“I used to have a good sense of direction. I could find my way around places. If I got lost, I could figure out how to get back on the right road. But now, without a GPS, I can’t find my way out of a paper bag.” These were the words of my friend as we were driving in another state recently. We were mindlessly following the directions of the GPS, and it was doing things like leading us off of main roads into neighborhoods only to put us right back on the main road again, going in the same direction we had been traveling; sending us down dead-end streets; and telling us we had arrived at our destination only to find ourselves staring at an empty field where it insisted we would find a restaurant. Perhaps you have had similar experiences with your GPS.
GPSs are great tools. They can help us get to our destination, give us real-time traffic alerts, help us find our way when we are lost, and they come with an option to speak to us in a British accent, which makes us feel classy. But what if your phone battery dies while you are driving? What if it can’t get service? What if the GPS’s latest update does not show that a road is closed? The danger of relying on technology so heavily is that you may never learn, or may forget, the skills needed to find your way around.
As I was thinking about what my friend said, I thought about how sometimes we can become so dependent on other people, or programs, or events to connect us to God that we never learn how to connect, or forget how to connect, with God ourselves. While it is great to have other people that can help you grow in God, like your parents, pastors, small group leaders, and friends; what would your walk with God look like if those people were not around? The writer of Hebrews said, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (5:12-14).
Babies are are dependent on others for everything. Adults are responsible for taking care of themselves. When you are a new Christian, you need someone to give you the milk of God’s Word. But eventually you need to grow up and feed yourself the meat of the Bible. God has given you His Holy Spirit (YOU! Not just your parents, not just your pastors, not just your small group leaders … YOU!) to teach you what God’s Word means and to give you the strength to live according to what He shows you.
Just like there is nothing wrong with a GPS, there is nothing wrong with having people in your life to help you grow. In fact, they are necessary! BUT, those people aren’t meant to just give you all of the answers, their job is to help you learn how to think biblically and how to listen to the Holy Spirit within YOU! Their job isn’t to study the Bible and hear from God for you, their job is to help you hear from God yourself. Ask yourself:
In what ways am I being too dependent on others for my spiritual growth?
How does God want me to start feeding myself spiritually? What are some steps I need to take?
This is a picture of beauty in the midst of ugliness, healing in the midst pain. I saw this picture on the news last night and it gripped me. THIS is the solution to the problems, not only in Baltimore, but around our world. The Bible shows us the way through times like these …
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.
On the contrary:
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21).
Violence will never end violence. Overcome evil with good!
Woke up with this song swirling around in my heart. It’s my prayer today.
OK, I am reading a great little book by Tony Campolo called Stories That Feed Your Soul. You should get it. Yesterday I shared one of his stories. Today, I must share just one more. Then, you’re on your own to get the book. So good! Be encouraged today.
“When speaking to young people, I always enjoy telling them, ‘Do you realize you were once a sperm? That’s right. You were once a sperm, and you were one of five million sperm all together in a group. Do you remember? All of you lined up at the starting line and at the end of a long, long tunnel, there was one egg. There was a race, and you won! Stop to think about that. The odds were five million to one and you came through. Your victory makes an Olympic gold medal look like nothing by comparison! You came through! You’re a winner! You are here by divine appointment. You are no accident. Think about that. If your mother had had a headache that night, you wouldn’t even exist. You are a very special person!”
– Tony Campolo
I recently finished reading The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, the back story of The Lord of the Rings. One of the things that stood out to me was the strategy of Melkor, the evil enemy of the good creator Illuvitar. Melkor’s strategy was to feign (pretend) friendship with those he wished to seduce to his evil purposes, and in the midst of their conversations he would subtly sprinkle lies amongst truth. In the book this saying summarized his approach:
“But he that sows lies in the end shall not lack of a harvest, and soon he may rest from toil indeed, while others reap and sow in his stead.”
This is true of our enemy, Satan. It’s been his strategy since the Garden. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:14, “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” Like Melkor, or rather, Melkor like Satan, pretends to be our friend and subtly plants lies in our minds, then can simply walk away because he knows that eventually they will produce fruit in our lives.
But what if we could recognize his scheme and identify the lies?
What if we then uprooted them and removed the from our garden?
And what if, in their place we planted seeds of truth?
And how do we know his lies?
Counterfeit experts will tell you that the way they become experts at recognizing fake money is not by spending all of their time handling counterfeit bills. On the contrary, they spend the majority of their time handling authentic money. Then, when a fake bill comes into their hand, it simply doesn’t look right; doesn’t feel right.
The same is true for us. Rather than filling our hearts and minds with the lies of the enemy and the voices of the world that he uses to sow lies, we need to fill our hearts and minds with God’s truth.
Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
There is a battle for your heart today. It’s a very real spiritual battle. And it’s being waged on the battleground of our mind. It’s a battle between God and Satan, good and evil, truth and lies. And you have a say in the outcome of the battle by what you choose to listen to and believe. Fill your mind and heart with the truth of God’s Word. I pray that truth will win your heart today.