July 26, 2016
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 26 July 2016
"Close your eyes and point to true north.” I began the Bible study in the book of Leviticus with those words. Leviticus is a demand for holiness before 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 the Lord God.
[If you would like to have a little fun with this week’s Georgia Capitol devotional (and illustrate a spiritual principle), gather a few people into a room, and inform everyone to trust you and close their eyes. On the count of three, ask everyone to keep their eyes closed and point to true north. With everyone still pointing, invite them to open their eyes. Some will be correct and others wrong, especially anyone who is pointing upwards. If anyone has doubts, use a compass to explain how to use a standard to reveal the accuracy of one’s direction.]
Have you considered how God’s Word is a compass for measuring what is “true north,” that is, what is beneficial for God’s people and what is harmful? Scripture indicates how easy it is to make decisions without consideration for the purpose and will of God, yet to expect the Lord 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, or whose lordship is not being considered. To live contrary to God’s Word does not always manifest itself in hatred towards God; rather, one may display such attitudes by disregarding the Lord 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). When he learned that his wife died, Macbeth lamented, “Out, out, brief candle! Like’s but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more” (Act V, Scene 5).
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 should we prioritize the study of God’s Word in our lives? Very simply, we need the compass of the Word of God to prepare us for eternity. 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.”
P.S. Reminder: the next Capitol Commission (interim) Bible Study will be held on the first Tuesday of the month: 2 August 2016.
Your Capitol Missionary-Pastor,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia
Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.