:22-23)NRSV It does seem like all of life-lessons are slowly learned. Many of the lessons we learn through the scriptures we look at as if they were rules or principles to live by and not the sanctification process we all must go through in becoming transformed into His image. We read in His word that, “Love…seeks not her own.” (I Cor. 13:5) NKJV It is much easier to get a text of Scripture contained within our memory than it is to get the text into our lives. It looks good on paper but the practicality of living out the word creates within us conflict of purpose. Often our putting into practice the lessons we learn requires putting self under our feet, and many times self violently resists such humiliation.
The question is not, “What are you doing now?” but, “Which way are you facing? What are the choices you are making in life? If the compass registers falsely by but a hair’s breadth when the ship puts out to sea, it will carry you miles off course. May we make it a priority to keep our compass pointing towards the goal as we press on toward the prize. (Philippians 3:14)