A compass is a remarkable tool. A child can make one with a needle, water, and a magnet or piece of silk. Explorers make decisions that affect their life by what they see when they hold it in their hand and goes where no one has gone before. It gives them focus and a sense of direction.
This compass has characteristics that are common to all magnetic compasses.
- Purpose of a compass is to show direction.
- The compass needle is attracted by magnetic lines that converge to create “magnetic north.”
- Therefore a magnetic compass does not necessarily point to “true north.”
Compass readings are affected by the presence of iron and steel objects.
A rusty nail placed near a faithful compass, will sway it from the truth, and wreck the argosy. –Walter Scott
The magnetic compass has been used for navigation for hundreds of years. At one time, it was the only reliable means of direction-finding. Today sophisticated equipment is available that is more accurate in locating direction and bearings. However, such equipment has not made the compass obsolete. It is still a very practical tool. Even airplanes and ships equipped with more sophisticated equipment often carry compasses as backups.
If we were to draw spiritual lessons from the compass I would begin by having you see that God’s Word is the compass of our lives. From it we derive our destination, direction and determination. Now is the time we must be setting the compass to reach our destination.
Paul writes to Timothy in his last letter:
2 Timothy 3:14-17 (KJV) But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
First, consider that aiming the compass points one into a singular direction, whether it be the correct direction or not.
Paul tells Timothy “…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.” (2 Timothy 3:15) Much of our direction in life is set from a young age. Train up a child (Prov 22:6) when he is young and when he is old he will not depart. The word for “train” actually means to point someone on the right road. Do it when young and there is plenty of time to make corrections. The same is true with the Compass. Make necessary corrections at the start of a journey and there will be a less of a dramatic change than when you make nearer your destination.
This is probably best seen in simple things – teach a child early how to read, and there will be a love for what the written word can provide, or, teach a child how to respect their elders then they will carry this honor into their adult life. Yet, when it comes from a spiritual perspective, present the child with solid spiritual training and the likelihood is that the child grows up with God first in their life.
The older I get, the better I understand these spiritual applications. The New Testament has numerous teaching points on the importance of Spiritual connections and how they will touch ever time period of our life.
- Past – Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
- Present and Future – 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Our destination is set by the Compass of His Word and it says we are to be conformed to the image of Christ while on the road, with heaven being the ultimate conforming to which we will be like He is. Jesus is our True North – on this road of life, and at the ending of our life. It is impossible to sight your compass across a large expanse and then walk across that area while continually looking at the compass dial. The list of what could happen is endless. You see, we walk by faith and not by sight (2Cor 5:7). If I’m walking without worrying about what I am “seeing” then that means my Faith must be strong and capable to give me my “bearing” so that I can arrive at my destination.
Secondly, when one sets the compass of ones life in light of the Word, then your Compass will give you proper direction.
Paul tells Timothy how important the Word is, (2Timothy 3:16) “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”
This means that it has all the reference points I need in order to make sense of the direction of Faith.
Yet, it seems like many have lost their sense of direction. Too many believe that the Word is not relevant to life, and not not capable of pointing us the proper direction, and thus it is no good for anything in life.
I hate to ask for directions. It seems like such a waste of time, and not only that it makes me look like I do not know where I am going. Isn’t that true of many. We’d rather look like we know where we are going rather than know for certain where we are going!
There are many definitions of the number of people in life, but one person defines three kinds of people in the world.
- Aimless wanderers who are lost with no bearings toward True North.
- Rebellious run-a-ways who are defiant with not interest in True North.
- Hopeful explorers who are seekers with a clear focus on True North.
How can you claim to be a Christian if you are Aimless or Rebellious. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Matt 6:33) shows us that a person cannot be counted among the Aimless or Rebellious if they have put God first! (1John 5:20) “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” With Christ as our destination, we must see that all scriptures point to Him our True North. We need the reference points God provides.
Paul later tells Timothy that there will come a time when people will not endure “sound” doctrine, but will follow things that satisfy their own desires. (2 Tim 4:3-4) They will follow anyone that gives them the teaching that satisfies what they want to hear. They will follow anyone that gives them the stories and fables that will make the path to God easier.
What is Doctrine? It’s God’s instructional teaching from His Word… Not man’s teaching, but God’s teaching. Why do we believe what we believe? Is it beliefs backed up by scripture, or just man made devices with scriptures that are twisted and turned to fit us? Paul talks about this to the church in Ephesus, (Ephesians 4:14) “…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive,…” It’s not my job to teach my philosophies. It is my job to teach God’s instructional Word – His Doctrine. His word is “profitable” for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction. (2 Tim 3:16) It has a purpose to make us perfect and thoroughly furnished unto all good works…
Consider this the power of the Compass. It can give us:
- Correctional Direction – 2 Timothy 2:25-26 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
- Instructional Direction – Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Planet Earth shifts it poles from time to time as it wobbles around the sun. This means that magnetic north can shift. Yet God says, “I Change Not…” (Malachi 3:6) and Jesus Christ is the same Yesterday, Today and Forever (Heb 13:8). A magnetic compass is affected by outside influences (iron and steel) but the Word never adjusts for its surroundings. We must be careful to not be influenced by the changing and shifting values, beliefs and practices in our culture. The fool with compass in hand will lead you in a foolish direction. (Proverbs 18:2) “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.”
Consider the power of the Compass pointed in the right direction – it gives us determination to go the right way. This is the Power of the Spirit working within us that began a good work and working to complete until the end (Phil 1:6), while at the same time an equipped person speaks as the voice of God (1 Peter 4:11). God will never give us something to do that we are not empowered to do, nor will He gives us a task without us being thoroughly conversant in the doctrine.
You see, we are His workmanship, created for good works, that God prepared beforehand for us to walk in certain ways (Eph 2:10). If we profess to know God but deny Him in our works, then we are abominable, disobedient and disqualified for every good work (Titus 1:16)
Just how determined are you to get to your destination? Listen to the determination of the apostle Paul. (1 Corinthians 2:2) For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. No discussion or controversy on anything, he said he came only to present Jesus Christ!
Finally, as with anything in life, if we are going to understand how a Compass work we must search out the answers. This is where we must all begin our study of the Directional Power of God’s Will in our life – the study of God’s Word. May I suggest to you the best time to set the compass is in childhood. Did you notice Paul speaking of Timothy, “… that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, …” 2 Timothy 3:15a Parents, set the compass in your life and in turn set the compass in your children’s life.
Sink the Bible to the bottom of the sea, and man’s obligation to God would be unchanged. He would have the same path to tread, only his lamp and his guide would be gone; he would have the same voyage to make, only his compass and chart would be overboard. -Henry Ward Beecher
Set your compass now…
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.