December 21st

Compass in the Storm

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

14But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  16All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:1-5,14-17 NKJV 

There is no doubt that we are living in perilous times.  Paul mentioned sinful behavior patterns that are all too common today: selfishness, greed, pride, blasphemy, rebellion, betrayal and unthankfulness, among others.   Paul was apparently talking about conditions in the church, as he mentioned that the people had a form of godliness but denied its power.   While we’re to turn away from people who practice such religious hypocrisy, it can be difficult to find Christians who haven’t succumbed to the world’s corruption in one way or another.  Granted, nobody is perfect and there are no perfect churches, but we should all be striving for purity and avoiding the sinful patterns Paul mentioned. 

The wickedness in the world (and sometimes in the church) can often hinder our “spiritual” vision and cause all kinds of trials that test our faith. These trials and tests remind me of the storms I encountered at sea in my naval days.  I remember being on the night watch during several storms.  It was dark…very dark, as no stars or moon were out and the rain was often coming down in sheets.  The wind would whip up salt spray from the cresting waves that would further hinder visibility. Looking out the front bridge windows was pointless, as it was pitch black. The constant rolling of the ship in the churning of the waves and howling wind was at times unnerving.  I remember on one occasion a particular large wave caught us by surprise and rolled the ship over so far that when I looked out the side window of the bridge wing all I saw was water!  During such storms, we were very glad to have our compass, satellite navigation equipment, depth-finder and radar to help us from running aground, getting lost or hitting something.   

Likewise, when we encounter the works of evil in our church, home, workplace, neighborhood or schools, we’ll need God’s word and the Holy Spirit to help us discern the truth and recognize any deception.  If we’re not navigating by the true compass of God’s word, we’re liable to be blown off course by the winds of deceit and shipwrecked on the reefs of sin.    

The scriptures are “able to make [us] wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (15).  In order for us to receive that wisdom through faith, we must study the scripture and apply it in our daily lives.  Paul said we must “continue in the things which [we have] learned.”  This doesn’t mean that we can have a devotional one day and go thirty days until the next devotional.  It means that we must continue each day, loading God’s word into our minds.  Just as the Israelites had to eat new manna each day, so we must give our minds a new dose of the scripture each day.  The scriptures give ample practical guidance and instruction.  When we apply it to our lives, we will be “complete” and “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  The Holy Spirit is our “partner” in this process. As the “Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16-17), he will remind us of God’s word and teach us how to live by it (John 14:26).  

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Lord God, thank you for the gift of the scriptures and the Holy Spirit as my spiritual guidance system for life.  I repent for any apathy or laziness I’ve tolerated concerning learning your word and applying it to my life.  Please lead me in finding the best sources for instruction in the word and its application to my life.  If I’m not in a good church, please help me find a good one that will help me grow spiritually and do your works.  If I haven’t had a regular quiet time, please help me discipline myself to meet with you every day.  Thank you, Father!  I praise you now and forever.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”