December 9, 2014
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 9 December 2014
“Close your eyes and point to true north.” I began the teaching of Scripture with those words. Our church was studying the book of Leviticus, which is a call to personal holiness in worship of the Lord, and I wanted to begin the series with a call to understand why we use the Bible solely as our standard for learning what is pleasing to God.
We had fun that morning. I had everyone in the room, trust me by closing their eyes. On the count of three, I instructed everyone to keep their eyes closed and point to true north. As everyone continued pointing, then they opened their eyes. Some were right and some were wrong, especially those who were pointing upwards.
How can we know the accuracy of the choices as compared to true north? The answer is a compass, which is a standard that reveals the accuracy of the decisions.
Have you considered how God’s Word is a compass for measuring what is true north, what is beneficial for God’s people and what will be harmful?
Scripture indicates how easy it is to make decisions without consideration for the purpose and will of the Lord, yet to expect God to uphold them.
James 4:13-17 remind us how easy it is to plan our lives as if we control the future and have limitless authority with regard to factors affecting our lives; such planning may reflect an attitude — either intentionally or unintentionally — that God does not exist.
To live contrary to God’s Word does not always manifest itself in hatred toward God; rather, one may display such attitudes by disregarding God in the planning of one’s daily activities.
God is sovereign of our lives, and all humanity is accountable to Him (Dan 4:1-37).
William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus” conveys the false thinking that James 4:13-17 condemns. Henley wrote of those who say to themselves,” I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” According to such a view of self, the requirements of a holy God (if He even exists are irrelevant): “it matters not how strait the gate.” The speaker in the poem “Invictus” does not fear death (“the Horror of the shade”), nor is there any concern with regard to judgment for sin (“how charged with punishments the scroll”).
Why would one have such a perspective? Certainly, not because of a relationship with the Lord God and Savior, but because of one’s own perceived strength of determination to prevail. With such sentiment, the soul is “unconquerable.” How foolish to live this way! How incredibly misguided! Nevertheless, such thoughts are seductive.
“Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that’” (Jas 4:15). The shortness of human life, and the need for wisdom to live well in light of this fact is noted frequently in the Old Testament. For example, life is a “breath” (Job 7:7; Ps 39:5, 11; 144:4); it is like grass that withers (Ps 103:15-16; Isa 40:6), and similar to seed coverings that are scattered by the wind (Isa 40:23-24; Hos 13:3).
Those who trust in God must plan their lives in entire commitment to the plans and will of the Lord. We must not only reject sins of commission (James 4:16 mentions boastings that are evil), but also mentions sins of omission: to the one who knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.
Why does Capitol Commission provide Bible studies to our Capitol communities throughout the year? According to the compass of God’s Word, we learn in Romans 13 that every power is “ordained by God” and that those who are rulers (authorities) are “God’s ministers.” Capitol communities are hallow grounds and, therefore, need the compass of the Word of God (as do we all). Statesman Daniel Webster (ca. 1861) wisely stated,
If we work on marble, it will perish; if on brass, time will efface it; if we rear temples, they will crumble into dust. But if we work upon immortal minds, if we imbue them with high principles, with the just fear of God and of their fellow men, we engrave upon these tablets something which no time can efface, but which will brighten to all eternity.
By the Grace of God and for His Glory,